A Little History
Back in the good old days I had all the time in the world. I could work on work days and week nights. I could put in 17 hour days on the weekends to get things done. I was married to a work-a-holic who understood putting in crazy hours and I was feeling cool and productive.
And then we adopted 3 kids. Doh.
The first year or so I thought that I could keep up my crazy business and still have time for the kids. And then the “stuff” started happening. They wanted to spend time together in the evenings, my kids started doing sports, there were school meetings and days off. And for some unknown reason they don’t have school all summer…ack!
That is when I started to realize that I HAD to get a handle on my business or I would go starkers!!! Here are the top 7 things that I focused on to get my business back into focus!
7 Tips For Becoming A “Time Ninja”
These are some of the things that I have done which have helped my time management. While they are not in any particular order, they are sort of in the order that I discovered them!
Work When You Work
This may have been the hardest thing for me to start doing. BK (before kids) I could “dink around” and push all my work to later in the day or on the weekends. I could do a bit and then goof off and then start back on track.
Now I block out times to work. I have a calendar that has things like 3 hours for blogging, 2 hours for client work, 1 hour for admin and I stick to those times. I sit down, butt in chair and do whatever I have scheduled out for that time!
This is the one that scares entrepreneurs the most! It feels like if you have super scheduled your time then you will get bored or stale. BUT that is not true!
I also schedule time during the week to meet with friends for masterminds. I schedule time to go to estate sales and auctions to source products. I even schedule time to “dink around” on the internet (which often leads to breakthroughs in my business!)
.. TO DO – Set a timer when you are working. Do nothing but what you have said you are going to do for that amount of time. This one is harder than you might think!
A Monthly Focus
One of the best things that I ever did was to pick a theme for each month! Some months I make a video a day or a blog post a day. Sometimes I spend an entire month setting up a sales funnel or making a plan.
For me, it is hard to skip back and forth between different things. Having one thing to focus on makes it easy to remember what I should be doing.
This month I am rocking affiliate marketing. I am figuring out ways to increase traffic to my site, find things that my readers will love and make my marketing campaigns more structured. Every day I am doing something that moves me toward that goals and everything else is second to that.
Recommended Resource: The One Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan! Finding ONE thing to focus on is key! I read this once a year at least! #promo
.. TO DO – Write down your focus for this month. Just one thing that you are going make your #1 priority all month long.
Have A Plan
So once you know what you are going to focus on you HAVE to have a plan. Start with everything that you COULD do to implement your plan (I use a Big Ideas Worksheet to brainstorm this!)
Then break it down into tasks that you need to accomplish.
I like to have two or three big things that I need to do (resource page for my blog, setting up a spreadsheet and finding affiliate partners, researching keywords and blog posts) as well as little things to do (make banners for products, make pretty links, etc.)
When I have a big block of time I work on one of the big items, but having a list of little things that I can do too makes it easy to squeeze those things in when I might otherwise get distracted.
.. TO DO – Make a BIG list of all the things that you could do to move yourself towards completion of your monthly goal.
Okay, you may have gotten this far but this is where I might lose you! You HAVE to stop worrying about everything else.
Stop checking your email every five minutes. 13% of people check their email hourly or more and I am guessing that may be you too! Close the tab, delete the app from your phone, do whatever it takes to break the cycle of constantly checking it. I am not one to do the, “I check my email at 11 and 4” thing, but I do schedule time in my day when I will check, do the easy things and then add everything else to my to-do list.
Stop checking Facebook, Twitter or any other social media outlet. Oh my gosh, if we could get back all the time we have wasted on these platforms we would be unstoppable. Much like the excitement of gambling, seeing all those cool stories go by is a rush. BUT it takes away time from your work. Schedule a half an hour a day when you can geek out on social and close those tabs the rest of the day.
If you are into politics, start purging. Stop watching the news, stop reading the stories, start hiding things on your timeline that get you all wound up! Getting riled makes your endorphins rush which is pleasurable to humans so stopping this may make you sad or anxious for a bit, just work through it! It is shocking to realize (after you have ignored it for a bit) how little politics affect our lives (unless we are politicians!)
.. TO DO – Delete your email and Facebook apps or commit to leaving your phone in the other room while you are working!
Just Say No
This one is a killer too! You will have to start saying no more often.
I get 10-12 emails A DAY from people asking me to include a link of theirs on my site, answer some questions for a post, check out their app or something else that will benefit them in some way and me probably not. I get requests for coffee or one-on-ones. I get asked to help people who are writing their thesis papers.
All of these things are easier to say yes to than to disappoint someone else. But since I know my focus, I can easily see if it is something that will be a benefit to me or just a waste of my time.
Say yes to what you like! I encourage my readers to email me because that is the best way for me to talk with them on my own timeline. Some people like to have texts or Facebook messages. I LIKE these questions because they give me ideas for my blog posts and sometimes turn into consultations!
I also like to do trainings and podcasts so I am much more likely to say yes to one these than other things. Figure out what you like (and have time for!)
.. TO DO – Start (gently) saying no more often. Really figure out if what you are saying yes to is something that you want to do!
Just In Time Learning
I am not sure where I heard of this but it is BRILLIANT! As entrepreneurs we are fascinated with LOTS of things. We want to hear about ALL the opportunities and get sucked into learning about whatever someone else thinks is important.
Start figuring out what you are doing and THEN find a way to learn more about it!
There is always some marketer doing a launch that is a “limited time offer” or has a deadline. Don’t let someone else’s priorities get you off track.
When you are ready to learn about something ask a trusted source if they have a recommendation. Do a search and spend a little time finding out what you don’t know and then take a course about that aspect of it.
.. TO DO – Start a list of things you would like to learn about. Only take the ones that will help now and know that list will be there for you when you are ready later.
Do The Things You Dread
Oh this is an uplifting way to end this list…ha! We all have things we HAVE to do or that will help us in the long run but feel overwhelming in the short run.
I am super guilty of thinking that something I hate will take DAYS when it really will only take a couple of hours and will save me so much time later.
One recent thing that comes to mind is organizing my inventory for my vintage store on Etsy. Our garage was a mess and I had stuff in 4 locations in our house. I budgeted Wednesday, Thursday and part of Friday to getting it fixed. I waited a couple of months to find a block of time that I could get that many days to work on it. And it took 3 hours of focused time. 3 HOURS!!
Oh my gosh, if I could have the time I spent avoiding it back, or the time I spent crawling over things in the mess… but that is what happens when we put things off!
Now, there are some things we are dreading that don’t need to be done at all. Just cross those off your list and forget them. Don’t spend time doing things that don’t need to be done at all!
Ninja Time Management Wrapup
It really is harder than you think it will be to break those bad habits that are holding you down. It will be harder to say no more and disappoint people. It will stink to not be distracted and have all those great synapses firing all time with exciting new things to do.
But it is also better. Better to make more money because you are focused on what matters. Better to not be crazy busy all the time, blaming yourself for not being able to get everything done. Better to be focused on your business in a way that you may have never been before.
You can do this! You can be the gal (or guy) who other people look up to and admire for your commitment and dedication to your work!