When you start to gain a bit of traction with your online endeavors, the amount of work can get intimidating very quickly. This is certainly something that I have to contend with.
It is all well and good saying that in such times, you have to suck it up and do the hard yards. And sometimes that is the case. However, the fact is, overworking yourself is a situation best avoided. Not just so that you can retain a social life and so on, but because rest is incredibly important to effectiveness and focus.
So with the above in mind, I have listed below the time saving/creating techniques that have been effective for me, or that I am considering.
- Use your lunch break (as I am doing right now).
- Avoid time wasted in rush hour traffic – get to work early and/or leave late.
- Negotiate remote work days with your boss (even if it’s just a day a week).
- Work a six day week and dedicate Saturdays to your business.
- Use your holiday allowance.
- Use designated sick days.
- Confirm what you are and are not allowed to do on the job – if you get your work done, can you be free to work on your own things?
- If things are going well, consider going part time.
- Read Getting Things Done. Be more efficient.
- Turn off all notifications!
- Stop checking email and social media sites every 10 minutes. Set yourself a two or three 5-10 minute set periods throughout the day and stick to them religiously.
- Use Rescue Time. Be shocked. Then be more efficient.
- Evaluate the worth of any given task that you are carrying out relative to your Target and Endgame.
- Eradicate anything that isn’t taking you forward. Be ruthless.
- Allocate 1-2 hours after work to your online business. Once that time is up, disconnect yourself and relax.
- Cut out an hour or two of TV on weeknights, get up earlier and start on your work.
How about you? Do you use these tips yourself? Or will you? Do you have any additional tips that you can share with us? Let us know in the comments section!
Photo courtesy of John Morgan
Gregory Ciotti says
Superb topic to address that many people leave out Tom.
One thing I’d be weary about: ever asking your boss about working on-job.
A lot of bosses won’t want to hear that, even if you are being totally responsible with your time while working, they just never want to hear that you are doing anything but their work.
It lacks logic, I know, but some bosses are just like that.
Although I do highly recommend your advice on working during “total” down time, like lunch-breaks, I never take an hours to eat lunch, and if I’m not socializing and making connections, it’s better to work online than just sitting there or browsing the web casually.
Big point with social media stuff too, I actually use a program called StayFocusd (for Chrome) that locks me out of stuff like Reddit / Twitter after 10 minutes of use a day, definitely makes you hustle on those sites and not waste time when you know your daily allotted time will run out soon, ha!
Tom Ewer says
I absolutely agree that a lot of (most?) bosses won’t want you doing other ‘work’ on the job, and I would never suggest you phrase your query like that! Most bosses can’t see past the concept that employees should be doing ‘something’ for the whole 9 – 5, when in reality, 9 – 5 is a completely arbitrary period of time for many jobs. I wonder how many people work solid for 8 hours…
However, if you have a sensible and understanding boss, they might not have a problem with you working on a side project when you have got through your work.
I like the sound of that StayFocusd plugin – great suggestion!
Will Claxton says
Best one for me is turning off Notifications. Being an absolute twitter whore, it is surprisingly easy to lose 2 or 3 hours a day chatting and reading shared articles.
I agree with Gregory that you got to be extra careful when asking your current employer for anything like that. What seems fair enough to you unfortunately costs them money at the end of the day, if I had employees, I think I’d have a bit of an issue with it too. Cos even if they are the hardest and best worker in the world and clearly have done all their work, why are they wanting to work on outside projects so much? Are they planning on leaving in the next few months? *raising eyebrows*
On the flip side though, take Google for example, they let their employees work on their own stuff for one hour a day! (or something like that) Which means the employees feel pretty darn good and because of it are majorly loyal to Google. Personally though, if I had a good job at Google… I’d want to stay there for the rest of my life and would have no interest in setting up my own business!
So in that case…. my answer would be to make time. To put it bluntly, if you can’t get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later to work on your business/project… then you’ve got no chance.
… goes off to check twitter…
Tom Ewer says
You know, I had a feeling the ‘asking to take time’ tip would be controversial 😉
And quite rightly so, it probably wouldn’t pan out for most. But if you don’t ask you don’t get…
Google’s 20% time is a great concept. Unfortunately most businesses aren’t that forward-looking.
Thanks for your thoughts Will! 🙂
Bon Crowder says
Two things I would add:
1. During the time you are driving, listen to audio books in your niche.
2. Speed up your writing by using a dictation software (I use DragonDictate for the Mac).
I wake up at 3 AM to work until 6:30 AM, then unplug to be with the family before going to the day job. I haven’t asked my boss if I could use downtime, but since I’m a billable commodity for them, if there’s nothing to do, I work on my business.
Thanks so much, Tom.
Tom Ewer says
Thank you for contributing two cracking ideas. With regards to your first point, Podcasts can be good too.
Your hours sound brutal! I hope you get enough rest! 🙂
All the best,
Deacon Bradley says
Love this list Tom! And such an important topic that I think scares people off from ever trying too.
My favorites on the list center around being focused and productive. You can get a ridiculous amount of work done in 5-10 hours a week if you’re relentlessly focused. One big key I’d add to the list is planning. Try not to wait until it’s time to work to decide what to work on. Take some time before the week begins to lay out what you need to get done – then do only those things. You can lose a ton of time aimlessly switching tasks otherwise!
Tom Ewer says
All excellent additions Deacon – thank you!! 🙂
Thanks for the practical tips. Definitely easy said than done. I have tried to run my own business a few times with the goal that working for myself will create time and money for me. Each year I seem to find myself in even greater debt and even more in need to stay in my day time job. It’s a very frustrating situation.
On the bright side, I feel more experienced, wiser and more confident to continue and find the right way of running a business which will create some ongoing (passive?) income for myself.
I look forward for 2012 that I will take on another level where some of my business activities will actually produce some level of income for me.
Tom Ewer says
I don’t there has been a single businessman who hasn’t experienced failure before moving onto success. I honestly believe that most failures bring you closer to success, in some way or another. The key is persistence.
But I don’t think you need me to tell you that, as you seem to have a forward-thinking, positive mindset. It’s time to take 2012 by the horns and use all of that experience you have been cultivating to build a successful business!
Thanks for dropping by and sharing your story 🙂
Craig | Personal Life Change Coach says
#6 Use your holiday allowance. I just took a day off yesterday to work on plans for JUne. 🙂
Tom Ewer says
Good work! No rest for the wicked 😉