Time-Management Tips for Seriously Busy People

We are in the first few days of February 2020, and I haven’t blogged since November of 2019! But that doesn’t really surprise me. I know that I haven’t been writing simply because I haven’t been making the time for it, or committing to getting a blog out on the same day each way, or operating with a “done is better than perfect” mentality, and several other things. Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, the rush of joining a new board and board-related travel has slowed, and now that my students have completed the performance we began preparing for several months ago, I am ready to start focusing on creating again, which will require me to manage my time in a different way.

I’m writing this post in the wee hours of the morning, after awakening from a… power nap? I decided write this because I’m currently in a great position with work, business, and life, and I’m working hard to manage all the responsibilities that currently take up my time so that each day feels better and less overwhelming.

Here is a little background: I left my full-time job as a classroom teacher back in May of 2019. This was probably about 9 months later than I should have left teaching full-time, but I didn’t want to pass up my chance at finally being a kindergarten teacher. (Previously, I had only taught second grade.) And, for the record, I absolutely loved being a kindergarten teacher. Also for the record: I don’t love having a full-time job with no flexibility. Many people don’t understand this about me, and I’m not one to over-explain things to the masses (I leave my over-explaining to my students and loved ones). But I’ll say this: With every fiber of my being, I am a creative and an entrepreneur. My mind is buzzing with ways to create the things that I love dozens of times per day (I would say “hundreds of times,” but I have to leave room for all of the anxious thoughts that interrupt the creative thoughts….). I love doing things on my own terms. I’m highly motivated by a sense of responsibility. Little fulfills me more in life than generating income from original thoughts and ideas that I have put into the the universe–whether that’s a new business venture, curriculum for a dance program, a podcast, music playlists for dance studio owners, a social media marketing plan, or even a blog. With that said, again: loved teaching, but felt extremely stifled (see also: unhappy, confined, controlled, cranky, unfulfilled, like I was living the wrong life, etc.) by the 9:00 to 5:00 way of living.

Today, I am working as a full-time entrepreneur with many, many projects in the works. Those projects include running two dance education organizations (Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools), managing a recently-born digital marketing agency (SociallySaumirah.com), hosting a podcast (The Happy Dance Podcast), and designing digital courses and printable resources for early-career dance educators and dance business owners on my platform DanceEdStartup.com. Additionally, I’m a brand new board member for a statewide dance education organization, a third-year doctoral student trying to hone in a research topic that combines dance educator preparation, the psychology of learning, and experiential learning theory, a committed dog mom (as in: my two rescue dogs have their own strollers, their own overnight bags, and about six dog beds between them), a partner, and a bonus mom. Oh, and I also have a couple of part-time gigs, to financially support the part of me that loves foreign cars and frequent travel.

What’s my point? My point is that I have very little time in my days and weeks. So I’m working on working smarter so that I can play harder.

Here are some of the tips I’m currently applying in my own life so that I can effectively manage my time and get everything (read: most things) on my to-do list done each day of the week and feel productive and successful:

TIP #1 – WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN: If I don’t write it down as you’re telling me something, I’m probably going to forget it. I have to put everything on both of my wall calendars (found in my kitchen and living room), in the Google Calendar on my iPhone, on my To-Do List in my iPhone Notes, and in my $3 daily planner from Target so that I don’t forget it. Additionally, I recently started re-using a free website and cell phone app called GetBusy.com specifically to help me manage projects at one of my part-time gigs. (I also use Buffer.com to manage my social media postings for my digital marketing agency; I use GroupMe to communicate with staff for one of my part-time jobs; and I use Slack to communicate with my doctoral cohort.)

TIP #2 – IF YOU FEEL THE URGE TO DO IT, DO IT: This might seem counter-intuitive to productivity. But let me explain. If we’re being completely honest, I don’t write everything down. (My mom says I should write down even the smallest things, but, what can I say? I’m still living on the edge in some ways.) For example: I don’t write down that I need to do the dishes or walk my dogs or take out the trash and recycling. For me, seeing dishes piling up or broken down boxes shoved in the corner is typically aversive enough for me to handle those situations so that they’re not just sitting there, unresolved, for more than a day or two. However, I have to give into the “urges” to take out my trash, or else I have this really annoying feeling in the back of my mind while trying to work on other things. So, in short: Clean when you feel like cleaning because it might relieve some stress and allow you to focus more on your actual work.

TIP #3: DO SPECIFIC WORK ON SPECIFIC DAYS: The idea of taking out the trash and recycling makes me think of how much clarity it gives me to know that I have to do certain things on certain days! Then they’re done! Probably since my days as a young graduate student at Pacific, when I was renting a room in a house in Stockton, CA, I believe I’ve always put out the trash bin on trash day–even if the bin wasn’t full. Even if there was only one bag in the bin, the trash went out. Even if there was almost no reason to put out the trash, I put out the trash bin because it ensured that it got done! It ensured that I didn’t have to take time out on another day to check all the waste bins inside of the house, fill up the large bin outside, possibly cause the outside bin to overflow, then have to re-think my entire trash-taking-out strategy. I’m still working this schedule of doing certain things on certain days out in my life (because, really, it is quite possible that I have too many things going on to only work on certain things on certain days… but if there’s a question, then there’s room for an experiment!). However, the idea of reserving certain tasks for certain days is one that I think might better help me manage my current schedule.

TIP #4: STOP WITH THE GUILT TRIPS, ALREADY: I’m actively working on not allowing myself to focus on the things that I’m not getting done each day or each week and to focus on being happy with what I have accomplished. I’m entirely aware of how easily people who live for feeling successful and productive and who run on high speed most of the time, like I do, can easily forget to acknowledge all that we have done and focus on what we have not done. This generally causes us to feel completely terrible internally, while the world wonders what our problem is. So, again, I’m working on re-framing my thoughts around my ideas of success and achievement so that I can focus more on what I have done and actively feel good about this. Which leads my to my final tip for this blog….

TIP #5: CELEBRATE EVERY WIN BECASE YOU EARNED IT, HONEY! I’m not sure what the exact formula is that “works” for me, but I know that at the end of some days I feel absolutely great about all that I’ve done. Other days, this is not so much the case. So, again, I don’t have this down to an exact science yet, but I do know that I love relishing in the thought that I’ve used the hours in the day that has just passed as effectively as possible to move me closer toward attaining my goals and toward living my ideal life. So I’m trying to feel like that more.

That’s all I have for now, friends. Let’s chat again soon!


The Happy Dance Podcast: Episode #4

Read the podcast transcript below or click HERE to download the PDF!

Hi there! My name is Saumirah McWoodson, and I’m the founder and CEO of Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools, and I’m also a dance education researcher and business consultant at DanceEdStartup.com. And I’m the host of The Happy Dance Podcast where we talk about all things related to dance, education, and cultivating a life of happiness. So, let’s dance!

Hello, hello, hello! Welcome to Episode #4 of The Happy Dance Podcast. My name is Saumirah McWoodson, and I’m your host. Of course, I want to start off telling you why I’m doing a happy dance today.

So the reason I’m doing a happy dance today is because I’m getting this podcast recorded on Tuesday afternoon!

I’m not sure if you know but my personal goal for myself each week is to have these podcasts recorded and edited by Tuesdays at midnight, so that they can be published and available for all of you listeners by Wednesday at 7:00 am, Pacific Time. However you may have noticed that I’ve actually been getting these podcasts recorded, edited, and published on Wednesdays, just before midnight, Pacific Time. I’m guessing nobody’s watching my podcast that closely yet, but if there’s anyone out there that has noticed, that’s what I’ve been doing, so I am I’m doing a happy dance today because it’s Tuesday afternoon and here I am recording my podcast. So I’m excited for our podcast today because it’s actually going to be the first part of a three-part series where I’m telling you about my favorite social media platforms, my favorite photo editing tools, and my favorite video editing tools.

So today I’m gonna talk about the platforms that I love to use and why I enjoy using them and why I think they work really well for me, as far as my dance education business. And then next, we’ll talk about photo editing apps that I use on my iPhone and the week after that, I’ll talk about video editing apps that I use on my iPhone. And of course in each episode, I will tell you why I love the apps that I’m using or the social media platforms and I’ll tell you exactly how I’m using them for marketing purposes in my business. I also wanted to say that today’s episode is sponsored by my course, Dance Ed Startup. You can find information about the course at DanceEdStartup.com/Course. So just c-o-u-r-s-e: DanceEdStartup.com/Course. We intend to launch again on September 9th of this year, of 2019.

I’m really excited because in this course, not only will you learn how to design your own lesson plans and unit plans and music playlists, but you’ll actually learn how to start your own dance ed business, if that’s something that you’re interested in. Or you can learn about how to expand to an additional location. We’re going to get it to so many different things in that course, including choosing a location, marketing, of course lesson planning, which I already mentioned, using props, pricing your program appropriately, registration systems, expansion, and streamlining your business. So, again, today’s episode is sponsored by Dance Ed Startup, the course!

Okay, so now let’s dive in and I will start telling you about my favorite social media platforms today.

Okay, so my absolute favorite social media platform today is Instagram. I’ve been using Instagram now for a few years. It did take me a while to jump on the Instagram train, as usual. I typically don’t follow trends. I don’t follow trends in the sense of: when I feel like everyone’s quick to flock in a certain direction, I’m usually the one that’s standing back and observing. So I like to take things in and wait and see if the thing that everyone’s flocking to is actually worth its weight.

However, I am now, I would say,  an avid user of Instagram. I love it for many reasons. For one, I personally am–in addition to being a kinesthetic learner, obviously, because I’m a dancer–I am also a very visual learner. So I love the fact that Instagram is completely focused on photos and videos, and I think what intrigues me about Instagram is that not only is there a focus on the photo and video aesthetic, but it’s become a place where I think it’s really about telling a story.

So of course if all of social media you’re only giving a way or telling as much about your life as you feel comfortable with. However, I think that with Instagram, brands businesses and influencers have really taken that to another level. I’m saying that in a positive way. I feel like they’ve taken that to another level in terms of just really creating the desired image for their brands or their business and I really like that. I have recently been making an effort to start using the Instagram stories more and so I’ve been trying to hop on at least once a week.

I haven’t been consistent with it yet, but I’ve been trying to get on at least once a week to do an Instagram story–just a video with my face, talking. And I’ve also been trying to do more with the Instagram Lives. So sometimes I will hop on to Instagram Live, if I’m observing someone else teach my dance classes for Dance Daze.

So, that’s another feature that I really like of Instagram. I’ve heard that with Instagram you actually can use the DMs or the direct messaging system for marketing. I haven’t really tried that very much. I haven’t jumped in to use DMS for marketing. I know a lot of fitness professionals or fitness gurus, people trying to sell fitness businesses to me will often slide into my DMs, so that’s kind of what I really associate the direct messages with. But I have heard that it is appropriate to use the direct messaging system on Instagram for marketing. Something that I want to get into that I have not gotten into very much at all, I actually have never tried it, is the IGTV. So over the next few weeks, and you can probably look out for this beginning next week, I am going to try to start creating an IGTV video at least once per week. I shouldn’t commit to once per week, but that’s a good way for me personally to make sure that I do something, is if I kind of make a statement and say that I’m going to try it and that way I’ll at least try it for two weeks, probably in a row to see if it works for me. But like I said, I, so far, am having a great time with Instagram. I feel like it portrays my brand and my business in a great way.

I should also say that for my dance businesses, I actually feel like a lot of my clients are on Instagram, and so I feel like there is a good return on my investment for a lot of the content that I’m creating for Instagram. So I don’t feel like it’s time wasted when I’m creating content specifically for that platform. I feel like a lot of it is getting watched and absorbed and consumed by my target market, so that’s another reason that I really enjoy Instagram. And I should say that I personally use Instagram a lot. I have a personal account that I post to rather frequently, and I’m often watching other people’s Insta Stories or checking out what kind of photos and videos they’re posting to tell their story.

So I think that makes a difference also. Not only do I feel that some of my target market and my ideal customer avatars are on Instagram, I also have a personal user of Instagram so that makes me feel really comfortable with using it.

Okay, so the second platform that I want to talk about today is a Facebook.

I do think that I’m a little bit partial to Facebook because I did become using it when I was just a freshman in college. I kind of loved Mark Zuckerberg’s whole story of dropping out of Harvard and starting this awesome social media site. And I should state that because of that, again, I’m partial to it. I know that Facebook has been involved with, let’s just say a lot of things, but I am considering Facebook from more of a marketing perspective, specifically for growing small businesses and dance businesses.

So what I personally love about Facebook with that lens is Facebook Pages.

I have had a lot of experience using Facebook pages and, again, I feel like my target market and my ideal customer avatars are on Facebook as well.

I feel like they might be on Instagram more currently, but there are definitely a lot of people who I’m targeting that are on Facebook.

And speaking of targeting, I should also say that another future of Facebook, that I have had a lot of success with is Facebook Ads. So I think that they are very easy to use. And I have noticed some success with running ads on Facebook specifically.

I have not experimented too much with Facebook Groups for the purposes of growing a dance business, but I have been very recently experimenting with Facebook Groups.

Again, going back to the idea or the knowledge that I started using Facebook when I was in college, part of the reason I think that I have not really gotten into Facebook groups is because I associate them with college or I used to associate them with that. So we had very silly groups when I was in college. For example, one group that I started many years ago, was “Future Stay-at-Home Moms,” and we literally never went in the group. We never talked about anything. We maybe posted a couple of funny statements once or twice. But when I think of groups that’s what I think of for Facebook. We also had another group that was very silly called something like, “I Wear Flip-Flops All the Time, Even When It’s Raining Because I’m from California,” or something like that, that I joined, again, my first year of college. So I think I’ve been a little bit reframing my mind to think of Facebook Groups in a different way.

However, I do know that there are a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners out there and marketing specialists who believe that Facebook Groups there are awesome and that they can even be very profitable for businesses.

I personally feel like it depends on what kind of Facebook group you have or what kind of, actually what kind of business that you have, and then also how much engagement you have in the group.

However, like I said, I still am a pretty big fan of Facebook.

I am not on Facebook as much as I’m on Instagram currently, but Facebook and I have a lot of history, so I’ll probably never give up on Facebook. I really enjoy it a lot. And another thing that I think is cool about Facebook is that you can actually have video for your Facebook cover photo. So that’s a feature of Facebook that I have not used, but I have seen it used very well, so that’s another kind of cool marketing feature that you can find on Facebook.

Okay, so the third, my third favorite social media platform would be Twitter and I will say this: My absolute top two platforms are Instagram and Facebook. So the next two that I’m going to talk about today, they are my favorites in the sense that I publish on them regularly. So whenever I’m posting content on Instagram or Facebook nine times out of 10, I’m gonna post the same or similar content on Twitter. The fourth one that I’m gonna talk about is YouTube. I don’t always post the same content on YouTube, but I’ll get to that later.

But anyway, I do post individually, so I don’t use a site like Hootsuite, or I know there are lots of others out there that I can’t think of in this moment, but I do make sure that the content is posted individually or you may call it organically, I guess, on an individual site. And I try to make sure that it’s crafted for that site because I don’t want my content to show up as just a link on Twitter because I’m posting it from Facebook or because I’m posting it from Instagram. So, again, whenever I post on Instagram or Facebook, nine times out of ten, I’m gonna make sure that same information is posted on Twitter. It might be in a way that is specifically designed for the Twitter platform.

So I’ve been kind of hot and cold with Twitter, and I do have the feeling that Twitter users currently are mainly people above the age of 45, who are really into tech, who read the Wall Street Journal regularly, that sort of thing. I did find this morning when I was actually doing a little bit of research that… That’s incorrect. There are actually a lot of millennials who are on Twitter currently.

I will say I don’t necessarily think that my target market is on Twitter, so I’m okay with the fact that I’m not a huge user or a fan of Twitter.

Like I said, I still think that Twitter is relevant, which is why I make sure that it’s one of my top three or top four social media platforms that I’m posting on regularly, so it’s my favorite in that sense. But as far as being a user, I’m not a big user of Twitter. Several years ago, I was… And similarly to with Instagram and Facebook, I was a late user of Twitter, I think it was a couple of years before I ever got on Twitter but then once I was on it, I was really on it. So I do think I am a little bit hot and cold with Twitter. I definitely have been cold with Twitter for several years now, and I don’t know when I’ll be back to being hot with Twitter, but like I said, I’m sure it’s still… I do have the feeling that it’s still relevant. I’m just not sure if it’s relevant for me with my target market that I’m seeking to create content for with regard to my dance education businesses.

I think when I’m talking about my market and my ideal customer avatar for DanceEdStartup.com, I might have to start looking at Twitter in a different light. But I think with specifically trying to grow dance education programs, so my studio-based classes and my in-schools classes, I don’t know that my target market is on Twitter, but I could be wrong. It’s just I haven’t personally found that thus far, but again, I personally spent the most high on Instagram and Facebook. Those are my favorites., but they’re also my comfort social media platforms.

Okay, so the final social media platform that I wanna talk about today is actually YouTube.

I love YouTube because I feel that it’s been really helpful for my generation, for people in my generation to turn their passions and their talents into lucrative side hustles or even full-time jobs, I suppose, as influencers or as people who are showing what life is really like as a classroom teacher or as people who are showing you how to care for and style natural hair.

So for those reasons, I really love YouTube. Also, similarly to Instagram, YouTube is so visually focused. So I love that it focuses on video. However, I think that for my dance education businesses specifically, I haven’t found that it necessarily brings in or reaches my target market. And it could be that I’m not using it in the best way possible. I do have over 80 videos on YouTube. However, those approximately 80 or so videos they span about a decade.

And so I think that people that have really been successful with YouTube, are posting weekly with YouTube and I’ve never posted weekly, I don’t think, ever with YouTube.

I’ve always enjoyed having my videos up on YouTube, and yeah, just editing them and making sure that they’re out there. However, I have never really considered YouTube as far as far as a platform that I wanted to use to create regular content to reach an audience. I personally have considered YouTube as a space to sort of store my work and to kind of hold a collection of what I was doing at a certain time in my life and with my businesses at a certain way at a certain time, in a certain place. So, again, YouTube is on my list of social media platform favorites because every few weeks, I’d say, or at least every few months, I post a lot of… If I wait months I definitely make sure that I get five or 10 videos up on YouTube. So I have kept up with it over the past eight or 10 years; however, I’m probably not using it to its fullest potential.

I have recently heard a little bit about YouTube Live. So that’s something that I considered looking into. I haven’t looked into it much yet. However, eventually, I would like to start creating some webinars, and I’ve looked into the most cost-effective ways to host webinars including live webinars. And so that’s how I kind of came across the information about YouTube Live but it’s not something that I’ve used at all at this moment. It may be a feature of YouTube that I use in the future.

Okay, so now I want to tell you about one platform that I have very, very recently been using intentionally to reach a different audience. So this is not, I guess, a typical social media platform, but I’ve been using a LinkedIn lately. And I should say this: Similarly to these other platforms that I’ve talked about–so Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube–I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for many, many years. And I’ve gone back and forth with having lots of information on it and very little information on it, but I’ve been looking at LinkedIn recently with the intent of just trying to see if there is a branch of my market that I’m not reaching that, I could be reaching on LinkedIn.

So actually, I have realized that there are, here and there, some members of my target market that are on LinkedIn and so, of course, when there are a few, there’s the possibility that there might be many. And so, I’ve been focusing on LinkedIn specifically for Dance Ed Startup, so that’s a different customer avatar than my customer avatar for my dance education businesses. So I don’t wanna get confusing, but I have been looking at linked in specifically for my market for Dance Ed Startup and just playing around with posting content regularly on there. I’ve changed my “about” section on LinkedIn recently, and I also very recently put up some ads on LinkedIn. So if I see any return on my investment there, I will let you know.

So yeah, LinkedIn. I don’t really have, I don’t really have strong feelings about it yet, but I am enjoying sort of playing with it as just an additional means of reaching people that I haven’t been reaching with any of my business ventures thus far.

Okay, so I would say those are all of my social media platform favorites. I went through them rather quickly but that’s it. So, I have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that I post to very regularly, especially Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m posting on those at the absolute least weekly, and when I’m really on half of my game, I’m posting to all of those, I would say, daily.

I’m planning on diving in more deeply to Instagram features, specifically IGTV. So, you should look out for me to have some IGTV videos over the next few weeks. And then with YouTube, like I said previously, I try to post on YouTube at least every few weeks or every few months I’ll get a bunch of content uploaded to YouTube. And then LinkedIn, I’m looking at recently just to see if there is a bit of my target market that I’m missing that I could stop missing and actually start reaching via LinkedIn.

Ff you are interested, I actually created a little downloadable. So you can go to DanceEdStartup.com/Podcast4Download and get a little summary of what I said in this podcast. Again that’s just DanceEdStartup.com/Podcast4Download. DanceEdStartup.com/Podcast4Download and you can grab this little freebie, called Saumirah’s Favorites: Social Media Platforms.

Okay, and I just kind of go over briefly what I mentioned about Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. And remember in next week’s podcast, I will be talking about my favorite photo editing apps specifically, and I will tell you what I love about these photo editing apps, how I use them, why I use them, and I’ll also tell you what platforms I use these photo editing apps for.

Okay, so sometimes I am thinking specifically of Instagram when I’m editing a photo. So maybe I’ll make the photo square, for example, which is longer necessary for Instagram, but sometimes I feel like the photos look better when they’re in the square shape. Sometimes I’m specifically editing a photo for the sake of it being on a digital flyer, or sometimes I’m editing photos or a Facebook cover photo that I want to have up to market an event for a week or two.

So anyway, I’ll dive into details like that in next week’s podcast, but I think we should go ahead and wrap it up for this week. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my favorite social media platforms. And before I go, I want to leave you with ways to keep doing a happy dance.

And so my recommendation for you is to, since we’re talking about social media platforms, I know a lot of people are really shy about going on video, just like me, which is probably why I’ve been avoiding it for the past few weeks (even though I was doing a very good job if I may say so, myself, of posting videos, and live videos of myself a few weeks ago I’ve been slacking recently). So I will challenge you in the next couple of weeks or maybe until we need again, in next week’s podcast: Go ahead and try to use video to market your brand and your dance business, and see what happens, see what kind of response you get from posting videos.

I always have actually really great response when I post videos, of course, of my students and their performances and that sort of thing, and then I haven’t really made much of an effort to posts of myself talking, so I can’t really tell you what kind of response I’m getting from that. But I will challenge myself to keep doing that as well, to keep using video to share information and to deliver some content.

And I said I’m going to push myself to try out IGTV over the next couple of weeks, and I will let you know how that experience is for me.

Okay, so thank you for listening to Episode #4 of The Happy Dance podcast, and I will catch you next week.


Do It for the One

Rachel Hollis talked about it on Amy Porterfield‘s podcast. She said, “We created it for her. The podcast was for her. The second podcast was for her. We’re having the response that we have because the style was entirely my own but the content is in response to what she’s asking for.”

When I think of all my Dance Daze students (both at the studio and at schools across the United States) and when I look at all the memories I have created for my businesses: I think of one child, one day, one family, one teacher, one moment.

When I think of starting that Dance Daze in Schools program in the Bronx, New York, I remember how rewarding it felt to bring in that one male teacher who wore glasses and had grown up there. I remember feeling that, in bringing him onto the team, I got to, in a teeny tiny way, be part of his experience of giving back to the community that raised him. I got to be part of him waking up every day as a successful man, human, and teaching artist.

When I think of the school in Oakland, California, where I had the privilege of teaching dance for an entire year, I remember that group of 6 middle school boys and girls who asked me why I smiled and laughed so much. I told them it was because I was happy.

And when I look at photos and videos of all the performances we are doing today, I’m overwhelmed to be part of creating magical moments for each of my students. I’m overjoyed to be part of helping them fall in love with the art of dance. But really, when I see 15 of my students showing up and dancing on these California roads with me, I think of her. I think of her mom looking at me in my eyes and saying, “She wants to perform. She’s ready.” I remember feeling the responsibility of providing positive performance opportunities for her when her dad asked me when we would be performing.

So when I look at them, I see her. One child, one family, one day, one moment.

And I’m so so grateful that by focusing on the one that I get to be part of the lives of many.

Are you interested in learning more about what I focus on in order to best serve my clients (my students and their families)? Go to www.DanceEdStartup.com and join my mailing list! Each week, people on my mailing list are getting dance-related business tips in my video series called “Two Tips” and this month (May of 2019) they’re also getting a live webinar every Sunday morning! Sign up today!