Build a Badass Business Podcast #42: Time Management Tips

Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

Topics:Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

  1. To feel fulfilled as a solo-preneur, get something done each day that contributes to a bigger project or a bigger goal.
  2. If, “write an eBook” is on your to-do list, you’re never going to get it done. Books don't get written that way. Break work up into actionable chunks, then check them off day by day.
  3. Part of being an entrepreneur and working for myself is not setting an alarm.

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Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

Build a Badass Business: Episode #42: Time Management Tips 

Coming to you from the city by the bay, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. She’s here to teach you how to grow and develop a successful business you love, and how to create raving fans along the way. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright guys, welcome back to the show. Today I am talking about time management, and we have a question froBuild a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippom Hilary today. Hilary says; “Time management; how to be productive when you work from home and you’re accountable to no one but yourself? I’m finding that I’m not getting my work done in a timely manner simply because there are no deadlines, no boss, and I have no work hours. I also get lonely, and like to get out of the house. I recently joined a couple of meet up groups for solo entrepreneurs, which sometimes people refer to as “solopreneurs”, like myself, and one of them mentioned having accountability groups, which sounds like a good idea, but I’m not sure what that entails. I’ve created a schedule for myself to be more productive, so we’ll see how that goes. Thanks!”

Alright, so Hillary I have 3 tips here for time management, and I’m going to say these with a huge caveat, ok. So, for those of you who have been listening to the show for a while, or if you’ve been listening to the Balanced Bites podcast or following me anywhere, I’ve been listening to Gretchen Rubin’s work. And I say listening to, she’s an author but I listen to her podcast called Happier, I’ve listened to her book on audible called Better than Before, and she talks a lot about habits and also our tendencies.

One of the things that she really likes for us to know about ourselves is how do we best respond to pressures, or deadlines, or expectations, or any of that? Do we do best when we respond to outside expectation? Do we need it to be an internal thing? Like we decide, ok this is what I’m going to do. Do we do well responding to both of those? So if somebody expects something of us, and we expect it of ourselves, either way we respond to both of those. Or do we kind of respond to none of it?

And I’m going to give you guys these tips with the caveat that I am the last category. I don’t know what the secret sauce is to getting me to respond to anything. I’m one of the people who, in her categories, I’m what she calls a rebel and I actually think a lot of entrepreneurs are in that category, unfortunately for us, because it makes us a little hard to wrangle ourselves and really be super disciplined, though I think there are plenty of entrepreneurs who are very disciplined.

But, if you’re like me and you’re not that disciplined, which it almost sounds like Hillary is in the situation, then I’m going to give you some tips that I use to help myself really get things done. And this is all without having a team; because I will say that having a team, and I have a project manager right now, and I almost sometimes consider her a boss to me, because I’m asking her what needs to get done, what absolutely needs to be done this week, what can I wait on, what’s burning, what’s not burning, what needs to go on the backburner, etc.

So, here’s the first tip I have for you. This is something that I do, and I find it works really well; although I hate it. It’s making appointments. So whether that’s scheduling a call, whether that’s getting out of the house to meet somebody; something that punctuates the day so that you know; ok, I wake up, I do these things, whether it’s helping your kids get ready, making breakfast, doing things for yourself or for whatever, and then I have X amount of time before I have to leave for this meeting, or I have to get on this call. So for me, that’s really helpful because it helps me to see; ok, do I only have 30 minutes, or do I have an hour, two hours, three hours?

Now, I’m going to tell you, I most enjoy days where I look at my calendar and there’s nothing on it. I can’t stand having anything scheduled. There are a few things I like having scheduled. I have a personal trainer right now, I like seeing that on my schedule. I’m like, ok great. Because that’s something that I kind of get to do for me. It’s not to say that I don’t like business calls, or doing what happens in that exchange; but for me, I’d almost rather somebody text me 10 minutes before and say, hey are you free in 10 minutes? Or are you free in an hour? Because I’d like to fly by the seat of my pants, but business doesn’t really work that way. You need to make appointments, you need to schedule calls.

So I think that works really well. It helps to punctuate your day, and I think you also need to get into a flow where you find out; do I like having calls really early, so that I can get them over with, and then start my day. Do I like having calls mid-day, so I can do some work before them, have a call, do some work after. What kind of call is it? Is it somebody that you will be accountable to? Would you rather have that call later in the day, because you might need to do a little bit of work right before that call? Or do you want the calls at the end of the day so that you can do all of your work, and then have that call to kind of end your day out.

So you really need to get into a flow of what feels good for you. I tend to like calls kind of bookending the day, if possible. We have a team call every week, and that’s Mondays at 7:30 a.m. my time. So I like to just basically wake up, have coffee, maybe have breakfast if we get up early, and do my call right away so that I’m not breaking up my morning with that. For me, the morning is my most productive time, so basically after about 1 p.m. I’m not that productive, not that focused. So for me those early morning hours are best. So I actually do better with calls that are not in those hours. But for my team, I want us to get set up first thing Monday morning. We know what expectations are, we know what needs to get done that week, etc.

So the second tip I have is make a must-do-today list. I like to-do lists, or check-lists, or; this is what I do with my grocery shopping list, too. Where it’s not like have to do all of this, or I can only do this. But I kind of like to highlight must I do today. Whether you write that on a sticky note; whether you have a big calendar book, whether it’s something you do have on your mind that you know; if I do nothing else today, I have to get either this one thing, or these three things done today. And you’ll at least feel a sense of accomplishment by the end of the day, because a lot of times as work from home entrepreneurs, you could “busy” on social media; you're posting all day, you’re responding to things, but if you didn’t get something done that contributes to a bigger project or a bigger goal, you’re not going to feel fulfilled that day. You’ll feel like you didn’t do anything.

We need to make things, and produce things, and have content that comes out of what we’re doing in order to feel really productive, I think. That’s what happens for me. If I get through the day, and I didn’t actually work on, at least some small part of a larger project, or get a blog post out, or something to that effect, I definitely feel really unproductive if I don’t do that.

So a couple of tips for that; I’ve heard from a few different entrepreneurs out there; I think Marie Forleo talked about this, I think, I don’t know, I think Chalene Johnson talked about this as well, which I know a bunch of you guys follow her on Periscope, and maybe you check out her Build Your Tribe podcast, which is excellent. But writing down three things that you want to get done that day, and then guess what? You will probably crush those three things, and then you can look at the rest of your list and say; oh, well I can get this thing done too or this thing done too. But at least if you got those 3 things done, you’ll feel like something was accomplished.

Alright, my third tip; and this feeds into getting your 3 things done for the day. Probably some of you are thinking; well I want to write an eBook. Or I want to make an online course. Or, you know, I have a series of blog posts I want to write. Even one blog post; you guys, a blog post does not necessarily get done in one day. I’ve had so many blog posts that take me a long time to get done, but you want to write down some projects that might be a little bit bigger, and then break them down into workable chunks. So you need to break it down into an hour, or less time.

You really can’t expect yourself to work for more than an hour in a very, very focused concentrated way. You’re going to get up; you're going to have to go to the bathroom, you're going to get a drink, you’re going to want to not look at your computer at some point in that time, so one-hour chunks, or 30-minute chunks, or 15-minute chunks, 10-minute chunks, whatever it’s going to be. Write down a few of these projects and things that you want to get done that, if it’s an hour you maybe have one of those that you need to do in a day. And I mean, need to do, definitely get that done, that one thing.

I can’t even tell you guys; there are definitely days where I work a concentrated 2 or 3 hours on some projects. Most days during the week, I don’t have it like that. I don’t have time where I’m spending 2-3 hours focused on a project. So you really need to break it down for yourself into hour chunks, then again those smaller 30-minute, or 10 or 15-minute chunks, so that you can check things off your list that are really doable. Because you can’t write on your list; “write eBook.” {laughs} That’s not a to-do; that’s not a task. An eBook is just too big; it’s too much.

So maybe; here’s a good example. Maybe you’re going to put recipes in your eBook; maybe it’s getting 3 recipes written. Or one recipe photographed, and then 3 of them written, because you can take pictures for one, or two, maybe three in a day, just depending on your work flow, but writing the recipe itself actually takes more time. So you really need to kind of pace that out and make sure that you’re not; if you’re expecting too much of yourself, and you think “the thing I have to do today or this week is write an eBook”, you’re never going to write it. It doesn’t get written that way; it has to be broken down into something that’s much more manageable, much more digestible, and more practical.

Alright, so hopefully that helped Hilary. Hopefully that helped all of you guys. I would love to hear more from you. If you're not already in the Build a Badass Business Facebook group, come join it. It’s a closed group; you have to ask to enter it. We will accept everyone, we want to hear from you, and hear what’s working for you. Because we all do need to find those things that work for us. Some people can schedule their day to the hour, all day. I’m not that kind of person, so I’m guessing from the question that Hilary asked that she’s not that kind of person either, so she might need to use some of these tips.

One last idea that I have, based on what she’s asking in her question, and I did talk about this in my last episode, was about either networking groups or a mastermind or some sort of accountability group. If you don’t know who to turn to, or you don’t have one, look in the Build a Badass Business group. If you’re a 21-Day Sugar Detox certified coach, grab another coach who you could be accountable to. I did this in the very beginning; my friend Evelyn and I, this is probably going back almost at least 5 years now. We were both first starting out, we were blogging, we had our newsletters, and for several months we were accountable to each other either every week or every two weeks; maybe it was every month. I can’t remember. But it was kind of like, we didn’t have anybody else in our businesses; we didn’t have assistants. We just didn’t have anyone else to answer to, so we needed to have just a friend to say, ok, I‘m going to get this done. Decide what you’re going to be accountable for, and then deliver on that when the time comes, whatever your deadline is.

Ok, so here’s a question that you guys are asking about having a really early start to the day. Is it best to have a really early start; is it not best? Honestly; it depends on when you work best. It’s great for me to have an early start to the day. If I could wake up naturally at 5 a.m., get my day going, eat some breakfast, take a quick shower and get going for the day, that would be fine. Lately I haven’t been waking up that early naturally, and I don’t set an alarm, I don’t like to wake up to an alarm. For me, part of being an entrepreneur and working for myself is not setting an alarm. I mean that, for me, is; if there’s one thing that I want it to be like, this never changes {laughs} is that I don’t have to set an alarm.

Of course, for a weekly meeting, I like to make sure I’m up, but by 7:30 I’m definitely up. Naturally, I wake up before 7. But yeah, I think it just depends. If you’re really effective working at night, there is no reason to wake up super early. Some people just have their; honestly, when I was working on design projects a lot, I was much more effective at night. I don’t know what it was. Needing to focus and get things done that involve a lot more thinking; I’m better at that in the morning. But at night, I do a lot better with just task oriented design work, things that are like, repetitive or visual, but not really analytical at all. I don’t know how to explain that.

“What tips do you have for making accountability really effective; ways to award delivery, etc.” Well, having your accountability be effective; as an entrepreneur, I honestly think, some of us feel a sense of accomplishment in just the delivery of that thing. Pushing publish on a blog post; I think most people who blog feel pretty darn good when we push publish on a blog post. For some people, it’s not until you make a sale on something. But being able to stay accountable; I think… So this goes back to the stuff that I’m learning from Gretchen Rubin’s work, where she’s talking about the different tendencies that we have, and some people do really well with outside expectations and deadlines.

So, I feel like I shouldn’t be disclosing all of her content {laughs} on my Periscope, but four types of people are the people who do really well with outside expectations and deadlines, etc. Some people who need it to be an internal thing; so you question things, and you’re like, well I don’t know if I agree with that, but here’s what I think is right, or here’s the deadline I think I should make it. Somebody who does well with both; you answer to both, or somebody who doesn’t answer to either.

If you find that you do best when you have someone outside of yourself to be accountable to, you can find someone, no problem. You can find a peer, or maybe it has to be a business coach. For me, one of the things that I find that I’m really responsive to is somebody outside of myself who I pay. Somebody outside of myself, and who I pay a lot. {laughs} or I’m going to feel like I’m wasting money if I don’t bring it. So this goes for working with a personal trainer, for me. I don’t show up and have a frown on my face, and I’m like, no I don’t want to do that.

But I’m not talking; like with my project manager, she works for us, for the team, so there are times when I’ll push back at stuff that she wants from me. I mean, I guess I push back at everything, because that’s just how I am {laughs}. But I think; I don’t even know. I don’t think I could give you a dollar amount that my coach is. I don’t know off the top of my head. That’s one of the things I’m not good at, is paying bills, so I have a bookkeeper. So whatever I agreed to at the beginning is what it cost. It doesn’t have to be a certain price; it’s whatever it is for you. Maybe you pay someone $50 or $100 bucks an hour, and that’s like, I’m accountable to them. I better bring it.

So this is one of the reasons, too, why most people; you don’t want to just give your services away for free. I’m fine to do a podcast for free; most people that I coach, I have a couple of friends that I’ll coach just because we’re friends and if they want help for 30 minutes or an hour, that’s just part, for me it’s part of one of the things that I feel like I have to just offer as a friend in terms of advice. It’s business advice; I love it. It’s fun for me. If they’re a close friend of mine, I’m happy to do that. But I would not do business coaching for free with somebody who is not a friend, because they’re not going to take it seriously. And the friends I’m talking about; they really take it and run with it. They’re not saying, can I pick your brain. It’s not a pick your brain. It’s an, I trust you, what should I do. You know? So it’s kind of a different scenario.

So I think if you find that you do well with that, being accountable to somebody that you’re paying, then that makes a really big difference. You hire an accountant; you have to bring them all your papers; everything that you spend money on. So I think sometimes it’s about finding that balance, what works for you.

Hey guys, I’m so glad you’re loving the show. Let me ask you to do me a favor; come follow me on Periscope. You can find me; I believe you can search Diane Sanfilippo, or you can search @BalancedBites, which is my Twitter handle, which is the account name over on Periscope. I am going to start doing live sessions, really quick thoughts for the day. I’m not sure if it I will be every day, but it will be pretty often, and some Q&A on business topics and motivation, inspiration, etc. So make sure you’re following me over on Periscope. Download the app in the app store, and I will see you there.

That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. And drop me a review to let me know what’s speaking to you from the show. If you want to get in on the conversation and you haven’t yet joined the group already on Facebook, head on over there and join the Build a Badass Business group. I share insights and tips regularly, as well as answer your questions right there on the page. Do work that you love, and hustle to make your business grow like your life depends on it, because it does. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

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