If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ve seen a slight evolution in my business including a recent total revamp in my services and how I structure my client work. Well, I am excited to say that the client work side of my business is going amazing and I am busy with work I love. In fact, I’m probably the busiest I’ve ever been in my business’ history (with actual work, not ‘busy work to distract myself from what I don’t want to do’). My boyfriend and I joke that this is the most he’s seen me work since we’ve been dating, and to be honest, that’s totally true.
Luckily I love the work I am doing, I’m obsessed with my client’s and their businesses, and I’m pumped every day to sit down and create. But, regardless of all that enthusiasm, it’s still a heavy schedule to maintain with lots of moving parts (and due dates) to manage.
Here are four tricks I’ve been using to help manage my schedule that might help you with your own.
WRITE WEEKLY TASKS/OBJECTIVES
I love a cute stylish notebook as much as the next office-supply junkie, but lately I’ve been really into the old school Steno Books. Like the kind your grandparents probably used to have lying around. I like them for the double columns because I can set weekly tasks for clients on one side and weekly tasks for myself/my business on the other.
At the start of each week, on Monday, I go through all my client’s Asana and/or Trello boards as well as Slack groups and write down everything that is necessity that week. Even if it’s a tiny project that I could do in 15 minutes right then and there, I still write it down. I separate it per client and just fill up the left side of my Steno.
On the right side I write my tasks for the week, which stay pretty much the same: answer emails, write/schedule a blog post and a newsletter, update my SmarterQueue and BoardBooster with the latest blog, and any meetings I might have.
I like to see the big picture and know if it’s a week of a lot of smaller tasks (like last week) or a week of a few big tasks (like this week). It helps me to mentally prepare, roughly envision when would be good days to go to the gym versus a run, what day I can try to schedule a sister-date, etc.
SET A SCHEDULE EACH DAY
I don’t designate (fully) what items go on which day until the morning of. Sometimes I get a little mercurial and have a day where my mood is shot and I feel unmotivated. Sometimes I work for 12 hours straight and forget to take a sip of water. Though the goal is to obviously find a happy medium in there, I don’t like to contain my days beforehand.
So each day when I sit down to get started I view the list and pull 2-3 things from it that I feel inspired to work on that day. I’ve noticed I am surprisingly upbeat and ready to work Mondays (I think because I’ve been not working during the weekends as much) and I usually can knock out a big chunk of the to do list in one day – a lot of the tasks for my own business and a handful of smaller, quick tasks for clients.
I designate which ones are the tasks I’ll focus on, but I keep the weekly task list visible so that I can work ahead and do more if I feel so inclined. Sometimes during a mid-day lull I’ll cross off easier tasks that require less brainpower and I definitely make a point to cross through them on the list and give myself the visible ‘pat on the back’ that I’ve accomplished things.
TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
When I am working through the to do list, something that has been hard for me to totally accept doing (though I know it’s important) is to turn off notifications. Most of my clients and I communicate via Slack, so I get those notifications all the time. Plus I can just be a chatty Cathy and message people silly things or random questions. I also have a newly invigorated excitement for Facebook lately, so I keep finding myself on there in the middle of the day.
I realized I needed to turn off notifications to avoid all these distractions in my life. So I did. I muted notifications from Slack and my phone and everywhere else. I realized that no one would explode if I don’t answer his or her email immediately. And you know what? It’s worked!
Now I still check my email throughout the day, I’m not quite at the level of ‘once in the morning and once at night’ or anything (though, #goals). But I have stopped looking every five seconds and I have definitely stopped scrolling through Facebook with reckless abandon reading random click bait articles that show me the ten signs I’m a Pisces (besides the fact that I was born on March 1st) or whatever.
TAKE STRETCH BREAKS
All the other tricks are so work work work oriented, which is fine, but I do want to point out that I take breaks. A lot. I get up, I walk outside (the weather has been gorgeous lately in Charleston), I do some quick yoga flows, I walk down the street and grab a coffee… I definitely take breaks.
And I think you should too.
I’ll be straight up with you – I know what it is like to burn out in your business and I want to avoid ever feeling like that again. It sucked. I am doing everything in my power to avoid feeling like that, and taking a break is definitely part of it.
I am not the greatest at following this mentality, but I am trying – and you are never to busy for self care! So if you are the type of person who won’t stop for anything – write it in your schedule at the beginning of the day to stop, drink some water, walk around, etc. It’s just as important as writing your newsletter, or whatever else you have on your to do list.
And that’s it! That’s what I’ve been doing each week and each day to power through and support multiple clients with their businesses as well as maintain my own. What are some tricks you use in your business to manage your schedule (and stress)? Let me know in the comments below!
I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!