We are about halfway through the summer. Are you doing anything special during your summer vacation? I fit in a mini-family reunion and spent time at our home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I also took a sketching and watercolor class.
Even with those fun elements, I still kept up a busy work schedule. One of the things I’ve tried to work on for the last few years is working smarter and using my time more efficiently. The key to that is knowing how I am working currently. Here are some tips I have been using to put the sizzle back in my creative arts business.
Track how you spend your time.
At the end of each day and at the end of each week compare the percentage of your time used toward fulfilling your mission and achieving your goals with time spent elsewhere. It is easy to get sidetracked and not pay attention to the task at hand. It is also easy to do the effortless work and not really tackle what you should be getting done.
That doesn’t mean that you need to spend all of your time working on your business goals. After all, we need to be well-rounded individuals and feel fulfilled in all areas of our lives.
It just means you need to be aware of where your time goes. This is particularly important if you feel that you are not making progress towards your goals.
Set your priorities for each day
Select your three top goals for the day and work to complete those goals.
I like to set the goals the night before, so I start the day knowing what I’m doing. I’ve heard that if you do this, your brain also works on them subconsciously while you sleep.
If you are clear about what you want to accomplish, it is easier to say no to something that comes up that does not fit into your schedule. Having the priorities, aka your to-do list, keeps you more focused on the end result.
Keep your goals in front of you
Keep a copy of your mission and goals where you can see them.
I like to start the day with reading my mission and goals, and I keep a copy of them by my desk. This reinforcement helps keep you on track.
If you keep the end in mind, it is easier to keep distractions at bay. And, when you do get distracted, I think it is easier to get back on course.
Say no more.
Learn to say “no” more often. And remember no is a complete sentence.
If you have problems with this one, here’s a link to a blog post I wrote on this topic. For me, it is remembering that the person who asked is just looking for an answer. If I say no, she moves onto the next person on her list.
Don’t be held hostage to messages
You do not need to respond to everything immediately. Just because someone connects with you via phone, messenger, text or through email or social media, it doesn’t mean that you must stop what you are doing and answer. You need to set your agenda, not let others set it.
On your phone, use Caller ID and/or let your answering machine take a message. Today it seems most of the calls that come in are from telemarketers. You can allot a certain amount of time at the end of the day to return any calls that require your attention.
You can use the same approach with email by setting aside times of day to answer the messages.
With texting, people expect that you will respond rather quickly, so you have to let them know ahead of time that you don’t always respond immediately. I tried to find an app that would do this for you through your phone, only they all required action on your part with a third party app.
Limit time on social media
Connecting through social media is important to grow your business. It can also be big time vampire.
Try setting aside a set amount of time each day, say 30 minutes, to check on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, etc., and then stay off the sites the rest of the day. I actually like to save Pinterest and Instagram for after work because it is so easy to get lost in it.
Since we are talking about summer
Since you are likely to fit in more family and fun time into the summer, take advantage of the season. Look for ways to be inspired with your art. Add in a gallery or museum visit. Take a class. Share your art with others to inspire them. You and your art will reap the benefits.
It’s your turn!
Do you have a few tips on how to work smarter that you can use this summer?