Tips for making more time for your creative business when it’s not your full-time job
With a creative, product-based business there’s so much to juggle, not just the online side of things, the website, the online shop, the social media but you’ve also got the physical products to make and ship out. And then on top of all of that it’s your mum’s birthday next week, you’ve got to get the dog to the vets and maybe you even have a 9-5 as well. To say you’re spinning plates would be an understatement.
Often our lives feel stressful all-the-time. We try to pack far too much stuff into a 24-hour day, oh yeah, and we need to squeeze in some sleep as well. But building a business and living in this way is not sustainable; it’s a one-way ticket to burn out and exhaustion. In this blog post planning and productivity mentor Josephine Brooks explains how you can make more time for your creative side-business by scaling back rather than doing more, more, more.
Productivity doesn’t need to be about being busy and getting stuff done, it’s about doing less and focussing on the tasks that really matter
1. Prioritise your tasks
Last summer I was signed off work because I was struggling with a severe period of anxiety. I had to put a halt to almost everything, not only in my 9-5 but in my side-business as well. I worried that my business would start going backwards, I’d lose momentum and people would forget about me. But, what I actually found was that nothing bad happened, the sky didn’t come crashing down and my business stayed visible with the smallest amount of work put into it over those few weeks. That experience totally changed my mindset around productivity and building a business.
You see, productivity doesn’t need to be about being busy and getting stuff done, it’s about doing less and focussing on the tasks that really matter – the few tasks that actually make the difference. With that in mind, take a look at your to-do list right now and ask yourself what’s going to have the biggest impact on my business right now? What one thing can I do today that will make the biggest difference in my business? And just focus on doing that one task.
Remember me mentioning that productivity is about doing less? At this point you also need to take some tasks off your list as well, and I don’t mean by doing them first. I wrote more about this in my earlier post – How to Write More Impactful To-Do Lists.
Friends and family not respecting your work hours is a huge bug bear for a lot of people who work from home. Gain back control by setting new boundaries.
2. Create new boundaries
We’ve covered what’s adding value and having the biggest impact on your business. On the flip side, what’s not adding value? Whether that’s in your business or life, there might be some opportunities here to free up some time. Perhaps it’s the after-work team meals that aren’t exactly filling you with joy, the regular meet-up you go to because you feel like you have to, not because you want to, or perhaps it’s having people pop round when you’re working. Friends and family not respecting your work hours is a huge bug bear for a lot of my clients who work from home.
In all of these situations you can gain back control by setting new boundaries. Yes, it feels uncomfortable at first, the I’m not coming to the team meal this week or the I’m working right now, can we arrange another time for coffee? But after you’ve reinforced those boundaries a few times it’ll be a game changer in how much time you’ll have to dedicate to your creative business. Plus, there’s a very empowered feeling that comes with sticking to your boundaries.
If someone can do a task as well or better than you can, consider outsourcing it. That might be your tax return, your product photography or getting a recipe box delivered so you don’t have to think about what’s for dinner.
3. Outsource the parts your business and life you’re not great at
Maybe you’re in the fortunate position where you can employ someone to do your cleaning while you work on your business. Perhaps there’s a part of your business you dread working on that sucks up loads of your time because you’re not confident with it. Look for opportunities to outsource the parts of your business and life that you either dislike or aren’t brilliant at. If someone can do a task as well or better than you can, consider outsourcing it. That might be your tax return, it might be your website, it might be your product photography, it might even be getting one of those recipe boxes delivered so that you don’t have to think about what’s for dinner.
Not only will outsourcing in your work and life free up more of your time to work on the parts of your business you love most but it will also mean you get the elements of your business that you don’t love or aren’t so confident with worked on by a professional, so it’s a load off your mind as well. Try to focus your limited time in your business on where your strengths lie, the parts of your business where you really bring your magic to it.
By batching tasks together, you can get more done in less time because you’re getting your head into one specific type of work and not having to switch gears every few minutes.
4. Batch your tasks and set up theme days
It takes a lot of energy for our brains to be changing gear every 10 minutes. One of the best ways to save mental energy and make your time a lot more efficient is to batch tasks together. I like to set up theme days to help me with this. For example, when I was working part-time and growing my business as a side-hustle, I had one working day each week to focus on my business. I spent one Friday a month writing my blog content for the next four weeks, the next Friday taking all of the photographs I need for the following four weeks and the next Friday scheduling my podcast, On The Make, for the next few weeks.
Rather than shipping your products every day, could you ship twice a week or schedule your social media posts for the next week every Friday afternoon.
By batching tasks together, you can get more done in less time because you’re getting your head into one specific type of work and not having to switch gears every few minutes. Have a look at those repetitive tasks you’re doing in your business. For example, rather than shipping your products every day, could you ship twice a week and have a few hours set aside every Monday and Thursday to package up and ship out orders instead of doing it in bits every day? Perhaps you want to plan ahead with your social media posts and set aside some time to schedule your social media posts for the next week every Friday afternoon. Take a look at those repetitive tasks you do every day, week or month and experiment with batching them together to help you get more efficient with your time.
5. Strip out things that aren’t adding value to your work or life
I hope there are a few ideas there that can help you make more time for your creative side-business without feeling like you always have to do more. If you take one thing away from this post, let it be this: Making the time for your business is about being clear on your priorities and stripping back on the things that aren’t adding value in your work and life.
As always, I’m cheering you on as you build your business into something truly magical.
Podcast: On The Make https://www.josephinebrooks.co.uk/podcast/
My course Make a Plan > Make it Happen: https://www.josephinebrooks.co.uk/make-a-plan-make-it-happen 1:1 Mentoring for Side-Hustlers: https://www.josephinebrooks.co.uk/mentoring