Time Management Tips for Online Service Providers
Although a lot of people assume having a business means getting more free time, this usually isn’t true. Reports say that business owners actually work twice as much as regular employees.
Sure, sometimes effort that needs to be put into the business is justified, but in most cases, time spent on working can be reduced without affecting work quality.
Check out the following strategies to gain more control over your time as an online service provider.
Ever wonder why you sometimes don’t work on something until the last minute? Perhaps you just say you’re procrastinating but it’s actually Parkinson’s Law at work. The Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time allocated to it.
Parkinson’s Law in action: When you allocate 3 hours, for example, to do a specific job, you would do everything in 3 hours. Meanwhile, if you allocate 5 hours for that same job, you wouldn’t finish it until 5 hours.
We put off working on something because we know that the task isn’t due yet. To overcome this, try reducing your working time. If you’ve allocated 2 hours checking your emails, try reducing it to an hour. You’ll realize you could still get the job done with less time.
The Reitoff Principle
Two rules to follow? That’s right, but don’t be confused! If Parkinson's Law covers the time you’d do the actual work, the Reitoff Principle talks about your day of rest and intentionally scheduling it. It’s basically a fancy way of designating a “cheat” day.
The term was coined by Ali Abdaal when he noticed that some of his friends who worked the entire week but called one day a complete “write-off” (Reitoff) were more productive than those who didn’t. This was because intentionally setting a day off resulted in their guiltless rest.
This principle is especially helpful when you get burnouts from working all the time and still feel guilty when you’re not doing anything work-related.
The Reitoff Principle in action: Unlike the normal 9-to-5 where you know you’ll only be working for set hours every day, running a business can sometimes blur the lines so that you’d work more than you should.
To overcome this, set a day of rest within the week. Intentionally give yourself a day to do absolutely nothing work-related.
Now that you’re familiar with the two laws that would encompass your entire work week, here are 7 more tips to follow to gain more control over your time as an online service provider:
Having a map makes a destination easier and faster to reach. It gives little opportunity to be sidetracked by details that don’t matter. What do you want to achieve for your business this week? More sales? Focus on sales. More visibility? Focus on advertising.
Oftentimes, when we’re not sure what we want, we do so many more things that could have been done away and still have the same results. Don’t forget to write them down!
Create a calendar
Updating your calendar helps organize your tasks for efficiency. A calendar lets you know which things to do first and when to do these things. It keeps you from overbooking yourself as well.
Use technology to your advantage
While we advise that you steer clear of digital distractions like social media when you’re on work mode, using technology isn’t an entirely bad thing. In fact, there are hundreds of apps and software that speed up work while keeping you connected to your team and clients.
Worst things first
When you do the hardest tasks first, the rest of them wouldn’t look as bad anymore. This is Brian Tracy’s advice on his book, “Eat that Frog.”
There are many advantages to doing the most difficult tasks first. One of which is the burst of endorphins it gives you early on, keeping you “hooked” to your productive state.
Brian Tracy also quotes Mark Twain when he said, “if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”
The frog, being your largest task at hand, will intimidate you the entire day if you don’t tackle it first. So if you want to get more done with little to know stress, do the worst things first.
Limit your meetings
People spend a ridiculous amount of time in meetings. Studies have found out that 65% of senior managers say that meetings keep them from actually being productive. Sure, meetings are important for collaboration and creativity, but sometimes meetings can take up so much of your time when done too frequently.
For more efficiency, allocate a specific time in your week for meetings and remember to keep it short. When you don’t set a time window for your meetings, it can be tempting to extend until you’ve realized you’ve spent hours on a discussion that could have been 30 minutes long or an update that could have been an email!
Leave room for the unexpected
You’ve set your calendar and your to-do list but sometimes things don’t go as planned. That’s why you should leave room for the unexpected.
Provide cushions for these unplanned events and don’t compress all tasks one after the other. Whether it’s a surprise call from a client or an unforeseen challenge, leaving extra time and resources for such things protects your schedule from going haywire.
Learn how to say “no”
When starting out, client inquiries are always exciting. Filling in those blank dates are always satisfying to watch. After all, these bookings bring in more money. However, a schedule too packed and taking on more projects than you can handle can cause a lot of headaches.
Overcome the challenges and stress that come with overbooking yourself by learning how to say “no.” Stop spreading yourself too thin by only committing to projects you know you are able to do with your current schedule and resources.
Online service providers are very familiar with the struggles of “owning their own time” because it can be very easy to lose track of it when there’s no one to tell you to stop!
Of course, there is no one uniform path for productivity and success, and you are free to manage your day however you like. However, if you wish to optimize your time and gain more control over your day, start by following these strategies for time management.