Last week I wasn’t interested in doing anything on my to-do list. It happens. It’s the rebel in me that tires of having a structure imposed on me – even when I’m the one doing the imposing! Yet if I want to avoid getting overwhelmed I need to get planning.
When you make the move to being self-employed (whether as a contractor, freelancer or business owner) you need to find a new way of working. Working in your pajamas and binge watching Netflix in the afternoon will only get you so far!
If you’re anything like me your first step on becoming self-employed will be to do the complete opposite of what you had to do in your previous job.
As a corporate lawyer I was required to record every 6 minutes of my time. Every 6 Minutes! My friends always wanted to know if I had to record the time that I went to the bathroom…
I did that for 17 years, from the days of handwriting my time for my secretary to type up to recording my time on electronic clocks.
When I left my career in the law I wanted freedom in my days so I bounced to the other extreme – no time recording, no structure. I didn’t last long there because it also meant no progress!
Gradually I learned what worked for me. Ironically my new way of working contained a lot of the systems that I’d developed for myself while working as a lawyer.
There is nothing quite like recording every minute of your day to get you organised. One day I worked out what each of those 6 minute units was costing my clients. That got me super focused as I felt that it was their money that I was spending as I worked.
I’m going to take you through how I plan out my week. Each one of us is different and what works for me may not work for you. Yet seeing how another business owner works might give you a structure to start with and help you avoid getting overwhelmed.
The Start Of The Week
I already have my to-do list written up (see The End of The Week). I write this list in a notebook – mainly because I love crossing things off once they’re done!
Whether you use a notebook, an online calendar or one of the many planning tools the important thing is to get started so don’t over complicate what you do.
I love it when I can find a notebook on my travels that has recycled pages. I bought this one in Ajijic, Mexico.
Behind my to-do list sits my on-line calender. I use my calender to block out time for the main activities in my business. I colour code each of the activities as it makes looking at my calendar far more interesting!
My main activities are:
I like to put reminders in my calendar for the various theme days in FB groups that I’m part of. During those 30 minute slots I’ll also see if there is anyone that I can help.
I’ve since moved all of these slots to the afternoon as I found that I was spending too much time in FB. So now I don’t go in until the afternoon which leaves my mornings free to have client calls or to create content while my energy is at its highest.
There will always be room for improvement in whatever planning method you choose.
Content Creation (Blue)
This is my time to write my weekly emails to my readers, to write blog posts, FB posts and Instagram posts.
I’ll also use this time to think of, and create, new products and services.
Business Development (Purple)
In business you never stop learning so make sure you have time slotted in to focus on your learning goal for the week.
Client Care (White)
Once a client books in I change the appointment colour to red so I can easily see when the appointments are.
I may not need an hour a day but having this allocated time means that those tasks don’t build up. I do them at the end of the day as that’s when my energy is at its lowest.
This colour-coded overview allows me to see if I’m allocating enough time to the right activities. I’ll then do the tasks on my to-do list within the time slots that I’ve set aside.
The Middle Of The Week
I take stock of how I’m going. Have I got enough time to do everything that I wanted? Has a task taken longer than I thought it would?
By taking stock in the middle of the week I can adjust anything that I need to and not feel disappointed when I get to the end of the week and I haven’t achieved what I want.
The End Of The Week
In some ways what I do at the end of the week is the most important.
I review where I’m at with my list of tasks.
What is left outstanding on my list? Why?
What worked well this week? What didn’t?
There is always a lesson to be learned by asking these questions. I may need to allocate more time to a task or take a look at why I avoided doing a certain task.
Maybe I thought it would be painful – generally anything to do with a help desk!
Maybe I had an attack of self-doubt. This usually comes up when I apply for podcast interviews which is ironic as I enjoy doing them and have meet some wonderful people this way.
I write out my list on Sunday afternoon/evening. I do this so that I start the week knowing exactly where my focus is.
The End Of The Month
At the end of each month I do a complete review of how the month has gone; for tasks and for numbers (financial, readers and social media).
I keep all of my results in a spreadsheet so I can see the changes from month to month.
How do you plan your week to avoid getting overwhelmed?
Are you finding that you’re completely overwhelmed by everything that you need to do in your business? Take a moment to book in for a complimentary business strategy session with me. We’ll spend 30 minutes chatting about where you’re feeling overwhelmed and design a plan to help you get rid of that feeling. You’ll never look at your to-do list with dread again!