How to make time to work on your creative business (even if you work a 9-5 and have 3 kids to look after)

Sep 19, 2017 | Handmade Business Tips, Mindset & Productivity

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If you’re anything like me when I started my business, you probably wonder where do people find time to work on their shop. You might have a full-time job, kids to look after, friends and family who want to spend time with you and you’re seriously wondering if this entrepreneurial dream is just that… a dream. Because WHO HAS THE TIME to build a business, right?

I’ve been there, believe me (at some stage I had 3 jobs and was going back to studying design full-time), and it took me a while to figure out how to better manage my time and make some room in my calendar to work on my business. Now I want to show you my 4-step system to make time to work on your creative business.

You can watch the video, or read the post below.

STEP 1 – WHERE DOES TIME GO?

At first, I want you to make a full week experiment to understand what you spend your time doing. I know you’re going to roll your eyes on me but stick with me because it really changed the way I approach my business and my personal life. It’s only for a week but commit to it fully for that time. So, there’s this free app called Toggl, that lets you track your time. I want you to track what you do during the week and how long does it take. This means tracking everything: the time you spend eating, driving your kids to school, coming back from work, working on your handmade shop – every little activity that you do during the day. At the end of the week, you’re going to get this beautiful graph that shows you what you’re spending your time on. This is going to give you a good base for the next 3 steps of the process.

STEP 2 – NEGOTIABLE VERSUS NON-NEGOTIABLE

This step is all about figuring out what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable. Now we have data that we can use to see where we’re using our time wisely and where to switch things around a little bit. What I’d like you to do is have a piece of paper, a spreadsheet – whatever works for you – and make two columns: one is “negotiable” and the other is “non-negotiable”.

In the negotiable column, I want you to write down all the activities that you saw in your Toggl graph that you don’t really need to do or maybe you can ask for help there or minimize them. This might be for example watching Netflix. Maybe you’ve realized that you spend too much time prepping dinner at night and you can ask your partner to help you out a little bit more… anything really that’s on your Toggl graph and you think you could spend that time working on your business.

The non-negotiable stuff is what you can’t really get away with not doing. It’s everything that you have to do, like a job, dinner with kids, going to the gym in the morning… It all depends on a person. Put everything into those two columns and it will all make sense in the next two steps of the process.

STEP 3 – ONE ‘NOTHING ELSE MATTERS’ TIME SLOT

In this step what I’d like you to do is think of a time during your week that could be the same every week – routine is very important – where nothing else matters and you’re just going to work on your business. This should be at least a two-hour block – longer is better, but two hours is minimum.

This may mean you will have to fit it in during the weekends if you can’t do it during your week. This is time for you to spend at least two hours working on your shop without any interruption and distraction. It’s also a great time to batch your work: photography, social media or anything that you need to do that you can group and be more productive.

What I’d like you to do is write this ‘nothing else matters’ time down in your calendar and stick to it. Share it with your family and even friends so they know that at this time you’re going to be working on your business.

STEP 4 – TIME BLOCKING

The last step is where the magic happens. What I’d like you to do is to get your planner or even just a piece of paper and carve out 20 minutes to time-block your week. It really is going to make a difference in finding those little gaps of time when you can work on your business. I’ve made a blog post about making a to-do list that is actually achievableYou can find it here and I highly recommend that you check it right now.

If you’ve already read it you should have a to-do list with tasks and subtasks and they all should have an estimated time that you think it’s going to take to achieve them. So, what I’d like you to do is, in this brand new weekly spread of yours, write down your ‘nothing else matters’ time slot.

Once that is booked into your week I want you to write all your non-negotiables. Next is filling everything else with your achievable to do list and your tasks. So pick up the tasks that you think you can fit in every little gap and write down their numbers in the slots. So, for example, when you have 45 minutes between picking up your kids from school and dinner, find tasks that you can do in that time and write their numbers in the calendar.

Repeat the process until your week is full. This may mean you’re maybe going to have to cut a little bit of Netflix or work on weekends or wake up early. Waking up early is actually my favorite thing to do. I used to hate it but now I wake up every day at 5-6 am and have at least two hours of work that no one can come and disturb because they’re all still sleeping.

Thank you for reading, I hope these tips are going to help you to be more productive and find more time to work on your handmade business. If you want more tips and access to a free library for makers and handmade shop owners click here. You can also join our free, amazing and really engaged group for handmade shop owners here.

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