Sunday, March 3, 2013

How to Free Your Voiceover Business from the Pitfalls of Daily Time Traps

William Penn was once quoted as saying that “time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” That is truly nothing but the truth and is something that is realized day in and day out by every single person around the world today. When discussing the future, C.S. Lewis called it “something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour – whatever he does, whoever he is.” 

Within any type of business (not just voice talents), time plays a significant role along the journey towards achieving long-term success and longevity in that respective industry. You have to be able to manage your time wisely every single day without letup, maintaining a defined structure and sticking to a defined schedule that is specifically designed to lead you towards fulfilling your professional goals. 

One of the biggest problems with that journey, though, is that there are so many different time traps and pitfalls that can cripple your professional growth and cause you to just get left behind while all of your competitors run right past you. You need to be able to identify these time traps now so that you are fully aware of them and the dangers involved, because that is the only way that you are going to know what to look for on the road to success. 

We could spend hours talking about all of the different time traps that exist today within our homes, offices and lives in general. However, that would be  a time trap in itself because you would spend all of that time reading about time traps and still not know how to avoid them.

Therefore, let’s use this time wisely and spend the next several minutes that it will take you to finish reading this blog to talk about the key steps that you need to take to avoid getting trapped. 

Do Not Just Make Schedules, Stick to Them

It takes a few minutes to make a schedule, but it only takes one minute to break it. Maybe you should take a moment to reread that last sentence and truly let it sink in because it seems to be something that a lot of people do not seem to fully understand. 

Making a schedule for a person’s workday seems to be one of the easiest parts of the day overall. Saying that “making a schedule is half the battle” is a major exaggeration, because (if that was a true statement) then it would mean that sticking to that schedule is just as simple (or as difficult) as making it.

In order to avoid time traps, you need to be able to work hard at sticking to the schedules that we make. Otherwise, we will still be wasting time and also wasting the paper that we used to write the schedule out in the first place.

Do Not Take the “Golden Hour” for Granted

What is the “golden hour”? Unless you have a background in photography, you probably have not heard of that term before. The “golden hour” happens only twice a day – it is the first and the last hour of sunlight throughout the day. During this time, a photographer is able to do some of his best work because of the natural lighting and glowing effect that his outdoor pictures will have. Many outdoor photographers do the majority of their work for the day during these peak times because they know that they are going to be able to generate some amazing results by doing so. What if an outdoor photographer misses those times or spends them doing something else that is non-productive? They still may be able to get some work done that day, but they are not going to be able to have the same quality results. 

Within the voice talent business, you have to be able to take full advantage of your own “golden hours” or peak times when you are able to get the best quality work done every day. If you are becoming sidetracked by personal issues or even non-productive concerns that are related to your work, then you are going to let these “golden” opportunities pass you right by. 

During the peak time of the day, do not get caught up in the administrative side of the business (i.e. nonproductive phone calls, checking e-mails every few minutes, social networking websites, etc.). These things can be done just as well during the off-peak times of the day or even the week without causing any detrimental damage to your business. By letting those “golden hours” pass without taking full advantage of them, though, you will be setting yourself up for failure and then you will have all of the time in the world to waste when no one hires you for any work. 

Self-Employment Does Not Justify Cutting Corners

Just because you have your own business and do not have to punch the clock for someone else does not give you the right to excessively cut corners while you are on the job. What too many people fail to realize is that making the decision to become self-employed does not make anything easier – it only makes everything much more difficult! Sure, there is an overabundance of benefits and incentives that can be enjoyed through successful self-employment but you still have to put in the work. The term is “self-employment” – not “self-vacation” or “self-procrastination.” You should hold yourself accountable the same way that a boss would hold you accountable in the corporate world of 9-5ers. 

Try to avoid extended lunches and breaks throughout the day! Keep in mind that you are working as a company of one. In the corporate world, there is always going to be someone else working on the clock to keep productivity up for the company when you are going on break or lunch. If you are working for yourself, then you are essentially shutting your business down each time you take a break. How long would it take before those extended lunches and excessive breaks force you to close down your business for good? That is definitely something that you should always have in the forefront of your mind each time that you step away from your office or studio to take a break.

Stop Wasting Your Time, Maintain Your Focus

It is so easy to waste time throughout the day. Even if you do have a schedule that you are sticking to day in and day out, how much work is getting done during the time that you had scheduled to work? The digital age and advancements in technology have made it both much easier and more difficult to get work done. How so? Well, it is easier to get work done throughout the day because of the efficiency of your studio equipment, computers, high speed internet connection, smartphones, etc. However, it is also easy to get caught up on everything else that these devices provide you that have nothing to do with your work. How many times have you been working on something productive on your computer and then decide to play Minesweeper, Words for Friends or some other computer game that seems to be calling your name? How many times have you been lured away by iTunes, Spotify or some other cool program that you seem addicted to using on a daily basis? 

Facebook is an amazing tool that you can truly use to effectively grow and expand your business. However, you can also use Facebook to have personal conversations with all of your friends that happen to be online at the same time. There are literally hundreds of different games and applications that you can play and don’t even get me started on the time traps of viral videos that your friends and colleagues recommend you to see that you can’t seem to stop clicking “Repeat” on for hours at a time. 

“Get In and Get Out”

You need to be able to pull yourself away from these things. Keep a “get in and get out” mentality when you are scheduled to work. If you need to use Facebook, for example, get in there and do what you need to do for your business. As soon as you are done, get out! Easier said than done, I know! You need to apply this principle to everything that you do throughout the day.

If you are able to follow these key steps and implement them on a daily basis into your business, you are going to realize that you are able to get a lot more work done each day. You are going to feel much more productive on a regular basis because you actually will be productive, diligently pushing yourself and your business higher and higher towards reaching the peak of the mountain of success. Keep climbing, stay focused and avoid all time traps because the destination is closer than you think. You just need to stop wasting time in order to get there faster.