No matter what line of work you are in, time is valuable. To an independent consultant, time is money. Finding creative ways to save time can add up—a few minutes here and there can accumulate into hours of time saved and can reduce stress. Being efficient keeps you on top of your game, and in some cases, modern technology can help.
If you are looking for ways to save time, here are six easy suggestions.
1. Follow the Two-Minute Rule
Meetings are scheduled, due dates are planned, work hours are set, but there are many business-related tasks you can do right away. No matter where you are or what time it is. And doing them right away will keep you organized and save you time in the long run. A good rule of thumb: the “Two Minute Rule.” If you can do it in less than two minutes, take care of it right away. These include such things as taking photos of receipts, submitting expenses, recording your time, answering and archiving emails, scheduling meetings, and posting on social media.
2. Don’t Wait Until Tax Time
Taking the time to tackle small tasks as they happen, instead of waiting until “later” (whenever that later might be) can save you hours, particularly with regard to expenses. If you’re like most, you gather receipts in a pile until it’s time to submit them. Then you are stuck sorting, categorizing, coding, scanning, uploading and submitting, and this can take hours. And, if you’re not careful, you just might miss out on a possible tax deduction opportunity.
Try an expense app that allows you to take photos of receipts. Taking a photo right after a purchase can save you time and keep you organized. And if you lose a receipt, you have a picture as back up.
3. Take Advantage of Being On The Go
Independent consultants often have downtime waiting for meetings to start, sitting in an airport or on a train, waiting in line, etc. Luckily with modern technology, you can make the most of these precious extra minutes to manage your business. Through your smartphone, you can check your email, follow up on an inquiry, or set up meetings.
4. Use Your Camera
If your smartphone has a camera, you are in possession of a valuable business management and marketing tool. For example, you can:
- Save time and stay organized by using your camera to take pictures of receipts as you incur expenses.
- Digitally organize your business cards.
- Share interactive, rich-media updates in real time on your social media profiles and website.
- Update your profile photo on LinkedIn to a professional headshot.
5. Opt For Automatic Tax Withholding
Independent consultants are required to file quarterly taxes. If you are like most, you spend a lot of time trying to keep track of all of your deductions and expenses throughout the quarter and estimating what your tax payment will be. Then you either file your taxes hoping you have done it correctly or you hire an accountant to do it for you.
Eliminate Schedule C filing entirely by using MBO Partners. Our programs for self-employed workers utilize automatic withholding (either as part of our Employer of Record option or through your own corporate entity). As a result, taxes are taken out of every paycheck, and you receive a single W-2 at the end of the year instead of multiple 1099 forms. This takes the guesswork out of how much you owe and allows you to pay as you go so that you don’t have to pay a lump sum tax bill at the end of the quarter.
6. Find An Advocate
Independent consultants want to spend time on completing a project, not on creating invoices and collecting payments. Invoices need to be detailed – which means you need to spend time tracking your hours, expenses, milestones, project progress and more – and formatted and submitted for payment. If the invoice is not paid, you don’t get paid. That’s when you need an advocate that you trust, that is reasonably priced, who will do this for you. The biggest challenge is finding someone who understands your business and who cares enough to treat it the way you do – who will do the job without damaging your relationship with your client, who will resolve issues quickly and who can work independently. There are many options for administrative support – hire a virtual assistant, download a personal assistant app, or use your MBO business manager who is available to help with these issues and much more.