Self-Audit Your Time as a Creative Entrepreneur - Almond Leaf Studios

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Self-Audit Your Time as a Creative Entrepreneur

11/09/2021

As a creative entrepreneur, there’s one thing that’s more important than absolutely anything else — and that thing is time. See, time is what determines every single step of our lives and our businesses. When we don’t have enough of it — or when it’s not being used effectively — we can lose out on everything from peace to profit, and learning how to optimize that time is absolutely essential.

Luckily, though, it’s actually not nearly as hard to optimize your time as you might think! Enter: my very, very favorite method for figuring out the whole time conundrum: a self-audit. Trust me here, friends… this will be a complete and total game-changer for how you run your business! Now, let’s dive in.

Step one: track your time

The first step in taking control of your time is figuring out how, exactly, you’re spending it — and that’s where time tracking comes into play. I am a huge fan of the tool Toggl for this, because it truly makes everything so intuitive and easy! You can log on, create separate projects, and track them individually. You can separate your tasks into days and times, but I’d recommend splitting them into tasks themselves. For instance, track things like photo editing, responding to emails, or tinkering around on your website — literally anything that you do on a regular basis. 

And, because I love a challenge, I have one for you:

I want you to commit to tracking the time you spend in and on your business for one entire week. Every day, launch Toggl (or, heck, use a spreadsheet if you want!), and start keeping track. Every time you log on to your email or open up a software or hop on a client call, track it. I want you to be able to see how, exactly, you’re spending your time. 

Now, do some self-auditing

Once you’ve tracked your time for a week or so, you’re in a great position to do a self-audit: AKA, to figure out what, exactly, you’re spending your time on — and what, exactly, you *should* be spending your time on. I like to get really granular here, so I recommend printing your timesheets out and marking them up. Using a colored highlighter or pen, start making note of what’s taking you the most time and what you wish you weren’t having to do at all. 

As you go through, start asking yourself:

  • Where am I spending my time on things that fill me up?
  • Where am I spending my time on things that really move the needle in my business?
  • Where am I spending my time on things that I like to procrastinate?
  • Where am I spending my time on things that I don’t want to do?
  • Where am I spending my time on things that I could outsource to someone else?

The goal here is to find out how, exactly, you can create more time in your business to bring you more profit and more peace. So often as entrepreneurs we don’t realize how much time we’re really spending on tedious tasks until we sit down and audit it — and we also don’t realize how much time we’re spending on tasks that are keeping us from the big picture. This self-audit can really help you to start tweaking your days and structuring your business efficiently.

So, where can you optimize your time?

When I did a self-audit of my own time early on in my own business, I figured out quickly that I was spending a ton of time knee deep in the weeds of admin work like email responses and contract sending — and I went on to hire a virtual assistant. Later on when I self-audited again, I realized that editing photos was a huge time suck and something I didn’t always love doing — so I outsourced it. (Psst… if you’re a photographer who wants to dive deeper into this, keep your eyes open for the next launch of Art of Booking!)

This is why a time audit is so, so powerful… because you can finally decide what exactly you can hand off to make life a little easier! Here’s the thing: if you truly want to start building a peaceful life and business, you simply have to optimize your time — and that often goes hand in hand with handing tasks off. I know that the mental jump to outsourcing can be a scary one to make (I’ve been there!), so I recommend getting very logical and practical with it. 

Take the hours you found out you’ve been spending on things you could hand off to someone else, and figure out the money it would cost you to outsource (let’s take $500 a month as an example). Now, find out what bigger picture tasks you can work on with that extra time that could earn you back that money — and probably even double, triple, or quadruple it. It might be that you’ll have time to launch a new product or service, it might be that you’ll be able to raise your prices, or it might even be that you take the extra time off. Just be strategic about it, and you’ll be *so* incredibly thankful for the results.

As a creative entrepreneur myself, I know firsthand how important (but hard) it is to truly become intentional about how I’m spending my time — and I encourage you to dig deep and do the work to find out for yourself. There’s something incredibly freeing about knowing where your time goes, and the impacts on your life and business are huge. 
If you want to dive deeper into this, we’d love for you to join us in Finding Peace and Profit — a unique blend of actionable business advice and mindset tips that are built to help you create the business of your dreams.