I’m Answering The Question, “Kathy, How Do You Do It All?!”
One of the things that shopkeepers struggle with the most is time management. It seems like there’s a never-ending list of tasks and just not enough time in the day.
Time management, though, is a learned skill. There’s no magic pill, system, or solution that adds more time to your day, but you CAN get better at managing your time!
My Journey to Better Managing My Time
I’ve worked on my time management skills for the past five years. So while it might seem like I get everything done quickly (or with the wave of a magic wand), that’s definitely not the case.
Five years ago, I left a nearly 20-year career in a government job to go all-in on entrepreneurship. I knew I wanted freedom. I wanted to feel my life and work to feel aligned. And I didn’t want to take this opportunity for granted! I was on a mission to figure out how to make my leap of faith work because I did NOT want to spend another 20 years spinning my wheels.
Last year, I started teaching what I’ve learned along the way. I taught two presentations at the 2021 Savvy Shopkeeper Retreat on time management: Dare to Dream and Calendar Blocking.
After hosting hot seat coaching calls with retreat attendees and 1:1 conversations with my coaching clients who attended, I realized that these two special presentations fired something up in their brains. I believe they saw the power of this shift in thinking around time management.
The shifts in their thinking have been great to watch. But maybe I could have conveyed even more strongly that the lessons I taught are two of MANY things we can do to conquer our schedules. There’s so much more to this thing people call work-life balance.
I know, I know. No one wants to hear that there’s more involved than two steps. As entrepreneurs, we already do so much. Why can’t someone just MAKE THIS EASY, right?
Well, that’s what led to this episode and my message to you: Maybe it isn’t easy—or maybe it is, if you just tell yourself it is. Either way, YOU have the power to make it happen. You really do.
How You Can Get Closer to Work-Life Balance
So now, if I were to answer the question, “Kathy, how do you do it all?” and someone genuinely wanted to sit through and listen to my complete response, here’s how I would answer.
I try not to wallow in indecision. Indecision means being stuck, and stuck is NOT what I want to be. Haha! However, this is something I still have to work on. I recently had to COMMIT to cleaning out my inbox by being DECISIVE. I had too many emails sitting in my inbox because I wasn’t making decisions.
Identify Your Priorities
I plan my week around what matters most to me—aka, my family, my friends, and ME. I make sure there’s time to exercise, sleep, and hang out with my loved ones before adding work.
When planning my week, I first put my priorities on my calendar and block out those hours. Then I plan out work around those blocks. Everything is color-coordinated, so I can see exactly how I’m spending my time.
Commit to Following the Calendar
Once something is on my calendar, I’m committed to it—and I’m committed to myself. That can be really hard at times, because we tend to commit to everyone and everything else BEFORE ourselves. Sticking to the calendar means committing to myself and putting my priorities first.
Use Reminder Tools
Honestly, I’m not sure what my cluttered brain would do without this tool on my phone! I add anything that comes to mind to the Reminders app on my phone, and I don’t check it off until it’s done.
I set rules for myself and say no when I need to. Often, I have to say no to the people I love the most…and it isn’t easy! Setting boundaries, though, isn’t about hurting other people. Boundaries are there to help you.
Delegate and Hire
I can’t do it all, and I don’t WANT to do it all! I’m happy to hand off the tasks I shouldn’t be doing. I value my time, which means putting a dollar value to it. My hourly rate is indicative of the value I put on myself, my talent, and my expertise.
Use Multiple Systems
Talking about the systems I use in both businesses is an entirely different episode. But I want to convey that having systems in place is a massive part of how I “do it all.”
Walking/jogging is good for my mental health, so I’ve made it a must to get 13-15K steps daily. I get out in the mornings for a 3-mile walk/jog, and then I’ll naturally hit my step goal throughout the rest of the day.
Respect Your Rhythms & How Your Brain Works
My best work for Savvy Shopkeeper gets done in the early mornings. I don’t try to script podcast episodes or work on content in the evenings because my brain and body are mush at that time of day! Plus, that’s when my family is home. We have dinner together, hang out, watch movies, or I meet friends to do things.
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
I’ll be publishing a podcast episode on this topic soon, but the main takeaway is that I’m willing to TRY things without fearing failure.
Don’t Allow Time to Define Your Success
This one really comes down to mindset. I never tell myself, “there aren’t enough hours in a day.” This thought (and others like it) are disempowering! I refuse to take away the power I have to get things done.
However, I AM realistic about the number of hours in a day. I don’t “wish” for more hours—instead, I make the hours WORK FOR ME and my goals.
Rely on Your Partners
I’m fortunate to have a home/life partner (my husband) and a helpful business partner (my sister) for the store I co-own. I know I’m lucky in this regard. Having good, supportive people in my life is vital.
Use To-Do Lists That Work For Your Business
My to-do list system for each business is different.
When I’m at The Salvaged Boutique, a good old paper, and pen DAILY to-do list works really well for me. It’s a list of what I want to get done THAT DAY. It keeps me focused, and the feeling of accomplishment by scratching off one item with a sharpie gets me moving on to the next task.
For Savvy Shopkeeper, I use a Google sheet called Kathy’s Done List. This is usually a long-running list of things I need to get done. I realize that I can’t do it all in ONE day, so I assign each task a date and try to limit it to 1-5 tasks per day. I usually only have 2-4 hours to work on Savvy tasks each day, so I have to be realistic about what I personally can get done.
Now that I look back on each approach, I realize I use paper/pen for the store because I move around a lot in the store, and my tasks are all over the store. For Savvy Shopkeeper, I do almost everything on my laptop, so the digital practice (the google sheet) works well.
However You Manage Your Time, Find What Works for YOU
We are ALL different. Our businesses are different. Our brains are different. Our personal lives are different.
You have to find what works for you! So take what you think is helpful from the above, and then try your own ways to manage your time until you find what sticks.
- Ep. 10: Setting Boundaries While Maintaining or Growing a Profitable Retail Business
- Explore group membership with Savvy Shopkeeper
- [05:33] My Journey to Better Managing My Time
- [09:40] How You Can Get Closer to Work-Life Balance
- [21:30] However You Manage Your Time, Find What Works for YOU