How to Get Things Done Without Hiring an Assistant
It's not easy being a one-woman show. Once you become THE boss of your blog, it starts getting a little frustrating trying to spread yourself so thin. You have to write a blog post, reply to that email, finish that course, update social media, and it all starts to feel like you're not actually getting anything done at all.
Don't worry. Just hire an assistant, right?
Well, it's not that easy for some people. It definitely wasn't even an option for me when I first started blogging. I didn't have my blog fully monetized yet, so I had no money to pay an assistant. I had to learn how to do all of it on my own which usually resulted in long nights, frustrating days, and actually worrying more and accomplishing less.
Here are a few things I was doing WRONG when trying to get things done all by myself and here are a few ways you can actually do it RIGHT when hiring an assistant isn't an option.
Putting administrative tasks as first priority
As humans, we hate the fact of keeping someone waiting on our account. Whether it's replying to an email, replying to a text, or returning a phone call, it literally eats at us to have the other person waiting on our response. Considering this, we usually put our administrative tasks as first priority.
We tell ourselves "I'll reply to all my emails in my inbox and then I'll start on my new blog posts." "I'll give my business partner a call back and then I'll start on finishing my course."
We began to be apart of something called "The Illusion of Professionalism." This is when we convince ourselves that the more administrative tasks we tackle, the more professional we are. It gives us a sense of "business" about ourselves.
When you hear business, you think "money." Therefore, we trick ourselves into thinking that the more business tasks we complete, the more money we are making in the long run.
Before you know it, you've spent 65% of your work day doing administrative tasks and only have 35% of the day to actually create content. The next day, you realize you have accomplished sending that email and returning that phone call, but you have barely scratched the surface of writing that blog post or starting that e-course.
Creative first, administrative second
That email won't write itself, right? Who's going to call them back if you don't, right? Yes, you're right. But the real question you need to ask yourself is WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT?
As a creative, our creativity is how we make our money. It is our ideas, our personality, our content that really generate customers our way. Yes, tons of emails and other tasks comes with the job, but people wouldn't be calling or emailing us if they didn't find us through our creative content.
Before you know it, you'll end your week with an empty email inbox, but no new blog post to share with your readers. That doesn't really feel like you've gotten anything done, now does it?
Being your own boss makes you the blogger AND the assistant. What it really comes down to is: Which one are you more interested in being? Which one are you most passionate about? Which one did you initially sign up for and which one just sort of "came with the job?"
Your creativity comes first. So, don't just put your creativity first in your heart and first in your mind. It needs to be put first in your actual work day as well.
Making unrealistic to-do lists
This is one of the first mistakes we make when becoming our own boss. We start planning this and scheduling that. We start getting out this super long piece of paper listing everything we need to get done and start putting pressure on ourselves to finish them all.
We start the day by planning out our daily tasks. We tell ourselves that "this has to get done by this time, that has to get done by that time" and before you know it, we have about 25 things listed to accomplish in ONE day. Of course, we never intend for our list to get that long, BUT if you don't do it, who will? That's the mindset we force ourselves into and we start to push ourselves too hard trying to make it to the finish line.
Make smaller, more realistic to-do lists
One of the easiest way to burn yourself out trying to complete a list of daily tasks is to make that list an unrealistic length. Be real with yourself when planning out your day. How much time will each task take? How much energy will it take? How high is it on your priority list?
You also have to be realistic about how you will feel after each task. Will you honestly be in the mood to start adding content to an e-course after you've written an entire blog post, schedule it's social media, and created all of its graphics? Will you honestly have the energy to reply to 20 emails after a 60-minute Skype session with a client?
Try progressing your to-do lists instead of listing everything you need to get done at one time. Prioritize what absolutely needs to get done today and what can wait until tomorrow. List about 3-5 of your first priority tasks at a time and when you're done with those, create a new list to tackle.
This is something that most bloggers struggle with. As creatives, we try to use our creativity throughout the entire work day. Whether it's working all day on a course, a blog post, or an e-book (let's be honest, it's usually all three), we try to keep those creative juices flowing throughout the entire day.
We sometimes get sidetracked and start making "finishing" a creative project more important than having the content actually be as valuable as possible. We get so caught up on trying to get so many things done in one day that we don't really pay attention to the fact that we start feeling creatively drained, using coffee to keep us awake, or playing music trying to force our creative juices to keep flowing.
We assume that we are "getting things done" or "pushing through," but what we are really doing is keeping busy.
Pay attention to when you are most creative throughout the day. When do you keep up with your best ideas? When do you feel more upbeat? When do you feel more alert? When are you full of the most energy?
Remember when I said to save your administrative tasks for the end of your work day? Considering the beginning of the work day is when you'll be doing all your creative work, it's best that you work on your creative projects at times in the day when you are the most....creative.
That blog post or that e-book won't be AS creative as it could be if you're creating it when your body starts to physically shut down for the day or when your mind isn't necessarily focused on the actual task.
During these certain times of the day is when your creative juices are flowing the most which means you actually get more VALUE in your content. This is when your ideas are flourishing, your knowledge is more vivid and your body & mind are more capable of actually getting the work done.