How to Prioritize Your Time

entrepreneur freelance time Mar 24, 2021

Do you feel like you get the most out of each day?

Many freelancers, consultants, and solopreneurs have a hard time defining the highest-leverage ways to spend their time…and honestly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

If you want to use your time more effectively so you can do more, make more money, AND have time to live your life then take a moment to think intentionally about how you are spending your time so you can build your business around what you love.

Identify ways you are spending your time that fall into the following categories:

  1. Are low revenue
  2. Aren’t crucial to your work
  3. You hate
  4. You aren’t that good at
  5. Take too much time

Once you’ve identified these things the next step is to figure out how to actually change them.

The beauty of working for yourself is that you can constantly redefine your business to fit who you are and where you are in your life at this moment. Ultimately anything that falls into these categories is getting in the way of you controlling your time, work, and life - that means you either need to rethink your business model or find a different way to get these things done.

Here are four ways to do that:

Let it go

Really think about if it is crucial to your work and business model. Often we spend a lot of time on things that aren’t actually crucial to the way we do our work, bring in clients, or make money. This could be because someone else said you needed to do it, it is a strategy you tried and it just isn’t working, or it is something that used to be crucial to your business but things have shifted.

Can you restructure your work so that you don't have to do it?

For example: You spend a ton of time creating and updating your website but you get most of your clients through referrals who never see your website. Can you let go of your website?

Limit it

There are things that we all have to do as business owners that take up a ton of time. These things are crucial but might be non-billable work or work that you’re doing in a way that just takes up too much time.

Can you place limits around how you do it so that it takes up less time?

For example: You spend a lot of time here and there throughout the day checking email. Can you limit this to 30 minutes three times a day?  

Structure it

Organization is key to running a solo/small business. You don’t have a million other people to do things so you need to make sure you’re using your time most effectively. Organization doesn’t come naturally to everyone and that’s ok. Process can be taught. You can use tried and true methods to build replicable systems for your work so you can do more in less time. Basically, if you are doing something more than once it should have a replicable structure so it is easier for you to do it AND easier to delegate (see next step).

Can you build a structure so it is replicable and takes less time?

For example: It takes you forever to create proposals. Can you create an intake form for clients so you’re getting the needed info upfront and a proposal template with boilerplate language so you’re just plugging things in?

Find someone else to do it

For those of us who are solo-entrepreneurs, this is especially tricky. You are trying new things (awesome!) and learning as you go, but you can fall into the trap of trying to do everything yourself. Especially when you are just starting out, it is hard to figure out the right things to spend your time and money on. When margins are tight it can feel scary to invest in expertise. The thing is, finding the right experts is crucial to success and making life manageable. Something that may take you hours of Googling, reading, and making mistakes would probably take an expert 15 minutes. And honestly, you might be surprised at how affordable an expert might be.

Can you find someone who can do this better and faster?

For example: You spent an entire week researching how to run Facebook ads, invested a bunch of money, and saw no results. Can you hire an expert who can do a better job in less time?

This is an easy formula you can follow to take a hard look at how you’re spending your time so that you can build your business around what you love. Because…let’s be honest, if you want to spend a bunch of time doing things you hate, you might as well go back and work for someone else. 

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