Time Management as an Entrepreneur

After polling all of you guys in my survey last week, I found that many of you want insight into being self-employed and how I handle certain aspects! It’s definitely something that I’ve been wanting to do and so I’m glad you all want to see it as well! The first post will be all about time management. Exciting stuff, right?

I’ve learned a lot over the past year while being self-employed. Sometimes I’m really, really awesome with how I handle my time. Sometimes I totally fail. Over the past month or so, I’ve pinpointed some things that I need to do in order to be productive. Here they are:

1. Be intentional on social media

Social media in general (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) can be a time suck. I used to find myself reading everything in my feed on Twitter, looking at the same pictures on Facebook and checking Instagram way too much. I decided to do a few things.

  • I took the Twitter app off my computers. Now I can’t check Twitter very easily and I’m not getting any notifications while I work.
  • When I DO check Twitter, it’s usually at a few set times a day and then I respond to everything at once.
  • I use Buffer to schedule tweets throughout the day. Usually 3-4 for self-promotion. A few to share fun links.
  • I deactivated notifications on my iPhone so I’m not getting alerted every time someone interacts with me.

2. Track your hours as an experiment

I decided to track my hours for 3 weeks straight. It was very insightful. I found out the following:

  • I wasn’t working as much as it felt like I was working.
  • I was spending way too much time driving to and attending meetings.
  • I wasn’t spending as much time on blogging as I used to.
  • Photography takes up a lot of time but is needed in order to build a portfolio and gain experience.
  • I am a fast working designer.

I decided, after learning all of that, that I am going to limit my “meeting days” to two days per week (or suggest phone calls or Skype), I definitely can take on more projects than we currently juggle and I can put more time into blogging without feeling guilty. I do know, however, that I could never track my hours all day, every day. It definitely keeps you on task but it became a distraction after awhile since I can work so quickly.

3. Schedule time to work ON your business

Now that I work with Adam full-time, this is even more crucial. It’s easy to forget to work on your business when you’re responsible for your income day in and day out. This month, we’re going to be better about scheduling time throughout the week to review current projects, leads and get better at being business owners. We must treat this time with as much importance as a client meeting.

4. Know the difference between production + creative work

After talking to David recently, I had a breakthrough. He brought up the idea of getting 2-3 hours of solid “production” type work out in the morning. You see, I feel the most creative later into the day. That’s why I’ve been essentially nocturnal lately and starting fun projects at 10pm. This month I’m going to try to re-sync my sleep schedule in order to take on this new routine. It will look a little something like this:

  • 9am-12pm: Work on “production” type work. This includes client revisions, site maps, wireframes, emails, proposals, invoices and EMAILS. Things that have a distinct goal and where I know when it’s considered complete.
  • 12pm-1pm: Lunch or grab a coffee down the street and chat with Adam about project statuses
  • 1pm-5pm: Creative work! For me, this includes designing blogs/sites/print for clients. The kind of work where I’ll be pitching or showing them something fun and innovative.
  • 5pm-6pm: Any final revisions from clients can be sent and I can go through email once more.
  • 6pm-on: Actually have a social life, network, blog, work on side projects or cook! Fancy.

For me, this will be a HUGE challenge but I think it will bring more clarity and peace to my life, marriage and relationships. The only challenge, for me, will be on days that I have meetings or photoshoots. I’m trying to figure out how to shift it so that I still have a normal week. If you have any thoughts or ideas, let me know.

So that’s what I’ve learned over the past year. I’m trying to be better with my time but we all have those weeks or days where we’re not motivated at all. It can feel a bit overwhelming while other times I’m a fireball of motivation. I’d love to hear your thoughts below! 

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Comments (22)

  • Can I just say that I’m a little in awe of you? Because we sound very similar (go to sleep late, sleep a lot, hate to shower, are slobby), but you seem to accomplish so much and I don’t accomplish anything. o_O Are you a wizard??

    In all seriousness though, I lurk more often than I comment, but I just wanted to say that I love your blog. :)

    • twins! but no I’m not a wizard. More often than not, I feel like I’m totally failing in other areas of my life. Like today…I totally overslept. Dang it! Or how my hair is always dirty and showering takes waaaay too much time :) I must get better about that.

  • I love the clarification between production and creative work. I think it’s so important to figure out when you’re naturally most creative and productive, and do your best to schedule your day around those times. Easier said than done, but at the very least I know not to attempt anything really critical right after lunch when I’m sleepy!

    • I completely agree! Our friend Chris operates on a schedule based on his energy levels and I’ve always really loved that. I wish my energy levels didn’t spike so much so late at night.

  • I’ve been following your blog for the past year or so and it’s always amazed me how much you accomplish while working from home! Everything you do is so beautiful and well-thought. My husband and I also working together full-time from home (as of late-July) and I definitely haven’t learned the art of time management yet. We just started tracking our working hours and it definitely revealed many areas we can improve upon and areas that things are working well. I’m excited to learn more from you and Adam in the coming weeks. Love your blog and the many projects you’re working on!

    • Aw thank you Leia! Believe me, there are many days where I waste way too much time doing something irrelevant :) But maybe that’s the key to doing a lot of different things? Being open to dabbling in a lot of areas? Congrats on working with your husband too. It’s such a fun adventure. Thanks for the sweet comment!

  • Thanks for sharing these tips! Time management is something I, as well as pretty much everyone else alive, struggle with. I’m in my fourth year of university, and at the beginning of each semester I’m always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready and excited and planning out my days and it’s all wonderful. Then I lose my motivation and allow myself more veg-out time. ANYWAY I should try to set these sections of time for different kinds of work.

    Thanks again for sharing, and keep up the great blog!

    • Thanks Whitney! And I totally understand that feeling of “OMG I’M GOING TO BE SO PRODUCTIVE” and then over time being like “Yeah maybe. I dunno, this tv show is so cool.” Haha. Thanks for following along lady!

  • I want to save practically everything you post! So inspiring to have insight into how other freelancers do life/business. Thanks for sharing.

  • I love your schedule and it totally makes sense to knock out the production stuff in the morning when people say you’re typically most productive. Save the fun stuff for the afternoon when you’d probably rather be sleeping and maybe it’ll keep you “on” through the 3pm lull I tend to have.

  • This is really insightful! I love the differentiation between production and creative work. Definitely something to think about. I just had my second baby 6 minths ago, and I know moms of two who are self-employed, but right now it feels like my Everest.

    • Thanks Faith! I don’t know how moms do it! I’m sure you guys are so busy and nap times are probably a time for you to be productive. I salute you!

  • Great advice! I can definitely apply a lot of these to myself. Any special tips for someone who works a day job and freelances? I find it challenging to want to work on freelance the minute I get home from my day job, but the work needs to get done.

    • I totally relate. I worked a day job for 3 years before quitting. I had the flexibility to work a bit in the morning and go in later (it was only 30 hours a week). All I can say is that it’s reallllly tough. Many times during that period of my life were stressful and I worked way more then than I do now.

  • I definitely agree with you on the distractions of social media. At my former job, I had to be controlling all of our social media accounts around the clock but after I quit, I put all of my social media apps into a folder on the second page of my iPhone so I’m not just checking feeds constantly. It’s been such a shift in time spent. And I don’t miss it at all!

    • That’s such a good idea of putting the apps in a folder on the second page!! I bet you don’t miss that. Social media can feel too constant.

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