Creative Series: Conquering Your Mile Long To Do List
A few years ago, I had a friend that was putting together a styled shoot. She was having a difficult time locating a calligrapher. Having been taught by my grandmother back in 1994 (and dabbling since then), I volunteered to create something for her. After she saw my work, her next exclamation was not what I had expected. “You should start a calligraphy business!” After hearing the subsequent pros list about it, I jumped in with both feet. In about a week’s time, I had a studio name, a website (and not the free one with a lot of extra words in the url - a legit website domain!), social media accounts, and a logo. It was exciting to unveil my hidden talent to my facebook friends. About a month in, I started to push the “business stuff” aside only to focus on calligraphy. Within that business quarter, I felt like I was overrun with the aspects of actually running a business.
I’m sure that we all started out on a very similar path, you exhibit a talent, someone suggests starting a business, and countless hours later you have a logo and website.
What that well-intentioned person failed to mention (or maybe glossed over), was that you are a one-man-band when you start out. From CEO to custodian, you are the one to handle it all - for better or worse. And in the blink of an eye, the to do list grows faster than you ever imagined possible. As the solo-woman running shop, how can you keep it wrangled in?
... Here are three tips that I use to feel like Superwoman
| Batching for Efficiency
Think of the process of assembling a car. There is a team that do assigned tasks and at the end, it results in a finished product. But do you know what the beauty of assembly lines really is? Rather than focusing 100% on the big picture of a project, you get the chance to hone in on only one portion of it. It would take the same team much longer to put together a car solo.
I hear you: How does that apply to running my business? The idea of batching is the assembly line for your business. The task of putting together a quarter’s worth of blog content or scheduling social media can be daunting and overwhelming. Breaking it down into bite-sized pieces speeds up your process. When you mind is engaged on the one particular task (such as creating pinterest graphics), the repetition of the idea makes it a breeze to get through.
For myself, I spend the course of about two to three days to create the content for my blog for three months. That is from outlines to finished post (with Pinterest graphics). Before I moved to batching this, it would take me a few hours each week to draft up that week’s post. I didn’t feel like I was getting ahead, and I was not saving any time in the process.
Another batching process that I’ve gotten success from, is spending a weekend to create a social media plan for the coming month. Again, from the content and hashtags, to the photos and manually scheduling them to publish, this weekend of hustle reduced the day-to-day stress on myself to come up with awesome posts on the fly.
| Cutting the Clutter
Another way to get through your to do list is to examine it. Start by writing out your daily tasks and your to do list. Include those details such as “aimlessly scrolling through Instagram and pinning recipes on Pinterest”. You want an honest evaluation of what you are currently doing and believe that you should be doing. A week of observation should be enough.
Once you have this, then you can sit down with an objective mind. Ask yourself the value (if any) a certain task provided you. And sometimes, those cat memes are a great escape, just maybe not for two hours. Once you have found the fluff in your schedule, you can look over your to do list. In business, the goal is to do things that will generate more business.
Generating business is defined as something that either directly or indirectly procures you more clientele. I spent far too much time fussing over the minute details on my website (not a business-generating task), whereas blogging (a great business-generating task) would have been a much better use of my time. Being in 100+ facebook groups can be a step back, as it can flood your feed with a lot of chatter. Instead, focusing on three to five groups, you can post authentically, more often, thus building up a community that gets to know you.
| Scheduling Self Care
Something that is most often crossed off your to do list (or never written at all!), is self care. Our poor minds and bodies just do not have the capabilities to run 24/7. If you’ve been in business for a while, you have most likely felt burn out creeping into your life. The day that your to do list becomes so overwhelming to you that you’d rather go clean the house, you might be facing burn out.
It might seem counterproductive to carve out time for non-work time. Unless you are not a stranger to sprinkling in self care on a regular basis, you might need to begin by “forcing” yourself to take some time away from work. Writing it in your planner, putting up your “out of office” message, telling your significant other, or bringing along a friend are great ways to ensure that you take some time away.
Being able to step away and enjoy something non-business allows you to return to work refreshed. Refreshed employees are productive ones (and since you are both employee and manager, you will want to ensure you are getting the best work out of your one and only. Keeping her happy means you get joyful employee. Win-win!).
This time should be something that you truly enjoy. For me, I enjoy going for a run. I have a local friend (she is a wedding photographer and a mother, so we have lots in common) to go out with, but sometimes I enjoy the quiet mornings alone, watching the sunrise to the rhythm of my feet on the pavement. Maybe you prefer dancing or singing. Manicures and pedicures. Whatever it is, enjoy it to the fullest. Your to do list will be waiting for you, so try not to bring that stress along with you.
Owning my business is one of the things that I’m most proud of. It gets even better when I don’t feel like it’s a corporate job, and I get the opportunities to enjoy life as it unfolds.
Wasn't that an awesome post? Christine definitely tackled this REAL struggle, head on! I'm so happy she came on board and shared these awesome tips with us! Anyway, it's time to tie this awesome post to your bottom line, ya know, your sales and profits. So, what does conquering your mile long to do list have anything to do with your business, how it sells and performs? Regardless of what you do for a living, there's that whole 'nother side of your business that's gotta get done for you to remain in business, you know, ALL the marketing-related things (directly or indirectly). These are the ones that are supposed to overflow your to do list, not the fluff-related ones. Keeping your to do list in check, will most definitely affect your sales, the way you serve your current clients, and even the way you market your business. How are you supposed to generate more sales (and genuine connections) if your time is spent on fluff-related tasks? By the time you're ready to tackle the actual business-related tasks, your mind is exhausted and there's absolutely no way for you to pour out from an empty vessel. Prioritizing those business-related tasks, will help you generate more sales from pushing out honest and well throughout content, and it'll also help you to find better and more creative ways to serve your current clients (which in turn, turns into referrals, hey, free marketing!).
Christine Kirby is a wedding calligrapher located outside of Orlando, Florida. She is a wife, mother, business owner, and sushi lover. She has been practicing calligraphy for more than 20 years and has a passion to share her love of calligraphy & business. When she's not working, you can find Christine strolling down Main Street in Walt Disney World. She can be found at carouselatelier.com