I hear time and time again “I need more hours in my day” and have even felt this desperation for more hours myself. Some days it seems that no matter what you do you can’t get everything done. So today we look at how you can get more hours in your day…or more productive ones at least.

Don’t worry you are not alone in this, everyone feels this way at one time or another.

I find the major complaint I hear from freelancers and small business owners is that there are just not enough hours in the day to deal with all the time consuming tasks such as emails, phone calls, social media all leading to increased stress and decreased productivity…and all this is before working on those nagging projects like updating your website, developing a new product or service, writing that ebook or newsletter opt in.

At the end of the day productivity needs to be your number one goal as productivity = income.

We are all expected to be multitasking wonder women these days. We have our emails on our phones, all out files on the cloud so we can access them any time and the never ending social media alerts. Add to this juggling family commitments, a hint of a social life and you have chaos. Is it any wonder we feel overwhelmed and unproductive some days.

Did you know that multitasking can actually cost you up to two hours a day of lost time as you jump from one task to another? Sometimes more, depending on just how distracted you get when you pop into Facebook to answer that quick notification or to “take a break” from an important task.

Many large corporations such as Deloitte and IBM utilise a technique called “Quiet time” to increase staff productivity. This is a block of time where you chose a specific project to work on without the interruption of emails, phone calls or meetings. Other companies have “catch up Friday’s” where no meetings or new work is scheduled.

As small businesses we can do this too!

Here are some time saving ideas for freelancers and small businesses:

  • Set up you core productivity times throughout the day. Most businesses say these hours are from  9AM – 2:30PM however our businesses are flexible so it might be between 9:30 and 3PM when the kids are at school or even after they are in bed. During this time all client calls, client meetings, classes, and project work are done.
  • Every Friday or whatever day suits you is “working on your business day.” No client appointments, no emails during the core productivity hours you choose and no phone calls at all. For some people this time is best spent on the weekend when their husband is home to look after the kids.
  • Emails are handled in blocks two or three times a day. This dedicated time is perfect for cleaning inboxes and getting attachments in order.
  • Each day, return phone calls are handled after 2:30 PM or after your core productivity block.
  • When you really, really needed to work on a project in a deeply focused way, take your laptop somewhere without wifi and hide the phone at the bottom of you handbag or better still, leave it in the car or at home. I know, being unattached from our phones can create a whole new level of anxiety but if you know it’s only for a 2 hour block or whatever time limit you set you’ll get used to it over time.
It’s amazing how when you only have a limited time for something how much you can achieve. A bit like leaving that uni assignment to the last minute and cramming it all in with 1 minute to spare.
Once you start creating these habits you will be surprised just how many emails you can answer in your designated time, and how much neater your inbox is. I don’t know about you but an organised inbox always makes me feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
I also suggest five minutes of email time be dedicated to actually unsubscribing to all those newsletters you get sent everyday and delete rather than unsubscribe. Again this will save you time in the long run!
This will seem so hard and unachievable to start off with but I can promise you if you just give it a week or so you will start seeing some improvements in your productivity. Remember these times are only a guide. If you are working around children’s naps (don’t worry, we’ve all been there too!) then allocate your tasks around these naps and ensure one of them is for “quiet time”.
Good luck and I’d love to hear your thoughts on how some of these methods might work for you.
What other methods do you have in place for getting more hours in your day and being more productive? I’d love to hear them and I’m sure everyone else would too.