Posts tagged time management
Elizabeth Stone: Finding work life balance as an entrepreneur or small business owner
Hub Digital and Elizabeth Stone talk life as an entrepreneur or small business owner.
Elizabeth Stone talks about how to find work/live balance as an entrepreneur.

Elizabeth Stone is an entrepreneur and business woman passionate about making a positive impact by pointing her businesses towards social enterprising. She is a Rhode Island native with about ten years of experience working with small businesses and people to help them grow and flourish. She is deeply involved in the Rhode Island community and regularly volunteers her time to nonprofits around the region. This year she won the overall award for the Rhode Island Business Plan competition with BI Medical. She has also started BioSci Labs, an incubator, and coworking space. BioSci Labs helps to develop innovative technologies into commercially recognizable products ready to be brought to market. She has started Pepper's Closet, a social enterprise committed to spreading ocean literacy and cleanup effort through custom crafted apparel. Pepper's Closet donates 10 percent of all profits to conservation and cleanup efforts. 

As an entrepreneur and small business owner I understand just how hard it can be to find a reasonable work-life balance. Between meetings, actually doing work, networking, teaching classes and all the administrative tasks associated with running a business, how can there be time for our family and ourselves. 

First off, to be an entrepreneur, you need to love what you do because it certainly won't be easy. I really put my heart and soul into the projects that I start and if I weren’t passionate about them, I would get burned out really fast. Right now my main projects are BioSci Labs  and Pepper’s Closet. Bringing innovative products to market to improve healthcare and helping to improve the ocean - what’s not to love? As much as I do love my job, finding a work-life balance is paramount. I am a better and more creative worker and a more patient and supportive wife/momma when I can find the right balance. I am far from perfect but here are a few tips and tricks that have helped me balance business and pleasure.

Here are five things that help me:

  1. Time Management - Set attainable goals. In a world were productivity is so often defined as multitasking, sometimes you have to focus on a single task and complete one action item. I like to start out my day with a fast item that I can complete to get myself on a role. As much as I like to answer emails while on conference calls, sometimes its better to shut my phone off, minimize the emails, and get just one thing all the way done.
  2. Scheduling – This goes hand I hand with time management. My Google calendar is my BEST FRIEND! I schedule everything - work outs, play dates, dates with my husband, work meetings, swim lesson, music class, etc. Planning my week ahead allows me to find help on the days I need it whether it’s from my brother, husband, mom or friends. Owning my own business gives me the freedom and flexibility to take my daughter to swim and music class during the day, but in return I am usually working nights after she goes to bed. Like the old saying goes, 'owning your own business means you get to pick which 80 hours a week you work.' 
  3. Communication - Being honest with yourself and others about what you can and can’t do. Do not be afraid to say no or ask for help. It is far better to be honest and say no instead of making commitments you end up shirking… or handing in projects way past the deadline. This one is especially difficult for me because I am always trying to please everyone.
  4. Outsourcing & Delegating - I outsource and delegate as many tasks as I reasonably can, both at home and work. As a small business owner this is sometimes very hard to do. It is important to let go of complete control of doing it yourself and trust others with tasks. I use Sunbasket and Amazon in lieu of grocery store and Target runs (though somehow I still find myself wandering around target). I share household tasks with my husband and daughter. Lately, I’ve been thinking about strapping Swiffer pads to Pepper’s feet while she runs around the house! Go, Pepper, Go!
  5. Self care- There will always be more work to do. It is important to take time for yourself every day, even if its only 30 min a day. My outlet is exercise.  A walk during lunch (leave your phone off), yoga in the morning, a run after work. We all have 30 min a day we can dedicate to ourselves. 

No matter how hard I try and schedule and plan sometimes things don’t go the way I want (especially with a toddler), so my advice to myself and everyone else is LET IT GO and go with the flow.

If you’d like to learn more about our friend and mompreneur, check out some of her other guest blogs: 

The Mompreneur Guide to Globetrotting With a Toddler

The Mompreneur Guide to Eating Healthy on the Go

The Mompreneur Guide to End of Summer Fun and Getting Back to School Ready

Kristin MacRae: 8 Tips to Organize Your Business
8 tips to organizing your small business in Rhode Island.

Whether you’re starting a home based business, a start-up, or you’re already established, you need to read this article.  If you’re disorganized, you’re going to create more work for yourself and you aren’t going to work at your fullest potential.  In order to maintain organization in your office, you’ll need to have systems in place for processing day to day functions.  

Here are 8 systems you’ll need:  

Process your mail. Many people have difficulty with paper management. Most have difficulty setting up and following through with a system.  I can’t stress this enough: Process your mail every day.  As soon as you touch it, either file it, attach to your to- do list to take care of during the week, shred it or handle it right away. It will be easier to take 5 minutes and tackle it when it arrives than to spend hours on it at the end of the month.

Process your email.  Create categorized folders. Have a process to handle an email as soon as you open it. Treat it just as you would treat your physical mail. Decide whether to send it to a folder, trash it, act on it, or print it and attach it to your to-do list. 

Work with a to-do list. Keep a daily to-do list. Make a to-do list every night before you leave work. You’ll know exactly what you need to do when you arrive to work the next day. This process will keep you on track with your day. Clear the mental clutter by getting things out of your head and onto paper. The less clutter you’re carrying around in your mind, the better. 

Filing systems.  Without filings systems, piles will form and chaos will ensue. If you need to locate an important paper, you should be able to locate it in less than 10 seconds. Keep files that you utilize on a daily basis close to you. Files that you use less frequently, you can keep in another area of the office. I’ve seen many important business deals that fell through, found significant sums of money and very important documents in piles of papers on desks because business owners didn’t have filing systems in place. 

Keep track of your bills. If you’re receiving bills through the mail, create a system where the bills aren’t lying around on your desk buried under papers. Incorporate due dates into your calendar to remind you to pay and file immediately after you pay them. 

Business cards. Every business owner I work with has issues with business cards.  You must develop a system to file your business cards. Whether it is through electronics or good old rolodex, or a binder with clear card inserts, you must have a system. Be realistic, how often do you refer to them? 

Workspace.  Have a place for everything at your desk. Only keep items you use on a daily basis on your desk top.  Have an organized pile that you need to work on the next day with your to-do list on top of the pile. Try to avoid having a corkboard at your desk with too much information pinned to it. Less is more. Utilize drawer organizers and organizing supplies to keep you organized. 

Time management.  Be as efficient and productive as you can be. If you’re a disorganized person, you have to get organized in order to have great time management skills. Take a look at your physical space, get organized and then you’ll realize that your time management skills may fall into place. Look at the way you function. I’m always trying to find an easier way to do something. How long does it take you to complete a task? Can you take it from 8 steps to 4?

Just because your fellow business owners have a smooth system that works for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Evaluate how you function and create a system that works for you. The more complicated the system, the more likely it is to failure. Keep the system simple and streamlined. Many offices I work with have made attempts at getting organized, but the systems have failed and a new attempt at another system was never made. Once you create a system, re-visit the system in a couple of months and tweak what isn’t working to make it work better for you.

Kristin M. MacRae, Organizing & Efficiency Expert, Owner, Organizing In RI, LLC

The busy girl's guide to time management

So I am officially the worst at time management. Take a look at this blog - The last one I wrote was 6 months ago! Between planning a wedding (that is yes, in 3 weeks!) and managing a new, very large and very demanding client, I've let my blog, email and social media fall to the wayside. I am officially the cobbler with holes in her shoes. I preach to my clients all day about the importance of staying on top of their digital presence and here I am letting 6 months go by without even so much as a "Hey" to all those hundreds (or tens?) of people who actually take the time to read my content. So here it is! A new blog post. I can't promise I'll update this regularly moving forward, especially with a nice relaxing Honeymoon around the corner, but I'm going to try harder. The first step is managing my schedule better, and making sure I set aside time every week to focus on my business. How am I going to do this? Well, I'm here to share my "secrets" on how I plan to get shit done.

1. Getting my ass out of bed in the morning. I have a nasty habit of taking my work home with me. On any given weeknight you can find me with a computer on my lap, "Say Yes to the Dress" on in the background and a fiance who gets more attention from the dog than me. After multiple nights of 1 am bedtimes, that 7am alarm begins to be pretty meaningless to me. No more! I am making the commitment to shut down at night, and head to bed a reasonable hour (do I sound like my Grandma right now?). On the rare occasion when I actually can get in front of my computer by 7:30am, I find myself knocking out client invoices, balancing budgets, updating Facebook pages and writing blogs all before my first cup of coffee. By 10am I'm out the door and pretty much unreachable for the rest of the day. Having those 2 hours in the morning will help me focus and power through all that "admin" work that easily gets pushed off as the day goes on.

2. Ignoring calls I don't know or plan on having. Ok I pretty much do this already. If I don't have your number in my phone, you can pretty much guarantee I won't pick it up. However, if you leave me a voicemail I have this compulsive urge to listen to it immediately (I can't stand having unread notifications on my phone) and call you back ASAP. What usually ends up happening is I stop whatever I'm doing to follow up on that call (or email for that matter), and waste an hour not doing what was originally on my schedule - which by the way is still sitting there not finished. I'm officially going to let that little red dot in the bottom left sit there (it's ok OCD, just breathe through it) and will finish what I was working on BEFORE I call you back.

3. I will focus on one thing at a time. Oh those wonderful Google Chrome tabs. At anytime I will usually have Facebook, LinkedIn, 2 emails, Google and at least 3 other websites up. Because of all this noise, I find myself writing half a blog (I just did it with this one!) then jumping off to check updates, post to a client page or respond to a new email. Because I'm doing things so disjointed, it takes me twice as long to get each task done. Goodbye wonderful little tabs. I will miss you!

4. Ok Amy, just suck it up! This one is going to be the hardest. Sometimes I just don't feel like doing stuff. Too bad! We all have to do things we don't want to do sometimes. If I can stop myself from eating ice cream at night (and just so you know, I usually can at least 4 times a week, which is a big win for me) you can shut off Real Housewives for 30 minutes and write a blog post. This is what we have DVR for.

Ok so there you have it. They may not be rocket science, and they may not be as lofty as some time management "experts" may suggest, but these steps are probably (hopefully?) going to work for me. I'm not going to start using some kind of time management program, and I'm not going to realistically be able to "schedule in time to reply to emails". But I am going to do my best, and maybe this will inspire you to start making your own small changes to start getting more stuff done.