I’ve recently undertaken an odyssey of a literary adventure, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I’ve been wanting to read it for years but could never quite get motivated to dive into a 1000+ page book written in 1957, especially since having kids and running a business and having 10 minutes to read a magazine article is a luxury.

I’m a little over 650 pages into the book (thanks to a kid free Mexico vacation) and I can’t get enough of it. I have a girl crush on Dagny Taggert, the main heroine of the book, and I’m shocked how some of the pages of the book could be ripped from today’s headlines. It’s a great read and I’m looking forward to finishing the last 500 or so pages!

There was one conversation between Dagny and Ellis Wyatt that struck me while I was on the plane reading a few days ago and I wanted to share it with you.

Ellis Wyatt says, “What’s wealth but the means of expanding one’s life? There’s two ways one can do it: either by means of producing more or by producing it faster. And that’s what I’m doing: I’m manufacturing time.”

“What do you mean?” asks Dagny.

“I’m producing everything I need, I’m working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life. It used to take me five hours to fill that tank. It now takes three. The two I saved are mine- as pricelessly mine as if I moved my grave two further hours away for every five I’ve got. It’s two hours in which to work, to grow, to move forward. That’s the savings account I’m hoarding.”

I’ve been focusing this summer on creating a better work/life balance. As no one said in their final days that they wish they worked more. Time is something that never stops passing us by and it’s a commodity that you can’t get back. While I LOVE my business and this blog, I also LOVE my family, my children, and my friends.

I thought I would share a few of the changes I’ve made recently to claim more of my time and hope that it helps some of you claim more of your time!

– No work on Sundays. I will occasionally schedule a weather induced reshoot or catch up on a few things if I was away, but generally I try to keep the day reserved for family.

– Stop the OCD of Facebook and Email. I only allow myself to check my email and Facebook three times a day when I’m working. If I have something that needs to be done I don’t allow myself to open either of those things until my project is finished.

– Plan ahead. Each evening I write out a list of must accomplish and would like to accomplish goals for the next day. This has been so helpful in saving me 15-20 minutes of “what do I need to do” mess around time each time I sit down to work.

– Keep a tablet of paper (or Evernote) next to me at all times. If a random idea jumps in my head I just jot it down and get back to what I was doing. I find that I am easily distracted and can waste a ton of time jumping back and forth between tasks.

– Schedule work time. I work daily during afternoon nap time, 2 mornings a week at my mobile gym office (where I’m typing this currently), 3-4 nights from 8-9:30pm and only schedule shoots on Saturdays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. I reserve Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday for me and my family. This is certainly one of the hardest things that I have done. I always felt that I couldn’t block off time because I needed all of the clients that I could get. Well, now that I have more of a schedule, I have more clients then ever and I feel MUCH less frazzled.

– Outsource. Are there things that you are spending too much time on that drain your energy? Outsource them! Add that expense into your Cost of Goods Sold (read more on how to determine that here) and free yourself. Create more time in your life. You can outsource many things and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, editing, accounting, album design, etc. It’s like having an employee that you don’t have to pay if you don’t have work for them to do and you don’t have to mess with unemployment insurance and the myriad of other hoops that you need to jump through to employ someone. (Don’t get me started on all of that…..)

I also wanted to include a quick note to those of you that miss hours of sleep every night working on your business. I know it’s hard as it seems that there isn’t time to do it otherwise, but sleeping for 4 hours a night is no way to have a sustainable life. It will catch up with you and you will not be able to be fully present with the people that you love during the day and it’s been scientifically proven that lack of sleep leads to all sorts of health problems. You must take care of yourself. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your family.

Do you have any time saving tips? I would love to hear them in the comments below or jump over to the Hair of the Dog Facebook page!  Who couldn’t use more of this in their life….