How to Streamline Your Workflow as a Self-Managed Creative Entrepreneur

how to streamline your workflow as a creative entrepreneur

April 20, 2023

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Transitioning from working for someone else to launching your own full-time business is a thrilling milestone. There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing that you’re dedicating all of your time, energy and hard-earned talents to hustling your own dreams. Yesss, you go, Glen Coco!🔥

With that being said, becoming your own – responsible – boss and learning how to effectively manage yourself doesn’t come easy. You’re 100% responsible for everything you do (or don’t do) and what happens consequentially.

This is exactly why streamlining your workflow is crucial for boosting your productivity and achieving your business goals.

Dedicated to all you creative entrepreneurs (aka serial hat jugglers), this blog will explore some practical tips, tools, and strategies to help you find your flow – to maximise your work-life balance and minimise the overwhelm!

6 tips & strategies for streamlining your workflow as a creative entrepreneur

1. Set (business) goals to hold yourself accountable

As a creative entrepreneur, you’re no stranger to the importance of goal-setting. Yet, it’s so easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of the goals that are keeping us on track, especially when you’re too busy being…busy.

If you’re working your arse off but feel like you’re not getting anywhere, it’s time to reflect and reset. Take the time to set goals that will help you to remember your ‘why’ so you can refocus your time, efforts, and resources productively.

Depending on what feels most natural and achievable for you, everyone will have a unique goal-setting process. However, you can start by breaking down your “big-picture” business goals into smaller 90-day goals.

As an example, your goals for the first quarter might be to:

  • Create a new pricing guide
  • Implement a client meeting calendar
  • Update your website with new services/ products
  • Set up website tracking tools
  • Audit spending and review expenses

Once you’ve established your quarterly 90-day goals, you’ll then be able to break each goal down into even smaller monthly, weekly, and daily goals or tasks.

For example, in order to achieve the ‘Create a new pricing guide’ 90-day goal, you might assign yourself the following goals/tasks:

  1. Find & purchase a new pricing guide template
  2. Update all the copy (or outsource to a copywriter)
  3. Refine your prices & packages
  4. Create add-ons & upsells
  5. Source testimonials
  6. Update the branding & visual assets
  7. Publish & share your new pricing guide

Depending on what’s involved, you can work on your 90-day goals concurrently or focus on completing one before starting on the next. Prioritise any tasks that are more impactful or time-sensitive.

This approach will help you to set aside time to work on each individual goal, aside from the everyday admin to-dos, so you can keep making steady progress on your 90-day and big-picture goals.

2. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.

Being real with yourself, you can get the ball rolling by asking yourself simple questions like:

  • What do I enjoy doing the most? Tasks that you could spend hours on without feeling drained or tired.
  • What am I naturally good at? Tasks that you can accomplish quickly and easily, without extra effort.  
  • What do I hate working on? Tasks that you dread and procrastinate on because they drain your energy.
  • What do I struggle with? Tasks that you enjoy/ don’t mind but take up more time and energy than they should. 

By establishing what you’re naturally good at or enjoy doing most, you can focus on tapping into your innate creativity and thriving in your zone of genius.

Image Credit: Damian Mazurek

To learn more about finding your genius zone, you can read Gay Hendricks’s book ‘The Genius Zone’ or this article.

On the other hand, identifying your weaknesses will give you the opportunity to decide between investing time to upskill yourself in that area OR outsourcing those tasks to an expert. With limited time and money, you’ll want to factor in the opportunity cost, which is what you may potentially lose out on if you choose to focus your resources on one alternative over another.

As a creative entrepreneur, it’s vital to embrace the fact that you don’t have to try and do everything by yourself and that it’s okay to not be an expert at everything. Otherwise, you’ll quickly end up burning out.

Double down on your strengths and passions, improve what you can and grow your team to include people who can balance out your weaknesses.

3. Create a daily and weekly schedule

Responsible for managing your own time, creating a daily and weekly schedule will help you to stay focused and organised. Aligned with your goals, plan your week ahead with a detailed schedule that outlines your tasks and deadlines.

Rather than overwhelming yourself, be realistic with your time estimates and prioritise your tasks based on their importance and urgency.

You can use this Impact/ Effort matrix when prioritising tasks in your daily and weekly schedule.

impact effort matrix by jai long co

Don’t forget to schedule short, regular breaks throughout your day! Even if it’s just for a few minutes, to stretch or relax, stepping away from work will help you recharge, clear your mind, and return to your tasks with a fresh perspective.

Before you start each day, review the list of tasks that need to be completed that day. Whether it takes you 2 hours or 6 hours to complete the list, once you’re finished, you’re FINISHED for the day. You don’t need permission to “pack up and go home”.

Helpful tools for managing and streamlining your workflow:

  • Trello: Known for its Kanban boards, Trello allows you to create boards, lists, and cards to track your tasks and collaborate with others.
  • Asana: A task and project management tool for creating projects, assigning tasks and setting due dates. (We use Asana at Jai Long Co.)
  • Monday work management keeps all your tasks, tools, and teams together in one place.

4. Understand your chronotype and how it impacts your productivity levels

Whether you’re an early bird or night owl, being your own boss means that you’re not confined to the standard nine-to-five work week!

This means that you can set your daily schedule to suit your own unique internal clock, which includes your chronotype. Closely related to your body’s circadian rhythm, your chronotype is your body’s natural disposition to be awake or asleep at certain times.

Developed by Dr. Michael Breus, a Clinical Psychologist and Sleep Medicine Expert, there are four chronotypes:

  • Dolphin
  • Lion
  • Bear
  • Wolf

Affecting all aspects of your daily life, each of these chronotypes have unique schedules and productivity windows that allow them to function at their peak.

Ready to work with your body, not against it? Take the Chronotype Quiz!

5. Delegate and automate tasks to streamline your workflow

In line with identifying your strengths and weaknesses and recognising you don’t have to do everything on your own, find out what tasks you can automate or delegate.

You can delegate or outsource any tasks that don’t bring you joy or aren’t your area of expertise to free up your time.

Just as an idea, you can hire a VA to help you with managing client enquiries, scheduling meetings and following up on invoices. On the other hand, you might outsource your monthly blogging requirements to a freelance copywriter for photographers and engage an SEO specialist to optimise your website.

As a creative entrepreneur, time is your most precious resource. Make a list of all the repetitive tasks that can be automated, for example, scheduling social media posts, sending invoices, or responding to client enquiries.

Once you have that list, you can then use helpful automation tools like Zapier, Hootsuite, Dubsado, and Calendly to streamline everyday tasks.

Hot tip: If you’re a photographer, check out 15 of the best AI tools for your photography business. You can also sign up for an instant replay of Jai Long’s AI webinar for photographers.

6. Review, reflect, and tweak

Once you’ve found your rhythm, it’s important to still regularly review your workflow and reflect on what’s working and what’s not.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I still on track and working in alignment with my short and long-term goals?
  • In the past month, what have I spent most of my time on?
    • Which of the tasks were essential?
    • Which tasks helped with generating revenue?
  • Do I feel energised or drained after a typical day?
  • Are there any bottlenecks or areas that can be further improved?
  • Am I allocating my time efficiently?
  • Can I now afford to outsource additional tasks?
  • Are there new tools I can use to improve my workflow?

Hot tip: If there are any tasks that have been on your to-do list for longer than 90 days, it’s time to ditch them or outsource them. Unless there’s a specific reason for why it’s been on your radar for so long, don’t let procrastination hold you back from making progress in other better-suited areas.

With regular reflections and audits, you’ll be able to identify areas of improvement and make necessary tweaks to streamline your workflow and processes even further.

Most importantly, remember that you are the boss of your business.

work-life balance as an entrepreneur

Life is far from predictable, even at the best of times, so always give yourself grace when things don’t quite work out to plan. Adjust your schedule and carry on!

Focus on building a business that helps you to achieve both your business and personal goals while allowing you to become your best self. Don’t get caught up in “all work, no play” and set clear boundaries so you can prioritise your self-care and work-life balance. Make time for the people you love and the things you enjoy outside of work.

Filling your own cup first, before filling others’, is not selfish. Taking care of yourself is not a luxury, but a necessity for your long-term success as a creative entrepreneur and an individual.

Remember that YOU are the boss, your business is not the boss of you.✨

Never forget your ‘why’ and don’t let your business boss you around. Wear your big boss hat with pride!

Tune into this Make Your Break podcast episode about productivity

Being busy for the sake of being busy is over-glorified in today’s culture. Stepping away from mindless busyness, this podcast episode is all about maximising productivity and being impactful in your daily workflow!

Meet the Author

Obsessively wordsmithing and hyping the living daylights out of anything and anyone, Mel is our word nerd and coach from Melinda Harcourt Copywriting.

You’ll also find her regularly dropping hot website/ biz tips inside the Business Map and yelling at people for downplaying their wins (“big” or “small”, every win is still a win).




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