The most effective way I’ve remained sane while growing my business is by managing my schedule well. Creating a routine and various scheduling hacks has been critical to maintaining my wellbeing as a business owner. Plus, the old adage “time is money” couldn’t be truer for an entrepreneur, but really for any person working in a business.
Time is extremely valuable; it’s an investment. Some workers can put an actual dollar value on their time (e.g., not working x hours means x amount of business lost), while others may consider their time an investment in themselves and the opportunity to grow professionally in the future. The less time I spend pounding the pavement, the fewer clients I land and projects I finish. It’s really quite simple!
If I manage my schedule well, I am more productive and organized, and as a result, I keep my sanity in check. But we all know managing your time well is much easier said than done. I’m here to offer you five tips, tricks, and hacks for managing your schedule.
This might seem obvious, but figure out your routine and try to avoid straying from it. I wouldn’t be half as productive and happy as a business owner if I didn’t have a routine. Plus, it doesn’t all have to revolve around work. It could include starting your day by checking emails for a half-hour before getting ready, watching the news, walking your dog, making your bed (small wins make a difference!) – and once you get into your work hours, blocking specific sets of time for various activities like checking email, tackling your to-do list, and job-specific functions (don’t forget about non-work activities like exercise or coffee breaks!). I try to stay fairly consistent with my schedule day-to-day, and I find that my mind and body adjust to these patterns. By knowing what to expect each day, I am mentally prepared and feel productive from the get-go.
2. Use Your Calendar To Its Full Potential
I wouldn’t say I plan my days to the minute (ok, fine, some days I do!), but I’ve definitely learned that using my Google calendar for anything and everything has been a lifesaver. You can essentially treat it like a to-do list – recording all of the tasks and activities you have planned and blocking off specific times for it. This has also been tremendously helpful as a mom, allowing me to brain dump things into a calendar and not rely on my memory to remember my multitude of responsibilities that have quadrupled over the last few years. If this system works for you, you may even consider integrating the “batching” method in your calendar’s time blocks, which basically entails “the grouping of similar tasks that require similar resources in order to streamline their completion.” This interesting method allows you to completely focus on specific like-tasks for a period of time (e.g., half an hour) without being distracted by other categorically different items on your to-do list. Give it a try!
3. Take Advantage of Technology
Of course, there are many other resources out there to use in addition to a calendar. I’m talking about efficiency-boosting resources that allow you to automate tasks, especially repetitive ones. If your job entails posting on social media frequently, recurrent bill payments, sending newsletters, or other marketing campaigns, there exist tools that help you set these up ahead of time and schedule them out. Once you find the right resources for you and your business, you’ll find that technology can help you save a lot of precious time that can be allocated elsewhere in your schedule. Similarly, if you work with a team, delegate as much as possible. Assigning out repetitive or nitty-gritty tasks will free up your schedule for more big-picture items. Similarly, you may consider hiring an Online Business Manager, like me, to help you improve and enhance your business practice, increasing productivity and also taking some weight off your shoulders (i.e., keeping you sane!).
4. One-Click, Two-Minute Rules
I don’t know about you, but I find that one thing that always seems to pile up and can eat into other tasks and activities that I have planned is answering emails. I like to be thoughtful and intentional when writing and responding to emails, but this can be a huge time suck. While this is a very specific suggestion that might not work for everyone, I have found that it has for me – it’s the merging of two different business tips: the one-click rule, and the two-minute rule. When possible, click on an email only once – meaning, you open it and immediately respond.
This is probably best for the time block you have dedicated to answering emails. For the two-minute rule, when you have some free time to get to emails in between to-do list items (or perhaps if you make getting some emails out of the way when you wake up a part of your routine as described above), focus on emails that will take just two minutes to respond instead of filing them away to deal with later. This method has many advantages, including the “low-hanging fruit” sense of accomplishment that will give you energy to then complete more involved items. Also, with practice, you’ll be able to maintain the thoughtfulness and personal touch in your emails.
5. Take Time To Plan
You may wonder, why would I take time to plan my day when I could just use that time to actually do my work? If you’re already taking the time to input your to-dos into your calendar and explore other scheduling hacks, you should optimize your productivity by really planning everything ahead of time. Give thought to what you can realistically get done and be intentional with your schedule. Don’t wait until the morning-of to create your schedule and calendar blocks for the day – try to do so on the Friday before your workweek. At the very least, do it the day before. This will help keep you organized, and will actually allow you to be more adaptable as you will include in your schedule any unusual disruptions or work- or life-items that are coming up. Taking the time to plan your schedule is truly the key to making any of the other tips here work, like establishing a team or identifying tech tools for your business.
Managing your schedule effectively is a constant learning process. I don’t think it’s possible to be absolutely perfect, and there will always be a new suggestion you get from a friend or the internet. Personally, I find that these tips, tricks, and hacks are easy, basic ways to make you more productive and therefore help you save your sanity.
Until next time!