Do you feel like it’s impossible to do everything on your small business to-do list? You find yourself working 24/7, yet your list is not getting any shorter? I’ve been there! It is so easy for us creative women to take on all the projects that we are so passionate about, that sometimes we forget how much time it will actually require. Juggling all the small business tasks can leave us feeling overwhelmed, stressed and possibly even burned out! Today I am going to share with you five tips that helped me to get out of that stage and I hope it will help you to get out of it too!
1. Plan & prioritize your “to-do” list the night before
I know, I know, you need to do it all. But also you know that you can’t do it all in one day. As a busy small business owner, I know our “to-do” list is always never-ending. But I learnt that some tasks are more important than others, if we want to grow our small business to the point, where we don’t have to work 24/7 anymore. I understand that spending hours creating seasonal shop banner or scrolling on TikTok for new project ideas is fun, but I also know that it’s really not going to help to get more customers or grow the business. Prioritizing tasks that are actually generating results is the only way to move to “the next level”.
Here is how I do it: The night before, I write down the top 3 things I have to do the next day and prioritize what is the most important & what the end result should be. I also estimate how much time I will spend on this task, so I don’t let my creativity take over a day and not accomplish what I need.
Here is an example of the “top 3” daily priority plan:
- Make orders (8 am – 2 pm) – have orders ready for shipment
- Plan for the fall collection – create fall mood boards & write list of 10 product ideas I’d like to make (2-4 pm)
- Plan social media – write down the list of posts I will need to post to market my business in the next 2 weeks. Schedule recording Reels for tomorrow. (1 hour)
2. Create processes that will save you time in the long term
Are there tasks you find yourself doing over and over on a weekly, or maybe even a daily basis? Whether it is posting on social media, taking photos for your small business or making orders, think of repetitive tasks and brainstorm if you could create a system for it that will save you time in the long term. It may include downloading new software, apps, upgrading your equipment or even re-organizing your craft space if your current workflow is inefficient. One of my favourite time-saving systems in my business is planning my social media in advance. It not only allows me to stay consistent & share posts that are aligned with my small business goals, but it also saves me hours every week from trying to come up with last-minute posts.
If you’d like to know how to start planning your social media in advance, download my free social media planning guide below:
3. Learn to say NO
We all know, we should say NO more often, especially when we are already stretched for time, yet we still struggle with it. I know this, because I was the queen of taking an unlimited amount of custom orders. Of course, it was great, I always had a lot of orders to make, but I also found myself making custom orders 24/7 without having time to do anything else that would actually help me to scale my business. Once I learnt to say no and started to take a limited number of custom projects, I was able to create products and collections which required less of my time – which ultimately lead to diversifying my income streams, scaling my business & having more free time for myself and my husband.
I know, it’s hard to say NO, but remember if you say NO to something, it always means you can say YES to something more important. Not every order is worth your time, and not every project that sounds like fun is actually going to be worth pursuing, especially if it is going to distract you from the other things that you really need to do.
4. Be aware of shiny objects syndrome
I would not call this one particularly a hack, but this syndrome is often stealing our precious time and since I struggled with it myself, it’s important to bring it up! Chances are that you are struggling with this too and don’t even know about it. If you are constantly taking on new projects, you might be dealing with a shiny objects syndrome! I think every creative woman will come through this stage at some point, but if we let it run its course, it can really take up a lot of time and hurt our business.
What is shiny objects syndrome? According to Wikipedia’s definition, it’s “the situation where people focus all attention on something that is new, current or trendy, yet drops this as soon as something new takes its place”. Especially for creative souls always seeking for inspiraion, it is very easy to get distracted with all fun shiny project ideas out there. If you are a true crafter, chances are that those creative project ideas are born in your head night and day! The symptom could be a closet full of unfinished, or “not-even-started projects” and the urge to always buy something when you go to Michaels or your local craft store. (Talking from my own experience – still got a cabinet full of crafts I started 7 years ago)
Guilty of this? You are in the right place – below is what helped me to control my creative urges and I think it can help you to stay focused too:
When you have an urge to start a new project, ask yourself:
- Is this project contributing to my small business goals or should I do it on Sunday afternoon as a fun activity instead?
- How much time, money and effort is this project going to require and is it going to take me away from what I really need to do now for my small business?
- Is this a distraction, because I struggle with my small business and it’s easier to shift my attention to something exciting?
- Lastly, if you run yourself through these questions and your project sounds like a good idea, instead of impulsively starting to work on it, write it down. I have a list of “project ideas” and get to them once I have more time. Don’t let those projects take away from the things that you really need to do in order to grow your business now (like focusing on marketing or understanding your ideal customer).
5. Get into habit of doing “your time inventory” monthly
Time goes by so quickly. You know when October hits, and you think to yourself – “How is it almost the end of the year?” I hate it when months go by and I feel like I am stuck in a gerbil wheel. Taking a few hours at the end of the month to pause and look back, not only changed my business but also transformed my life! Sometimes the way we do things just takes too much time. Taking a moment to evaluate where did you spend your time this month, can help you cut out a lot of unnecessary tasks that are just keeping you busy, but not really bringing results for your business. You may even realize that it’s time to hire help, start ordering your cards instead of printing them out at home or upgrade equipment for the “next level machine” that will save you more time, so you can sell more products in less time and even have some time left for yourself!
Wow, that was a lot more than I originally planned to write, but as a burnout survivor, I could talk for hours about how much time I wasted since I started my small business on all the little things that no one cared about besides me! I see other small business owners being stuck in that “busy stage”, not taking time for self-care and burning out to the point that they are not even enjoying that small business they were so passionate about anymore. If that is you, know that you are not alone and this stage will pass when you start saying no, so you can say more YESES to the things that light your soul & business on fire. If you’d like to chat more about this, you can find me on Instagram at @smallbizbabescommunity. I’d love to hear from you.
Good luck & talk soon,