A: Hi Krista, and thanks for requesting tips on one of the hottest topics for design entrepreneurs … time management! Here’s some of what I hear a lot from designers: You’re working harder than ever before, trying to do so much on you own and struggling to find time for everything. Sound familiar? So how can you avoid burn out, enjoy your business, master your time, go through your day-to-day activities and get through that long list of things-to-do?
Here are a few tips on managing your time wisely that will make a huge and immediate impact to your business and your ability to reclaim your time.
- Set regular business hours based on your personal productivity cycles.
- Schedule your time off. Treat yourself as your most important client.
- Batch your time. For example, specify “design days”, cluster client appointments, set aside blocks of time to source design items, work on space plans, renderings, and design boards. Designate “business development days” for marketing and working on your business, systems and processes.
- When it comes to your to-do list, set targets for all activities and tasks; not just the deadlines and dates you’ll work on a task, but the actual time you’ll allow yourself to complete it. For example, allow yourself an hour to write an article for your newsletter. (Nature abhors a vacuum, so if you don’t designate a set amount of time, almost any activity will expand to fill all your time).
- Use a timer to help keep you on track.
- Turn off any other distractions (like your phone and email). Contrary to popular belief, we’re really not made to multi-task! It takes longer to continually switch gears and regain focus. You’ll find you’re more productive and effective when you maintain singular focus and follow through to completion.
- If tasks are taking longer than you expect, or you’re feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with timelines and using a timer, chances are you’re working on projects rather than activities and tasks. Break things down into smaller pieces. For example, rather than a task of “Compose newsletter”, a smaller task of “Write introduction note for newsletter.”
Keep in mind that much of what we spend our time doing as business owners isn’t really that important. Stick with what you’re good at, the things you enjoy doing and are getting paid for. Where are you getting results? Delegate, outsource, or eliminate the rest. Be a wise master of your time!
Here’s to living an inspired & creative life,
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