Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Multitasking, Schmultitasking: Improving Your Productivity

I recently sat in on a teleforum by Design Coach On Call discussing how creative professionals can improve their productivity. Holla! As a micro-business owner who balances just about every part of running her business, I can say first hand that it can be overwhelming at times! I'm constantly looking for better ways to discipline myself to be more productive. Pam Bryan, the forum facilitator, had some great tips and advice. Here are my favorites, all of which I hope to start implementing within the next few weeks (seriously, can someone hold me to this?)

1. Multitasking is Worse Than a Lie: To sum it up, multitasking, or more appropriately called "switch-tasking" just isn't productive. Switching from one task to the next, back and forth, and so on can cause you to loose up to 28% of your time. So, try to discipline yourself to make changes in your work day that will deter you from switch-tasking as much as possible.

2. Gather Your Gathering Places: A "Gathering Place" is any place where unprocessed work items go. This can include your desk, your briefcase, your office, even your car…any and every place where you might do work. The key is to consolidate all gathering places so that you only have one physical "inbox". Then, set a time each week or day to sort through this inbox, usually 30-60 minutes. Obviously, sort through the more pressing items first…this way you won't be stressing about them throughout the day, so you're able to focus on other tasks throughout the day.

3. Conquer Your Digital Space: These days, your digital space can be a real time sucker throughout the day! Digital Space includes your email, social media accounts, voicemails, etc. Similar to your "Gathering Places", try to consolidate your digital space as well. For instance, direct all your emails (personal and business) to one account. You'll still have the separate accounts, but you'll only have to check one master email account, thus saving you time logging on and sorting through various accounts. In addition, Pam recommends turning off your email alarms and setting yourself a schedule. Check your email 2-3 days per day, answering all inquiries during your set timeframe. Use this time to check your social media accounts like facebook and twitter as well.

OK, so these are a few of the changes I'll be making here at Kalico World Headquarters in order to increase my productivity throughout the day. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. What changes would you like to make? Let me know!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Girl Power: Online Resources for Women Business Owners

There are exciting things happening inside the world of women entrepreneurs—women are not only starting businesses, they are staying in business! Women are opening businesses at twice the rate of men, and, according to the Center for Women's Business Research, three quarters of all firms are either half-owned or majority-owned by women.

Personally, I love networking with other women business owners—there seems to be an instant camaraderie, and a willing desire to support and share with each other. But, as we are all extremely busy balancing work and home, sometimes it's hard to meet and network face-to-face. So, I've put together a small list of online networking tools for women entrepreneurs.

1. Savor the Success: Savor the Success is a PR Co-Op and a niche social media network for women entrepreneurs both online and offline. I've been a member of Savor the Success for the past two years and have truly enjoyed all the suggestions, feedback and support from fellow members.

2. Ladies Who Launch: The nationally acclaimed Ladies Who Launch program has enabled thousands of women across the country to break out of 9-5 and thrive in entrepreneurial enterprises that reflect their true passions, skills, and desires.

3. The Heartlink Network: Heartlink is built on a unique business networking model that provides safe, intimate, non-threatening, women-only business networking opportunities for professional women, and is dedicated to showcasing, advertising, enriching and empowering professional women in business.

4.  eWomen Network: eWomen is a great resource for connecting and promoting women and their businesses worldwide. It's a membership-based professional women's networking organization, committed to helping women and their businesses achieve, succeed and thrive in the new economy.

5. Women Owned: WomanOwned.com was founded by one new business owner, who shared her journey through business start up, incorporation, accessing funds, and hiring professionals so that other woman entrepreneurs could benefit.

6. InterviewHer: InterviewHer.com focuses on interviewing women-business owners in a wide variety of industries, from artist studios, food adventures, breathtaking boutiques or even a great little hole in the wall that they’ve discovered and had to share.
Hopefully one, or several, of these online resources may help you network with other women busines owners. If you join one, or are already and existing member, I'd love to hear your feedback. Or, have another online networking resource? Please leave it in a post below!

PS – No Boys Allowed! : )

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time Tracking that Changed My Life!

OK, so maybe the headline is a little dramatic, but seriously, Paymo Time Tracker has definitely made a huge impact on how I run my business! I started Time Tracker in September, when I hired my first part-time employee. Basically, I was just looking for a way to track the amount of time she spent on projects (you know, to keep an eye on the progress and all). But, what I got was an entirely different way to track the amount of time I spent on projects, and oh so much more! Plus, the two best thing about Paymo Time Tracker is 1) it's free for freelancers (up to two users), so perfect for my small studio and 2) IT'S FREE FOR FREELANCERS!

Let me walk you through a few of my favorite features:

1. The Dashboard. This is a quick overall look at my progress over a month's time span, as well as a comparison of recent company stats.

2. Milestones. You are able to set milestones (or, due dates, as us graphic designers like to call them) for each project, and then visually see your progress, and check them off as they are completed.

3. User Data. You can also view the overall statistic per user. As I mentioned above, the free version of Time Tracker allows for 2 users. To add additional users, you would have to invest in Premium Business Plan, for  less than $4 a month! (that's all, seriously?)

OK, so those are a few of my own favorite features. To be honest, I'm still testing some of the most effective ways to use this business source! Some of the other great features include alphabetized search listings by client or project, multiple report options, an easy-to-use time tracker, invoicing options (which I haven't explored yet), as well as online user log-in (so you can access it from any computer).

Have other questions about Paymo's Time Tracker? Take their tour! If you try this program out, please let me know what you think and what you favorite feature is!