Why You Need to Track Your Time

I’m sure it’s something that you’ve heard time and again -- if you work for yourself, you need to track your time. But why is that so important? Even if you don’t work with clients, or have to turn in timesheets to anyone, tracking your time can give you valuable information and help you see where things aren’t going how you might think they are.

SEE WHERE YOUR TIME IS (ACTUALLY) GOING

I’m willing to bet that you probably think you know where your time is going when you’re working from home (or from a coffeeshop, or a coworking space). But do you actually know?
 
When you track your time, you’re able to actually see where your day is going and what you’re doing. So if you think that you’re only spending an hour on writing your blog posts, but it’s actually taking three? Then you know that your time isn’t being spent in the way you think it is.
 
And when you know where your time is actually going, you can determine if it’s being spent wisely. Which allows you to start creating new habits around how you’re using your time that will allow you to be more efficient and productive.
 
Which leads me into the next point, which is that you can...

DETERMINE INEFFICIENT HABITS

So now that you know where your time is going, you can see if the things you’re doing with it are efficient or not efficient. And if they aren’t efficient, there’s a 99% chance that means you’re not being as productive as you could be.
 
Now, I don’t say that to say you need to be productive all the time. But if you’re working 12-16 hour days (which is something that is unfortunately a normal experience when you work for yourself), you want to make sure that you are maximizing your productivity when you are working.
 
Let’s take checking your email, for example. If you’re like most creative business owners, you have your inbox open at all times in your browser. (I’m totally guilty of this, too!)
 
And you think you’re spending maybe an hour each day in your inbox, but when you track your time you realize that you’re actually spending four hours in your inbox -- but that time is spread over 10-15 minute chunks throughout your day, so it doesn’t feel like that much time.
 
But really, spending four hours a day on email is not an efficient use of your time. So now that you see what your current habits are, you can start to introduce new ones -- maybe you check your email for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, and close out of your email the rest of the day.

 

LEARN WHAT YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIMES ARE

So you’ve been tracking your time (ideally for a period of at least 30 days so you can see the patterns emerge) and you’ve determined your inefficient time habits. Now, you’re all ready to start scheduling your day in a more efficient way.
 
What you can do now is look back over the past 30 days and see when you were the most productive. What times of day did you get a ton of things done? When were you dragging your feet, or not on top of your game at all?
 
This will allow you to learn what your personal productivity “golden hours” are, and start creating your new schedule around that. 
 
So if you know that you are insanely productive between 10a and 2p, but from 2p to 4p you are not ever getting your best work done, you can schedule all your meetings from 2-4p and never schedule a meeting between 10a-2p. 
 
Doing this means that you are protecting the times of day that you know are the most productive for you, and you’re still able to schedule in everything else that you need to do around those times.

How To Create A Branded Google Doc Template

If you’re anything like me, you’re sending a Google Doc to at least one person every day that you work. Google Docs are convenient, easy to use, and easy to share with your clients, team members, collaborators, etc. But sometimes they can look a little boring, and not quite as professional as they could.
 
That’s why I’m showing you how quick and easy it is to inject your brand into your Google Docs! In about five minutes you can have a fully branded Google Doc template that takes your Docs to the next level by adding in your logo, your brand colors, and your brand fonts.

Wasn’t that stupid simple? And now for the best part -- you never have to worry about adding your brand styling to your Google Docs again. 
 
Every Google Doc you create from now on will be fully branded, but you’ll never have to think about setting it up ever again. Talk about a win-win! 
 
Are you going to create a branded Google Doc template for your business? Let me know in the comments!

Why You Should Revisit Your Systems in the Summer

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For most creative online business owners, summer is a slower time. Sales slow, people go on vacations, and people work less. But did you know that the summer is also the perfect time to tune-up your business systems?

YOU HAVE TIME TO EVALUATE WHAT WORKED IN YOUR BUSY SEASON

While it can be an exciting idea to keep going and be busy every month of the year (okay, well maybe only 10 months out of the year), having a slower season in the summer gives you time to really step back and reflect on what happened during your busy season.
 
This space and time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t will allow you to make tweaks now that will help you in your next busy season. 

YOU CAN TEST OUT NEW SYSTEMS BEFORE YOU GET BUSY AGAIN

Once you’ve evaluated what worked for you and what didn’t, it’s time to make some tweaks to your systems! When you do this in the summer, you’re able to see if they help or hinder you without feeling the panic of having to re-evaluate the tweak when you’re at your busiest.
 
So take advantage of the summer to try new things! See how they feel for you, if your clients and customers like the new systems you put in place, and really have the space to experiment before things pick up again.
 
But if you’re like most creative business owners, figuring out what worked and what didn’t (as well as what things to start tweaking) might seem like an insurmountable task. 
 
That’s why I’m offering Summer Systems Check-Ups! Give me one week to dive into your business, and I’ll send you a full report with action steps. Click the image below to get started!

Simple Ways to Automate Your Client Workflow

When you get your client workflow figured out, there are things you’ll realize that can be done either by your software, and that you don’t have to do everything yourself. By automating parts of your client workflow, you’ll free yourself up to actually show up and do the work for your clients in a better way, instead of spending all of your time in the administrative side of your business.

But figuring out what can be automated often feels like a mystery -- you know it can happen, but you’re not sure exactly what to do or how to set it up. That’s why I want to share some of my favorite tricks for automating your client workflow!

SEND AN AUTOMATIC EMAIL WHEN SOMEONE APPLIES FOR A DISCOVERY CALL

When someone applies for a discovery call with you, or inquires about a service, the last thing you want to do is make them wait to talk with you.

If you use a service like 17Hats, which lets you embed their lead capture forms on your website, you can send a confirmation email. But did you know that you can actually customize what that email says?

You have two options of what you can put into the automatically delivered email:

Option 1: Thank them for filling in the application and let them know that you’ll review their application and reach out to schedule a quick 20-minute call if it’s a good fit.

Option 2: Thank them for filling in the application and sending them a link to your scheduling software of choice (I love using Acuity for scheduling all of my meetings!)

Either way you decide to go, you’re instantly letting your potential client know that you have received their information and they have clear expectations of when they will hear from or talk to you.

SEND YOUR PROPOSAL, CONTRACT, AND INVOICE AT THE SAME TIME

This is one of the reasons why I loooove using 17Hats for my client management software! After you have your discovery call with your potential client, and you know that you want to work with them, you can actually send everything at the same time.

So you send the proposal outlining what you’ll do for them. Then, if they accept it, they will be automatically presented with the contract to sign and their invoice to pay.

That means that you don’t have to remember if you sent those documents to them, and you’re making the process so much easier on both you and your client. 

UTILIZE AUTOMATIC REMINDERS FOR SCHEDULED CALLS/MEETINGS

You schedule a meeting with a client, or a call, but then suddenly it’s the day of and it’s ten minutes after your call was supposed to start and both of you forgot. (I can’t be the only one who’s had this happen, can I?!) 

If you use Acuity to schedule your calls (which I highly, highly recommend!) then you have access to a snazzy feature - and your new best friend - called reminder emails.

You can pre-write these emails ahead of time, link to different types of calls, and set them to go out at pre-determined intervals. I like to send a reminder email 24 hours before a call, and then one more an hour before the call time. In Acuity, you can have these go to both you and the person who you’re having the call with, so neither of you forget!

BONUS TIP: If you use Zoom to host your calls, you can actually put your personal room link in the reminder email so your client has it right away! No more last minute “I don’t know where to go” email exchanges ;) 

That way your meeting remains top of mind, everyone knows where to go, and nobody forgets that you had a call scheduled!

SCHEDULE YOUR FOLLOW-UP EMAILS AS SOON AS THE PROJECT WRAPS UP

After you finish working with a client, I believe that you should be sending them three follow-up emails. Click here to find out what should go in those emails and when you should be sending them!

But sometimes it can be hard to remember who gets which email when, which is why I recommend scheduling them as soon as you send the final invoice and/or deliverables. You can easily do this using a free service like Streak or Boomerang, which both work inside of Gmail.

You should already have your offboarding emails saved as canned responses (click here to find out why!), so all you’ll have to do is select the canned response, add your personal touches, and then schedule the email! Now there’s no way you’ll forget, and you can sit back knowing that everything is taken care of.

Did you find any of these tips helpful? Let me know which one you’re going to start implementing in the comments!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. I only recommend products that I use and love. Thank you for your support!