Time Management Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs
Time management for entrepreneurs is already tough as it is, but if you throw in busy mom life in the mix, it can quickly feel impossible.
When I decided to take my photography business full time, my husband had just started a new job, one with opportunity but where he’d have to work overtime to prove himself and make use of that opportunity. Our son was just 6 months old – far from being at the point where he amuses himself. We’d just bought a new house and took on all the projects that comes along with getting your space set up. Not really an ideal time or situation to throw entrepreneurship in the mix.
The first two years, I worked every minute that I wasn’t taking care of my family or sleeping. I spent a few hours every night taking care of editing, admin tasks or emails after my son was in bed. During the weekend, I spent hours either shooting, editing, or planning my social media for the week. I mean I really worked A LOT.
But after 2 years of conflicting schedules with my husband, the occasional squabble, and a lot of long nights, we have found a good rhythm, and I’d like to share what worked.
1. Divide and conquer.
This tip is probably what helped us the most when we both had work we needed to tackle most weekends. On Friday night, we’d sit down and map out the hours of the weekend, and list what we needed to do. We would segment each day in 3-hour segments: Pre-Nap, During-Nap, Post-Nap, Post-Bedtime.
We’d assign roles during each segment, making sure that we also planned out “together time” during one or more of the segments. This way, I knew the window that I had to get my work done, and didn’t waste any time when that window came.
2. Be clear with each other on your goals.
Updating my instagram is a critical part of my business. I spend time on getting my posts together, posting stories and answering all comments. But it’s not always easy for someone else to see the importance of those tasks for your business, and vice versa (why can’t that call of his wait until tomorrow?).
So it’s important to be open with each other and understand why you feel each other’s tasks are time critical. This exercise has the added benefit of making you realize which of your own tasks may not be time critical and helps you with your own prioritizing.
3. Ask for help.
You may think you’re invincible once you start having a good amount of success and you still manage things around the house smoothly. But it’s important to ask for help before you get to the point where you’re overwhelmed.
Maybe it’s having someone come babysit even though you’re at home, just so you can concentrate on an important task. Or maybe you just need to ask your partner for some more help.
My husband never balks when I ask him to vacuum, but that said, he’s never once noticed on his own that it needs to be done. If you need help around the house, don’t be shy about asking for the support.
4. Find work that you can pay someone to do.
As business owners we often think about that only in terms of work (hiring a VA, a marketing firm, etc.). But sometimes it is cheaper and more profitable to get help around the house so you have more time for your business. We’re not at the stage of having a live-in staff of cleaners and butlers, “Jeeves, could you get my telephoto lens and bring me my caviar. The good stuff this time please.” Not yet anyway. In fact, we priced out the cost to hire a regular cleaner, and even that was over what we wanted to spend.
So we looked around for other areas we could get help. We found that our neighbors where paying a reasonable price to have someone mow their lawn, so we got them to do ours too. While I wasn’t the one mowing the lawn, that did save some time on one of my husband’s weekend ‘segments’ (which used to be spent mowing). Now he can use this time to watch our son and give me some additional work time. He enjoys the extra time with our kiddo, so everyone wins.
5. Raise your rates and learn to say no
As you grow your business and become a more successful entrepreneur, you also need to keep updating your rates to reflect your experience and skill level.
When I started, I used to say that my ideal client was “anyone that was willing to pay me”. And because I was worried that I wasn’t going to bring in enough money, I tend to book more and more clients to the point where I would quite literally overbook myself. Cue the overwhelm and the burn out.
Since, I have worked with coaches and mentors who have helped me overcome my road blocks. They pushed me to raise my prices to a point where I do not need to constantly book more clients.
It has been hard and I still have a lot work to do but I don’t feel like I have to take every single job that comes my way.
I am still having a hard time saying no to the jobs that I find interesting but are not financially worth it. I try to keep in mind that saying no to those jobs is really saying yes to another job that will be a much better fit.
6. Schedule your week
Every single Friday afternoon, I spend an hour or two scheduling my upcoming week. I start by scheduling the networking events, family events, calls and other obligations I cannot move. Then I schedule client work and content creation time. I also make sure to keep a couple of hours open for online education and article reading.
I also switched to audiobooks a while back and I listen to them in the morning on my way to the gym. It saves me a lot of time and it allows me to read a lot more books than when I used to read them in bed and fall asleep after 2 paragraphs…
We do not have the crazy workload anymore, so we do not schedule our weekends like we used to. However we still like to give each other one weekend slot for personal projects and the work that didn’t get done during the week.
7. Make sure you add in time to relax.
It’s easy to overlook this one and I am the first offender. But remember, you started your business to make a better life for yourself. Don’t let that be your long term plan only. Make sure you do that now. You’re your own boss, and no one else is going to tell you to take time off. Even if that’s just for a hot bath, a good nap, or a lazy day in the park. Don’t get too focused on the destination that you forget to enjoy the journey.
I hope this has been helpful and I would love to hear what are your time management tips so leave a comment below or head to my Instagram for more business tips!