Time is the currency of life.
All great business leaders know that your ability to manage your time and delegate tasks is just as important as it is to come up with creative ideas. After all, time is your most valuable and finite resource. Usually, delegating means identifying low-value activities and passing them down to a co-worker, assistant, or freelancer. But what about your personal life? Work-life balance isn’t just about leaving the office an a reasonable hour, it’s about streamlining the tasks that you consider to be work, whether that work is associated with the office or not. The following tactics can greatly improve your productivity and increase your work-life balance.
Automate Your Money
Keeping an eye on your finances is extremely important, but too many people lose hours out of their week paying bills, balancing accounts, wiring money, and monitoring their 401ks. If you are spending more than a 90 minutes on your finances per week, you are using too much of your most precious currency: time. Money is one area in which you need to enlist technology as your ally. Using simple online systems, you can automatically pay your rent, your cable bill, your credit cards, and anything else you need to settle each month. Connect savings to checking accounts, set up auto payments to your IRA and even create saving subsidies for including holiday trips or college funds.
There are plenty of systems out there to teach you how to best automate your money, but I suggest checking out Ramit Sethi’s blog. Ramit’s system is powerful for two reasons– first; he connects each item and branch of your financial network to create one, intricate yet simple system to manage. Although he recommends certain banking institutions such as ING (now Capital One 360) and Charles Schwab, his approach is easily adaptable to just about any bank, investment account, IRAs, etc. Second, Ramit teaches you the psychology behind spending money and creates fool-proof systems to make sure you don’t go over budget or neglect saving for trips, colleges, etc. He has designed a holistic system useful to everyone from recent college grads to VPs at Fortune 500 companies.
Outsource the Non-Essential
From grocery shopping to picking up medical prescriptions, errands are a huge drain of your most precious resource. Productivity expert Ari Meisel says, “outsourcing your errands is a huge advantage that allows you to focus on the things you need to without interrupting your flow and when you are done doing the things you want to do, the things you had to do have been done for you.” Identify which errands should be outsourced by evaluating which are essential tasks you must do on your own — and which are optional. “Optional tasks are not junk, they are tasks that you may genuinely want to deal with, but only if you have the time,” says Meisel. If you find yourself with a laundry list of optional tasks with little time on your hands, consider looking into programs like Google Shopping Express, Amazon’s Subscribe and Save or TaskRabbit to help you take care of these mundane tasks. The mark-up of such services is minimal. For example, for Postmates to deliver groceries from a grocery store that is less than a mile away, the price varies between $7-$10. If that trip to Safeway takes 45 minutes, you would most likely be better off spending that time achieving a high-value task for your career such as preparing for an important presentation.
If you want to learn more productivity tips, Ari Meisel is teaching a course on creativeLIVE November 25-26 that will give you just about as many as you can handle.