I was hesitant to write this post as I sometimes feel that I do a terrible job at managing my time. After I gave myself a little break (and told the perfectionist in me to settle down) I realized that I’m doing a pretty okay job of getting all my ducks in a row and running this business the best I can. So today, I’d like to give you my top tips for running your small business… AKA your one woman/man show ;)
Check Email At Specific Times
Do you find yourself constantly checking your email? That was me… until just recently. I was so afraid that I was going to miss something that I was literally checking my email a few times every hour…ugh. This is probably one of the absolute worst time sucks. Now I have a very strict policy where I only check my email 3 times a day. Those three time are in the morning when I start work, at lunch (or after) and right before I close up shop for the day. Each time I check it, I close out that tab in my browser.
When I worked in advertising I had no choice but to leave my email open constantly, I remember being pulled in so many directions because each time a new email came in I had to try to answer it right away. This is not a productive way to work. Now that I have my own business I knew I had to leave this practice behind.
Know Your “Productive Time”
I’m a morning person through and through and I know that I get my best work done before 1pm, after that I’ve started to head downhill in the productivity department. I save those not-so fun tasks for the morning time… things that take a lot of brain power and concentration. My afternoons are mostly made up of items I get to be creative with, since this is the time where my mind starts to wander. I know a fellow creative who never starts work before 10am… she just can’t, it’s not in the cards for her. It’s important to know what time of day you are most productive, find out and then build your schedule around that.
Make Sure to Log Off
Oh boy… this one has me feeling guilty for telling you guys to do this because I am awful at it. It is so important for our minds, relationships, bodies, SANITY to log off and close down work for the day. I’ve started to set hours for myself… unless I have a pressing deadline, my cut off for work is 6pm - that means no instagram (business account), no email, no work computer. This is hard for me, I’m the type of person that goes full speed ahead until I hit a wall. But I’ve realized that the more I set boundaries, the better my business does! Set some boundaries and try as much as you can to stick to them, otherwise be prepared for major burnout.
Lists Are Your Friend
How can you survive without them?!
I think it’s part of my nature to be a list person and I honestly don’t know how people survive without them. I like to run on 2 lists.
List 1: I write down every single thing I have to get done at the beginning of the week. I get really detailed here. All the way down to things like “Send email reminding Sarah to send me the client’s Menu for this weekend’s wedding”. This is the time for me to “brain dump” all the things that are weighing on my brain for the week. I get it all out so that my mind can relax and I don’t have to worry about forgetting something.
List 2: This is a daily “To do” list. I write down all the things that need to get done that day. Then underneath it I put the things that are ok to move to tomorrow if they can’t get done today…. because we all know that we can’t predict what a day may bring! Crossing things off my list makes me feel good and accomplished and I couldn’t survive without it.
Bonus: Make your “To Do” list for tomorrow at the end of your work day today. Doing this practice has allowed me to relax at the end of my day instead of thinking of the the list I need to create the next morning and making sure I don’t forget anything!
Conclusion: Find Out What Works Best For You
Each person is unique and therefore one method will not work for everyone. Find out what works best for you. I tried time blocking for about a week and by the end of the week I said goodbye to it. To be candid, I felt guilty that time blocking didn’t work out for me since so many people swear by it ( I thought… “What’s wrong with me?”) but the truth is that time blocking doesn’t fit with my creative mind! Having to start a painting and stop it in 45 minutes feels limiting and like an unfair pressure to put on myself. I decided to ditch time blocking but found my method for lists to work great for me.
Try some productivity hacks and see if it’s a good fit for you. If you are really finding yourself being unproductive maybe it’s time to take a step back and evaluate why this might be happening. It could be something you never thought!
Having your own business is a ton of work and it’s easy to think that it’s “all there is” but we all have lives outside of our businesses and it’s important to pour into those as well. I hope some of my tips help you to manage your time and feel better about your productivity! :)