It took me over 10 years, several books, coaches, articles, and pricey planners to figure out that no matter how I tried to organize my day…they rarely worked out the way I planned them. It seemed like I had an uncontrollable, crazy life that didn’t fit into any planner or system.
Honestly, I have no idea how people stick to a strict schedule. Doesn’t anything unplanned ever happen to them?
I’m certain “unplanned” is how I would describe my life. When I first stepped out as an entrepreneur, not only was I walking the tightrope of learning business, I was homeschooling my son. Additionally, I had to juggle responsibilities at church and coordinate schedules with an ex-spouse – which seemed to always be changing.
The bottom line, I wasn’t managing my time, rather “situations” were stealing my time.
Then, two things happened:
- I became stressed that I never fulfilled my schedule – ever.
- I felt guilty about my chaotic days and that I was missing opportunities.
Once I opened my retail store, my stack of to-do items grew so large I knew I’d never catch up. Like a juggler at a circus, I tried to give every area of my life some attention. In the process, I basically accomplished nothing, dropping the ball in everything. Some of this was due to my lack of time management, and the other is that one person can only do so much. Something had to go. I let go of my business.
As I started rebuilding a new business a few months later, that was much less stressful and demanding, I still had the same problem with organizing my constantly fluid life.
Finally, one day I grabbed a piece of graph paper off of my son’s desk, stole his colored pencils, and drew my own calendar – determined to find a solution to MY life.
DON’T MANAGE THE “CRAZY” PARTS, MANAGE THE STABLE PARTS.
The graph paper system worked great (with a little tweaking here and there)! And it was so simple I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before.
- The first thing I did was create a weekly grid with NO TIME SLOTS. NONE. Forget it. You have to throw out the watch so-to-speak.
- I made a list of all the REGULAR activities or projects I have (personal & business). By regular, I mean, you have a system down for those responsibilities or projects and you do them without fail every week. Whether it’s a networking group, client work, your kid’s dance class, etc.
TIP: regular activities that do NOT have a system yet (like any non-organized business tasks, reading, meeting a friend, updating your website, admin duties, etc.), these do NOT go on the grid…for now. Even if you WANT to do them regularly. *If it’s willy-nilly…it stays OFF.* No specific, unplanned, crazy tasks allowed here. Keep it general. Otherwise, this won’t work.
- I assigned DAYS to my REGULAR, SYSTEMIZED projects or clients. (For example, I may have an email marketing client, Sally, that I send an email out once a week for. I pick a day to do her email. The same day every week.)
- Figured how many BILLABLE hours I could really work in a week. Take all your personal and business tasks and rank by priority. Including any ongoing education time. Then figure out how many hours a week you have to work for clients or work ON your business that actively generates income. YOUR SCHEDULE NEEDS TO FIT YOUR LIFE.
- I determined AVAILABLE blocks of hours for billable time. Interestingly, after all my mom duties, courses I was taking, study time, and admin duties for my business…I only had 10 billable hours a week! A lot less than I thought. But now I know what I can handle without have a breakdown. And that’s really, really good.
- I created a tab (I chose a red color) that represents ONE HOUR. Each time I took on a new client or project, I replaced a red tab with a sticky note.
- When the red hour tabs are gone – my week is full.
- My graph became a BOUNDARY SHEET.
This system was easy to set up and became so freeing. It’s like a “crazy catcher”!
THE REMAINING TASKS FILL IN THE EXTRA SPACES – LIKE SAND IN A JAR OF MARBLES.
Even if I have very important tasks, such as scheduling social media posts, they do not get a spot on my boundary sheet/board until I have created a HABIT, which can turn into a BLOCK of time FOR a client (p.s. I’m my own client! Hint. Hint.)
In other words, when it becomes important enough to me that I find myself doing it on a regular basis, THEN I add it to my boundary sheet/board as a project for myself (as a client).
If I try to write out all the little tasks that are running around like a room full of kittens, I get stressed and frustrated as I try to fit them in a “calendar”. Instead, I keep it general.
Note: There is a place to fit in the unplanned or irregular tasks. Find out more here.
STICKY NOTE EXAMPLES
Here are the blocks of time I have on my calendar. Each of these line items is a sticky note on my Boundary Sheet/Board:
- Dorinda (a client)
- Jackie (a client)
- MM / LIVING FREE (that’s my business. I’m my own client. I can do anything related to my business or if it’s a specific project FOR my business that I do regularly, I write it the name of the project under MM. i.e. “MM email”, “MM social”).
- Skills (ongoing education such as courses I’m taking or books I’m reading)
- CGN (a client)
- Writing (time set aside for a personal project and other books I’m writing)
- Bible Study (I spend several hours a week watching videos and studying the Bible)
TIP: To see an image of my current Boundary Board I use in my office, click here to join our private FB group.
That’s it!! These tasks don’t even come close to the all the waking hours I have available in a day or week, but that is because I know there are dozens of “little things” floating around. Or I have unplanned/irregular events or circumstances that can pop up. Basically, I’m making room for the unplanned so that I don’t freak out when it happens. I stopped fighting my crazy life because I liked being available to my son, family, or last-minute needs of clients or friends.
ONCE I BECAME OKAY WITH MY CRAZY LIFE, I UNDERSTOOD I COULD MANAGE IT EFFECTIVELY.
TIP: If your schedule is too full for the unplanned circumstances of life – your life is too full. Take something (or two) out.
If you want to know exactly how I set up and execute this Time-Blocking method and get access to videos explaining how it works so well for me, I have a new mini-course available!!
My Time-Blocking course is ONLINE and comes with lifetime access. Lifetime access is great because I’m new at mini-courses and will be updating them as I get better and learn how to explain things in more detail. In other words, as my course and information improve – you will have ready access!