Running a business alongside a job can be tough but with the right strategies, you can maximise your time and get a whole lot of stuff done each and every day to move your business forward.
When I went to back to my full-time job last May after being on maternity leave I had to quickly learn how to adjust to the new demands of my 9-5 as well as my growing business and young family.
The time available to run my business was greatly reduced and I still wanted to have quality time with my husband and two children so I knew I had to get smart with my time.
People talk a lot about time management but the truth is you cannot manage your time - it is fixed, you can however, manage yourself and what you do with that time and that is what I want to focus on in today’s post.
Below I share with you EIGHT strategies that I employ in my business to keep me productive and working on the right things.
1| Get clear on the time you do have and be intentional
The first thing I always tell my clients to do when we start working together (and I do myself) is to get clear on how many hours they actually have available to work on their business each week. Why? Because once you know, you can plan accordingly and make sure that you are still devoting the right amount of time to other important aspects of your life. I firmly believe in building a life first and your business fits into this. Not the other way round.
Without clarity on this fundamental step, you will find yourself blurring the boundaries between business, work and life.
ACTION: Take your calendar and I love Google Calendar and block out all the things you have to do each week. So, for example, for me, it would include my 9-5 (actual working time), family time, marriage time, church, hobbies, self-care and sleep. Whatever I have left is time I can allocate to my business. Then within that business time I remove client coaching time and what I have left is what I use to plan my other activities.
Now you might be surprised at how much or how little time you have to play with but it is important to do this so that you can be intentional and still have a life. You can also identify where you need to start outsourcing which I firmly believe in!
2|Identify the key tasks in your business needed for it to grow and produce income
This exercise is all about identifying your 20%. Pareto’s law says that 80% of our results come from 20% of our activity, meaning that there will be certain key things which will have a bigger impact on the growth and income in your business. You need to identify what they are and spend your time there. This could include things like marketing, outreach, discovery calls essentially things that you know if you don’t do your business will suffer and they could also be things that only you can do e.g. coaching calls.
ACTION: Create 3 lists.
- List 1 - your 20% tasks ie the things that move the needle forward
- List 2 - tasks that need to get done but are not 20% tasks e.g. admin
- List 3 - other tasks
Now when planning your time and what you should work on daily you need to focus on the List 1 tasks first. After that you can move to List 2 items. List 3 tasks should be tasks you either drop or outsource. Even with List 2 tasks there will be things that you can give to a VA.
In order to maximise your time and grow your business, you will need to focus on the right daily activity and this will help you do that.
3 |Create a system for EVERYTHING
Everything you do in your business needs to be in a system.
Before you switch off, the word “system” might sound scary to you but all it means is that you have a set way of doing stuff and this can be as simple as a checklist in Google Docs or as detailed as a Project Plan in Asana. Whatever works for you and is easily accessible.
Why do you need systems in your business? What things should you systemise?
Systems create structure and a standard way of doing things which can therefore be outsourced and replicated. Even if you are not outsourcing the task, the very fact that you have it written down means that you don't have to worry about missing steps in the process and you can redirect that thinking brain power to another part of your business.
Things also get done because there is plan for it plus your clients and customers receive a better service from you as you are organised.
ACTION: Identify your top 3 tasks which you repeatedly do and create a simple checklist of what needs to happen to get it done. Example tasks could be: publishing a blog post and all that goes before it or running a webinar. You decide. What are the steps involved to make the task a success?
If it is easier to record yourself doing said task you can do that as well. Use something like Screenflow, Camtasia or Screencast-o-matic to do a screen share and save as a video. I do this a lot with my VA. If you are short on time, you can then get THEM to create the checklist based on the video and get you to review.
4 | Create templates
Following on from system creation, if you find yourself writing the same email over and over or creating the same graphic repeatedly - create yourself a template. That way you won’t have to start from scratch every time.
I use Gmail for email and they have a thing called Canned Responses which basically allows you to create email templates for responses that you find yourself always responding to. It makes it super quick and easy when I need to respond to someone on a topic that I respond to frequently.
For my Instagram quotes images, I have created a template in Canva which I have saved in Dropbox. I can then pull the image on my phone anytime, add the text using another app (Phonto - Android or Wordswag - iOS) and post to Instagram and Facebook! Voila.
Again the benefits of templates are consistency and ease of use.
5 | Work from the cloud
As a part-time entrepreneur, you will find yourself on the go lot. Choose apps and software that you can access and use from anywhere. The benefits of this are that you will always be able to access your business wherever you have internet connection, you can collaborate easily with people and you’re not having to worry about things crashing and losing work.
So for me, something like Google Drive is amazing for this. It allows me to create, collaborate and share my documents and files. It syncs across all my devices so I could start something on my iPhone on the commute home and then complete it back at my laptop.
As I write this blog post I am sat in my local coffee finishing a document I started on my phone at home.
Some of these tools are free and some you will have to pay for (e.g. premium dropbox to get more space) but I like the flexibility it affords me. On the go, I can quickly access files or templates that I need and so can my VA.
Personally, I don't use any software that I can’t access on the go.
6 | Invest in the right tools
To obtain a specific result in your business you can either invest your time or you invest your money. Now given that time is finite and we are running our businesses alongside jobs it makes sense to invest the money so that we can hasten the results we see.
Equally, who has the time trying to figure out different ways of doing stuff when there is already a tool that does that. Success always leaves clues and there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
As someone who knows how to design websites, I had issues paying out for something like landing page software because I can create landing pages in WordPress very easily but I soon quickly realised that this was a HUGE time suck, plus I couldn’t outsource it to anyone because it was me doing the designing.
So I decide to make the investment in landing page software and oh my goodness it has been such a timesaver AND now my VA can help with the creation.
ACTION: What tools do you know you need to invest in to help your business run more efficiently. Be honest with yourself and only look to get the things that you need right now.
7 | Batch your work and make use of scheduling
Batching is the one thing that will help you as a part time entrepreneur because with focused attention output is often higher. If you have already sat down to record one video, why not record 5 as the setup is already there.
Batching also helps with consistency and freeing up of time because once you have created your content for the month as an example you no longer need to worry about what you are going to post online and in your newsletter. You can set it and forget it and focus on something else.
So whether it is your content creation, emails or social media set time aside to do the particular tasks.
ACTION: Choose one task in your business that you will look to batch this coming month and schedule time to get it done.
8 | Create awesome workflows
This is my favourite hack because when it is running, it is a beautiful well oiled machine. For this hack you create an easy workflow that will allow you to achieve a 20% task.
In my case, I was struggling with getting content out consistently and also having content to share in my newsletters.
I did a review of what I was currently doing and even though I was writing the odd blog post, it wasn’t regular and in order to build trust with your followers you need to be consistent. Main reason I wasn’t regular - I didn't really like writing, well not really that but more that I felt I could spend my time doing something else because it took so long to write posts.
I much prefer to talk and so I decided to try speaking my blog posts. This turned out to be far easier for me because I could take my phone and record short 3-5 minutes audios for my content and upload straight to Dropbox.
I then contacted a transcriptionist who turned my talking into written text and then my VA took both the audio (which we uploaded to soundcloud) and the text, to create my content for the week. She created the blog post, featured image and uploaded to WordPress and then scheduled for promotion.
I now had content in two different mediums on two different platforms, content for my newsletter, tweetables and more.
And all I had to do was record a 3-minute audio on my phone. Great right!
Now if I combine it with batching and record a minimum of 4 at a time, I have my content for a month sorted right there.
ACTION: What workflows can you create that play to your strengths and will help you hit your 20% tasks.
So there you have it! My top 8 productivity hacks to help you get more done in your business alongside your 9-5. Which one will you look to implement?
By Chichi Eruchalu
Chichi Eruchalu is a Business Coach and Income Strategist for women ready to break free from their 9-5 and turn their passion into a profitable business.
She teaches you how to create and scale your business alongside your 9-5, develop systems to grow your income without sacrificing all your time and uncover the blocks that are keeping you hidden and playing small.
The life and business you want is available to you, it’s time to let go of the excuses and create your own roadmap for success.
You can find her over at chichieruchalu.com where you can download her list of favourite tools and templates to help you run your online business.