I started my business as a side-gig.
I was unhappy with my regular 9 to 5 design job and every time I thought of working for myself, grand images of working from home, no commute, working with my ideal clients, and no grouchy boss quickly came to mind.
Each day I would sit in my cubicle, dreaming about the freedom that came from having my own business.
But once I actually made the leap to full-time entrepreneurship, that new freedom came with it’s fair share of new challenges.
The biggest one? Managing my time.
In his book What’s Best Next, Matt Perman talks about why it’s so difficult for us to manage our work in this day and age. And he credits this challenge to an increase in “knowledge work.”
Knowledge work consists of creating, using, and communicating ideas, rather than manual labor.
For example: Fifty years ago, time management looked very different than it does now because we lived in a more industrial economy.
If you were a laborer like a farmer, you knew you needed to feed the animals, milk the cows, and plow the field by sun-down. The task and the system for accomplishing that task was pretty straightforward.
Nowadays, we may be trained in our field of work (like design) but we aren’t taught the best system for accomplishing our tasks. We don’t know how to organize our workdays and workweeks in an efficient manner.
We don’t know how to manage all the little tasks like meetings, emails, blog posts, and social media posts that tend to build up. And we often get so caught up in trying to accomplish the little tasks that we get behind on our projects and don’t make headway on our goals.
That’s the trouble with knowledge work; it isn’t as straightforward. And that’s why you probably feel like your workday never stops.
Over these past few years of full-time entrepreneurship, I’ve continued to learn about time management and maximizing my time.
I’ve also done a lot of research on productivity, efficient work habits, and scheduling.
And I shared the best tools and strategies I’ve learned in last week’s Ellechat webinar on Effectively Scheduling Your Work Week.
If you’re pursuing your business part-time and you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done and get it all done well, this webinar replay will provide tips and strategies for maximizing and prioritizing the hours in your day.
And if you’re pursuing your business full-time and need help structuring your work week to accomplish your 2017 goals, this webinar replay will provide a system and plenty of resources to help you do just that.
You can watch the replay by registering through the Crowdcast window below, or keep scrolling and take a look at the transcript and the slides.
I also created a printable workbook to accompany this webinar, available in the Elle & Company Library!
It includes a worksheet for quarterly goal setting, a worksheet for outlining and keeping up with daily habits, a weekly time map, and 5 daily workflow sheets.
Lauren: Hello everyone and welcome to the very first Ellechat of 2017. I'm really excited that you all are tuning in today. We have a really large group. I'm excited about this topic too of Effectively Scheduling Your Work Week. I think it is the perfect topic to begin the New Year.
These Ellechat webinars are actually going to take place every week in 2017, with a few exceptions, on Thursdays at 3 p.m. If you enjoy them, you can mark it down in your calendar. You can also go to my profile and follow along with the Ellechat so you know which ones are coming up.
Let's go ahead and dive into the content. There are two reasons I wanted to cover this topic at the beginning of the year. The first is that, I don't know about you all, but I started January with a ton of motivation. I get really excited to make progress on my goals. I spent a lot of time working through what my goals are, but I don't really have a system for achieving these goals. Come February, I start to lose steam and by the end of the year, I kind of get disappointed because I didn't necessarily make progress on those goals or do all the things I wanted to do. I believe that making progress comes down to scheduling and planning. I believe it comes down to what you are doing day in and day out, so I'm excited to talk about that.
I'm also excited to talk about this because through my Freelance Academy course and through blog comments and emails that I get, it seems like a lot of creative entrepreneurs struggle with scheduling and figuring out how to use their time, especially those of us who work from home full-time and try to map out our own schedules, but especially those who are working another job full-time and pursing their business part-time. I'm excited to share what I've learned about productivity. I wouldn't consider myself to be an expert, but I do enjoy learning more about productivity and time management, and I've come across a lot of helpful resources in this area. I'm very type A, so this is your right up my alley and I love sharing what I've learned.
A couple resources I want to share with you and then I'll be referring to throughout this webinar and I mentioned these a couple weeks ago in an Elle & Company blog post on goal setting and planning. The first one is this book, it's called What's Best Next. It is by far, hands down the best productivity book I have ever read. I devoured it over the couple weeks that I took off for Christmas break. It is written from a Christian perspective, but anybody can benefit from this book. I've been recommending it to basically everyone. I bought it for my assistants to read. I would highly recommend it and I'll tell you more about it as we go along.
The second is it doesn't really have a title or anything, it's kind of blank, is this SELF Journal. Now, it sounds kind of funny, but it's a planner of sorts and it helps you breakdown your goals and work towards them each day.
These are both extremely helpful, but I combined both of these resources and some of my favorite productivity tips and a workbook and I link to it at the bottom of the screen as well. I called it the Work Week Scheduler and it's in the Elle & Company Library. Those of you who are subscribers of the Library, you can click on that link and access it. Those of you who are not, the Elle & Company Library is just full of blog templates and workbooks and helpful resources for creative entrepreneurs. Also, it has a 2017 planner and all kinds of good stuff. It's $6.99 a month, cancel anytime, but you can find that workbook in there.
Let's dive in. Productivity when it comes down to it is so difficult for us as creatives and I mentioned this in this week's Elle & Company newsletter because we deal a lot with knowledge work. Knowledge work is different from manual labor. It consists primarily of using, creating and communicating knowledge. 50 years ago, we lived ... I wasn't around 50 years ago. Some of you may have been around 50 years ago, but it was a much more industrial economy. Jobs were more manual labor. You had a task to do. You had a system for accomplishing that task. You only had so many hours in your work day to get it done and then you went home. For example, when I think of manual labor, I think of a farmer. That's the first thing that comes to mind. It's to plow the field, feed the animals, and collect eggs before the day is up, let's just say. And he has a system for doing just that and he needs to do it all by sun down. It's pretty straightforward.
What we do is more knowledge work. We are coming up with ideas. We are working on projects. We have emails coming in. We need to write a blog post. We need to write newsletters. We need to schedule social media. It's all of these creative type tasks, but we don't have a system for accomplishing them. I think this is why time management and productivity is so hard for us because we don't have a system. We might be taught design, we might be taught calligraphy or whatever else, whatever field you are in, but we don't have a system for accomplishing that work. That is why it can be so tricky. What I'm hoping to accomplish by the end of this Ellechat is to give you a system for this knowledge work that you are doing.
We are going to start out by redefining productivity. I think a lot of us have this idea of productivity that it's getting a lot of tasks done quickly, at least that's how I've always viewed it. I view productivity as being efficient. We need to redefine our view of productivity because if we are trying to accomplish the wrong tasks, we aren't being productive. The goal isn't to accomplish more tasks on your to-do list. It's actually to accomplish the right tasks on your to-do list. You might need to take a step back and look at all that's on your to-do list right now and say, "What is priority?" We'll get to that in just a second. We need to shift our mindset of "What are we working for? Are we working to get more done or are we working to get the right tasks done?" This might mean that you need to get rid of some tasks. I wanted to talk about this first and foremost because it frames the rest of what we'll talk about.
The tricky thing is that effectiveness isn't really a God-given talent. It's a learned behavior. We have to train ourselves in effectiveness. Matt Perman talks about it in this book that I'll keep mentioning and I thought it was really helpful to see the difference between doing the right tasks and just doing a ton of tasks that amount of nothing. That's the first step, redefine productivity. The second is big picture and goal setting. Before you can schedule your work week and know what you are working toward, you have to set goals and have kind of a framework. Many of you have probably seen a lot of posts recently on goal setting. I'm not going to spend too much time here, but I thought this was an interesting statistic. 88% of people who make New Year's resolutions fail to reach them and probably fail to reach them before January is up. I think it's because we have way too much time to accomplish it. We set a goal at the beginning of the year and then we have a lot of time to procrastinate and put it off.
The first step, I found this to be extremely helpful, is to set quarterly goals instead. Break it down into a shorter time span, into a 13-week time span because it's going to encourage you to take action on it today instead of procrastinate and push it off until later. 13 weeks is about three months. What goal do you want to accomplish between now and the end of March? Think about that. It will help you re-orient your time and plan your days better if you know the overarching goal that you are working towards. This is actually what the SELF Journal does. It's broken down into 13 weeks and helps you accomplish 13-week goals. I also created a page in the Work Week Scheduler that I told you about that's linked to below for you to set goals. This is kind of an overview of what it looks like, the Work Week Scheduler, that is. Here is the quarterly goal outline.
You have an overarching goal for the 13 weeks. For example, I'll share mine to be really transparent. My overarching goal for the next 13 weeks is to have 200 registrants for my Adobe Illustrator course that's coming up. That's my big overarching goal. The course launches in the beginning of March. I have some work to do before then. I think it's also really helpful underneath that overarching goal to list why you want to achieve it. I think we need to find that why you are more likely to pursue it. Why do I want to achieve that goal? I want to do it and this is what I wrote down on my very own outline that I want to support our family during my husband's last semester of seminary and help us save up for the next chapter whatever that looks like. That's why I want to achieve that goal. That's giving me the motivation to achieve that goal.
Then, I think it's also helpful I work really well from bribing myself and I don't think this is necessarily a bad practice, but I like to reward myself. How I reward myself if I reach this goal? I said I'm going to have a spa day. I've never in my life had a spa day and that sounds amazing. I think if I get 200 registrants I could use a spa day. I would encourage you to set down and outline your quarterly goal. What do you want to accomplish in the next three months? Why do you want to achieve it? How will you reward yourself when you do achieve it? After you outline that goal, set three smaller progress goals. How can you break that goal down a little bit further? For mine, my first progress goal is to bring 50 affiliates onboard. I'm trying a new affiliate system. That's a tangible way that I'm working toward that goal.
The second one is to write and schedule a strong email sequence. That is my progress goal number two. Underneath these progress goals, breaking it down even more, to bring on 50 affiliates needs that action step section right here. I wrote, "Reach out to former students. Reach out to industry peers and set up my affiliate program the back end of it." As I look over this once a week, I have those action steps and those progress goals in mind and I'm constantly working toward them. I would highly encourage you to break your goals down into 13 weeks, outline them whether it's in this outline or create one manually in a notebook. Have it in a place where you can see it every week so you can be making progress toward it. This will help you frame your work week because you know what you are working toward. It helps you to be more effective instead of being more efficient because this is your goal and it takes priority over some of the smaller tasks that are less important if that make sense.
Here's a couple tips for staying on top of your goals. Don't write down your goals and never look at them again and I mentioned this a moment ago. Make it a habit to look over your 13-week goal once a week. I do it at the beginning of every week. It gives me that extra amp like this is what I'm working toward. Maybe you schedule that out just to look over these goals and see how you can implement those action steps throughout your week. Step three is to create daily habits and routines. I believe that routines are crucial and I was actually just reading an article on the Buffer Blog.
It's about the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, like Steve Jobs, and how every single one of them has a strong daily routine, usually morning routine and I'm a huge fan of this. I've seen this benefit me greatly, especially in the last few months because routines help you work toward your goals. If you have a routine to get healthier this year or lose 20 pounds. If you have a routine to work out every day, you are probably going to reach that goal pretty quickly or improve your chances of reaching that goal. If you just try to work out haphazardly whenever you feel like it, you probably won't reach that goal. Routines can be really helpful in helping you work toward the goals you are setting.
They also set the stage for our productive day. If I know that I've gotten my workout in, I've gotten my quiet time in that I've already made progress on my goals at the beginning of the day, I'm ready to conquer my work day. I want to see how much I can possibly get done and just ride that momentum out the rest of the day. Routines help you become much more efficient too. The more and more you do something, the quicker you'll become at it, the more efficient you'll become.
With that said, here's the look at our morning routine. My husband and I get up at 5 a.m. Some of you might think that we are crazy, but I make the bed while he feeds the cat and we both change into workout clothes, eat half of banana and we are out the door to make it to CrossFit by 5:30. We usually workout for about an hour, come home, shower, get ready for the day. By 7 a.m., I'm making breakfast while Jake unloads the dishwasher and makes coffee. Then, 7:30 is our quiet time for Bible study and prayer. I should mention too that we structure this to accomplish some of our goals, one was to get in better shape this year, and two was to read through the Bible in a year and spend more quiet time in the morning.
By having this routine, we are working toward those goals, we've already accomplished a lot before 8 o'clock. I'm usually ready to start my work day and hit the ground running. I want to keep that momentum going. I have to say that at the beginning, waking up at 5 o'clock was really hard and it wasn't easy and staying on top of things. Getting ready early in a day, making breakfast, doing Bible study. It wasn't second nature to me, but the more and more I've done it, the easier it is to wake up at 5 to get ready in the morning, to make breakfast. I've come to expect it and actually really enjoy it. I think the more and more you do something, the easier it gets. It might be a little hard at first, but I really encourage you to take some time and map out your daily routines. I've also added this to this workbook.
Not only morning, but might also if you have kids who get off the bus at 3 o'clock and you need an afternoon routine too and an evening routine. I left space for all those and just map it out. What would be your ideal routine and what are you going to work toward. Then, I also left space for you to check off your progress. I don't know about you, but sometimes I'll write tasks in my planner that I've already done just so I can check them off, makes me feel super productive. There's check boxes there for you to do that as well. Set some daily routines and if you struggle to create new habits and set routines, set up accountability. My husband, Jake, will not let me sleep in on the mornings where I know what the workout is and he really don't want to do it like this morning. He is my accountability partner for working out.
You might have a friend who you can set up accountability with. Maybe set up accountability with each other. Maybe they have routines that they are working toward. Maybe it's an industry peer, but whoever it is, set up that accountability. You might also if you are trying to work toward a goal of going to the gym more often, set up accountability with your aerobics instructor or trainer or whatever that looks like. It's really easy to set routines and only know them yourself and then let them slide. Set up that accountability.
After you have set up routines, now it's time to schedule your work weeks. You've set your goals. You know what you are working toward. You have your habits already and then it's time to schedule your work week effectively, not efficiently, but effectively. In that book I was telling you about, again, I'm going to mention it, What's Best Next, he came up with the idea of the weekly time map. He didn't come up with it, but he shared it and it might look really simple and just looks like a calendar of sorts. It can be really helpful for sharing it or planning it out ahead of time, ahead of your work week. I'll just share with you my own weekly time map.
Every day, I have blocked out sections of time and how I'm going to use my time. You can see Sunday is kind of just a day of rest, not really doing much, playing a lot of free time in there. Monday, I start my routine. You can see my daily habit of working out, quiet time, breakfast and then I start in my work time. I have my daily workflow focused work time, a lunch break, flexible work time, which I'll talk about this in just a second, dinner, and then free time in the evening. If you have kids, this is going to look a little bit different. Maybe you have bedtimes in there. Maybe you have on Saturdays, a focused time for your family. This is also a really good opportunity to share or to think about your roles and responsibilities and actually plan for them in your weekly time map. A couple of helpful things, keys to creating your time map is to account for your biggest roles and responsibilities, what I just said a moment ago.
For me, one of my roles is a wife. Actually, having time maybe I included date night once a week in my weekly time map and don't plan over it. I actually have accounted for that time. For those of you who are working full-time and pursing your business part-time, you should have scheduled work time in your weekly time map for your work. I think I'll get to this more. I think a lot of you have questions about this. This is a great time to actually plan out the time that you are going to work. I think it's also really important and this is the second key to mapping out your weekly time map is to create flexibility. Put the free time in there. You need the free time. Don't be so rigid.
Notice that for the time I said focused work time and flexible work time. I didn't say write blog post, work on Ellechat prep, write the newsletter. It's a little more flexible in there and notice too that I put free time because for me when I'm working ... One of my goals this year is to work from 8:30-5 every day and then cut it off. I'm able to work harder during that time because I know that my evenings will be freed up to do whatever I want. I think that this will be really helpful for those of you who are working part-time and full-time for your business. Plan in that free time. It will help you get more productive in the time that you are actually working. Again, those tips, work out for your biggest roles and responsibilities and don't be too specific. Flexibility is really crucial when you are planning your time. I'll get to that in a just a moment.
That's what your work week plan should be. Work on that time map. Go over it with your spouse, maybe even your kids. Plan out the work week, not only will it be helpful for you, but it will be helpful for everyone around you too and helps set expectations. Now, what do your work days look like? First thing is first. Account for that morning routine that we just talked about. Have that on repeat during your work week and then set a daily goal. What do you want to accomplish by the end of the day? I think that's really helpful because we can get bogged down by all of these little tasks that creeping and seemed to be a priority, but what is your overarching goal for that day that you are working toward and then create your daily workflow. This is my daily workflow chart. It has a space for your schedule, hour by hour, space for your overarching goal and then your three biggest priorities for today.
For the schedule, you can look at your weekly time map. You've already created an outline for what your schedule for today looks like. Like I said, use the outline from your weekly time map. Schedule your work day at 70% capacity. This is something new for me. Like I said a moment ago, don't account for every second of your day. Leave some time for flexibility. There's research behind it, again, going back to that book that I keep sharing about, What's Best Next. He compares it to traffic. If you have a ton of traffic on the road, it's not going to flow quickly. It's going to be stop and go. If you take it back to about 70% on the roads, traffic is going to flow. There still might be a lot of cars, but it's still moving and that's the same for your schedule. I didn't explain it quite as eloquently as he does in the book, but you get the gist, hopefully. Schedule at 70% capacity. Leave some buffer time because studies show that you'll actually be more productive if you aren't booking up every single hour and minute.
Here's an example of my daily workflow actually from this Monday. You can see my schedule over here in the left and my morning routine, CrossFit, breakfast, Bible study. I always leave time at the beginning of the day to map out my daily workflow. Then, I filled in the time for my weekly time map. I use that as kind of my outline of the day. My goal is to get ahead on tasks and start making progress on the Illustrator course launch. You can see on the next page or actually it's the same page, just a little further down, my top three priorities. The first and foremost was to write the newsletter according to the Ellechat. This is Monday. The newsletter always goes out on Tuesday. I knew that I needed to tell you guys about this Ellechat in that newsletter and that was time sensitive. That was a priority.
Outline my launch sequence to make progress toward that course launch and then get started on the business playbook. That's a new content upgrade that is coming to the Elle & Company site soon so stay tuned for that. It's going to be an awesome resource. I needed to get that up and running. It's something I've been saying I need to do for a long time. Those top three priorities help me figure out what needs to be accomplished first before anything else the remainder of the day. Going back to this side, you can see the daily workflow. I mapped all this out. From 8:30 to 12 every single day, every Monday through Friday, I have focused work time. My focused work time is time for me to hide away, by myself without any interruptions and, for me, try to get through all of the top three priorities. That's my challenge. I usually feel really good about myself if I get all of this done before lunch. That's time for me to focus and crank through these priority tasks.
At the beginning of that focused work time, I get to inbox 0. This is one of my goals for 2017 is to get to inbox 0 multiple times a day. Some of you might think that is crazy. It actually helps me become more productive because if I don't I'll put it off. My inbox will get totally out of control. It will be overwhelming and I have to spend time on my inbox rather than other tasks. Right at the beginning of the day, take it down to inbox 0. I'll actually be sharing more about this on either the newsletter or the blog in a couple of weeks, maybe next week, so stay tuned for my email system and how I organize it. I do emails at the beginning of that focused work time and then I work through those top three priorities.
Then, I leave time for lunch. I take a full hour. It's just a rest time in my day. I think it's really important to schedule breaks and account for them. Then, in the afternoon, I have flexible work time. That means I normally go and work from my husband's school, in the bookstore so I can run into people and have some face time with humans rather than my cat all day long. This is time that I can be interrupted and I'm working on some smaller tasks. For example, on Monday, I worked on emails again right after lunch right at the beginning of that flexible work time. You got it back on to Inbox Zero and then I worked on the Illustrator launch outline, business playbook designs and things I didn't necessarily get done during my focused work time. By the end of the day, then I answer emails again before signing off and then I'm done.
I'll talk more about focused work time and flexible time in greater detail in just a second, map out the rest of my day. Then, I think it's really important to go back through and say, "What lessons you learned? What went right and what went wrong and what can you do better in the future?" For me, setting aside focused time in the morning is crucial is what I learned that day. I also work really well from the Seminary Bookstore and checking email three times a day first thing, lunch, end of day is a really good plan. I need to keep doing this. I typed it up for the sake of this Ellechat, but this is actually what I wrote down on Monday. There's a look at my day.
Now, focused time versus flexible time. Focused time has been so transformational in my schedule recently. The focused work time helps me knock out the priority tasks without any interruptions. I usually hideaway in Starbucks with my headphones in or if Jake isn't home, we'll stay at home and have more focused work time. Then, flexible work time allows for interruptions. This is when I schedule meetings. This is when I might run into people in the bookstore like you talked about and have conversations. For me, my goals might be Elle & Company centered, but my bigger overarching goals and my life mission is to love others well. I want to make sure that I have time in my day to consider other people. For example, I ran into a guy the other day at the Seminary whose dad is dying and is in long-term care and might not make it home. I wouldn't have known that had I not been interrupted in my work.
I think it's really important to have that flexible time that can account for interruptions. If the interruptions are social media or your kids are interrupting every five minutes, you might need to have your flexible time elsewhere or think through how you can cut down on those types of interruptions. Think about interruptions and what those could look like for you and schedule those or schedule time for those in your flexible work time after you spent focused work time on the bigger tasks. Does that make sense?
Number six, staying on track. You've mapped out your work week. You mapped out your work days and so, how do you stay on track with what you've planned for? I found a couple helpful things in this area. First, and some of you might think I'm crazy, but it is so helpful, limit social media into one to three times per day. For me, I've been actually not looking at my phone until after my work day after 5 o'clock. Not super helpful for following up with comments necessarily, especially on Instagram, but it has cut back so much on distractions for me. I've taken off all notifications on my phone. Maybe that's what you do too. Check it after you get your work done, only check it on the breaks that you've accounted for in your schedule.
For me, bribery and rewards helped me with motivation. That's what I do. I say, "Okay, if I finished all this work and after I check off at 5 o'clock, I will check social media." That usually looks like too using a scheduler for social media like Buffer or Meet Edgar and go ahead and schedule it so you don't even have to look at it during the day because social media is a time suck. It can be really helpful for your business, but I don't know about you, but if I get on for just one second just to check, I usually go in a rabbit hole of looking at this picture which leads me to this account, which leads me to this picture. It's just not good. Use it as a motivator. Don't necessarily swear off social medial all together, but use some self-control and check it after you get your work done. That's my challenge to you. Let me know how it goes. Let me know if you are up for the challenge and let me know how it goes.
Second is to track your time. I have found this to be another huge help to my work week, tracking your time. I use toggl.com. Thanks to my assistant, Marisa, who told me about it. Every single time I'm working on a task for Elle & Company whether it's my daily workflow and so on, I track it, so emails, meetings, how much time I spent on Ellechat prep this week and doing all the slides and outlining it. Every single thing I do, I map out and Toggl. It allows you to create categories. I should probably do a blog post on this soon.
Marisa, if you are watching this, if you'll put that in Asana for me, that would be awesome. It's so helpful to see the categories of where you are spending your time so to see how much time I'm spending on emails or how much time I'm actually spending on client work. It might have you re-evaluate where you are spending your time. I also find that if I'm tracking my time for blog post writing, then I don't want to check social media. I don't want to do other tasks because that time I'm tracking as blog writing time. I find it helpful in a lot of different ways. If you don't track your time, Toggl is awesome and free. Then, batch task. If you have recurring tasks like blog post writing, newsletter setup, social media, just go ahead and knock them out all together. I'm a big fan of batching.
For example, the other day I was planning out Ellechats for the rest of this month and the next month and I had outlines to write. I had summaries to write. I had images to create. I needed to send off the outlines to the Ellechat guests. I had all these Ellechat tasks that don't take long in and of themselves, but if I do one a week, I end up spending more time on those tasks than if I just did them all together. While I'm creating graphics, I just go in and create four graphics instead of just one. While I'm creating outlines, create four outlines instead of just one. It actually ended up only taking me an hour to do all of that work. I know because I use Toggl to time it. It's so helpful. Consider batching your tasks as well. Social media, I would highly recommend doing this. Go ahead and batch the scheduling all at once for the entire week so you don't have to worry about it again.
To review before I open up for questions because I'm sure we have a lot of questions. Number one is to redefine your idea of productivity. Don't strive so much for efficiency and getting all the tasks done. Thrive for effectiveness and prioritize and set goals so that you know what the most helpful and beneficial tasks are. Strive for effectiveness over efficiency. Number two is to set quarterly goals to help you take action. What goal are you going to accomplish in the next 13 weeks and how are you going to accomplish it? Look at that quarterly goal at the outset of each work week, at least at the outset of each work week to know how you should be scheduling your days and where you should be scheduling your time. Create daily habits and routines. I can't overemphasize this one enough, especially if nothing else create a morning routine, set accountability and stick to it. Studies show, I wish I had the statistics, but that Buffer post is so helpful. I wish I had the URL on morning routines.
Number four, schedule your work week by creating a time map. List it out and don't be too rigid with it. Be flexible, but schedule that work week and make time for all of your roles and responsibilities. I also forgot to mention during that section that by scheduling it out, it also makes it a lot easier to say no to things that aren't your priorities. If someone asks you to do a special project or something like that and you look at your time map and you are like, "That's just not going to fit anywhere." You can literally say, "I wish I could do that, but my schedule doesn't allow for it." You are telling the truth. Your schedule doesn't allow for it. It's really easy. It makes things a lot easier by creating the time map.
Number five, schedule your work day at 70% capacity. Remember, leave some room for flexibility. Spend some time on focused work and then spend some time on flexible work. Stay on track through time tracking and batching and removing distractions. That's the overview. Again, that work week scheduler is in the Library if you want to print it out and start using it. I would love to know how these tips work for you too. Feel free to let me know. Reply to one of my newsletters or reach out to me on social media. I love getting your feedback on these things.
Let's move in to questions. Looks like we have 19. I'll get through as many of them as I can before the hour is up because I want to be mindful of your time. Casey asks, "I'm especially interested in any tips you have for people who haven't made the leap yet, still chugging unhappily along doing that whole nine to whatever thing, specifically tips for making the best use of the limited time available once the full-time job is done." I think that's where the weekly time map and the daily workflow can really come in handy for you, Casey. I remember the struggle of doing all the things when you are working a full-time job and you are exhausted by the end of the day when you come home to work on client work and try to pursue your business that eventually you can take it full-time.
I think seeing what your biggest priorities are and outlining that goal, your 13-week goal, to see what are the most important tasks. Mapping out time in your schedule to accomplish those tasks and I would even say maybe Monday evenings is your focused time and then Wednesday evenings are you flexible time or something along those lines. Set focused time to work through those tasks and set free time. I think you'll be much more effective during those hours if you know that you have a break in there somewhere. For example, when I was working full-time, I could work on my business every other hour, but those nine to five hours and I would even on my lunch breaks, which you might be able to do. Maybe that's your flexible work time for your business. There was no break in sight and so I was worn out and I wasn't efficient and I wasn't productive during the time that I could be spending on my business tasks.
If I knew that if I just get through these tasks during this focused work time, those top three targets, I know that on Sunday is my full day of rest and I'm not going to worry about any work. I hope that is helpful for you and it answers your question. Sometimes you might just need to say no to things. You might need to cut back on the number of social media outlets you are on. Maybe you just stick to Pinterest and Instagram to cut back. Maybe you use your newsletter to point to your blog instead of coming up with brand new content. Maybe you repurpose your content. For example, I've repurposed these Ellechats. I spend the time prepping for it, hosting it live, but then I also use this content and share it on the blog. That's an extra blog post for me now every week because I have the Ellechat recaps there. I also points people to Ellechat, so it's a double whammy.
I'm also highly considering taking the audio and turning it into a podcast just to be really transparent with you guys. That's another way for me to repurpose the content, not necessarily do a bunch more tasks, but just to work smarter. You might consider ideas for repurposing content and just working smarter and peering back. Again, it's about working effectively and not necessarily so much efficiently. I hope that's helpful for you guys who are working part-time and I hope this whole Ellechat is helpful for those of you who are working on your business part-time.
Aimee asks, "My business is my full-time job and the primary means of income for our family. I work from home, but my husband works outside the home. I struggle with home responsibilities defaulting to me simply because I'm at home." I can relate to that. "I also struggle with gently and kindly helping family and friends understand that working from home doesn't mean I'm available to them all the time. I would love your tips." What I started to realize because I can totally relate to all of the above is that I set the stage for how my family views my business and friends view my business and my work time.
I'll share the opposite. If I sleep in work in my pajamas, set coffee dates during the day so I can meet up with friends. If I don't protect that time, they probably won't take my time seriously. If I get up every morning, get ready for the day and treat my day like an actual work day. I don't do any home tasks during the day unless it's on my lunch break or something and I throw in laundry or something like that or throwing some dinner in the crock pot. During my work time, I'm doing work time. I think use of the stage for how you protect that time and what you take on. It might mean that you need start saying "no" when people ask you if you can do something during the day.
If you stay home and you have children and your child is sick, that looks a little bit different. You can't really say no to that. Set those boundaries and treat it like a regular 9-5 job so they'll start treating it like a 9-5 job. I usually don't even answer my phone all that much during the day. I usually do it after 5 when I get off or on my lunch break. I hope that helpful for you Aimee, but I can totally relate and it seems like some other people can totally relate to this as well.
Mira asks, "My struggle is with energy. There are days when I feel like not working and this is what I actually end up doing. I know it's normal to have breaks, but lately it's more difficult to get back to work knowing that there isn't a boss standing behind me and pushing me to do my tasks. That's how I end up with tons of work very close to the deadline." I can totally relate to this as well, Mira. Like I said, I'm sure many people tuning in can relate to this as well. You feel burn out. You don't feel like working. You don't have a boss looking over your shoulder, but I think that's where having the schedule to work time is super helpful and have it breaking it up into focused work time and flexible work time. I also think that's where those breaks really come in handy because they give you motivation.
I've been so bogged down with work these past couple of years and working 12-hour a days and I know I can't maintain that forever. I went through a little bit of burn out, but I really want to work only 8:30-5 and cut it off at five and that's my motivation. I know that I can work really hard during the day because I have a break at night. If I don't have breaks and I don't have them scheduled, I feel like my time is just wide open, so I want to take the breaks now because I can put off the work until later, if that makes sense. You might need extra accountability and it might mean that you are not seeing progress toward your goals. You should be working toward the goals that excite you and working on the tasks that are helping you work toward those goals as well.
I read content throughout the day and then I can never remember it, but it basically said I wake up every morning and ask if I would care about this day later on or if I'm doing something that would excite me or look back on. I don't know, but I thought that it was really helpful. If you are not excited about your work, you might need to reorient what your work looks like as well. I hope that's helpful. I know I just said a lot of words that probably didn't even make sense, but I hope you got the gist of it.
Greg says, "As a web developer, sometimes I find myself spinning my wheels for too long trying to figure out an issue. That can lead to me feeling unproductive because I've spent too much time finding a solution. Have any tips for managing my time better when this happens again?" Yes, I do. A lot of times when you are working in circles or spinning your wheels or spending way too much time on something is because you don't feel prepared to conquer it. That happens with me with blog post. You might need to do a little more research or prepare for it a little bit better. Maybe you are jumping ahead too soon or it means that maybe you shouldn't be working on a task and you should delegate it to someone else. If neither of those are an option, set a timer and just say, "I'm going to finish it in the next hour and finish it."
I think because our days are kind of open and there's no deadline on some tasks. They could drag on forever. I found especially with creative task on those days that I don't feel creative, set a timer, get it done by the end of that timer. It might mean that you need to take a break or come back to it another day. I found all of those to kind of be helpful at one point or another.
Kathleen says, "How can I best utilize a couple hours a day to grow my personal business? I work full-time and can't give my whole evening to my personal business, but one start making more headway in managing my team so I don't feel like I'm working around the clock." Great question, Kathleen. I think that that comes down to that work week map and setting aside that time so that you do have the time in your evening to devote to your family or free time. Maybe you set aside your mornings on Saturdays to get work done.
I have to be honest. When I was working full-time and doing my business part-time, there are going to be seasons where you just have to grind it out and work really hard knowing that if you push through it and focus on the right things that you'll be able to get to a point where you can be more freed up later. I know everybody wants to hear that. We are all about balance. I think everything that I've talked about can be really helpful, but there might be some seasons where you just have to grind through it. It might mean working a little extra into maybe less free time and more work time to make it work. I also think it comes down to prioritizing and working on the most important things that are going to help you toward your goals. I hope you found glean some things from this Ellechat that will help you with that time that you do have, Kathleen.
Brenda says, "I'm a full-time home based graphic designer and I find it hard to allocate the ideal correct amount of time for working, going to the gym, learning by taking online courses or studying on my own, taking time for devotionals, everything. In the end, I end up having to work when I should be resting and feeling guilty when I do take some time off. I'm putting all those things down on paper and create a schedule for them hasn't helped. Am I a lost cause?" No, you are not a lost cause. I think that time map can be helpful in making it more flexible so that you are not saying, "From this time to this time, I am doing this," unless it's your morning routines. I think routines are super helpful and it might mean that every season, you need to cut back on one of these areas that you have mentioned. Maybe it's less learning, which I hate that, but maybe it's a scheduled time for learning on Friday afternoons or maybe that's an incentive to get everything done.
I've scheduled this time for learning if I haven't gotten everything done by this point, then I won't be able to have time for that this week or something like that. You are like, "Man, I want to get everything done so that I have that time." I don't know if that's helpful, but I think there are times and this comes down to efficiency and effectiveness where you might have to start saying no to some things. I think we have a habit of taking on way too much and not saying no and it's not easy to say no, but what are the most important things and try to cut back. You only have 24 hours in a day. I think it was designed that way so that you couldn't do it all and you know your limits. You are not a lost cause, Brenda. I hope that this Ellechat has been helpful for you in planning out your time, but you might need to say no to some things as well.
“How do you schedule your work week when you are trying to launch a new business? What should we focus on most and what can we post on a blog or social media first?” I would say before anything else to start with content, start with a blog. That, I can't emphasize enough how helpful blogging and sharing content can be. That's where I would start. That will give you content to share on social media. That's super helpful. That will help you start to grow your audience, but I would put the time there that will help you grow your audience, get clients, get customers, whatever those goals are. That's a starting point. Map that into your routine, your work week. Think about content. You might do it once a week. You might do it once every two weeks, but just make sure you are doing it. I hope that this Ellechat was helpful for you. I know some of these questions were written ahead of the Ellechat so I'm hoping that the content may have helped answer some of these.
Andrea says, "I'm also interested in how you manage your time while you are still working in an office job. It would be very inspiring if you could share some of your routines to help me stay focused. I personally have problems to get into that flow feeling once I get home and I'm ready to work on my business. Sometimes, it takes half an hour to get back on track with the task I work on a day before." When I was working my office job, a lot of times on my lunch break I would work on some of the smaller tasks throughout my day. Then, in the evening, I would take some time in between my office job and a couple hours at night when I would get work done for dinner, catching up with Jake, maybe watching a TV show. I was so excited and motivated though to take my business full-time because I hated my day job so much that I actually look forward to the work.
I also plan time on the weekend on Saturday to conquer a business tasks, but I'm not going to lie. There were a ton of late nights, especially when I was trying to blog every day. There were a lot of late nights and sometimes I had to make some sacrifices. My friends didn't see me quite as much. I think all comes back to prioritizing, setting those top three tasks and creating habits, the time map, everything that I talked about so far. I know I keep saying that to you guys, but I hope that comes in handy for you. A couple more then it's time. The hour is already almost up.
Joy says, "Technical hiccups stop me in my tracks. I waste a lot of time trying to solve things, feeling like rubbish and giving up. I wonder if throwing money at it if I had it would make a difference, but I'm not a millionaire yet, so I have to rely myself." I'm not either, Joy. Technical hang ups, solving things, feeling like rubbish and giving up. I think that's where some systems can come in handy. Things like Asana, having a good project management system, having good filing system like Google Docs. I've written post on both of those so that you know when you are coming to a task, you have a way to solve it and a way to work through it. I'm a big fan of streamlining your process too. Start to finish with clients or whether it's orders or whatever that looks like. Mapping it out from start to finish so that you have a plan.
If you are trying to approach a new task differently each time, you are going to feel burn out, you are going to feel flustered, you are not going to make good use of your time. I think having those systems in place is really key. Like I said, Asana with project management, Google Docs or another filing system, super helpful, and writing out your processes from start to finish. I also have an Ellechat on that how I use Trello just to map out my process. I hope that's helpful for you, Joy.
One more question. Sherry says, "I only have about two hours per day when my daughter is napping to get everything done and it's impossible. I have my own business and my head swirls most days because I can't focus on what needs to happen first. It's also difficult to plan creative tasks." Batching tasks will be huge for you. Maybe you set a different day with a different themes. Maybe Monday, during that nap time, you write a blog post. Tuesday, during that nap time, you schedule social media for that coming week. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you are working toward a goal so whether it's client work, a lunch, something of that nature, but you might want to designate certain days so that you can focus and get it done. Your time, it sounds like you don't need the flexible time. You just need the focus time, but map out your top priorities. Maybe because your time is limited, you only have one or two targets a day that you want to get through, but utilize that weekly time maps, top priorities. Think about your overarching 13-week goal.
All right, guys. I hope that you found this week's Ellechat helpful. Like I said, I'll be posting the replay, sharing the slides. The workbook is in the Library. I have another Ellechat coming up next week with Stephanie Thacker from Steadfast Bookkeeping. She is actually my bookkeeper and she is going to talk to us about ... I know, brace yourselves for this topic, taxes, and getting your books in order for taxes. Stephanie is super, super helpful, breaks it down in a way that isn't intimidating. This is going to be a super helpful Ellechat. I know me myself, I can be really overwhelmed by taxes. It can be really frightening. I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but Stephanie is super helpful at showing you how you can plan ahead of time, why tax prep doesn't need to be so scary.
If you want to sign up for it, which you should, I think you'll find it helpful. Thank you guys for taking the time to tune in today. Best wishes with scheduling your work week. Let me know how these tips work out for you and I hope to see you in another Ellechat soon. See you later.