Over the past few years, I have been so grateful to have the opportunity to maintain and balance a BUSY full-time job and a side passion that has now become a business, without going crazy. Have I had late nights, stress fits and moments where I questioned what the hell I’m doing? Absolutely. It’s all apart of pushing yourself to that place that you aspire to be. Keep going and you’ll quickly be there, looking back on the ride. Now that I have gotten to a place of a consistent workflow, my hope in writing this is to provide tips that increase your productivity, quality of content and provide hope, guidance and inspiration to anyone looking to turn a passion into a source of income. Enjoy!
1. Define Your Purpose
I wrote about this in a post geared towards those looking to become/grow their influencer/creator accounts (read here), but the same premise applies to all. Start by sitting down and define your purpose/ why behind the services or content you’re creating. Why is this important? It will make everything you do moving forward easier as you can ask yourself if it aligns with your vision/mission. You’re able to save time evaluating ideas and opportunities. If it doesn’t align, it doesn’t serve you or your audience well. Define your audience and category to help craft your focus. For me, it’s:
- Affordable Home Decor
- Styling Tips & DIY
- Casual, Simple Style Inspiration
- Overall Happy Lifestyle
- Interior E-Design & Styling
- Branding & Design
- Content Creation
From there, I developed my mission of providing attainable, simple style for the happy home & brands that work.
Again, I can’t stress enough how much this will actually help you. You’ll find that you’re no longer reaching for straws when it comes to opportunities & thinking of new content, but knowing exactly what is the right fit to be worth your time and get you excited.
2. Prioritize Your Full Time Job…Most of the Time
Your full time job is your consistent source of income, so it absolutely comes first. If a task or meeting pops up, of course take it over anything else. However, when it comes to YOUR priorities and to-do list, sometimes it’s not the #1 priority and that is normal. It’s just like your personal life – you balance your mental and physical health, friends/family and other interests. This is an added priority that you need to work into the mix. Work isn’t everything and your employer should understand that. As long as you know that your full-time comes first and you honor those commitments, be flexible with your schedule. More on that below!
3. Create a Timed, Prioritized Schedule
This is my #1 tip! It may sound so obvious – make a task list, right? However, just a list doesn’t cut it. At the end of each day, make a list of everything you want to get done in the next. Then, put time estimates to each. Reorder the list by priority and the level of effort – meaning, figure out if it just makes sense to knock out that 15 min task first while balancing a 11am deadline. Be sure include meetings and breaks, then assign time slots. Doing this changed my entire approach and overall happiness. It makes you not only less stressed but focused, preventing you from wasting time scrolling on IG wondering what is next. On the flip side, allows you to avoid burnout by putting in break times for meals, workouts, etc. and ensuring you aren’t putting too much on your plate before you commit – more on that below.
4. Set Realistic Deadlines & Over Communicate Them
Now that you’ve got a better handle on your workload and schedule, you’re able to set realistic deadlines across your commitments and clients. I am a people pleaser so I understand the struggle, but you need to look out for yourself when committing to deadlines. Ask yourself, does this balance my time, health/happiness and financial gain? Does doing so in X amount of days balance all of that? Once you feel confident in your delivery date, clearly communicate that they can expect X in X days, at the absolute latest. Share clear milestones ahead of time and you’ll rarely get questions. It’s certainly better to set a milestone expectation (ex: this phase typically takes 2 weeks) and deliver days early, than just plain late.
Wondering how to best determine deadlines? See the next tip!
5. Document Level of Effort
Whether you’re starting out or years into your business, it’s equally important to document how long it takes you to complete all tasks that go into it. Document your process and hours spent to better scope and sell, as well as develop shortcuts over time. This also reduces stress and doubt by knowing ahead of time that a type of task can easily be knocked out or if you really need to block a set of hours to be heads down.
TLDR; keeping track of your time increases profitability and happiness.
6. Plan Ahead
Now that you understand a few approaches and methodology, you’re able to plan ahead. Utilize Free Tools for task management, note taking and general organization. Here is a list of everything I use, most are free!
Asana: This task management platform is so helpful to scheduling content or deliverables. You can get as detailed as you like. For me, I create my entire month’s content calendar weeks before it begins and create sub-tasks of items that fit within it. If you’re looking for more Asana tips, please reach out to me via email or Instagram message!
Evernote: This is where I create my daily to do list and keep track of other ongoing items. It’s a free, intuitive tool that you can access on all devices to make and share lists.
Google Suite: I use docs and sheets to share content, blog post outlines, etc. with brands and templates for documents shared with clients. I also use sheets to organize finances.
WordPress: This is a content management platform that my blog is made on. I use Siteground for hosting. If you are looking for more information or help creating a website – I can help. Learn more and inquire here.
Unfold: This is how I create all of my Instagram story templates. There is a free version!
Adobe Photoshop: I edit photos, create Pinterest and Blog graphics, my design boards, and more using this cloud software.
Airdrop: This is a huge time saver for me. I constantly airdrop my graphics and photos between my laptop and mobile to reduce storage and duplicative images.
Google Drive: I house all of my photos and graphics here, organized by project and month.
Camera: I utilize a DSLR camera here and my iPhone for all photos.
This is more for creators, but batch creating is a huge time saver. Not only do you knock out many assets at once, but it’s only one time that you have to get dressed and/or clean as well. I batch shoot and write posts on the weekend for a few hours to get ahead vs. an hour or two a night each day.
7. Invest in Yourself
Be a step ahead when it comes to your brand. The last thing you want is to be ready to go after that big client or make that big idea and there is something that is holding you back. Whether its buying a nicer piece of equipment or learning a new skill, trust me – it will be worth it when it comes to launching yourself into that next phase.
Invest in Branding
This is something a lot of people gloss over that will pay off in the long run. At the same time, you do not need to go overboard. Knowing your why, visualize your account and create an aesthetic to project that, consistently. Whether its a quick typeface or if you hire someone to create a suite of branding, this is important. You may grow quickly and need to have everything ready to go to look as legit as you are. From consistent typography, color palette and language – this is something I can help with, so please reach out to me if you are looking for affordable branding! You can learn all about my services here.
8. Give Yourself Grace
Lastly, just take a deep breathe and cut yourself some slack and give grace. No one became successful by already knowing everything. You have to start somewhere, you have to be uncomfortable before becoming uncomfortable, you have to just put.it.out.there. Try things out, see what people think. Don’t paralyze your creativity and success because of fear. Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.