This post may contain affiliate links. See our affiliate disclaimer here.
I love what I do, BUT…
Who doesn’t want to shave off a few repetitive time-sucking tasks so they can spend more time doing what they truly love? Which in my case means strapping a one-year-old to my back and going on daily adventures around Colorado.
I’m always looking for ways to streamline my business, so today I’m bringing you 10 hacks to save time so you can spend fewer hours a week behind the laptop.
1. Gmail Shortcuts
I learned this a few years ago (from this infographic) and it has changed my life. It takes so many clicks to forward or reply to an email, pop it out so I can read the email I’m replying to as I reply, and then send. Now all I do is hit shift + R and I’m replying in a popped out window. This saves me probably a minute a day, which I know isn’t a lot. But it’s the principle of the thing!
I’ve been using Gmail shortcuts like this for years and it’s so much easier to never have to lift my fingers from the keys. To enable shortcuts, just go to your Settings > General > Keyboard Shortcuts and enable them.
You can click the Learn More button to learn what all the different shortcuts are, as you cannot customize any of these shortcuts.
2. Create Shortcuts on your Phone and Computer
If I type @@ on my phone or even here on my computer, it will automatically change to my email address. If I type qqq it will automatically type my website URL. Little things that I inevitably end up texting or messaging to people nearly every day that are a total pain to type.
After typing my shortcut, I can hit the enter key or spacebar for the qqq to be replaced with heathandalyssa.com/ (I added the slash at the end so I can easily add a slug if directing someone to a specific page on my website).
To create these, open the Settings app on your iPhone (I use a MacBook so this will sync with my laptop) and go to General > Keyboard. Then click Text Replacement at the top of the screen and create your short cuts.
This is a tip I picked up from Chalene Johnson last year. She initially suggested it for anyone who replies to a lot of Facebook or Instagram messages with similar phrases like “thank you 🙏 ” or “aw thanks so much!” Those could be ty1 and ty2 and if you get dozens of replies to your Instagram, can really save you some time (and spelling errors!).
3. Keep Your To-do List Updated
Do you ever get a really good idea when you’re out hiking? Or at dinner with friends? Or maybe you remember an email you need to send as you’re walking into a meeting?
For a long time, I was the queen of remembering something five different times before I actually did it because I’d always be in the middle of something important and forget all over again. (Am I alone in this?)
Which is why I love Trello.
(And talk about it all the time apparently.)
It’s an amazing tool for keeping running to-do lists, managing projects, and even working with a team.
But I think it’s most understated use is being the place where I can write down those little tasks that get easily forgotten. Like when you’re falling asleep and think “oh crap, I forgot to hit launch on that ad campaign” or “I sent over that blog post but forgot to send photos.” Or, most often, when you’re working on something and come up with a really good blog post idea and think “Oh I will totally remember this idea—it’s amazing!” And then five minutes later you can’t recall it at all.
Now that I think about it, I may just be a forgetful person…
But then when I open my laptop first thing in the morning, I know I have a complete list of everything I need to work on and lists of all of my ideas and future projects to tackle. No more sitting in front of the computer trying to figure out what to get started on next.
4. Automate Invoicing
I have always had a love-hate relationship with invoices. I love making money. I hate the tedious process of creating invoices. I started using Freshbooks for invoices for a few key automation features:
- You can save client profiles, so basic information like client name, company, address, the email address(es) the invoice goes to are all saved. I just choose from a dropdown menu who I’m invoicing and all those fields are auto-populated.
- You can set recurring invoices for any clients you have on retainer. Then you can get paid each month like clockwork and never have to lift a finger. (Well, you do still have to do the work that gets you paid in the first place.)
Plus, clients can also pay by credit card which is something I know a few of my clients always choose over the hassle of cutting checks.
Freshbooks is a paid service we use, but I’ve heard many entrepreneurs who love and use Wave, which is free.
5. Use Calendar Booking Services
Why oh WHY is booking meeting times with people such a hassle?
You need a six message long thread just to choose a few date and time options, and then someone has to actually create a calendar event and invite the other person, otherwise, one or both of you forget.
It’s annoying as all get out.
We started using Calendly a few years ago for booking podcast interviews and now we use it for all different types of meetings. We create all the different meeting types (podcast interview, 30-minute meeting, RVE summit 60 minute meeting, etc.) and it syncs our availability with our Google calendar. We send one booking link, you book a time that works for you, and its added to both of our calendars. We both get email confirmations and save ourselves years of back and forth (probably).
This has worked really well for years, but then a few months ago, I learned that Calendly integrates with Zoom. This means when you book a meeting, the fancy integration will automatically put all the necessary Zoom links and phone numbers in your calendar. (I manually did this FOR YEARS, which takes at least ten minutes per meeting, before I even realized this was a thing. Smh.)
You can also save time by batching activities like I talked about earlier this month and scheduling all your meetings for only one day a week. Or never have meetings.
Related: 14 Tips for Working in an RV
6. Integrations and Automations
Speaking of integrations! They save soooo much time and Zapier has a ton of them.
You can find zaps to connect HUNDREDS of apps.
For example, when someone buys a ticket to our RV Entrepreneur Summit, I need them to be added to our ConvertKit and tagged “Summit ticket holder” so I can send them event information. Well for the first two Summits, I manually exported email addresses from Eventbrite and uploaded them to ConvertKit. We sell tickets usually for a 3-6 month period, so I had to do this often.
Such a waste of time.
Now there is a zap and I never have to export a CSV, upload the CSV, choose the proper fields, set the proper tag, and wait for a confirmation email that all the emails have been uploaded. I don’t have to think about it at all!
Integrations and automations are an amazing way to save yourself endless amounts of time, especially on mindlessly easy tasks like this! You can figure out which apps you can build integrations and automations on Zapier’s website here.
7. Develop Systems and Processes
When I write a blog post, my process goes like this:
- Pick four blog posts for the month (all on a similar theme) from my ongoing list of blog ideas I keep on Trello
- Outline each blog
- Write each blog post
- Add photos, featured image, and keywords
- Schedule for the assigned date on my content calendar
- Write a newsletter to share that blog post on Wednesday morning
It’s a system I’ve spent years updating. Before, I would write when inspired or when I got a good idea. I would forget to add any photos, never set SEO keywords, and sometimes never even share the blog! Basically I was failing at being a blogger.
I needed a process to follow to eliminate all of my distractions and give me a clear path to follow. Developing processes and systems is one of the best ways to streamline your business.
For some really great insights on how to develop systems and processes for yourself, I highly recommend watching this presentation by Dani Schnakenberg from our 2019 RV Entrepreneur Summit:
One of the biggest ways to save time?
Delegate the things you end up doing all the time so you can focus on the stuff that only you can do. We’ve had a great podcast episode on this: How to Multiply Yourself and Get More Done by Jill Sessa (who I’ve outsourced all our website management to!).
9. Type faster
An understated way to save time and get stuff done faster? Type faster.
I haven’t practiced typing since the 8th grade when my friends and I took it so we could all compete to see who typed the fastest. (Oh my, was a nerd in middle school?)
You can use websites like Keybr.com to practice your typing skills and improve your typing speed.
I also use Grammarly to catch my typing mistakes for me so I spend less time proofreading.
(Also, I’m with Jim typing 65 wpm. I don’t know how Pam can type 90!)
10. Reduce Distractions
Last but not least, let’s save ourselves time by limiting distractions. There are lots of ways to do this:
- Use Screen Time on your phone to limit the use of time-wasting apps
- Set Downtime during work hours on your phone so you can only use your phone as a phone (Settings > Screen Time > Downtime)
- Limit your time on social media on your computer using plugins like Newsfeed Eradicator
- For goodness sakes, turn on your Do Not Disturb mode. That’s what it’s for! We don’t need no stinking notifications.
- Similarly, close your email and check it only a few times a day so you don’t get sucked into that soulless vortex.
What other time-saving tips do you have? Share your best one in the comments!