The Art of Being Time Efficient: Save Time When You Have None
One thing many entrepreneurs think about is how to be time efficient – finding every way possible to save time in a busy world. They try to squeeze as many seconds as possible out of every moment.
I mean, there’s only 24 hours in a day… and a WHOLE world to conquer.
- Elon Musk reportedly works 100 hours a week.
- Tim Ferriss can get the job done in four hours a week.
- Jason Fried doesn’t work more than a standard 40 hour workweek.
What gives? What’s the proper amount of time one needs to work in order to accomplish their dreams? 100 hours, 40 hours… maybe 4 hours?
Every entrepreneur, every guru, and every business school has a different answer to the “how many hours is enough” question.
Today, let’s take a different approach.
Let’s talk about being time efficient when 24 hours a day doesn’t seem like it’s enough. Here’s 3 tips to save time:
Save time, work your way up to the goal at hand.
Prioritize & set yourself up for success.
Get a routine & at least give it a shot.
This is not an ultra-specific guide about how many hours you should work.
This isn’t a step by step process about how to time hack all of your problems away. Most articles taking this approach are probably trying to sell you some snake oil.
Instead, consider this blog to be a priority touchstone. Some of the time saving tips and tools discussed will help you on your entrepreneurial journey. Other time management strategies however, won’t work for you.
Why don’t all time management strategies work – for all people?
Because people are complicated. There are very few universal panaceas out there (aka, not one size fits all). Every individual is different.
Youtube is used by three quarters of US adults. Do 75% of the adult US population subscribe to the same channels? Of course not, we all have our individual tastes.
Do all people learn and work the same? Not at all! Some people have weird habits, other people have “normal ones”.
- Hemingway started writing at first light and wrote until around 12 or until he was completely satisfied with his work for the day.
- Chuck Close likes to work for 3 hours, twice a day — especially when a juicy political scandal is happening. He said his best work was during Watergate and Iran-Contra.
- Woody Allen sometimes takes showers, multiple times a day to stimulate his story ideas. If he’s stuck on a particular idea, he will take off some of his clothes to give himself a bit of a chill. He paces around the terrace of his apartment as well. In his words, “he thinks in the cracks.”
So if you are:
- A 9 to 5 warrior looking to start a side hustle (like drop shipping or freelancing)…
- An entrepreneur looking for new time management tools…
- Curious how you can optimize being time efficient in your daily life…
…then keep reading.
Maybe you can take some of these time management strategies to the bank.
Being Time Efficient TIP #1: Set Your Goals Save Time
This article by Ramit Sethi zones in on a realistic way to achieve your goals.
His article is titled Goal setting is dead. Do this instead.
Instead of “setting a goal and doing it”, Ramit argues that you need to start small and work your way up to the goal at hand.
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How often do we get inspired, set a list of goals, and then fail because the inspiration goes away? A lot.
In his article, Ramit interviews BJ Fogg (director of a persuasive technology lab at Stanford). Fogg talks about taking advantage of those times when you’re killing it – feeling motivated and on top of the world.
During those times, try to accomplish as much as possible to save time. Optimize that time so that when you’re not motivated, you can still get the work done that you need to.
The hard truth? You’re going to lose motivation. Like Chuck Close says, “Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
Even when all looks bleak, you need to get your work done. That’s life. This is why you prepare for those “downer moments”.
Sure, some people like binge working a couple of days a week. They find success from that, and it’s all good.
But his isn’t sustainable for most people. Gain momentum, and preserve it at all costs.
- Use your inspiration to get ahead, but don’t rely on it.
- Start small, and work your way up to “changing the world”.
- Don’t binge work, unless this is your weird, creative mantra. Try keeping a steady momentum.
Being Time Efficient TIP #2: Prioritize and Set Yourself Up For Success
If you truly wish to be time efficient, you need to take a serious step back from the project at hand and prioritize your time.
James Clear writes about some time management tools and techniques that are fantastic for those who have trouble staying on task.
In his article, Mr. Clear spells out his seven step system for being more productive each day.
[I paraphrase below]:
- Managing energy
- Prepare the day before
- Managing email after work momentum ends
- Work away from your phone
- Work in a cold environment
- Sit up or stand so that you can breathe
- Start your day with a “pre-game” routine
As you can see, James is a routine driven guy. He promotes preparation over spontaneity, and he’s all about intentionality.
He’s basically saying, “Want to make the most out of your work? Work in the mornings without your phone, away from email, in an environment that is friendly and conducive.”
It’s an insanely proactive strategy, and for many, this will increase workflow. You don’t have to follow these steps verbatim, but it’s a good place to start.
James also promotes the Eisenhower Box – a tool used to help prioritize daily tasks. Here’s what it looks like:
You can download a spreadsheet of this in the article mentioned above.
- Use the Eisenhower Box to easily prioritize your to-do list.
- Set yourself up for success. Whether this means putting away your phone or working in a cold room to stay alert, it’s important to treat your work time as sacred.
Being Time Efficient TIP #3: Get a Routine… & At Least Give it a Shot
As mentioned earlier everyone has a different way of interacting with the world. The best routine for one person may be a terrible routine for someone else!
But if you don’t have a routine now… you should probably try starting with something.
You need to experiment. Find what works.
Here’s something you can start off with:
This is the routine from none other than the great Ben Franklin himself.
Now, you may be thinking, “No… five in the morning? Get out.”
That’s understandable, but who knows? Maybe you’re actually a morning person and you’ve never given it a shot…
The point here isn’t that the Franklin schedule is the bees knees. The point is: that a structured way to go about your day could help you stay productive.
If you find that good ol’ Ben’s routine is not for you, THEN you adapt.
Foundr Magazine has some fantastic tips to go about doing this. In their article, they address things successful people do.
I recommend sifting through this and finding the things that pique your fancy. Once you’ve done that, go into Ben’s routine, and change up times and priorities throughout the day.
If you’re working a 9 to 5, make sure to prioritize mornings or evenings for extra work or enjoyment.
If you’re rocking the digital nomad life, use this routine to keep you on task. Maybe pair it up with the Eisenhower Box as a super boost.
If you get stuck knowing where to prioritize your time, just keep revisiting Foundr Mag. It’s a nice list of great ideas to get you started.
- Start with a set routine.
- After you give it a shot, start adapting.
So now that you know how to become time efficient…
Experiment. Experiment. Experiment.
It’s all you can do until you figure out what works best for your day. If you want to save time in an effective way, you must search out all options.
For some, this takes years.
For others, this happens almost as soon as the searching begins.
Whether you’re working a 9 to 5 trying to start a drop shipping store on the side, or if you’re a startup entrepreneur trying to manage your life, these tips could help get you on the right track.
Let me know what some of YOUR favorite methods are for saving time in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!