Trading time for money is one of the hardest ways to make cash. But when it’s your job (or hobby, or second job), you must use it wisely or you lose. Since time is finite, every second wasted means dollars gone.
When you waste money, car payments may come up late, rent may be hard to make, or you may not have enough to buy the extras you want. Either way, wasting time hurts your bottom line.
Here are a few ways to help service-based business owners and hobbyists find more time, so they can make more money.
1. Start out with a detailed plan of what you must accomplish each day.
Never go to bed without knowing what you need to do the next morning (or whenever you work your gig). This is your Do-or-Die List. If you don’t do, your business dies, and so does your money. Create a focused plan before you sleep. Then, check it again when you wake up. Make it a habit to check it before you sit at your computer; it can help jog your memory before you get lost in the Facebook rabbit hole.
2. Schedule your most complex and time-consuming tasks when your mind is freshest.
If you work a primary job, this’ll require a little creativity. You’ll need to figure out your best days for getting things done. It may be at 8 pm in the evening, when the kids have gone to bed. It may be when you get up on Saturday morning and don’t have to work. Whenever it is, make sure you’re focused on your best and most profitable projects then.
To find out when your most productive hours are, follow these steps:
- Keep a running log of your energy for two weeks, noting your energy in the morning (before work, if you have a “day” job), at lunch, in the afternoon (after work, if necessary), at dinner, and in the evening.
- Rate your levels from one to five, with one being the least productive feeling and five the most. Chart your results to get an idea of your body’s patterns and energy levels. Then, start using that time to hit your hardest, most profitable projects.
3. Leave the stuff that can wait until you’ve taken care of the money.
If you have client work to handle, or products to deliver, the dishes should wait. Dinner is a different story, but you should put clean-up on the back burner.
4. Manage your email; don’t let it manage you.
Running a service-based business, especially online, means you’re at the mercy of your inbox. Answering each notification with drool to your chin means you’ll spend a large chunk of time fishing through other people’s baggage. Cut yourself loose.
There are courses on Udemy teaching you how to be more productive by mastering Gmail, and there are programs like Sanebox to help you beat the inbox blues. Take control of your email and gain at least an hour in your day.
5. Invest in time-saving projects.
If you’re busy tweaking your website or doing laundry, instead of doing what earns you money, then you’re wasting your time and, therefore, your dimes. I know people in my industry that don’t even touch their laundry or the house cleaning. And these people are insanely productive because of it.
These are investments well spent. Take a look at the activities that take up most of your time and budget having someone handle them for you. But, you don’t get to play while they tend to your “chores” — make the most of your investment and spend that time earning.
Work on the money first. Leave the movies for the people who don’t have an agenda for earning. We all love vegging on the couch, but we have to be smart about how our time’s spent. If the goal is to collect minutes and earn dollars, be prepared for this — especially in the beginning.
7. Master your craft.
You’ll earn more when you can quickly crank out whatever it is you do. The guy cutting grass knows how to mow four lawns an hour, when it takes you one for your own. He’s a master. He knows how to work quickly, so he earns more money mowing lawns than you would. Master your craft and you’ll also earn more in less time.
What else can you do to make sure you’re earning from the time you have available?