Image credit classroomnook.com
Jude asked: “As a person who works full time and is trying to start a small business I struggle with scheduling time and honouring that time to work on my business. Which results in late night scrambling or complete paralysis. Just can’t figure out what needs to get done so I cocoon. Any tips?”
This is a great question because it is something a lot of us struggle with, especially once you add in life responsibilities like home, children, pets, etc.
It can be super overwhelming to try to carve out enough time to build and grow your new business. If your end goal is to quit your day job to focus on your business, this can be even more of a challenge at the same time as being even more important to do. The tipping point of when your business is generating enough income to quit the day job can be really hard to get to when time is at a premium. The feeling of not knowing where to start, and so doing nothing, and “cocooning” as Jude puts it, is very real, and extremely counterproductive.
I am going to share some tips and trick that might help with this ordeal. Not all of them will apply to you, but feel free to pick and choose the ones that do, and modify ones that might to suit your needs. And of course, as always, feel free to reach out for help!
- The easiest way to deal with overwhelm is honestly to hire someone else. This can be scary, especially when just starting out, but when you still have income from another job is the best time to do this, to help you grow to the point where your business becomes self sufficient. A virtual assistant can be essential in this phase, as they can be a temporary or contract hire, to get you going. This will allow you to dedicate the time that you DO have, to manufacturing your product, delivering your service, or other tasks that only you can do. It also helps you learn early into the business process that you do not have to do it all alone, and can help you learn your strengths and weaknesses. Delegate the tasks you don’t like, or are not good at, and focus only on the ones only you can do.
- Get a great planner. Find one that you like, and works for you, whether this is a sparky pink notebook, or a user-friendly app on your phone. The key to this is making sure you actually use it. (I am guilty of not doing this myself) Set yourself reminders, and write out to do lists. There is hardly anything as satisfying as crossing off items on a to-do list! Use your planner to block off chunks of time for various activities, and actually BLOCK OFF the time. Treat this time as if you were out of the house at your day job, and make sure that your family knows that you will be unavailable during this time. Little Johnny wouldn’t call Mommy at work to ask for juice, so the same rules should apply to this work.
- Group like tasks together and complete them in batches. You will get in the groove, and things will go by more quickly. You may also find that set up and clean up for the various tasks is easier this way, since you won’t have everything out all the time. (If you make jewelry, for example, you would get out the tools you need for crafting the items, and then later you would get out the materials for packaging or labeling) This can be especially helpful if you don’t have a designated room for your business, and use the kitchen table or something similar.
- Put away your phone! If you are in a stage of creation that does not require the use of your phone, computer etc, put them away, and focus on the craft. You will enjoy the process more, as well as get less distracted. Set aside designated times (maybe twice a day) where you check your email or messages, and the rest of the time focus on the product or service you are building your business on. If you are spending time creating content for your social media or website, then use the designated time for that, and don’t get distracted by games or facebook.
- Use tools to your advantage. Facebook allows you to schedule posts for the future, and there are many apps that allow you to schedule posts across multiple platforms (Buffer is my favourite) or schedule posts to instagram with an app like Latergram. Using these tools will allow you to stay active on social media without always being attached to your phone or computer. Scheduling posts in batches also allows for a more consistent and cohesive brand look. Turn on auto responders on facebook letting people know their message has been received and that you will reply when possible (whether this means letting them know the specific times you have chosen during which to check messages, or just that you are busy crafting and will be back later). As always I can help craft these types of templates and responses, which are guaranteed to save you time and energy,
- Prioritize the items that are essential to actually building your business, whatever that means for you. If you absolutely cannot function in a messy office, cleaning it before you start may be a priority for you, but do try to put the focus on the tasks that will actually GENERATE INCOME, and let the other stuff fall to the wayside if needed. Your business will become a time and money pit if it is not making you money. This will contribute to the feelings of helplessness. Do the orders first, spend the energy on the clients who have paid first. A great website can wait (or be outsourced) and no one will notice if you miss a social media post here or there. Again, make a to-do list of the tasks you feel you need to accomplish for your business, and put time sensitive or income generating items near the top.
Hopefully you found some of these tips helpful, and feel free to share with someone else you think might benefit.