I know it. You know it. One of the biggest struggles as a content entrepreneur is time management. It’s even tougher for a solopreneur than when you have a team behind you to help.
However, two of the most important parts of the lifestyle content entrepreneurs value are their freedom and flexible schedule. As we all know, this independence comes with a price – the ability to get it all done and focus on your business.
Content entrepreneurs often start by doing what they love – creating content. The rub here is that as time goes on and you build your business, the time spent on content creation is less and less. This can be frustrating to many content creators and can lead to burnout and sometimes even failure. It becomes extremely important to figure out how to better manage your time before that happens.
Here are some tips divided into four categories to help:
- Create a plan and set a schedule
- Batch your tasks and find your productive time
- Limit distractions
- Determine where your time is best spent and delegate
Create a plan and set a schedule
As the classic song Turn! Turn! Turn! tells us, “To everything, there is a season … a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to create content and a time to run your content business.”
OK, so maybe that last part isn’t in there, but the sentiment cannot be more on point. The most important thing you can do to help your time management as a creator is to create a plan, set a schedule, and stick to it. You need to recognize that to create a successful content business, and you have to dedicate time to running the business as well as creating the content.#TimeManagement Tips for Creators: Make a plan, set a schedule, and stick to it, says @MarcMaxhimer. #ContentEntrepreneur #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet
Now we know this is easier than done, and sticking to it does not mean scheduling every minute of every day. However, a few elements are a must in regards to your plan and schedule:
- Create a content calendar, so you know when topics are going to be covered and the timeline for creating them. This alone can save you time and relieve stress. Every great content entrepreneur knows what’s planned to be published in the next two weeks and has a great idea of what will be published in the next two months.
- Budget your time for your content business. Do you need to create content 50% of the time to keep consistency in your content? Then do it. However, keep in mind that the average content entrepreneur spends only about 30% to 40% of their time on content creation. The rest is spent running and growing the business.
- Create a schedule for the week. This schedule should align with your content calendar. It should also include time to complete business activities to keep your content business running.
- Plan your day according to the freedom and independence you want as a content creator. Need to drop the kids off at school? Then plan to check emails, catch up on Twitter, read your newsletters, and finish other smaller tasks that can be completed in short bursts during this time. Save your more focused content for later in the day when you have long uninterrupted stretches of time.
- Create to-accomplish lists. Use it each day. In fact, writing it the day before can be a great mind dump. Prioritize the items into urgent, important, and not important. This organization ensures you focus your attention to get the most important items done the next day.
- Use tools and technology to help with your scheduling and content calendar. It can be something as easy (and free), such as Google Sheets and Google Calendar, Calendly, or TidyCal.
Batch tasks and find your productive time
To be the most productive, a great strategy is to batch your tasks. Batching is the process of doing all like tasks in the same block of time, so you aren’t constantly interrupting your workflow.
The benefits of batching your task are endless. The most obvious is that you can get into a groove. When you are writing, you are writing. You don’t have to stop to send an invoice or find a photo.Batch your tasks. When you write, you write. Don't stop to find a photo or send an invoice, says @MarcMaxhimer. #ContentBusiness #TimeManagement Click To Tweet
For example, an online course creator’s batch work might look like this:
- Monday: Write scripts for all the first module lessons.
- Tuesday: Finish module scripts.
- Wednesday: Edit and proofread scripts; find images; create presentations.
- Thursday: Record all lessons.
- Friday: Begin post-production and editing.
If you can’t dedicate a day to a single batch, consider doing multiple batches in a day:
- 8 to 10 a.m.: Work marketing-related tasks.
- 10 a.m. to noon: Write the next podcast script.
- 1 to 3 p.m.: Reach out and return emails to potential guests.
- 3 to 5 p.m.: Read and post to social media accounts.
Batching your tasks makes more sense and saves time as you don’t stop and start, stop and start. You can focus on the task at hand, knowing the other tasks already are scheduled to get done later.
Getting distracted is THE biggest enemy of time management and productivity. It is so easy to waste time scrolling on Twitter, swiping on Instagram, or just trying to beat that last level on your game. There is a time and place for your time wasters, but you must set boundaries to limit these distractions. It can be especially difficult when you are researching new content as the possibility to dive down the rabbit hole looms large.
A great first step is to track all interruptions for a couple of days or even an entire week. You will soon discover your most-interrupted times of the day. Use that to set your do-not-disturb times so that you can focus more intently on the task at hand.Set do-not-disturb times during your day to focus more intently on a task, advises @MarcMaxhimer. #CreatorEconomy #ContentBusiness Click To Tweet
Setting do-not-disturb periods can take many forms. It can be tough and even painful, but turn off email and social media notifications. In the age of connectedness, it can feel like you are missing out, but your audience will appreciate the content created during this uninterrupted time. (If you want to explain, publish a post or set up your out-of-office email to let them know what you are doing and when you will return.)
Additionally, determine your best work environment to limit disruptive distractions, which certainly affect your time management. When writing, many people prefer complete silence while others need soft music or background noise. Whatever your preference, it is crucial to set up the right work environment for the do-not-disturb times each day. Your productivity will increase, your stress level will decrease, and your audience (and content business) will benefit.
Many great tools exist to help you limit distractions and keep yourself on track with your work. Tomato Timer uses the Pomodoro technique – settings timer for 25 minutes to focus exclusively on a task followed by a five-minute break. Tomato Timer even offers competitions to motivate you. Three other great tools are Cold Turkey, Freedom, and StayFocusd (a Chrome extension).
Each takes away the time and frustration of blocking apps and turning off notifications every time you want to block out distractions. By making it easier, these tools make it more likely that you will follow through and use these strategies.
Determine where your time is best spent and delegate
We all have tasks that we just don’t like to do – like dishes, laundry, or mowing the grass, and the same is true in content businesses. There are tasks you love, tasks at which you excel, and tasks you have to do even if you don’t love or excel at them.
This doesn’t have to be a time management issue. As your business grows and revenue begins to roll in, ask yourself what you could give up and what you could delegate. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to go out and hire full-time employees, but as Morgan Timm says, “Even paying $75/week to have someone schedule your social media for you can free time that you need to expand your business.”As your business brings in revenue, ask what tasks you could outsource to let you spend your time on more valuable tasks, says @MarcMaxhimer. #ContentBusiness Click To Tweet
We created this three-step evaluation to help you figure out what you are good at and love to do vs. what you aren’t good at or don’t like to do. Make sure to include both your content creation tasks as well business-related tasks. This way, you can see all the tasks required to run your content business.
- What am I good at? What do I like to do?
- What am I not good at? What do I not like to do?
- Given those answers, what’s my strategy? How will I outsource?
When evaluating whether outsourcing makes sense, consider the time savings for you. Also, recognize that outsourcing doesn’t necessarily mean contracting with a human. Consider any type of AI programs or applications to automate tasks that take up valuable time, such as social media scheduling or setting up meetings. Anything that saves you hours each week is well worth the money to make your business successful.
Time is of the essence
We know being a successful content entrepreneur is not easy. It takes hard work and dedication in addition to your creativity. But often, we feel behind, like we are always running out of time.
The phrase “time is of the essence” could not be more true. You have deadlines to hit, consistency in publishing to worry about as well as all the other business tasks that needed to be done yesterday. Thus, time management strategies become imperative to alleviate this pressure and maximize your productivity. By implementing these strategies individually or together, you can save time and effort while increasing your productivity to gain some valuable freedom.
About the author
Marc Maxhimer is the director of growth and partnerships at The Tilt. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and mathematics education and a master’s degree in educational administration. He previously taught middle school for 16 years. Marc lives in (and loves all things) Cleveland with his wife, two daughters, and dog.