Trade Secrets: Easy Ways To Save Time

Easy Ways To Save Time (via A Beautiful Mess)People often ask Emma and I what our secret is for getting so much done. While we do keep busy and work hard, we also have a pretty balanced life. We take days off, and we are able to fit most of our work within set hours each day, leaving time to relax, go on dates and just live life! It hasn't always been this way. Even a few years ago, we still felt like we were working 24/7 without much of a social life. Here are a few tips that helped up gain balance and actually get MORE done in less hours. It's about working smarter, not harder. Here are our tips: 

1. Make lists and stick to them.

The number one reason we are able to post 2-3 blogs every single day is because we are organized. When you know what you need to work on you spend less time between each task wondering what is the next priority. Emma and I invest time every week in making a plan and a schedule for the blog articles that we need to write as well as all the behind the scenes work that needs to take place. 

I remember how it felt years ago to wake up every morning and wonder what I was going to blog about. I would scramble trying to come up with something and a lot of times just post something quick or easy to fill the time. I LOVE the method we use now so much more. With just a little planning we are able to spend more time working on our blog content and less time stressing. The same rule applies to all the projects in my life. If it's not on my list, I probably won't remember to do it. 

2. Do what you must to avoid distractions.

If you need to leave your home for a few hours and find a coffee shop, write blog posts at odd hours or turn off your TV, do it! I often catch myself spending too much time browsing Pinterest and Bloglovin' during work time. Sometimes I have to log out, so I can remind myself not to get sucked in. Seriously… When I am not logged in to any social networking websites, I save HOURS of valuable work time each week. I notice that when I am traveling, I get SO many more quality ideas in my notebook. And I think it's just a benefit of being "unplugged" and changing up my environment. 

If you work from home, it's even harder. From where I'm blogging right now, I can look up and see three or four things that I need to do—yikes! I definitely relate with the challenge to stay focused. Bottom line: Don't let your environment keep you from doing your best work. Change your environment or change your schedule… You can do it! 

3. Prioritize. 

Instead of staring at your huge list of projects you want to do, force yourself to make a short list with only one or two projects. Keeping a smaller number of projects "open" at once will help you to focus and enjoy each one! You can start a new project each time you complete one. 

I've learned over time that taking on too many projects at once can cause me to feel overwhelmed and guilty. Commit to prioritizing and working on just a few projects at a time. You will still get some much needed variety in your workload without all the stress! 

I hope this has been helpful! If you have any tried-and-true time saving tips, please share them in the comments! xo. Elsie

  • As a struggling blogger posts like these are so valuable. Thank you.


    P.S. Pretty stoked too take your blog love e-course!

  • Thank you for this! One thing I do wonder is what y’all’s daily hourly schedule is like? You said you work during set hours…what is the sequence of your day like? I recently lost my job & have gone back to school full-time for a second degree in accounting, while also helping my dad start up a small construction company. My days are so full, but I find myself getting burned out with studying & have yet to find a good balance of when to take reasonable breaks in intervals throughout the day. How long do you spend taking a break or two during the day? My biggest problem is mine turn into two or three hours, then I have to kick myself later!

  • Keeping a small notebook in hand is very helpful. I am a little old fashioned on thhis because writing things by hand makes them easier to remember!

  • I just asked the Twitterverse a question, even mentioned you guys in it, and this post is the answer! The funny thing is, it’s a week old and I somehow missed it!

    It’s like you read my mind, in advance. Hmmm….


    Thanks Emma + Elsie!

    xo Sarita Li

  • This is very helpful advice! Thank you. I am a new blogger and I am currently working on propritizing and using my time more wisely.I will try some of the tips you suggested.

  • These tips are really useful for those who are in the trade field and they gain better results by following it.

  • Thanks a lot for these tips!

    I’m working at home and it(‘s very difficult for me to make one thing and not to go on social networks or bloglovin or other links…
    I’m trying every day to be more organized, I know that I have miss a lot of opportunities because of it.

  • I love this post Elsie! I think your posts about organizing and blogging might be my favorite, because your tips are always SO useful.

    A Beautiful Mess is awesome!

    Virginie xo

  • Thank you Elsie! This was soo helpful. I definitely relate to all of the things you have mentioned here, and I was already doing the things that you have listed, so it is good to know that I am on the right track for productivity and having a balanced lifestyle 🙂

  • I can relate to all three, but specially 2 and 3. I get so much more done when I unplug. Sadly, I get a lot of inspiration form the internet, so I guess it’s about balance.

  • Amen to list-making! works every time..


  • Really smart and useful post. It can definitely be overwhelming trying to get things done when you have alot of distractions.
    One thing I find useful is to try to get an early start.I find that I accomplish much more tasks when I have an early start because my mind is still fresh and I can focus much more easily than later during the day.

  • Just like many others I really do enjoy all the posts you two make, it’s nice to see a blog that really is just about getting the most of life in the simplest of ways. It brings hope to fellow new bloggers like myself that are just trying to get their voices heard without the use of name brands or famous additions.

    Thank you 🙂

  • thanks for the tips! even as a lists-addict it gets hard organizing your time and being satisfied with it. cheers.

  • The weird thing is, I know this, these tips and the fact that they work. But I still need someone to write them down and help me realize that I’m not acting accordingly. Today is fresh start: shorter lists and better planning!

  • This list of tips works for so many professions. As a teacher I find myself so much more productive with short/long lists as well as planning. It is the logging out that is so difficult but it is a necessary evil

  • Great list! I definitely need to work on keeping focused and stop letting other things distract me. This has always been an issue for me. Thanks for this list!


  • Lists, effective time management, planning ahead, and being really clear out of what I want from life and blogging are the only way I’m able to make it all work.

  • Lovely tips, I use my organizer and phone to make a planning but I usually can do it without looking at it. I need an organized life 😉

  • Great tips! I’d love to learn more about your blog planning! I assume you guys schedule posts? How far in advance are you doing them? Scheduling them? And getting organised for them?

  • thank you! I never comment but ALWAYS visit you, A beautiful mess is my fav blog:) and this is so useful! <3

  • Great tips – thanks for sharing! These translate well into my line of work, too. 🙂

  • Where do I look to see who won which prize? Like the crafting items from yesterday? Thanks!

  • I am just at the start of my own business after having worked in the traditional workplace for 20 years and time management is killing me.
    Thanks for these concise, helpful tips.

  • Thanks for the advice, I am struggling with this right now.(bloglovin’)

    May I ask you a question? I am a new blogger, still finding my way, and I have a new handmade business. I have noticed some people put their links in their comments, even though I am sure they put it in the “your info” section so you can click on it if you feel you want to explore more. How do you feel about people leaving their link? annoying? rude? easier? do you like it or not? Should I?



  • Thank you for the tips!!! i often feel so overwhelmed with everything I have to do–so this will certainly help! 🙂

  • thanks for this. i have been following ya’ll for a few years now and though i rarely comment i must tell you i find endless inspiration from you elsie and your crew. thanks so much for continually making these kinds of posts a part of your blog it is not only nice to know your process, but encouraging! just to add one more thing that i have taken from you from the past, i save a lot of time by having an organized and inspiring workspace. taking the “time” to reorganize and revamp this space is crucial to my overall productivity. gracias de guatemala!!

  • I love small business tips! Logging out of social networks is such a brilliant idea, and it would have never occurred to me. Thanks!

  • I found that small lists and braking them down into steps you need to take to complete them really gives clarity and a road map to completing each task. Creativity is hard to plan for because some times you just can’t summon inspiration. I have learned that taking a step back, going for a walk, and coming back to a project fresh really helps moves things along.
    Thanks Elsie I’m pasting this to my studio wall!

  • I LOVE organisation. It makes life so much easier! And when I have a list everything works. Couldn’t agree with you more.

  • When there is something really big coming up, like the bachelor thesis I had to write the past summer, I ask my friends and family to respect the fact that I will concentrate on this project for a while. I also ask them not to invite me to have a coffee with them or whatever, because to me this is an invitation for me to do nothing at all that afternoon.

    And I also disconnect my laptop from the internet. If I have to read a text or smth like this, no electrical divice is on.

    And making a timetable also helps, so I know when what has to be finished.

  • I’ve just become Digital Manager and I’m finding that digital tools are pushing any physical creative projects to the way-side. Great idea to combine both more effectively by making a list of blogs to then focus on rather than just wasting time.
    Thank you

  • Great post! I work at home so I definitely have to make sure I change my environment occasionally!

  • Woah! I’ve always thought that creating a timetable/ planning list wouldn’t help much, but after reading this post it proves me so wrong. Hmmm all I have to actually do is to dedicate myself to whatever I planned to do! Thank you so much Elsie 🙂

  • Great post with lots of useful advises ! Thank you !

    XX Luba
    Well Living Blog

    :: Michael Kors :: bag :: GIVEAWAY

  • I think the second bullet on your list is so important. By being present – I mean, really present – in what you’re doing you save time, and I’ve found that you tend to enjoy it more. Avoiding distractions, even your own distracting thoughts, is key.

  • Great post!
    I’m probably the biggest listmaker!
    But I’m so bad in prioritizing!
    Defenitely need to do that…


  • Oh, “I often catch myself spending too much time browsing Pinterest and Bloglovin’ during work time” – it’s about me too:( And it’s most hard thing for me now – to draw myself from any social networks during woek-time…

  • Avoiding distraction…that’s my real challenge. Gonna have to work on that

  • I recently made a plan to keep my blog going, keep up with freelance work, have a social life and keep on top of my full-time job PLUS launch 2 more sites. It’s madness and I’ve been looking for a way to scale back. This seems like a good idea. Thanks!

  • I am definitely all about lists as well. This is a great post!

    Stephanie May*

  • great post! I think it will help me a lot! Thanks for sharing!

  • I am a married mom of 2 great boys (9 + 13) and have run my own business from home for about 20 years. You’re right, it’s easy to find many other things to do (they are all right there! staring at me!) so what I do when I am really feeling pulled during the work day is “give” myself an amount of time (sometimes just a half-hour) to just do house-stuff, for example, or sort out the supplies cupboard in the office…whatever is “nagging” me. I set the stopwatch on my phone (make what you want of that!) to help stay on track. I find stepping away from the business stuff for a set period of time lets me focus much better on it when I return. Aside, lists lists lists!!! Hope that helps someone!

  • Haha, I clearly need to work on tip #2 since I came to the post via bloglovin which I was wasting time browsing. 😉 Thanks for the advice.

  • great tips 🙂 not only just for blogging, but probably very helpful in everyday life!
    thanks for sharing.
    xo, cheyenne

  • Excellent advice. I love your ideas about making a schedule. Thank you for sharing your wonderful tips.

  • Wow, what an awesome blog! Thank IFB I’ve found you! You’ve got a new follower! 🙂


  • I love your blog, and you girls are beautiful and smart. But argggghhh, for the love of all things holy, it’s “People often ask Emma and ME.” Carry on.

  • I have tons of projects that i need to do. I am pretty o.c.d. And have always been all or nothing. Once some projects started getting bigger and bigger and backing up, i shut down and did nothing. Always having been a list maker, i found a solution to my problem. I find it difficult to get anything done while hubby and kids are home. So, i while they are gone, the same amount of hours each day, i have divided into equal parts of time. One part goes to computer time, one part goes to chores, one part goes to a project, and the last part goes to another project. what keeps me in check though, is that i preset alarms on my phone. And i stop and start at each alarm whether I’m finished or not. That way SOMETHING gets done each day.

  • Genius tips. Yes, I’ve been experiencing that feeling lately – when I wake up I don’t know what I should be blogging about the next day…I know once I invest the time to plan out my blog posts, it will be so much timely and consistent.

    You have inspired me! I plan to spend some time this weekend thinking about my upcoming week and want I want schedule. 🙂


  • That’s true.. I do the same with this tips.. 🙂 Sometimes we must make a priority.. 🙂

  • i feel that the first rule you listed is THE cardinal one in organization/time management. i’m an avid list maker and it’s the only way i ever get ANYTHING done, ever. i find that i also start to feel guilty if I have to many open ended projects on my plate. Especially around the holiday season- when I’m planning multiple parties and also making gifts. I feel like I don’t invest my full potential in each if i focus on more than one at a time. making a list (in order of priority) saves me from all the extra pressure and unnecessary obsessing.

  • Really nice and inspiring tips! In fact, when it comes to trading, each time I think I can save and find vintage treasures, I buy it, but in fact, because I dont make list and dont prioritize, I loose money and I have to much things!

  • I love these posts, as it’s something I also struggle with. I always have posts in mind though, so it’s never an idea scramble, it’s usually more finding the hours in the day AFTER my full-time job and long commute (with terrible internet access) A shorter to-do list is a great idea though, I do get the guilts about not achieving everything I’ve written down.


  • I would love to read more about your new method of blogging, if you ever have the want to write about it!

  • Thanks for the great tips Elsie. Always appreciate your great advice!

  • Some really good thoughts! Very meaty and inspiring! I appreciate you taking the time to put these together.

  • Love the first tip! List are always so great and perfect when you are under pressure! I also really like the photo at the top!

  • Thank you so much for this post! I just started my blog and I’m having a hard time posting regularly. It’s nice to know that even you guys had this problem at the beginning! Great advice!

  • Great tips! I’ve also found that turning off the tv helps me… I have a bad habit of turning on Netflix when I sit down with my computer!

    xo. Kate

  • I love reading your time-saving tips! I’ve learned to have a short list to keep myself from being overwhelmed with the eternal list.

  • This is just what I’m going through, I’ve been struggling with this topic for years. I use to make lists but make them too long or forget them. Most of time I can’t avoid distractions working at home, being single mother and having 6 cats and 5 dogs (all of them a bit crazy lol). And I use to end up caught on too many things. But all of this is so important, I need to stick with this. I want to re-start (and continue) my personal blog while get more organized on my music blog which has been quite successfull but I need to do more and better.
    Love the beggining quote: It’s about working smarter, not harder… TOTALLY!

  • Thank you for this post! I do waste a lot of time on Pinterest and reading other peoples’ blogs too! I find other people so creative & inspiring, it’s not to pull myself away, but it is needed.

  • Great insight as always. I admire what you do! Thanks for always keeping me inspired! 🙂

  • This was a seriously helpful and much needed reminder for me. I used to be a huge list maker, to the point where I almost felt like it was too compulsive so I quite making them. My productivity has noticeably taken a toll because of it. I’m definitely going to be getting back to my lists and getting stuff done! Thanks for the constant inspiration. 🙂

  • Thank you! I have been struggling with this. While I know social media and staying on top of what is going on in the rest of the blogesphere is a key part of the picture I know that I waste so much time flitting about rather than getting to the task at hand or even determining what that task is. I need to truly unplug for some of the day to accomplish more.

  • I love this! Sometimes you know these things but it really takes the dedication to do them. Putting this one in my back pocket 🙂


  • This couldn’t have come at a better time, Elsie. I needed this. I’m building a 3-site network, no small task for anyone! I’m also the mother to three daughter’s 16, 13, and 10 and we live in a small apartment. It’s easy to get distracted living in close quarters! When I get overwhelmed, I veer away from my lists. Thank you so much for reminding me! Making one right now and sticking it on my corkboard:) Yay! I was wondering how you girls do it all and make it look easy!!!

  • Thanks so much for all of this!! It’s really, really appreciated.

    I would LOVE to know more details about your list making process. I know that probably sounds weird. I love making lists, and do so everyday, I’m just not good at making them work for me.

    Thanks a million!
    Have a great weekend!

  • Prioritizing and making lists is the only way I get anything done! Great tips, Elsie.

  • Thank you for this! I just started my Masters program and am still figuring out how to balance school, work, to-do’s, my marriage, and time for myself! I so love reading your blog, thank you for all of the inspiration. (I’m also working on my four simple goals, but am not totally decided yet).

  • Making lists has always been the most helpful for me! Prioritizing is tough though, way easier said than done!
    xo Heather

  • I think the best time saving tip I have found that works every time, is make a playlist! I find that getting immersed into music helps keep me focused and on track, and with the songs I choose to listen to I can get myself into a particular mood and even influence the work that I produce at the time. Plus, I feel like I am enjoying myself, humming along to whatever I have going through my headphones, and thus I feel less inclined to waste time on the Internet or take an extended break.
    I have different playlists I like to use for different tasks, writing, painting, pattern drafting or sewing. Within these tasks I also have a couple different “moods”, so things don’t get too repetitive. Works like a charm to keep me focused, excited, and working. When the music ends, it’s time for a break!


  • Thank you Elsie & Emma, this is actually very timely for me and a great reality check! I’m a new blogger and fulltime mother to three great girls feeling a tad overwhelmed : )

  • Making lists is the best time saver for me too, I seriously would not be able to get half the things done if I hadn’t planned them ahead of time.

    For myself, I am more productive in the morning. So, I learned that waking up early and starting my big projects in the morning rather than staying up late to finish them works better for me. I think just finding that golden time of when you are most productive can make all the difference!

  • These tips are super-duper appreciated! I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to do many things at once, which results in doing each thing poorly “for example making the bed whilst brushing my teeth” hehe- but when you put your WHOLE SELF completely IN THE MOMENT. Each task gets done faster and more efficiently than “multi-tasking” – that’s what works for me anyway! ThankYou for continuing to be an inspiration to – well- THOUSANDS(!) you really do touch many many lives in a positive and inspirational way xo

  • Completely agree with #2. Sometimes I just have to get away to get stuff done. What really helped me organize my schedule was making a dry erase calendar on my mirror. Looks hideous, but really helps me visually see what needs to be done. Plus that’s the mirror I look at when I get ready, so there’s no avoiding it.


  • I write loads of lists too, to keep my schedule organized and my head clear. I totally agree with all 3 tips above. I think these 3 consist the ultimate way of working. 🙂 Perfectly said *

  • Great tips! Now if I only had the discipline to do them…. lol. I think it’s great the two of you have each other. I know I’m much better about things if I’ve got someone pushing me to do the things I know I need to do.

  • SO true! I swear I would loose my head without my lists! Whenever I feel overwhelmed or find myself spending too much time doing unimportant things I make myself sit down and write down what I need to do next – works like a charm!

  • Thanks so much for your tips, Elsie! Very helpful. I’m definitely going to give planning my blog posts in advance a serious go.

  • This is something I have been struggling with. I make crazy long lists and expect myself to accomplish all of it. Short lists like you said is something I need to focus on… and signing out of all those social networking sites. It’s hard when you are your own boss. Thanks Elsie!

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