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Scarier Than Halloween ... Beware
Invasion Of The TIME Snatchers! 

By Amy Taylor
Voice Actor  

You may be thinking, "What is a time snatcher?" No, I'm not talking about a cheesy Halloween horror movie.
Time snatchers are very real and are detrimental to people with home-based businesses like us. 

The main culprits?
  • Social media,
  • Telephone, and
  • Friends and family.

Social media is perhaps the biggest time snatcher. How much useful time do we spend daily on social media? 
I know some of us use blogs, newsletters, podcasts and articles to help our careers and that's great. I know I sure do.
But some of us spend a little too much time socializing online and don't get a whole lot of work done. 
Be honest. Have you ever looked at the clock and were shocked at how much time had elapsed since you logged onto your favorite social media site?
Did you snap out of it and do some "work" to justify being on the computer so long?
I admit I've done it and I'm making a conscious effort to be aware of the social media time snatcher.
What can you do about it?
If you really want to get things done in your office, don't have your "available to chat" option on or other message boards on and up.
This way you won't be interrupted and tempted to stop what you're doing just to say, "What's up?" to an old high school chum.
Many of you can multi-task. You can be in a chat room while translating a document and listening to a podcast and printing out a great chili recipe. 
If you can do all that, that's amazing. But for those of us with attention issues (like me,) it's best to have these things off while working.
If I'm translating a document, then that's all I'm doing at that moment.

I find that really focusing on one task helps me get it done quickly and efficiently so that I can move onto the next one. 
Do you answer the phone during business hours? It's a catch-22 because we need our phone on in order to receive calls from potential clients, right?
I obviously keep my phone silenced when recording, but also when I'm editing or doing something else at my desk.
I check it periodically to see if there is a voicemail. Agents like it when you get back to them promptly.

But I don't generally answer the phone. 
This works for me, but may not be the best remedy for you.
I have some long-winded friends who leave me much shorter voicemails and get to the point faster than if I had picked up the phone. 
I love them dearly, but alas, they can take away a lot of precious work time. 
That brings me to the most difficult of time snatchers: people.
They are the most difficult because they are the time snatchers that we have the least control over, if any at all.
I used to be on the outside looking in. Years ago, I had a day job and my husband ran his business at home. So, on my day off I'd pop in and say, "Whatcha doin'?" He was working and I couldn't tell. 
To those naïve about the world of self-employment, entrepreneurialism, and home-based businesses, we don't really look like we’re working. 
It's true. I never got it until I started my own business.
Family and friends can be time snatchers without even meaning to be.
Do you have people who drop by during work hours, and you feel obligated to stop what you're doing to be with them? 
Do you end up shooting the breeze for, gulp, an hour or more of your valuable work time? It happens. But it doesn't have to.
Try explaining to your loved ones that you are working - that your studio or office just happens to be at home but that these are business hours and that even when the mic is off you need to work on your marketing, invoicing, business plan, etc.
You can try asking them to have lunch with you - if you don't have a session during that time. 
Try to get them into the mindset that yours - just like other companies - is in fact, a business.
There are tactful ways to explain this to your family and friends that are non-offensive. 

Be creative, be kind, but be firm in letting them know you when need to work.
One of the most valuable things I've learned from voice over trainers James Alburger and Penny Abshire is that we all get 24 hours in a day.

No one gets any more or less than anyone else.
We need to make the most of those 24 hours. I realize we have to cram all the things life throws at us into a day and make room for the work, too.
If some interactive voice response (IVR) prompts have to be recorded at 3 a.m., then voice them at 3 a.m. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has done that.
But as a rule, try to devote workday hours to just that - work.

Now let's get out there and take back our time!


Amy Taylor is a bilingual ISDN voice talent specializing in English and Spanish voice overs. She has recorded for Ashley Furniture, IAMS, Mercedes Benz, SONY, Verizon Wireless, Subway and Nickelodeon. 


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Comments (1)
Jack Hamlett
11/5/2011 at 7:32 PM
Excellent article and it's true as well. Many of us spend time doing odd things and how much do you really need to do social media daily.
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