Hey guys! Morgan Nield here for another episode of the Simplify Your Sales podcast and today we’re diving into the awesome world of productivity hacks– yepppp– getting MORE done in LESS time. Every Etsy seller’s (heck, every BUSINESS OWNER’S) dream, right?!
Now, one thing I LOVE about my audience and followers– even though I don’t mention it NEARLY enough–is that so many of you are mommas. I love those that aren’t mothers and the few guys that follow along, too, trust me– LOTS of love going around. But I definitely feel a special connection with those ladies out there trying to juggle a biz AND raise a family. Add housework on top of that and I feel like Wonderwoman might just lose top billing to you. You are INCREDIBLE.
And while I could go on and on about how motherhood is actually an INCREDIBLE prep-course for running an online business– perhaps another podcast topic for another day because it totally is!– it definitely requires more than a bit of time and priority balancing to make things happen in your business.
That’s not to say that those that work 9-5’s aren’t having to find balance to work on their creative hustles as well, but when you add little people to the mix, you have to get a bit more creative about how you work because your time becomes infinitely more valuable and equally unpredictable.
And then there’s the fact that those little dictators can throw a wrench into even the most well laid out plans– and often will–so it’s worth your time to find ways to work productively and efficiently with the limited time you DO have so you’re still getting stuff DONE in your biz-– even if you’ve spent most of your day cuddling your sick baby.
Coming from a personal note, when I launched the pilot version of Simplify Your SEO, I had some set office hours that I was using to coaching sellers in the community + make real-time edits and clarifications to the course material.
And that was also the week that Baby E (as our family affectionately refers to the little dude in our family), decided he was DONE with taking two naps and protested his morning nap altogether. It was definitely a battle of wills there the first couple of days; I lost (although magically he picked the morning nap back up a couple of weeks ago, so who knows?! I love babies, I just don’t understand them.).
Anyways, his typical morning nap time was (of course) EXACTLY when I had scheduled my daily office hours to check in with the group + course to make sure everyone was getting the support they needed. I had scheduled it that way on purpose. #backfired
It took a lot of creativity to make that work. Shifting priorities and rearranging schedules and just working SMARTER while I was answering questions instead of getting distracted. Because the coaching group was held on Facebook and I’ve got to be honest– it is EASY for me to fall into the Facebook scroll of doom trap. And that couldn’t happen with a baby signaling that he wanted “up, up.” I just didn’t have the luxury of wasting time anymore. I still needed to be live for those office hours, but I had to be live in the smartest and most time-efficient way possible.
And that’s basically what inspired this post 🙂 I wanted to share some of my favorite productivity hacks with you so that you can do the mom thing AND the business thing. Because as wonderful as motherhood can be, it IS a challenge when you’re trying to run an online business, too.
A quick note to those who AREN’T parents: And if you’re not a parent– this podcast episode is definitely still for you. Your business will ONLY benefit from working smarter, not harder. And these aren’t mom-specific tips, so listen up, buttercup!
So going into this episode, what I need you to understand is that you don’t have to have 8+ open hours per day to make any traction with your business. Seriously. In fact, I don’t think in the 9+ years I’ve been selling online that I’ve EVER put in an 8 hour day. I don’t know if I should be proud or embarrassed to admit that, but there it is.
In fact, I do my best work in 1-2 hour increments. And I’ll get to more on why that is in a little bit– and why it might actually work for you, too, believe it or not– but at this point I can honestly say I wouldn’t even know what to do with myself if I had 8 hours of straight work ahead. I’m so used to working in 2-3 hours chunks of time– sometimes even 30 minutes at a time, depending on the baby’s sleep schedule– that I HAVE to be productive and efficient in the time I DO have to move forward with my business. At this point, it’s non-negotiable.
And I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way to help with that.
And I’m going to pretend this is super motivational or something with what I’m about to say, so listen up: It’s not about the time you DO have, but what you DO with that time that makes a difference. (<— ooooh, write that one down!)
So without further ado, let’s dive into these 4 productivity hacks that SAVE MY LIFE almost every single day as I’m balancing this whole mom-biz gig that I signed up for. And yes, a lot of these actually kind of meld together really well, which makes them SUPER easy to implement 🙂
This is one that was a recent discovery for me and has been completely LIFE-CHANGING.
And that’s NOT an exaggeration.
It’s a small thing but it’s produced BIG results for me.
Now, maybe you can relate to this, maybe not, but I kept wondering why when I sat down to “work on my business” that an hour (or sometimes more!) would pass and I would have– literally– NOTHING to show for it, even though I was doing “business-y” things.
I found that over and over again I was sitting in my office studio with my laptop open and I had been, what I called “working.”
The thing you need to understand here: Not all business-y work you do is created equal.
Because when I said “I’m going to work on my business,” that could mean ANYTHING. In the past I would just open my laptop and let the internet spirits guide me where they would under the pretense of “business topics”.
(And I’ve gotta be honest– those internet spirits tend to flock to Pinterest more often than not and that’s a DANGEROUS playground to play on in terms of productivity!!!)
Or maybe for you it’s Instagram under the justification that you’re going to scroll through a bunch of posts and “learn” how to curate a similar feed. I’m not an Instagram junkie, but I know PLENTY of people who are.
And while I can absolutely justify my way around those types of activities and how yes, they do– in fact– technically count as “working on my business…”
Another to-do list?
A bunch of unwrapped Dove chocolate wrappers to help cope with the comparison trap?
More information in my head that already feels like it’s bursting with conflicting business advice?
Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a time for learning—there absolutely is.
But that times has GOT to be significantly LESS than the work that you actually do. Maybe 20% of your time is spent learning, but the other 80% of your time is spent on tasks that actively move your business forward.
This is a concept I got from productivity genius Michael Hyatt and it is one that I try to live by with my business. Still taking time to learn (my preferred method being through digital courses because they’re SO dang efficient and can teach me EXACTLY what I want to learn without having to sift through PILES of Google search results), but NOT at the expense of growing my business.
Again, an 80/20 split of your time:
80% of your time spent on actively working and completing tasks and results in your business; and
20% spent on active learning.
Okay, slight tangent, so let’s bring it back full circle on how I make this work in my business so I’m not wasting so much time.
Now, whenever I “sit to work on the business” I do a quick mental check of my to-do list, decide what is highest priority at the moment and commit to working on THAT specifically, and THEN open my laptop or go into my office and sit down to work.
Having that “game plan” talk with yourself BEFORE you begin working is one of those things that seems so easy it can’t possibly work, but I’m here to tell you: it is INSANELY powerful.
I know that when I sit down to write a podcast episode, for example, I can’t be checking Facebook or refreshing my email because that’s not what I committed to doing and can only serve as a distraction at this point. When I sat down to work on this episode, I made it clear to myself that THIS was what I was working on during this block of time.
And if you’re reading/listening to this, that means that I followed through so it must be working 🙂
So I want you to go into your work creations sessions knowing EXACTLY— and I can’t stress that enough– EXACTLY what you’re going to be working on BEFORE you begin to work— and make sure they are actual tasks that will move your business forward.
And that leads us right into #2:
Raise your hand with me– and yes, mine is up right now– if you’ve ever said “okay, so tonight I’m going to work for 2 hours on my business…”
Famous. Last. Words, my friend.
Let me share a personal experience really quick.
Earlier this year I went on a business trip– my first one– to Boston. It was equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. I had NEVER left my children behind for more than 1 night at a time, and being away from my family for 4 solid days scared the TAR out of me. While I’m definitely a mom that loves her work, I also REALLY love my family (I had no idea how much until this point, haha!) and am a homebody by nature.
Anyways, so I went to Boston and spent 2 ½ days sitting in a room with dozens of other successful six-figure entrepreneurs who are in the same industry I am– online education and coaching– and brainstorming and collaborating and just SHARING with one another the successes and failures and what we’ve learned along the way.
And at one point, the training turned to “Well, what do you want to accomplish with your business in the next 5 years?”
SO many of my colleagues wanted 7-figure businesses, which is TOTALLY admirable– and maybe that’s your goal, too, which is REALLY cool. But when asked what my goal was, I said that I didn’t want to put in the hours required to run a 7-figure business. I didn’t want to spend those 8-10 hour days. I was PERFECTLY content with the work schedule freedom I had now that allowed me multiple six figures.
And the girl teaching at the time– Megan was her name– shared something with me that changed my life. Like, I still think about it everyday. Enough to mention it on this podcast episode, haha!
She said that I was too busy thinking about the TIME it would take, and instead I should be focused on what I would need to PRODUCE to make those results happen.
Which means that instead of saying to myself “Okay, so if I want to earn $10K this month, I have to work 6 hours/day 5x/week,” I needed to reprogram my mindset to say “Okay, so if I want to earn $10K this month, I need to host a viral giveaway with some collaboration partners and then send a follow-up sales email sequence that converts those entries into sales.”
And suddenly hitting that $10K month seemed TOTALLY seemed doable. Alright, and $10K is just an easy example. It could be $2,000…it could be $30,000. That’s really up to you and YOUR goals.
But the point is that as I reworked the way I was thinking, I found that I was getting A LOT more done in a shorter time frame— because I wasn’t locking myself into working a set number of hours– I just have to make sure that I complete the tasks I had and then I was done. FREE!
Can I schedule 5 hours on a Saturday to work on the podcast? Totally. Tell me I have 5 hours to work on the podcast on a Saturday and I will take all 5 of those dang hours to complete 1 single episode.
But if you give me the task of outlining + writing 3 podcast episodes on Saturday, I’m going to work my butt off to get them done as quickly as possible– while still being thorough– so I don’t have to sit all day on Saturday working on it. The faster I get done, the more time I have with my family which is a BIG win and motivator in my book (unless the baby is teething– and then I might hide out for just a few extra minutes– please don’t tell my husband).
Bottom line? Always, always, always go into your work sessions with a specific outcome or a result you’re going to achieve.
Simply saying “I’m going to work on my Instagram content for 5 hours” isn’t enough– you need to be specific like “I’m going to plan out + schedule 60 days worth of Instagram content” and then GET THAT DONE. And once you’re done, you’re done! You don’t have to log-in extra hours because you got it done quicker– you get to be DONE because you got it done quicker– and I don’t know about you, but that’s MAJOR motivation for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love working, but I love working EFFICIENTLY and QUICKLY.
We need to stop thinking that time = money.
No, RESULTS and the things you PRODUCE = money.
Changing your mindset and how you approach your work is going to be an incredible productivity hack for you.
#guiltyguiltyguilty (but I’m improving!)
This is ANOTHER concept I learned from business coach Michael Hyatt. It’s the idea that you can’t keep bouncing from task to task to task and expect to be productive.
So what does this look like for the shop owner wearing about 20 different hats right now? You’re probably laughing at me right now which is totally fair– because you’ve got so many things that have to get done on a daily basis that you HAVE to context switch. And I get that. So let’s me explain what this actually looks like for YOU.
So let’s say on a Monday you write out your to-do list and you’ve listed the following:
Create, photograph, research SEO, and list 5 new products in shop
Fill all open orders
Write out Instagram caption for the day + find coordinating photo
Answer customer service inquiries
Etc. etc. (your list is probably at least twice as long.)
Now what I need you to understand here is this: As you work throughout your to-do list, you’re going to be context-switching. Creating + listing orders, then filling open orders, then writing out Instagram posts– each time you switch the task you are focusing on, you are losing MEGA time.
Time that you now have to re-situate yourself and get in “the zone” for the new task.
And while 10-15 minutes/day doesn’t seem like much, over a year? It’s–literally– DAYS of time you have wasted just switching between tasks.
A better way to do things?
Batch your work.
This probably isn’t a new concept for you (in fact, I wrote a whole post about it a few years ago that is still completely relevant!), but you may be in need of a refresher which is totally fine. Batching simply means that you are using your time to start + finish large quantities of similar tasks.
Meaning that to batch your Instagram posts, you would sit down one afternoon or evening and work out 30-60 days of pre-scheduled content.
…Which means you can cross “work on Instagram” off your daily to-do list for WEEKS.
You can even take it one step further– and I’d recommend you do– and when you schedule that Instagram content– or whatever your task is (now, this is just an example, so know that it can be applied to any to-do list task, not just Instagram).
So to batch your Instagram content, you would create “mini batch” sessions to further streamline your work:
Round up all of your instagram photos
Write out all of your Instagram captions
Fill in all of your Instagram hashtags
The. point here is that you’re NOT finding one photo and writing a caption and writing out hashtags and then repeating that process for 30 more photos— you’re finding ALL the photos, writing ALL the captions, and researching ALL the hashtags in each “mini-batch” session to save MEGA time.
Another example of batching that might hit close to home? Answering Etsy convos.
And I wanted to talk about this one specifically because it’s not one like Instagram that you can schedule out 30-60 days at a time. If you did that, you’d never make another sale off of a conversation again which isn’t good.
However, this is an area I KNOW a lot of Etsy sellers are wasting a lot of time in when it comes to context switching so let’s talk about it.
Now, it’s always a good idea to respond to conversations in a relatively quick time frame, however, if you’re stepping back from whatever you’re working on at the moment to answer a convo the minute it comes through, you are wasting VALUABLE time. Time that you have to shift gears, get in the zone for talking with a potential customer, answering the conversation in enough detail to make the sale, and then coming back and trying to remember what Lightroom presets you were using to edit your product photos.
Sounds exhausting, right?! But without realizing it, you’re doing that jumping back and forth sometimes MULTIPLE times on a daily basis. And it’s causing you to slow down your productivity.
So batching, for this, I recommend having 2 set times per day— one in the morning and one in the evening– where you handle answering ALL your convos.
By batching your to-do list– whether it’s product creation, social media posting, customer service inquiries, working as a student inside Mastermind Your Marketing *wink wink*– is going to be a productivity GAME CHANGER for your business.
This one is so, so obvious that you might even be rolling your eyes at me right now. But I’ve GOT to mention it because it’s kinda like eating healthy + exercising– you KNOW you need to do it, but it still isn’t getting done. So consider this your friendly reminder 🙂
You’ve GOT to automate portions of your business.
Now, I’m not asking you to lose that “personal touch” aspect of your business. That’s one of the reasons you sell on Etsy and frankly, probably one of the things you enjoy about running a business– connecting with your customers.
But there are other things in your business that, quite honestly, probably should have been automated yesterday.
Here are the top two areas I recommend automating even if you’re in the new, new, new stages of opening your shop or business.
Pinterest– it’s no secret that Pinterest is my favorite promotional channel of choice for Etsy sellers, but in order to make it work for you, you have GOT to be consistent. That’s non-negotiable. If you’re NOT consistent, that’s when your pins will disappear into oblivion and you complain to everyone that Pinterest doesn’t work for Etsy sellers, and certainly not for YOUR shop. I’ve heard that A LOT and I’ve got to be honest– 100% of the time it all starts with lack of consistency in pinning.
This is a probably SUPER easily solved with a program called Tailwind– which I’ll link to in the shownotes. They’re a Pinterest-approved partner– meaning they work in tandem with the team at Pinterest– to help you make the most of scheduling your pins to Pinterest.
So you sit down and BATCH your pinning 1-2x/month MAX and then let Tailwind do all the work for you of getting it out there– they’ll send your pins out at the most optimized times– when your audience is actually online– and they give you the opportunity to take advantage of Tribes– which is a Tailwind-exclusive tool that connects you with other like-minded pinners to get your pins in front of more people even faster, as well as Smart Loop, which is a feature that automates your repinning schedule. So, SO many cool tools for Pinterest.
I’ve used it for YEARS and my students inside Mastermind Your Marketing do as well and it’s just so, so good. Again, I’ll link to a free trial for you in the show notes if you’re like “um, yes, this sounds like something I’d love to check out.” Trust me, you’re going to love it and absolutely LOVE the time it saves you.
Conversations– while I am ALL for personalized responses and making sure every customer’s questions are answered thoroughly, I’m willing to bet there are a few questions that you’ve gotten more than once and you’ve typed out basically the same response to.
Things like “can you make this size?” or “can I add personalization?” those types of questions pop up ALL THE TIME and there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with creating some standard responses to those questions, saving them as Etsy snippets, and using them again and again.
Automating even JUST these two things is going to cut down on your response time DRASTICALLY and help you respond even more efficiently and thoroughly to each customer– you’re making sure you don’t leave anything out! So not only are you doing yourself a major favor by making it easy and quick to respond to customers, you’re also giving them the best customer experience possible. Win-win!
And if you’re like “I don’t have time to write those out and set those up– it’s going to take me longer to do that than to just respond quickly!” then make sure you grab the freebie I’m including with this episode over in the show notes– it’s a PDF with swipe copy– meaning copy you can just copy and paste over in your own conversations– that answers some of the most frequently asked questions I received in my time selling on Etsy.
Questions like “How long will this take to ship?” and “do you offer personalization?” you know– the questions that you get asked ALL DAY LONG. I’ve totally already written all those detailed, thoughtful responses out for you– you just need to grab them below:
Okay, so I believe we covered all 4 productivity hacks to make the most of your time. Let’s do a quick recap shall we?
Tip #1- Don’t open your laptop/get on your desktop until you know EXACTLY what you’re going to work on. Saying “I’m going to work on my Etsy shop” is NOT going in with a plan and you’re going to end up wasting a lot of time you don’t have scrolling on Instagram and updating your Etsy stats over and over again. Okay? You need a GAME PLAN before you ever sit down to work.
Tip #2 – Work focused on results, NOT time-frames.
Always, always, always go into your work sessions with an outcome or a result you’re going to achieve. Simply saying “I’m going to work on my Instagram content for 5 hours” isn’t enough– you need to be specific like “I’m going to plan out + schedule 60 days worth of Instagram content”
Tip #3 – Stop context-switching.
I KNOW you’ve got 1 bajillion biz hats right now– but you don’t have to wear them all at the same time. Pick ONE task, batch it, and then move onto the next one. Don’t be a ping-pong ball of back and forth between tasks. Focus in on that one TASK, committ to getting it done, and watch your productivity go through the roof.
Tip #4 – Automate what you can
And then finally, automate whatever you can. Whether it’s your marketing, your Etsy conversations, whatever this might look like for you and your business. The earlier you can start automating things, the more time it’s going to free up in your business to grow and expand and feel empowered to take more on (if that’s your goal of course).
So what’s your take action for this episode?
I want you to sit down–actually sit down because I want you to put some thought into this– and write out the top 3 “BIG” tasks you need to do this week with your business.
Then take that list, grab a paper calendar or your Google calendar if that’s more your speed, and schedule those tasks in and make a promise to yourself to ONLY work on the tasks you have listed during the time frames you’ve scheduled them in.
Also, feel free to break them down further if you have to like we talked about– into individual tasks within the bigger task.
Now, I know that sounds SO easy and no-brainer-ish and hardly like a “take action” at all, but I’ve gotta warn you– the first time you do it, it’s going to feel HARD. You’re going to want to check your Etsy stats a few times or pick up your phone and mindlessly scroll through Instagram for a couple of minutes. DON’T DO IT. Keep ON TASK and at the end, evaluate how you spent your time and what you got done– was it worth it?
Pipe in over in our Free Facebook group Etsy community and let us know how it’s going– we’d LOVE to hear! It’s the Simplify Your Sales Facebook group and I’ll be on the lookout for you over there– I’ll totally link to it in the show notes for this episode below— and make sure you grab those Etsy snippets while you’re at it— and let’s get productive!
Alright, that’s it guys– I’ll see you next week!
[Blog post] How to get more done in less time How batching can save you TONS of time— and where to begin if you’re just getting started with it
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I’m happy to say that my little shop is more successful than I ever could have imagined, especially after implementing the MYM [Mastermind Your Marketing] course last year. I went from getting 1 sale every 2-3 weeks to 1 sale/day and now AT LEAST 2 sales/day. I am barely keeping up!”
Loving the course. It’s making EVERYTHING click in my overcrowded brain and I can actually see the dots connecting. You really have simplified SEO. Thank you so much!”
40+ orders so far TODAY and 200+ orders this month. This may be small for some, but for me, this is a new record! I’ve never seen numbers like this in my Etsy shop (it’s even busier than Christmas!).
I’m a former six-figure Etsy seller turned online business strategist who believes in my core that you CAN build a business that supports YOU— whether you’re full-time momming, working that 9-5, or just looking for flexibility + freedom.
You don’t have to sacrifice your time to build a profitable business that you love— you just need to build it strategically (and I’ll show you how!)