There’s this struggle between a creative and business owner. When you let your creativity fly, the business side struggles, and when you’re on top of the business pieces, the creative side is trapped and pushed down. For most creative-type small business owners, we’re handling the creativity and the business details, and it’s for the birds!
But over the years I’ve found a few things to help both sides run smoothly. Here’s the breakdown of what each side needs (at least for us):
Business: order, timeliness, precision
Creative: relaxation, fun, inspiration
And so begins a cycle. Most often, I try to meld the two together. I’ll pay taxes, then edit a session, then send a new client email. And then I’ll get frustrated because I didn’t finish editing the session, so I’ll jump on Facebook to see how many people viewed my latest post. Then I’ll look at the blog and see how many people actually clicked on it today. Which reminds me… I should write tomorrows blog post. But oh, what to write about? Oooo!!! An idea strikes and then 30 minutes later I have the most scattered blog post of all time. I don’t have time to dissect it and make it coherent, so I save it as a draft (and I’ll never get back to it), and then I jump back to editing that session. After all, if I can just finish editing that session, I can put that on the blog tomorrow!
Effectively, I just wasted about 40 minutes. And I’m frustrated because I just wasted that time. So I’m not feeling creative and I still can’t complete the editing. So I jump back to the business side of things and decide I’m going to change all this for the future. I’m going to be more organized! I need a list! I make a list. Which wastes another 5 minutes…
It’s not that any of these things are a waste. They’re all on my to-do list, and eventually they’ll get done, but the execution is just not overly effective. I end up working twice as long on everything in order to not affect the client experience, so my personal life takes the hit. I’m more frustrated with my family and will sometimes work through the night to catch up.
So I started reading a book. The 4 Hour Work Week. I’m not finished with it, so I can’t give a full review, but so far there are quite a few workflow gems that I’ve been able to immediately apply in our business! Two, to be exact:
Freedom: It’s an app you can put on your computer that blocks websites you choose for a certain period of time. The only way to get back on the website you blocked is to either wait for the time to run out, or reboot your computer. I’ve tried to trick myself like this before– I’d turn off the wi-fi. But then something would happen and I’d turn it back on real quick and before I knew it… I’m down a rabbit hole. If I have to reboot my whole computer? Nah… I’ll just stay on task. It’s not scientific, but the first time I set the timer for 45 minutes, I think my productivity increased about 100%. It was probably some of the newness, and trying to beat the clock, but it really cleared my head and provided… freedom!
Evernote: I’d tried Evernote before and was a bit underwhelmed. I have the Notes app on my iPhone so I figured it was about the same– they both transferred between devices and all. But either I didn’t know what all Evernote had, or it has had some killer improvements over the years! They have fantastic tutorials, so I won’t try to go over all that, but you can separate things by notebook (Work, Personal, Weight Loss, Financial, Gym Progress, etc), and then have multiple notes and lists within each notebook! I love how it’s so categorized. I have a checklist within a checklist and then a random note– just like in my real life notebooks! It’s also possible to take a picture of a business card and have the information in it searchable for the future. Oh my goodness- I can’t wait to use that feature to keep wedding vendors organized!
So now each night I write out my to-do list for the next day on Evernote. Then when it comes to work time, I give myself 45 minute blocks to work, then stretch and take a break, then back to another 45 minutes of work, and repeat until I’m done. I’m amazed at how quickly my to-do list is getting knocked out each day!
What are ways you increase your productivity so you’re wasting less time and spending it with family or friends instead?