Like many online entrepreneurs, I started my blog and freelance writing business on the side of my day job. At first, I only wrote posts for my own website, but eventually I added several freelance blogging clients.
When my business was brand new, I came home from my 9-5 job and spent approximately 2 hours working. Today, I easily work until midnight every night after having a quick dinner, and weekends are something of the past.
It sounds like a lot of work, but the truth is when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. I always thought that quote sounded cheesy until I experienced it for myself.
Writing about personal finance is a huge passion of mine. I could sit for hours and blog and not even realize it. That’s how I knew I had to continue to work hard so I could blog full time.
Because I am still working from 9-5 during the week, I have to use my time wisely. If I’m being honest, it’s a pretty big challenge.
The Biggest Distractions When Working Online
Below are some of my biggest distractions and how I combat them.
1. Social Media Accounts
I, Cat Alford, am a social media addict. It doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or my biggest weakness, Pinterest. I love them all.
Pinterest is a deep abyss, people. Not only is it full of shiny things, but most items link to a blog post, and we’ve already established how much I love blogs.
Solution: Use social media as a reward.
Because I enjoy browsing social media channels so much, I use it as a reward. I even ask my husband to change my Facebook password when I am particularly busy, so I can look forward to signing on when I finish my work. (Like I said, it’s a sickness.)
I also have several favorite design blogs that I block until I finish my work. Because they are outside of my niche, reading them is a hobby I enjoy, but I can only do it if I’ve submitted every post that’s due for the day!
2. Email Inbox
As my blog and business have grown, so has my inbox. I struggle with feeling as if I need to reply to all of my messages instantly.
I have this paranoid idea that if I take two hours instead of two minutes to answer a client they won’t want to work with me anymore. I know this isn’t true, but I want my business to work so badly, I sometimes place unrealistic standards on myself.
Solution: Designate certain times to answer e-mails.
Carrie is the first person who gave me this advice, and I admit, I am still working on it.
Scheduling certain times during the day to answer e-mails helps to cut down on distractions and the constant pings of a new e-mail hitting your inbox.
I find I have to actually log out of my e-mail to remind myself I’m not supposed to be there. So, when I type in “gmail” out of habit (and it is a nasty habit), I see the login screen and remember it’s not time to check it just yet.
For me, one of the easiest ways to procrastinate is cleaning. I tell myself I can’t possibly write if there are dishes in the sink and dog hair on the floor.
Then I lie and tell myself that cleaning would be much more fun if there was a TV show playing in the background. Two hours later, and I’m beating myself up for wasting so much time.
Obviously, the house has to be clean, but it should never take two hours.
Solution: Clean for 15 minutes every day.
I do a 15 minute clean up every night. I put things back where they belong, swiffer the floors and call it a night. These small 15 minutes spurts don’t take up too much of my time, and they help keep everything in order.
Solutions to Maximize Your Time
In addition to cutting out distractions, here are a few more habits I am trying to implement to manage my time wisely, in prep for the self-employment leap.
1. Waking Up Early
I’ve never been a morning person but I’m trying. I was waking up at 6:00 A.M. everyday to write, but found I was not productive at all.
What I eventually realized is, my mornings should be reserved for answering comments and e-mails, not trying to come up with clever blog topics and great content.
Essentially, I complete the tasks that don’t require too much brain power in the morning so I can utilize my productive hours for writing.
2. Knowing When to Quit
It might sound counter-intuitive to say “knowing when to quit” is part of my plan to manage my time wisely, but sometimes I push myself too hard.
Most people who have side businesses do the same. Sometimes, I stay up a little too late trying to finish one more task, and I’m so tired the next day I can’t get anything done.
I’ve realized the most important part of managing time wisely is knowing when to pull pack and allow yourself to rest. It’s not easy to do when you want something to work so badly, but it’s necessary to preserve your sanity.
3. Saying No to Others
It’s hard for me to say “no” both in my professional and personal life. I always want to make others happy, but sometimes it comes at a cost to myself. I’ve realized I’m in a unique situation.
Not everyone is trying to build a business on the side of their day job, and not everyone knows what it takes. So, when I have to turn down a dinner invitation or politely decline a girls night, I do.
As an extreme introvert, it’s easier and more enjoyable for me to stay inside and work than go out to a party. However, I try to strike a balance so that I can maintain my friendships and still achieve my goals at the same time.
As evidenced, time management is a big hurdle when it comes to self-employment. Not only is it easy to get distracted, but it’s hard to know what to prioritize.
I definitely know my weaknesses when it comes to time management, and I’m working hard on streamlining my work so I can be more efficient.
Do you have any advice for time management? How do you balance your busy self-employed schedule?