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We are talking about everyone’s favorite topic today…Time Management! This is such a contentious topic. I LOVE when people say you have the same amount of time in the day as Beyonce. Really? No, you actually you don’t, because Beyonce has someone cleaning her house and probably cooking her meals and doing her yard work and whatever else she hires people to do. She has an assistant and most likely people to help take care of her kids too. If you are just starting your business or in the first couple of years of your business, you may not be able to hire ANYONE let alone all those people so no you don’t have the same amount of time as Beyonce.
You need to figure out how much time YOU have. Yes everyone has 24 hours but no everyone doesn’t have the same amount of time in the day. Beyonce has people to do all the things for her…you are not Beyonce. You may have kids and if you do then depending on their age you may have a ton of time because your kids are never there or they are still small and you are lucky if you get a shower that day. You may still be working a full-time job…or a part-time job with full-time hours. You have a house, dog, laundry, cleaning, kids, parents whatever it is…most likely you aren’t sitting around all day doing nothing.
The first thing that you need to do is realize what stage of life are you in. If you are working full time and have very young kids with no help then you may not have as much time as someone who’s kids are in school all day and they have the day to work. You need to take an audit of your time and figure out how much time you actually have. I talked about this a little bit in my last episode about excuses. Write down what you do for an entire week…literally everything you do. You need to know how much time you have. If you are limited on time then you need to see what you can cut out. If you watch an episode of friends, the office whatever each night then save it for the weekend and use that hour to work. If you don’t have young children (or you know a new pet) keeping you up all night then get up an hour or two earlier than you normally would and work then. If you do have children that keep you up at night like I do then stay up an hour or two later than you normally would and work then.
Do you work full time? Can you work on your business at lunch? Can you work during your commute if you aren’t driving? If you are driving then listen to a podcast or book on audio that has something to do with building your business or mindset. I’m going to say something controversial…most people have to hustle at the beginning of their business. People HATE the word hustle so much and I’m fine with it. I don’t think it’s a bad word if you don’t make it one. If you are managing your time appropriately and only hustling during the hours you have to work then you are strategically hustling. Building a business from the ground up takes hard work and determination. Hustle now so you don’t have to later. You are going to have to work a lot harder and longer now than later.
If you have little kids at home with you during the day it can be difficult to work with them around. Plan to work during their naptime. Let’s be real the nap when they nap never happens anyway because we have a million and one things to take care of around the house. And that brings me to my next topic with time management. You need to prioritize your time. If you have two hours each day at home to work on your business DON’T do anything else. I used to go fold clothes when the dryer beeped and then throw another load in, unload the dishwasher when it was done, tidy up after the little ones so it wasn’t a complete disaster later, etc. Don’t do it. Instead of say doing laundry each day of the week leave it to one or two days later on in the week. Or better yet…ASK FOR HELP. If you have someone that can help you with things around your house ask. You need to focus when you are working on your business. If you keep getting distracted then you won’t accomplish anything and you will feel like you are running in circles.
Sometimes this is really hard for people to do. I had to sit down and have a conversation with my husband. Now we clean up at the end of the night together and it cuts the time by a lot. Our kids go upstairs for the night while we quickly pick up the living room and kitchen and load the dishwasher. Then we read to our kids and I put the 5-year-old to bed. He is a great sleeper and will go to bed immediately. The 2-year-old is a horrible sleeper and takes almost an hour to fall asleep so my husband takes care of that. This gives me the opportunity to go work in my office from about 9-11pm each night. I don’t get up early. I have a 2.5-year old that gets up 3-4 times each night so I’m typically dead in the morning. Right now I function better at night so I know that’s when I can get work done. The day the little one starts sleeping through the night I’ll start going to bed early and getting up early. I would prefer to do that and get a restful night of sleep but I know what stage of life I’m in and I’m rolling with it.
My 5-year-old is in school all day but my 2-year-old is home with me most days. He is a needy 2-year-old so if I need to work on something that requires a lot of focus then I leave that for the evenings or on a day when my parents take him. I don’t have a sitter regularly so I take advantage when I can. I prioritize the stuff that requires concentration for the evenings and work on things like graphics, social media, light research for the daytime when being interrupted every couple minutes isn’t going to make me lose my train of thought. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
The next thing I’m going to suggest is to use a project management software to keep track of everything. Even if you are a solopreneur it’s good to get into the habit. When I started I was a pen and paper person but I wasn’t able to see what to do when easily and know how to split up my tasks with a simple to-do list. Everything would get listed on there and let’s be honest most of us start with the easiest stuff which isn’t necessarily the items that move your business forward. I looked into Trello and it’s really easy to use but didn’t have all the functionality that I want. My plan is to hire a VA early next year so I wanted a software that worked easily with teams. I’m currently using click-up. I’m brain dumping all my info there. I can see it on a calendar, along with tasks and when stuff is due and then I break it down from there.
I still had a paper calendar this year. I used it for all my personal items and meetings and that’s where my to-do lists went every day. I am however in the process of moving everything digitally. This means that my calendar, my notes, and my project management software is all at my fingertips no matter where I am. I purchased an iPad mini for this sole purpose because although I LOVE my paper planner I needed something I could bring with me all the time. I’m working on creating some to-do lists digitally for myself but we will see how that goes and that’s a conversation for another episode. Anyway, prioritizing your time means you can see everything that needs to be done and you have the steps broken out on what is going to be done when. And you aren’t doing anything else when you are working…you work with no disruptions.
Part of time management is also planning ahead. I sit down on Sunday nights and plan my week. When I do this it gives me a sense of calm. I know what I’m doing and I’m not laying in bed thinking of all the things. I mean sometimes I still do because I love what I do but I’m not stressing about what I’m going to be doing. I plan out my Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays on Sunday nights. On Wednesday nights I plan out Thursday through Sunday. When I say I plan everything out it’s both work and family life. I always know what’s going on when so I know when I can work and focus. I use Thursdays and Fridays to catch up. If I have client work that unexpectedly comes up Monday through Wednesday then I can catch up on things I didn’t get done for myself on Thursdays and Fridays. Those are the days I typically do my laundry too. Those days I do things that don’t require as much focus. I work a half-day on Friday and then spend the afternoon cleaning as much of the house as I can get done before I pick up my son from school. This frees us up for the weekend and I’m not stressing about all the things I need to get done and can enjoy my time with my family. Each night I take a look at what I accomplished and what still needs to be done and I move it around accordingly. Pick a day or two and plan out your week.
If you have it in your budget to outsource some of the items you are doing then OUTSOURCE them!! If you have the ability to hire out then do it YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE DOING EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME!! If your business has grown to the point where you can hire a VA for a couple hours a week to do the things you don’t need to be doing or the things you hate to do but they need to be done then do it. It’s a great use of your time to be doing what you are good at…or spending that extra time with your family…or spending that time with you, re-energizing and decompressing.
The next tip for time management is to focus. Look I know that we as women have the claim to fame that we are amazing multi-taskers. I’m going to raise my hand here. Sometimes I can’t believe that there are certain things that my husband can’t do at the same time. I’m over here cooking dinner with headphones on listening to a podcast and making sure my son is doing his homework. Yes I’m getting 3 things done but not with any focus. If I’m multi-tasking it’s because it’s not things that require focus. When you are working focus and do the most important things in your business first. Eat the frog as they say. When you do the things that move your business forward and accomplish those hard tasks first you gain momentum as you go down your list.
Another tip is to batch your work. Take similar items and do them at the same time so that your brain isn’t bouncing around trying to focus on different things. Set 2 or 3 times to look at emails and respond to phone calls per day. Then you aren’t distracted every time an email pops in or the phone rings. If you are creating graphics for a podcast, youtube video, or blog post do your social media graphics at the same time. You get the picture.
The last thing I’m going to say is to learn to say no. This is a difficult one for me. I still struggle with saying no to certain people when I have a schedule going but this has been a huge help over the last year. You don’t have to be rude about it. Just say I’m sorry I already have something on my schedule that I can’t move. Protect your schedule. Treat your time as an appointment with someone. You need to go and get it done.
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