Archive for time management

9 Mistakes Business Owners Make Managing Their Time

If you’re like me, your waking hours are filled with tasks, expectations, and stress. For most of us, even our vacations or “days off” are filled with things we have to do or obligations that need to be handled. Well that’s a sad thought, isn’t it? It doesn’t have to be.
For a long time, I found myself in this loop of never-ending stress and a growing to-do list. I didn’t find some magic pill or master time travel to give myself an extra 10 hours a day to write, sleep and watch Netflix…(isn’t Netflix just the best thing ever?!?)
The first thing I did was learn to recognize the mistakes I was making when it came to building my business that was slowing my business down. I am still growing for sure, but if I’d started to realized these mistakes sooner, I could have been seeing revenue, growth and a lot less stress in my business a year or so sooner.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had a lot of experience in the different roles that come with dating but I see a lot of things the same way I see romance. Trying to figure out your work style is a little like kissing frogs, Often you figure out what doesn’t work far sooner than you find out what does… so let me save you some time and point out some of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to manage their business.

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Focusing on Perfect

Any time you put something out in the world with your name on it you probably want it to be pretty kick-ass, after all, your name is on it. So it’s easy to get stuck on perfection. I hate to say it, but you’re never going to reach perfection. So instead of getting stuff done you just keep finding yourself being unsatisfied with the little work you do complete because it isn’t perfect and therefore it never gets done. Done is better than perfect. Think of it this way how many programs or tools do you purchase that get an update or reboot. Sometimes you might think something is “perfect” only to discover once it’s out there that something is missing or not working correctly. Steve Jobs didn’t get the iPhone perfect the first time…see the multiple versions that have followed and continue to come out each year.

Failing to Start

Have you ever sat down with the intention of knocking out a few tasks with a to-do list that looks something like:
Create a pitch for Lane’s Online Magazine
Write this week’s newsletter
Update the blog post about knitting
Answer email from Karen

Then you sit there and look at it without knowing where to start so you decide, oh I’ll respond to some social media posts and watch an episode of Gilmore Girls. Next thing you know it’s 3 hours later, time for bed and while your Buffer is full nothing else got done.
Falling into this trap is easy. We want to get so much done, but we get frustrated and then nothing gets done.
Just get started on whatever is the first thing on the list just do it and get it done.

Taking on Too Much

This goes right in hand with not knowing where to get started. When you are excited about your business or side hustle, you find yourself constantly having new ideas or wanting to implement new things into it. For me, I always want to do more and go bigger. Adding new forms of revenue or a new kind of media is a great way to grow your business but doing it at the wrong time and in the wrong way is an excellent way to kill your business.
If you are a one woman team already feeling pressed for time, it probably isn’t a good idea to try to launch a new e-course, 2nd website, podcast and youtube channel in the same month (yeah I seriously was considering doing this at one point in time). Start by looking at low-hanging fruit (things that are easy for you to incorporate at that given time) if you want to do all of these see which would be easiest for you to do first and then start with that and once you have your footing in one area, add in the next. If you try to take on too much at once not only will your attention be divided but your work will be sloppy.

Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking isn’t evil at the right time and place. Listening to a book on tape while washing the dishes or reading a magazine while pooping is great examples of doing more than one thing at once successfully. But most of the time multitasking is a major productivity killer! If you want to get the most out of your work time, focus on one thing at a time. Turn your phone face down, leave it in the other room or shut down the sound, even small multitasking like answering a few texts during the time you said you’d work can hurt your productivity and strain your focus.
The more you spend time working focused, the more you learn about your ability to balance things. Can you listen to music with lyrics while writing? Can you watch television while painting pieces for your Etsy store? For me I absolutely cannot work in silence, my mind starts racing, and I start thinking about anything and everything, besides what I’m trying to focus on. If I’m working on social media posts I can listen to stand up or even re-watch old episodes of Family Guy on Netflix if I’m working on a post I can listen to music but if I try to watch t.v. more times than not I find myself taking a longer time to get things done.

Setting Deadlines But Not Work Sessions

Deadlines are important. For me, it is my way of saying, “Hey world, I’m doing this on this date.” Then realizing, “Holy crap it’s out there, now I have to do it.” But what is a deadline if you don’t have a plan for actually getting the thing done? If you say you want to publish a post on the 13th, when do you plan to write it? Schedule a period for working on it and if need be, anything else that accompanies the task, like creating graphics or social media posts. A deadline is a lot like a goal, it’s great to have, but a plan of action is what turns both a goal and deadline into a reality.

Thinking busy and productive are the same thing.

Busy having a great deal to do.
Productive achieving or producing a significant amount or result.
There are a lot of people who love to talk about how busy they are but the truth is being busy doesn’t mean you’re productive. I could go outside and try to pick up every rock in my apartment complex, and I’m technically busy, but it doesn’t mean I’m doing anything productive. While there are “busy” tasks that need to be done, you have to find a healthy balance of busy and productive. Yes getting your inbox down to zero is a great feeling but more than likely it doesn’t represent any income in your pocket. Just because you are doing something doesn’t mean you are making the best use of your time. Be able to recognize when you are performing goal achieving activities and not just stress relieving ones.

Focusing Too Much on Organizing.

This one was a huge rabbit hole for me. I want to be organized. Obviously, I work better when my desk is clean, and I know things look beautiful, but even worse I used to sit down with my to-do list and try to decide which thing was most important in the right order to get things done. Well, this was a waste of time.
I discovered that by just hitting the list running, I was able to get more crossed off. There are some days when it’s clear something needs to be done first, like if you have a deadline but other days you may not know where to start, so just start.

Getting Stuck on Semantics

If you can’t complete a task because you need something to complete it, then I try to follow this simple rule, if obtaining it will take more than 5 minutes I move on to the next thing on my todo list.
Are you writing a movie review and can’t remember the name of the lead actress? Go ahead and search for it, then go back to working on the review.
Do you want to make an email course outline on a poster board with sticky notes but don’t have the poster board or sticky notes? Then move on to the next task because you’ll probably just end up spending an hour at Target looking at cute office supplies. (Guilty!)
Don’t let the semantics, stop you in your tracks. Often I’ve discovered by moving forward and not focusing on the little things that could be a setback, I often find workarounds or better ideas.

Not Scheduling Downtime

This may seem counter-productive to all the mistakes mentioned above but in reality having downtime is great for productivity. I wrote a post Why You Should Take a Personal Day a while back, and I fully believe in it. Personal days and downtime are key for allowing your body and mind to recharge and relax. We are always so stressed and have so much to do, but I’ve discovered when I take the time to take a break or have some fun I come back with new ideas or feel revitalized and excited about whatever project I’m working on again. I try to do something fun most weekends, but I also have a night off I try to stick to at least once a week, Thursdays are for Shondaland. I put the laptop away, have some wine and enjoy some of my favorite shows. It’s all about rewarding myself for hard work and reminding myself that there is more to life than work.

Are you making any of these mistakes when it comes to setting up your day? Recognizing them is a great way to stop doing them. The next time you find yourself in one of these situations take a second and think about what you’re doing and how you can refocus your time and energy into working more productively.

How Adding to My Schedule Got Me Organized

Adding in the right and filtering out the wrong.

A Whole Lot of Nothing

I hit a bit of a ceiling earlier this year. I was burnt out, stressed out and freaking out. I was dealing with a lot of changes and just wasn’t feeling like myself.

I think a huge part of the problem wasn’t that I was busy but that I had a to-do list with no strict appointments. I was working constantly and would have a 2 page to-do list but with no order to it. I had this Google Doc called “To-do list” and I would just add things to it whenever I thought of something new I needed to do.

(I will give myself brownie points for using a Google Doc that I could access anywhere.)

To do lists have always made me feel better and more relaxed but I was just in the vicious circle of having a list, creating a new one then creating a new one and trying to combine them and just on and on.

That’s when it hit me. I was doing a lot of nothing. I was spending hours trying to keep up with Facebook Blogger Group threads, trying hard to engage but needed to lock it down!

You might find it interesting that I started feeling more together when I added more to my schedule. Let me explain because it’s a little tricky.

Beefing Up My Schedule

Instead of saying. “I’m going to work on ‘blog stuff’ tonight,” I would say something like, “From 7 to 7:30 I’m going to make the graphic for Monday’s post. Then I’m going to respond to any comments in my blog cue and add 10 tweets to buffed,” see what I mean. Specific and in order tasks, not just let me hit up this to-do list.

I also actually added more to my plate. Before my birthday I decided that I wanted to start living a healthier lifestyle and part of that meant going back to the gym. I made the choice to go to at least 3 classes a week, I have a gym at my apartment complex if I wanted to just do cardio or lift weights I could do it there for free (or rather I already pay for it in my rent). If I wanted to go to classes that meant, I had to build them into my schedule and work around them. There is on average about 20 people in each class I go to, I don’t think my Zumba instructor would be okay with moving class just for me, “Hey Dia needs to finish a blog post so we’re gonna start 20 minutes late. Just hold tight.”

If I had plans after the gym then I knew that meant I had to finish up work during  lunch or that I’d need to get up early the next day.

I started setting aside certain times for activities and giving myself a defined list of tasks to do in that time frame.

I am all for spontaneity (okay maybe planned spontaneity…if that’s a thing.)

I am all for randomly being saying, “Let’s go to Chicago tomorrow!” (I’ve done it.) But it’s a lot easier to be spontaneous when you aren’t super behind on your work. Planning ahead to do things you really want to do or need to get done helps.

So my biggest tip,  find a system that works for you, I am obsessed with Todoist (but more about that later) and it works for me because I almost always have my phone nearby and it’s easy and simple.

Related Post: 3 Tips for Managing Your Time Better

Find the system that works for you:

Do you never miss an appointment? Then setting dates with yourself and not just others might be the way to go. I did this all the time before I started using Todoist. I’d remember I needed to call my credit card company while I was at work and would set an event on my Google Calendar to call at 6.

Do you like alarms?

I know some bloggers who set an alarm for each task during their work sessions. They give something  a certain time frame like 15 minutes or an hour and then when the alarm goes off start working on the next task.

Do you use a day planner?

I don’t mean do you have one you write in occasionally and look at once a week? I mean do you have one you check daily and stay on top of?

What about an app?

Are you on the phone all the time? Are you the type of person who is driven crazy by a blinking light and feel obligated to see who wants what?

I could build you a great schedule but if you don’t put it into play it won’t matter. You have to make the decision to put it into action.

Tips for productivity

Give yourself a deadline & make it official!

Nothing gives me swift kick in the bum like a hard deadline. I’m not talking about I really want to finish my e-course this weekend. Nope. I mean straight up tell people exactly when to expect the e-course. Remember to set a realistic date. Don’t say I’m going to make a custom surfboard from scratch in an hour, instead figure out how long it might realisticlly take you and  say something like, Look for pictures of my new surfboard December 1st.

Nothing says official like putting it online or displaying it. Let’s be honest no one likes egg on their face and if you post it on the fridge, share something on social media, write a blog post about it.

Bring in the reinforcements.

I remember wanting to do my e-course, Define Your Brand, Define Your Niche for the longest time. I would occasionally take notes but never really make the jump to sit down and get it started. Then I was on a video chat with my friend Brittney from BrittneyLLynn.com and she told me, “Just pick a date and do it!” And  had I never had that conversation with Brittney I would probably still be waiting to get that damn thing launched. I definitely wouldn’t be working on my first paid video course. Find someone who is doing what you want to do and build that support system.

Under promise and over deliver. Click To Tweet

Plan for wiggle room

In my experience things never go as planned, but that’s not this horribly negative statement, in fact sometimes they can go better. If you want to lose 10 pounds and your trainer says you can do that in 5 weeks, make your goal for 6, you don’t know if you might twist your ankle and lose a week at the gym or you have too much cake. There is a business saying I really think applies here, “Under promise and over deliver.” I’m not saying set just pathetic goals like, “I want to lose 2 pounds this month” if your trainer told you, you could do 10, I’m just saying give yourself some cushion. I tend to have an official date that I want to accomplish a certain goal by and then an ideal date which is a little sooner, I shoot for this day but don’t beat myself up if I don’t hit it. 

Want to make your work sessions even more productive? Download my Task Crusher Worksheet!

Task Crusher Worksheet

 

Whatever your goals are I hope you kick their butt! So tell me, what is your organization tools of choice? Does a set schedule help you or overwhelm you? Tell me in the comments! 

 

9 Tips to Stay Sane When Blogging

I love blogging! Probably not a big surprise if you are a regular reader :). But let’s be honest it can be an exhausting lifestyle. Between monitoring the tech side of things, trying to constantly come up with unique and interesting content, marketing for yourself and staying on schedule it can be a little overwhelming.

While these tips won’t take away the need to keep doing those things if you want to run a successful blog they should make the process a little less taxing.

Once I started living by these guidelines I felt a lot less stressed and overwhelmed (keep in mind aside from my blog I am working 2 jobs right now so it’s totally doable).

 

Set up times to write

This is probably the best thing you can do to stay on task. If you’re like me you probably find yourself writing every day, even if it’s just a random idea or an outline but you need to schedule time to sit down and just write. If you want to post on your blog every Monday and Thursday don’t make those times Sunday and Wednesday at 11:00p.m. I try to stay at least a week ahead of my posts. For example, I post on Mondays and Thursdays so I try to have both posts ready to go (graphics and edits included) by the Sunday before. It’s not always a full week but I’m not scrambling Sunday night or Wednesday night to get a post ready.

I normally try to set up two times a week reserved just for writing. I typically go with Wednesday night and Saturday afternoons. I treat these times like appointments and stick to them.

 

Only check email and social media 3-4 times a day

This may seem like a lot but if think of all the mini times a day you check your Facebook page and email, it’s probably less. Make sure this time is designated to just one channel at a time. Respond to urgent emails, delete emails you don’t need, then check social media accounts once at a time. Don’t hop back and forth between platforms it’s just going to take longer.

The times I prefer: Morning, lunch, after work and once more before bed (not right as you are laying down but about an hour or two before so you don’t end up in the internet spiral and end up going to bed late).

I have 3 primary emails- my personal one, my work one (Day job) and my business one. I also have 2 secondary accounts for submission and press inquiries that I only check 3 times a week.

I figured out why my email seemed to always be full. I would check my personal email or business one and see something I wanted to read but didn’t have the time so I’ m remark it as unread. When I made appointments to look at the email and nothing else (Except links in them or responding to them) I found I was way more likely to address or fully read the email and then could delete it.

Side Note: This is also great if you get coupons in your email because you’re likely to see them before they expire.

 

Only check comments once a day.

This way you aren’t tempted to read, approve them and then forget to respond when you are too busy.

This way you aren’t tempted to read, approve them and then forget to respond when you are too busy.

I was the worst about this when I started. I get notifications to my email that go to my phone when I get a new blog comment. I would be so excited someone commented that I’d stop whatever I was doing and go approve it. Then I’d have to go back to what I was doing and wouldn’t always respond.

Any successful blogger will tell you how important it is to engage with your readers. Responding shows you care about them and appreciate their comments. Even if they don’t check back for your responses, other visitors will see that you respond and they will be more likely to comment because they can see you care about your community.

 

Keep notes of posts you’d like to share on social media

Another thing most successful bloggers will tell you that you need to share more than just your own content. Especially if you are just starting out… you probably only have a handful of posts and if you just share the same 5 posts on your social media profile people aren’t going to want to follow you because you aren’t giving them anything new. They could just go to your blog. Bloggers that excel at social media know that they have to interact and share content from others.

During the day I keep a Google Doc of posts I liked and think fit my niche and that way when I’m scheduling my social media posts I don’t have to look for a bunch articles to share.

I schedule most of tweets using Hootsuite. I like to post something at least once an hour between 8am and 10pm. I alternate between my content and the content of others. I find articles that my ideal reader (and follower) would enjoy and schedule them every other hour and make sure to tag the blogger or site it came from.

This doesn’t just keep your newsfeed fresh but it helps you build relationships with other bloggers.

If someone shares one of my posts, I try to check out their profile, visit their site and look for content to share.

Remember bloggers read blogs.

Related Post: 6 Signs You’re a Blogger

Give your goals attention.

Figure out if multitasking is harming you or helping you.

If you have a goal of commenting on 10 blogs a day then chances are catching up on the New Girl while doing it will make it take a lot longer than it should (no offense I love Zooey D, I am so glad the show is back).

If I’m doing clicks on a Facebook group or even trying to hit my daily Pinterest totally or scheduling my social media posts these are activities I don’t feel like are slowed down by watching tv too much but anything where you are writing or trying to create genuine engagement, you need to give your full attention.

Most bloggers make the mistake of just wanting to have X amount of followers, subscribers or likes and while that’s important you need activity goals.

You should have goals for social media and blog post commenting.  Once again it’s not just about you. Only caring about your own content won’t get you very far, unless you’re a celebrity and already have a built in audience.

Related Post: 8 Things Bloggers Wish Their Friends Knew

Make a post schedule and accept it might change

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made a posting schedule for the month and then ended up going completely off of it. The purpose of a posting schedule is to have ideas and direction for potential posts.

You may have planned to share that Cheesecake recipe on Wednesday but you got tickets to an advance screening and realized you should push the Cheesecake back and post your review before it.

Or you might just have a crazy inspiration and just want to publish this new post asap and that’s okay.

Life happens so make a plan but be prepared to go with the flow.

Take notes if something pops into your head you need to get done and then get back to the task at hand

I have about 80 billion thoughts an hour (Seriously ask my doctor. lol jk) so I am always remembering something I need to do or having a post idea when doing something else. I am very bad about dropping a to handle b and then b for c. I’ve probably done it 3 times when writing this post.

Take notes. Keep a running to-do list. Use pen and paper or your phone so when something pops in your head you can write it down and come back to it.

I know sometimes I’ll really be into a post I’m writing and then will get an idea for another one, don’t lose that momentum or your new idea just take a quick note then get back into the zone.

Recruit Help When You Can

I know when starting out you may not be able to hire someone to help you out…but wouldn’t a personal assistant be great. You can however hire virtual assistants to do small gigs. You can find them on Fiverr.

Or find friends who will help you out. One of my best friends occasionally does edits for me when my brain is too fried too.

Do you have a friend who love taking photos ask them if they want to take photos for your blog or if you can use some of their existing photos, obviously you would need to offer to pay for any costs they have for taking the photos and credit them. But a good friend who isn’t too busy or a professional photographer will probably do it just for the exposure and experience. If your friends are like mine, they may just do it for a few beers or pizza J

Give Yourself a Break

It takes hard work to cash checks… yes I just quoted a lyric from Jenny from the Block but it’s true if you want a successful blog you have to work hard for it but guess what, you’re only human (unless you know something I don’t then drop me an email cause I want details lol).

Things will come up, you’ll get sick, you’ll have a bad day, a fight with your significant other and it’s okay to take a day off just get back to it when you can.

If you’re too tired to do an amazing blog post with all the bells and whistles but still want to post check out my list of 10 Blog Post Fillers- Simple Ideas of things to post when you don’t feel like writing.

Free Download: 10 Blog Post Filters 

How to you stay sane when blogging and balancing life?