Ask Elsie & Emma: On Time Management

Red velvet shop"You seem to blog constantly and share so many projects / tutorials and DIY ideas, yet also seem to be travelling a lot and have a whole business to run too! All your photos are beautiful and you even take time to respond to followers / customers personally! How on earth do you do all that - what is your time management secret?!"

Love, Amy

Recently we had a super sweet reader email us and ask about our time management secret. You obviously already know about our blog, since you're like, reading it right now and everything. But Elsie and I also own a small local boutique, an online shop, we are finishing up our first book (gearing up for second!) and we (try) to have full and balanced personal lives as well. We are quite busy, and we love it; but we have certainly learned a few lessons about time management over the years. So we thought we would share our top 10 time management tips with you today!Vintage dresses1. Make goals and know what's really important. There are only 24 hours in the day; you don't get more no matter how much you beg the time gods. So you absolutely must prioritize what's important to you so you know where to best spend that time. I like to think of my life in tiers of importance; the top tier is my family and my career, next is school (working on my master's at the pace of an old turtle!) and my hobbies, next is gym time and leisure/social activities like reading or seeing movies with friends. Everybody's tiers are stacked differently. For example, school used to be in my top tier back when I was an undergraduate. But now its been shuffled. Thinking of all my goals in this way helps me know where to spend most of my time; and it helps me to know what gets cut in the event that I run out of time.
2. Make a specific plan to achieve your goals. For me this usually manifests itself in to-do lists; mostly written on random pieces of paper throughout my day. My productivity without a to-do list is way way less than when I have one. You can make your plan any way you like but the more specific and intentional you are about it he more you will get done.
Vintage flowers3. Get motivated and stay positive. Nothing drags me down more than feeling defeated. We've got to keep ourselves motivated, especially during the moments when we just don't feel like doing the things on our list. Maybe you need to take a look at your goals and remember why you're pushing yourself in the first place. Maybe you need to give yourself a little pep talk in your car about how much you can do it! (don't act like you never do this—I do it ALL the time. I'm only embarrassed when I get caught!). Maybe you need to look back at a photo of something that reminds you of a time when you did accomplish a tough goal; whatever works for you.
4. Don't compare yourself to others. I think there's a lot of (unnecessary) pressure in the world to be like or have as much as someone else. Don't do this to yourself because it will only drag you down! Healthy competition is totally fine but if you find yourself trying to live up to someone else's standard you will probably just end up feeling negative about yourself. And feeling negative is not a great way to get anything done. Live up to your standard of yourself, not someone else's.
5. Say no sometimes, even when you really want to say yes. The best example I can think of is that Elsie and I used to be able to do every interview and guest content writing opportunity that came our way. I think it's SO flattering when a fellow blogger/online publication/etc. wants to feature us. That's so kind! But I could spend a lot more hours a week filling out questions when what I should be doing is creating content for the blog, taking care of payroll issues at our shop or hanging out with my family. So even though it makes me feel a little bit like a jerk every time I have to turn someone down; I have to. It's important so I can have enough time for my goals. This might require you to grow a thicker skin or be ok with not getting to do a few fun things that you used to—but keep in mind that this small sacrifice will help you get to the things that are the most important to you. 
6. Reward yourself for a job well done. Elsie and I are big believers in celebrating milestones and getting little mini rewards for big goals accomplished. And just for the record, this doesn't have to be money driven. some days, when I have a bunch of things on my to-do list that I am dreading (calling the department of revenue, answering my overflowing email box, standing in line at the post office with a ton of packages, etc.) I make myself a promise that when I get it all done I get to take the evening off to paint my nails and catch up on New Girl. Rewards can be as big or as small as you need, they are meant to motivate you.
Red velvet sweet shoppe7. Build a great team. We are so lucky at Red Velvet (our local shop) because we currently have three lovely young ladies who work the majority of the open hours at our shop while Elsie and I finish up our first book. We realized about a month ago that although we love working in our local shop we just needed the extra time in order to be out taking pictures and creating content. So even though we still have many responsibilities at Red Velvet, having this team helps us to accomplish more than we could on our own. Ask for help when you need it. 
8. Work in bulk when you can, or multi-task. This is also a lesson we've learned over the years that absolutely helps us to be able to create all the beautiful content you see here on the blog. For example, if I know I'm baking a recipe for a feature then I know I will have some time while it's in the oven. With a little extra planning I could create another feature during the bake time, or answer emails , or see how many of my house chores I can complete in that time. And don't waste time doing little errands over and over; buy all supplies at once in one big trip. Working in bulk takes planning; but it can totally help you do more in less time.
9. Eliminate time wasters. I'm not saying you should never take a break or have a moment to blow off steam—we all need that. But it's best to set a time limit on these types of activities or to cut out time wasters you dont need. For example, I love instagram. I love looking at instragram and posting pictures and looking at others pictures. It's fun! But I usually set a time limit, like 3 minutes, to check my feed. Otherwise before I know it I have looked up who my friends are following and what pictures they are posting and then 20 minutes later I realize I really didn't accomplish anything... oops.
10. Chill out. No one is Superman. No matter how awesome you are (or, in my case, think I am) you will probably have a day, or even a season, where you feel like you are running behind all the time. Don't let this feeling ruin your life. Even if you are a little behind because of circumstances you can't control you don't want to take this feeling out on those you are close to, or it ruin your day. Too much stress can make us sick, it's no joke. So chill out, slow down and believe that your best effort is good enough. xo. Emma and Elsie
All photos by: Float Away Studios. 
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