Productive vs. Busy (aka how to point out time leeches!)

Do you often find yourself saying “I am so busy!”.  This can be a great thing when it comes to your blog/business because it means you’re really getting things accomplished!

...or does it?


Busy and Productive are two words that people often misconstrue.  They think that they are being productive because they’ve been busy working on different tasks all day, but in reality if those tasks aren’t related to bringing in coins or growing your audience, was it really a good day in the lab?

Today I will be discussing productivity, how to recognize result oriented tasks , and how to avoid wasting time on tasks that are just "busy work" (AKA time leeches).

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I used to find myself getting caught up working on things that weren't really important. Sure, every task has a purpose, but it's easy to find yourself working on non-essential things and when you look back on the day you find that nothing of significance was completed.

Examples of this:

  • Redesigning your site header

  • Creating custom social media icons

  • Tweaking email marketing templates

  • Creating non-essential sidebar images

  • Designing a custom email signature

Can you relate?

I'm not saying that these tasks aren't important, but they may not need as much time dedicated to them as some other vital tasks on your To-Do list. Ultimately, you need to evaluate if the task is going to directly help you accomplish your main goals or bring in some cash. At day's end, you may feel like you have done so much...but did any of it really matter? Sure, you may have worked on customizing your social media icons for two hours and placed them in your sidebar, but do the social media accounts that they're linked to have current posts in the feed? Which is more important, having current items on your feed or having a cute image linking people to an inconsistent feed?

This is all to say...

“Being busy isn't something to celebrate, producing results is.”

Here are a few more examples of Busy Work (aka time suckers):

  1. Posting content to a social media platform where your audience isn’t largely active.

  2. Designing a new email header

  3. Growing your email list with no retention plan (i.e. never emailing them again after they join your list or seldom emailing them)

  4. Planning out content but never completing the content or even starting it

Now here are examples of Goal-Based Work (aka money makers):

  1. Goal: Growing your email list
    Various tasks related to this goal:

    • Performing Market Research to find out what your audience struggles with

    • Creating an amazing lead magnet to offer on your site that solves one of their major struggles (a checklist, workbook, free webinar, etc.)

    • Creating an email funnel to ultimately pitch a product/service to your email list

  2. Goal: Gaining more website traffic

Various tasks related to this goal:

  • Researching SEO (search engine optimization) techniques and applying them to your website

  • Directing social media traffic to your website through Live’s, IG Stories or feed posts (not via Linktree - here’s why not and what to do instead)

  • Setting up Ads to your products/services

3. Goal: Collaborating with brands
Various tasks related to this goal:

  • Updating your website to be clean, professional and cohesive

  • Providing valuable info on your blog consistently

  • Staying active on social media and engaging with your audience on a personal level (brands are starting to care more about engagement on social media than they are about follower counts)

  • Creating a media kit

  • Pitching companies that you want to collaborate with

4. Miscellaneous tasks that are goal-based:

  • Designing a sales page for a product/service

  • Taking product photos for product listings on your website

  • Setting up an automated task to complete work on your behalf (automation creates more time to work on your goal-based tasks!)

  • Setting up a client scheduling page

  • Creating an onboarding and offboarding client workflow


These example goals and accompanying tasks are directly related to money making or a bigger goal, so they aren’t a waste of time.

Now you may be wondering how to tackle non-essential tasks since they need to be completed at some point, right? A simple solution is to schedule a block of time to work on the "busy work" all at once (AKA Batching). I would suggest only two hours a week maximum. You can spread this out over a few days or you can do it all in one sitting.

The takeaway here is that all tasks for your blog/biz are important, but some of them are just a lower priority. Before you start something, stop and ask yourself, "Is this busy work or productive work?". This strategy has really been helpful for me since I am easily distracted and get off track sometimes!

Another great way to recognize if a task is goal oriented or not is to actually define what your main blog/business goals are and determine if the task will get you that much closer to accomplishing it.  By choosing what the goal is for your blog/biz, you can focus on it so much easier and recognize when something is just a leech.

(Related blog post: 5 Ways to Start Blogging With a Purpose)


Now that you know how to recognize goal-oriented tasks, do you want to know how to increase your productivity level so you can knock out those tasks more effectively?  I have a 16 page workbook that walks you through 6 ways to increase your productivity along with worksheets to help you plan it all out!

5 Ways Service Based Businesses Can Use Automation

Automation has so many different levels and can be used for any business, blog and the like.  Oftentimes when you hear about automation, it’s about how to post automatically to social media, copy data to a spreadsheet or add email subscribers to an email list.  Fortunately, the possibilities are endless and it’s not all about social media.

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1. Online Booking

This is the #1 way that automation can be used for a service-based business.  I often see businesses that have an email address to send inquiries to for booking services. This causes too much back and forth and potential for booking mistakes and /or plain confusion.  It also takes away time that you could be spending performing your services or working on other aspects of business. I suggest using an online booking tool (I use Acuity Scheduling), set your available days and times on your account and add the ”Book” link to your social media profiles.  Instagram actually has the book button for a few different online booking tools (Acuity Scheduling, Appointments by Square, Appointy, Avec, BeautyDate, Booksy, Fresha, Genbook, GetSquire,GlossGenius, Gopanache, MyTime, Salon Iris, Schedulicity, Schedulista, Setmore, Shore, StyleSeat, Treatwell and Vagaro), so you can make it easier for people to book with you right from your profile.


When using a booking tool, depending on what you use there may be automatic email reminders, appointments added to you and your clients Google Calendar, and rescheduling options without you having to be involved.  Many of these tools also have built in billing, so depending on the service you provide, if prepayment or deposits are required, this can also be done without you being present. Lastly, if you wanted to send a satisfaction survey, many tools have the option to do this automatically after a set amount of time after the service was rendered.

2. Up Sell products or services

Having a list of your clients and their purchase/service history is helpful for up selling.  If you keep track of and tag your clients in an email marketing program, you can add them to a small email funnel pitching more products and services that they would benefit from.  For example, if you are a beautician and gave a client highlights, if you know a certain conditioner that you sell is great for color-treated hair without all the chemicals that are in standard conditioners, you can put them into a small 3-part email funnel that tells them the best ways to keep color treated hair healthy.  Ultimately you will lead them to the conditioner and make it available to purchase in the email.

This is the same with service up sells.  If a client had a manicure and you know they will need another in two weeks, you can send them an email reminder in 1.5 weeks to schedule an appointment, include a discount code and a link to book in the email.  You can also suggest certain services related to the service they had done at their appointment in an email such as a a nail service upgrade of powder nails rather than gel. For this, you would explain the benefits of powder over gel and possibly offer a discount code for them to try it out.  The beauty in all this is you don’t have to manually do any of it, only set the initial emails up. After that, your products and services will be selling themselves for you on autopilot.


3. Intake Forms & Onboarding

If you are a service based business, you should have an intake form/questionnaire of some sort.  It’s helpful for you to get to know your client and their needs. This is going to make it easier for you to work with them and make suggestions for what they may need.  You also just want to have customer details to save in a CRM tool (Client Relation Management). By having an intake questionnaire, it will save time from them having to fill one out in person (ultimately cutting into the appointment time). You will also have a little background on the client before your appointment which is always a bonus.

4. Satisfaction Survey

Ratings are a huge deal in the service industry because people want to work with someone that people have had a great experience with.  No one wants bad service, so if you have a great rating you are likely going to get more clients. This is why you should send a satisfaction survey after every appointment.  If the online booking tool you use doesn’t have a survey option, you can always create one using Google Forms, Typeform, Interact or Survey Monkey. Keep the survey short so they don’t lose interest and abandon it, and also make sure you have a rating scale question on it.  There is no purpose in sending this survey manually; you can send it using automation in your email marketing platform. The results from your survey and ratings can be used on you website for the reviews page and on social media to show potential clients that you have great reviews.

5. Offboarding

There may be things that a client needs to know after the service has been completed.  For example, if you are a graphic designer and designed a website, there may be things that they can update and manage without you.  Send an offboarding automated email with details on how to make the updates themselves. Include any other information that they may need to know as well.  This will lessen the need for them to reach out to you for updates because they have the instructions on how to do it. Another example is if you are a massage therapist.  After a session, there may be things that they should or should not do for a few days. Along with telling them in person at the end of the appointment, send a reminder email with the details in it so they will have a copy of it.


As a service based business, a personal touch and seamless workflow are key.  Any confusion or disconnects along the way can cause clients to not want to work with you again.  To lessen that possibility, think about your entire workflow from booking to offboarding and pinpoint the areas where you can improve the efficiency of the process.

Here are two examples of service based workflows:

Beauty Professional

  • Instagram feed heavily focused on your client projects (include before and after) and client satisfaction/quotes

  • Add a “Book Now” button to Instagram

  • Main Link in you social profile goes to your website where they will learn more details about you, your services and see more testimonials

  • Link in header of website “Work with me”

  • Work with me page is a sales page - “Book Now” button on sales page

  • They are taken to a scheduling page which includes intake questionnaire .  If payment is required, this will be built in as well.

  • Once appointment is booked, details are added to your calendar and the clients.

  • Client is tagged in email marketing platform based on service purchased

  • Appointment reminder is sent

  • After appointment, client begins receiving four-part email funnel

    • Satisfaction survey

    • One helpful tip related to service

    • Another helpful tip

    • Third helpful tip directly related to upsell of product/service

  • Periodic targeted emails sent to email list segment for clients that purchased a specific service.

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The only things that involves you to be present (aka human interaction) in this whole process is setting up the automated tasks and emails, then the actual appointments (the fun stuff!).


Photographer

  • Instagram feed with heavy focus on your photography work

  • Book Now button on Instagram + social media main url with linked pages (like Linktree but not them). Potential client clicks button and are taken to your scheduling page to see availability and book.

    OR

  • Potential client clicks “Work with me” link in website header and is taken to sales page with package, pricing and details.

  • Book now button directs to scheduling page

  • Intake questionnaire is filled out, deposit or total paid (if necessary) appointment is booked

  • Client tagged accordingly in email marketing platform.

  • Appointment added to you and your clients Google Calendars

  • Appointment reminder is sent

  • After photoshoot, invoice for remaining balance is sent (if necessary)

  • Photos are sent to client or they are provided website gallery credentials

  • After photos are delivered, client begins receiving three-part email funnel

    • Satisfaction survey

    • One helpful tip related to their photoshoot

    • Third helpful tip directly related to upsell of product/service (photos enlarged and mounted/framed, photo books, photos printed on products, etc.).

  • Periodic targeted emails sent to email list segment for clients that purchased a specific service.

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In this example, the only human interaction involved is again, the inital setup of the automated tasks and emails, the actual photoshoot and delivering the final photos to the client.


If you are a service provider and struggling to determine where you can add automation into your processes, hopefully these examples have given you some ideas! Automation is for everyone no matter how big or small your processes are.