Whether you are starting a business while still working an office job, or working on it full-time, there are always other things demanding your attention. It’s like some kind of annoying grown-up breadcrumb trail.
The dirty sock on the floor leads to you noticing the dust under the bed. You get the hoover from the cupboard and remember you need to buy some more loo roll. While you are buying loo roll, you decide to buy more food for the week.
Before you know it, 5 hours have passed, and your business to-do list is still as long as it was this morning.
“Gah! Another day wasted!” you wail as the dream life your business promised retreats a little further into the distance.
But what if you could simplify your life? Those precious hours you’ve freed up could be used for your business!
While I was writing this post, I realised that the ‘life simplifiers’ fell into 4 simple categories (how convenient!).
The four categories are:
There are subcategories within each, giving you loads of suggestions to help free up your time. Some cost money and some don’t so there should be something to suit everyone’s budget 🙂
If you haven’t started your business yet, here some of my other posts that you might find useful:
This post may contain affiliate links. It won’t cost you any extra but I may receive a small commission. I don’t have ads on the site (as I hate them) so this is how I help with the blog running costs. I only recommend things I use or that would be useful to you.
www.5dollardinners.com is a very popular way to save time and money. For $5 a month (approx £3.70 at time of writing), 5dollardinners will send you a weekly meal plan for meals which cost an average of $2 (£1.50) per person. They do a classic plan and a gluten-free plan which is really helpful.
If 5dollardinners isn’t right for you, you can google ‘meal planning services’ and you’ll get lots of options. As there are so many I want to go through them properly before I suggest any more, so I will leave that for another post!
I realise this can be seen as a luxury, but if it is something that fits within your budget it is 100% worth it. Especially if you hate cleaning as much as I do.
2 hours a week or 8 hours a month is better spent working on your business or spending time with your family.
If you need to find a cleaner, the best way I have found is through recommendations from friends or neighbours.
Recipes boxes have become very popular over the last few years. If you haven’t heard of them, these work by sending you a box of ingredients plus a recipe. You can usually choose how many people you want to feed and for how many meals.
If you want organic food then Abel and Cole do recipe boxes as well as their normal mixed veggie, meat and fish boxes. This link is a referral link, you will get £20 off and so will I 🙂
There is no doubt that they will save you time but my personal opinion is that they are expensive if you are used to making your own meals at home.
On the other hand, if you have a twitchy trigger finger on your Deliveroo app or you regularly eat out, then you should save some money.
Or better still, don’t buy clothes that need ironing!
If you have a holiday coming up, it is sometimes only a little bit more expensive to get a company to do the booking and organising for you.
We used a local travel company when we went to Jordan last year and saved so much time on researching hotels and activities.
Alternatively, for a cheaper option, use the itineraries in the front of the Lonely Planet to reduce the decision making. You can often get Lonely Planet copies from the library so you can just take a photo of the pages you need.
Making a huge casserole or large quantities of pasta sauce each week is a great way to save time and mental energy.
You can either find free batch cook or freezer recipes on Pinterest or Google, or you can sign up to a paid service like Freezeasy (run by the people at 5dollardinners) who will send you weekly freezer recipes.
There are loads of ‘batch cook’ and ‘freezer recipes’ on Pinterest as well.
It is much easier and quicker to get your food shopping delivered than manoeuver through the trolley pile-up in the veg aisle on a Saturday.
Most of the major supermarkets will deliver to your house (depending on where you live) and some also have introductory offers for your first shop.
Some of them also have handy features like ‘favourites’ and previous orders’ so you can quickly find things you buy regularly and add them to your basket.
Amazon also does their own delivery service now called Amazon Fresh. I personally haven’t used it as I tend to use Sainsburys and Ocado – with money-off vouchers obvs!
Trello (this is my referrer link) is a task management app which you can also use on your laptop. Businesses use is to keep track of who is working on what and when, but I use it personally for ‘To Do’ lists as it has a very easy drag and drop feature.
It’s better than lugging around a notebook and more organised than using the notes section of your phone.
There are paid plans but I have never needed to upgrade, the free plan is perfect for personal use.
A productivity planner could be any of the following:
Different people like to work in different ways, the key thing is that you are choosing up to 3 tasks to focus on each day and setting yourself time to do it.
If you are a morning person, do the most important task then (even if you don’t want to!). If you are an evening person, do it then.
If you don’t tackle it when you are most awake, you probably won’t tackle it at all.
Morning and evening routines seem to have gained in popularity, Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning has been credited with many a ‘morning routine’ success.
What goes into your routine is up to you, here are some suggestions.
Plan out your ‘To Do’s and commitments a month in advance.
You need to make sure you are realistic about what you can achieve, so to do that you need to be able to see what time is actually available to you.
I use my google calendar to do this as I can drag and drop, copy and paste, repeat and delete calendar appointments very easily.
Time blocking tasks go hand in hand with organising your monthly and weekly calendar. Make sure your time block is realistic though. I always fall prey to this one and don’t allow enough time for tasks.
Although decluttering your house will take time initially, once it is done you will have a lot more physical and mental space.
You can either declutter by category as Marie Kondo suggests in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, or you can declutter by room.
In the UK, the charity Traid will come and pick up any secondhand clothes or shoes etc from your house (it may depend on where you live though).
I have eBay’ed my own things before but it takes a huge amount of time. If you don’t have that time to spare then, there are people or companies who will sell your unwanted things for you on eBay for a % of the profit.
Upwork has thousand and thousands of freelancers who you can outsource parts of your business (or life!) to. They have people who can provide help with admin, creative and design, tech, customer service and many others. You post your job and then review the applicants.
Fiverr is a huge marketplace for digital services, very similar to Upwork. Not all jobs are a Fiverr as the name suggests, freelancers will quote you based on what you need doing.
Task Rabbit is a great service for paying people to help you with tasks around the house. If you don’t want to fight with your Ikea flat pack or need a handyman to help you with some niggly bits, this is a great service which I have used before.
Subscription services can be great when you have certain things you buy every month.
Amazon has service called Subscribe and Save where you can sign up to receive regular deliveries of things like nappies, beer, and wine, groceries, household products etc. If you sign up for 5 or more products at the same address, you can save a % off (it is around 15% at the time of writing but I imagine they will vary this).
There are other subscription boxes such as women’s sanitary products, razors for men (Dollar Shave Club) and anything else you can think of!
Going paperless not only saves those lovely trees but also means you aren’t wasting time wrestling with envelopes and filing statements every week.
Most online services have a download option so if you need a paper bill for something you can always go and print it yourself.
If you are saving for your ‘work escape fund’ or to go travelling or whatever else it is, once you have worked out how much you can afford to save each month, you can set up an automatic payment to your savings account.
That way you don’t need to use unnecessary brain power each month battling with your conscience over whether you should buy some new shoes or not.
Your savings are safe elsewhere, so whatever is in your bank account is what you have to spend for the month.
I know the latest episode of Jane the Virgin is calling your name but resist the urge! There is a time and a place for relaxing, but we all know that we are lying to ourselves when we say we’ll ‘only watch one episode’.
If you regularly get sucked into Facebook, you can install Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator which is a Chrome extension. When you log into Facebook, all you see is a quote, no cat memes, no baby photos, just a quote.
Procrastination is an absolute time-killer. Pacing up and down, doing pointless tasks to avoid the one you don’t want to. All of these avoidance techniques are wasting your precious little time.
As Tony Robbins says, ‘that thing you don’t want to do? Do it now!‘.
If you don’t have time to do something (or don’t want to do it), then say no. I realise family obligations are not always possible to say no to.
If you really need some time back, a meal out with a friend, for instance, could wait until you are more on top of things.
Once you have decluttered, you will probably question purchases more carefully as you will want to avoid re-growing your ‘stuff mountain’.
When deciding on whether to buy something, it might be wise to think about whether it will require any ‘maintenance’. Dry clean or hand wash only garments spring to mind.
I avoid these like the plague as it takes time and I never do it. My ‘handle with care’ clothes either live a sad, crumpled life at the bottom of my laundry basket or get chucked in the washing machine on a cold wash with a silent prayer that they won’t shrink.
To quickly recap the ways to simplify your life:
Some of these things cost money and seem to fly in the face of my advice to save up an emergency fund so you can quit your job.
There is a fine balance though between saving money and keeping your sanity. If you need to reduce your savings slightly to get yourself back on an even keel, it could be money well spent.
There are many ways to simplify your life. There are only so many hours in the day so, you want to make you are using them for things that are the most productive or make you the happiest (and cleaning does not make me happy).