4 Sneaky Hacks to Squeeze More Time Out of Your Day

You’ve got huge ideas for your business. You’d love to take on new clients, explode your Facebook page, or develop your own product. You even know how to do it. You know what needs done to make it happen.

The problem? Time.

Your Ideas are Bigger Than Your Hours

You’ve got too much on your plate to chase your dreams. You’ve got a business to run, after all. You’ve got clients to keep happy, finances to track, and fires to put out.

Not to mention: life happens.

Ideas bigger than hours

So what do you do? Or rather, what have you done?

I’ll bet you’ve tried this: You work harder.

You put in the hours. You treat each day like a marathon. Dawn to dusk is an endless slog.

As a business coach, I frequently talk to business owners who work 12, 14, 16 hour days. Heck, I’ve been there myself.

And it might be worth it if the rewards matched up with the pain. But instead, it feels like the harder you work, the more you fall behind.

As Your Ideas Gather Dust, Your Passion Fades

The long, long days drain your passion, dampen your effectiveness, and wreak havoc on your personal life.

In the end, you revert to treading water. You let yourself be satisfied with good enough. All your fantastic ideas get left on the shelf, gathering dust.

There’s got to be another way, right? Where you can live your dreams without each day feeling like a washed out pair of jeans.

If this is you, I’ve got something you are going to love…

A 4-step Plan to Give Your Business New Life

I’d like to share the most effective tools I’ve found for winning my life back. I’ve used these tools to grow my own business, and to help countless other business owners discover the time they need to chase their dreams.

These tools are simple, and not particularly sexy. But don’t judge them for that. They’re incredibly effective. With them in your toolbox, you’ll get your vr-vr-vroom back faster than you can say “mojo.”

Let’s get to it.

1. Get a Reality Check

It’s time to take a long, hard look at what’s really going on in all the hours you work. The reality is probably uglier – and (paradoxically) more hopeful – than you realize.

Here’s what to do. Track yourself from the moment you wake up to the moment you get into bed. Put everything down – even when you check your Twitter feed for a couple of minutes. Do this for at least ONE day to get the most accurate picture – three if you’re feeling ambitious.

I know, I know, you’re the boss. You shouldn’t have to track your time. You know what you do all day. Or do you?

I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll be surprised at what you discover. If you’re like many of the clients I work with, you might spend less than half of your time actually working.

Now that’s a reality check!

Avoiding work

Most likely, what’s happening is that you burn time as you bounce between tasks (which costs you 15 minutes each bounce). And you get sucked into the Internet blackhole. You check and re-check email, and squander time in unproductive meetings.

The problem is, when you’re avoiding work, you still feel like you’re working. So you’re grinding down your energy without getting any closer to your dreams.

Once you know how long it really takes to complete a full day’s work, you free up time to recharge. Then you’ll have more energy when you do work, so you’ll get even more done.

It’s a win-win-win.

And the next strategy will make your new, shorter working day even more effective…

2. Supercharge the Right Hours

Energy peaks throughout the dayOnly about 10% of the population are genuine night-owls. For the rest of us, our energy starts to bubble up at 5 am, peaks at around 10 am, and drops off sharply after midday.

What if you set your alarm clock for an hour earlier – and blocked off one of your best hours toward knocking off a few of your most important tasks (MIT’s)?

Could you get twice as much done if you were hyper-focused without any distractions? Others who use this strategy, including myself, report being able to accomplish between 2-8X as much in one hour!

Which on the low end, is equal to having 5 extra hours per week. Or 20 extra hours per month to make your dreams happen – without working a minute longer!

But you might be wondering how you actually stay focused. Glad you asked…

3. Focus Like a Ninja

Many of us are experts in the art of distraction. We love to do as many things as possible at once. Which is a recipe for a long and draining working day.

Instead, give your full attention to just one task at hand. Write it on a note card next to your computer, and glance at it when your mind wanders off task (because it will). Use your card to reel you back to focus. You will be amazed at the progress you make.

I used to work in 25-minute increments, with 5 minute breaks in between. But I have since fallen in love with [email protected], a free music app that uses neuroscience to increase your attention span up to 400%. I can now focus for an entire hour with this app – being focus-challenged, this was impossible before.

4. Ask Yourself The Questions

Create a to-do list you can actually complete.

Whenever a new task comes your way, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Does this task really need doing right now?
  2. Will I enjoy this task?

If the answer is “yes!” to both, get on and do it.

  • If it needs doing, but you won’t enjoy it, delegate it. (Yes, if you want your business to grow, you will need to hire help – even if it’s just freelance.)
  • If you’ll enjoy it, but it can wait: schedule it in your calendar.
  • If neither apply, cross it off your to-do list.

Take Back Your Dreams

While these tools may lack luster. But they may just be the difference between your ideas happening or sitting on a shelf gathering dust.

Now I’m curious to know…

What strategies do you use to work smarter instead of harder?

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Mandi EllefsonMandi Ellefson is on a mission to help you + 999 other service businesses create freedom of: time, money, and location. To find even more time to make your ideas happen, download her Find Time NOW! Superpack. It’s filled with templates and actionable tips to find time to explode your business.

Comments

  1. Don’t you wish you could get paid for thinking about multiple ideas all at once? I love the idea of using the index card to bring focus on the task at hand. Another tactic I use is to pick a task and set a timer. Promising myself I will work for 45 minutes straight on that project and nothing else.

    • Yes Jay, it’s too bad that just thinking about a bunch of ideas at once doesn’t actually produce any real results. The timer is my friend too.

    • Haha, getting paid for having a lot of ideas at once – isn’t that the dream ;) but seriously these are great tips. I didn’t know the focus ranges and that it peaks at 10am. Makes sense too.

      I remember when I started tracking my time. Oh was I in for a rude awakening…. Who knew the rechecking of email an Facebook and twitter adds up to this much?! And it DID feel like I was working the whole time. Smh. Technology…

  2. Hi!
    Thanks for reading! I’ll be here to answer any questions you have about finding more time to make your ideas happen and grow your business. Look forward to chatting. -Mandi

  3. Love, love, love the index card idea. One task. Complete it now.
    I do use a lot of timers and am always experimenting with my energy and peak times. 5 am is peak sleeping time for me I’ve discovered over the years. :-)

    It’s a challenge and you have some great ideas here.

    • Thanks Jen! I find where the real breakthrough comes is not from perfection or overhaul. But in finding just a couple small things that will make the difference for you personally. It sounds like the note card trick might make a big difference for you.

  4. Love the index card idea. I also use timers and put on special music to really focus. I’ll have to try that app you mentioned. Thx!

    • I like music too. But only just recently when I found [email protected] It used to be terribly distracting for me.

  5. Your two questions tactic is brilliant! I love it – so simple and so easy to follow. Sometimes, I swear, I walk around the world as a smarty pants and yet can so dumb when it comes to my own business/time! Thanks Laura!