How is your 2013 plan coming along? Are you excited about what you’ve mapped out or overwhelmed by all that you’ve committed to?
I often see entrepreneurs cram three years worth of work into 12 months, leaving themselves exhausted and burned out by June or paralyzed from the get-go.
I don’t want that to happen to you, so we’re going to nip those scenarios before they arise. This brings us to part 2 of Your Year of Stunning Success, a three-part series dedicated to making your fantastic 2013 goals a reality.
If you missed Part 1 on Systems, you can check it out here.
Today’s topic? We’re honing in on the way you pack your daily work, errands, and duties into a single day… and stay organized doing it. You’ve got a lot on your plate to begin with, and with Big Goals on the horizon, getting smart about time management is an absolute must.
I’m going to show you how to get it all done, without the overwhelm or the paralysis.
Managing the Day-to-Day Details for Long-Term Success
Tell me: how do you feel about your schedule?
Is your calendar already a neatly organized, paired with an intricate color-coded to-do list? Is it a jumble of notes piled together? Or does just the idea of planning out each and every day make you want to crawl back into bed?
Most people are somewhere in between. They do the minimum to ensure they don’t miss an important deadline or meeting, but ignore further granularity that could help skyrocket their organization and success.
Because, you see, there’s one really, really big benefit to creating and keeping a schedule that you may not yet realize:
Creating and keeping a schedule can actually help you find more free time. Tweet that!
The Awesome, Lesser-Known Perks of Schedules
Maybe you think a predetermined schedule is too confining. That’s why you started your own business in the first place, right? If you wanted to work a straight 9-5, you’d go take a job in an office.
I hear you. But an unscheduled day isn’t the most efficient option! You may be wasting quite a bit of time – time that could be spent making more money, working on passion projects, or simply having fun.
If you’re looking for a way to work less and make more space for your real life, building a schedule is what’s going to get you there. And your schedule can be as strict or as liberal as you like, though most entrepreneurs I know could benefit from a little more structure.
Now let’s dive into the details of finding the right schedule for you – and setting it.
5 Steps for Easy-Breezy Daily Scheduling
Step 1: Determine your “work hours”
Start by listing your “work hours.” For example, if you’re a parent, 9 am to 3 pm are likely your main work hours, with a little extra time in the evenings.
If you don’t have a lifestyle that sets “work hours,” like many parents, that’s okay. Consider the hours you prefer to work, and even something like 8 am – 2 pm & 9 – 11 pm is fair game. The important question to ask is: When do you want to work?
Setting boundaries on your day can help you get more done, instead of allowing work to bleed into every hour of every day. As Parkinson’s law states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” So put yourself first and make the business fit into the time you want to give it.
Step 2: Figure out what’s non-negotiable
Next, ask yourself what’s non-negotiable. For example, do you go to yoga on Wednesday mornings from 10-11? Or have another commitment that you want to keep?
Block that time out on your calendar. If you want it to happen, schedule it.
Step 3: Set specific slots for time-consuming tasks
Think about the larger tasks you complete regularly, like sending and replying to emails, working with clients, writing blog posts, etc.
Determine when you want to do those things. Yes, we are going to give each one a set time. For example, I coach every other Monday afternoon and on Wednesdays and Thursdays for most of the day. That’s it.
I usually write my blogs on Tuesdays. My mastermind group meets on Friday mornings. I prefer to leave Friday afternoons flexible and not to work on weekends. And ideally, I’d have set times to address email (though I’m admittedly not very good at this). All of this is blocked out on my calendar.
List out your time-intensive tasks and add them to your calendar.
Step 4: Fill in the blanks
Now that you’ve mapped out your non-negotiable time and set aside chunks of time for bigger tasks, you’re calendar’s looking pretty full. But you should have a little more time in there.
For those open spots, consider setting aside time for things like business-building, marketing, social media, working on your next project, or …. downtime. (Yes, seriously, schedule it.)
Consider what other things need to be put on your weekly or monthly schedule and put them in!
Step 5: Keep in mind, it is possible to over-do it
I made this mistake in college. Between work, classes, and volunteering, I had my day scheduled in 15-minute increments. That kind of extreme efficiency doesn’t leave much wiggle room – and it can make you go a little nuts.
Find the right balance of structure and flexibility that will help you reach your business and personal goals.
Why Scheduling Is Worth the Effort
Setting a schedule helps you create more time for yourself, your family, and the projects you love to work on, plus it keeps your work week and to-do list manageable.
Think about it; what would happen if you only accepted client calls two days a week, so you could have one full day open for creating a new product? With such a huge, dedicated time slot, it’ll be much easier to get the project done quickly and thoroughly. Plus, no more late-night rounds of content creation and editing! Yipee!
Take a moment to consider everything you’re doing in your business. How can you put yourself on a bit more of a time budget so you’re not wasting precious hours?
Getting Started with Schedules
Draft your schedule, and experiment with it for two weeks.
This small commitment can do awesome things for your business! You’ll be able to spot where you’ve been squandering hours, and have more time for yourself, your dream projects, and your loved ones. You’ll also develop a clearer idea of how long your work actually takes you.
Don’t worry: setting up a schedule won’t turn you into a robot. In fact, it might be one of the most liberating things you do for yourself and your work! Give it a shot, and play around to find what’s best for you.
Where Will You Start?
Schedules are a must-do if 2013 is going to be Your Year of Stunning Success! So now, I want to know…
1. Where are you wasting time in your business? How could creating a schedule could free up more hours, and help you do what you love?
2. It’s time to hop into action! What step are you going to take TODAY to start implementing a schedule?
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Next week, we’ll be tackling the third element necessary for creating your Year of Stunning Success (I love this next one!). So keep your eyes here, where we’ll be diving back into this discussion at the same time, same place next week.
In the meantime, happy scheduling!
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