I heard from many of you that you really need help shutting your work off and spending time with friends, family, or just doing personal things. I am here to tell you that it is not easy. The good news is that it means that you really love what you do, or that you are super busy with a booming business. Now, if you are super busy with a booming business then it is time for you to think about hiring a person or a service to do some things to free up some of your time. This might mean getting a housekeeper, bookkeeper/accountant, someone to help with shipping, or even hiring a company to take over some of your online presence and social networking. However, if financially you just can't bring yourself to hire someone or your busy but your sales aren't busy, then you need to get real about what you are doing and how much time you are spending on it.
It could be that you are spending a lot of time avoiding the things that you should be doing, and indulging in the freedom that you are giving yourself. So, if you are the boss, would you hire yourself? Are you being a good employee? If not, then you really are going to have to step things up and take your business seriously. Playtime is over, and it is time to get to work ... so that you can have playtime later!!
It could also be that you are spending a lot of time doing a lot of things that really don't have a big or meaningful impact on your business. Lots of social networking activities and sites are a great way to meet up with people and find a lot of information, but you need to make sure these things are bringing value to your business for the time that you spend doing them. If you think this is the case, then try to evaluate them using the following matrix.
You really want to avoid the things that fall in the lots of time/little impact. These are things that you spend a lot of time doing, but you really don't have any measurable results from doing them. You also want to be careful with the things that are little time/little impact - these things can add up to be a big time suck. All of those 5 minute activities add up to hours at the end of a week, and you can lose valuable time without knowing it. Your focus should be on the things that have a big impact on your business, and you want to make sure that the things that fall into the little time/big impact are incorporated into your daily routine. The items that fall into your lots of time/big impact can be increased and reduced to control your workflow - so you would do them more when you aren't very busy, and do them less when you are very busy.
I wish that I could tell you what these things are or will be for you, but unfortunately these are all different for each person and each business. This is when it comes down to who and what you know. Some sellers spend an enormous amount of time making treasuries on Etsy, and that translates into big sales and big exposure, others spend enormous amounts of time making treasuries but the results are only lots of exposure but not so many sales. There are also sellers that have the same experiences with twitter, facebook, blogging, etc. So, you really need to be honest with yourself and your business about what things you are doing that are worth your time doing them.
In my own business the little time/big impact items are purchasing ads on blogs. I spend time each month looking for blogs to advertise on, and when I purchase ads I don't always get sales, but through experimentation I have been able to find blogs that work for me and my business. So, basically this activity has moved around in my matrix so that now it is in the best category. The activity that I find to be the lots of time/big impact is creating and listing new things. This is the one activity that I if I give up my business slows down and if I spend more time on it my business picks up.
All other activities fall into the low impact areas on the matrix - All facebooking, tweeting, blogging, etc have fallen into these areas. Now, I have not stopped doing these things completely as I think they are important for my business presence, but I do not put them at the top of the list of things I need to do in a day. These are fillers that I do when I have a few extra minutes during the day, when I have coffee in the morning, or when it is rainy outside and I don't have other things going on.
I have also recently found a good way of incorporating these social internet sites into the other business and social activities that I enjoy doing. I have recently discovered some business minded groups on twitter that have a bi-weekly meeting and I try to attend that meeting. This activity keeps me on track with my business, I meet great folks on twitter when I am there, and I am also being active on twitter for social networking time. All of that in 1 hour twice a month! Groups like this are also popping up on facebook and other social networking sites. Consider talking to groups you are already involved in and see if you can take some of your chatting to a social internet site so that you can essentially accomplish two things at one time - a nice chat with friends as well as maintaining that social network presence.
Once you have done the matrix exercise and really identified the things that are big impact items and little impact items, try to re-focus your workday. Make sure you are doing those big impact items, and don't put so much importance on the little impact items. Leave work at an appropriate time and remember to do some of those big impact items in your personal life! Also remember, that just because you love your business doesn't mean that the people you love, love your business. Making time for yourself, friends and family does have a positive impact on your business, and prevents that dreaded thing called BURN OUT.
Next week I will be talking about expectations from a time management perspective.