Five ways to make your life easier and save time if you’re self-employed
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Self-employment advice
14
February 2024

Five ways to make your life easier and save time if you’re self-employed

It’s important to try to find ways to make your life easier and save time during your working day so that you can enjoy a healthier work-life balance and spend more time with your loved ones. So, what could make your life easier and save you time?

The Coconut Team
The Coconut Team
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Life can be pretty hectic when you’re a busy sole trader. Often there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Having to work long, demanding hours can take its toll on your health after a while, so it’s important to try to find ways to make your life easier and save time during your working day so that you can enjoy a healthier work-life balance and spend more time with your loved ones. So, what could make your life easier and save you time?  

1. Learn to say no more often

Seems impossible when you’re trying to run and grow a successful business, right? But who told you that you had to say yes to everything? Being too eager to say yes can seriously add to your workload and rob you of much time. Realise that you can’t do everything – nor should you try. Be more selfish with your time. Have realistic expectations of yourself. Let others share the workload and responsibility. You don’t have to be rude, but at times you need to politely say no. Don’t feel guilty about it. Ask yourself if it’s essential. If not, you don’t have to do it.  

2. Wave bye bye to bad customers

Again, this might seem counterintuitive and self-destructive, but it could free up more of your time and enable your business to become more profitable. Obviously, you want to retain good customers; it’s easier and cheaper to sell to them. You establish strong, long-lasting relationships with them based on trust and mutual respect. You enjoy dealing with them, you feel appreciated, they pay you on time and recommend you.

Bad customers are entirely different. They can be more trouble than they’re worth. They drain your enthusiasm and energy, and are never grateful. They can be disloyal, disrespectful and downright unpleasant. They always try to pin you right back on price; they drag their feet when their invoice is due for payment and they have unrealistic expectations. Crucially, they rob you of your most precious commodity – time. Get rid of the worst ones and replace them with better customers.  

3. Remain organised and plan each day

It’s a well-known quote: if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Failing to plan your day, week or month may not lead to your business going bust, but your business probably won’t be as successful as it could be. If you work in a more reactive, disorganised and random way, you won’t be as productive, efficient and successful as you could be. You even risk feeling overwhelmed some or all of the time.

Successful business people are normally very disciplined and organised. They need to be, because they have much to do each day. They have to plan their time to ensure that they use it in the best possible way and get the best results. Your time and workload should be well-organised and you need to prioritise your tasks. Many busy people succeed by creating to-do lists, with key tasks prioritised. Allocate a set time each day or on a specific day for regular business admin tasks (eg updating your accounting software or sending out invoices). Check your emails only at specific times during your working day.

4. Limit your social media use in worktime

Many of us waste time on social media and online communication platforms. That’s one thing, if you’re at home in your spare time, but you really shouldn’t be doing it during work hours. You shouldn’t be looking at social media or using online communication platforms for personal reasons when you should be working. It could actually be damaging your business. Turn off your social media notifications. Unless you do it for business, avoid looking at social media altogether while you’re working. It could free up many hours of your time each month.    

5. Maximise the benefits of apps and software

Making full use of the time- and effort-saving potential of a wide range of apps and software can make an enormous difference to your business and life. Accounting software Coconut is a perfect example.

If you update it regularly when your business is paid or pays out money, accounting software can help you to control your cash flow. It can enable you to better understand your business costs and whether you need to reduce them, overall or in specific areas. The same is true of your income, as you can see when you earn more or less, and compare your income to previous years. Accounting software can provide an excellent invoicing solution and tell you how much to put away to cover your tax bill.

Talking of tax bills, software can also save you time, money and stress when you need to complete your Self Assessment tax return. GoSimpleTax is a leading example of Self Assessment tax return software used by thousands of sole traders. A bewildering range of apps and software can really save you time when it comes to many other business tasks. It can also help you to remain organised and make better use of your time so that you’re ultra productive. Think about where and how an app or software could help you and then research your options. It could well be much cheaper and easier to use than you thought.

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