outsourcing

Making More Time For Life Outside of Your Business

Last week we touched on a topic that was a personal to me, but I think important for other business owners to read about: setting boundaries and sticking up for yourself in your business. Building off that topic and idea, I wanted to move into how you can make time for your life and activities outside of your business (even if you feel like you are working 25/8).

This time last year I was at the beginning of a downward spiral business-wise and if I am being completely transparent with you, some of those feeling seep in from time to time – so I totally understand why last summer happened.

Here’s the thing – I am a summer lover to the extreme and living in Charleston fills my heart with joy. The days are already longer, warmer, and just calling me to be outside, be with friends, go on bike rides, lay out a the beach, etc.  Last year I let myself do that – and lost track of my business, put myself into stress mode, and ended up burning out because of weird schedules and making up for my summer fun. In an effort to avoid any of those sorts of mishaps from now on, I’ve made a lot of changes (which if you follow the blog, I’m sure you’ve gathered at this point).

But here we are, my favorite time of the year drawing close and days like today I find myself staring out the window and longing to be outside in the sun. But, luckily, this year I’ve got a few things as my disposal to make sure I don’t fall into the same traps as last year and still maintain my business WHILE having time for fun and a life.


AUTOMATE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

I know you hear this one a lot, but having things run smoothly with little to no effort is key for work/life balance. Invest in systems and/or people that can take things that you dislike, don’t have time for, or can’t do and free up your time to focus on your business (and have fun).

Hiring out a team is a super scary venture and I get how that can be something you want to put off. Even if you do decide that you’re not ready for a team, you can still save yourself hours by investing in software or programs that take work off your plate. My favorites are SmarterQueue and Tailwind – between the two of those most of my social media is taken care of.

You can also automate things like auto-responder emails that help you feel less anxious about needing to answer an email immediately. Something that ends up being a big distraction to me is getting an email with a quick ask (something that will take me less than 15 minutes) so I stop and do it really quick. Though it seems like a quick and innocent action, it reality that sort of multitasking actually throws a wrench in my overall productivity – so instead of sitting and having my inbox in my face all day, auto-responders can alleviate that feeling of needing to check it constantly.

Similarly, it helps me not feel anxious when I do get an email to my phone while I am not working. I still might peruse the subject and sender, but I don’t feel like I need to stop what I am doing (i.e. something not work related) to answer right away.


WORK AHEAD WHEN THE OPTION PRESENTS ITSELF

This is something that I love to do. I do keep a pretty regimented schedule of what I am accessible to clients, but I don’t mind sometimes working into the evenings if I feel particularly motivated. My partner has a sporadic schedule sometimes, and most of my 9-5er friends aren’t super active during the week, so on a Tuesday night you might find me parked in front of a Tiny House Hunters marathon or you might find me working ahead.

What do I mean working ahead? Well, I make a weekly to do list on Monday and then each morning sit and pull the top 3 tasks from it that I want to work on that day. But sometimes, if I decide I feel like working, I’ll go ahead and knock some more things off that to do list.

I’ll be honest, it’s always the most fun things I decide to work on – making cute icons or creating a workbook – but regardless, it gets crossed off the to do list and opens up more time later in the week for me to relax, take a half day, or just feel less stressed.

So I know the point of this post was making time for your life, and you’re probably thinking “wow, working at night, what a life” but for me it clears up more time so that when there’s something I really want to do (go on the boat, etc.) I have already created space in my schedule for it!


SCHEDULE DAYS OFF, HALF DAYS, OR SUMMER FRIDAYS

Another important thing I do is actually pre-schedule days I will take off or take a half-day. Maybe I know that the weather is going to be perfect and my boyfriend is going to have the afternoon open on a Thursday, so I’ll schedule a half day that day and make sure I get my work done accordingly around that.

I guess this exists in a traditional 9-5, so I’m just carrying over habits, but it’s a lot easier because no one is really going to be able to tell you “no” right?! I also have toyed with the idea of scheduling Summer Fridays this year, and stopping working around noon or 1pm on Fridays. I haven’t fully decided, but I think that’s an idea worth exploring. I know a lot of larger businesses do that and I think establishing myself as that type of business owner early on is a great idea.


DON’T OVERCOMMIT

The biggest favor you can do yourself is not overcommitting you time. This is hard, especially when you start getting lots of inquiries and clients. It’s such an exciting feeling – but you have to be realistic with what you can actually do and accomplish. When I started really getting a lot of clients over the past few months, I had to stop and decide just how many hours a week was I a) willing to work on client work and b) actually able to work on client work. I landed around 25 hours/week of client work would be my maximum and have worked hard to keep it around that figure.

Overcommitting is easy to do – you don’t want to disappoint people, the money seems great, etc. But what will happen, in reality, is that your work will suffer and clients wont have as good of experiences, which overall will be much worse for your business. If you haven’t already worked out exactly how many clients you can take on (or how many hours of work you can do), I highly recommend doing that math.

"Overcommitting yourself is a slippery slope - be honest with how much you can do in a week." [tweet that!]

Overall, I’ll say that in my experience having a work/life balance is essential to not getting burned out – but focusing on the fact that regardless, the work needs to get done, is important too. I’ve been focusing on creating ways to make that happen that don’t feel like I am sacrificing “fun time” or “me time”  and that has seemed to work best so far!



creative entrepreneur

I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!


SmarterQueue: The New Tool That Is Saving Me Hours On Social Media

SmarterQueue is a social media scheduling tool that works fantastically well for people like me - busy creative entpreneurs. I’ve gone back and forth between different social media scheduling programs for a while. I kept finding issues with one or another that would frustrate me and make me want to jump ship. Either it was too expensive, or it didn’t have recycling posts, or I thought the interface was annoying to use. I actually stopped using any program for a while because I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to stick with.

About that time I started hearing whispers of SmarterQueue and I’ll be honest the first time I logged in my initial thoughts were, “uh uh. I am not learning another one of these things just to be disappointed.”

But then one Monday morning I sat there and did it, I set up the whole schedule and everything and then I just let it run its course for the free trial period. I didn’t even think about it (or my Twitter or Facebook accounts at all).

Well, spoiler alert, the trial period won me over. It made me see the light. I’m a convert.

Here’s why you need SmarterQueue in your arsenal (trust me on this one).


CREATE A SCHEDULE + CATEGORIES

Something that I love about SmarterQueue is that it’s very much a ‘set and forget’ approach (quite possibly my favorite approach to anything). The initial set up involves creating a schedule for posts based on categories. My categories include “my own blog posts”, “self-promotion”, “other articles”, “inspiration”, “questions”, and “tips”. How the scheduler works is that you designate that at whatever time and day you want it will send one of the categories to post.

Then you take time to a fit content into those categories (which I’ll touch on next). But that’s it – SmarterQueue filters what content appears at what time based on your schedule and your categories. The schedule stays consistent but the content varies depending on what you put in and the best part is it recycles (but more on that later).

The set up honestly took me about an hour the first time. Which might seem long, until you realize you NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN. Like it’s just done. Forever. What used to take hours each week is just done. Plus, I truly had no idea what I was doing on initial set up (I'm one of those 'read directions after I'm frustrated' kind of gals), BUT had I read a post like this one I would’ve been able to do initial set up in even less time (so keep reading!).


ADDING NEW POSTS

Adding new posts into each category is simple. They have a drop down to ‘add content’ and you can either write a new one (which I did for the tips and the questions and the inspiration categories) or pull from a RSS Feed (which I did for my own posts and other blogger’s articles).

They also have the option to repost your best content (and it’ll pull from way before you started using SmarterQueue) and the coolest one – “find content” where you can literally type in someone’s username, name, etc. and find their content and related content.

It’s so easy to support other people this way and you don’t have to worry about scrolling through Twitter to find a good tweet to repost, you can search for influencers or peers you trust and repost them directly in SmarterQueue.

Oh, you already have Twitter lists created for that? Cool. Just search the name of your Twitter list and pull that up directly in SmarterQueue to pull from. It’s amazing. I wasn’t lying.

The best part of all of this is that it seamlessly shortens links for you and pulls relevant photos, so your Facebook posts always look formatted correctly and your Twitter posts always have graphics attached (which convert better).


RECYCLE POSTS (FOR HOWEVER LONG)

In the area where you are ‘writing’ a post, you’ll notice near the bottom the question “would you like this post to expire?” which really should say “do you want to make your life easier?”

Because guess what!? You can just recycle posts that you know will always be relevant (like questions that might provoke interest in your services or your own content). So I usually leave the option for posts to re-queue if I know they’ll be relevant forever in my Twitter feed (plus SmarterQueue won’t let the same post show up to close together, so no worries about back to back posting of the same exact content).

There’s also the option to have the post expire after a set number of posts (so maybe you only want to share someone else’s same content like 4-5 times, and then delete it from the schedule) OR the option to stop posting it after a certain date (which would be useful for a launch or promotion that ends).

That’s part of the ‘set and forget’ concept that I love so much. I started with probably 20 posts of other people’s content that I will always want to share and know will be relevant and useful, so I left them to never expire. Then I’ll occasionally go in and add a new post (if I’m excited about someone’s post, or featured in their post especially) randomly, to make sure it stays fresh and relevant. That process takes me about 2 minutes when I randomly think to do it (probably once a week).

"Want to 'set and forget' your #socialmedia? This is how!" [tweet that!]


ANALYTICS

I’ll be honest, I’m not great at tracking numbers in my business (which I know is just terrible of me), but if you are an analytics person SmarterQueue delivers weekly updates straight to your inbox and also has a robust analytics section in your account.

In the analytics you can study which type (category) of post is performing best, which is getting the most likes or clicks or other engagement, what time is performing best, etc.

I won’t pretend to be an expert at analytics, to me engagement and interaction with people has always held precedence over straight numbers – but it is nice to get a weekly report showing numbers increasing, clicks increasing, and followers increasing – especially when I’m honestly not doing that much (if anything) to make it happen!


NOT BREAKING THE BANK (+ AFFILIATE PROGRAM)

Here’s the best thing I’ve found – SmarterQueue is super affordable and also has a customizable package option, so depending on if you need 4 accounts linked or 40 accounts linked, you can make the package fit your needs (and not overpay for services you don’t need).

I also admire any company with an affiliate program. Regardless, if I like something enough I am going to share it with you. But, it’s nice to be rewarded for wanting to shout from the rooftops about a new program or software that is benefiting you and your business. Plus, I like when affiliate programs offer more of an incentive – SmarterQueue gives you a free 30 day trial (versus 14 day trial) when you click through my (or someone else’s) affiliate link (which are all through this article, just a heads-up)!

Ready to learn more about SmarterQueue? I’m doing a Facebook live this afternoon at 2pm EST. I’d love for you to hop into our group and hang out, plus see #BTS of my SmarterQueue account and ask any questions about set up, using, etc.!

Every link to SmarterQueue in this post is totally an affiliate link, but I promise you this: I'm legit obsessed. Hop onto my FB live, I'll show you how #obsessed I am!



SmarterQueue social media scheduling account post

I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!