I’ll never forget the recent national holiday I spent working with my business partner — instead of basking in the sun like everyone else. There is no time to hit the beach when the website is down and payments aren’t processing correctly. Sure, I briefly wished I could leave my work problems at the office every night — until we solved the problem.
I wouldn’t trade our feeling of triumph for anything in the world.
In an entrepreneur’s day-to-day life, each workday is radically different and even weekends give way to emergencies. Doctors aren’t the only ones “on call” anymore. When we became entrepreneurs, we ventured further into the land of “on call” than we probably ever thought possible — and we love it.
The problem with being so drained of time is that another important resource — energy — also gets drained. Our tasks take mental effort, physical effort, and (many times) emotional effort. It is a risky game we’re playing with little energy to keep going.
There must be a way to fix it.
Our projects are demanding in terms of time and energy — so what if we could save some? What if we could preserve some of our energy for when it’s most needed?
Saving Time & Automating Energy
There are so many of our activities that could be done for us with absolutely no effort on our part! There’s something very powerful about leaving the mundane and time-consuming activities to be taken care of automatically.
When I’m strapped for time and feeling overwhelmed, I take solace in the fact that I feel that way because I’m spending my time on the important stuff, instead of the mundane.
Bold Productivity — Your Action Plan
- Clear that inbox! There’s nothing more daunting than a bursting email inbox. A large number of new messages is not inviting, is it? Instead of drowning in emails, set up filters to guard yourself from anything that isn’t essential. Gmail’s Priority Inbox is a step in the right direction, but you know your project’s needs better than anyone.My preferred method of judo-chopping the inbox is to immediately filter new messages into folders (or labels) that describe their level of importance. No need to deal with this today? Moved to “Non-essential”. Ultra important? Starred and staying in the inbox.For super inbox powers, reply to urgent emails as soon as you read them. There’s no time like the present. When in doubt, just send the email, and move on!
- Set up IFTTT. There’s this amazing website that deals with many online tasks for you — with no extra effort required.My favorite IFTTT recipes include:- New Instagram or Foursquare photos get stored directly in a Dropbox folder
– New Facebook Page post will get posted to my LinkedIn account
– New tagged photo on Facebook will get stored directly in a Dropbox folder
– New tweet of my choosing every week at a certain time
– New starred items on Google Reader get tweeted out via Buffer
- Set up Zapier. This service is very similar to IFTTT, but it has more business-oriented recipes. For example, every time someone purchases a product of mine via Paypal, I am notified and they are automatically added to an email list.
- Put social all in one place. I personally use Hootsuite, but there are many other options out there. The point is to rest assured knowing that there is no need to jump around from place to place to find all of your social network messages — personal and professional.Why spend time navigating all over the social web when it can instead be brought to you? Other websites like NutshellMail can also help do this via your email inbox.
- Put the control in the hands of the computer. Sometimes, we aren’t strong-willed enough to be as focused as we might want to be. I find that putting the control in the hands of the computer leaves me free to focus on important tasks. Check out my favorite apps for this:- SelfControl to block a list of websites. I definitely add all of the social web distractions to the list before I set the timer to at least one hour. This way, no matter what I do, I have to focus on work and not on my friends. I get more done in less time.- Freedom allows me to absolutely disconnect from the internet when I need to truly put everything aside and get things done. What I love about Freedom is that it won’t ever let me reverse my decision once I’ve disconnected. If I chose to be offline for two hours, there is nothing I can do to regain internet access — except work hard and wait out the clock.When my willpower isn’t enough, apps like SelfControl and Freedom help me be more productive with less distractions — every single time.
After implementing these timesaving tricks into my life, I can go about my day more relaxed, knowing that I have more time and energy to attack the most difficult aspects of my projects. Without all of these productivity tools to help, I’m not sure I would’ve had the energy to solve a sticky problem on a day off!
Do you have other productivity and timesaving tips to share with us? I’d love to hear more. Leave them in the comments!
Bio: Marcella Chamorro recently released an eBook for writers, focused on finding your true writing voice. She also writes for her blog on lifestyle & marketing. As an entrepreneur, speaker, & consultant based in Managua, Marcella works on creating technologies to boost creativity.