Ever started a new routine to handle your time during the day?
It goes like this…
I’m gonna do all the things!
Look at me, weeeeeeeeeeeee, I’M DOING ALL THE THINGS! I am a golden goddess! I am perfect!
Then, a week goes by.
You sleep in, or you miss an appointment, or you decide to get rid of that time you allotted for marketing in order to catch up on some e-mail.
And then it happens. Screw you, stupid schedule!
You go all freeform on your time. You don’t try salvaging what’s working, you just dump the whole schedule out of your life and go back to freestyle getting things done.
So. Nothing gets done.
A few weeks later…
I’m gonna do all the things! ::and round and round it goes::
As a business owner, there are questions that can frame your day without rigid scheduling.
How will I make money today?
It’s rarely the first question you answer, but it is important. If you’re not making money, you don’t have a business, and you can’t pay the bills, and so your nightmares about losing everything rear their ugly heads when you aren’t earning.
Will marketing make you money? Will it be answer inquiry e-mails or phone calls? Packing orders, taking care of customer service, following up with peeps, or planning to attend a networking event?
If it makes you money, make it your top priority.
How will I connect with my fellow humans today?
Once the money is taken care of, it’s time to connect. This can be as simple as checking e-mails and returning phone calls, or as complex as sending snail mail, grabbing coffee with a colleague, updating Instagram, and responding to your peeps on Facebook. HOW you connect isn’t the issue — only that you’re connecting. Otherwise, you end up sad and lonely and unshowered in your house for the eighteenth day in a row, and last time that happened it didn’t turn out so well.
What must get done, no matter what?
Every business has these crazy things that have to happen. Production, shipping, bill-paying, book-keeping, planning, marketing, sales, and creation. Making stuff, paying for stuff, selling stuff, shipping stuff…there are necessities that can’t be worked around. I know you don’t want to make sure your books are all perfectly balanced and your accountant is happy, but you simply must.
Can you make a recurring appointment to handle the no-matter-what tasks? (And can you keep that appointment just as you would a client meeting, so you don’t have to worry about it the rest of the time?)
How long will I give to e-mail (or other time-sucking activity) today?
20 minutes? 30? 60? 90 minutes?
Hold yourself to a standard or the time suck will start…sucking. Set a timer, keep moving, and don’t let yourself kick random links.
In no special order, here are ALL the other things I know about time management.
Don’t check your e-mail first thing. It’ll disrupt your whole freaking day. (You know this to be true.)
Check your e-mail only when you can respond to incoming messages.
Actively make space for yourself to do your work. Not just your tasks. // There’s work — like making art or books or jewelry or programs or classes or strategies — and there are tasks. Like checking your bank balance and updating your apps and changing your passwords like a responsible citizen. Don’t forget your real work.
Make space for yourself to make money. // There’s no shame in it. As a business owner, you’ve got to make money. So leave room in your calendar for doing just that.
Find a way to hold yourself accountable. // Tell a buddy what you’re doing. Bribe yourself with new clothes or shoes or gear. Don’t let yourself shower until you’ve finished the project. Whatever it takes. Find a way.
Articulate your goals without making them absolutely unreasonable. // You can cut back on processed foods without becoming a raw vegan overnight, and you can grow your business without trying to go from 0 to 100,000 followers in six weeks. Slow and steady, friend.
Keep a calendar instead of a to-do list. // A to-do list means you’ll knock off the easy stuff and move the gross stuff to tomorrow. A calendar means you’ve got it on lockdown and it will get done, no matter how much you don’t want to do it. Calendar for the win.