Making More Time
Do you have a brilliant idea and can't start working on it because...
I just need more time!
There isn't enough time in the day to get everything done!
I can't even get the basic stuff done let alone work on a project!
Have you ever caught yourself saying any of these sentences? I for sure have. I'm no stranger to being overwhelmed with work. There was a time when I was working as an event coordinator in a busy restaurant. It was October and my assistant and I were gearing up for a busy Christmas party season. One morning, I came to work & my boss walked in my office. He pulled me aside and told me my department was way over-budget on labor and he was going to layoff my assistant. I was devastated. I was already working more than 40 hours a week and barely keeping up with the workload. We were about to get even busier! The next several weeks, I worked 10-12 hours a day just to keep up, doing both my job and my assistant's job. I could barely stay caught up on the events I had booked, let alone try to get new sales.
Did I mention that I was also trying to blog five days a week and take coaching clients on the side? Can you say BURNT OUT! All I wanted to do was get in home in time see my kids before they had to go to bed. Is that too much to ask? I thought - there HAS TO BE a better way to do this.
If you are feeling the same - like simple, mundane tasks are taking all your time, you are probably right - there has to be a better way to do this. I'm going to tell you how to figure it out. Are you ready?
Step 1: Figure out what is taking so long
The first thing you have to do to create more time is figure out where you are spending most of it. The only way to do this with accuracy is to track it. Do worry, I've included a tracking worksheet in the worksheet bundle you can download at the end of this post. Basically, you:
- Write out each of your tasks
- Time how long each task takes (use the stopwatch on your computer or phone)
- Keep track of everything you do - how many times you get interrupted. How many times you take breaks. How long you are on distracted by Facebook or Instagram.. you know - EVERYTHING.
If you are not a pen & paper kind of person, there is an app for that (yes, I said it). It is called Hours Time Tracking by Hours, LLC
. It is an app designed to track billable hours, but it works really well for tracking tasks. This is what I used when I was trying to work less at my full time job. It was so easy. You just create a timer for each task you do. You just tap it to start the timer and tap it again to finish. If you mess up, you can go in adjust the time. It is pretty brilliant. Then, you just run a report after your tracking period and it totals it all up for you.
You might think the time you are taking to track everything could be better used working -- I know I did. But, once you start doing it, you realize how all the little things you do add up - BIG TIME. So, get tracking!
Step 2: Figure out why it is taking so long
Once you have all your timing tracked, add it all up and see where you are spending most of your time. What is your biggest time suck? Mine was creating the event packets for the staff to use when they were running the event. It took me at least 2 hours each day just to put those things together!
So, why is it taking so long? To do this, you must look at your process - the steps you take to complete the task. And guess what? I made a worksheet for you! You can download it at the end of this blog post.
Starting at the beginning, write down each step you take to complete the task. Get into detail and include everything. Write it out in bullets.
For example, here are my bullets:
- Open event software
- Pull up event
- Check final count & get if necessary
- Print event order
- etc., etc., etc.
After you've written it all down, take a look at your steps and check it for:
- Duplicate steps
- Repetitive or similar steps
- Manual steps
- Steps you aren't very good at
These kinds of tasks are red flags which you should look at more closely. It doesn't mean all of the steps are bad, it just means those are where you start to create a more efficient process.
Step 3: Figure out how to make it more efficient
Once you've written it out, look at your process for the following. Start with the red flags you identified :
- Which steps can be eliminated?
- Which steps can be grouped together or consolidated?
- Which steps can be automated?
- Which steps can I outsource?
In my process, I was bouncing back and forth between different programs (event software, Word, email, etc), printing a lot of papers (event orders, menus, signs, etc) and even manual tasks like cutting out cards. Here is what I did:
- Eliminate: I eliminated getting into programs multiple times buy reordering the steps I took to be more efficient. Specifically, I made sure when I opened a program, I did all the things I needed to do in that program before I exited.
- Consolidate: I consolidated my tasks by batch processing. Specifically, instead of creating an event packet one event at a time, I would complete each step for all the events at the same time, in batches. In almost the same amount of time it took to complete one event packet, I could create four!
- Automate: I automated my processes by creating templates for my most common printouts. I'd only need to replace a small amount of information rather than recreating the whole document each time.
- Outsource: Instead of cutting my papers to the right size, I had the office supply store cut the paper for me so it was ready to go when I needed it.
Ahhhh.. I know that is a lot of information to process. And, I'm so proud of you for making it through. And, as I promised, I've got a little bonus for you...WORKSHEETS!
Download them know and get started making more time in your day.
By the way... do you want to know how much time I freed up by streamlining my process? About 1.5 hours. I took my process from 2+ hours down to 30 minutes. That's a lot of project time! Once you've streamlined your process, let me know how much time you've saved in the comments. I can't wait to see!