Updated: Feb 19, 2022
Journey with me. You are standing, it is hot, you are sweating and you are waiting. You are with a friend, a significant other, or your entire family. Time is passing and you have been standing here for almost an hour. You can hear the screams and laughter of people enjoying the thrill of the ride. They are many twists and turns ahead of you. You stand with anticipation talking to your party….waiting on your turn to ride the latest and greatest roller coaster at Six Flags, Disney’s or some other large amusement park.
This past summer I had one of the best experiences at an amusement park ever. My husband, Ethan, decided that we would pay a bit more and get Universal Express Pass when we went to Universal Orlando. We decided to go all out. Stay on property and purchase this additional fast pass benefit which allows for early access to some of the most popular rides and to skip the line of many others. We got in more ride time and ALOT less wait time.
This experience got me to thinking about how else I have fast passed my life. I love being an entrepreneur and over the past 20 years, I have learned a lot about how to effectively and efficiently use my time.
Now there is always room for improvement but I will share with you my methodology to make the most of my time each day. I have created an acronym...DOTS to make it easier to remember.
Delegate - I have delegated many of the things I have to do in my life and business. Early on, especially after having our first child, I had to decide what was important to me. I decided these are the things I would delegate:
Household chores. I found that household assistance can be more affordable than I initially thought. I have a college student that comes in 4 days per week. She does laundry, folds clothes and puts them away for the entire family, cooks and spruce up around the house. She makes sure trash bags are in the trash cans, paper towels and tissue are refilled, etc. Spending time with my kids and playing with them was way more important than me folding clothes while they ran around me.
Cleaning. We have a cleaning service that comes in once a month to do the heavy lifting…the deep cleaning. They scrub down the showers, mop, clean the baseboards and more.
Lawn care. My husband does not find joy in doing the yard. I enjoy planting some flowers occasionally, but finding a lawn maintenance company that comes every couple of weeks was imperative.
As a small business owner, we of course wear many hats, but once kids entered the picture, I simply could no longer wear all of the hats. We thought about a nanny or someone to pickup the kids from school, but I found picking up the kids from school ranked very high on my mommy list so instead I delegated the work that I would normally be doing at the office and hired a team member.
We now have a small team that handles much of the day-to-day tasks at the office.
Outsource - Outsource and delegating are very similar, but I think of outsourcing giving a task to someone that I may or may not know. Where as delegating is hiring someone to take some thing off of my plate or giving a tasks to someone within my office.
Ways that I have chosen to outsource:
Instacart. I love Instacart. I know their business took off during the pandemic, but Ethan and I had been using them for a couple of years prior because it saves us TIME. Yes it is more expensive, but take a look at this comparison. $20 difference. Also, we don’t impulse buy and the amount of time it would take me to go to the grocery store, shop and return home and put the groceries away, I could have spent quality time with my family or gotten a work related project that would make me money in my business. Make me well more than $20.
Virtual Assistant. I have had my virtual assistant for about 8 years. Initially engaging with a virtual assistant firm, I did not know who I was going to get, but I was looking for someone who could take some of the more mundane task off my hands. Those things that weren't moving the needle forward or bringing in much revenue. I needed this instead of another person on the company payroll because I only needed about 10 hours per month of work completed. Though we pay more per hour, I don't have to worry about payroll taxes or benefits.
Technology & Tools - We of course all walk around with a vast amount of technology in our pocket or purse. Tools and technology that I use that are specifically time saving tools for me:
Trainual. Makes training new hires and my team easier. Trainual allows us to put all of our standard operating procedures for each department in one place. We can add step-by-step videos and create quizzes to ensure that everyone understands their job.
Ryver. Makes communication among team members easier. It is similar to SLACK. Ryver allows us to set up a variety of groups/departments. We can chat or start topics, upload files and more. Available on desktop and an app on iOS and Android.
Calendly. Since the start of the pandemic this has helped our customers effectively book appointment in our store. I also use it to book my podcast guests.
Hireology. This website and app makes the hiring process easier with applications, surveys, resumes, testing, background checks and onboarding all in one place. Available on desktop and an app on iOS and Android.
BYOB Planner. I created this planner for myself 2-3 years ago. I started out just printing it at Fed Ex, making changes and iterations with each printing until I created something that helps me set my annual goals and break them down daily to actually get them done.
Kaizen Foam. This is foam that you can cut down to any size and place in your drawers or in your office. You can cut shapes out of the foam so you can place keys, pens, scissors. Anything that you want to have a place for and not spend time looking for each day.
Label Maker. A label maker is such simple tool to make life just a little bit easier. Label the kids water bottles, snacks containers in the pantry, location placement of items at home or in the office. We have labels at the office for location of the stapler, tape measure and more on the front desk so it all get back to its proper spot after each client. This save you time from searching in the future.
Simplify - I have worked where I can to simplify areas of my life. I am always looking for ways to improve here. These are a few ways I have done it so far:
My workout. I went from going to a large gym where I drove about 7 miles one way. I would have to come up with own workout and make sure I remembered what I worked on the last time I was there. Then switched to a boutique gym. The drive was about 4 miles one way. I did like this place though because the workout was less than an hour and I was simply told what to do. I did not have to think about my workout. I did not have to think about what music I should listen to. It was all done for me. Then during COVID I joined my husband’s Six Pack Dad’s program. No I know…I am not a DAD, but I wanted a 6 pack too. This has been perfect because it allows me to workout at home. Still be motivated and challenged with others, but no longer have to spend time driving back and forth to a gym. AND it's about 35-45 minutes and I get results using minimal equipment.
Podcasting process. I simplified this by batching my interviews and outsourcing my editing.
My vehicle. A few years ago we bought a Tesla so I no longer have to take time to stop and get gas. In addition, we typically only have to take the care in once per year for preventative maintenance.
Ethan and I are both intentional with simplifying our lives as much as possible. When we looked for an office space, we look for a space close by. We like to keep things in "our circle". That is what we call it. Atlanta is a sprawling city. You could literally spend hours in the car. My kids' school is 7 minutes away from our house, Our office is 10-12 minutes away, and any activity our kids want to be involved in has to be within a specific mile radius. This may not sound very nice, but I need my sanity and I don’t have time to spend hours in the car each day.
Other things that can simplify your life are Target - Drive up and Amazon Prime. I am not a big fan of shopping anymore anyway so these simple ways of getting what I need for our household save me plenty of time.
To begin implementing DOTS, I recommend making a list of all the things you do in your business and personally each day. Keep a log for about a week. Once you have that log, ask what can I delegate, outsource, push to technology/tool or simplify.
I am always looking for ways to fast pass areas of my life so I can focus on what is important to me which is accomplishing my goals when it comes to my family and my business so ultimately I can live the life that I want. My life word is legacy. I want to leave a legacy for my family with my businesses, but most importantly, I want to leave a legacy of memories. Memories of amusement parks and other fun family times.