95: An Honest Look At Time Management

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How do I manage my time as a mom and solopreneur? In today’s episode, I’m sharing the behind the scenes of running my business, plus all the tricks I have for managing my time during an unpredictable season. 

The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you by Sabrina Gebhardt, photographer and educator. Join us each week as we discuss what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, Shoot It Straight Podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight

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This episode is brought to you by Image Salon, a high-touch partner available to outsource your photo editing and get your time back. I have been working with Image Salon for years, and I love the hours that it gives back to me. Use code SABRINA50 at checkout to save fifty percent on one standard turnaround order. Let this be your sign to outsource your editing and get your time back today.

Review the Show Notes:

I always have a coach (2:45)

I take it one day at a time (3:29)

I have more team members than I ever have (6:06)

I set timers (7:10)

I plan my week (8:42)

I block schedule where I can (10:17)

I utilize reminders (11:57)

I make lists (15:28)

I use the Eisenhower Matrix (16:27)

I say no (18:29)

I ask for help (19:20)

I stop when I need to stop (20:51)

I have non-negotiables (22:03)

I keep a planner (23:19)

I use Asana (24:36)

I have more ideas than I could ever do (25:31)

Episode Links:

Image Salon

Timer Cube



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Review the Transcript:

Welcome to the shoot it straight podcast. I’m your host, Sabrina Gebhardt. Here, I will share an honest take on what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing business, motherhood, and life. Myself, along with my guests will get vulnerable through honest conversations and relatable stories because we’re willing to go there.

If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, The shoot it straight podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight.

Welcome back to the shoot it straight podcast friends. I am chatting today about something that so many solopreneurs can struggle with and that’s time management. And just to be clear, this episode isn’t going to be tips and tricks on how to use your time most effectively. Nope. It’s This is more of a peek behind the curtain into what time management looks like inside of my own business.

First of all, it’s summer, which for a solopreneur with kids, which is many of you in the listening audience, that means that we’re basically living in the wild, wild west right now. You know what I mean? And if I am being totally honest, I’ve had a more difficult time this year than in years past balancing my time in general.

A lot of this has to do with the shift in my business, right? Like I’m doing a lot more education than I have in the past, but I’m also still serving photo clients. I also have a lot more team members than I’ve had in the past, which is great. And I’m giving them lots of projects and they’re taking lots of things off of my hands, but.

The more team members you have, the more people you have to delegate with, the more people you have to communicate with. So it is a little bit of a give and take. I’m giving them tasks, but I’m still working with all of these people. That’s taking up a lot more time. Also in this year, I’ve had a lot of new projects and new things on my plate, a lot of growing things.

Right? I am definitely in a growth year where lots of seeds are being planted, which is super duper exciting, but it also means that inside of my already full schedule and my already very long to do list. I have all these new things that I’m trying to find time for, trying to find time to map them out and to outline them and to plan time to actually execute the thing and then to keep an eye on how it’s doing and make tweaks if I need to.

There’s a lot involved with new things, building new things, taking on new projects, and I have a lot of those this year. I always also have a coach. Uh, if you did not know that, I would think you would know that by now unless you’re new to the listening audience, but I am such an advocate of education.

And I think it is the only way to continue to grow and move your business forward is to always be learning from someone that’s ahead of you. So I always have a coach and just like years past, I have a coach and she’s absolutely incredible. And she is keeping me on my toes, but it’s Monthly meetings that I have, it’s Voxer hours with her, it’s additional projects and things I need to do for homework and whatnot.

So on top of my growth year and all of my team members and doing more education and my photo clients, I have this coach that’s pushing me. It’s a lot, it’s a lot. And if I’m being honest, I am taking most weeks. One day at a time. In years past, I have had rhythms and routines and systems that worked well for months or quarters at a time.

And that has just not been the case in the past year. I am literally taking things week by week as they come at me. And I’m constantly just in this balance mode, this mode of what needs to happen when, right? It’s a constant shuffle balancing what’s urgent and what I want to make time for. And, you know, again, unless you’re new to this listening audience, I’m a huge proponent of making time for me and for self care.

I think it is absolutely crucial to women, whether or not you’re an entrepreneur. Okay. But especially if you are an entrepreneur and a mother, uh, we need to take time for ourselves. We need to make sure we have our own. oxygen masks on and it’s hard. It’s really hard when we have demanding schedules and we have goals and projects and people’s needs that we need to meet.

But we have to prioritize self care too. The truth is I never, ever want to come across here or on social media or in my newsletters. Like I have it all together. Okay. I know that I get more done than most people, but I definitely do not have it all together. My friends. I don’t have this perfect solution.

That is a one size fits all that has changed the trajectory of my business forever and ever amen. And we’ll always work. That’s just not the case. Again, I know that I get more done than most people. I know that I am a productive, efficient person. Part of that may be my personality and my threshold for productivity, but I think a lot of that has to do with how I see myself.

Set expectations for myself and how I organize my days and my weeks. And the good news is all of those are learned things, right? My personality is built into me. It has to do with how I was raised, the people I was raised around, situations in my life that have brought me to where I am and all of that.

But the setting expectations for myself, how I organize my days and weeks, all of that is learned skill, right? Again, I’m not going to lie and tell you that there is a magic solution. Okay. That this one technique or strategy has been a game changer. The truth is I do a little bit of everything. And in some seasons I’m more successful using different strategies than others.

I outsource a lot. Just like I mentioned a few minutes ago, I have more team members now than I’ve ever had and I love it. I really do love it because I have different people that wear different hats that use their sets of skills to do things that are, they are better at and faster at than I am. They take mundane tasks off of my plate that I shouldn’t be doing that.

I shouldn’t be spending my time with. And that’s freeing up time for me to do all of this growth work that I mentioned to do these projects and plant these seeds and to work with my coach. And all of that is so important. But like I said, it also takes time. Because I’m having to communicate with each of them.

I’m having to delegate with each of them, having to review things and approve things and have conversations. Okay. So I outsource a lot and I definitely think that that is a huge part of how I am so effective balancing all of the plates that I have in the air. It’s a huge reason why I get so much done because I have a lot of people helping me get these things done.

I also utilize on a regular basis, the technique of setting timers. Have you heard of this before? You’re literally, you can use your phone, you can use a stopwatch. I use those things, but I also have a little cube on my desk and it has one side says five minutes. One has 15, one has 30 and one has 60 and you turn on the cube and then you set it.

So that time that you want is facing up and it immediately starts counting down. Okay. In that time increment, and I use that when I am trying to get focused work done that I’m like been putting off or dragging my feet on, right? This is scheduling blog posts. This is writing email sequences. This is updating images on my website, those kinds of things.

The stuff that generally is not the most fun, right? And I also will use it if I’m really behind on calling or editing, you know, if you’re a photographer, how we can sit down and say, I’m going to sit down and call and edit and get through all of these things and get totally caught up. And then we start going slower and slower.

And then we take a break to look at our phone. And then we, you know, like all the distractions come in, if I’m really behind on calling or editing, I will set the timer cube and literally close every other app. And Put my phone on, do not disturb. If I really need to, I’ll put my phone in the other room and I get to work.

It becomes a game. How much can I get through before the cube timer goes off? That really helps me when I am needing to push through something. So I utilize setting timers that helps me get things done. I also plan my week. So, uh, ideally I’m doing this on Sunday afternoons. Okay. That really feels the best to me, but some Sundays it just doesn’t happen.

Whether it’s because my kids have sports games or we’re traveling, or we were at the pool all day, you know, some Sundays that just doesn’t happen. And so it becomes a first thing Monday morning task, but I will literally sit down and I will look at the whole week laid out in front of me. I will look at what the kids schedules are, where they need to be, when, uh, you know, if there’s carpool involved, I will look at when I have meetings scheduled, when I have sessions scheduled.

And then I will look at the list of things that has to happen that week for work and for home. And I start penciling those things in to the empty spaces on my calendar. Okay, I’ll start splitting up and giving myself a couple of tasks, a couple of primary tasks every day and the blocks of time that I’m going to work on them.

So I’m literally mapping out my week. When I do that, it also helps me see potential landmines. Right? Like, Ooh, there’s a crossover there of two different kids need to be in two different places. I’m going to need to ask for help. Or, Oh my gosh, that evening looks a little messy. I need to make sure my husband’s going to be home from work so he can support the process.

Right. Or, Ooh, I really have a lot of focus work I need to do that day. Maybe I need to get a sitter. Okay. So planning out the week at a time really helps me kind of get my ducks in a row. So I have a really good grasp on how things are going to feel and what support I need for the whole week. Now I do utilize block scheduling for certain tasks.

I feel like people are always like, do you do block scheduling? It’s like a buzzword. It’s trendy. People want to do it because they think it’s fun. It’s, you know, the magic, the magic answer to getting things done. And I definitely think it works for some people. Um, I also think being willing to only use it for certain things is better than nothing.

So I have so many friends who fully block schedule their entire lives. Okay. And that works for them. And that’s awesome. That never worked for me. But what does work for me is when I block schedule. Things like blogging or podcast prep or editing and writing or photo work, right? Like the calling and the editing and the uploading of galleries.

Those are the three main things that work really well for me for block scheduling. And so when I’m planning my week, like I talked about, if there are blocks of time that I need to do these tasks, I am plugging those blocks of time in. So maybe there’s a day where the whole day needs to be podcast focused.

I need to get several episodes mapped out and recorded and the social media graphics done for them. I’m going to block that off and I’m going to label it podcast and I’m not going to put anything else there. Again, same thing for blogging, editing, whatever. That’s what works for me. I am definitely not one of those people who does like all of the block scheduling.

No, that has not worked for me. So. If you have tried block scheduling in the past and you’re not a fan, it feels too rigid to you. You can’t seem to make it make sense. Try doing it with just one or two things in a week and see if it helps you. Another thing I do to manage my time and get things done is I utilize a ton of reminders throughout my day.

It’s really quite laughable to see how many alarms are on my phone at any given day. And it’s not just alarms on my phone, but it’s also calendar reminders on my computer and it’s wild. But if I don’t have these reminders going, I drop the ball. On things, right? I get lost in my work or lost in my playtime with kids or whatever.

And I forget that we need to be somewhere or I have a zoom meeting or something like that. And I don’t try and pretend that I can remember all these things because the fact of the matter is I’m 44. I have three kids. I have an insane business schedule and a lot of moving parts. I need to utilize reminders.

And if you have never tried that, I highly, highly recommend it because it has been so glorious for this one main reason. I set a reminder and then I don’t have to carry that information in my brain anymore because I’m going to get a reminder. You know how we go through our day and it’s this constant list of like, okay, go to the store.

Okay. Here’s the carpool times. Okay. Don’t forget about nap time. Okay. We’ve got to get dinner prepped. Okay. I need to respond to that client. We’re carrying around all these things. It’s like the, the running to do list that we have as women in our minds. I take as many of those as possible and put them into a reminder, either an alarm or a calendar reminder or something so that I don’t have to carry it anymore.

That has been a game changer for how I. physically feel like it takes the anxiety and the overwhelm out of my day to day, just going about things because I know that I’ve got a reminder that’s going to go off. I’m not going to forget it. I don’t have to carry it around in my head on repeat. Does that make sense?

I hope so. So if you’re not utilizing reminders and alarms, I highly, highly recommend today’s episode is brought to you by image salon. Image Salon is a high touch partner to outsource your photo editing and get your time back. I have been working with Image Salon for years to outsource my editing. In fact, I just submitted my 495th order.

If you do the rough math on that, it’s 1, 000. Each order saves me about three hours of editing time. That is 1, 485 hours saved. That’s more than 185 work days. That’s six months of work days. Getting all that time back has allowed me to do so much more with my life. In some seasons, I use that spare time to be with my family.

In other seasons, I use that extra time to take on more clients. And most recently I have used all this extra time to build my education platform so that I can pour into coaching other photographers and creatives just like you. Now, years later, I literally cannot fathom doing all of my own editing. I love the support that image salon gives me, and I love all the hours it allows me to spend doing things that matter to me and my business.

If you use code Sabrina 50 at checkout, You can save 50 percent on one standard turnaround order. This can be used for both new and existing clients. So let this be your sign to outsource your editing and get your time back.

Similarly to that, and I know I have mentioned this recently on the podcast, but I am the master at lists. Okay. I have lists for everything. I have a master notebook. That’s like the master master list. I also have notes for various things on my phone where I’ve got, you know, my running grocery list, my running target list, my running phone calls.

I need to, you know, return whatever I’ve got ideas. I’ve got hashtags, I’ve got lists, list upon list in my phone. And then I also have lists upon lists in a notebook. And again, just like with the reminders and the alarms, I don’t want to carry all those things in my brain. So if something pops in my head, I’m putting it somewhere.

I’m giving it an assignment. I’m either putting it on the appropriate note in my phone where it goes organizationally, or I’m putting it into my notebook somewhere because I don’t want to carry it around, right? I don’t want to forget it, but I don’t want to carry it around. So I use lists a ton. And within that.

Lately, I have really been loving utilizing the Eisenhower matrix. Okay. You can Google what this is. Um, it’s out there. You can just Google it, but literally if you make a, You take a blank piece of paper and you’re going to make a grid with four boxes, so a vertical line down the middle, a horizontal line down the middle, and then you are taking this grid and you are prioritizing your list.

So you’re taking things that are urgent and important and putting them in one box. Box and then you’re taking things that are not in, not urgent and not important and putting them in another box. And so you’re sorting into these four categories. It helps you prioritize what your tasks are so you know what has to be focused on first and what can wait.

It sounds really, really simple, but I have found it to be so much more effective for me, uh, visually to see where my prioritize, where my priorities lie on a day to day basis. Okay. I absolutely love it. And alongside of that. I’m constantly reprioritizing. I told you I am, have not had the easiest time with time management this year.

And every week looks different. Every day looks different. And within that there’s even more shuffle. I’m constantly reprioritizing and I’m okay with that. I will be honest, there was a season in my life where I had a really hard time reprioritizing. I liked to create a plan and stick to the plan and see the plan through.

And that’s how I wanted to run my whole life. And I don’t know when the shift started. I don’t know if it’s when I became a mom or when I became a mom for the second time or the third time, or if it was at some point in my business. I don’t know. I’m sure it was probably a little bit of all of those things, but I have become so much more flexible and I’m constantly reprioritizing as needed.

And I’m okay with it. I do not beat myself up over needing to reprioritize. So I highly recommend giving yourself that grace. Okay. I also say no when I know that I don’t have the capacity to do something right or well. And oftentimes I’m not saying no to someone else. I’m saying no to myself. And this is, this comes in when I’m coming up with all of the ideas, right?

I am constantly saying, no, I don’t have the capacity to do that right now, this month, this year. The same does go for invitations and opportunities that come my way. You know, whether it’s to be on a podcast or participate in a summit or to volunteer for something with the kids or with church, I say no, when I need to.

Okay. I do not immediately jump to yes. I say yes a lot, but I also say no a lot. Okay. And having the confidence to say no has been so important for my, my mental health. Right. I also ask for help when I need it. Okay. I asked for help from my friends, my kids, my spouse. Like I said, I have a huge support team, so it’s a given that I’m asking them for help on a regular basis.

But outside of that, I have no problem asking my friends, Hey, can I drop one of the kids off for a play date? Hey, can you take the kids for the afternoon? Can you pick up my kid from school? I also have big kids. I am in a season where I’ve got a nine year old, a 13 year old and a 16 year old and my kids can help.

They can do chores around the house, like legitimately do chores around the house. My oldest daughter can run errands for me now, which is absolutely wild. They can make phone calls. I have them help me when I need it. And I also ask my husband for a lot of support. He knows when I’m going into a particularly stressful week, whether it’s with kids, moving parts or preparing to travel or with my business.

And I ask him for support and I let these people help me in the best way that they can. And I don’t try and micromanage. I don’t try and undo or redo something if they don’t do it as well as I would hope I take what I can get and I accept it. And again, This is a huge thing that I was not always good at, but it has been an absolute game changer for me Being able to ask for help and then accept it when I need it Okay, and if you are not good at this and you struggle with this, I highly highly recommend that you work on it Okay, another thing I do Time management wise is I stop when I need to stop and I will be honest.

This is This is more frequent than it has been in the past. Again, I don’t know if it’s my stress levels or my age or what, but I find myself needing to stop more often, whether it’s ending my workday earlier or taking a day off in a week when I wasn’t planning on it, taking longer vacations, giving myself more time to come back to work after a vacation, whatever that looks like.

I stop when I need to stop. I’m no longer powering through all the time, which used to be my default, and I am willing to stop even if it means I’m falling behind or I’m needing to reschedule something. I really try and listen to myself, listen to my body and my needs, and when my eyes are tired or I’m no longer doing things efficiently or I find myself making a bunch of mistakes because my brain is tired, I stop.

Maybe that’s taking a nap. Maybe that’s just shutting down the computer for the day. Maybe that’s going to treat myself for some self care or going on a long walk. I am willing to stop and admit when I need to stop. I do things daily that are kind of non negotiable things to keep my energy up and to help re energize me.

Um, I drink a ton of water. I’m one of those people that tries to drink at minimum half my body weight in water, which is a ton. Uh, I also move my body daily. I love to exercise and do yoga and go for walks. I’m doing those things at least once a day. I’m also an avid reader. So I am getting in bed at like 8 30 and I’m reading for at least an hour before I go to bed every night.

I also like to read in the afternoon for at least 20 minutes while the kids are around. So oftentimes this is laying on our back porch swing. Or, you know, sitting on the couch with the kids. And it’s really interesting because my youngest in particular sees me doing that. And he will grab a book and come sit next to me and read, which I absolutely love.

Um, and then sleep, I prioritize sleep. I love sleep. Okay. I absolutely love it. It is so important to me. And those are the four bare minimum things that I do on a regular basis to make sure that I have as much energy as possible to get through my days. Um, a couple more things that I do that I think are helping me with time management in general in my business.

I utilize both a digital calendar and a paper planner. I get asked about this a lot. Which one do you use? There’s no right or wrong. Use what works for you. I personally utilize both. Uh, my paper planner is what I consider my Bible. It, it has not only where I need to be and what we have going on, but it also has deadlines for things.

And it also has, you know, what I’m going to work on each day in the week. When I do my weekly plan on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, I’m doing it in my paper planner. But my digital account, my digital calendar has all of my appointments in it and what I actually use that for the most is when I get in bed to read at night at like eight thirty nine o’clock, I open up my phone to my Google calendar for the next day and I set all of my alarms for the next day.

Remember how I said I utilize alarms and reminders. This is the first step that I do that before I am getting distracted and getting like diving into the book that I’m reading. And before I get tired and fall asleep, I set all of my alarms for the next day then because I don’t want to wake up rushed or discombobulated or anything like that.

I want to know that I’ve got all the alarms set for the meetings, the carpools where I need to be when. I also get asked a lot about kind of online organization. I personally use Asana. I do not have my whole life in Asana. Okay. I know people love to use Trello and Asana and Airtable and ClickUp and put their whole lives in there.

That doesn’t work for me. In this season right now, I have major projects in there and my podcast is in there. That’s basically it. Okay. So like I said, I’m planting a lot of seeds. I have a lot of growing things that are coming and projects I’m working on. And a lot of those have. Pretty much a hundred moving parts.

I keep those things organized inside of Asana and then the whole podcast. I have all of my podcast things in Asana. All of the future episodes, ads I need to record, interview questions for guests, social media graphics, everything is housed in Asana for that. So it does keep part of my business organized.

And here’s the last thing that I want to leave you with. The truth is as a creative, I have way more ideas and things I want to do and try than I could ever do. Okay. And as much as it pains me to say this, most of those ideas and things I want to do and try get shelved. They get shelved for the future because I know that I cannot manage them right now.

I know that I’m not in a season where they make sense. I know that I’m already pushed. Those are things I’m doing on a regular basis. All those things I just listed setting timers, block scheduling, reminders, uh, reprioritizing things, asking for help, all that stuff. Those are things I’m doing on a regular basis.

But like I said, it’s currently summer, which means that every single week and every single day within those weeks looks totally different. We have camps and carpools and playdates for all three kids, different places, different times, different things. Okay. We also have lots of summer fun planned, right?

Going to the pool and going on adventures. And we have lots of travel. My schedule is already hilariously full, hilariously full between podcast interviews, coaching calls, whatnot. Okay. I’m going to tell you the truth again here. I have a love hate relationship with summer. I love the slow mornings and having more time with kids and swimming and travel, but finding time to work and time for self care is really, really hard for me in the summer.

What has worked best for me in the past is to set my expectations really low while we’re in the summer. I pull way back on my work availability. I slow my client turnaround time around. I take on less sessions. I have less meetings scheduled. I take a short sabbatical from the podcast where I share mostly replayed episodes that’s coming up soon.

And on top of that, I’m still planning out my weeks on Sunday or Monday, but they’re just look. Different. It is way more flexibility. It is a true lesson in flexibility. And if you didn’t know I’m an Enneagram three Taurus. So this is really, really tough for me. I am trying to spend the summer prioritizing the mom things and the fun things.

And then I piecemeal my work time together each day. And it’s it’s A hundred percent random most of the time. Okay. I literally get to the end of the summer and I feel like I should earn the biggest gold star. Okay. But I know that I can manage the randomness and the extreme flexibility for the few weeks of summer because it’s what my kids need.

And then the first day of school, as soon as school starts and we get a routine back, I dive head first back into my most productive season. So I guess that the way I survive summer is I keep my expectations really low and I’m constantly giving myself grace for what I can get done and being okay with things that didn’t get done that week or that day.

I hope this has been really eye opening for you to have a peek into what time management looks like in my own business and to hear honestly what’s working and what’s not working for me and how I manage summer with our kids and our busy schedules. I appreciate you being here and I would love to hear from you.

Come find me on Instagram at Sabrina Gephardt photography and send me a DM. Let me know how this resonated with you and how you are surviving summer with your business and the kids and time management. I would love to hear from you. We’ll see you next week. Thanks so much for listening to the shoot it straight podcast.

You can find all the full show notes and details from today’s episode at sabrinagebhart. com backslash podcast. Come find me and connect over on the gram. At Sabrina Gebhardt photography. If you’re loving the podcast, I’d be honored if you hit that subscribe button and leave me a review until next time, my friends shoot it straight.


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