As an entrepreneur, there are three things that can eat up your day. Emails, dead-end client prospects and the deep, black hole of social media. When you're fully aware of how your time is spent, it can be mind-blowing. Think about how many minutes you spend making to-do lists, scrolling instagram, researching something or crafting the perfect email. These boring, but necessary, tasks can easily take up 6-8 hours a week. That's an entire work day if you add it all up! As a creative entrepreneur or small business owner, you have to be spending your time as wisely as possible. Here are 5 time management tips I've learned over the years, when working from home.
1. IDENTIFY WHAT'S WASTING YOUR TIME, THEN STREAMLINE & AUTOMATE.
It's a love/hate relationship. Who doesn't love to open emails with sold order notifications, new client inquires or partnership opportunities? Typically those emails are buried in a pile of newsletter subscriptions, advertisements or opportunities that aren't beneficial to our brand. Take a few minutes each day and unsubscribe! Before you know it, your inbox will be clean and organized. Only keep things that are of value and can somehow be profitable or informational.
PR Pitches/ Brand Emails. (this one is for my fellow bloggers)
If you are a blogger or work in the media, then your inbox is usually filled with brand partnership inquiries and product pitches. I don't have the time to respond to every one, unless I see it's a good fit or I'm interested in learning more. I highly recommend creating different email templates for these. I have a few that I pull from and it saves me SO much time.
Consolidate your social media channels by using automation tools. (check this out! ---> 20 Automation Tools For Your Small Business) Limit your social media time to certain times of the day and focus on engaging and connecting with your core, demographic audience. Use social media platforms for promotion and marketing as much as possible.
Dead-Beat Client Leads.
If your client leads aren't qualified then it's time to move on. Some clients need a bit more attention or a custom proposal, but don't let them waste your time when their goal is to get your product or service at a discounted rate.
2. LEARN HOW TO DELEGATE AND OUTSOURCE.
There comes a point in business journey where you either finally give in and delegate certain tasks or simply, lose your sanity. If you attend one of my workshops or take one of my courses, you will always hear me talking about "hitting a plateau". This happens numerous times through the success of your business, but you have to pay close attention and set your ego aside. There's two types of these "plateau" moments. The first one comes when you know that you've exhausted all your energy and free resources and now it's time to step up your game or you might not even be able to remain a player. Depending on your circumstances and streams of income, I always suggest that you start with an intern. Maybe do a 3-6 month trial period, with either a small stipend or exchange for college credit, that can then grow into a future employee. The second "plateau" moment happens usually when you go viral or sell out of a product and your brand is simply on fire with followers, fans and most importantly, customers! When you get to this phase it's time to bring on someone or multiple people that excel in different areas to take your business to the next level. Congrats! Welcome to yet another job to add to your plate, human resources. If you haven’t had your pivotal, mental breakdown... (whoops!) I mean, plateau moment, don’t fret. Try outsourcing in the meantime and (check this out! ---> 20 Automation Tools For Your Small Business), an awesome guide to online, automatic tools that will help to elevate your brand. Keep your eye on the prize, set the intention of what your business goals are and just keep hustling.
3. USE SPREADSHEETS LIKE A PRO.
I can't stress to you enough how much I rely on my google drive. In fact, I probably wouldn't even have a business without it! I'm super anal organized when it comes to keeping my contacts, to-do lists, tasks, editorial calendar and content ideas in order. I use one master spreadsheet, labeled with rainbow colored tabs and color-coded columns. In fact, I might want to read this post a few times myself, because I spend too much time just organizing the shit. But don't follow my lead on this one, you're better than that. Just get yourself organized and don't get too caught up in how pretty it looks.
4. SET AN ALARM CLOCK.
I live by alarms. I use them on my phone and my desktop. When I'm sitting at my desk, I try to stay off my phone (and social media) as much as possible so I like to use a free desktop alarm clock. It's simple and straightforward, no fancy bells and whistles. he he... see what I did there? Anyways... set alarms and follow them. I use several throughout the day to remind me it's time to grab a snack (this is a major problems for workaholics who suffer from a slow metabolism, I don't think I need to tell you who I'm referring to here), take a 15 min. break, call a client, move on to the next project, etc. I schedule out my day by giving myself a certain block of time for each project. Every day is different and at the start of each day, I look at my agenda and prioritize. Take 10-15 min. to organize yourself and set your alarms for the rest of the day, to stay on task.
5. STICK TO A SCHEDULE.
No, we don't have to punch a time clock, but we do need implement structure. The good news is, you are your own boss, the bad news is that you have to be responsible enough to be disciplined. I'm certain a few of you will still be cooking dinner with a toddler on your hip while also taking a conference call, kudos! Good on you, if you can manage that, but it's not ideal. It's important to separate your business life from your home life as much as possible. Don't forget to find your balance. It's a perk to be able to finish the laundry between work projects, but it's also important to carve out your business schedule and stick to it. Be sure to keep your workspace clean and full of inspiration. When you find yourself in the flow, let it happen, but don't let it take over your life. When you love what you do, it never feels like work. Unfortunately, I speak from experience when I say that it's so important to remember self-love and not to push yourself too much. I've pushed myself so much that it's led to negative effects on my health, don't get to that point. Stick to a schedule and be sure to pencil pen in those mani appointments, bestie coffee dates and an occasional spa day. You deserve it, because you can't pour from an empty cup!
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