I’m coming up on the 1-year anniversary of quitting my job and leaping full-time into entrepreneurship. It’s been quite a journey over the past year, but I’ve discovered a lot.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to be more thoughtful with my time, and to make life more productive and less busy (yes there is a difference).
Technology makes our lives easier, but it’s also filled it with more noise and information than we can ever digest. If you don’t prioritize your days properly, social media and other distractions can rapidly start to take over, and before you know it your life is in complete chaos.
This is something I’m consciously trying to avoid. I don’t want my life to be overrun by my business and let my relationships suffer. And on the flip side, I don’t want my business to suffer because of my personal life. There needs to be a good work-life balance.
One of the best ways to create a work-life balance is to work less. Or rather making more money in less time. Is that really possible? YES!
Here are 10 ways to increase your productivity and income, without sacrificing precious time.
1. Outsource work or hire an assistant
A happy worker is a productive worker, so if you’re stressed to the hilt and falling behind on projects, it’s time to hire some help. Even if it’s just for a short period of time, hiring an assistant will be well worth the investment.
I recently hired someone to help me for two days for some spring cleaning at work. I needed to get caught up on paperwork, make new files for the year and store away all of last year’s boxes. By outsourcing the small stuff, or tasks I’m not good at doing, I’m able to start new projects, sign on new clients and even take time for myself (imagine that).
If you’re thinking about hiring a virtual assistant but don’t know where to start, check out my new ebook: Delegating for Control Freaks and Cheapskates. You can download it for free, and it will take you through the all the steps!
2. Increase your rates
As a business owner it’s important to know your worth, whether you charge per project or an hourly rate. You are a talented, smart and sophisticated entrepreneur and should be paid accordingly.
This type of pricing theory is based on the Value-Based Pricing model. If you haven’t read Breaking the Time Barrier I HIGHLY recommend it. The book is free and you can read it in about an hour.
Value-Based pricing is when you can prove the value you provide against the amount of revenue you can generate for your client. It’s based on hard stats and results. Any client that respects you and your work, should not be surprised when you increase your prices.
When approaching a client with a rate increase, always be honest. “Sell” them on why you are worth getting paid a little more.
For instance, if you’re a web designer for ecommerce shops, there are certain things you can do to increase their sales just from changing the colors or layout of the website. If you can increase sales by $10,000 it’s fair to say you can charge up to $50,000 for your work (giving your client a 20% return on their investment — which is rare these days).
3. Work odd hours of the day
Normal business and school hours (8am – 5pm) are the busiest times of the day. This period is the peak time for distractions, wasting too much time, and constantly waiting (like waiting in line at the post office, waiting in traffic, etc).
If you have the privilege of working from home, or any location of your choice, scope out the best times of day for getting work done. Is the coffee house quieter early in the morning?
Does your neighborhood simmer down after dinner time? Find a time slot that works with your personal productivity times as well as the environment around you.
If you work in an office building, and your job allows it, try working during unconventional times of the day, like opting for an early-morning or late-night shift. You could spend more time with your family during the day, and potentially get to paid more, for working less (for some jobs, people who work odd hours get paid better rates).
4. Avoid overly demanding clients
All jobs require some amount of work, but not all of the projects and clients need to suck the life out of you. Some high maintenance clients (or bosses) are not worth the high emotional price paid.
Evaluate your work schedule and consider dropping any stressful projects or clients and only taking on those that have a good ROI (return on investment).
You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. Overly demanding clients always make you work excessively for your money. They put a drain on you emotionally, physically and keep you from taking on new jobs.
5. Abide by the 80/20 rule
The Pareto principal (aka 80/20 rule) explains that 80% of your results are produced from 20% of your efforts. This tactic was invented for you to evaluate your personal economy to see where the maximum amount of your efforts take place. And then really hone in those areas.
Do you have a client who pays you the most money for the least amount of work? Is one of your products selling at a better rate than the rest because of the time you put in beforehand?
Go through your business income, clients, and projects to see where most of your efforts are paying off. Then invest more of your time into maximizing them even more.
Equally as important is to stop wasting time on anything that’s producing small results even though you put in massive amounts effort.
6. Group similar tasks into batches
Batching is a simple technique where you group all your similar tasks together and complete them at one time. This batch processing can make you 10x more productive when done right.
For example; when it’s time to jump on social media, choose one day of the week to schedule posts, reply to comments and interact with your community, instead of doing it sporadically everyday.
7. Repurpose content or services into new packages
Since I started managing other blogs and running this blog more like a business, I’ve learned some key tactics about the importance of repurposing content. When you have a genius moment and share your most inventive thoughts with the world (and you should if you’re a good writer/storyteller) it deserves to get all the attention possible.
It’s not just enough to publish the content, you’ve got to promote it like crazy. Derek Halpern is the master of this — and as his loyal student, I always put his advice into practice. So ask yourself these questions:
- How can I reuse or refresh this content into something new?
- Can I repackage this into a different format?
- What can I do to maximize this content or service the most?
A few tips are to expound on your current idea, add new modules or features to your package, create new graphics, and generally pump up the volume. You don’t have to come up with new product ideas, services and content — you just need to leverage it more and produce new stuff less.
8. Change your billable rate
If you want to make more money in less time, it might be time to change your billable rate. This is different than tip #2 because you’re not just charging more, you’re charging smarter!
In some cases it’s better to opt out of the hourly rate and charge on a per-project basis. You should also consider a monthly retainer fee, recurring payment model, or any other billable rate that best suites your situation.
This idea can produce multiple effects: you’ll free up time by not having to clock your hours, it’s easier to budget since you know you’re getting $X amount each month, and you’ll have more stability (and can take on more risks) within your business since it’s a fixed rate.
9. Charge money for (or leverage) your free offerings
What are you currently offering for free (or cheap) that can you can start charging money for? Are there skills, talents or services that you offer as bonuses or freebies that should have a price tag attached?
This is something I talk about in my latest post on Budget Blonde. Many of us already have unique or rare skills we bring to table, but the real value comes in when you can leverage it to produce an income. I am still working to take my own advice and brainstorming how I can maximize my current Careful Cents Club into a more lucrative and valuable offering — for both the members and myself.
This idea also goes into the same vein as tip #7. Repurposing content will often lead to better value and more actionable ideas, which eventually leads to a higher price tag. How can you leverage your current offerings into something more?
10. Manage your time more productively
Which of these tips are you drawn to the most? Take one of these points and put it into action this week!
If you want to create a business that enables you to have more freedom, without sacrificing your income and creative expression, you have to focus on being more productive. It’s all about working smarter not harder. And that’s what these tips will enable you to do.
BUT you have to put in the work to make it a reality. Don’t just sit there and wish your business had more flexibility or that you weren’t a workaholic — get to work on changing it right now.
The point of making more income in less time, is all about managing your billable hours better. Use these tips to increase your productivity by cutting out distractions, increasing your rate or hiring help if needed.