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 thisโ€”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 toโ€”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 steamโ€”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. 
  • Thank you so much for this post! As a stay-at-home mama, I always think that I should have so much free time for side projects (blogging, cooking, photo-ing,all that neat stuff you ladies do!) but somehow it never quite works that way with a tiny person often hanging on my legs. Love this post. Thanks!

  • Love these tips! I have such a hard time balancing everything in my life, and I definitely need to put these into practice. Thanks Emma!

  • Thank you so much for this. I’ve been feeling really stressed out lately and this helped me to relax. I can’t wait for the book to come out!

  • Thank you for these great tips. Time management is such a huge issue for me even though I don’t have half the list of things to do as you lovely ladies! I’m a procrastinator at heart and I’m trying to get out of that way of processing ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again!

  • wow. that was seriously so perfect for the season I’m in. not sure if you get a chance to read through these comments, but in case you do I just wanted to say thank you. you girls are pretty great and I hope to someday be as productive and inspirational as you. have a sweet day!

  • Ahhhhh…..I needed this!!! I was just telling my husband last night that my lack of time management has whirled off the charts! My blog has taken off with all this hyper focus but it’s time to share the love!! DEF not enough hours!!! THANKS for the post! kimi
    http://www.californiapixie.com

  • Love the idea of tiers and layering according to importance for this season. I get my building blocks seriously out of order sometimes so having this visual picture is what I need. Enjoyed hearing all your tips! Thanks.
    Catherine Denton

  • Well this couldn’t have come at a better time, I feel myself saying that on your blog and others a lot lately. Right now I am in the process of starting a blog, an etsy shop and making my dream come true and I am having a lot of trouble focusing and using my time well, as well as not comparing myself to others that I want to be as good as. Thanks for this, you two are so marvelous and I will always enjoy what you do and be inspired ๐Ÿ™‚

  • A really great post again, I was also always wondering like Amy how you manage the whole bunch of things, congratulations really, I must say I really admire you both but I could never get myself together to do so many things, my goals are alyway floating in front of me and I often really inrritated what I really want, I hope there will be a time when I found what I really want in my (job)life.

  • Thank you so much for posting this! I’m the worst at time management. I wonder the same things. This really helps ๐Ÿ™‚ Great post โ™ฅ

  • Great post.

    The thing that stood out to me the VERY MOST was this line:

    “No matter how awesome you are (or, in my case, think I am)…”

    That’s what I would like to see a post on from you and Elsie… self-worth and confidence in abilities, etc.

    Maybe sometime? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Karen Beth, she was totally joking in that statement, but i LOVE your topic idea! We will add it to our list. XOXO!

  • This was really helpful, no matter what kinds of things are keeping you busy. You girls are doing a wonderful job! Thanks for working so hard to inspire others. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thank you for taking the time to do this:) It really was a powerful read for me. I feel like I can get so excited about the growth of something I have put time and energy in that I always want to say YES…but as my mom use to say…every time you say yes to something you are saying no to something else. Loved hearing your wise insights!! Thank you for sharing and I want to visit your shop!!

    http://nateandabbyclark.blogspot.com/

  • This is SUCH a great post you guys! I know this is something that I myself struggle with. Baby steps! Thanks for sharing some of your tips! Love….”ask for help when you need it”. That’s always a tough one for me. You guys rock ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thank you so much for this! I’m a cramer, I like to cram as much as I can into the shortest amount of time. However recently I just feel as though I’m getting nothing done. So I’m going to turn over a new left, chill out and sort it all out.

  • Amazing! I currently own two Etsy shops (trying for a third) and I get so flustered and down on myself sometimes. Thanks for the article!

  • These are so helpful! I especially love what you say about working in bulk. I’ve been learning to do that with my photography: I don’t have time very often to get dolled up. So when I do, I figure “Hey, why not pull a few different outfits out of the closet and take some pictures for a few future blog posts!” It’s helped me to make sure I’m actually part of my own blog ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I really needed this. Thanks! Between work and school alone it’s 70 hours a week, plus freelance work, plus the blog, plus a 3-year-old…it’s all I can do to keep my head on straight sometimes, and even so I feel like I never see family or friends.

    On the plus side, school is DONE in two more weeks, and life is gonna change, big time. It’s to the point that I have no idea what to expect of this new life just over the horizon. In the meantime – planning!

  • Excellent post! In fact it is so excellent that I will send some of my clients here in the future! Such good advice!

  • this is really, I mean REALLY helpful post. I will send this post to my dearest friends to provide us better time management!

  • Love your tips! “Reward yourself for a job well done” is one of the biggest things that I’ve learned from you. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s an incredible motivator and I’m really grateful for you sharing it with all of us.

    Keep on being your beautiful, talented self Elsie! You’re an incredible inspiration and amazing business mind ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This is such a great list. I struggle constantly with time management. It comes from years of being a manager. I always started with a plan, but then staff issues etc. made me more of a fire-fighter and I was forced to plan less and less. Now I find myself unable to break out of my fire-fighting habit.
    None the less, I love the part about setting goals and then figuring out how to get there. I believe in reverse engineering. I imagine myself achieving that goal and then work backwards…what steps did I take to get there? Then that becomes my plan of attack.

    But so important to cut yourself some slack, take a break, and celebrate when you reach a milestone. Just this week I rewarded myself with a pedicure after finishing a big part of my ecourse on business plans.

    Thanks for another great post!

  • This post is just wonderful…and inspiring. Thank you for blessing me with this today. I will take it to heart and get off Pinterest, haha! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Love this! You are a daily blog read and I have to admit I was quite impressed when I first started commenting, Elsie immediately took the time to say hello on my blog! Talk about winning over blog readers early! You are talented ladies but also very genuine and it comes off in your posts how much you love and respect your readers! You girls are great blog and business role models! Keep up the good work!

  • This post came at a perfect time for me. Just the other night I was overwhelmed and unmotivated and scrolled through ABM to get inspired and back on track. This was so helpful, and as inspiring as always. Thank you Emma & Elsie ๐Ÿ™‚

    <3 Katie

  • Incredibly great words of wisdom I especially like the tiers idea to keep things in perspective. Thanks for sharing!

  • This is such good advice; for me, it’s just what I needed to hear right now, so thank you! Now that I’m on summer break, I’ve been trying to put more work into my blog, and I constantly feel like i’m behind on everything, so I’ll definitely give some thought to all of these points.

  • I’ve often wondered how you girls do it. This is much-needed advice at the moment! I am currently packing and tying up loose ends to propel my big move to China and I’m having a hard time staying motivated/on task because it all seems so overwhelming. So I thought I’d pop in and voila! I’m reading motivating tips! So, thank you!! Keep up the great work ๐Ÿ™‚
    Have a wonderful weekend!!!

  • Love this. You ladies are a complete inspiration on so many levels. Hats off to you, and thank you for this!!!

  • YES to all of it, but especially the idea of another, future post about confidence, self-worth and (I’m adding this) being a woman. I feel like it’s pretty odd to see a woman really have confidence in herself and take herself and her career super seriously, especially in her twenties. I’d love it if you ladies would speak to that…?

  • Lovely post! I had been wondering the same thing ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Great ideas, can’t wait to apply them to my life– super helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚

    xoxo
    Nat

  • Thanks for sharing this! Encouraged in the early morning.

    Can I ask, what you girls did for you undergraduate? and is it related to the things you girls are doing now?

    xoxo
    God bless!

  • I’ve wanted to start blogging for ages, but with my schedule, it’s been such a challenge. I finally took the plunge and decided to go for it! Your advice here is amazing and makes me feel way less stressed and way more motivated. Thank you!!

  • I love this! Especially #4 … I do that one too often :/ … but this really was inspiring to read!

  • Amazing post. “Work in bulk when you can.” LOVE THAT.
    You and Emma must inspire so many young women out there.
    Have a great weekend, girls.
    Ronnie xo

  • fantastic post, just what i needed!
    and i wholeheartedly agree on #4, recently someone told be she’s completely happy with the person she is and the way she looks, because she doesn’t compare herself to anybody else.
    xo, cheyenne

  • Best post you’ve ever written, hands down. I struggle so much with time management and love that you offered this type of advice!

  • Thanks! These are very good tips ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m now making a to-do list for today ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thank you for this. ๐Ÿ™‚ I run my own online shop + manage a blog + am in University (pre-med at that) and this is super duper helpful!

  • This is why you two have my favorite blog. Thank you for the inspiration and advice, girls. You are truly a lovely inspiration for me. I can’t wait to see your books!

    love, polly

  • Mein Bruder schlug mir vor, wie dieser Webseite. Er war absolut richtig. Dieser Beitrag wirklich made my day. Sie haben soeben cann’t vorstellen, wie viel Zeit hatte, diese Informationen weitergegeben! Vielen Dank!

  • Fรธrste Ting, jeg er attraktion i din blog, hvad du skriver og stil og gennemprรธvede. Tak. Mine bedste รธnsker til dig.

  • These are very very helpful! I might just print them out and hang them over my desk. Thank you!

  • Its amazing just how honest, practical and yet arty you girls continue to be and revel on this blog. I’m just starting out in blogland and trying to juggle sewing, motherhood, family time and having a social community filled life it’s great to be given some perspective and guidance. Thankyou.

    http://PoppyFoxathome.blogspot.com.au

  • Working in bulk is such a good tip…and scheduling posts too. I know I have a holiday coming up in August so have already asked some blogger friends to think about guest posts for that time! Plan, plan and plan some more ladies and gents! x

  • Thank-you so much for all of these tips, Elsie and Emma! I was just wondering, do you have any advice for young bloggers who still attend school, or maybe even bloggers who have day time jobs? Because young bloggers spend 6 hours of the day at school, and I am not allowed to be online all afternoon/night because I have homework and family time etc. Thank-you so much! Emily xoxo

  • Thank you so much for the lovely post! It is hard to try and handle everything you want to do with your life. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by the numerous things that I want to do that I don’t do them at all. I get stuck.

    Do you have a tip on how I can manage to do something and not get overwhelmed by the amount of things I have to do?

    xoxo
    Renee J.
    http://reneejacobe.blogspot.com

  • Emma, I love that you are able to offer the perspective of a full time student/worker/everythingelseyoudo because I think that people who balance jobs AND school don’t get enough credit for how damn hard it is!

  • Thank you so much for sharing all these wise words! I’m transitioning to working from home because I’m pregnant, and it has been so hard to realize I can’t do everything in a day that I want to! I know the importance of #10 first hand – this week I totally made myself sick from trying to work too hard! It’s all about finding the balance that works best for you. Thanks ladies for being such a great inspiration!

  • This was such a great post – it’s really relevant to me right now. I always wondered how you and Emma managed to juggle so many things without spontaneously self-combusting!
    I’ve always struggled with time management, especially this last year. I remember back in December I felt absolutely swamped because I’d said yes to more things than I could handle… and ended up almost spontaneously combusting :s
    It’s so comforting to know that successful time management isn’t just a dream… it can be a reality. Thanks so much for this post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This post is so great! I’m stuck in the middle of my last three learning days for my final exam (and hell I’m unmotivated!) but your post just remembered me why I’m doing this! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you sooo much ๐Ÿ™‚
    Greetings Jo

  • THese are great tips! I really like the one about knowing when to say no and the one about reminding yourself to make time to relax and do self care! I’m bad at both, but they are super important for sustained productivity! Always room for improvement!

  • Compassion with yourself is important but I like to draw the line before it reaches laziness.

    Cheers!
    Ash

  • Thanks so much for this. I have been putting off so much and not managing my time well at all. This post reminded me that I must write to-do lists and prioritise my projects. Thank you!

  • Thank you SO much for this post! It was really something I needed to read at the moment and I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to write it, thanks again. xx

  • This is a great post, Emma – so much common sense. I had never thought of things as tiers before; I’m going to go and ponder that one for a bit.

  • I read and took notes (:! Really helpful for the season I am in right now.

  • That’s great advice for just about all of us, in terms of managing and balancing our lives as well.
    You gals are awesomely leading by examples of those points.. Thumbs up! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • An excellent post! You broke time management down and make it seem very simple, actually. I specifically enjoyed reading #4. Sometimes, I want to be as successful as (insert name here) and then end up feeling down, and not give myself enough credit.

    You gals are super inspirational. Thank you!

    Cathy Trails

  • thanks, Emma and Elsie. Some really great tips and words, especially – believe that your best effort is good enough.

  • I fully agree with this post. Thank you so much for making it!

    I truly believe that comparing yourself to others is like poison. You’re making the choice of destroying your mood and/or your day when it’s not worth the trouble. Everyone is different, have different lives & experiences, so it’s useless to compare yourself to another who isn’t you. You are taking focus away from productive things and keeping yourself from success.

    I really enjoyed this post. ๐Ÿ™‚

    http://horsesofares.blogspot.com

  • I love these kinds of posts. It’s full of great tips and “real” advice. Personnaly I’m not a busy person (which has made me very lazy over the years). Now I need motivation to do things and fill my life with projects otherwise I will get more and more depressed (with a feeling of uslessness). Your blog has given me a lot of ideas (some of which I have put to practice) and I’ve begun to get….happier. I have made a list of goals for the year and I’m slowly getting through it and I want to thank you guys for that. You inspire me ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers

  • Great post. I am alaways beating myself up over not having time to accomplish the things I am passionate about. But, as you stated, top priorities need to stay as such and right now, its my kids. I guess I would rather have a blank canvas than a neglected child. Thanks for the reminder! S-o-m-e-d-a-y I will again find time for paint and brushes.

  • Thanks so much for this. I always feel better after reading posts like this one – they’re a great source of motivation! I have a full-time job (which is unavoidable unfortunately) and sometimes feel like I never have enough time to do and make all of the things I want to. Having a large family and friend base also adds to the guilty feeling when you’re out spending quality time. Planning is the key I think.

  • Love when you guys post heartfelt responses to readers’ questions. I think this is a wonderful list that can apply to just about anyone.

    Thanks for posting and keep up the awesome work!

    Melissa

  • thank you so much for this post. it definitely does take a lot to run your own business(es), write a book, this blog and personal lives, you guys are amazing. gives me an insight on how to deal with mine!

  • Even with these tips that are extremely helpful to me, I am amazed at the sheer volume of work you produce. I started following your blog this last month because I need to produce one to support my own business. I am glad to have found you and become one of your students. Thank you for sharing so much information in addition to all of your excellently blogged features.

  • Ok, I totally 100% needed this post! I am in the midst of making some major job/life decisions and kind of needed some prioritizing help. This list is a for real answer to prayer! Thanks guys ๐Ÿ™‚

    Brooke

  • #9 is a big one for me. I need to take advantage of the little moments between classes, and when I’m waiting for the bus, etc to get things done that I won’t otherwise. However, on that note, I’d even add another one to the list #11: Take advantage of little moments! No amount of time is too small to take a little crack at something portable, like blogging from your phone, jotting down ideas, making to-do lists, etc. That’s something I’ve really had to pick up on, but I have my ups and downs with it.

  • These are great tips for time management! We agree with all of these and find them applicable to time management for small business, especially to “chill out.” You constantly have to review your tasks and adjust your schedule if needed.