What would you do if you had an extra 3-5 hours of leftover time each week? Play a round of golf? Serve a needy cause? Plan a quality outing with your family? Or just relax?
Go ahead and pencil your answer into next week’s schedule, because I’m going to give you three ideas that will “A.D.D.” an extra 3-5 hours of disposable time to your week. 🙂
A – Accessorize
D – Discard
D – Delegate
Seriously, these ideas have been extremely helpful in freeing up time for both my clients and myself. And now I might as well add your name to the list too!
1. ACCESSORIZE. Something I have come to rely on in managing my time is the use of ready-to-go “accessories” that save me valuable minutes every day. The idea here is to create an “accessory” (more on this in a minute) that will help you complete daily or frequent tasks much more quickly. Let me share some of my own…
- Templates. In my business, I find that I spend a lot of time writing salesletters and content pieces. So, I have a standard set of fill-in-the-blanks templates that are pre-formatted which I work from when creating new salesletters. There are placeholders (“Main Headline Goes Here”) in spots throughout the page for headline, story, subheadlines, bullet points, call to action, guarantee, etc. Instead of reformatting from scratch, I’m ready to just write. Same thing with my documents. I have a Microsoft Word file that already has a title page, legal page, introduction, etc. already formatted. I simply make appropriate changes and write.
- Swipe files. I have many different collections of swipe files that I use to kick-start my tasks. A few include email subject lines, universal blog topics, ezine article topics, titles, openings, bullet points, search phrases, types (of articles, of blog posts, of products, of list mailings, etc) and so forth. The idea here is to have a set of easy access idea starters and prompts so I don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking up what “angle” to write from.
- Copy and Paste files. Ever get the same question from customers? Find that your coaching clients solicit the same kind of advice? Do you type the same email over and over again? Plugin the same information into a form? Anything that I type out more than 2-3 times becomes a copy and paste message that I store in a named text file, email predefined or form filler software program. Instead of typing it out again, I simply click a button or two and time is saved.
- Checklists. I rely heavily on my checklists. Not only do they make me more productive in general (a clear list of things to do will have that affect on you; better still is seeing items checked off!), but they also save me a lot of time trying to remember certain aspects of a task that I may not be proficient at. I’m a big believer in printable checklists to keep my on track. I have them for almost everything I do.
- Software. If it can be automated or semi-automated by a software program, app or tool, I’m all for it. I save time every day by using a password program, a piece of software that fills in forms that require my personal details (name, address, phone number, etc.), autoresponders, email filters (for sorting and prioritizing) and so forth. In a future issue I’ll share some of my favorites, but for now suffice it to say that you can save a lot of time each week by automating or semi-automating repeated tasks with software.
2. DISCARD. While “accessories” create leftover time by completing tasks faster, the “discard” category creates leftover time by NOT completing tasks at all!
The idea here is priceless: if something on your schedule (or you are considering for your schedule) isn’t necessary, simply don’t do it.
Let me stress that I’m not talking about becoming a procrastinator here. That’s not my point at all. Procrastination is another enemy! What I’m talking about here is determining which activities are important enough to include on your schedule, and which are not. By eliminating the unimportant things you can free up time to spend at your discretion. Let me give you my three guidelines for determining if something should be “discarded”.
- First, discard anything that doesn’t really matter. It may sound really cool that you have a Facebook® fan page … but does it really matter to your business? (For some, the answer is YES. For others, it is definitely a NO.) Do you really have to get that blog setup BEFORE you get started selling your eBook? Can you get by with three eZine articles on your affiliate resources page instead of five? Anything that doesn’t really matter, discard it.
- Second, discard anything that doesn’t have a significant impact on your business. A step beyond that is looking at the amount of impact an activity has on your business. If you spend 10 hours a week writing eZine articles that bring in 100 unique visitors to your site and you can instead work 5 hours a week as a guest blogger to bring in 100 unique visitors, then make the switch. Whenever possible, look to upgrade on how you use your time so you get a better result. Oftentimes, you’ll also create LEFTOVER TIME in the process. Replace activities that produce minimal results with higher concentrated activities that produce the same or better results in less time.
- Third, discard things that have a low-profit return on time investment. Said another way, devote the majority of your time on activities that directly bring in the highest amounts of profit. I spend most of my time on creating products to sell because that’s proven to be the best use of my time since my affiliates, partners and existing lists provide 99% of my traffic for me. It would be foolish for me to spend most of my time generating traffic and not working on new offers. Spend most of your time on things that MAKE MONEY. If it’s not making you money, stop doing it.
3. DELEGATE. Another thing that will absolutely free up time is for you to become a ‘manager‘ and not a ‘marketer‘. That is, you stop doing everything yourself and start relying on other people to take some of your workload from you. Whether this is outsourced to a vendor at Upwork.com, handed off to an apprentice, jobbed out to a virtual assistant or split with a partner, getting others to do some of your work can quickly free up your time.
I have three scenarios when I highly recommend you delegate some of your tasks…
- When you are stuck. If you get to a step in any process that you cannot complete on your own, it’s time to consider getting someone else to do it for you. While you may be able to spend the next several hours (or days) figuring it out on your own, why would you? Aside from the frustration that is certain to weigh upon you, it’s also a complete waste of your time. Unless it’s a skill that you need to master (and even then I’d hire someone to show me how to do it initially), your time is better spent on something else.
- When others can do it faster and more skillfully. I can create graphics, but that’s not my area of expertise. I have a designer that I use a lot because he’s much faster than me and much better than me in that area. There’s no reason to do everything yourself – that’s what experts are for in every field. When I’m sick, I go to the doctor. When I’m in legal need, I see my attorney. When I need a salespage designed, I call my graphics guy. My time is worth more to me when I use it on revenue-generating tasks instead of other things that someone else could do faster and better.
- When it costs you less than your time investment. This is a big one. I look at how much an hour of my time is worth. Let’s say it’s $100 an hour doing revenue-generating tasks (product creation, licensing, coaching, etc.). If it’s going to take me an hour to create a handful of banners, buttons and other promotional graphics for my new product and my graphics guy will do the set for $27, what do you think I’m going to do? I’m going to hire him. Why? Because I’m trading $27 for $100 when I do it. I could save $27 by doing it myself, but I’d lose the hour and the $100 I would have made on revenue-generating tasks. It’s simple math. Whenever you can get someone else to do something at below what your time is worth for doing it yourself, it’s a no-brainer to delegate/outsource.
If you’ll pick one or more of these ideas and simply begin implementing them into your weekly schedule, you’ll find that you have a few extra hours of “leftover” time each week to spend as you please.
But, you can get even more productive than that!
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