I'm gonna be real - trying to get work done in the Summer, especially the work I don't absolutely HAVE to do, can be a little tough for me sometimes. Between BBQ's, vacations, and tailgates (I also own a tailgate trailer rental business with my boyfriend, Rob), it can be hard staying on track with what I need to do and when.
While I certainly haven't mastered time management yet, I have learned quite a bit, so today I wanted to share with you four tips that have helped me in trying to run my business, instead of allowing my business to run me.
1. Set Boundaries
When I was freelancing, the word boundary did not exist for me. I was constantly "on" for my clients - I'd answer Skype messages on Sundays, respond to emails at 2am, and even let my clients text me when they needed something. When I transitioned to coaching, I knew I had to be better about putting boundaries in place. Now I love my clients, I do, but I can't realistically be in touch with everyone at all times and over all forms of communication. It's just not possible. In fact, I find that I'm an even better coach, when I take time for myself.
No matter what line of business you're in, it's important to know that you don't need to be available at all times for everyone. I find that with this, and with most things in life, if you explain it nicely, clients get it and respect it.
2. Be Intentional With Your Schedule
For a while, I desired a little more freedom, but didn't really do much to make that happen. I worked seven days a week and held coaching sessions whenever clients wanted them. Finally, I sat down and really figured out what I wanted my dream week to look like and then made steps to make it happen.
To hopefully help you figure out how to do this for yourself and your unique situation, here are a few things I implemented:
- On Monday's, I spend the entire day on my own business. This means no coaching or consultation calls. This allows me to focus on my marketing and such without having to stop and start. I find that this benefits my clients and my own business equally.
- I do all of my coaching and consults on Tuesday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's. I have pre-determined time slots for everything, with 15 minute buffers in between to check email, grab a snack, etc.
- On days I coach, I don't start until 11:00am. This allows me to get in a workout, have a good breakfast, shower, and then get caught up on emails so I feel completely prepared heading into my sessions.
- I leave Friday open for those not quite finished tasks that tend to pop up or to get caught up my own personal development and education - reading, watching webinar replays that I'm interested in, that kind of thing. If I don't have as much going on, I take full advantage, especially in Summer, and hit the pool or do something else I enjoy.
I also don't keep one long running to do list anymore. For me, it felt overwhelming to always have 50 things to do, because as we all know, as soon as something gets done, another things gets added on. I now look at what I need to get done for the week on Sunday's and add in tasks intentionally over the course of the week to come. I know that the tasks assigned for each day are non-negotiable.
I promise, you do NOT have to wait until you're making 5 figures to delegate tasks, especially those that you don't enjoy. I think when many of us think about hiring, we assume it's going to cost more than we can afford, but in the virtual world we live in, that doesn't have to be the case. You can hire freelancers on sites like Elance and Fiverr to help with small tasks for super affordable rates.
You also don't need to outsource the big stuff if you're not comfortable doing that. I like to hire out tasks that truly, can't be messed up. For example, with my tailgating business, posting to Craigslist is a brutally boring task, but something that's brought us in a lot of business, so we do it. The posting is something a VA can handle simply and allows me to do things only I can do in that time, like email my clients or write my newsletters. This was one of the very first tasks I ever outsourced and cost me only $20 a week. Totally worth it.
4. Take Breaks
For a while, I always thought I had to GO, GO, GO while I was working and made myself feel guilty for taking breaks. Now I realize that I NEED breaks in order to keep myself sane. On Monday's, when I'm working on my own marketing and business stuff, I use the Pomodoro method - 25 minutes of working, followed by a 5 minute break. I use the Strict Workflow Google Chrome extension to help with this. It automatically works as a timer and blocks certain distracting websites like Facebook during the 25 minute work time slot.
Hope you found these tips helpful and you can use them this week to be a bit more efficient with your time!