How I Maximize My Time as a Creative Entrepreneur (+ Free Calendar Download)
Let’s get into this… you all were curious about how I maximize my time as an entrepreneur, how I plan my days, stay motivated, set boundaries, and how I integrate work and personal life. My way of doing things is in no way the gold standard, but I’m excited to shed light on what I’ve personally found success in. While everyone is different, there’s no denying the significant synergies between more purposeful productivity and mega-successful biz babes (lookin’ at you, Rachel Hollis ). So, the fact that you’re even here reading this means you’re ready to get it.
While as a free-spirit creative, you may naturally object to or find resistance around the idea of structure and planning...I invite you to hear me out. You might find that the below strategies are just what you needed to uplevel your biz, find that healthy hustle, and feel damn good.
Here’s how I do it:
Schedule out everrrrything
Schedule out your day ahead of time. Better yet, schedule out your week (I block out time on Fridays to plan for the next week). Most creatives benefit from structure when self-employed. I know I do. Keeping a calendar and doing my best to stick to it keeps me on track, focused, and then there’s no wasting time guessing what I need to do next. Schedule everything - even your personal life, time for self-care, and date nights. If you are realistic with your time expectations and you really focus, you CAN get what you need done.
Write tomorrow’s to-do list at the end of each workday, so you know just what you need to do when you’re at your desk the next morning.
Make your Google Calendar your new bff. Create & color code new calendars for the different types of tasks. Here’s a sneak peek of mine below (Download my full ‘Week in the Life’ calendar at the bottom of this post or by clicking here.)
To create a new calendar, click the 3 dots next to "Add calendars" and click, "New calendar." Give it a color code and voilà!
Task-batching & themed days, baby
This has been a biggie for me when it comes to prioritizing my time and working smarter. I’ve started batching related tasks for optimal focus. For example, if I’m writing a blog post and I’ve hit my groove… the quickest way to kill my buzz is having to stop and take a call about accounting. The time spent trying to regroup where I left off and focus back into that creative energy is nearly impossible.
Task-batching and creating themed work days has allowed me to effectively streamline my workflows and optimize my creative energy.
Here’s an example of my current themed work week:
Mondays & Wednesday: Admin, Follow-ups, Emails, and Meetings
Tuesdays & Thursdays: Writing, content creation, photography, editing
Friday: GSD “get shit done” day. Overflow of any incomplete timely tasks, planning for next week, and my weekly brainstorm.
Find what works best for you, stay open and flexible to adjust as needed, and recognize what eats your time (i.e. for me, it’s emails). I only dig in and respond to bulk emails twice a week. That’s it. Once I overcame the self-imposed idea that everyone needed a same-day response from me, I was liberated from the chains of my inbox.
Manage distractions & interruptions
If you’re feeling really swamped and overwhelmed but it seems like nothing’s actually getting done, it’s time to manage your incoming distractions. Reacting vs producing is a super eye-opening concept I grabbed from Jake Knapp that really helps me put my activities into perspective. Here’s some real talk for ya… A lot of the times we aren’t actually doing anything productive with our time. Sure, you might feel busy, but the reality is we’re spending most of our day reacting to things like email, Slack, and messages. Getting bombarded all day with incoming notifications is a massive drain on focus and it sidetracks you from accomplishing the things that really matter.
If you feel like you’re just reacting rather than creating or executing then you may need to do a deep dive and ask yourself some questions:
Do I need to pause my inbox or only check my email at certain points during the day?
Should I delete some apps off my phone that can be accessed via desktop instead (i.e. Jake Knapp deleted email off of his phone and said it positively impacted his quality of life.)
If I can’t go that extreme, can I switch off all notifications that are interrupting me?
Put in the effort to make the change and take control of what’s getting your time and attention. Some simple tweaks here can help skyrocket your productivity.
Commit to a strong morning routine
Simply put, a strong morning routine is life changing. By designing my mornings to promote a more positive, calm, and joyful mindset, I'm a better (and more productive) person for it. I recommend blocking out this time in your calendar just like you would for any important meeting. If you don’t set aside this time it’s really easy for things like a quick scroll on Insta and then a lil peek at your emails to snowball and then *poof* it has suddenly consumed your whole morning. Morning routines look different for everybody so play around with this and see what feels good for you. Here’s How to Create Mindful Daily Rituals that Actually Stick.
Tidy up that workspace
I’m talkin’ both physical and digital. My motto in life is #simplifyandthrive, and that all starts with decluttering. It’s a big freakin’ deal to me.
Physical: Every morning I reset my space by putting away dishes and clearing counters. I light a candle or run my oil diffuser, and then it’s off to work! As someone who works from home, clutter and chaos gives me a lot of anxiety, makes me angry, and squashes my focus. I probably have a lower threshold for clutter than the average person, but I recognize that and embrace it.
Digital: Don’t neglect your digital space - it matters too. Having an organized file storage system and task management platform does wonders. Have you read my 7 Technology Tools to Simplify your Life?
Find a healthy relationship with social media
I’ve said it before, but I’ll HAPPILY say it again. Set boundaries, my friend. Social media is hands down one of the biggest time suckers and we all know it. If your business requires you to be online, be purposeful about how much time you’re allotting for that.
For me an ideal work week boundary looks like this:
Post around 9 or 10am
Stay online for 30 minutes to support/engage with my friends and reply to as many DM’s and comments as I can.
Phone goes away until lunchtime (I often do some IG story check-ins, pep talks, and updates during lunch)
Pop back on for a 15-minute break wherever I have space in my schedule between 4-6pm.
Recreational phone usage/DM catch up time in the evening, but phones go away by 9:30pm.
My average Instagram usage time is around 1.5 hours a day (you can track your screen time on your Android or iPhone in settings). A very small percentage of that time is spent mindlessly scrolling. I’ve become pretty solid about only poppin’ on purposefully whether it’s to create and share content, respond to messages, and supporting my friends and followers’ posts.
Everyone’s boundaries will look different. Point is, set clear, actionable boundaries and do what you can to hold yourself accountable. If your world revolves around Instagram, then you should probably sit down and get real with yourself on your priorities and what you’re truly wanting to build.
Outsource and Delegate
My first hire ever was my accountant (a.k.a my part-time CFO). He also doubles as a pretty rad therapist, though he doesn’t advertise that in his services. Outsourcing and delegating can free you up big time, so you can focus on the areas of your biz where you absolutely crush it. You don’t have to be bringin’ in the big bucks to hire help, either. Remember, time is money. If you’re spending hours and hours trying to design pins for Pinterest or categorize your monthly expenses and you HATE every minute of it… your time is probably better suited elsewhere.
Ask yourself whether investing in this hire will uplevel your business, allowing you to make your money back. If you’re choosing your hires wisely, the answer if most likely yes.
LASTLY, I just want to remind you…
Don’t strive for perfection. The above strategies are ones you can implement into your work flow, but life is always going to throw things at you, and you’ll adapt accordingly. Some days are a total wash, other days you’re on fire. So, just remain compassionate towards yourself!
Alright, alright! If you made it to the end, you go! I could talk about this all day, but hope this lengthy snapshot helps. Got any more tips to share? Comment down below!