Here’s the deal. When you’re first getting started in business there is a TON to get done.
You’ve got a website to create, social media/blog calendars to schedule, connections to foster, content to write, and not to mention actually providing the service or creating the product that your business provides!
I’m not going to sugar coat. That first 6 months to 1 year in business you’re going to be hustling with a capital H.
While you’re in the initial business building stages, you’re probably not going to be enjoying that coveted work/life balance that you hear is possible when you’re an entrepreneur.
But here is the key. Even if these strategies aren’t going to free up large portions of your life right away (because you’re going to fill them with other business building activities, you Rock Star you!), they are going to help you put the plans in place to work towards that ultimate lifestyle goal.
So what’s my key secret to my having a business AND a life?
If it’s not in your calendar, then it’s not going to happen. My calendar is the backbone to my business and my life.
Now maybe you’re thinking …. “Ok Summer, I know this, I use my calendar religiously. I’ve bought into the whole time management thing. I have my week planned out.”
But let me ask you this – Are you seeing results? Are the things that you’re doing each day bringing you closer to your current business goal? Maybe that goal is building your email list, or launching a product, or getting your guest post picked up. At the end of the week did your actions concretely help you achieve, or at least move closer, to your goal. No?
I’m going to walk you through my exact calendar planning system for setting up your week, that is specifically focused on helping you achieve SUCCESS and RESULTS (which in turn will provide for the lifestyle you crave), rather then only focus on checking “things” off the list.
My Exact RESULTS Based Calendar System (Personal Life Included!)
1. Open up to your week (in whatever planner you WILL use – could be Google Calendar online or your favorite paper/pen hardcopy edition) and start by adding in your non-negotiable personal commitments. These would be items such as a playdate for your kids, your weekly gym class, a movie date with your husband, or coffee with a friend. These are activities that are important to you, have a specific time/day that they occur, and are commitments you’re not willing to (and shouldn’t have to!) break.
2. Look through your week and determine what time blocks you plan to devote to your business. For me this would be from 9:30-1:30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays while my daughter is at preschool, as well as a 1.5-2 hour time frame every weekday afternoon during her nap. I’m also a total morning person, so my favorite time to work on the business is first thing in the morning before everyone gets up, so I also schedule a block from 6-7am most mornings. Think through your schedule and mark down your uninterrupted business building times.
3. If you have any business actions that are specifically tied to a day/time, go ahead and enter them next. Hopefully they fall within your business work hours, but if they don’t, it’s something you can look at for following weeks to batch together into manageable chunks of time. These might be items such as conducting client consults, educational webinars, networking meetings, or accountability calls.
4. Now grab out a piece of scratch paper (or the side margin of your calendar is totally cool with me!) or open GoogleDocs, and make a list of your business building related work: designing a FB ad for your product, researching and writing a blog post, scheduling and engaging on social media, pitching your guest post to other blogs, working with a coach – whatever it is you need to GET DONE!
5. Notice we haven’t scheduled any of these items into your calendar yet. Here’s why.
Before you commit to an action (and once it’s in your calendar then you HAVE committed), you’ve got to determine if it’s actively helping you achieve your goals.
This weekly goal might be at the top of your mind and easy to determine, or it might require a little searching, but you need 1 or 2 main overarching business goals each week.
What is your ultimate outcome for the week?
Write these 1 or 2 goals at the top of your calendar for the week’s view. Some ideas might be: Gaining 20+ new subscribers on my email list, planning a launch strategy for my product, making personal connections with 3 peers in my industry.Once you’re got your 1 or 2 goals listed at the top of your week, take a look at your list of business building to-dos for the week. Let’s say your goal is gaining 20+ new subscribers on your email list. As you look through your list, cross off items that aren’t relevant to your goal. For example, I’d likely cross off pitching my guest post to other blogs (in my experience guest posts don’t gain many subscribers).
6. Now that your list is whittled down to only actions that support your weekly goal, start blocking out the general time blocks where your actions will fit during your work day. For example, on Tuesdays when I have several chunks of business work time my schedule might look like this:
6-7: content creation, social media scheduling, product development (this is a creative time of day for me so I try to focus on actual creation during this time)
9:30-10:30: email, administration work, social media engagement
10:30-1:30: client consults, client work, any calls/webinars
3:30-5: email, finish up to-dos, flexible time
Be sure to create the general categories that each of your to-do items will fit into. The goal is to block similar tasks together, which allows for less switching between activities, and therefore a much more streamlined (and time saving) experience!
7. Now if it’s the start of the week when you’re doing this – maybe Sunday evening? Take a look at Monday and decide on your top 3 to-do items for that day (these should come from the list you created) and WRITE THEM DOWN in the appropriate time blocks on your calendar.
Sometimes we can get involved in “other stuff” during the day and we end up feeling like we didn’t accomplish anything. No More!
Your goal is to get those 3 things done, and that equals accomplishment (and likely results!) for that day.
8. Before closing out your day, decide on your 3 to-do items for the next day and WRITE THEM DOWN into your schedule. If it’s in the calendar, and on the plans, then it is real!
Ready to be a Calendar Conquerer?
Are you inspired to grab your calendar and take action? You’ll be amazed by how much more you feel organized, successful, and aligned to your business goal and vision each and everyday. No more treading water and wondering what you really accomplished during the day.
Calendars will take you further then almost any other tool in your office toolkit.
Systems, Strategizing, and Streamlining = Success.
How about you? Do you use your calendar on a regular basis in your business? What’s your system for planning out your day and week? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
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