How to Get More Done in Less Time-Managing Projects | EP 211

Too Much To Do-Not Enough Time 

As a music school owner, your two biggest responsibilities are to grow your business and develop systems that will help you run and manage it more effectively. However, the challenge that many music school owners face is that they simply don’t have enough time in their day to focus on these aspects. They must return calls, send emails, pay bills, interview job candidates, and plan recitals – all of which are a part of the daily operations within a music school.


The Power of Delegation

In reality, all of these tasks can be delegated, but to delegate them, you need an administrative team to whom you can assign these responsibilities. However, not everyone has the luxury of having such a team. Not everyone has $25,000 or $35,000 that they can set aside to build an administrative team. Even if you do have an administrative team, your day will still be filled with busy work, tackling a to-do list that consumes most of your time.




1. Growth-Oriented Projects

On that to-do list, you might have various projects—projects that, if successfully implemented, could lead to growth or improve the efficiency of your music school. Perhaps on that list, you have projects titled “Onboarding New Instructors,” “Creating a Promotional Video,” or “Designing a Brochure” that you can distribute at local events you attend.


Create a social media calendar and strategy. These are the tasks on your to-do list that you recognize as important for achieving growth, but you simply lack the time for them. As you review those projects, sandwiched among them on your to-do list is the task of emailing a specific parent back, which is relatively straightforward and can be completed in just three to five minutes.


2. Eliminate the Feeling of Overwhelm

The projects that will lead to growth and improve operations can themselves be a source of stress when you see them on your to-do list. These are multi-step projects that will require a significant amount of time, not just three to five minutes, but potentially three to five hours to complete.


You recognize they’re important, but the thought of just even tackling them can be daunting.


Even figuring out where to start can feel overwhelming. So I’d like to share with you an easy way to get those projects off your to-do list. Place them elsewhere and organize them within a framework that will make it easier for you to accomplish these projects.


3. Record Routine Tasks

The way I map out my work is through my flimsy notebook. This notebook contains my to-do list, which consists of kind of more mundane tasks, such as making phone calls and sending emails to specific people. These are tasks that typically only require a few minutes to complete.


4. Separate Creative Work and Busy Work

But then I have a separate book. A larger one. It’s got a nice cover. This notebook is where I’m doing my creative work, planning, and strategizing for my business.


I no longer own a music school, but this is exactly how I operated my music school. I used my large book and my little notebook to help run my business. Within the larger book, I had a page for projects—a list of tasks. Whenever I recognized the need to implement a project at my school, it would go into this book.


5. Create an Overview For Each Project

For instance, you realize that you need a brochure for your music school. You want to create a simple three- or four-fold brochure that you can distribute, perhaps at events like farmers’ markets where you have a booth or at camp fairs. You’ll encounter several steps in the process.


In this notebook, I would begin by defining the project. In this case, let’s call it “brochure”. I’d make a simple bullet-point list outlining the essential steps required, but I wouldn’t get granular with it. I prefer to think the big picture.


6. Make a Step-by-Step Plan 

In the case of creating a brochure, the first bullet point might be “conduct research on creating a brochure via Google searches”. Your first step would involve searching on Google and reading relevant information. I also include an estimated timeframe for each step, which shows how much time I believe I’ll need to complete that particular task.


Sometimes, that timeframe can be as short as 15 minutes or perhaps an hour. However, if you’ve never created a brochure for your music school before, or even if you have some experience, it’s crucial to approach the project with an understanding of the best practices for developing this marketing asset.


7. Do Your Research

Hands down, this is one of the biggest mistakes I observe music school owners make. I can tell they’re making it when I see them engage in some sort of marketing tactic, and it’s pretty clear that they haven’t done much research, or perhaps any at all, on how to execute this. Instead, they’re essentially guessing. Literally, dedicating just 20 minutes to watch YouTube tutorials can simply be all that you need to get a good handle on how to successfully execute this project.


8. Identify Best Practices For Your Project

The first step for creating this brochure involves turning to Google, YouTube, or engaging with ChatGPT for answers to “How to” questions. If I were to embark on a brochure project, I believe that within just 20 minutes, I could get a good sense of some of the best practices.


The following steps would involve writing the copy, selecting photos, and then hiring a designer. That’s all there is to it. Once you reach that stage, you’re good to go. If needed, a final step might be to hire a printer. You may already have a printer you work with, but these are all the steps.


9. Simplify Your Project’s Progress: Plan Each Step Ahead

Simply by following these steps, no matter how you approach them, this task isn’t going to be particularly challenging. There are only five or six steps in total. The key is to plan ahead, and I find it useful to assign estimated timeframes to each step.


The most challenging part will likely be writing the copy, which might take two to three hours. At the top, where the project name sits, I keep a running tally of the total hours. In this instance, let’s estimate the entire project at four to five hours.


10. Set it and Forget it

Obviously, it won’t happen all in one shot. What I do next is set a date for when I intend to implement the project. Let’s say it’s six weeks from now. This brings a huge sense of relief. You no longer need to worry about it. You’ve outlined your project, mapped out the steps, and set a start date. Now, you can put it out of your mind; it’s no longer on your to-do list.


11. Use Reminders 

Perhaps in your Google Calendar, you can set up a weekly reminder to review your project list. If you’ve recorded it in a notebook, there’s a chance you might forget to check it regularly. Establishing a recurring habit of reviewing it can be challenging. So I personally have a calendar reminder to check my project list. Even if I have ten projects listed, each with its own set date, this practice helps eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed.


12. Better Manage Stress

Managing stress in your music school is important in keeping it at bay, as it tends to be constantly present. Much of your stress may stem from the sheer volume of tasks and the limited time to complete them. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, yet some people are able to be so much more productive within that timeframe.


13. The Key to Productivity

I believe the key to productivity is having a plan for managing your day and identifying the tasks that must be completed. It’s also important to pinpoint tasks that, when executed, will contribute to growth. This becomes especially clear when you have a project list with these projects carefully mapped out.


14.  Maximize Your Day

In the midst of your busy day, you decide to allocate 30 minutes or 45 minutes to activities that promote growth. Personally, I like to do these tasks first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh, I’ve had my coffee, and I feel alert and focused on activities that foster growth.


Pull those projects out of your to-do list. Every time you see them sitting there, they will continue to cause you stress.


15. Managing Bigger Projects

Redesigning a website – now, that may seem like a massive project at first glance. However, once you break down the steps, it becomes much more manageable. Estimating the time required for revamping your website can make the task feel less overwhelming. It’s indeed a major project, particularly if you’re planning to rewrite a lot of your sales copy. Maybe it’s an eight-hour project.


When I have a massive 8- or 10-hour project like that, I approach it by dedicating 30 minutes to it each day. Then, I figure out how long how long it will take me to complete. This strategy really makes a seemingly giant mountain to climb so much more attainable and accessible.


16. Brainstorm 

One initial step you can take is to brainstorm every possible project that, if executed, could contribute to growth. Consider creating a social media strategy, producing a promotional video, or developing an onboarding process for student drops. Simply start by generating a list through brainstorming.


List about 20 projects, and then from those 20 projects, choose five to outline with bullet points. Add timestamps next to each bullet point and assign a start date for each project.


Getting it out of your head onto a page in a book with a clear plan is a simple but effective move. It’s an easy step towards getting more done and focusing on the work that’s going to lead to growth.

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