The Truth About Planning
The most common phrase I hear people say (entrepreneurs and business professionals alike) is “I don’t have time for that”. The truth is, it isn’t that you don’t have time for something, it’s that you don’t make time for it.
I know because I was one of those people. As a mom and a business owner, I often found myself feeling frantic, running from one thing to the next and wondering why I was always so frazzled. I got tired of listening to myself make excuses and feeling all over the place so I decided to do something about it.
Over this past year, I’ve worked on developing a process for making a weekly schedule to eliminate overwhelm and chaos. I then used this method to help countless other mom entrepreneurs successfully implement this in their own life and routine. You don’t have to have a specific type of business or be a mom entrepreneur to use this method – it can work for you if you have a side hustle, a product business, a service business, or you just want to feel more organized and less stressed in your life!
You may argue that you don’t like making a weekly schedule because it’s too rigid and doesn’t give you freedom to choose what you’re working on.
The truth is, when the mental clutter is moved out of your head and into a schedule it means you don’t have to think about what to do next after finishing a task and you don’t need to wonder how you will get your work done that week. It’s already right there for you – planned out and ready to go.
My Simple 5 Step Process for Making my Weekly Schedule
A quick note before we get started: It is best to sit down and schedule your week either Friday afternoon or Sunday evening. You can also do this Monday morning, however, it won’t allow you to hit the ground running on Monday morning so I don’t advise it. In my case, I prefer to have my schedule set beforehand so that when I get up Monday morning I already know when I’m working on and when.
Below are 5 simple steps to take to efficiently schedule your time. You’ll feel organized and empowered for your next week of planning.
- Print your calendar (or pull it up electronically) with all of your previously scheduled meetings and appointments for the upcoming week
- Take out a piece of paper and brain dump all of the things you’d like to get done for the week. This can be small tasks and also larger projects. List everything – work items, personal items, whatever it is that you want to accomplish that week.
- Estimate how long each task will take (you’ll get better at estimating this as the weeks go by, I promise)
- Review the open spots you have on your calendar and add in the tasks you want to accomplish that week (using the length of time you estimated to complete them to schedule ‘meetings’ on your calendar).
- Things to consider: if your ‘tasks’ are in person, online, if you need to be recording yourself, etc. You can batch activities together that are similar. For example: If you want to record two new videos for your YouTube channel – schedule them back to back since your equipment will already be out and ready, you’ll be camera ready, etc. It will save time versus scheduling one video for Tuesday and one for Friday.
- Print the calendar and keep it as your schedule for the week (if you like check marks, feel free to check things off as the day progresses)
- You can make notes as you progress during the week – Did something take longer than expected? Did you have to switch around some activities? Take notes so that you can refer to your learnings and improve as the weeks go by.
Extra Tips for Optimal Planning
This process is ‘simple’ but it can take a couple hours to actually do it. Stick with it. The hours you spend up front will save you a lot of wasted brain power during the week trying to figure out what to do next.
It helps to know how you work best. Are you ready to go first thing in the morning? Do you need to wake up slowly and do something for yourself first (meditate, journal, etc)? You can build this into your calendar.
Set up recurring meetings for anything that repeats frequently (i.e. gym classes, taking kids to school, weekly staff meeting, etc)
Color code your calendar for home, work, etc. If you have different projects or revenue streams you can also color code those so you can easily see how much time you’re spending in each of those areas.
Schedule the most important tasks that you want to accomplish for the week earlier in the week You’ll feel better getting them done and out of the way and they are less likely to get moved to the following week.
Schedule everything. If you are going to a lunch meeting, then block time off before and after to travel to / from the lunch. This will help you see how much time you’re really working with during the day.
I block time that I get my kids ready and take them to school. I know that isn’t free time I have to work so it helps to have it already blocked out in my calendar.
Use whichever calendar system you like best – I happen to use Google Calendar because it syncs up with my email and I find it user friendly.
Things I’ve Learned Along the Way
This process didn’t come without learning a lot, that’s for sure! Here are a few things I learned through trial and error (and with lots of practice, of course!).
- Schedule breaks – You’ll likely want to schedule all of your time so you can get the most done, but you need breaks. If you don’t schedule your breaks on paper you’ll end up falling behind on your schedule because you’ll need the break anyway.
- Don’t over commit yourself – This goes along with scheduling breaks. You’ll feel stressed and overwhelmed if you try to do too much (hence the need for planning to begin with!). Spread your tasks out throughout the week, you’ll get the hang of your own personal productivity as you practice planning each week.
- Schedule working out or other self care activities – Knowing when you’re going to do these things helps to actually follow through and get them done. Yes, I also schedule the days that I wash my hair because that takes longer than the days that I don’t.
- It’s ok to deviate if / when you need to, but it shouldn’t be the norm – You’ll fall off the wagon from time to time. The important thing is to get back to it. If you don’t plan a week (or two or three)
Scheduling your time gives you more freedom, not less. It alleviates overwhelm and brings clarity to your days. Keep at it to find out what works best for you and make adjustments as needed.