I need to be able to fit all of this business stuff into the time I have and I don’t have a lot of time right now.
This is what I heard over and over when I sent out my last audience survey. Which I think was a massive issue for everyone in 2020, especially for parents and the people who were newly working at home.
So I wanted to share this episode for two reasons, 1.) because if any of you are still in a time crunch this can be a checklist to see if there are any holes in your schedule or tasks that you can stop doing. And 2.) for those of you who are not in a time crunch, this is a reminder to get it together and quit doing these useless unnecessary things.
In this episode I’m sharing 6 time wasters, that I’ve absolutely lost hours to myself, that you can ditch, delete, and stop doing to free up more time in your work days.
Resources + Links
Spend less time creating Instagram posts – steal my weekly workflow: xosarah.com/igworkflow
Before we dive in, I will confess to doing every single one of these which is how I know they’re wasting your time. One of the things I’m always thinking about is how to simplify what I’m working on which means repeating the process for something, like creating Instagram content, and then auditing that process often so that I’m removing steps that are not helping to generate more engagement, audience growth, or revenue.
Scrolling for ideas and inspiration
I do this one all the time with interior design content. I have so many room photos, decor ideas, organization ideas, and color palettes saved on Instagram and…I almost never go back and look at them. It’s enjoyable to do in the moment, but I’m not doing anything practical with all that inspiration.
Instead of scrolling as a daily habit, scroll for ideas and inspiration when you are ready to do the thing. If you are going to create a podcast cover image don’t spend hours researching cover images before you’ve even recorded an episode. Put time into the actual product first and then when you’re ready to create your cover image take time to look for ideas.
Or skip scrolling for inspiration altogether because it often turns into comparison which leaves us stuck feeling bad about ourselves. And leads to adding to our task list because now we need new headshots and a new website and to update our Instagram bio and re-organize our highlights and make more graphics. All of which probably aren’t necessary.
Another issue with scrolling for inspiration is unintentionally making ourselves feel bad, which stops us from showing up. So if you always feel like someone else is doing it better then why would you even post anything or share your services or products? We end up stalling ourselves in pursuit of inspiration.
So let’s avoid falling down the inspiration rabbit hole in the first place.
Trying to make it perfect
I can waste so much time trying to get my website to look exactly the way I want, trying to fix one little thing – it even though it looks fine the way it is and no one but me would notice.
This is why I use the Fine, Better, Best Method to force myself as a perfectionist to just get the shit done and hit the publish button.
Fine = the thing works it looks OK.
Better = it works and it looks pretty good
Best = it works, it looks great and it converts really well.
But the only way to get to the converts really well part is by publishing something that is fine or better. You are never going to get to perfection on the first try. And even when you do get to what feels like perfection, six months later you’ll learn something that will make it even better.
So all of that time perfecting something that you haven’t tested yet could be wasted. If you are stuck on which photo to use, whether to make your buttons square or round, whether to put your bio first or third on your landing page – it doesn’t matter. What matters is publishing the thing, seeing what actions your audience does or doesn’t take, and then adjusting from there.
Now I will give you a tip because like I said I can be very perfectionist and picky over here. Give yourself a time limit. So in making a landing page give yourself an hour. Start with the tech, make sure the opt-in form works, it opens the right page or delivers the right email. Then go through and add the basic information – dates, location, bullet points. Then make sure you’re using your brand colors. And then only if you have time left, get fancy or creative with the design.
So do the best you can, keep it simple, and then hit publish because you can always adjust after.
And along those same lines….
Stop fucking with your design
The other thing to remember since we’re talking about landing pages is that if you are using a template within say an email platform like ConvertKit or a landing page creator like Leadpages those templates have been designed and tested by people who know how to design. So if you are not a designer it is a waste of your time to re-design something a professional or at least skilled designer created. This is why I always send my students and clients over to Creative Market (affiliate link) and tell them to get a template for their PDF, workbook, slides, etc. There are premade templates for everything and they are customizable so you’ll be able to put in your fonts and your colors and your audience isn’t going to care if it’s not bespoke every single time
Also, there is plenty of evidence all over the Internet of companies who didn’t give a crap about design and became super successful anyway. So if you are just doing the bare minimum by picking fonts and colors for your brand you are good to go. Then you can save your time, use it to make more money, and then once you have that money you can hire someone to do all the design work for you.
Admin / small tasks
This could be things like changing out a button on your website, responding to an email pitch, taking data from one place and putting it into another place. If you add up enough of these tasks it will eat through your entire week. So you have a couple of options to get this time back.
Number one, you can create a running list of tasks and set aside an hour or two every week to check off as many of those as possible. This will keep you from having tiny interruptions throughout your day. Research has shown that takes about 20 minutes to switch tasks and then you’re going to waste another 20 minutes to switch back to whatever you were supposed to be working on in the first place. So that’s 40 minutes ::poof:: just gone.
If you are adding tasks into a list and setting them aside you may find that you don’t actually need to do all of them. Arianna Huffington says that it’s okay to check off a task by deciding you aren’t going to do it anymore and deleting it from your list. Don’t be afraid to clear out that list once/month.
In the first couple of years in business, I was working nonstop, hopping from task to task, big tasks, small tasks, tasks that popped into my inbox, tasks that came from clients, tasks that I randomly remembered, tasks that people on Instagram or Facebook groups told me I should be doing. And that ate through my schedule really quickly making my workdays 12-14 hours long.
Now my focus is just doing two or three larger tasks every day – tasks that will take hours to complete. Everything else waits for Monday (my admin day), or I pay someone to do it for me, or it isn’t important enough for anyone to spend time on it and it gets deleted after a month. (Remember – you can always add those tasks to your list again if they feel more important later on)
Planning in the moment
This is a big one. I talk about planning ahead in probably every podcast, every IG post, and in every email I send because it is so important to save you time. If you are sitting down every day to figure out what you need to do next it’s going to take you much longer than if you sat down once a week or once a month and figured out a full strategy. Planning in advance also means that your content will work better because there’s more intention around them and they work together to guide your audience to take specific actions.
You essentially don’t ever want to sit down to work and say to yourself OK what should I do next. Because that should already be planned you should already be using a project management system (my go to is Asana) and that should have your tasks in it for at least a couple of weeks. If you aren’t already doing this, pick a date every month or every quarter to figure out what projects you’re working on and what tasks will get that project finished and then put those into your calendar. Because I don’t know about you, but first thing in the morning I am not my best, most creative self, and I would choose to work on something that felt fun instead of something that I knew would be the best task to grow my business.
Googling + figuring things out
This is what I almost got stuck in today because I set up some ads to run through the very intense and complicated Facebook ads manager. They were approved and started running and then when I looked at them today they were both turned off. So I Googled a little bit, I looked in a couple of Facebook groups, I spent max 30 minutes trying to figure it out and then I hired someone to fix the problem for me. Because I am not a Facebook ads expert and I don’t intend to become a Facebook ads expert but I do want to run Facebook ads.
You should have a basic understanding for how to do most of the things in your business, how to set up Facebook ads, how to edit videos, how to do bookkeeping. This is so that you can explain that information to someone else and tell them what you want them to do. But you don’t need to be an expert in every tiny detail. It’s not a good use of your time to spend hours and hours and get frustrated going around in circles trying to figure out how to make something work. I know that when I start spending more than an hour on an issue that is not in my wheelhouse or zone of genius that I am wasting my own time when I could be using that time for something else.
If you are in Facebook groups filled with business owners there is probably someone in there that is an expert in what you need fixed. I’ve also hired contractors on Fivver and Upwork to do quick jobs for me. And I keep a folder on Instagram of people I could hire for different things because even if they aren’t available they can refer me to someone who does.
Not sure if you’re wasting time or not? Track your time
This is something I do once or twice every year. I track my time for about two weeks, write down every business AND personal thing I’m doing. And then scan through those tasks to double-check that all of the stuff I’m working on is 1. Important for my bottom line and 2. I’m the only one who can do it. Everything else gets taken off my plate in some way or another.