Time Saving Tips: How I Buy My Time Back

By Chelsea Baldwin, Contributor, on April 9, 2018

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There are plenty of time saving tips articles out there that promise to double the return on your investment if you just hire that $2,000 personal chef or spring for a daily house cleaning service. Luckily, this isn’t going to be one of those articles. Instead, it’s going to be about how real freelancers like you and me can make the most out of our time by putting down a little bit of money. Believe it or not, these types of small investments can help you increase your productivity and profits.

Tackling Your Top Time-Sucks

I’ve been at this freelancing game for 10 years now, and I’ve learned that never-ending to-do lists are pretty much part of the deal. That means it’s crucial to avoid any unnecessary time-sucks that are only going to burden you further, like distracting neighbors, waiting around in a laundromat without Wi-Fi, a long slog to the gym or slow internet that’s connected to too many devices.

Only you know your number one time-suck. And when you can make a small investment to rid yourself of this distraction, you can truly improve both your personal and professional life. I know, I know. It’s really hard to do at first, but you’ll be so glad you did. When I decided to bite the bullet and up my rent budget by a few hundred dollars, I got rid of all the things that were taking time, efficiency and productivity away from my business:

  • I no longer have an annoying commute to my co-working space (or anywhere, really).
  • I don’t have to haul my laundry to the laundromat every weekend, getting nothing done for two hours because the laundromat Wi-Fi doesn’t work (and hasn’t worked in two years).
  • I don’t get stuck in rush-hour traffic just because I forget an ingredient I need to cook dinner.
  • If I want to go to a networking event, I can go to one and get work done in the same day.

I’m suddenly walking distance from everywhere I need to go, and it’s not only saved me time, but saved me the mental stress of constantly trying to schedule everything out weeks ahead of time. I’m also way more creative, and have the time and mental space to launch cool, unique projects I’ve been day-dreaming about in my business for ages. And I get to profit from these things, too.

Inexpensive Ways to Buy Your Time Back

Of course, there are plenty of other things you can do to buy your time back that don’t involve changing your living location. Consider taking the following types of steps:

Hire Tech Help on Retainer

One of the best investments I made over the last two years was to pay someone $50 per month to help me with tech issues as they came up.

I’m pretty web- and tech-savvy, but I’m no web developer. When tough tech issues would appear, they’d often take me an entire day to solve. Now, I can ask someone for a solution and receive a direct response — meaning that I can spend less than half that time trying to solve the problem. Even better, the solutions are much longer lasting.

Order Groceries Online

Grocery shopping can be a huge time-suck. Yes, you can technically go to the grocery store during the workday because you work for yourself, but you and I both know it’s a recipe for disaster if you have any hope of productivity. Consider the time it takes to travel there and back, shop, put everything away and get back in the zone on your latest project, and you’ll see what I mean.

By ordering your groceries online through a service like Instacart or Amazon, you don’t have to spend that much more, and you can get your items delivered right to your doorstep. No more fighting traffic and long lines to get everything you need.

Digital strategist Alexis Grant says her additional cost is only about $8, plus a tip for the driver. “I’ll happily pay $12 to save myself the 90 minutes it often takes to drive to the grocery store, do a big shop and drive back,” she says. The extra time and creativity you can devote to your business will more than make up for the small fee.

Use Laundry Drop-Off Services

Instead of sitting around for two hours while your clothes spin, consider taking advantage of laundry drop-off services. You can drop off your clothes and have them washed, dried and folded for you — all while you’re at home, working. A few years ago, most of my roommates did this, and I was so jealous. Looking back, I have no idea why I didn’t do it myself.

Start With Something Small

Rather than jumping off the deep end and spending hundreds of dollars per week to get your time back, start small. Try spending the extra fee each week for one month to have your groceries delivered and see if it’s worth it for you. It usually amounts to less than $50, and can save you an entire day’s worth of time. If you like that, add in the laundry services or hire a TaskRabbit to clean your home every two weeks. These types of offerings don’t have to cost a lot to have a big impact.

Investing a little bit of money can save you time each month — which can result in greater creativity, productivity and profit in return. By following a few time saving tips, you can cut out the distractions from your everyday life and see just how much more energy you’ll be able to devote to growing your business.

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