Time Management Tips for Creative Business Owners

Time is your greatest asset—design your work days with intention so you can maximize your productivity and see growth in your business and your personal life.

The holidays are undeniably the most hectic time of the year for many creative small business owners. Artists and makers spend extended hours in their studios to meet the demand of vendor markets and the multitude of holiday shoppers. It is so important to maximize the opportunities of the fourth quarter of the year, and in order to do that successfully you need to utilize some time-tested and reliable time management strategies

This time of year does not have to feel like a mad dash to the finish line.

For many makers, this is when you make the $$$, right?

It is supposed to be FUN getting paid for making your art. If you are stressed and stretched, it is NOT going to be fun or as profitable as possible. 

As your constant cheerleader, I am here with some advice and tips on how to make this holiday season manageable so these days can be filled with productivity and dough… and I’m not talking about cookie dough, friends. 

The Gift of Time

Time is a gift and your greatest asset as a business owner. 

In a perfect world, you are making conscious choices about how you divide your time between work, family, and all of your responsibilities. Unfortunately, this world is far from perfect and many of us struggle with getting everything done within the 24-hour windows we are gifted. This time of year in particular is very challenging and time feels like it slips right between our tinsel-tangled fingers some days.   

As business owners, we are always encouraged to find “work/life balance,” and to that I say, “BAH HUMBUG!” 

It is not about a perfect balance, it is about prioritizing.

Your time may feel unbalanced during the holiday season and that is totally okay. 

What really matters is that you are consciously choosing what is most important to accomplish each day. Some days that might be extra time with your kiddos or family. On other days that might mean extended hours working on your art. Some days might need to be devoted to admin projects and brand building. All of these choices are ok, and you do not have to find some unattainable perfect balance in order for you to be doing things “right.” 

Recognize that time is your asset to utilize to the fullest. You are not at the whim of the clock, and you are in control of how those hours are used to benefit you, your business, and your relationships. 

Ditch the guilt and decide each day how the time can best serve your priorities

With this as your guiding light, you will no longer chase some perfect balance, and you’ll find that you are being more productive than ever. 

A Systems Mindset

If you want to maximize time then developing a systems mindset is essential

A systems mindset simply means that you approach your projects and responsibilities with the intention of developing processes to make those tasks faster and easier to accomplish. 

We’ve talked about systems for your business on the blog recently, so check out that post if you want more details on creating and refining systems for your business. Achieving this mindset and utilizing your time to become more efficient will only bring you good things as a business owner. 

Set Realistic Goals 

When you are deciding how to best prioritize your time each day, be mindful that things may not go as planned. Establishing realistic goals for your time will set you up for success. When we feel overextended, our cortisol levels elevate and we end up making mistakes, feeling exhausted, and making rash decisions with our stressed out brain. 

Try to be honest with yourself about how much you can accomplish.

You know yourself, and choosing goals that are within your reach will ensure you are successful with your time management. Challenge yourself, but don’t set yourself up for constant disappointment because you can’t get 40 things checked off of a list everyday. 

Here are some ways to ensure your to-list doesn’t become your nemesis:

  1. Include some easy-to-accomplish tasks that you KNOW will get done. The boost of dopamine you get from crossing them off the list will encourage you to be more productive. 
  2. Divide your list with your TOP THREE priorities and then include the rest of your tasks below. This will keep you focused on what matters each day. 
  3. Keep it as small as you can. Use a daily or weekly list, but anything more will look overwhelming and cause you unnecessary stress. 

Remember to retain a mindset of flexibility when you set your goals. When you are building your systems, think about some ways to manage a day that does not go as planned. Have a backup plan for things like child care, last minute appointments or errands, and emergencies. Proactively considering plans can go awry can save you time in the end and keep your list realistically manageable. 

Minimize Distractions

We are surrounded by distractions that can quite literally suck away the minutes and hours of our days.

Successful people limit how much of their time they sacrifice to the things that are not truly important to them. How often do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling social media or binge watching Netflix? How much of your day is taken up with putting out fires or bouncing from task to task to just try to get it all done? Both of these patterns waste your time and make it almost impossible to utilize your time to the fullest.

Spend some time considering the elements of your perfect “well-planned day.” What kinds of things would you be able to get done on a perfect day? 

How much sleep would you get?

How would you take care of your mind and body?

How much time would you spend on your phone?

How much time would you devote to creating?

How do you make sure your favorite people are taken care of that day?

Do you cook? Clean? Run errands?

The way you answer these questions will help you figure out your “perfect day” priorities. Anything that does not serve these priorities on a well-planned day is a distraction. Your priorities may vary from day to day, but knowing what truly matters to you will help you become a master of time management. You can eliminate distractions when you know what they are and where they sneak into your day to suck away your valuable time. 

Design Your Days with Intention

With your gift of time and your goal to make conscious, prioritized choices, you are ready to design your days. You are an artist after all, and this is a design you can totally master! Treat this time management strategy like art and design a day for yourself that:

  1. Prioritizes your tasks for what really matters
  2. Utilizes the systems you have in place
  3. Sets realistic goals
  4. Retains some flexibility
  5. Minimizes distractions

With this framework you are sure to have a productive and profitable holiday season and beyond. Take these same ideas with you into the new year and crush 2023 by maximizing your gift of time.

As always, if you need a champion for your brand, a systems sorceress, a master of marketing… reach out and let’s chat. 

PS. I also have an amazing tool that will help you prioritize your creative business and your life like a freaking CEO. Not kidding it's part of my course called MyMakerSchool. I literally teach you how to tackle your creative business like the CEO I know you are. If you are interested shoot me a message or book a call.


About The Author

Heather Bunker Branding Co helps you boot-strap your way to your own personal definition of success. She helps you work through the uncomfortable and necessary parts of business—the foundations—life, business, branding, design and marketing. If you are looking to find clarity, create systems, market your work, stand out in the crowd, develop more products that sell and work past any decision paralysis that is holding you back...she, is the business partner that will help you do it.

She offers done for you services like marketing and brand strategies all the way through to helping you get start up funds. She helps you leverage your creativity and adds in the business know-how so you can build a thriving creative business. She is the business "therapist" that you need to gain massive momentum as a professional creative—so you can bring your dreams to life. 

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