Sometimes people wonder how to find or make time for themselves… or their business tasks.
People like Tat, a friend I met through MyBlogU, even have went so far as to ask me how I manage to do it all, in a comment left for me on the post called From blog commenting and community building to podcasts radio shows and beyond.
This prompted her to include my thoughts in her post called How do you plan for the New Year?
Tat wrote, “Hi Max, you’re doing an amazing job grabbing and creating all these opportunities, and thank you for sharing. Maybe, in one of your next posts you could share how you manage to find time for it all?”
This simple comment and question got me to thinking about some of the strategies I use, so, I will thank Tat for asking it by giving her an honest answer and sharing it with you.
I hope you get some good out of my thoughts on this subject, as I’ve discovered that there are at least 7 tested tips for finding and making time for yourself and your business tasks.
Thoughts on Time Management and My Responsibilities
I sat down to think about the whole idea of time management. I thought about the methods I use to get things done. I also thought about what are the causes for me not getting things done. I asked myself if my situation was even typical enough to be an example to others struggling with how to fit it all in.
First, let’s look at my life. This way you will know if there are any fair comparisons you can draw from it.
I live in a house with my mom, Patricia, my youngest brother, Patrick, his teenage son, Seth, and our crazy dog, Penny. I don’t have a wife, girlfriend, or children. My primary job of amusement equipment broker is done from home, so I don’t have a long commute to and from work, or work responsibilities that have to be met prior to working on my websites or blogs.
I am not asked to or expected to help with housework. When it comes to cleaning, my responsibility is staying out of their way and distracting Penny. My part of the shopping extends to helping make out the list. I also offer suggestions on what we will have to eat. While I could help with the cooking, I am happy not to have to. I don’t drive, so I also don’t have to take anyone to doctors’ appointments or do the shopping mentioned above.
A lot of my time is freed up because I don’t have these responsibilities.
My Actual Responsibilities?
I have two websites, one for the selling of amusement equipment, and the other for offering coaching. I was advised against having multiple sites, and if it weren’t for the fact that both sites are so different from each other; I wouldn’t have done it. This also means two blogs and at least the hope of recording two types of videos. And that doesn’t include my new hobby of singing! (You can download some of the songs here.)
Then there’s all the stuff that goes into running an online business.
For The Midway Marketplace (the amusement equipment selling site), my responsibilities include:
- recruiting listings
- writing descriptions
- writing blog posts
- editing photos
- uploading media
- sharing to social media
- writing the email newsletter.
For The Blind Blogger (my coaching site), my responsibilities include:
- coming up with blog topics
- researching them
- writing the posts
- editing my work
- promoting the posts
- writing the email newsletter
In addition, I’m very active on social media.
- write guest posts
- get engaged in forum conversations
- participate in interviews, podcast and radio show appearances, etc.
And I know I am leaving some stuff out. 😉
Like most of you, I also deal with a daily barrage of email — much of it spam — or at least not helpful to the cause of building a business, generating income, and making a living to support my family.
The Big Goal and the Conclusions I Reached
After all, this is the goal: We all work so hard in hopes of not having to work so hard.
I hear that a lot from fellow bloggers.
The conclusion I came to is that you can’t do it all. No one can. As active as I appear to be, I am not doing it all either. I think it would be very healthy for all of us to admit this up-front and save ourselves a lot of heartache and disappointment.
I think my approach is a good one.
It stems from my Number One belief to do what I can today and do more or do it better tomorrow. This way I accept that I can’t do it all but still expect myself to always strive to try to do more. It’s similar to the idea that perfection is unattainable… but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it.
For example, at the time I am writing this post, I have published two posts on this blog this year — and one of them was a guest post from Lorraine Reguly on the benefits of being blind. I have had one post on The Midway Marketplace. I have also recorded some videos and uploaded me singing some of my favorite songs. I have been interviewed for a top magazine article and done several radio shows. And these all took time away from blogging. They also took time away from reading my friends’ blogs, leaving comments, sharing posts, and maintaining my blogging community.
In addition, I had some more minor health problems. My CPAP (my breathing machine) stopped working properly about four months ago. I had to have a new sleep study done before they could reset the machine. I also had to have dental surgery to remove a cracked, dead tooth. These also took time away. But more importantly, the CPAP machine affected my sleep and caused a lack of energy that has only recently started to correct itself now that I am sleeping better.
We Need To Make Better Choices
The point I am trying to make is we all have choices to make. What we choose to invest our time in today means there is something we have to let go of until tomorrow. The hard part is deciding what is most important to you.
Trust me, this is a hard thing to do, mainly because things that see urgent or seem to require your immediate attention may not be as important as you think.
1. Stop Taking Phone Calls
For example, many people cannot not NOT answer their cell phone when it rings. They are more than willing to stop whatever it is they are doing and answer it. This is not always wise, because distractions lead to unproductivity!
I don’t have a smartphone, but what I do have is a phone smart enough to announce the number of the caller so I can decide how much I need to answer that call at the time it comes in. And if I am in the middle of a project, then I often turn my phone off all together. I make the choice to spend my time wisely, uninterrupted.
2. Cut Out the Email-Checking
Some people think answering their email as soon as new ones come in is a necessity. I will admit to checking mine first thing in the morning. The question is: How often do you check it the rest of the day? Like a lot of people, I have my email set to check every so often. But after considering this problem, I have decided to reset the time delay to allow me to focus on other things more clearly. I may even close my mail program down just to avoid the temptation.
And on the subject of email I’m thinking of going old school. When business people all used phones just for talking, many of them had a second line that was only given out to certain people whose call absolutely had to be answered when that person called. I’m thinking of adding a new email address and only give it out to clients. That way checking it shouldn’t distract me from the usually more important tasks.
3. Alter You Social Media Subscriptions
Of course, this may conflict with how I manage social media. As a blind person sites like Facebook and Twitter aren’t always the most fun to use. So, I have my social media accounts set up to send email notifications. This keeps me off of my time line or feed pages and helps avoid me being distracted by entertaining but not really important goings on online.
I hear you can minimize this temptation by creating lists of people who you want to see the activity of, but to me this still seems risky. As much fun as it may be to follow the Kardashians or Taylor Swift, etc., it is not productive.
I have unsubscribed from several groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. And I’ve reduced the email alerts on some groups that I am still in. I have also stopped using some sites because they have either become more difficult to use with speech or I have realized that they are no longer providing value to me. The ones that come to mind are MySpace, Merchant Circle, and Flickr.
4. Get Quality Rest
To be more productive, some people will suggest getting less sleep, and working early in the morning or late at night. This can give you some extra time to devote to your business, but it can also have negative effects on your health. As a sufferer of sleep apnea, I know just how dangerous it can be not to get the proper amount of sleep. It can even put you off your game if you aren’t getting quality rest.
5. Enjoy Your Leisure Time
I do all my work from a laptop, and sometimes I work while watching TV, listening to my radio, or reading a audio book. However, this means that I am not truly enjoying the book, show, or movie that I should be, because I am multi-tasking.
So, I have started picking things that I enjoy enough to leave my laptop off. For example, I turn it off while watching Jeopardy. I also turn it off when reading an audio book or listening to old-time radio shows. Penny has even gotten to the point that I believe she knows which shows are not laptop shows because she seems to appear for petting then!
6. Maximize Your Exercise Time
When exercising, I always listen to an audio book. I prefer biographies, autobiographies, and personal development titles. I either ride my stationary bike or walk on a treadmill. I refer to the bicycle as the bike that doesn’t go anywhere. I set the timer on the digital book player for 30 minutes so I know I’m going to get at least one half hour a day of exercise and edification.
7. Accept and Even Pay for Assistance
Now, I should mention that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish all I do manage without a lot of help from my friends.
For example, Lorraine (from Wording Well) was hired to edit my ebook, Leading You Out of the Darkness Into the Light, and she helps out on my blog by updating pages and editing blog posts for me. I also sometimes pay her to edit my blog posts (like this one, for example), and believe she is worth every penny.
Fabrizio Van Marciano recently reviewed my ebook. Through our meeting, he offered to redesign my coaching website. I will also be paying for this service. You’ll notice that my site has been improved already with a modified menu and brand-new header image.
Friends don’t always do work for free, but they do often help out without charging or offer me a reduced rate. Lorraine gave me a great deal when she helped me publish my book in print through CreateSpace. Plus, I motivated her to finish readying her own book. In her post, How A Blind Man Helped Me Make Risky Issues AVAILABLE in PRINT, Lorraine mentions the many steps involved in the self-publishing process plus some of the problems we encountered along the way. It was also great to hear that I inspired her, too. 😉
Then there are friends like Harleena Singh, Mi Muba, Enstine Muki, Angela McCall, Sylviane Nuccio, Eve Koivula, Derrick Hayes, John Owens, Lenie Hokansson and many others who read my posts regularly and share my content on social media sites. (Thank you all for being so kind!)
And then there are people like Adrienne Smith, Robin Hallett, and Farnoosh Brock who do their part by encouraging me to keep going. They have inspired me to go after bigger dreams and to see the potential inside me even if sometimes they have had to convince me of it.
I have also been fortunate to have other bloggers reach out to me and offer guest post opportunities or ask to interview me for their sites. I have been mentioned in round-up posts. Several contacted me after I commented on their posts to ask questions or offer asssistance. And so many people will wonder about me if they don’t see me online for a few days.
Accept that You Cannot Do It All
Back to my main point. Even if all you had to do is run an online business, you still couldn’t do it all every day. Mainly because of the sheer volume of the work. That plus if you have time you tend to fill it. Think about it. Have you ever seen an empty clothes closet, CD carrying container, briefcase, or purse?
We tend to spend what we have whether that is time or money. I hope that those few who have spare time are spending it on themselves or their families.
I know it can feel like, as a whole, that us bloggers and other online business owners are working far much harder than we planned on going into this. So be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Accept your situation. Move forward, one step at a time. Give yourself permission to not accomplish everything every day.
I start out my day with the goal of doing one thing that will move me forward. I may do far more than one. And quite often I have to do that one thing repeatedly. But that’s my goal.
I know that writing more posts means reading fewer blogs or not pitching radio shows. I know that sharing one post on all the social media sites I’m on means having to reply to comments both on Facebook or Twitter and on my blog. So sharing on social media means less time for chasing new clients. Recording videos can reach a lot of people, but they take time, planning, and sometimes even rehearsing.
Although I have yet to find my first paying client or book my first speaking engagement, I know that when I do, preparing for and performing that service will mean time away from blogging and or my websites. I have yet to find a reliable way to attend face-to-face networking events. But when I do start attending them, they will take quite a bit of time including dressing, obtaining adequate transportation, preparing myself and my materials.
Choose Wisely and Prioritize
It’s all a matter of choice. You have to decide what works best for you in your life and in your business. Then once you decide what is most likely to move you forward with your goals, you then make a decision to put these actions first on your list every day.
With me these things change. Last week I had a two-hour interview with a writer from New York Magazine. I was ecstatic to be interviewed by someone from such a prestigous publication, but it pretty much destroyed my schedule for the rest of that day.
I didn’t beat myself up over not getting as much done the rest of the day as I would have liked to. I took some time to savor the moment. Then I did the next thing on my list.
Sharing is Caring
So many people struggle with time management and the accompanying feelings of failure that I really want this post to reach as many people as possible. For that I need your help!
Please share this post on all your social media sites. And if it resonates with you, as I hope it will, then please send it to your friends family and coworkers.
I do really enjoy hearing from my readers. If for any reason you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment, then just send me an email. You are also welcome to write with any questions about me, my site, running an online business, being a blind entrepreneur, etc.
I want to be there for you, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Did you find the tips in this post valuable?
If so, you can show your appreciation by making a donation to The Blind Blogger (that’s me!).
Simply use this button to do so — and know that NO amount is too small. Heck, if everyone reading this donated $2, I’d be a happy man.
Thanks, and take care out there!
Get Engaged, and Answer a Few Questions
What are the things you do every day to build your business or make changes in your personal life?
Are there any of these that you could replace with activities that would be more beneficial to you?
Are there ways you could alter the activities to get more out of them or at least decrease the time required for them?