When you’ve only got 7 minutes a day to work.

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from wedding and family videographer Charlene McNabb. She says:

“Do you have any tips on how to keep work ticking over and keeping visible when you now have around 7 minutes a day rather than the usual 6 hours?!

Our daily life consists of my husband working full-time from home doing some important banking stuff and me trying to homeschool, have family time, keep us all fed, attempt one warm cup of tea a day AND stop my own wedding and family photography and videography business from sinking out of sight… Maybe once a week I’ll get a full hour to do something juicy off my to-do list OR schedule in some social media.

I know everyone’s struggling. I know we can’t do it all. But what can we actually do that will be like a super boost once a day??”

• • • • •

This episode is supported by Nutmeg.

Nutmeg offers customers a high-quality investment service at a reduced cost, whether they have £500 or £5 million to invest. Nutmeg now manages over £2bn on behalf of over 80,000 customers, making Nutmeg one of the UK’s fastest growing wealth managers and the fifth largest wealth manager in the UK by customer numbers (Source: PAM Asset Management, January 2019).

[Risk warning: Capital at risk. JISA rules apply]

Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:01:12] – Frankie
Hello, you’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:01:21] – Steve
Hello! Yes, each week we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community, do our best to answer it, but of course, we also love to get your comments, your thoughts on the topic, which means we start each episode by revisiting last week’s episode. Last week’s episode, so it was…

[00:01:35] – Frankie
It was Hannah talking about having literally just gone freelance as a photographer as lockdown occurred.

[00:01:41] – Steve
Oh, yeah. Pivoting and diversifying without seeming chaotic!

[00:01:45] – Frankie
That’s it, that.

[00:01:46] – Steve
Well, Karina Stevens got in touch. Hi, Karina.

Karina says,

“As a fellow photographer, this has been so helpful. I’ve been in the madness of moving house (the day lockdown began)…”

God, imagine!

“Which, after 1 million problems with our new landlord, has finally settled down and I’m in a position to start thinking about how I might generate more work. This episode was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.”

[00:02:13] – Frankie
You’re welcome.

Jane Barton says,

“I was all set to launch a new website, but now think I would do better to run with something a little bit different. I’ve been feeling very conflicted about what to do in the short term versus building a website that works for my business post-lockdown. This episode has clarified my thinking quite a bit.”

[00:02:28] – Steve
Crikey, did it? Wow.

[00:02:30] – Frankie
I know. Genuinely, what?

[00:02:32] – Steve
Hannah Brooke, who wrote the question in the first place, said,

“Doorstep photos are also keeping me in the game as a family photographer in the local area. Turns out there were a lot of lockdown babies being born! And I loved your interpretation of the Yorkshire accent, Frankie.”

[00:02:52] – Frankie
I’ve had so many messages from people saying it was alright!

[00:02:55] – Steve
Here we go…

[00:02:56] – Frankie
I think they’re just being nice.

[00:02:57] – Steve
By the way, we actually spoke about doorstep photos in our conversation. We cut it out because we realised that Hannah wasn’t after ideas. As is proven, she’d already had it, right? Anyway check out Hannah’s website because her doorstep photos are really good. And she’s called it something like Lockdown Diaries. Like, the whole messaging is great. Really great job.

Anyway, thank you so much for your question, Hannah. Glad it’s going well.

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:07:28] – Steve
Anyway, this week’s question comes from Charlene McNabb of

Charlene says,

“Do you have any tips on how to keep work ticking over and keeping visible when you now have around seven minutes a day rather than the usual 6 hours?

Our daily life consists of my husband working full-time from home, doing some important banking stuff and me trying to home school, have family time, keep us all fed, attempt one warm cup of tea a day and stop my own wedding and family photography and videography business from sinking out of sight.

Maybe once a week I’ll get a full hour to do something juicy off my to do list or schedule in some social media. I know everyone’s struggling, I know we can’t do it all, but what can we actually do that will be like a super boost once a day? Thanks, Charlene.”

[00:08:31] – Frankie
She’s doing better than me because my tea is never warm!

[00:08:37] – Steve
I mean, didn’t you… when you had a newborn, have a system of thermo mugs?

[00:08:43] – Frankie
No, I’m very much of the… microwave it, leave it in the microwave, forget about it, microwave it again.

[00:08:50] – Steve
And then what’s quite funny is like a couple of days later you put maybe, I don’t know, some microwave rice in the microwave. And then of course, it spins around and it’s like a magic trick because you open a door and the rice is gone and a cup of tea has appeared! Really shit parental magic show.

Anyway, Charlene asked us a question. We should shut up.

[00:09:12] – Frankie
Ah yeah, she did.

[00:09:13] – Steve
Right. First of all, can I just say I follow Charlene on Instagram. Do you?

[00:09:19] – Frankie
I do, yeah.

[00:09:20] – Steve

[00:09:21] – Frankie
And she’s so visible, right?

[00:09:24] – Steve
Right? Yes.

[00:09:24] – Frankie
Yeah. She’s really good at that.

[00:09:26] – Steve
So obviously you’re going to go and follow Charlene on Instagram. But anyway, but let me explain what she does, because this is genuinely something you can do even if you have a fragmented day and no time. She just keeps coming back to Instagram stories across the day with a little portrait of what’s happening. Some of it will be photos, but sometimes quite a lot of it is her speaking to the camera.

[00:09:48] – Frankie

[00:09:48] – Steve
Now, she might talk about the ups and downs of the day, like we all have the good points, the bad points, but also she does what we were talking about last week, actually, in Hannah’s episode — which is that whole thing of going, “oh, I can’t wait to be doing the weddings again!” Or, “I should have been filming at my first wedding of the year today, but here I am”. You can’t follow her and not know what she does.

The story, Charlene, that comes across in your Instagram stories is amazing. You probably feel like you’re not doing enough because you’re not the one watching it back. But from an observer watching those every day, I almost look forward… in fact, not even ‘almost’, I DO look forward to watching them. When I see your little picture coming up in those circles along the top, I’m like, “oh, I know that!” Genuinely, it’s always something nice in those pictures.

[00:10:38] – Frankie
Maybe this is like a mindset thing where she feels like she’s not doing enough? But actually she’s already doing four times than most of us are.

[00:10:45] – Steve

So, yeah, first up, let’s say she’s got seven minutes. That’s probably about three minutes of her day ticked off with those brilliant stories, right? You can write, for example, a really useful blog post and you might think, well, I can’t write a blog post in seven minutes a day, but I bet the thoughts are already in your head or they pop up in your head during the day. So, if they do for a blog post, just jot them down in the Notes app on your phone or on a Post It note or whatever. And even if you don’t get to finish, it doesn’t matter. You just come back to it later on. And then there is the outline for your blog post, which you can either write up when you do get that hour to yourself or later on in the evening, or, as we’ve mentioned before, you hire a copywriter to write it up for you if it’s like that big a deal and important to you.

[00:11:36] – Frankie
Yeah, well, we’ve talked about this multiple times, haven’t we? About you never do the things in your to do list if they’re all big things. So rather than, like, your to do list being: a) make roast dinner, it should be a) peel the potatoes, b) boil the carrots stuff, whatever. So breaking things down to like, digestible things that you could do in seven minutes.

The queen of this sort of approach to working, so ‘micro’… I don’t even know what you call that. I’m sure somebody’s written a fucking book on it — micro tasking?? Anyway, it’s Rebecca Lisma of Pigeons Nest — do you know what I’m talking about? The Pigeon’s Nest.

So, if you don’t know who she is — she does, like, crochet stuff. Makes these really cool, crafty things. And I appreciate this won’t work for everybody’s job, but the principle is the same in that she breaks down all her tasks into really micro things that she can pick up around her children. She has no childcare, really to speak of. She might have a bit now, but she hasn’t had any for a very long time. And she has these little bags of her wool and stuff that she carries around the house attached to her. So she can literally pick up her work when so, say, they go upstairs to play with some trains and her kid is quiet, she’s like, “quick, get out the needles! Just get on with it!”

And then when it comes to marketing and stuff, again on stories, she’s really good at sharing her process. She has a list of all the little admin tasks that need to get done. And then she has like five or six of those a day, max, like 20 minutes for each one. And then when she has an opportunity, she ticks one off.

So, I saw her the other day ticking through her list for that day, and it was like 20 minutes on her newsletter. It wasn’t to finish the newsletter, it was just 20 minutes of time to write something for her newsletter, 20 minutes on making one of her products, 20 minutes on something else. But it’s just those little bits of persistent, consistent progress so that by the end of the week — she’d produced a bunch of products, she’d written a newsletter, she had things to show, even though it’s all like, really small stuff.

[00:13:44] – Steve
And I think key to that, Charlene, is to figuring out what is important to you the most. Is ‘important’ the right word? Useful to you? Basically, what is going to be the best use of your time? So the Instagram stories are brilliant and are clearly a great use of your time. So tick. But what else? What else tends to work in your business? What have you been meaning to do? Make a list of those things, prioritise them, and then when you get a glimmer of time, then sit down and actually do them.

Yeah, so one of the things that I’m struggling with is that, yeah, I have all these things to do that I want to do, but because I’ve decided that it’s less stressful — I just leave work to the side, I just get on with doing the parenting thing and cleaning things up and tidying things away and blah, blah, blah. So actually, even if the kids are in screen device mode, after lunch, for example, this really lovely chunk of time where I probably should do something productive, but instead I’m tidying up the kitchen, putting the things away, folding the clothes. That’s not a good use of my time.

[00:14:55] – Frankie
Yes, but caveat! I do think in these ‘unprecedented times’, putting the clothes away, emptying the dishwasher, whatever, is one of about two things I can actually control in my life at the moment. Yeah, so while I get that it’s essentially a ‘waste of time’ because in about 2 seconds my daughter’s going to come up with chocolate over her face and start licking the floor, it still makes me feel better for that five minutes.

[00:15:24] – Steve
One thing I accidentally did, which worked quite well, was last weekend, I wrote down on some Post It notes five tasks that I needed to do and stuck them to my iMac, which is right in the centre of the house on the dining table. So they’re stuck there and I managed to get like three of them done. Two of them were still on there, but it had the effect that every time I walked past it…

[00:15:51] – Frankie
A little reminder!

[00:15:52] – Steve
Yeah, there was this physical reminder going, “invoice!” and also after a while my son went, “why is that thing still saying invoice on there? Why haven’t you invoiced yet?” So, yeah, I don’t know whether that’s useful, but if, like me, your to do lists are hidden away on, I don’t know… Trello or Notes or whatever. It can be quite useful just to put Post It notes up because sometimes we think we don’t have any time. But then, actually, we’ve picked up our phone and we’ve looked at Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or whatever. And I’m not saying that those things aren’t useful, but sometimes we just pick up our phone and do them because, especially at the moment, it’s quite nice to step away from the reality of our house and into another world through our little device. But actually, if there is genuinely something important that you wanted to do for your business, if you’ve written that on a Post It note and stuck it to the kitchen door…

[00:16:44] – Frankie
…maybe the next time you pick up your phone, you’ll do that thing?

[00:16:46] – Steve
Yeah, so there you are. I don’t know how useful those tips are, but I hope they are, Charlene. And if nothing else, I hope you take away the fact that actually you’re rocking it already.

[00:16:57] – Frankie
Just take this as a 20 minute long pep talk just for you, Charlene.

[00:17:01] – Steve

[00:17:02] – Frankie
Keep it up.

[00:17:02] – Steve
Even if you don’t get to do anything more. You’re already doing amazing and what you are doing is going to make a difference to your business. I guarantee it, when things pick up for you again.

What would your advice be?

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