As an entrepreneur, your time is one of the major limiting resources when it comes to your business, and having a good system for organizing your schedule is a must. In my own business, I use a number of systems to keep my business organized, allowing me to be most productive possible each day. In the past I have discussed steps for managing your calendar, so I wanted to check in to see how that is working for you.
- Do you feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks you have at any given time during the work week?
- Does the day fly by without you seeming to have managed any real progress on your to-do list?
- Are you constantly having to work late or on weekends to make up for work not accomplished during the regular work week?
- Do you feel like you should be able to be more efficient with your time or get more things done with it?
If you answered yes to any of these, there’s still room for improvement when it comes to organizing your schedule. Of course, every small business is a labor of love, and sometimes you will have to work longer hours or put more effort in to keep moving forward with yours. However, if you’re reaching Friday (or Sunday!) night every week feeling like you haven’t gotten anything accomplished, that’s a red flag for burnout. If you work yourself to the bone, you won’t be nearly as efficient as someone who takes enough breaks and practices work-life balance.
Simplify your scheduling
For many people, the main place where they get bogged down is in setting up an actual blocked out schedule and sticking to it. In this age of constant distractions (email pings, instant messaging, endless meetings and conference calls), it can be tempting to let your scheduling slide in order to deal with what seem like “immediate” action items. In reality, these sorts of tasks aren’t all that urgent, for the most part, and can often wait until their scheduled time to be dealt with.
The easiest way to stick to a schedule is to have a calendar which you can use to divide up your workday into slots for everything that needs to get done. Online options which will sync between your devices so you can update your schedule from anywhere while on the go are best. You can also use alerts from these systems to tell you when it’s time to change tasks.
Planning around your own creativity cycles
Are you a morning person? Or do you find your best work comes from the late afternoon or early evening periods once other people stop work for the night? Knowing yourself and how you work best is key to building a schedule that you can follow. Use the times you are most creative or energized to tackle the toughest tasks which require your full concentration and efforts. Other times can be filled with less demanding work, and your most scattered times can be best put to use for calls or meetings, or when you’ll have someone else to help you stay on track.
When blocking out time in your calendar, keep these times in mind and schedule accordingly. It also helps to group similar tasks together, so there are fewer abrupt changes in the type of work you’re doing. Refocusing your mind on something completely different can be exhausting, especially if you’re bouncing back and forth between just a few types of work that could be grouped together.
Getting (virtual) assistance
If you’re really busy and find that emailing back and forth with clients or colleagues to figure out times for meetings and calls is just one more thing that sucks all your energy away, you might want to consider partnering with a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant can manage those emails, send out Doodles (a fantastic system for setting up appointments and more), and update your calendar accordingly. If you let your virtual assistant know how and when you like to do certain tasks, they can build your calendar the way it works for you. Virtual assistants are well versed in online scheduling tools and the art of wrangling endless email threads with multiple participants all trying to work out a meeting time. All you have to do is check it and pay attention to the alerts for upcoming tasks each day! It can be a huge load off your shoulders, leaving you with the time and focus to do your best work.
Hopefully thinking about scheduling this way can help you build on my previous tips for handling your calendar. It’s never too late in the year to get your work schedule under control, and you’ll be more well rested and productive when working.