Lately, life has been crazy. It seems that ever since Halloween, the holiday season kicked into full gear. Except that it’s November, not December.
Suddenly, after school activities are busier. The kids have projects, concerts, feasts and field trips. And there’s been a steady parade of colds that keep prancing through our house.
All of this “stuff” seems to equal more waiting time. Whether it’s drumming my thumbs waiting for an after school activity to let out or waiting at the doctor’s office for an appointment, more of my days have been spent with minutes away from my studio.
I’ve always found it hard to work on the go. When the kids were little, I would sometimes grab my sketch book to draw or an Ideas Notebook to write down new thoughts on my latest blog post. But my computer work – designing, writing and other tasks – were best completed in my home office.
This has become harder these days. More of my daily life has been driven outside of my work from home space. Gone are the days when everyone would hunker down for nap time every afternoon and leave me with a couple of hours of guaranteed quiet time. At home.
So, what’s a business mom to do?
Take advantage of the waiting time as much as possible. I’ve returned to my list of 5 minute tasks that I wrote down. And I will try to work on some of these tasks.
But, sometimes my wait time goes into a half hour or more. I want to dive deeper into being really productive instead of wasting this precious time. Especially if my traditional work time in the studio has been cut.
An Etsy seller I was friends with once – she since has closed her shop – had trouble posting on Instagram. She would have the photo and caption ready to go, but always forgot to hit publish.
One day, on the way to school, she asked her daughter to publish the Instagram post for her. They were waiting in DC traffic and my friend talked her through how to publish a post. Her daughter did so quite successfully.
Although she didn’t publish the Instagram post herself, she did take advantage of the traffic waiting time. After that, her daughter started publishing all of her Instagram posts. Suddenly, her audience saw that she was posting on Instagram daily and her following started to grow.
There are lots of tasks that you can plan to do during the pockets of waiting time throughout the day. It’s just about getting creative.
Here are some ideas about ways to use your waiting time to your advantage and help grow your business. You might even start being more productive in every day life.
Become a Social Media Whiz
My main business focus for the new year is to develop my social media followings more.
One of the best FREE ways to grow your social media account is through consistency.
Your followers want to see you. Often. You need to interact with them. Respond to messages. Post something interesting or inspiring. They kind of need to become one of the family.
Once your followers know that you’re there and you care about their needs, your social media impact will grow.
But, who has time for all of that? This is a big reason why businesses hire social media managers in the first place. Because running a business is one thing. Managing social media accounts is another.
Unfortunately, my business budget doesn’t call for a social media manager. At least not for right now. So if I want to grow my social media accounts, I need to do it myself.
Luckily, this is a task that I can do on the go. All I need is my social media calendar and phone.
Everything else can be completed away from my office desk.
I can make social media posts using a post creating app. Drafts of social media posts can be scheduled on Facebook. Although Instagram posts need to go live immediately, I can schedule them using Tailwind.
Another option is to post on multiple social media channels at the same time. When you post to Instagram, you can also post to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
If you aren’t sure about actually creating the posts during your waiting time, you could work on scheduling them using a social media calendar. My post creation process goes a lot faster when I know what I want to post. Use your waiting time to plan out what you want to post and when.
Pin and Pin Again
I have read a lot in recent months about the benefits of a manual pinning strategy. As much as I love to use Tailwind to grow my business, studies are showing that manual pinning is pretty effective.
One way that I grew my Pinterest account when I started my business – before the world of scheduling apps – was by pinning. All the time. Whenever I had some spare minutes, I pulled up the app on my phone and added new pins.
If you have waiting time that you need to use, start spending some of it pinning. You can repin from your favorite people or create niche boards with new pins from blog posts you’re reading.
Another way to use your waiting time is create pins for your products and blog posts. The Canva app let’s you access all of the templates from the regular Canva. You can then make your pins on the go. After you’ve created your pin, choose the upload to Pinterest option and you can create your pin straight from Canva.
Let Etsy Know What You’re Up To
If you own an Etsy shop, there’s another way to establish relationships with your buyers. You need to use Etsy Updates. Often.
Etsy Updates is the share tool directly on the Etsy platform. (Although, you can share your posts on social media too.)
When you post to Etsy Updates, your post is broadcasted to the feeds of the buyers who like your shop. So, the theory goes that the more often you post to Etsy Updates, the better chance these buyers will visit again.
Most importantly, Etsy Updates keeps your shop active and in front of buyers’ eyes.
But if you aren’t posting on Etsy Updates often, this free marketing tool is lost. And the funny thing about Etsy Updates is that it works like Instagram. You can only post from your phone. So, it’s the perfect task to do during extra waiting time.
One of the issues I’ve run into with posting on Etsy Updates on the go is not having the photo that I want to use accessible. Sometimes I post a customers’ party picture (with permission of course) or another marketing photo that was taken of the item in action. But these photos are usually located on my hard drive.
So, before leaving I email myself these photos. Once they are in my inbox, I can then access them to put on Etsy Updates.
Another trick is to take the photos on my phone as well as my professional camera when I am working on my product photography. Having a few photos on my phone gives me the option to post to Etsy Updates (or another social media platform) on the go.
To Do Lists
I love making and using to do lists. They are the core of my productive life and I don’t know where I would be without them.
The reality about to do lists, though, is that they take time to make. You need to analyze what you’ve accomplished, the things that still need to be done and make sure that everything is on the trajectory to meet your goals. Oh yeah. And you need to write it all down.
I don’t always have time to make detailed to do lists. So when I know there is waiting time in my day, I will grab my blank to do lists and work on them when I’m on the go.
One way I keep everything straight is by maintaining a to do list notebook. I put the week or next date at the top of each page and write down the things to do that day. This system works well because it fits in my purse or backpack. There’s never a question where my to do notebook is. Since I use a bigger planner at home, I just transfer the things that need to be completed every day over to the correct time blocks.
Write a Blog Post
One thing I love about my phone is that it’s like having a little computer on the go. With the assortment of apps now available, you can do almost any task that normally is completed on a desktop computer on your phone.
The WordPress App let’s you run your entire blog on the go. You can write blog posts, update website elements and track your data.
I primarily use the app to write blog posts when I am away from my computer. Although typing on my phone keyboard isn’t my favorite activity, I can easily edit my mistakes when I get home. If you’re like me and tend to come up with great ideas when you’re out, using the app is a great way to record your thoughts.
Add Product Listings
Adding product listings is another task that used to have to be reserved for times in my office. But, thanks to the upgraded e-commerce apps, I am able to compose product listings during waiting time now.
Both the Sell on Etsy App and Shopify Apps allow you to add new products, edit current listings, upload photos and publish. The only note is that as wonderful as these apps are, nothing quite replaces looking at my work on a full computer monitor.
Before publishing your new listings, take time to double check them. I’ve noticed my spelling mistakes add up when I’m writing on a mobile device. And sometimes photos don’t look quite right. The nice thing is you can save your product listing as a draft and finish it up when you get back to your office.
Make Important Phone Calls
The activity that I loathe the most each week is… you guessed it making phone calls. There’s something about picking up my phone and dialing a number that just doesn’t do it for me any more. (This might seem sad to some and I am working on it.)
One of the problems is that making phone calls feels like it takes awhile. Depending on the type of call, you might be put on hold or have a lot of waiting time just from the call.
There also is a conversation that has to occur. Sometimes these go quite long and I don’t always feel like I have the time to invest.
But, like most people, I have a list of phone calls that pile up. When there is waiting time in my day, I like to use the quiet time in my car to call people back. I will do everything from make appointments, fix problems with a third party vendor and catch up with friends.
One of the other things I love to do during this time is send text messages. We have friends and family scattered throughout the country (and world). I love sending them little notes to let them know that I’ve been thinking about them. These check ins fortify our relationships and make me feel like I’m reaching out more often.
Get Errands Done
We all have them. Lots of errands that pile up every day. There is always something that we need at home.
Instead of worrying about running to the store, order your necessities online. You can set up Amazon Prime Pantry to deliver all of your household supplies and even food on a scheduled basis. The grocery stores will now go as far as doing your shopping for you. Just place an order and pick up on your way home.
While you are waiting, set up these systems. And if your child needs soccer cleats or a new baseball mitt, add that to the list.
I’m proud to say that most of my Christmas shopping this year was completed during waiting times. I just keep my Christmas gift list with me on my phone and place orders on the go. It’s a lot easier than wrestling with other shoppers at the mall (although, not as much fun I’ll admit).
Catch Up on Reading
If you are following my Instagram account, you know I’ve been aiming to increase my reading to 50 books a year. Really it would be 100, but I can’t figure out how to read quite that much and do everything else I love.
But even 50 books a year is a stretch. It amounts to about a book a week. And depending on the length of the book, that can be quite a commitment.
My newest rule to increase my reading time is to never leave the house without a book in hand. It turns out that you can’t predict when you’ll have time to read. So, just like the Boy Scouts, you should be prepared.
As Stephen King shared in his autobiography On Writing, the best way to read is in sips and swallows. Ever since having kids, I’ve been using this technique to increase my reading time. Although sometimes I would love uninterrupted reading time, it does help reading little bits here and there. Books are completed much faster when you read in small chunks than not reading at all.
Waiting time gives me a chance to read in swallows. I usually can get a couple of pages done depending on how long the break is. So, make sure you grab a book before heading out the door.
Not sure what to read? Check out these great business book ideas for creative entrepreneurs. There’s sure to be something on the list that interests you.
Stay in Touch
This is my absolute favorite task to use waiting time for. Staying in touch with friends and family doesn’t always happen naturally. So, I love taking some quiet minutes in my day and let them know I’m thinking about them.
When I’m leaving the house, I sometimes grab stationery and an envelope. When I was a kid, friends called me the snail mail queen. I was quite a good pen pal.
And to this day, I still love sending people little notes to brighten their day. It brings me so much pleasure to write a friend a quick letter and pop it in the mail.
To make this process quick and easy, I keep a stack of envelopes on my desk stamped for the occasion. If I know that there are specific people that I want to send notes too, I address the envelopes in advance. After I write the letter, I stop by a post box on the way home to mail it.
If I forget my stationery, I will also write emails to people. Another important task is staying up to date with social media. Although I’m not a huge fan of spending lots of time on social media channels, I do take some minutes to communicate with personal friends. I comment on their posts, send personal messages and let them know that I miss them.
Waiting time is inevitable these days. As a busy mom, I am controlled by my children’s schedules most days. And those schedules include time spent waiting.
Instead of wasting these precious moments, use them to help build your business. Write the blog post you keep putting off. Update social media and add some new product listings. You can even use the time to catch up on life stuff so you don’t have to do those tasks during your precious work time later.
Sometimes waiting time, though, is short. Like really short. There are many times during the day when I just find myself with an extra five minutes. You can find some ideas for how to fill those shorter moments here.
When we commit to using our time productively, no matter our location, it’s amazing how much more we can get done during the day.
As much as I am pro greater productivity, don’t forget to reserve a couple of moments to just breathe. It’s okay to spend your waiting time daydreaming out the window or getting lost in your thoughts. These activities are just as important to be a successful creative business mom.
Have some waiting time in your schedule today? Choose one or two of the activities above that you can easily complete. Pack the materials you’ll need for them ahead of time. And try it out. See which things you enjoy doing on the go and which should still be reserved for office work time. Just because you can do activities elsewhere, doesn’t mean it’s the best fit.
Now go get them!