I must say that until we started tackling this subject, I didn’t realize how badly I needed to take our own class! So, I was so very glad that Payson Cooper joined us for last night’s Class #6 on Time Management.
Between designing for my clients, and managing Frogs Are Green, Branding You Better and Broadcast Louder, and Andrea also managing Broadcast Louder and Open Studio Coach in addition to her art and jewelry business, it’s not easy anymore for us to fit everything in, and we both need better time management schedules, as well as more assistance!
I will say this: We all have missions and causes that we care deeply about, but if they don’t generate revenue, they take a back seat to the work we must do to earn a living. I know that seems harsh, and I say it knowing how much I love the causes and missions I’m on, but I have to be realistic as well. If I don’t take the time to do the work I must, I won’t have the extra time to do the other things I want to.
The monkey in the wrench
No matter how you schedule and plan your days, what do you do when the phone is ringing and each hour you are talking to another client, and now it’s 4pm, and you haven’t yet done any work? Trust me I understand, we all have those days. I will say that there are some days when I am in the middle of working and I answer the phone but ask to call the person back. It’s easier and better for both myself and the client. They know I am going to call them back later and the message wasn’t unanswered.
Payson and Andrea both recommend Google Voice as an option.
Choosing which projects to work on so business moves along
When you are an entrepreneur, you are the driving force behind your business. Your success as well as sustenance, is accomplished by how hard you work, and how quickly you complete your assignments.
We may seek those larger scale, more involved and higher paying contracts, so we can have the time to conceptualize and create. It’s a fine line going between the shorter multiple easier projects and the longer drawn out ones.
For me it’s an interesting dilemma. When a project is short and sweet, it’s started and completed quickly and generates income faster. At the same time I love long involved branding development where we move from print marketing to social media to web design to email marketing, and as we complete all the different areas, I watch the brand develop completely over time and take off… but then if the project takes months and months, the payments are slower and more spread out. So time management becomes not just planning work habits but knowing that you worked on things that help generate income. You can’t just work on an assignment continuously and not consider where you’re going to find money to pay bills.
Making Time to write estimates, pitch or look for new work. This is an absolute. Even if you have lots of work, you want to be thinking of future work.
Time Management Recommendations
As they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. What’s the next step? Getting tools to rise above and help yourself. Here are some tools that will help you to maintain your focus and allow you to be productive.
1. Take breaks. Non-stop work is counterproductive. Taking short, timed breaks allows your mind to rest, allowing new thoughts and ideas in. You must take time off and that means walk away from work. All work. Go outside and take a walk. Listen to music. Stretch. Read a book. And get out of your workspace to do it.
2. It’s best to enter your work space in a good mood because obviously you’re more productive than if you enter moody or in a funk. Have a grateful list handy and read that over. If you go for coffee, smile and say thank you. If you put your children on the bus before you work, make sure it’s not a stressed morning. *yeah, I know that can be tough. If you are stressed before you begin work, de-stress. Find a ritual that works for you and find a calm energy level before you begin work. If something stresses you mid-day, relax, stay in control of yourself and take step back to calm down before you tackle the situation.
3. Make a to-do list, weekly. Separate the home and business to-do’s or keep them on the same calendar, whatever works best but remember to LOOK at them. It makes no sense to write out a schedule then hide the calendar under papers or forget to click it open on your computer. When you set your time to do a particular task and you get off schedule, don’t sweat it. That’s life and changing your plan is normal. Take it in stride, move some things around and keep going. You can add to your list during the day too and move things to another day if they seem too overwhelming to accomplish. Prioritize.
4. Be disciplined on social media. Set up a specific time range and time of day to network and connect online or surf the web for research. I just found out about Google Chrome’s website blocker, which allows you to set restrictions to your online time by either totally blocking your favorite websites or just restricting the check-in timeframes. E-mails can be a time drain. It’s okay to have a brain drain with a personal e-mail response but keep mindful of the time you spend and set aside a specific time period. When working business e-mails, think about whether it would be best to call that person instead. It could reduce the time discussing or waiting for a response and you can check something off of your list!
Other Links and Recommend Reading
Visit Payson Cooper‘s website, Easy Marketing Secrets and read and watch her videos!
Check out Bryn Johnson’s Blog Series on Time Management