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I started working with my very first freelance client in January of this year. While that was only 8 months ago, I’ve already learned so much organizing my day to be the most productive for both myself and my clients.
Everyone has their own systems and tools that work for them, so if you already have a well oiled machine system for your business, this post might not be for you.
But if you’re just starting out or if you’re struggling as a small business owner, perhaps you can take away a few tips from how I stay organized and productive as a small business owner!
How I Stay Organized and Productive As A Small Business Owner
I’ve discussed batch processing for creating social media updates before, but I take it even further and use batching across my business.
Before I get into my batching process, let me first explain what batching even is, if you aren’t familiar.
Batching is doing similar tasks all at the same time, so you aren’t flitting from one task to the next. No matter what type of business you have, I bet you there are similar tasks that it makes sense for you to do all together, versus separately and scattered.
Here are the ways I batch my work:
- Social media scheduling: I have a spreadsheet for pre-written tweets for all of my blog posts. I set aside 10-20 minutes to quickly copy and paste those tweets into Hootsuite so I can more quickly be done with tweeting, instead of going into Twitter multiple times a day. I do not currently spend money on social scheduling for Twitter, so this spreadsheet is my way of being efficient while not spending money yet (though I probably will eventually pay for a service!).
- Assigning client days vs. personal work days: I started doing this a few months ago and it has done wonders for my productivity. I have several clients that I do various types of projects and tasks every week, but I also have my own business to promote and run. Each week I was feeling like I never had enough time to do both and when I would be working on client work I felt like I should be working on writing a blog post for my own business, and vice versa. Then, I started strictly doing only client work on Mondays, Wednesday, Thursdays, and half the day on Fridays. Immediately I felt so much better and much more organized, as I had assigned time each week to get tasks and projects done. Though sometimes I have to be flexible with re-arranging days every now and then, it has been going very well so far.
- FreshBooks: I think I would break down sobbing if FreshBooks ever stopped existing. Dramatic, yes, but sadly I’m not kidding. Ever since I signed up and started using their services, I spend SO much less time doing financial tasks. FreshBooks makes invoicing a breeze, has a time tracking option (very important with some of my client work) and is just SO easy to use.
- Asana: Confession time: when I first started using Asana I wasn’t fan. I know. What was I thinking?! It took me trying a few times but now that I’ve gotten the hang of it and I’ve found how it’s most useful for me, it’s been amazing! I think I’ll do a video post going through exactly how I use Asana, but briefly here’s a run down: I am a part of 3 teams, 2 for individual clients, 1 my own personal one. Within each of these teams are all of the projects that we are working on.
For my personal Asana team, this is where I organize blog topics, email newsletter ideas, etc.
You can write notes and attached documents from Google drive and Dropbox, which is one of my favorite features. Ah, Asana is just the best!
- Trello: Another confession time: I had an even harder time with Trello! Ha. I think I maybe tried using both Asana and Trello in the same week or something because it just wasn’t clicking. I even messaged one of my friends who is obsessed with it and I was like, “uh, how do I use this?” and her response was, “Brittney…how do you not get it?” Well I’m here to tell you that you aren’t alone if you’re sitting there scratching your head about Trello. Right now, I only use Trello for myself. I am not using it to share information with any clients, though I may eventually implement that.
I mainly use Trello to organize client on-boarding and workflow, places to pitch for guest posting, affiliate links and more. Similar to Asana, you can use it with a team if that’s what you’re looking for.
You know how I said earlier I would break down sobbing if FreshBooks ever went away? Well I’d probably just give up on my business and go live in the woods if Google calendar decided to no longer exist.
I put everything in my calendar. I mean everything. Some people swear by only using paper calendars, and if that’s you, that’s awesome, but I need a digital aspect for my calendar. I have 9 calendars currently in my Google calendar and while that may sound excessive, it’s what works for me.
Here are my calendars:
- Gmail calendar (this is the given one to your email address)
- Appointments (this is for personal appointments such as dentist, doctor, vet, etc)
- Birthdays (so I remember my friends and family’s birthdays because I can barely remember what I did 10 minutes ago)
- BLL work (this is for tasks such as writing this blog, social media scheduling, course creation, guest post writing, updating my website, etc)
- Client work (obviously, all client work projects and tasks)
- Important to notice! (this is a shared calendar between my husband and I for when either of us are out of town or we need to remember to do something like moving dates or something of that nature. My husband travels often for work, so this is important (hehe) for us to keep schedules in sync)
- Meals (I am a meal planner through and through and this helps me decide how labor intensive of a meal I want on a particular day, or if my husband is out of town and I can make something that is primarily mushrooms or tomatoes (he hates those)).
- Trips/Fun stuff (this is for vacation trips or if friends are coming into town, or fun outings like concerts and such…aka things to look forward to!)
- Workouts (I have to schedule in my workouts otherwise…it ain’t happenin’.)
Being able to click these calendars on and off is essential for my sanity, and another reason why a paper calendar just doesn’t work for me. Sometimes I only want to look at my personal priorities, other times I need to have an entire view to know of everything I have going on.
I do use a paper agenda for day-to-day to-do lists. I usually put my personal to-dos on the left side, business/client to-dos on the right. I find I like having a separation of to-dos so I know what I need to get done in the day for each.
While there is some overlap between what I write in my paper agenda and what I put on my Google calendar, for me this system works.
My suggestion for you is to find what works for you. There is no right or wrong way. It may take time to figure out the system that works for you, and that’s okay. Just keep trying and you’ll figure it out.
So that’s it! While business and life are ever-changing, this is what works for me and my business currently. I’d love to hear how you stay organized and productive, so let me know your best tips in the comments!