How to spend less time on Admin: Top tips to get you off the computer and back into the studio : The Maker's Business Toolkit

How to spend less time on Admin: Top tips to get you off the computer and back into the studio

Marketing is absolutely crucial for your business’s success. If no one knows about your lovely thing, no one is going to buy it.

But I know that you didn’t become an artist or craftsperson to spend hours every week staring at a freshly created blog post draft, or learning about the latest social media network.

You want to make stuff. You want to talk to customers. You want to spend time with your family.

When I first started my business I was completely overwhelmed by everything that had to be done. As I grew, the beast of admin and marketing just seemed to get more and more out of control. I started to wonder if the only way to get it done would be to hire someone to help me, but how could I do that when I was struggling to even pay myself?

A couple of years in, I had a revelation. I didn’t need to hire someone else to do it. What I needed was a system, a way to get it done faster and with less effort.

No one ever tells you this, but that’s what a business is.

It’s a collection of systems and processes that work together to give you more out than you put in.

So, here are the processes I use to get more hours in the day!

1️⃣ Track everything … especially your time!

Take a week and track every moment of the working day. Write down every time you start an activity and every time you finish one.

At the end of the week, take a look at the data you have collected and look for the big time sucks. Once you know what they are, you can start to devise a plan to combat them.

Here are a few of the classic time sucks that many of us face:


If social media is part of your marketing strategy then you know you have to go one there to post your updates and reply to comments and questions from your followers.

These platforms are designed to get you scrolling through your newsfeed and clicking on cute animal videos. Suddenly, it’s lunchtime and you’ve done precisely nothing.

The Fix:

Set yourself a particular time to visit your social media networks for work. Maybe once late morning and once late afternoon, each for 10 minutes.

Get in, post your updates and get out. Set yourself a timer and when it goes off, close it down and get back to work. Turn off all notifications so that you won’t be tempted to pop back in.

If you’re using Facebook you can install the Facebook News Feed Eradicator extension for Google Chrome, which will disable the newsfeed when you log in to Facebook. You’ll still be able to access your profile, your page, your messages and groups but there’ll be no kitty vids. You can also turn it on and off when you want.


Sometimes it can feel like we’re always at the beck and call of others and we can feel pretty resentful when we’ve spent the whole day away from our work, responding to requests from other people.

If we’re not careful, that resentment can spill over into our communication and that can do damage to our business.

The Fix:
Again, set aside certain times of the day to respond to emails and stick to them. Don’t leave email open in the background. I also don’t like to leave these emails sitting in my inbox. Somehow, just knowing that they’re there can be distracting. So I add them to a folder called “Reply” and Zapier then automatically creates a task in Asana (my task management system) for each one, so I never forget to respond to anyone.

If you use Gmail you can also create “Canned Responses” for the questions you get asked most often. For me, it’s always “Do you do portrait sessions?”

I took the decision not to do portraits a long time ago. I don’t enjoy it, I’m not that good at it, and it’s not how I want to spend my time. But yet, whenever I had to respond to one of these messages I would feel guilty saying no.

If I was having a tough month financially, I’d start second guessing my decision and wonder if I was making myself unnecessarily poorer. Now, I just click a button and the text is entered for me. I add the person’s name and make a couple of quick customisations and I’m done. No guilt, no hassle, no second guessing.


I’ve been guilty of this a lot. I just get used to the way that I do things and I don’t really question whether there could be a faster or easier way.

Recently I decided to check myself every time I found myself complaining about having to do a particular task. When I felt that complaint swelling up, I would take a look at the task and see if there was a simpler or faster way to do it.

Two of the biggest time sucks for me were typing up delivery notes and applying for art and craft shows.

I realised that the real problem here was entering all the information. So I bought a tool called Text Expander that allows you to use keyboard shortcuts for frequently used text. I still think that this is one of my best business purchases and saves me so much time.

I added all of my products, customer addresses and all of my website and social media addresses and gave each of them a keyboard shortcut.

It took me a little while to learn them but I can now knock out a delivery note in just a couple of minutes, using a template I created in Google Docs. And I can fill out an application in just a couple of minutes too.

You can also use TextExpander for whole email responses, if you don’t have Canned Responses. Brilliant.


Ahh, the curse of the artist! We care so deeply about the details. That’s what makes our work so special and it’s what makes us good at what we do.

But when you do it in your business it can be incredibly self sabotaging.

It honestly doesn’t matter if you use a very slightly different font on your delivery notes vs your website. It honestly doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if your blog featured images are square or rectangular. It honestly doesn’t matter.

I recently heard a conversation in a Facebook Group about designing your own emojis, because the ones on offer weren’t on brand. This is a classic case of getting caught up in something that doesn’t matter. Large companies have employees that they can put on emoji duty. We don’t have that luxury and every moment you spend worrying about this is a moment that isn’t spent on making, marketing, or hanging out with your kids. Just let it go.

2️⃣ Automate anything you can

I’m a big believer in paying for automation tools because they are almost the equivalent of having an employee, but way cheaper. There are lots of free options out there too, they just might take a little bit of tweaking to set up.


How about creating a series of automated emails for your mailing list? You could create a welcome series of emails that people get when they first sign up or maybe an abandoned cart series, or maybe even a series that goes to customers after they visit a particular page on your site.

This all takes a little bit of time and effort to set up but, once it’s done, it’s like having an extra team member looking after your customers for you 365 days a year.

Bookkeeping is also an area where I like to use as much automation as possible. I use a service called Receipt Bank that handles data entry for all of my receipts. I even use a filter in Gmail to automatically send receipts from my regular vendors directly to Receipt Bank, so I don’t ever see them. It’s pretty cool!

I also use Zapier to enter all my weekly orders into a Google Sheets spreadsheet and then, once a week, I put them through my books in a batch. If, like me, your orders are mostly relatively low value and there are a lot of them, this can be a real timesaver.

3️⃣ Batch it!

Batching is absolutely brilliant for saving time and getting more done. You probably already do this with your making.

You don’t make one piece from start to finish, and then start another. You do it in batches, and it can be the same with your admin.

We’ve already touched on this a bit when we spoke about responding to emails once or twice a day, at a predetermined time, but there are lots of other ways to use batching in your business too.

Find blogging difficult? You could write batches of 2,3,4 even 10 posts at a time and get yourself some breathing room.

Social media updates are great for this too. Create at least a couple of weeks of content at a time and you can spend your time on social media responding to your customers instead of staring at a flashing cursor.

What about newsletters? Another great item to batch. Get six done and you may not have to worry about it for six months.

You could even have a “Batch Day” where you gather together all those little odd jobs that you always mean to get done but never get round to and you blast through them in one day.

I’d recommend setting up a project in Asana and dumping all of these task in there when you think of them. Then set yourself a recurring task that reminds you once a month to go in there and spend a day getting as many completed as you can.

4️⃣ Create a Process

My month end used to be an absolute nightmare until I created a process for it. I would put it off for days because I knew how awful it was going to be. This, of course, only made it worse and I would end up rushing it off and forgetting to do half of it. And, because I’d put it off for so long, the next one was just around the corner.

So I created a written process for it. It works a bit like a checklist.

I know exactly what I need to do, nothing gets forgotten and I have a much calmer and more productive experience. I have even found ways to improve the way I do my bookkeeping to make the month end go a lot more smoothly and, as a result, it all takes a lot less time than it used to.


  • Setting up a new commission client
  • Month End Accounting
  • Unpacking and checking stock
  • Preparing a wholesale order
  • Preparing for a craft fair
  • Pitching to potential wholesale customers


  • Write out the steps as if you were explaining them to a new employee.
  • Write down every step. Don’t skip anything or assume you’ll remember it.
  • Turn those steps into a checklist or a list of tasks in a to-do list app
  • Keep the document somewhere easy to reach and go through it every time you go through this process.

So what do you think? Are there ways that you could find to spend less time on admin and more time making?

Setting up processes and automations can seem like a daunting task and it can be difficult to find the time when you’re already rushed off your feet, but taking the time to do this and then to refine it over time can take your business from Yikes! To Ahhhhhhh.

It can improve your physical and emotional wellbeing and improve your relationships with the people who matter most. I think that deserves a little bit of time, don’t you?

I'm Nicola Taylor

I’m the founder of Maker’s Business Toolkit and I help artists, makers, and handmade business owners to make more money with less stress.

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Tips to help you build a successful business as an artist, crafter or designer-maker