Enjoy this guest post from Laura. We found a lot of value in the tips provided in this post and I think you will as well.
For the past few years, I’ve had a lot of people ask “how do you do all that?”
Running one full-time business and juggling a few side businesses while getting a Ph.D. in public policy and still having the freedom to take 3-6 weeks off at a time, requires a lot of hard work and time management skills. Here are some of my best tips to get the most out of your day.
Entrepreneurs and Bloggers often start feeling like their business is no longer based on freedom when things become overwhelming and when they easily get distracted or can’t figure out how to structure their day schedule-wise. This is one of the biggest downfalls of many online entrepreneurs today, but thankfully, there are plenty of time management techniques that could help you achieve success and stay on top of all of your goals.
Choose Only Two or Three Things You Plan to Accomplish Every Single Day
One of the biggest mistakes that many people make is simply having too many things on their to-do list. When there are 20 different topics on your list, it’s very easy to feel defeated and overwhelmed because it’s impossible that you’ll be able to accomplish all of them. Having separate to-do lists for longer term goals or things that don’t have a pressing deadline can make sure that you capture these necessary tasks without feeling like you have to accomplish them today.
Each night before the following work day or first thing in the morning, decide the two or three things that you intend to accomplish and rank them in priority order. Start with the most important tasks first and work from there. If you are able to accomplish additional tasks that you need done, this is a bonus but this way you don’t feel the constant pressure of trying to keep up with the high expectations you’ve set for yourself.
Turn Off Your Email Inbox
With the advent of email, we’ve become more reachable and accessible than ever. This can actually be more of a headache and frustration than it is a good sign of technology and anyone who has hundreds of emails in their inbox like I do can easily become swamped.
Using tools like Gmail Inbox Pause, SaneBox, or Boomerang can help you stay on top of your tasks while only answering emails when you need to. Have you ever been involved in an email chain where you respond to all of your messages and by the time you’ve finished answering, there are already 20 responses from those same people you just emailed?
Using a tool like Inbox Pause, you can clear out your inbox and send out all of your messages and then set the schedule to deliver all of your emails to your inbox at specified periods throughout the day. This decreases the chances that you will get distracted and caught in the hamster wheel of constantly answering emails.
It might take a while to train all of the people emailing you, particularly if they are clients, that you are not going to be checking your messages all that often. And don’t worry, Gmail Inbox Pause and other tools don’t delete your messages entirely. They simply hide them so that you can get other tasks done. Having your Gmail tab open and seeing those incoming messages is all too tempting for most people.
Likewise, consider how much of a distraction social media can be. Shut it off during the day (use a Chrome extension like Kill the Feed to allow messages and notifications to come through while blocking the feed that often leads to minutes or hours of lost time in a Facebook newsfeed spiral.)
Know When You Need to Hire Help
There will come a point in every business owner’s company cycle where additional help is required. Perhaps your personal tasks are falling behind because you have so many things on your plate to do for the business. Perhaps you’re spending too much of your business time on administrative tasks like scheduling social media updates, responding to customer service emails, or keeping things organized and files online. This is a great opportunity to consider hiring a virtual assistant.
Whether or not you’re successful with hiring a virtual assistant or not, can have a big impact on how you feel about the overall experience and your ability to hire other digital team members. Make sure you do the proper vetting to determine that this is truly the right person to help you. It might seem like a great way to offer a paid opportunity to a friend or a family member, but if this relationship goes south then you could be in for a lifetime of problems.
Try to hire a neutral third party who has experience as a virtual assistant or who is a very quick learner so you can get help with these administrative tasks. Pushing these tasks off your plate one at a time allows the other person to understand the task’s scope in full and to succeed while giving you the peace of mind of doing less with more.
There will always be things that only YOU can do. However, there’s a good chance there’s something on your plate. Here are a couple of things I outsource to give me more time and freedom:
- Creating PowerPoints
- Making social media images
- Making LeadPages
- Making design changes in Squarespace
- Posting blogs
- Posting social media
- Scheduling my e-mail newsletter
If you’re committed to making a change with your time management practices, choose one thing you can do today. What’s holding you back? Being tethered to your email? Putting too much on your to-do list? Time management is something that requires growth, but you may gradually begin to see big changes!
About The Author
Laura Pennington is an entrepreneur, freelance writer, and online course creator helping people build a lifestyle business from home. Her advice for writers can be found at www.sixfigurewritingsecrets.com and her advice for VA’s is featured on www.yourwaytova.com. She’s worked as a digital project manager for companies like Microsoft and TrueCar and been featured on Elance.com, Writer’s Weekly, Business Insider, and Huffington Post.