How to be more productive and get more from your time.
You’ve got the perfect business idea but how do you find the time in an already busy schedule? How do you get more hours in the day to make money from home?
In this video, I’m sharing three tips to find more time and five productivity hacks that will get more from your time. This is the same strategy I used to launch my side hustle business while working full-time, studying for a professional designation and managing my own rental homes.
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I Just Don't Have Enough Time…to be successful
We've shared some great business ideas and work from home side hustles on the channel but that’s not enough is it? In that survey of the community a few weeks ago, you told me one of the biggest hurdles to making extra money is limited time and you aren’t kidding.
Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to just get by, let alone manage a new business.
So in this video, I’m going to share how I found the time to start my online business in 2012, all while working a full-time job, studying for a professional designation and managing my rental real estate portfolio. I’m also going to reveal five productivity hacks that will help you get more from your time, whether it’s at your 9-to-5 or your home business.
How to Find More Time in the Day
Now let’s get to that system to find more time in your day and then I’ll share those productivity hacks. Understand though, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Not having time for something doesn’t mean the time wasn’t there, it’s just that you prioritized something else.
So I’m going to show you a unique system I developed to see where your time is going and help shift some of that to your side hustle without sacrificing free time.
And this starts with keeping a time-journal for a week, writing down everything you do down to 15-minute blocks. We all have a basic idea of where our time goes but actually writing it down is going to find a lot of the little things that you might not even realize. It might surprise you how much time you spend on some items.
People surveyed in a UK study estimated they spent 15.5 hours a week watching TV…but real data collected from Nielsen found they actually spent an average of 26 hours with older groups spending even more time each week. Another study found that people spend an average of almost two and a half hours per day on social media!
Seeing some of this and where your time actually goes is going to give you the hard truth about where you can find time. Be detailed in your journal, down to the specific TV show you watched because this is going to make it easier to cut some of that time while still being able to watch your favorite shows.
So next you’re going to get a piece of paper and draw a large square and separate it into four boxes. At the top left corner, write the word Important, and at the bottom right corner write the word Enjoy.
What we’re going to do is put all the things we did in the week into one of these four boxes according to how important they are and how much we enjoy them. So things in the bottom-left box aren’t really important or enjoyable. This is where you’re going to find a lot of your extra time because you can drop these things altogether but let’s look at those other boxes as well.
Things you put in that top-left box are important but you don’t really enjoy doing it. These are going to be things you want to delegate. You’re going to get someone else to do these if or when it’s financially feasible and let me tell you, start growing your side hustle and you’re going to have the money to do that fast.
Things you put in that bottom-right box are enjoyable but not really important. These are those guilty pleasures that you want to limit but don’t want to cut them out completely. This last box though, the one in the upper-right, the things in this box are both important and enjoyable. This is your home, this is the time of the day you can feel good about.
Looking at the things you put in this drawing, I guarantee you’re going to be able to find an extra hour or two a day from things you do that aren’t particularly important or enjoyable. That’s golden information whether you’re starting a side hustle or not. Use just five of those hours a week though to run your work from home business and you’ll be on your way to that financial independence fast.
Using Goals to Prioritize Your Time
Now I’ve got two more tips to finding more time before we get to those productivity hacks to get more from your time. First is to schedule that time each week for your side hustle and set one or two short-term goals that will feed into your long-term goals. What I mean here is you should have at least one or two tasks you want to finish each week to accomplish these short-term goals.
Now I’d recommend having a couple of weekly goals and maybe a couple of goals you want to accomplish by the end of the month. These should all be related to a longer-term, maybe a one-year goal.
For example, meal delivery side hustle, you might set a one-year goal of having four regular customers a week. This is one of my favorite side hustle ideas, one that we’ve talked about on the channel, cooking a meal in bulk and then offering local delivery. So if your long-term goal is four regular customers per week, your goal for this month might be to connect with one or two groups where your typical customers are at just before dinner time.
So I’m thinking something like daycare centers, civic groups, and maybe you partner with these groups offering them something in exchange for being able to put up a flyer for your meal delivery service. Now if this is your one-month goal, maybe your two one-week goals are to reach out to four or five of these organizations. Maybe you set a goal of inviting everyone you know to a dinner where you announce the launch of your business and talk to people about the groups they’re in that might be open to a partnership.
The idea is that these short-term goals are going to give you focus, one or two tasks you can accomplish. Reaching these goals will motivate you, they’ll help you reach those longer monthly and one-year goals, they’ll make sure you’re always making progress.
Our last tip for finding time before we get to those productivity hacks is to understand that your side hustle is a priority. That time you’ve blocked out to spend on your work from home business, that’s not time you’re also trying to be Mr. Mom or a chauffeur. You’re not running errands or helping with school work during this time. This needs to be a commitment, a routine that you develop and you can’t start splitting your time to take the kids somewhere or run an errand.
How to Make Every Minute Count
Our first hack is to realize that every minute counts. Even if you’ve only got 15 minutes left in the time you’re spending on your side hustle that day, use it! I lost weeks, maybe months’ worth of time before I learned this. I would have a meeting in half an hour and didn’t want to get started on something so I would turn to email or social media or the news.
Every minute counts! If you’ve only got five hours a week to work on your side hustle, you need to be using every bit of it, so don’t fall into the excuse of, “Oh well there’s only ten minutes left, I don’t want to get started on something and not be able to finish.” Get started!
Time-blocking to be more productive
Hack #2 is to keep a strict time-blocking schedule for email and social media. This is a big one, especially for when you go full-time working from home and have all day to procrastinate things.
What I mean for time-blocking is you set up your schedule, whether you’re working for the next three hours or for the next eight, you plan it in chunks of time. So for our meal delivery example, maybe you plan on doing an hour of meal planning, an hour of calling customers and half an hour of business planning or budgeting. Then you plan on say 15 minutes at the end to check email and social media.
Getting as much done as possible means sticking to this strict schedule and you know this one, right? You know how tempting it is to take a quick five minute break to check email or Facebook. The problem is that quick five minutes turns into 50 minutes as you scroll through your news feed or you get caught thinking about that “urgent” email.
If you don’t keep to a strict time blocking system like this, it’s going to be too easy to stop each hour, after each task and take that five minutes to fall down the rabbit hole and waste the rest of your time. Researcher GlobalWebIndex found people spend an average of 142 minutes a day on social media. That’s almost two and a half hours and it’s not by accident. Facebook knows how to trap you and it will swallow your time!
Now there are apps out there if you need them. Sites like RescueTime, Toggl and TimemyLife help track the time you spend. Apps like Freedom actually restrict social media and internet sites during designated periods. It’s not weakness to need a little help keeping to your schedule. Facebook has spent millions, billions developing a system that traps you into spending more time than you intend.
How to Stop Distractions from Taking Your Time
Our next time hack is to turn off notifications on your phone and computer. These are not only time-killers but more than a little annoying, right? Nobody can work with the phone beeping or buzzing every five minutes. Even if you ignore it, it’s breaking your concentration.
So disable the pop-ups that tell you about new emails, turn off the notifications on your phone.
Concentrate on Deep Work to be More Productive
Next here is going to be to concentrate on deep work, and this one is going to really move the needle on your business.
Deep work is that 20% of the work that drives 80% of your progress. For me, that’s producing videos, writing books and creating courses. For our meal delivery example, it might be contacting civic groups or hosting dinner parties. We’re talking the really important work here.
On the other hand, shallow work, is the less important tasks. We’re talking the 80% of the work that maybe only accounts for 20% of the results. For my business, shallow work is things like promoting on social media or writing sponsored blog posts. Doing this shallow work is necessary, it’s still something you’ll need to do but it’s not really what drives your business.
So what you do, you plan your schedule around blocks of deep work. These are big chunks of time like two or three hours where you only concentrate on those tasks that make a difference.
What’s also important here is that you start your schedule with a block of deep work. Before you check your email, before checking the news or Facebook, before anything, schedule a couple of hours of deep work.
This was a hard one for me because I used to always check my phone or email or social first thing in the morning. I’d do all this after sitting down at my desk, before getting to that deep work. The problem is that this puts you in reactive mode. It leads to more lost time because you’re caught thinking about that one urgent email or something you saw in your social feed.
Concentrate on those blocks of deep work, do them first. You can schedule small chunks of shallow work in between your deep work. This is a great system because that 15 or 30 minutes of easy, shallow work gives your brain time to relax before that next block of heavy concentration and deep work.
No More Excuses!
Our fifth productivity hack and this one is going to seem obvious but bear with me, eliminate all distractions and excuses.
So we’ve talked about distractions, the phone beeping, the email notifications, all the things that break your concentration. Just as bad though are the excuses.
The excuses are every time you think to yourself, “hmm, I think I’ll get up to get a snack,” or “I’m going to reward myself with a half hour of TV or reading.”
Just like checking your social feed, these little breaks end up being an hour or longer. Then you’ve only got 15 minutes left so you decide you don’t want to start anything new. It ends up being a huge loss of time.
Part of not losing this time is going to come from your time-blocking schedule and sticking to it but there are still going to be distractions and excuses. The trips to the fridge or the ‘get-up-and-stretch’ that turns into half an hour watching TV.
So close the door to your office, tell the kids to go to the mall, strap your ass to your chair and stick to your schedule. You can schedule in five or ten minutes every hour and a half to stretch or walk around but YOU MUST keep to that schedule. Don’t let these little distractions and excuses waste your time.
We all have the same amount of time during the day. Getting more done means prioritizing what you do with your time and using these tips to get more out of it.
About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.