I just need more time!
This is the most common phrase I always hear when people are talking about running a small business. Everyone has a lack of time to be able to get any work related tasks completed. Yup. I know. No surprise, right? I’ve said it myself only about one thousand times.
But right now, today, I sit in front of my laptop before you and I call bullshit.
(er, warning, this post is a little bit sweary)
This was originally posted in August 2015, but is just as relevant as ever, so I am re-publishing it in March of 2017.
The thing is, we all have heaps of time. But we are REALLY good at wasting it. Or rather, not prioritising to get the most benefit. I am totally guilty of it too.
Now, here’s my disclaimer for this post: every individual, and every situation, is different. What works or doesn’t work for me, might be the complete opposite for you. So take these words with a grain of salt. But I do encourage you to try and look at things from a new perspective by the time you’ve finished reading, and just see if there’s anything in your own routine that could be changed to “give” you more time to work on your business (not just in your business!).
I’m going to chat just a little bit about my own experience, what works and what doesn’t, and what I’m really *really* trying to get better at now that I’m out of the “I-have-a-tiny-newborn-and-I-have-no-fucking-idea-what-I’m-doing-half-the-day” period.
I completely FAIL at productivity of any kind, when I’m focussing on more than 3 main tasks in a day. I was listening to a podcast recently (I can’t remember which one!) and the guest speaker was talking about all this research that had been done on productivity and time. What the research found, was that each time you switched between tasks while working, you lose 20% of your time. Your brain, switching between those tasks (15+ tabs open, anyone??), is completely unproductive for 10 seconds of every minute, because it’s trying to re-gather the information to pick up where you left off at the last task.
I know I get SO MUCH more done when I’m just working towards ONE THING at a time.
But oh look… a shiny thing!
Creative people are so easily distracted. I’m sure it’s a scientific fact or something.
“Ok right, I’ll just write that post about saving time in your business… but oh! That’s right, I was just going to check what the weather is going to be tomorrow, and check how much a Subaru Liberty costs, and look into using Edgar for social media, and shit I really should post on Facebook about that cool creative challenge I’m planning for November, and crap I forgot to email Tina back.. oh lame I haven’t paid Tina yet, better do that now… and suddenly it’s bloody 10.13pm and 13 minutes past my bedtime because the baby is going to wake up again at 3am and possibly then be awake for the day at 5.45am and I’m SO frigging tired… what was I writing about again??”
Meanwhile it’s been 2 hours since I started and I could have finished that post by now.
So my number one most important piece of advice is to FOCUS. Sure, have your big to-do list that is 3 pages long (yup, I’m with you), but select just THREE, the most important three that need to get done before the rest, and they are your tasks for today. These should be action steps, like “Create Newsletter to go out on Friday” or “Design series of graphics for Creative Challenge starting in November”, not big goals like “Create my next e-Course” (who on earth is going to get THAT done in one day??).
I’m going to give Rescue Time a go, I’ve heard good things about it on the ProBlogger grapevine. Basically it tracks what you are doing every minute you are on the computer and tells you if you’re spending your time wisely, or getting distracted. I think when you see that you’ve just spent 4 hours on bloody facebook (no you should NOT be on there that much, even for “business purposes”!) it’s a bit of a wakeup call, and will help you to hold yourself accountable.
I’m also going to follow my own advice about having a maximum of three tasks per day (and am already getting MUCH better at doing this), because it really does work for me. Today’s three tasks were 1. Optometrist Appointment, 2. Finish Blog Post (!) and 3. Start Graphics for the Creative Challenge / Start Newsletter (I haven’t decided which of those I’m doing yet, but I definitely have the intention of doing only one of them! Just going with the flow, flexibility is important!).
This is about prioritising your time. There are a few things I do that really help me to have chunks of time to dedicate to my business. These are things that cost money, but without that investment, my business would be going nowhere, because I would forever be stuck in the “I don’t have time” mentality. By paying for these things, I know the time it gives me is valuable, and try to really make the most of it to get things done.
So let’s talk about the basics of being a person who lives in a house, who has a husband who works full time, and has two young children who are not yet at school.
Yes, we need to make sure our kids are fed and clothed and looked after.
We also need to have uninterrupted business time.
Hands up those who have young kids at home, and you’ve wasted entire days trying to get work done, whilst also trying to entertain/raise the kid/s, and by the end of the day you’ve succeeded at neither, and have a truckload of mother guilt because you’ve let your 4 year old watch tv all day… literally ALL DAY? *raises hand*
Put the kids in care for a short (or long!) period every week, and dedicate this time to the most important tasks you need to do. You could start with just a few hours in occasional care one day a week. How much could you get done in 3 solid hours?? I could build a whole website in that time if I hustled hard enough. I could write 3 or 4 blog posts. I could make 12 pieces of jewellery. I could schedule 3 WEEKS of social media posts and then not have to scramble for marketing ideas every time I had a spare 10 minutes. If you want to make a serious income from your business, you need to treat it seriously. You need to invest in it. Those 3 hours of kid-free time a week might be the difference in making or breaking you.
My situation is that my 4 year old goes to daycare twice a week, to his grandparents twice a week, and I have him one day a week on a Tuesday (I have baby Harriet 24/7). This arrangement was born from committing to the fact that my business is a full time job, and I need to treat it as such. I realise I am EXTREMELY lucky to have family that can look after my kids, and can afford (*just*) to send him to daycare for two days a week. But lately, I have been trying to get tasks done with him at home with me, and it’s been a miserable failure. I’m not spending quality time with him, and I’m not really getting much work done either. From this week, I am committing to being present when I have Rafa at home with me. Tuesday is now a no-work day, until he goes to bed at night. I’ve even scheduled “play time” into my calendar!
For those less fortunate on the childminding front, well, there’s no gentle way to put this. You just have to work really fucking hard when your kids are asleep or playing happily by themselves (which they will be more inclined to do if you give them your full attention for a period of the day). If you’re lucky and your kids sleep til 7, get up at 6am. Sacrifice TV time. Ask your partner to do the dinner 3 days per week while the kids watch TV. If you’re working full or part-time, use your lunch hour to draft a blog post. Instagram while your toast is cooking in the morning. Find that time, and use it. Hustle, Hustle, Hustle!
Yes, we need to make sure there’s food in the house
The internet is your friend! A trip to the grocery store to do a weeks worth of shopping takes at least an hour or two. Maybe more if you have a kid or two with you. If you do mini-shops during the week, these can easily take up to an hour, with travel time and dilly-dallying in the stationery aisle… Do your grocery shopping online. You can do a weeks worth of groceries in literally 20 minutes, and they deliver it right to your kitchen counter. It costs less than $15 for delivery, and saving hours each week is definitely worth more than $15 in my book.
Yes, we all want a clean house
Hire a cleaner to come once a fortnight (or once a week if you can stretch the budget that far!). The hours you save not cleaning is great, but your productivity levels will soar when you’re not procrasti-cleaning all the time, or feeling guilty that the house is a pig-sty and you are glueing shit together in your craft room all day.
Option B is of course not to give a crap if the house is messy, that works too, but I really believe that a cluttered environment reflects a cluttered mind, which makes it really hard for me to focus and work solidly and productively.
Work. Work. WORK. Be consistent with your work. Get off bloody Facebook and Instagram and DO THE WORK. Write a list, PRIORITISE THAT LIST. Work on the number one task FIRST, and ONLY that task, until you’ve finished and move on to the next. Invoice people. (Mikaela! INVOICE PEOPLE). Keep a notebook for random shiny thoughts and ideas, but GET BACK TO WORK as soon as you’ve written those down. Turn off the stupid TV. Every spare minute you have, work on your passion. The time is there, USE IT.
#JFDI is my motto.
Just. Fucking. Do it.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Hey there, friend. It’s ok.
This post has taken me almost a week to write, and I’m not even joking. And I can’t beat myself up about that, because, #life. I have a baby, and a toddler/mini-adult, and a husband and family and friends and somewhat of a life outside of my business, and sometimes things just don’t go as planned in a day, and it takes 6 days of 20 minutes bursts to write one blog post.
And that’s ok.
Never mind that a similar blog I follow regularly pumps out 3 quality posts a week, with all original photos and fantastic writing and regularly gets 100+ likes on every Instagram photo they post… It’s not a race.
I repeat: it is NOT. A. RACE.
When life gets in the way, let it. Don’t sweat it. The most important thing is to do the best that you can, when you can, as often as you can, and nothing more.
So, in conclusion:
You do have time, you just need to seek it out and spend it wisely.
When you’re feeling stressed about being so busy, just remember: ENJOY the business adventure! You will be thrown curve balls, have massive ups and downs, doubt yourself, want to quit, and think it’s all too hard… and it is really fucking hard sometimes.
But how badly do you want it?
Running your own business is a choice you make, and if you want it badly enough, you can make it work.
You’ve got this!
Images from shutterstock.com, thanks guys!
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