Howdy! Today I am talking out loud to myself about time management and being busy and thought I would bring you along for the ride!
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I am just too busy to do X” – X being something you love or that would help your business. Are you feeling alone in your misery, like you are the only one who has somehow over-committed or is running around like a chicken with her head cut off?
The good news (and bad news) is that almost EVERYONE on the planet feels that way. We all have too many emails to read, too many blog posts to write, too many school events to attend…JUST T-O-O many.
So today we are going to talk about what to do about that! Here are some concrete strategies for getting some time (sanity) back into your life!
1. Make Time For Who Matters
There really is nothing without the people in your life who you love and who love you. So stop right now and write down the people who matter. You can categorize them any way you choose but don't stress out that some matter more than others.
For example, my kids matter more than my friends right at this time in my life. I have to make time for them beyond everything else because they are important and they need me. My husband and I first met them about 2 years ago (we adopted 3 kids!) and life is finally starting to settle down and become “normal”.
But this is not the time to take my eye off the prize…now is the time to double down and say that I am going to cement that progress by prioritizing them!
If you have this one firmly in hand skip this part! This is just my way of focusing…yours may vary.
What I do: So BK (before kids) I had all the time in the world to work. I could do 16 hour days and immerse myself in marketing. I could attend any event or training, mostly anywhere in the world. If asked to speak in a couple of days, I could hop on a plane and be there. Those days are gone and that is okay. Now I have to figure out how to make a business empire that provides consistent income without so much of my time (I will keep you informed on that…it is getting there!)
2. Make Time For What Matters
Alrighty then, we have covered the who and now the what. You probably have non-work related things that matter to you like going to the gym, having a foundation or gardening.
Make time for those things next. For example, one of my gal pals is training to be a weightlifter and spends crazy amounts of time in the gym. Another friend loves running marathons and training for up to 5 hours a day. (I have to get less healthy friends, they make me feel like a schlub!!)
Anyone on the outside looking in thinks, well if you are too busy, then just stop training so long. Work out for 3 hours hours a day instead of 5. But that would make my friend's life sadder. It is ONLY up to you to decide what matters. Don't let anyone rain on your parade.
Update… here is Kir of Food, Fitness, Finance and Fun working out! She has added “busy mom” to her workout and entrepreneurial journey, but super proud that she makes time for herself!
What I do: I am terrible at this one! I LOVE writing and feel guilty whenever I take time away from my “real” work to write a post, book or course. It feels like I am “cheating” somehow to do something that makes me so happy. But I have stopped that a little bit. Every morning I “get” to write for an hour from 5-6AM. You do know that the only “police” who are waiting to bust you for doing what you love are in your head right? Give yourself an hour a day to do whatever you love!
3. Time For What Matters In Your Business
Now we are to the meat of work and your business. Most of the people who read my blog are small business owners, entrepreneurs, authors or Realtors so we are in charge of managing our own time for the most part. Very few of us have a boss peering over our shoulders, instead we have to mind our own time.
Stop right now and write down 5 things that are important that YOU do them in your business. This is not some “outsource your life, 4 hour work week” kind of thing, just figure out the 3-5 things that you do best in your business. Could be sales, could be customer service, could be brainstorming new ideas. Whatever it is, write those down and put them in your calendar FIRST!
What I do: While I do have a gal who is invaluable to my business to help me, I have to produce all the content, make all the technical bits work and brainstorm all the money making things. These are not all favorites but all are important and only I can do them.
4. Time For What You Are Good At
Now a big question for you! Are you good at the things that you said are important for your business. I am pretty good at most of my important things, but really could use a hand organizing some of the priorities and bits that need to be done.
But don't go running off to see if you can get a training or admin to do those things, stop and make sure that they are necessary things! It is amazing to me how many things I felt I “had” to do before kids. I had tons of tasks that I was doing that would make me feel productive, but didn't make a difference to my bottom line income.
What I do: If there isn't a clear reason WHY I am doing something I stop doing it and see if anything happens. For example, when I trying to grow my social media accounts I have a whole checklist that I use everyday. But when I am focused on something else I don't…and the world keeps turning. It can feel like you “have” to visit Facebook everyday or that you “need” to check your email, but I promise you, they will still be there when you get back!
Check out the worksheets I use to keep my life in order!
5. Time For What Needs To Be Done
Oh this one..sigh. Now, there is one day a month that I have hours and hours of work to do…bill paying day. For reals, it takes me almost 8 hours to pay my couple of bills. Of course that is a big fat lie, it takes about 45 minutes, once a month to pay my bills. But I build it up in my mind so far that it becomes a big scary monster.
I am sure you have some things in your business that need to be done. You may have to put orders in, send out fulfillments, pay your bills, do your taxes, etc. Save some anguish and stop building these up to be terrible and just do them!
What I do: If there is something that I need to do like renew my tradename or do my bills, I just get to it. I do it right away and don't try to make excuses or change the schedule of it. Having those “have to dos” hanging over my head is enough to distract me from real important things so they don't get to claim any of my headspace!
6. Not Everything Needs To Be “On Purpose”
Now you may be thinking, “this chick is totally the time ninja”. But that is not true. I do believe that a lot of my best results come from around the edges, when I am doing something that I feel like doing rather than something that needs done.
While focus matters, there are times when you can go a little off road just to keep your creativity clear and increase your motivation for those “have to dos”. If all you have to do is sucky stuff that feels necessary, you won't make it too long. You are a small business owner for God's sake, you are the boss of you and pick something frivolous from time to time!
Here are a few things that I have seen people do “not on purpose”:
Writing books that no one will read – One of my favorite writing teams spends time researching and writing “popular” books that will sell very well. They optimize their marketing and use some of their time to write autoresponders and product descriptions so that their books will be salable. And they do all that so once a year they can write a literary novel that they know will not sell as well.
Doing blog posts that fulfill you – This blog post is not going to make me any money. It is not going to help me find new customers and will not have a “call to action” at the bottom because I am not a time management expert. I am just trying to make my world a little better and sharing it with you!
Additional Resource: How I became a time and focus ninja!
BONUS: Avoiding Fire Drills
One thing that will derail your business more than anything is when problems crop up. These are the things that have to be handled “RIGHT NOW” and which can blow up your day.
My goal in life is to avoid fire drills. I pay my bills on time, change my passwords when something looks funky, do my work instead of screwing around and basically make sure that I focus on what matters in my work.
For example, I have a real estate license in Florida and bi-annually have to pay a fee and take a refresher course to keep it active. It is due by September 30th but I will have it taken care of right after the kids go back to school in August. That way nothing can screw up. There can't be a computer glitch when I try to cram it in on September 29th. There will be no fire drill when I can't get the credit card to process. Any problems will be resolved long before the deadline.
Year after year I watch agents wait until the last minute to take their tests and then spend time on social media complaining that they can't get it done. If there is anything that you are procrastinating on that could cause a fire drill, just do it now and get it out of the way!
If you liked this article you probably will like my other time management tips articles too!
Ironic how many I have considering that whole “focus” thing and that I am actually a marketing gal! Don't judge, I am not promising to have all the answers, just letting you know my journey!!