My friend, I want to preface this message with letting you know you aren’t alone. If you’re a mom, wife, or general friend who owns a business and just can’t handle doing all the things, just know I’m in this with you.
I know we all wish we had more hours, more time in the day.
Truthfully, my hours are incredibly limited and everyday I have to choose which aspect of life is more important than the other. I’m sure you wish for more hours because so do I. When it comes to managing time effectively, I find I’m constantly having to readjust – especially as my son gets older.
Yesterday, I woke up at 4am, worked like crazy, signed 2 new clients, did all my usual mom duties (including an Easter egg festivity at school), deep cleaned my home, ran for 40 minutes, made 3 meals, hit inbox zero, AND had time to go find a new outfit for California next week. And then, I finished off a much needed glass of wine.
I didn’t have help. No nanny, no sitter, no grandparents (although it sure would have been nice!) My husband isn’t here most days (he works in Chicago). My team is virtual, mostly.
So why am I telling you this? I don’t tell you this to brag or make some official statement because most days my head is spinning.
I tell you this to remind you we ALL wish for more hours in a day or better ways of managing time effectively…..it’s what you do with your hours that matters. You’re capable of so much more than you could ever imagine you just have to want it badly enough.
I get a lot of questions regarding how I manage to scale a business with a child, so I’d love to share how I manage it all and, even if you don’t have kiddos, these tips will still help as I used a lot of them before I had Grayson in my former career.
Here are my tips managing time effectively with an already minimal work day:
1: STOP SLEEPING IN.
When I chat about waking up at 4am, I get a lot of messages in shock. Now, I’m not telling you to wake up at 4am, that’s just what works best for me with a child. But, I am telling you to stop oversleeping. The first week, it’ll be difficult. But after that, you’ll easily wake up much earlier and feel so much more accomplished.
Waking up at 4am is extreme but it helps me SO MUCH on busier days knowing I’ve essentially gained an extra four hour in my work day (my son wakes up around 8!)
My tips for going to bed and waking up on time:
2: Make time for yourself.
Okay so this isn’t necessarily a time-saving tip but it is a “you” saving tip. Run, shop, nap…whatever your ME time is, do it. Mine is working out because it keeps me sane. It’s my time to relax and think about the day. Sometimes, it just means stealing 10 minutes next to the pool at our gym for a little silence. I’ve learned that taking the time for myself actually helps me be more creative and give more of myself when working. Most days, I’m coordinating with atleast 10-12 clients at once…it’s important to take time to breathe.
3: Meal prep to avoid the kitchen hours.
No time to cook? MEAL PREP. It’s life changing. Chicken breasts, low sodium or homemade taco seasoning, a crockpot and 6 hours = magic…even for my son. If you feel like there is one more thing to do when it comes time to eat a meal, then meal prep and spend the time eating in silence vs cooking the entire meal. We meal prep chicken meals when I know my husband has a long work week. From it we make barbecue chicken sandwiches, healthy chicken strips, chicken breasts, tacos, and even fajitas. My son loves it!
Oh – and we even get our groceries delivered. It’s LIFE CHANGING.
4: Schedule absolutely everything.
I schedule every moment of my day from the phone calls I take to bedtime and even when I’ll be at the gym. As a mom, it really helps me to keep focused on our days and not let time get away from me. So often, I have tasks within my own business I have to finish in the evening. If I forget about bedtime and let the night run away, so to speak, I’ll end up missing all of those items I needed to do after my son goes to bed. I don’t answer surprise phone calls, I don’t skip important deadlines, and I don’t answer emails all day..which leads me to…
5: I only answer emails twice a day.
This is something my good friend Anastasia at The Identité Collective put into my head. When you answer emails as soon as they come in, your clients tend to assume you’ll answer in ten seconds, which can lead to a disaster on the days you actually can not answer that quickly. And, your email conversations then become almost text message-like.
I answer emails first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening – unless we have an emergency or a launch. And, those emails I spend my time sending and resending because an automated template.
Oh, and PS: please adopt an auto-responder so your clients & customers know when to expect a response from you. This was the biggest game changer for my inbox! (You can even see mine if you email me at email@example.com – just put “test” in the subject.)
6: Set boundaries.
When it comes to owning your own business, it’s important to remember how important your boundaries are. I get a lot of messages from those who want advice on how to become a designer or how to start a business and as much as I truly try to answer them all, I just can’t.
I’ll set aside specific times in the week to try and answer as many as possible but the truth is: my clients and family come before free advice. As much as I’m happy to help out and LOVE doing so, sometimes I just can’t. Make sure the time you’re spending is benefitting you well, friend. Let’s not have a full schedule, complain about not having the time, and then spend our time helping others who aren’t connected to us at all. Save that for a moment when you have the free time.
Now, this whole boundaries thing also applies to your personal life. Your friends & family have to learn to respect your boundaries. I even turn my phone on do not disturb throughout the day so that I can get work finished. A lot of “quick questions” pile up and tend to be a two hour conversation with ten different people and then, at the end of the day, I’m irritated with myself for allowing it.
7: If you onboard clients, make it worth it.
When I respond to a price inquiry, it has everything they need to know about my prices, my services, what it’s like to worth with my team, and my process. By offering as much as information as possible, I’m cutting back on the back and forth emails as much as I can. Once they choose a package, they immediately receive a contract, their first invoice, and their questionnaire.
It isn’t until they return their questionnaire that we begin those back and forth emails. This helps me cut back tremendously on emails and time spent going back and forth. Once a client books with our studio, they also receive an email that stands as a FAQ guide – it walks them through everything they could possibly want to know.
8: Stay off the phone if you can.
I love chatting with my clients on the phone but not everything warrants a phone call. To manage your time effectively, try to implement an email-only system into your business to eliminate random phone calls because they’ll add up over a weeks span.
However, make sure you’re letting clients know as soon as they begin working with you that you prefer email conversations aside from the more important meetings.
9: Don’t dedicate yourself to things you can’t manage.
Earlier this year, I said yes to an exciting mastermind with a few friends I adore but quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to hold up my end. The best policy: honesty. I came forward and let them know I just wouldn’t be able to commit. And, since then, have turned down four other mastermind offers.
Most days, I can squeeze in a 6-7 hour work day. But some days, my work day is only around 3-4 hours. With a client list that stays full for months in advance, it can be extremely difficult to hand those hours over to anyone or anything outside of my family & my business.
And unfortunately, the more I give my work hours away means the more I give my family hours away…and that I just can’t do. Random events on a weekday morning, big trips that are unscheduled…unfortunately, I’m in a season of life where I can’t commit to those things and you shouldn’t feel compelled to either as much as you want to.
10: Stop putting random items on your to-do list just to feel busy.
Need to buy an office chair? Need to grab more trash bags? This isn’t a to-do list item. Adding unnecessary things to your lists tend to make you feel incredibly overwhelmed. The only thing you’ll find on my to-do list are scheduled phone calls and client tasks.
I keep a separate list on my fridge for things I need to remember for home and family. I don’t need to add one more thing to my incredibly long work task list.
Oh, and PS again: being busy isn’t exciting or good. It doesn’t always bring profit so make sure if you’re busy, it’s for a good reason.
So there you have it – my best advice for managing your time effectively in your business. Do you have something to add? Do you have a way of creating more time in the day? I’d love to hear!