Time Management — a hot topic for entrepreneurs and extremely important for thriving as a small business owner. At times it can feel like everyone and their brother has a strong opinion on time management and what works best. But just like anything in business, a strong time management system is very personal and comes with trial and error. For me, that looks like mapping out my days in my Google Calendar and time-blocking the non-negotiables in my schedule, but for others it could look different!
To be very transparent, since quarantine I’ve shifted to a less rigid time-blocking system — one that leaves room for rest and allows me to work on things more fluidly and intuitively. I’ve been trying to give myself more grace in these uncertain times, something that I think most entrepreneurs are all in need of especially in 2020.
While I haven’t been as strict with my time-blocking, I definitely default to this process when I feel really overwhelmed by all of the things that I need to get done. When doing everything seems impossible, this is my secret weapon and I fully tap into it. Hyper-planning out my day helps me push through those busy days that just feel impossible to get through.
Over the years before I implemented calendar time-blocking, I noticed an unhealthy pattern. I seemed to always put my focus on client work, always telling myself that I would just get to it, it being my own stuff, when I finished all of my client projects. Of course that never happened and I found myself drained, burnt out, and unbalanced. I care about my clients and go above and beyond for them, but it’s equally important that I put time back into the business to continue to keep growing and serving amazing clients!
For those of you who struggle with giving too much to your clients and not enough to yourself, I definitely recommend Brook Castillo’s podcast “The Life Coach School”. It’s an incredible podcast that dives into mindset and is where I learned this time blocking system.
At the beginning of the week I dump EVERYTHING that I need/want to do. I like to do it pen-to-paper, but experiment with what works best for you. I generally dump it into four categories:
The next step is to assign times to all of the tasks and estimate how long each activity will take. With this, it’s best to air on the side of extra time so you don’t feel rushed or behind during your day! Then I try to group things together based on how much energy they will take me and if it’s something that needs deep work or if it’s more of an everyday task. Based on the time and how much energy it will take me I then plot each task on my calendar and it looks something like this:
I keep track of everything on the calendar through my color-coding. This helps me so that I can quickly look at it and see generally where my time is going throughout the week. I can quickly see if I need to be spending less time in one area or not. My color systems look like:
Blue- Client Work
Coral- Internal Projects
Red- Scheduled Calls
Generally speaking, I like to only give myself three tasks to focus on in one day (unless I have a bunch of small easy things I can knock out). I found that I would overestimate just how much could actually be done in a day. Three larger tasks and some small everyday ones, like checking email and walking my pup, is a sweet spot I’ve found that produces the best results.
As you begin to play around with time blocking and adding some more structure and routine to your days, you’ll learn through experimentation what does and doesn’t work for you. Remember, everyone is unique and your schedule is likely to be far different from mine and that’s a good thing. Just like branding is not a one-size-fits-all offering, neither is time management. And give yourself grace and time to find what works for you. The key is that you set realistic expectations and have some sort of plan so the day doesn’t escape you.
Enjoying this post and excited to keep growing your small business? Check out another business resource blog all about some of my favorite free business tools I use daily.