When you enter the workforce, few days become nearly as exciting as payday. While it feels good to get paid for your hard work, you only get paid for the results you produce when you have a business.
Hourly and salaried employees are often guaranteed pay even if they had a few days that weren’t as productive. If you’re self-employed or a business owner, you probably won’t get paid for time spent running errands, checking emails, networking, or fixing equipment.
However, some of these unpaid tasks may be crucial to your business. This is why it’s important to schedule time for unpaid business tasks so you can complete them along with your paid work in order to be profitable.
If you need help determining how to schedule time for unpaid business tasks, here are some tips to help you get started.
Time Block Schedule Your Paid Work First
The first step is to identify the work you actually get paid for. Whether you sell products, provide a service or do both, you probably already have this work prioritized which means you may have a schedule in place.
This work is important no doubt because it fuels the profits in your business. In order to make sure you have enough time to complete profit-generating work along with unpaid tasks, you may need to block schedule your days.
Figure out which hours will be spent working on paid tasks based on how much time you have each day to work. For example, if you typically work an 8-hour day, you may dedicate 4 hours of that day to paid work.
From there, decide when you want to focus on paid work and add it to your calendar. I like to tackle paid work at the beginning of my work day but you can schedule it later or break it up depending on your preference.
The point is to make sure you have it scheduled. Once it’s on the calendar, you know you’ll have time to do it and you can fill in the rest of your availability with the unpaid tasks.
Rank Your Unpaid Tasks in Order of Importance
Do you know how many unpaid tasks you’re doing on a weekly or monthly basis? Is one responsibility more important than the other? For me, I value checking and responding to emails more than posting on social media so I often dedicate more time in my schedule to email.
I use email to communicate with clients, send pitches, follow up, and build relationships with new potential business partners.
Determine what your top priority is regarding unpaid work then start to divvy up your remaining time accordingly. You can also set limits on how often you’ll work on certain unpaid tasks. For social media, I give myself a limit of 1 hour per week or 4 hours per month to spend brainstorming post ideas, promoting content, and sharing other people’s content.
This is across all social profiles that I have so it’s not a ton of time, but my business does not make much money from social media yet. Social media is primarily used to grow my brand. It may be more profitable for me in the future but since it currently isn’t I make sure I limit my time on this task.
Your business may be different and you may make a ton of sales via social media. As you rank your tasks and fill in your schedule, be honest about your needs and results so you can ensure you’re spending your time wisely. That way, you won’t get burnt out doing mundane tasks that don’t generate an income.
See If You Can Make Some Unpaid Tasks Profitable
This may or may not be an option depending on your situation, but you may want to see if you can make some unpaid business tasks actually generate an income. At the end of the day, what you spend time on in your business should be getting you results.
You may not get paid instantly, but your work should be contributing to the long-term success of your business.
For example, if you’re working on a Facebook ad campaign, you will actually be spending money and may not get paid directly for your work. However, you can test out different ideas and improve your ROI by getting more clicks to your site which leads to more ad revenue or email newsletter signups.
Or, you could run a conversion ad and make sales which will limit your out of pocket costs for the ad.
If you’re self-employed and have to attend a lot of client meetings, you can charge an hourly rate for your time. By making some tasks more profitable, it may be easier to schedule since you can now justify your time spent working on the task.
Set Your Prices Accordingly to Free Up Time
If you’re running a business and always feel short on time, you may have one of two problems. Either you’re not hiring the right team members to help with the workload or you’re not charging enough. Sometimes, you could be doing both of these things but most newer entrepreneurs struggle with charging what they’re worth.
If you’re not charging enough for your products and services, you’re not only undervaluing yourself but you’re also adding more hours to your schedule.
You’ll need to work more and work harder to make more money when you don’t price for profit. Instead, set your pricing based on what you feel your work is worth. Also, factor in expenses, taxes, fees, and unpaid work when you quote someone on your service.
For example, freelancers should consider the fact that they may need to conduct research, send pitches, follow up, etc. on a regular basis. These are unpaid tasks that are crucial to success so you should price your services to factor in the time you’ll need to spend on those tasks.
When you set your prices accordingly, you’ll free up more time to schedule in unpaid tasks like admin work, research, and so on.
At the end of the day, unpaid business tasks may be just as important as paid business tasks. It’s important to ensure you have time to complete both. Get on a schedule, prioritize the different type of work you do each week, and set your prices to reflect the typical unpaid work you may be required to do.
Doing this will make scheduling much easier so you can work productively on your business each week.
How much time do you spend on necessary but unpaid tasks?