14 Easy Ways to Carve Out Creative Time for Your Business

It’s not always easy to carve out creative time, but when you charge for creative work, time equals money. So, how do you find more time to do well-paid creative work every day?

If you’re a one-person show, working smart is crucial. My business is about helping you make more money with your business.

Also read: Connect with these X-PITCH 2021 startups through e27 Pro

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a little bit obsessed with systems, processes, and Optimizing All The Things.

In this article, I’m letting my optimization freak flag fly.

Let’s start with WHOAA.

The WHOAA effect: What happens when you automate your day

Setting up automations and optimizing processes is … not sexy.

It’s hard work. When I put together a Standard Operating Procedure document, for example, I have to practically nail myself to my seat just to get through it. (More on those later.)

Also read: Gearing up for the new normal: What do VCs want and how can startups ace their funding applications

As my friend Ricardo Bueno of Follow Up Boss says, “Focus on doing $1,000/hour work, and find a way to automate, delegate, or eliminate the rest.”

That’s where WHOAA comes in.

WHOAA stands for Work Hard Once And Automate.

Want to increase your income?

Step back from your business and notice the underlying processes that move your business forward. 

That’s your main job as a business owner — recognizing how you make money and optimizing the process.

Here’s how to get excited about optimizing:

  • Work Hard: Figure out the best way to do your repetitive tasks.
  • Once: Dedicate one work session to documenting your step-by-step process.
  • Automate: Put the process on repeat using no-tech, low-tech, or high-tech tools.

If automating and optimizing your day-to-day sounds daunting, put that worry to one side. In this article, I’m sharing 14 ways to optimize. They range from “no-tech” to “high-tech,” so there’s something here for everyone.

Also read Your Product Demo Sucks Because It’s Focused on Your Product

Ready to make more money with WHOAA?

No-tech “low-hanging-fruit” optimizations

Some of the best optimizations to carve out creative time are simple habit changes.

Tech needed:

  • Your brain
  • Paper and pencil or digital calendar
  • Willingness to try new things

Start here:

1. Automate your schedule

Notice the times of day when you’re most productive and use them to do your highest-value work. Don’t use those times for meetings, appointments, or errands. Block them out permanently so you can count on them always.

Example: I don’t take meetings in the mornings. It’s my peak creative time so I keep it for my money-making projects.

2. Automate your daily decisions

Can you use part of your weekend to decide ahead of time what you’ll wear, eat, or do in the week ahead?

Example: My week is a mix of “on-camera” days and “desk work” days. On Sunday night, I go into my closet and take a few minutes to pull out what I’m going to wear on my “camera” days and comfy “non-camera” days. I line up all five pieces in a section of my closet. This makes it super fast to get dressed in the morning.

3. Automate your writing time

The best way to hone your craft is to do it — a lot. Picasso knew this. If you’re a writer, block out time to write every single day.

Example: I use the updated interface at 750words.com, which throws confetti on the page when you hit your daily 750 word count.

4. Automate your eating

Don’t waste precious brain space figuring out what you’ll eat. Think ahead and have food on hand so you can easily stop and refuel. You could even eat the same food every day with small changes to keep things fresh.

Example: It’s summer in the U.S., so I make a big salad and eat it for lunch over a few days, modifying it with beans, nuts, or veggies so it’s never boring.

5. Automate your breaks

Non-stop content creation sessions don’t produce your best work. Weave breaks into your day so you can take care of your physical and mental health.

Example: Mornings are key for me, so I wake up and work in my pajamas until about 11:00 AM. That’s when I stop, shower, dress, and prepare for my afternoon meetings.

6. Embrace SOPs

Any time you notice yourself doing a repetitive task, make a note to document it with an SOP — Standard Operating Procedure. Well-documented processes allow you to easily scale your business.

Example: My own business has gone from just me — to me and three amazing team members. We have documentation for the tasks we do repetitively. If a team member moves on, it’s easy for me to bring a new person up-to-speed because we’ve got documentation for how they’ll do their job.

Low-tech “make-life-easier” optimizations

The optimizations below are more complex than the ones we just covered. They’re still low tech — you probably already have all of the technology you need on hand right now.

Tech needed:

  • Your brain
  • Your computer
  • Willingness to try new things

Start here:

7. Set up inbox rules

Whether you use Gmail, Outlook, Mail, or something else, harness the power of inbox rules so that you can focus on the messages that matter — and deal with the others when you have time.

Example: Urgent emails are delivered to my inbox. Less urgent emails that can be read when I have spare time go to a “Read Later” folder.

8. Write an email sequence

If you’re using email software like ConvertKit, pre-write a sequence of emails for new subscribers. Start with an awesome Welcome email.

Example: My new subscribers get a long sequence of emails that highlight my best content and mention my products and services. Messages are delivered once a week and continue for about six months.

9. Batch-create social posts and schedule them

If you use social media, don’t let it keep you from carving out creative time. Think ahead about the themes you want to touch on, and then batch-create a month’s worth of content over a day or two.

Example: We have a month’s worth of social content mapped out and written by the middle of the month before.

10. Pre-write your client emails

If you serve clients, invest time in writing a single, “perfect” version of the standard emails you send. These may be outreach emails, project estimates, and contracts or other binding agreements.

Example: For years, I used the same “here’s how I work” email with prospective clients, changing only the name at the top and a few client-specific details. It worked like a charm!

11. Create folders for projects

Most projects have a process they move through. A writing project may have a research or outline phase, a first draft, an editing phase, and a final phase. Look at your process and set up folders that mimic it — this will help keep your hard drive and your head organized.

Example: We’re focused on creating video right now and have folders set up to reflect our video process. 

High-tech “complicated-but-worth-it” optimizations

Ready to take it up a notch or three? Bring on the software! Use the built-in automation power of your current software. Explore API-based automations that connect your common software and services.

Tech needed:

  • Your brain
  • API-based software solutions
  • Willingness to try new things

Start here:

12. Map out your tasks with software

There are lots of options here from Asana, to Monday, to Notion, to Trello. Look for software that allows you to carve out creative time by setting deadlines and assigning tasks.

Example: My team and I use Asana to manage our projects, track what’s needed when, and organize our materials.

13. Segment your email list and set up automations

The power of email marketing happens when people get emails that are targeted to their interests and needs. Use built-in automation to make this happen.

Example: People who take my Focus Finder Quiz get emails with tailored tips and links to paid solutions that will help them in the business stage they’re in right now.

14. Create API-based automations

Automate your optimizations with services like IFTTT.com (three automations for free) or Zapier.com (five automations for free). These services use API engines to connect common software and services. The possibilities are almost endless!

Example: When someone applies to my Offer Accelerator program, their application information is sent to Airtable, I’m notified on Slack, and their data is added to my ConvertKit account where they’re sent an email letting them know we’re reviewing their application.

Business doesn’t need to feel like you’re pushing a boulder up a hill.

Instead, think of it like dominoes — a gentle push on one end is all you need to move things forward.

Optimize and automate your tasks to carve out creative time … and be prepared to say “WHOAA!”

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is an online business coach at BIG Brand System. Need revenue? Work with Pamela here. Get free online marketing resources here.