The older I get, the more I realize that time is money.
Actually, time is more valuable than money. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.
I know many of you are moms trying to build a business while juggling the responsibilities of motherhood and keeping up a home. (That’d be me!). Or you are working a full-time job and building your business as a side hustle.
Either way, time is at a premium.
This week I thought I’d share some of the hacks I use to save time and work most efficiently. They are both for my personal life and my business, because my time spent in one affects the other.
In order to make both my business and home life run smoothly, I’ve had to be really strategic about my time - almost to the point of being fanatic about it.
Here are seven time-saving hacks I use in my life.
1. Meal planning
This one has been a tricky one for me to get rolling. Truth be told, I don’t love cooking, and too often I get to 5 pm without having taken anything out of the freezer. When I first started to try meal planning, I tried several different strategies before I found one that works.
I tried those 30-day freezer meal plans, where you buy a month’s worth of ingredients and make meals in zip lock bags. It worked for two months, but I struggled to find a chunk of time I could actually make that many meals.
I once created a whole monthly meal plan that I thought that we could just repeat each month. But we got sick of the meals and I abandoned it.
Finally I found something that works for me. I have a chalkboard in the kitchen and I decide the meals for a week and buy all the groceries I need for them. Each day, as I’m making a meal, if possible I make two to three meals: One for that night and the others I put in a zip lock back in the freezer.
Over time, I build up a freezer stash for nights when I don’t have as much time to cook.
This system is something I’ve done in fits and starts. There are times when I get behind and never make the weekly plan. But I find that the times I stick to it, it takes the decision fatigue I get from cooking out of my week, and it’s one less thing I have to juggle.
2. Writing lists
I’ve always been a list writer. But it’s gotten more complex now that I have a business.
My husband and I keep lists of to dos on the chalkboard where I meal plan. I also list out weekly chores that I do each week and check them off as I go.
For my business, I use both a physical planner and an online project manager. My favorite is Asana. This is where I store all my clients’ projects and the to dos related to each client and project.
Each week, I find writing out all my to dos in one long list helps me process through all that I have on my plate. Then each day, I pick the “big three” that are the most crucial to get done. If I make it through those, I move to the others.
3. Batching, repurposing and scheduling content
I’m trying to put out useful content for you on a consistent basis. It is a discipline that is not always easy to keep. But it’s important.
I have this blog, and then I repurpose the weekly blog posts to various social media channels in a way that fits those channels. If you want to steal my process on how to do this, you can find it here.
Then I batch the work for each platform. For example, once my blog is done, with the help of my virtual assistant, I spend time scheduling all my Instagram posts, I set aside an hour or two to record a bunch of Reels, or I plan out any lives I intend to do on the topic.
(By the way, having a virtual assistant is another time-saving decision that has made a huge difference in my workload. Not everyone can do this yet, but it is something worth considering as soon as you can afford it).
This process has evolved as my business has grown, and again is something that I don’t always do perfectly. But having the plan and system in place helps keep me on track.
4. Ordering grocery pick up
I distinctly remember when I found out that ordering groceries online was a possibility. A friend posted a photo of herself waiting at the pick up station at Fred Meyer. I was blown away that this was a possibility and jumped on it. If I never had to enter a grocery store again, I would be so happy.
COVID has popularized this more, so many of you are probably already doing this. But it is a game changer, especially for those of us with small children.
I can meal plan from home and look in my cabinets to see what I have and what I need. I can add items throughout the week as I encounter something that we are almost out of. I don’t have to wander the store looking for something. And the time it takes to create a grocery list on an app is a fraction of what it takes to do the shopping myself.
5. Time blocking
My weeks are pretty much already laid out with blocks of time designated to particular things. I have days that are purely for business where I have childcare. This forces me to be extra focused.
I have mornings that are for doing house-related tasks, such as doing laundry or cleaning. I have days and times that I dedicate to certain retainer clients, so they know when they will get their deliverables from me and be prepared to give me what I need to do their work.
6. I try to keep clear boundaries between business and personal
This is something I had to learn the hard way. It was tough for me to not get sucked into working on my business on nights and weekends constantly.
Over time, I realized it was just draining me, negatively affecting my family and making me less efficient - not more.
I began to incorporate business hours into my contracts and make it clear to clients when I was available to respond to emails. Setting those expectations from the start of a relationship is important.
My clients know that I don’t respond to emails on nights and weekends. Those times are reserved for my family. That said, this doesn’t mean that I never work during those times. There are seasons that I need to catch up or meet a particular deadline. I just try to make sure it’s not a regular practice.
7. Process and systems for clients
Over the years, I have developed a streamlined process that I take clients through. I also have systems in place on how they should share files with me or give me feedback. This has been huge in saving me time sifting through my email or hunting down a file.
None of these are perfect systems. There are weeks when things go off the rails. They are also up for constant refinement based on the season and the phases my business enters over time. I’m always looking for ways to make them better.
They also aren’t set in stone. There are some weeks I shift things based on what is going on. Every system has an element of flexibility built so I can adapt it to the situation.
But having these hacks in place has made a world of difference in my mental sanity, the amount I am able to accomplish and has created more harmony in my personal and business life.
What are some of your time-saving hacks?