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Hi! I’m Lucy. Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
So much to make, so little time. This is the plight of every maker, right? You are the wearer of many hats – production, marketing, customer service, shipping, accounting… How the heck can you do it all? I’ll give you the secret: batching work and time blocking.
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
You are likely a solopreneur, meaning that you have to do ALL of the things…
The truth is, we all have the same 24 hours in a day (don’t you kind of HATE when people say that?!). It’s just that we all use it differently.
Running a handmade business, being a business coach, having students, being a wife and a mom, and trying to squeeze in a socially-distanced social life is a true test of my ability to use effective time management strategies.
After trying many methods, I found that batching work and time blocking are the tickets to success!
Make an appointment with yourself to get tasks done by blocking time in your calendar.
Next to each task, estimate how long the task takes. Also look at how often you have to do each task. For example, I update my website twice a month and allot an hour for each session).
*Note: this won’t be perfect the first time!!!! Give yourself some grace getting this worked out, and recognize that sometimes days just go topsy-turvy. Being non-negotiable means that these things ultimately have to happen. You still have the freedom to be flexible in moving and rearranging.
If you are someone who has regularly scheduled time to work on your business, yet your tasks still aren’t getting done, then we need to have a little chat about mindset.
Chances are, you are viewing your business time blocks differently than your original non-negotiable times and tasks. If something has to get cut short (or cut off of the list altogether), it’s likely to be your business time because that’s just how life works.
Here’s the “tough love”. While there’s nothing wrong with being flexible in shifting blocks in your schedule, the truth of the matter is that if you don’t spend the time on your business, you won’t get results.
Being unrealistic about your availability is the first step in setting yourself up for failure, which is why it’s so important to have a clear understanding of what time you have available and what tasks you need to (and are able to) complete within those timeframes.
From now on, your blocks of time for business hold the same level of importance as your blocks for time for non-family tasks (because of course family is always first).
Now that we are clear on the importance of holding the time, let’s talk about USING that time. This is where batching work comes in to seal the deal!
The using part of time blocking seems to be where many of us fall short: we set up these schedules yet somehow still find ourselves not getting much done (usually because we are going down some unproductive rabbit hole of social media scrolling).
If you have never heard of the Pomodoro Technique® , let this be your formal introduction! This technique of blocking time in 20-25 minute increments has changed the way I work and drastically increased my productivity.
Developed by Francesco Cirillio in the 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique® is designed to help you be more productive in your tasks by breaking them down into 25 minutes chunks of time with 5 minute breaks in between. During these chunks of time, you are focused solely on the task in front of you and you actively turn off any other distractions that may take away your attention.
Now this may sound simple…and that’s because it is. You are working in short, intense bursts on one task at a time, and when you are actively blocking out distractions, you are also actively focusing IN on your work.
This is as simple as setting a 25 minute timer on your phone…but if it’s too easy to get distracted by notifications and alerts on your phone then I suggest adding this Google Chrome extension to your browser.
As you get used to working in this new undistracted state, you will find that you are able to move more and more of the non-making tasks into smaller time blocks, leaving you more and more time to be at your work table MAKING!
Use each block of time to focus on a specific task, and label it. For example, your first block may be a customer service check-in. During this time, you follow up on emails, check on comments or messages on social media, and make sure all orders are updated.
Once you’re done with that task – you are done. No “checking in” during other blocks of the day! You can set up another small block of time at the end of the work day to follow up on emails again if necessary, but resist the temptation to constantly check in.
Once you get the hang of this, it will be LIFE CHANGING, I promise! You will be amazed at how much more time you have to actually MAKE the products you’re selling. Batching work with time blocking means you get everything done without distractions.
In addition to batching your time, set up your production system so that you are doing work in assembly-line fashion.
If you are making beaded bracelets, for example, do each step of the process for ALL the bracelets at one time.
String all the bracelets first.
Take photos of all the bracelets in one session.
Process the photos in one session.
Upload and create the listings for all the bracelets in one block of time.
By batching work in this fashion, you save time going from one step to the next. If you create each bracelet separately, you’re wasting time in the set up for each step.
This type of batching work can be used for anything you make. It is the key to creating a volume of pieces. If you have a show coming up, or anticipating a busy season, batching work is the way to make sure you have enough product.
Taking control of your time is crucial to the success of your business: I would absolutely love to hear how you are tackling scheduling challenges in your business (and if this time blocking technique works for you)!
My FREE live workshop, Be A Sales Super Star: Holiday Edition, is happening soon! Sign up here to be part of the free class, and get ready to watch your holiday sales soar!
After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!