5 Ways to Drastically Cut the Time You Waste in Your BusinessJune 11, 2021 July 6, 2021 /
This is a guest post by Jimmy Rose
Jimmy is the co-founder of Content Snare – a software platform that helps professionals collect content & files from clients.
Once an automation engineer, his new priority is to help business owners regain their lives, be more productive, and get more done in less time through his blog JimmyRose.me
Do you know how much time you waste in your business?
How many hours do you think you’ve wasted this week doing things that don’t contribute to your business and life in a meaningful way?
For most of us, the answer is “a lot”. But it’s often even worse than you think. Sure, there are obvious time killers like social media and email, but many of the worst offenders are hidden right under our noses in the things we do every day.
Let’s dig into some ways you can get insanely productive during your work hours so you can cut back on the number of hours you need to work.
Say no more often
By far the biggest time killer in my business is when I agree to do something that I shouldn’t have.
Often it’s a client that’s asked for something that’s slightly outside my normal services. Instead of referring them to someone else, I think “ah why not… shouldn’t take too long”.
And of course… it takes too long.
Saying yes to something small can ruin your day. Saying yes to the wrong project can ruin your entire month (or more).
It doesn’t even have to be client work. You can say “no” to ideas you have, emails you receive and tasks you put on your list that you no longer think are that important.
Whenever you’re about to take something on, ask yourself
“Will this get me closer to my goals?”
If the answer isn’t an obvious yes, then you should probably say no.
Manage your priorities
On any one day, there are a thousand things you can work on. Without a good system, you’ll end up working on the wrong things.
If you are always coming up with new ideas for your business, you need a way to prioritize them.
My system works like this:
Triage new tasks
Every idea gets dumped into a list. Once a week, look through the list and decide what to do with the task/idea.
- Think – How much impact it will really have on your business, and how much effort is involved?
- Cut – Be ruthless. Is this really going to be worth your time? If not, delete it immediately. Or file it away on a different task list for “some day”.
- Prioritize – Give it a priority. I use only 3 – High, Medium & Low
- Categorize – I give each task a category like content creation, client work, improving processes etc
In practice, this process is simple. I add tags to indicate the category and move the tasks into one of three lists for High, Medium and Low priority.
Decide what to work on
If you do triage right, this part is really easy.
I like to focus on one category of task each day. On Mondays, I work on writing content (like writing this post).
That makes deciding what to work on very simple. Picking the highest priority task with the “Content” tag. No hard decisions need to be made.
This concept is called daily theming.
Each month, look back through your tasks and see if any no longer need to be done, or were made redundant by something else you’ve done.
Then delete them.
I love this process so much. It feels like a spring cleaning of your to-do list.
Protect your inbox
“Your inbox is your to-do list that other people add to”
I don’t know who said this, but it’s something I think about a lot.
You’d never give random people on the internet access to your task list so they can just add things. Yet this is how we treat email.
So first and foremost – be protective of your inbox.
Some ways you can do that are to:
- Unsubscribe from things you don’t need
- Auto filter. Use Gmail rules to automatically label and move emails into folders that you only check occasionally. This works great for:
- Notifications & alerts
- Receipts & invoices
- PR requests (if you use HARO etc)
- Google Alerts
- Unified inbox. This isn’t for everyone, but I like to bring all my email into one Gmail account to save me jumping between them. You can set up “reply as” in Gmail to automatically reply as the original recipient. To other people it looks like you’re replying from the original email, but for you it’s all in one place
- Get things out of email – Use a tool like Calendly for booking meetings, messaging apps where it makes sense or Content Snare for collecting info from clients
You might have reacted with a big WTF on this heading, but hear me out.
Yes, you can spend a lot less time typing. Yes, it makes a real difference to your productivity.
There are two main ways.
If you aren’t already familiar, you’re about to have your mind blown. I remember how excited I was when I heard about text expansion. And I love seeing the look on people’s faces when I explain it to them for the first time.
There are lots of tools that can do this, but I use TextExpander.
You can create short text snippets that are automatically expanded into longer text as soon as you type them.
So for example, if you type
It could become your website URL (w for website).
“;e” could become your email address.
These are small examples, but when you’re typing them multiple times a day, it adds up.
Taking it further, you can write entire emails in TextExpander, with placeholders.
For example I have a shortcut that writes an entire email. Because it has placeholders in it, it first pops up this box:
I just fill out the details and hit enter. TextExpander:
- Enters “Thanks and hi!” into the subject line
- Tabs down to the email body
- Adds the whole email ready for me to send
You can use text expansion for SO many things, like:
- Your contact info
- Social media links
- Website links
- Brand colours/hex codes
- Snippets of code you use a lot
- UTM links
- So so much more
To learn about a few ideas, check out my longer post on TextExpander examples.
More and more tools & devices have voice typing built in by default. If you speak clearly, it can save you a lot of time, especially on mobile devices.
Google Docs has a “Voice Typing” command under Tools.
You can use browser extensions like VoiceIn to voice type anywhere in Chrome.
On Android and iPhone, hold the microphone icon on the default keyboard.
And you can use Otter.ai for long-form voice note-taking, recording meetings and more.
Of course, I have to talk about workflow automation, because it saves me 150+ hours every month.
A simple example is creating a workflow that says
“When a client fills out my form, automatically add them to my CRM and send me an SMS”
Both of these tools help you move data between different apps.
The example above is only the beginning. You can set them up to automate all kinds of processes, like:
- Automatically send proposals when a client fills out your form
- When the client signs their proposal
- Create a project in your project tool
- Create Google Drive folders
- Send an invoice
- Sync contacts between systems
- Add all your blog posts to a spreadsheet
- Getting notifications when your brand is mentioned online
And so so much more.
Automation is a massive topic, so it’s a bit much to dig into as just one section of this post.
I’d recommend starting out with Zapier, as it’s a bit easier to use. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- This Zapier tutorial aimed at people who have never used Zapier before
- This post on the Integromat blog about what you automate
- These 18 Zapier examples on YouTube
Take care of yourself
Finally, something that many people neglect, is just taking care of yourself.
I don’t want to turn this into a health lecture, but eating better, working out and getting proper sleep all affect productivity.
Even just time away from your computer is good. I solve some of our hardest business problems simply by going for a walk. Being outside, away from the computer and exercising seem to work wonders. Many others report the same thing.
I hope you’ve taken at least one thing away from this post. If so, I’d love to hear it!