10 Ways to Improve Your Business in Less Than Ten Minutes
I’m a mama too, I get it: some days you feel like your work and projects are just looming over you all day long through running errands, preparing snacks and meals for the pickiest of eaters, and picking up the toys over and over and over. I hate those days where all I can think of is the running list of to-dos in my head and I can’t do anything about it, because my focus needs to be on my children, at least until naptime or bedtime. For these days, I feel grateful for any spare minute, but often the projects I have on my list are bigger than the time I have available. So I started to think of ways to break down the big projects, or to tackle things that COULD be done in a spare minute, and it makes all the difference on busy days where I can’t catch a break.
Today, I wanted to share some concrete ideas for things you can be doing while your kids are eating, or when their focus is on their movie for longer than two seconds, just to get you that much closer to crossing items off your to-do list, even though you’re not in “work mode”. Some of these things might have to be modified to fit your unique schedule, side hustle, or motherhood situation (i.e. do you only have a six-month-old, or are you managing a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and all the nausea from your first trimester of a current pregnancy?). Take these with a grain of salt and apply them to your current season of life, and hopefully this will offer a bit of relief and get you a step ahead when you do get to your designated “work time”.
1 | Answer emails on your phone.
If you’re like me, you want to prioritize the way you spend your work time to do the most important, money-making aspects of your business first whenever you sit down to work. When I sit down at my computer, I likely have a million things I’m thinking of doing with this work time, and answering emails can really eat up that time, which is frustrating for me because actually writing email replies is not making me money directly.
I’m working on limited time here, and the goal is to make money with the side hustle, so I like to do things like answering emails on my phone while I’m with my kids, or riding in the car with my husband driving, so that when it does get down to the time set aside to work, my time is freed up to spend on other things.
2 | Engage on social media accounts.
This is another thing I never do during “work time” because I can easily spend hours scrolling through Instagram or replying to tags on Facebook. These replies and likes and other interactions are really easy to just quickly hop on and do while I’m waiting by the toilet for my kid to poop, or, as mentioned before, while I’m riding in the car or while my kids are invested in a show or a toy.
This is also a task that is easily catered and prioritized based on your time. Have twenty minutes? Respond to comments with thoughtful engagement for each individual commenter. Only have one minute? Double-tap to let your audience know you saw their reply or support, and move on to other tasks.
3 | Write down your to-do list.
If you’re not a “remember it in your head” kind of person, then lists are your jam. I have a notebook on my nightstand and I literally write up probably three or four to-do lists every week, rewriting them when I’ve accomplished a majority of the tasks and feel like I need a fresh start. I cannot remember anything for the life of me, so lists and notebooks like this are a necessity for me.
If you’ve got a spare minute, simply outline the tasks you need to work on as you think of them throughout the day, and then cross out the ones that don’t need to be done immediately, by you, or at all. When it comes time to putting the kids down and starting on your to-do list, you’ll be grateful for the focus and prioritization of your time, so you can jump right into things instead of trying to remember what it is you thought of around lunchtime that you should work on first tonight.
4 | Follow up with unpaid invoices and retainers.
This is another time-eater (not time-waster, because it leads to more income, but it definitely can take over my work time during busy periods when I’d rather spend that time working on other things). All it takes (if you have all the necessary apps and documents on your phone) is a couple seconds to look up the recent invoices you’ve sent out, and shoot off a quick email reminding them of due dates, deadlines, or asking if they have any questions about the retainer or how to pay.
5 | Sign up for Planoly.
If you don’t already have a scheduling app like this, you need to get one. Signing up for the free version of Planoly is as simple as downloading the app and signing in with your Instagram account. I wouldn’t hesitate to bet that you could have a brand new free account with a post scheduled for the next day or two within ten minutes, easy. And the next ten minutes you get, schedule out two more posts. And later that evening, schedule out three or four more. In less than half an hour of time spread out over the short breaks in your day, you’ve got a full week of social posts waiting in your queue, ready to post.
6 | Catch up with your budget.
I’m pretty attentive to what’s going on in my business bank account, and I’ve got a whole budget spreadsheet that I update several times a week, so assuming I have a chance to pull out my computer without my kids getting too interested in the buttons and keyboard, I’ll spend a free ten minutes or so updating and balancing my budget.
Not only does having a budget save me on the daily, but it keeps me reminded of the goal here. I’m not going to all this effort to market and grow this business just for something to do. I have plenty to do; this side hustle is here for me to develop my creative passions and turn them into a productive use of time by establish some sort of income for my family. Maintaining a budget keeps that goal front of mind and allows me to see how I’m doing as I balance out the expenses and income each week.
7 | Shower/Make the bed/Clean up around the house.
These don’t really sound like business-oriented tasks, but honestly, these are the things I HATE doing during nap-time or after the kids go down because they take away from the time I can spend doing the more crucial, income-producing aspects of my business. Ideally, when the kids go down, I can jump right into my to-do list for the day. If there are dishes to be loaded and toys to be picked up, that totally kills my motivation and drive, personally.
I usually clean up dishes when my husband gets home from work and is spending time with the boys, and I’ll use bath-time at night to quickly run around and pick up the big toys (or the multi-piece toy collections - I’m looking at you Thomas the Train Minis). Once I say good night and shut their bedroom door, I’m free to get ahead in business things because I don’t need to worry about those other important things that need to be done, like showering or laundry. It doesn’t bode well for me or my family when those things get pushed off a few days.
8 | Take a few product photos.
You’ll never be sorry for taking plenty of photos of your work, because you’ll never run out of places to share them. It’s one of the most frustrating feelings to realize that you want a new photo for social media, or for your website, or for a promotional flyer you’re creating, and to just not feel satisfied that the photos you have on hand adequately portray your best work.
You don’t need more than 5-10 minutes to run around the house to grab a couple cute things for a flat lay and to photograph a few of your products on a white tablecloth or unique floor texture somewhere with good lighting. Try placing them on a serving tray or wood cutting board in front of a big kitchen window, or on the hardwood floor in front of your living room bay window. This shouldn’t steal more than ten minutes of your time, but you’ll be so grateful when you next sit down to schedule a social media post or two.
Related: Simple Tips for Beautiful Flat Lays
9 | Follow up with past clients.
It’s so much cheaper to keep an existing client than to try to win a new one. Everyone knows that, or at least you do now. Consider sparing a few minutes to follow up with a client to see how they’re loving your work, or just to see how they’re doing. This doesn’t need to be the end goal, but you might even get a new online review or product-in-use photo out of this that you can then share online! Plus, it boosts your client experience.
10 | Research task batching, and reorganize how you spend your time.
As a stay-at-home, side hustlin’ mama, your time is valuable; you know that. Anytime you sit down to work, you should be doing it purposefully and efficiently, or else this little side business is a waste of your time. My all-time favorite recommendation is to BATCH. YOUR. TASKS. Batching your work means that you do all of the same type of tasks at once, even if they’re for different projects. For example, instead of creating a proposal, sending it off, creating a template for a new project, and then repeating that process several times for all the new incoming projects, I’ll spend half an hour all in the same program creating each of the proposals. Then, I’ll open my email and start separate drafts to each client and send all the proposals off at the same time. And then, I’ll open up the program I’m working in for their design projects and create templates for each project.
Another batching strategy I find helpful in scheduling social posts specifically is to create a rotation of topics and then write all the captions for certain topics individually, instead of in an order based on the date they’ll be published. For example, I’ll gather 5 or 6 recent logo designs and write captions describing each project all at once. Then I’ll create 3 or 4 quote graphics and write those captions. And then I’ll gather 6-8 photos of myself or my family and write captions about motherhood, living purposefully, or my reasons for side hustling. Segmenting my time in this way allows me to be more focused and efficient than if I were writing a caption for a family photo, and then scheduling it for next Tuesday, and then working a quote design and scheduling it out for next Thursday, and then moving on to other posts.
If you have a few minutes to spare and you’re interested in changing your client and business processes to be a little more efficient, then do some research on time-blocking tips and task batching and write out some ways you can prioritize your work time. Give it a few days and see how you like it working in that manner. I never regret batching my tasks in this way because for me and how I think, it’s 1,000% more effective than doing things individually as I was before.
I hope you find these tips helpful, and I’d love some feedback if you have any other things to add to this list!
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