Improving Efficiency: Finding The Time To Do It All

If you want something done, give it to the BUSIEST person in the room.  Now how is that supposed to work?!  Improving efficiency and finding the time to do it all is tough.  But there’s a lot of truth in that saying about busy people being super efficient and boy do I know some insanely productive people who put my attempts at improving efficiency to shame.

Some people are just gifted with laser like focus and can pound things out without breaking a sweat.  Sadly I’m not one of them!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hard worker, but sometimes I feel like I’m trying to run through a tub of tar or have so much spinning around in my head that I can’t even think straight and totally forget what I’m doing!

What’s Wrong With Me?

I think I’m somewhat busier than the average person since I work a full time day job and am a part time entrepreneur, but I also know I’m also not the most efficient person out there either by far.  There are lots of people who work more than one job who blow past me with efficiency and that can get a bit frustrating and disheartening when I hear how much they’re accomplishing each day while I’m struggling to keep my head above water.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me when I’m buried up to my eyeballs and can’t seem to get even one step ahead!  But I know we’re all different with our own strengths and weaknesses, and I just have to work harder than some people to get the same amount done.  Perhaps you’re the same way.  I strongly believe in facing and overcoming obstacles though, and am actively finding new ways to improve my efficiency so I’m not giving up yet, and neither should you!

No Rest For The Weary

I’ve come to realize since I’ve started running my own business that it takes an incredible amount of endurance, perseverance, and sacrifice to be successful and accomplish goals when you’re your own boss.  When you work for someone else, you’re handed a set of guidelines to follow, deliverables to complete, you punch in and punch out, and there’s always someone there to answer questions and cover for you when you’re out sick or taking time off.

When you are your own boss though, nothing is handed to you!  And if you don’t have any employees, things pile up quick when you’re “out of the office.”  You have to find ways to juggle getting your business off the ground, keep up with day-to-day tasks, plan and prepare for events/clients/operational logistics/cash flow/inventory/industry changes/outages, etc., etc., and regularly give yourself motivational pep talks to keep going all at the same time.

I Never See You Anymore

Even with a heaping pile of business tasks to do, that’s not even the full picture that you could be facing since you also have to find quality time to spend with your current or soon to be significant other, family and friends, exercise, eat healthy, pay bills, and run personal errands.  It’s easy to get stretched thin and become isolated if you’re not careful.

Friends and family start giving you grief because they never see you anymore, and the people closest to you get tired of hearing you say “I’m too busy” all the time.  Even though you may not feel productive spending time with them because all you can think about is your to do list, it’s beneficial to take a break from work once in a while and support each other.

Early on in my career, I had terrible work life balance because I was so focused on moving up the ladder and being able to earn a better paycheck.  Now that I’m married, a proud aunt, working on a large list of 2012 goals, and am working even more hours than before, I have all sorts of places I want to be all at once and I have to really pay attention to my work life balance.

Fighting Workaholic Tendencies

I don’t think I’m a workaholic, but I’ve learned I have a strong stubborn streak in me.  I’d easily lock myself inside all weekend long on the computer, but fortunately my husband likes to be outdoors so he really helps get me out of the house so we can enjoy the days together and go on fun hikes in our funny looking Vibram Five Fingers.  As an entrepreneur it’s so easy to get caught up in crossing things off your to do list that the days, and even loved ones disappear because it’s so much fun working on your own business.  But forgetting to take a breather and not spending time with the people you care about can really backfire and cause some serious burn out.

Things are always going to be hectic in the beginning of starting your own venture, but don’t underestimate the importance of finding ways to automate tasks, outsource, and pace yourself.  Count your blessings when you’re healthy, educate yourself on personal finance, and have an outlet or two that help keep your stress levels in check.  My body just can’t function on four to five hours of sleep like it used to in college, so I’ve learned to turn the lights out when my eyes get heavy because sleep is way more beneficial to me now than trying to work on a fuzzy brain.

An Old Dog Can Still Learn New Tricks

It’s not easy for me to focus on things sometimes, which is one of my weaknesses.  My thoughts wander, I can’t gather my ideas together, I get stuck on the little things before attacking the big picture, I get tired easily, and I get easily distracted.  I’ve found some tricks that are improving efficiency in my life little by little though as I learn how to isolate tasks, and restrict the things around me.  Keeping the TV completely off, using full screen mode on the computer, wearing noise cancelling headphones, and working on a full but not overly stuffed stomach are helpful tips I encourage you to try.

Even if you feel like you’re facing an impossible uphill battle with so many things to do that don’t even know where to start, don’t give up!  Life happens and we’ve all had days when we felt like we hit a brick wall.  Taking a personal day to meditate, get a massage, or be with family can really give you a motivational boost and a chance to clear your head so you’ll be in better shape to attack your to do list the next day.  Efficiency can be developed and improved at any age if you give yourself a chance and keep at it.  I’m trucking right along there with ya!

Untemplaters, when was the last time you felt buried up to your eyeballs with things to do?  What did you do?  Do you have any advice on improving efficiency?

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Hi there, I’m Sydney! After ten crazy years, I left a grueling six-figure job in 2015 for a better life. Now I spend my days writing, freelancing in various capacities, and finding new ways to stretch my brain. I’m crazy about photography, traveling the world, and stopping to smell the roses. Untemplater is where I share my insights and adventures with the world. I hope to never stop learning and being able to give back - every day is a gift! My love of helping people improve their lifestyles, careers, wealth and happiness constantly motivate me to write and evolve. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you in the comments below!


  1. Sam says

    When it rains it thunders doesn’t it?! I try and really just focus on one or two things at a time otherwise I don’t get much done.

    It really comes down to what’s important to you and how much you want it. Want anything bad enough and you will make it happen!

    • Sydney says

      That reminds me of the crazy thunder we had in SF a week or two ago. I feel like I go from periods of quiet to periods of insanity. It’s hard to stay in a happy medium a lot of times with so many activities and obligations.

      I’ve been on the road so much this year that I feel like I’m just treading water some days but having a small list of items to work on each day really helps. I’d be a mess if I didn’t write everything down!

  2. says

    When work gets overwhelming, start by breaking it into really small pieces. Start by completing a really insignificant portion and go from there. I always find this motivating.

    • Sydney says

      Bite size tasks, I like it! :) I’ve got a lot of housework on my agenda for the next few days and am helping family box up things for a donation pickup on Monday. I’ve found that setting time limits for tasks helps too because otherwise I end up letting time get away from me and spend way more time that I really need to get things done.

  3. Melissa@PersonalFinanceJourney says

    This is something I struggle with. I usually get the work done, but my sleep and exercise routine suffer. I am trying to revamp my schedule so I make sure to get enough sleep and find time to exercise. I know doing both of those things will help me get more done.

    • Sydney says

      I understand completely. Right now I’m trying to exercise 2-3 times a week. I’m super tired on those days but I feel much better overall now so I’m doing my best to keep it up. Exercising with a friend has really helped keep me doing it regularly. I hope you get your schedule worked out so you can fit more things in besides work. You can do it! :)

  4. says

    True enough, I work better and more efficiently when there is a sense of urgency (or mild paranoia) and the task list is a mile long. I’ve found that one thing that helps me from getting that queasy feeling of “overwhelment” (new word?) is making sure all that I do and have done is crossed off as mini-accomplishments. At the end of the day, possible to sit back, review the list, hitch up your pants, and say “Yep, got a lot done today”.

    • Sydney says

      I’m that way too. A sense of urgency really gets me going it just takes a lot of effort not to let stress tag along with it. Ha I think overwhelment should be a new word!

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