A behind the scenes look at how I only work 10 hours a week and still hit my goals
Think you need to work 40+ hours a week to run a creative business? Believe you’ll only be successful if you keep the hustle up 24/7/365? Think it’s impossible to only work 10 hours a week and still make a great income? That’s something I believed too.
I spent the first few years of my business GLUED to my computer. Taking my laptop with me on every “vacation” and was even checking emails at my wedding. I thought that’s what you had to do to run a successful business.
And of course I did, because that’s what we’re told! All over the internet you’ll see quotes saying things like, “I quit my 40-hour a week job so I could work 80 hours a week for myself!”
The entrepreneur world has normalized and even glamorized working nonstop in the pursuit of “success.”
Look, there’s something to be said for being passionate and putting in some hustle. And at the beginning of your business, there’s generally a lot of hustle needed. If you’re living in a constant state of hustle, you will burned out, and could even end up working yourself into the hospital.
Long story short: I was doing the hustle in my web design business, and I wasn’t going ANYWHERE. At first, I was happy, because I was working for myself, but after a few years I was EXHAUSTED and defeated.
How I stopped doing the hustle
In 2015, I ended up simplifying my business so that I could manage some home renovation projects, and to my surprise, my business started taking off. I was doing less and earning more, because I was focused on just my most impactful activities. I didn’t know it then, but this is essentially the 80/20 rule, and how I choose what to work on in my business today.
And as a mom, I’m SO glad I accidentally figured this out.
Now, I’m able to make six figures a year, while working only 10 hours a week and spending tons of quality time with my kiddo–I NEVER would have thought that I could work 10 hours a week and still make good money. I probably would have laughed in your face if you’d suggested it!
So how do I do it? How can you do it for yourself? Let me tell ya!
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Define success for yourself
The first thing I needed to do was STOP chasing what others were telling me I needed to chase and define my own vision of success.
I realized that, personally, don’t want what a lot of the gurus are schilling. That means that I don’t want a giant team, I don’t want to get sand in my laptop working on the beach, and I really don’t want to make my entire identity my business.
Instead, I want to make a good living and spend time enjoying my life. And, at this point in my life with a small kid at home, I want to only work 10 hours a week.
Because of all the messaging we’re inundated with, I really needed to get CLEAR on what success meant to me–and unlearn what I thought it meant.
I did this by doing something kinda morbid and imagining I was at the end of my life. What did I want to see when I looked back at my life? How would I spend my time right now if I only had a year to live?
Things get clear and you’re forced to take action if you only give yourself a year. From this clarity I’m able to create actionable goals for my life and business.
Quick tip: Spend some time writing down what success looks like to YOU. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like what the gurus or your parents say it should.
Create and track your goals
If you want to only work 10 hours a week, you need to have a plan. I start by outlining where I want to be in the next year. I call this my “Big Picture Map.”
Then I break down the year’s goals into quarters, and create a 12-week plan to work from. I find that working in 12-week chunks really helps me stay focused, and also allows me to pivot if needed throughout the year if my goals change or something isn’t working.
From my 12-week plan, I break down my goals into actions for each week, and then even further into daily to-dos.
This might seem like a lot, but in reality, it takes just a few minutes each week, and really helps me know what I need to do each time I sit down at my computer. During my weekly review I analyze what I did in the past week, what I need to do in the next, and if anything needs to be adjusted.
I also track my metrics (like income, expenses, what’s selling, etc.) each month and do a larger review each quarter. Again, this might sound like a lot, but I have a simple system for it which means it all takes less than 30 minutes!
Quick tip: I print out my Big Picture Map and keep it front-and-center so that I can see my goals every time I sit down at my desk. This is really helpful when I get stuck on what to do–if something doesn’t fit with my Big Picture Map, it’s probably a no!
Streamline your business
Chances are, you’re doing a lot of things in your business that are wasting your time. I know I was! Probably the biggest thing holding me back from being able to work 10 hours a week was doing things I didn’t need to be doing.
Now, I conduct an audit of my business 1-2x per year, to analyze all of my activities and whether they are bringing me closer to my goals, or holding me back.
You’re probably familiar with the Eliminate, Automate, Delegate framework. I’ve added two sections to it: Systematize and Optimize.
Essentially, I go through all of activities and decide what category it fits in.
Eliminate – Does it need to be done?
Systematize – Does it need better systems?
Automate – Can you automate it?
Delegate – Can someone else do it?
Optimize – Can the activity be improved?
I also consider whether each activity fits my vision of success. For example, selling websites made me good money, and was running very smoothly, but I wasn’t enjoying it anymore and didn’t want to hire a team to do it for me, so I retired.
Conducting this audit is actually pretty fun, and can be really eye-opening if you’re not sure what you need to focus on in your business!
Quick tip: If an entire audit sounds like too much right now, start with just eliminating things that don’t need to be done. Write down all of your offers, marketing activities, admin activities, etc., and start crossing out things that are not working for you, for any reason. You might be surprised at what you cross off!
Systematize and automate all the things
I love a good system and automation. I’ve created systems for my inbox, client projects, content creation, bookkeeping, and so much more! With tools like Dubsado, so much can be automated, saving HOURS each week.
I used to spend MOST of my time in my business on admin work. Instead of billable work or creating passive income. I was working a ton, but not making very much. That’s because I was bogged down with admin work that should have been systematized and automated.
Basically, if you’re going to do something more than once, you need to create a system. And if you can, automate it!
For example, one of the biggest time-sucks as a creative entrepreneur is email. We’re constantly in our inboxes, wasting time trying to think of how to respond, and answering the same questions over and over and over.
I decided to systematize how I handle emails, and now email normally takes me 5-10 minutes a day! If you only want to work 10 hours a week, you need to GTFO Your Inbox!
I systematized my email by:
- Automatically organizing my inbox
- Creating email templates
- Putting myself/my business first
If you wanna know more about how I handle my emails, you can check out this blog post, or my mini-course, GTFO Your Inbox.
You can create systems and automations for just about anything, and I highly recommend you do!
Quick tip: Setting up systems and automations can be overwhelming. Start with systematizing and automating ONE thing. Your email, your client onboarding, whatever feels easy to tackle. Then, move on to the next thing.
My 10-hour workweek breakdown
Okay, the part you’ve been waiting for. What does my workweek look like? How do I only work 10 hours a week? What do I do? Well, I’m gonna tell ya!
I generally work for 3-4 hours a day, two days a week. These are the days I have childcare in the morning, and I make the most of it!
On those days I do things like content creation (blogging, course/ebook content, podcast, etc.), marketing, and my mastermind meetings.
While I don’t currently offer one-on-one services, if I did, I’d be able to fit in things like half-day VIP days (which I plan to offer in the near future), or recurring revenue services like website maintenance or SEO. These would take the place of my content creation time.
The other 2-3 hours are spread throughout the rest of the workweek. These include my weekly review and planning (about 30 minutes a week) and admin work like checking my email and doing some basic bookkeeping.
Here’s what that looks like:
Weekly Review + Planning (30 Min)
Email and Bookkeeping (15 Min)
Content Creation (3.5 Hours)
Email (5 Min)
Email (10 Min)
Content Creation/Marketing (3 Hours)
Mastermind Meeting (1 Hour)
Email (5 Min)
Total time spent in a normal week:
About 8.5 Hours, leaving some time for random things that always pop up!
I was able to cut my work hours down to just ten per week, while still making six-figures. I did this by getting clear on my vision of success, creating and tracking my goals, auditing my business to find where I should focus my efforts, and creating systems and automations to save time.
If you want to dive deeper and cut your own work hours, check out my framework, Successfully Simple®, to help you get clarity on what you want in your life and business, and track your progress getting there.
Then, systematize and automate your business to shave hours off your admin time! You can get started by GTFO Your Inbox!
- GTFO Your Inbox
- The Successfully Simple Framework
- Save tons of time in your email inbox (and get your life back!)
- How successful creative businesses use systems to grow
- Easily manage your leads and clients
- How successful business owners set and track goals
- How to run your creative business on limited time
- VIP Day Quickstart
- Get your free systems map!