Men have a better work-life balance

According to a study by the Office for National Statistics men have got a better handle on their work-life balance than women do.

Looking just at the north west of England, it would appear that men spend seven hours more, each week, on leisure time than women do. As an average across the UK, men relax for six hours and nine minutes per day, while women are stuck with five hours and 29 minutes.

The study, which uses data from 2015, seems to suggest that men had more “free” time, because they engaged in less unpaid work than women.  For example, women were more likely to be using their non-working time dealing with children, cooking, cleaning or shopping.

Whilst this is undoubtedly true to a certain extent, I know many of my female friends who would loudly agree with that explanation, there is also another one.

Now, I’m going to stick my head above the parapet here, and may well get a ton of backlash, but so be it.  Men are far more selfish with their time than women are.

That’s certainly been my experience, and I’m not necessarily saying that they are wrong (or right, for that matter).  Men are far better at jealously guarding their hobby time, fitness time, TV time or whatever it is – whilst women, who do tend to fall in to more nurturing roles, will put everyone else’s needs first.  Facilitating other people’s enjoyment, instead of focussing on their own leisure.

Equally, and I can only speak from my own experience, men are better at asking for help, and delegating when it comes to their own businesses.  The vast majority of my clients are male.  Not because men are incapable of doing the tasks that I handle for them, but because they realise their time could be better spent elsewhere.

I’ve had conversations with numerous female business owners who admit they need help, but are too scared to let go.  They’re so used to doing it all on their own, that they can’t imagine another way.  Two years later, they’re no further on, but far more stressed out.

As women, we really need to give ourselves a break, and be mindful of the fact that Superwoman is just a myth. You’re fine as you are – you can do anything, but not everything.

As a wife of one and Mum of five, I’m still struggling to come to terms with that concept.

Three Ways to Make More Time

Ruth and I have just been to the Big Bolton Conversation, hosted by the fantastic team at theBestofBolton. I have to say, I was blown away by how well run the entire event was, and what an amazing mix of people were in the room.

As a featured supplier, Time Saving Heroes had the opportunity to have a stand in their “expo” section, which was great – as all exhibitors were B2B, and limited to one per industry.  People actually took the time to talk, and we made some fantastic connections we’ll need to touch base with later this week.

Going through the services we offer, and why we offer them, the dilemma of “too much to do, not enough time” kept coming up.  Obviously, it’s something we hear day in, day out with our existing clients, but it seemed particularly heightened today.

Many people want a quick fix, jokingly asking if we can turn their 24 hour days in to 33 hour ones instead.  Of course we can’t, but the truth is this question says a lot about our approach to managing our time.  Instead of wishing we had more, we need to be better at using what we’ve got.

Here at Time Saving Heroes that’s what we specialise in.  Working with what you’ve already got, and making it better.  You don’t need more time, you need to be more productive with the time you have.

On the drive from Bolton back to the office I got thinking about my top tips to help people manage this, and here they are:

 

#1 – Buy it

I’m always telling my clients they can do anything, but they can’t do everything.  The simple truth is if you take everything on there’s nowhere for you to go.  There reality is there are only so many hours in a day, and no matter how long you work, you can’t do it all.

The good news though is that you can buy time.  If you look at the tasks you currently spend time on, but don’t have to be dealt with by you, find a way to outsource these.  If you spend a lot of time trying to update your website, would it make more sense to pay a web developer to do it?  What about a bookkeeper to handle your accounts?  A Virtual Assistant might have all the necessary skills you need.

Whatever it is you need doing, there is someone out there who has the right skill set to be able to help you.

 

# 2 – Find it

It might seem like a daunting task, but actually taking the time to track how you spend your days is well worth it.  Logging everything you spend your time on, from personal tasks to replying to emails, will highlight all your many obligations throughout the day.

You can then sit and look through the things that are taking up your time that you don’t think are personally worth it.  Rather than adding more things to your list, you can see this as a golden opportunity to cut out the things that aren’t working or don’t really working.  This way, you can free up some of your time to focus on other things.

 

# 3 – Create it

OK, you can’t actually create time, but you can create the illusion of more.  For example, do you find yourself writing the same sort of emails day in, day out? Do you get similar questions from customers or clients?  If so, producing a standard response that you can send out with the click of a mouse is a great way to save yourself heaps of time every single day.

Rather than spending lots of time shuffling bits of paper around, why don’t you use something like Evernote to keep everything simple and organised in one place?  That way it’s always accessible as well and you can add to it as and when needed.

Can you multitask any of your chores?  If you commute to work, can you use this time to deal with your emails, or listen to an audio version of that book you keep meaning to read?

 

 

There are lots of ways you can do more with the time that you have. Perhaps getting on with it, instead of complaining about how much you have to do would be a good first step?  #JustSaying

5 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

None of us are perfect, not even Time Saving Heroes.  Lu will be the first to admit she’ll put off certain tasks she just doesn’t want to do, and is a self-confessed Queen of procrastination.  The reality is, we all do it – finding a million other things to do just so we can avoid that one thing we don’t fancy doing.

 

We recognise that, and are forever kicking ourselves up the proverbial to make sure we don’t fall in to that trap.  So, here are our top 5 tips for beating the habit, and getting more proactive and being more productive.

 

# 1 – Ignore your phone

If you need to get something done, your phone is likely to become your biggest enemy.  Whether it’s a “quick” phone call, or a simple text message, the second you have that thing in your hand you have the potential to start wandering. Before you know it 20 minutes have passed and you’re still scrolling through Facebook.  Yeah, we know you never meant that to happen but yet here we are.

 

In an ideal world turn your phone off completely.  The world is not going to end in the next 10-15 minutes.  Make sure other notifications are off too, so you’re not getting Skyped or email pinging through.

 

# 2 – Protect your time

Whilst it’s easy to turn your phone off, it can be somewhat harder to manage staff or colleagues if you are in a busy office.  Someone simply popping their head through your door can lead to a good 5-10 minute distraction, not to mention the time lost trying to get your focus back again.

 

If you are busy, stand up for your time and ask them to come back later.  Put a sign on your door and make it clear you are NOT to be disturbed.  One of our clients even has specific office hours where people are free to drop in, but outside of those, his time is his own and is fiercely protected.

 

# 3 – Give yourself a break

No one can stay 100% focused for long, so make sure you give yourself regular breaks.  If you’re working on a task that’s very time intensive, step away every 30 minutes or so.  Get up, stretch your legs, have something to eat or drink.  This gives you a chance to clear your head and get some new energy, so you can go back to the task with a better perspective.  It will go smoother than if you stayed focused on it entirely.

 

# 4 – Positive procrastination

Yes, there is such a thing!  If you are determined to procrastinate, at least do something positive with it.  If you don’t want to reply to that particular email right now, clear your desk instead. Maybe you need to phone a client, but don’t want to just yet, so prepare that presentation.  Doing something is at least better than doing nothing, but accept you are only putting off the inevitable and you will have to do it eventually.

 

# 5 – Reward yourself

If you’ve managed to get through those tasks you’ve been putting off, whether it was one or 10, make sure you treat yourself in some way.  You have definitely earnt a reward, and knowing what that reward is going to be is a great way to motivate yourself.

 

 

 

Of course, another really great tip is to hire a Virtual Assistant who can take on those tasks you really don’t want to do.  To find out if Time Saving Heroes could help you and your business, give us a call on 0161 883 2024, email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or procrastinate about it for a while and we call you.

The Just To Do It List

I’m willing to bet you’ve made a fair few To Do lists in your day.  You might even be a serial list maker, relishing the opportunity to break out the coordinated stationery, and colour coding your tasks with a myriad of highlighters and gel pens.  Of course, that could just be me.

 

Now, it’s true to say that To Do lists often divide opinion. Some people think they do nothing but act as a constant reminder of how much you have to do, and how little you’re managing to achieve.  They’re a negative noose hanging round your neck.

 

Personally, I think that’s a bit extreme, but I can see the logic.  The flip side is that writing a list can, if nothing else, help you to set concrete goals and organise your thoughts, usually ensuring you don’t forget anything.  The problem is when you don’t manage the list correctly, and whilst tasks are remembered, they don’t get done.

 

The reality is there’s a degree of skill to creating an effective To Do lists, so you can ensure everything on there gets done!

 

Here are my top tips that will, hopefully, help you just To Do it.

 

# 1 Write it the night before

There is no point waiting until you get in to the office to start your to do list, get it down the night before.  That way you can start your day with clarity.  Yes, I know things can change and new stuff comes in, but at least then you will already know what you have to do that day, regardless of what else comes in.

 

#2 Prioritise

So many of our clients write massive long lists, including everything they need to do, from emptying the rubbish bin to topping up the paper in the photocopier.  A 100 item list is going to be daunting, and it’s going to be impossible to see the wood for the trees.  How can you quickly see what has to be done, and is important?  Simple, you can’t.

 

Keep your to do list short and sweet – don’t have more than three things on there that you absolutely HAVE to do today.  If you only achieve three things today, what do they categorically have to be?  Everything else is just a nice to do.  So write a “nice to do” list and keep it to one side in case you get time later.

 

# 3 First things first

When compiling your To Do list, make sure you put the items in order of importance, starting with the highest at the top.  When you come in to the office, tackle your first item before you do anything else. Don’t check your email, or answer your phone – stay focussed and get the big one out of the way.

The one thing your business needs to be successful …

Over the years we’ve worked with lots of different clients, across a wide range of industries and sectors.  When they come to us, one thing they all have in common is that they’re struggling.

 

It might not necessarily be financially, though we have seen that too. More often than not they’re struggling to get everything done.  The business owner, who might actually be the only person involved in the business, is left to do everything.  That means they’re stuck on a hamster wheel, jumping from doing the work, to sending out quotes, chasing new clients, following up on leads, and managing the invoices.

 

We’ve said it before, and we’ll never stop saying it: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

 

Something always has to give.

 

When it comes to sole traders and small business owners, the thing that tends to give is their leisure and family time.  Which can cause problems at home, not to mention adding a huge amount of stress to the entire situation.

 

And whilst they’re busing working in their business, these individuals aren’t working on it.  The reality is the one thing your business needs to be successful, is you.  You are the only person who can take your business to the next level.  It’s your ideas and passion that have got it this far, and if it’s to go any further, you need to be the one directing it.

 

You can’t do that if you’ve got your head buried in Facebook Ads, or you’re tied up on the phone all day.  It just doesn’t happen.

 

So, instead you keep doing what you’ve always done.  Which means you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

 

How then do you make a change?  Maybe you need to take on your first member of staff, but you’re worried about how much time that will eat up, and how much it will cost.  It’s not an easy decision to make, and people can have huge reservations about it.  Understandably.

 

An alternative, of course, is to outsource.  A Virtual Assistant is a great way to manage that; however, there are numerous services you can outsource to a professional who has the skills you don’t.

 

Why not hire a bookkeeper to keep on top of your accounts?  Maybe it will cost you £20ph, but how much time will you save, that you can focus back on your business?

 

If you need a website, you’ll no doubt look for a website designer.  I know plenty of people that have cobbled together their own websites (and with WordPress etc it isn’t that complicated), but if you want something bespoke, you wouldn’t try to do it yourself.  It would take you hours and hours to try and learn how to do it, and then muddle through.

 

Why would you be sensible when it comes to a website, but not when it comes to other things that zap your time?

 

Outsource your weaknesses to Time Saving Heroes, and we’ll let you concentrate on your strengths, so your business can go to the next level.

 

Call us on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk – we’re always happy to have a chat to see if we can help you.

 

 

 

Stand me up once, shame on you …

If you follow our Facebook page you will know this morning Lu got stood up. You’ll also know that she had well nice shoes, and was most unimpressed by the amount of rain falling from the skies, but that’s a whole other matter.

The good news is it appears there was a good explanation for the missed meeting today, and a new get together is going to be arranged. However, it seems to be quite a hot topic of conversation among many business owners – as her post missed-meeting rant has been getting quite a bit of attention.

How long would you wait?

Most people said if they had arranged to meet someone, they’d wait anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes (one person saying they’d happily wait 20 minutes) to see if they really were a no-show. The reality is people can easily get stuck in traffic, and not everyone has hands free and is able to make a call to let you know of an issue.

Equally, if you’re already sat waiting for them, you might as well use the time productively to catch up on emails or make any other calls you need to. Yes, it can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be a total waste of your time.

Would you get in touch with them?

Whilst you’re waiting, would you try to get in touch with the missing party? Most of us have been there at least once, somewhere along the way you’ve failed to put a date in your diary and before you know it, you’ve inadvertently stood someone up. We all like to think we’re above it, but alas, we’re all only human.

Phoning someone whilst you’re waiting is a good way to gauge where things are at. Did they simply forget, and if so, is it worth trying to rearrange? Was it a genuine mistake, or are they saying they don’t have the time to meet with you and give you their full attention?

Perhaps you can’t get in touch with them there and then, in which case, would you make contact with them when you get back to the office? Try to find out where they were? If not, why not?

Would you arrange a second meeting?

Most people we’ve heard from said that, depending on the reason for missing the meeting in the first place, they would probably arrange a second meeting. If someone seemed genuinely sorry, or it was clear there was a logical explanation for any mix up, then they’d be more than happy to move on and try again.

However, if they got a feeling the person was lying or trying to cover their tracks, didn’t apologise or wouldn’t take ownership for their mistake, then they wouldn’t bother.

One person we spoke to said the same person had stood him up three times. It was a potential client, and whilst the temptation is always there to try and chase down a sale, it’s certainly not wort it if you have to work that hard. A client who can treat you like that is one that’s unlikely to ever value what you offer, and will no doubt also be a bad payer.

 

 

Three tips for dealing with your fear of delegation

Here at Time Saving Heroes we’re used to working with business owners who don’t necessarily have a lot of experience in managing other people.  Some have never been employed by anyone else, and others have not had managerial positions.

That tends to mean that whilst they are brilliant at what they do, they’re not used to delegating tasks to others.  I’m not saying that makes them control freaks, but …

Hey, we’ve all been there.  If you want something doing right, and all that. The problem with releasing control, even a little bit, is the risk that a task won’t get done right, or as well as you might have done it.

However, the real problem comes when you let that stop you from passing on things you don’t need to do.  If you keep hold of everything within your business, there is a very real risk that you’ll burn out – and that doesn’t benefit anyone.

Control isn’t about keeping hold of everything yourself, it’s about managing risk and delegating what you can, to the best person, whenever you can.

If you want an extra pair of hands, or some support as and when you need it, but are worried how you’re going to manage it, our top three tips might help.

# 1 – Figure out where to focus

No matter how amazing you are, there’s only so many hours in a day. You might be happy working 10, 12, or even 18 of them but that can only last for so long, and in our experience there’s a good chance some things still won’t get done.

As a business owner you need to work out where your time can best be spent.  Yes, invoicing is important but do you have to do it?  Could someone take that over, or even automate the process to save time, so you can focus your attention on the things only you can do?

Such things could be strategic thinking, building relationships, sales, new product development and so on.  You can’t outsource those things so easily, but you can let go of the time consuming admin.

We have seen so many business owners who don’t have time to work on their business, and take it to the next level because they’re so busy working in it on day to day operations.

# 2 – What are you scared of?

Our Time Saving Heroes pride themselves on being honest and open, and we always encourage are clients to be the same. Therefore, if you feel uncomfortable about working with someone else (even though you know it makes sense to), we want you to talk about those fears.

Vague feelings of discomfort are quite disempowering and will invariably mean you don’t go anywhere.  If we can help you clarify what it is that’s bothering you, we can actually help you to address that issue and move on.

For example, we’ve had clients say before that they worry the work won’t get done, or it won’t get done as well as they would do it themselves. Some even worry that they’re inconveniencing us when they pick up the phone to ask for a task to be done, or they come across as being bossy.

The flip side of course is asking how they feel when they hold on to everything themselves, then the conversation starts to change.

I’m stressed, frustrated, sleep deprived, anxious, out of control and standing still.

# 3 – Minimise the risk

It’s all very well us saying we’re amazing, we could even point you in the direction of our reviews and client testimonials, but that doesn’t help you that much if you’re genuinely anxious about taking that first step.

That’s why we want to work with you from the outset to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. We’ll look at your fears and then figure out ways to put checks in place to make you feel comfortable.

Taking the above example of work not getting done, we agreed with one client to use a task management system which they could use to assign and track tasks sent to their Time Saving Hero. They could set deadlines, and monitor progress remotely and therefore still felt they had control of the situation, without having to be completely involved. Within a few weeks that fear was gone because they realised everything was completed as agreed.

 

It is scary, and yes it can feel a little time consuming in the beginning as you get used to working with someone else, but the truth is, whilst you can do anything you most certainly can’t do everything.

If you’re ready to have a chat about how a Virtual Assistant can help save you time and money, pick up the phone and call us on 0161 883 2024. We’re happy to help, and have a chat about what you might need to delegate.