”Wait, why can’t you do the dishes? You’re home ALL day?” Alas, the continued struggle of working from home. Whether you’re new to the lifestyle or a professional hermit – Anne and Gabby are here to give you some strategies on how to balance work and home life, set goals for yourself and how to roll with those inevitable unexpected situations.
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
Create a separate environment that is for work only to increase productivity.
Make a schedule and have “work hours” for different tasks.
Forgive yourself! It takes time to learn time management.
When you take a break, make sure you completely switch gears so you don’t get burned out.
Make “to do” lists. The act of crossing things off a list gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Google Calendar is a great way to stay organized
If you have Apple products you can use the Cloud Calendar to schedule
Trello is a good online program for organizing tasks!
VO: Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss. a VO BOSS Set yourself up with business owner strategies and Set yourself up with business owner strategies and success – with your host Anne Ganguzza, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business like a boss. A VO BOSS Anne: Hey everybody! Welcome to the VOBOSS podcast: Business Owner Strategies and Success. I’m Anne Ganguzza, and I’m here with my very lovely cohost Gabby Nistico. Gabby: Hi hi! Anne: Today’s topic Gabby is all about – and I’ve had so many people ask me about this – time management. Gabby: Mmhm. Anne: How to manage your time, how to be productive, because we work from home and that is so difficult. And I know for a fact that it is definitely a process to be able to work from home. And there are some people who don’t necessarily love it, because they find it so hard to manage their time. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: How do you manage it, Gabby? Gabby: Well, I think the first thing that – I’ll get to that in a second. Anne: How do you manage it all? Gabby: I think the first thing, is: forgive yourself, and understand that it takes time to time manage. It’s not a gift that everyone has right away. Definitely making the transition from working for someone else, and going to an office every day, and working from home can be challenging. So give yourself some leeway there. Don’t put too much pressure. For me, and what I had to do over the years is a couple of things. The first is I had to create rules, and I had to really create an environment that separated my office space from the rest of my house so that it’s literally a different mindset. I cross that threshold, and I’m stepping into work. I’m stepping into my office, and the rest of my home doesn’t exist during those hours. Anne: I like that. Gabby: Even silly things like during those hours. Anne: I like that. Gabby: Even silly things like if I take a break, I don’t have a bathroom inside of my office space so taking a bathroom break is just that – it’s a break. I’m leaving the office when I go to do it. Lunch, I’m leaving the office. Even if I’m just going to my kitchen. So really forcing yourself to only focus on those things that are work-related – it can be tough. We kind of get in to a home mindset of “oh there’s dishes I could be doing,” or “there’s laundry,” or “maybe I could, um,” whatever it might be that distracts you. And it’s usually domestic chores that become very distracting. Anne: Or children. Gabby: Yeah, yeah. Or pets. Anne: Or kitties. Gabby: Yep, you’ve gotta really focus on doing them before or after the work days so that they don’t interfere. Family can be tough – I hear this from a lot of voice actors too. Anne: Me too. Gabby: “My family doesn’t get it – they think I’m just home all day.” Well, yeah you are, but you’re not. You have to reiterate over and over and over until they get it – you’re working. And you’re busy. And they can’t monopolize that time with silly requests or things. Now I know this can be tough with kids, but certainly your significant-other has to get the hang of that. Anne: Yeah. And sometimes that takes a little bit of training if they’re not in the voiceover industry, which would be my case. Gabby: Yeah, mine as well. Anne: Running the water, clanking dishes – Jerry is always trying to cook me something, so I do have that issue. Gabby: Our husbands, I am pretty certain, are terrified of the consequences of interrupting our flow during the work day. Because they need to be. I mean that’s just it – we’re focused and we’re driven and they kind of have learned – James and Jerry, God bless them – these men that put up with us. Anne: That’s right. They have had to really learn “OK, no, I can’t just walk in there and start yammering about whatever is going on with me.” Anne: And I have times during the day that I actually – in terms of time management – have to say “OK, these are my session times.” Gabby: Mmhm. Anne: And my husband goes outside of the home for work, but he can’t call. He can’t call during that because the phone will ring and it will interrupt my session. Gabby: Right. Anne: I get that all the time by spammers, because I actually have a landline still. Even though it’s not a traditional copper wire landline, it’s still a landline that I have. Gabby: Mmhm. Anne: A lot of people I know are doing just their cell phones, but I have a landline as well. So without me turning it off completely, I will get the occasional phone ring that will interrupt. Gabby: Yeah, and little things can make a big difference with balancing that home / work life. Two things that I’ll suggest – one is a Google Calendar if everybody in your house is tech-savvy enough to get on board with that. A Google Calendar where they can check and they can see mom is in a recording right now,” or whatever is going on. The other thing for the non-techie, because it works well in other areas for most households is a whiteboard. Anne: Yeah. Gabby: Just a weekly calendar whiteboard where you’re writing in the times that you absolutely positively cannot be disturbed for sessions so that they know. Anne: Yeah. I like your first suggestion, only because I live by my Google Calendar. Gabby: Mmhm. Yeah. Anne: And it’s super easy to configure the calendar to share, and so you can share your calendar with the members of the family so that they know when you’re in session. Literally I live by my calendar. I have sessions scheduled all the time. And as a matter of fact, it’s about the only way I can efficiently run my business and manage my time is to have a calendar. So I like that you brought that up. There’s all sorts of time management softwares out there that can help you, and a very essential one for me is my Google Calendar. Gabby: Yeah and if you have children, they’re so tech savvy nowadays. Most of their schoolwork is all online and in a calendar form. They’ll adapt to that system pretty quickly. You just have to give them the tools to be able to check it and interact with it. One of the things that I know happens a lot too for parents with kids is you do have to schedule some certain kid activities during your workday For awhile my stepdaughter lived with us, and one of the things that I learned really really quickly was when she got home from school at about 3:30 in the afternoon, I had to block about a half an hour every day from like 3:30 to 4 o’clock so that literally she could come home and tell me about her day. Anne: Right, yeah. Gabby: And we could interact, and we could talk so she didn’t feel A. like she was interrupting me, and B. so that she wasn’t isolated in essence and not having somebody to come home to. So that became part of my workday. It just became a line item. Anne: Absolutely. Gabby: And sometimes you have to do things like that. But then you also have to have times that you’re scheduling that are very specific to tasks whether it be marketing, or sales, or accounting, or collections, or whatever things are going on that are essential for your business. Anne: Right. Gabby: Block them. Because if you don’t do that, that’s when it becomes easy to put them off, forget about them, procrastinate, or whatever else happens. And then too much time goes by. Anne: Right. And I think it’s important that you mentioned in addition to just being in the booth and doing voiceover, there are so many different aspects to your voiceover business. You need to be able to schedule in that time. And I remember – I’ve done both part-time and full-time voiceover and I think – God bless the people who do part-time. I think sometimes that’s even harder to manage. Gabby: Yes. Anne: That’s where your time management really comes into play. I didn’t realize when I started doing part-time – I had my regular nine-to-five job, which was really a nine-to-six because I worked in IT so I was always dealing with overtime – but I never scheduled enough time for marketing. And so I wondered, doing voiceover part-time, I wondered how was It that I was going to get any jobs. And I was like “What happened? Why am I not getting any jobs?” Well it was because I didn’t schedule the time to do my marketing. Gabby: Hmm. Anne: People can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist. Gabby: It’s essential. Absolutely. Anne: For sure. For sure. It’s totally essential. So I think again – time management and whatever software it is that helps you do it. I like my Google Calendar. And I also have a to-do list, believe it or not, that I actually write on still. Now I’m feeling old and archaic. But I actually write because I want to make sure I don’t lose my handwriting skills, but I actually do write. And I know there’s a lot of people that may or may not do that in their time management, but I have a digital calendar and a digital to-do list, and I write down things as well. Because I believe that that helps me to affirm many things and to solidify things. And also that’s where it comes to goal settings. Write them down. Put them in your calendar. Gabby: I am a paper girl. Every year, every year it’s like a ritual for me. I go to Barnes & Noble and I buy the annual Barnes and Noble desk calendar and I spend just a little bit more than you know you need to on a desk calendar. Because yeah it’s beautiful and I love it and it’s pretty, but it’s my ritual and I write everything down in it, if I have to leave the office it comes with me. Anne: And then when you’re finished, do you check it off? Gabby: Oh God yes. I cross off everything. That’s my deal Anne: That’s so satisfying. Gabby: Yes. Yes. The sense of satisfaction from crossing things off and moving on is so great to me. And that’s why I love it. Anne: And there’s something about actually physically crossing it off with a pen or a pencil versus checking it off for me, but maybe some of our younger listeners will be like “why don’t you just use that?” Use notes or use whatever it is. Gabby: Hey, it’s whatever works for you. It’s all good. Anne: Absolutely. Gabby: I know some people that, even though they do a digital version, they use the strikethrough feature. Anne: Yes yes absolutely. So they can see it. Gabby: So that they are crossing it off. As opposed to just deleting it and then it disappears. So yeah they’ll strikethrough, and it gives you the same sense of satisfaction. Anne: It does. It does. And actually I like that you admitted that you’re a paper girl because honestly, you’re talking to a scrapbooker here. I love paper. There’s something about paper. While I don’t scrapbook as much as I used to because I’m busy with my voiceover career. Which is a good thing. But I do love paper and I think I consider myself a 50/50 girl – I’m very technical but I also love that feel of paper. So yeah, like Gabby said: whatever it is that works for you. But definitely write that down. Allocate those times for marketing. Allocate those times for social media even. Gabby: Yep. Anne: I think there’s something to be said for social media where I know a lot of people tend to just get lost in social media. And you have to really schedule times to be on social media. They’ve done studies that it is very addicting being on the computer and being online. And so that is a very real and present thing that we have to deal with. And even myself, being the tech girl and loving the internet the way that I do, I have struggled with that. I have truly struggled with that and it is that sometimes you just have to turn it off. But schedule those times into your calendar for when you do social media promotion or marketing. Gabby: Well I believe that sometimes you just have to turn it off period. When I got started and I first went full-time into voiceover – part of it was I was much much younger too, so I had a lot more energy and a lot more stamina. But I would work nonstop. It felt like it was seven days a week, twenty-four seven I was always on I was always available, it was whatever it took. And now, a lot of things have changed and I’ve learned that I have to set office hours. And I try – I don’t always succeed at this – but I try whenever possible to schedule lunch so that I really do feel like I’m getting a break and I’m getting out of the office for a little while. Anne: Yeah I remember I tried to call you the other day and you were out to lunch. You were physically out to lunch. Gabby: Yeah. Yep. Anne: And I thought what a great idea that she makes the time to just get out. And I love that, because I think that really helps you in terms of being more productive, and even be more creative to be able to schedule that time away. Gabby: It does. And it also creates less friction and less problems with your family. I know when we first got together, my husband’s probably biggest complaint was just that I was always attached to a device. Anne: Me too. Gabby: And “us time” was always being interrupted by my work. So I started to set some boundaries there. But what was really funny – and I think used to drive him nuts a little bit but he had a good sense of humor about it – he worked a regular job and he would leave and he would go to work and come home. Well sometimes when he came home, at anywhere between, let’s say, 5:30 and 7 PM, I was like a rabid dog. “Let’s go out! Let’s do something! Let’s go out! Where do you wanna go? Do you wanna get something to eat? Do you wanna go do something? Do you wanna go to the mall? Let’s just walk around.” I was a loon and he would be like “what the hell – what is the matter with you?” Anne: And he would want to be decompressing I’m sure. Gabby: Right – he wants to decompress and come home and chill and I just want to get the hell out of the house because I’ve been in it all day. Anne: I think it’s important to schedule time out of the house, absolutely. Because you go crazy – we talk to ourselves in a padded booth. It’s what we do, right? Get out of the booth. Gabby: Right, so yeah make those things priorities. And yeah, here’s the other thing: don’t be afraid to tell people you have a life. I see this sometimes – I see it a lot. Again – newer talent who are afraid to tell a client “no I’m sorry, I can’t schedule a session for Saturday morning. My kid has a soccer game.” You know what? You’re allowed to be a human being and you’re allowed to have a family. I promise you, no one is gonna judge you or think less of you because you’re putting them first. And that’s OK. Anne: That’s really great. And you know what – If the client doesn’t understand, then I’m not quite so sure that you want to have that client. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: I did have one client the other day last week that said to me “well you know I have another talent that can turn this around in two hours when I give it to him.” And it was, like, on a Sunday. And I said “I have my own boundaries.” It took me a long time to have boundaries to not work on Sunday. I try not to work on Sundays at all, ever. Even for somebody who wants an emergency sort of turnaround. But that client, when they said to me “well I’ll just hire that other voice talent” – and you know what? I know you guys don’t want to hear that. You don’t want to lose the job because you’re not available, but sometimes that’s the type of client that is going to nickel-and-dime you and expect you to turn around everything in the next minute, which is physically impossible sometimes. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: When your client doesn’t treat you with that type of respect, that we’re all human beings, you know? We really are. And if you think I can just whip this out in the next five minutes for you and I don’t have other obligations or other sessions coming up, I’m always trying to tell my clients in advance “I have a session between,” you know, “I can schedule you in this time, this time, and this time but I have sessions here.” Gabby: Right. Anne: As much as possible I try to keep my clients informed and I try to be available for them, but if I can’t be then yeah you have to be absolutely OK with telling your clients. And I know there are some talents that don’t even want to go on vacation. Gabby: Ugh. Yeah. Anne: And they bring their equipment with them. So sometimes, I think it’s nice to just go on vacation and not bring the equipment. Gabby: I do it all the time. I get asked “oh what do you use mobile?” And I go, “I don’t.” Anne: Right. Gabby: And that’s shocking to people. They’re like “what? How do you do that?” I’m like “I send book out notices, I give my clients ample notice, and I pack my bags and I go.” Anne: Right. Right. Gabby: Because it’s therapeutic. You have to be able to. Anne: You need to be able to have that creative time to be able to refresh. Gabby: Mmhm. I’m always amazed by the amount of, if you’re on pay-to-plays, the amount of pay-to-play jobs that come in over holidays and weekends and stuff like that. It’s become this rat race to keep up with that. No. No. turn it off, walk away. Nothing you’re going to miss out on in that 24-hour time period is going to be more important than the time that you get with your family. Don’t worry about it. The other thing that’ll happen, and I promise you this, is there will be moments – I had this happen not that long ago within just a couple of weeks – you will have the oddball moment where maybe you’re just sitting at home, you’re not really doing anything, it’s late in the evening, and your phone rings and you go “oh what the heck I’m just going to pick it up,” and it turns out to be a job that’s not only immediate, but that you can literally do because you’re just kind of downtime-ing anyway and you go “yeah why not? I’ll just make some money. Why not do that?” And those are great when that happens but that shouldn’t be a driving force in your business. That’s just like a little bonus job. Anne: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I think too, when you get to a certain point in your life, I know that everybody is trying to “make it” and trying to be successful, and this is going to make my business if I’m available 24/7. But sometimes as we said, if you can talk to your clients, I think they will truly appreciate it to know that you’re human too. And that you do need that time to reflect. And that once and awhile if you do get that job that’s at an off hour that you can do quickly, I mean those are I think some of the best jobs. And I think if you’ve given yourself the time or scheduled in the time for you to have relaxation and “you” time so that you can refresh and regenerate, it makes those all the more fun to do and rewarding. Gabby: It really really does. So again, set boundaries. Keep a calendar that your whole family can access. Anne: Yeah. Gabby: Make sure that you’re scheduling time for yourself first so that, again, no one feels neglected. You at the top of that list. Anne: yeah. Absolutely. Schedule time to get out of the house. Get out of the booth. I like that a lot. I like scheduling a lunch time. I like that a lot. And if you do go out to lunch, right, that could be your business expense. Gabby: Mmhm. Anne: Yeah, absolutely. I’m gonna go, or go see a client and invite a client to coffee, of if they’re local or lunch. I think that’s always… Gabby: Or a fellow voice actor. Anne: Right. You know? Absolutely and catch up. That can still be business and that can be expensed which I think is great. Gabby: Yep. And schedule your tasks. Schedule the less tangible parts of our day. Things besides just auditioning and bookings. Anne: Marketing. Gabby: Yeah. Accounting! Anne: Accounting. Yeah. Sending out those invoices. Responding to emails too. It’s amazing how much time emails take. You know, out of your day. I remember analyzing that at one time. This was even in my job prior to being a voiceover talent. I would spend probably 5 our out of my 8 hours a day, because I was in customer support, responding to emails. And that took a big portion of my day. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, if I could just stop writing emails, I could actually call people on the phone and talk to them. Which is something I think we all long for when we work for ourselves at home, you know, sometimes, I mean, I need that. I need that communication. I need that because there’s something to be said for communicating to other people face-to-face or over the phone that it really is energizing. Gabby: Yes. Yes. Agreed. And remember, household chores, non-essential items, they can wait. Those are things that are… …you always used to handle before or after work. You have to continue to handle them before or after work. Anne: Absolutely. And make that… I like the “make the barrier.” When I step out of my office, you know, that is when I enter my office that is hours for work. I’m scheduling that time. When I step out of the office, then, sometimes that time is scheduled too, but it’s schedule time for me. Scheduled time for my family. Scheduled time for my kitties! All that good stuff. Unless the kitties are part of my business, which actually is the case in another division of Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent. There is VO Studio Cats, so… Gabby: I love them. Anne: Actually, that was a fun part of my job to schedule. I did schedule time to work on VO Studio Cats. And so, that included spending time taking tons and tons of pictures of my cats. And wow, what a great way to enjoy your little kitties and your passions and also make it part of your business. Gabby: But that’s it. Like so many of us, you know, a lot of us have pets, you know, but we’re creatures of habit and the more that you work to make your schedule a habit and to make it consistent, you’ll conform to it and everyone else will too. My dogs know, 12:30 every day, pretty much like clockwork they get to go outside. Because 12:30, that’s break time. It’s break time for everyone, them included, me included. And so, if you can get a dog on that kind of schedule and to understand that, you can certainly do it for yourself. Anne; Right. And also, Gabby, just to ask you. I mean, the only thing I’m using right now to schedule for me, like software wise is just a Google Calendar. And sharing that calendar with my family members and a note pad. A really pretty notepad that I can write things down and cross them off. Gabby: Yeah, all I do is So, I have my paper desk calendar, I do use the Google Calendar for a lot of things, and then I have my record light, which notifies everyone of status if we haven’t had a chance to communicate for whatever reason, or if something last minute came up. And outside of that, you know, again, I like redundancy, so yes – we have a whiteboard in place to denote studio time slots. Anne: Yeah, great ideas! Well, I think that, you know, I think that it’s so important that we have this podcast about time management because I think it’s something a lot of us struggle with just you know, naturally especially because there are no boundaries. So, again our take ways are to make sure that you’re setting boundaries, make sure that you are, you know, scheduling time for yourself, scheduling time for tasks other than just being in the booth, right? All those tasks that are required for your business. And you know, take time to just shut down, you know, sometimes. Get out, get away. Maybe go on a vacation without your travel rig. Gabby: And don’t beat yourself up Don’t feel like you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses. What works for one voice actor might not work for you and that is perfectly okay. Anne; Yeah, absolutely. That’s going to be another podcast episode where we… Gabby: Uh, oh! I think Lewis just came in. Hi! It’s okay, don’t worry. It’s me and Anne. Anne: Wait, Gabby. We didn’t schedule that! Gabby: No. It’s true, it’s true. We didn’t schedule that! See here we go! Perils of home recording. Anne: Yeah, exactly. That’s bringing us to another podcast episode that we’re going to have about “The Truth About Home Studio Recording.” Gabby: Oh yeah! Anne: So, great. That’s so much Gabby. I think this was a great podcast episode. I’d like to thank our sponsor, ipDTL, so if you guys liked our podcast and loved the quality of it, which we do, you too can record like a BOSS and find out more at ipDTL.com. Gabby: From all of us at the VO BOSS podcast, have a kickass week! Stay focused and rock your business like a boss! Anne: A VO BOSS! You can like us on Facebook @vobosspodcast and Twitter @vo_boss Gabby: Subscribe to us also on iTunes or Stitcher. Anne: Thanks guys! Have a great week. We’ll talk to you soon!
VO: Rock your business like a boss. A VO BOSS All rights reserved. Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast to coast connectivity via ipDTL.