When I started my first business in 2005, I had a completely haphazard schedule and would answer e-mails after going out with friends and stay up until 2 a.m. finishing projects. This lead to almost constant feelings of stress when working and guilt when not working.
Something had to change.
So less than a year into entrepreneurship, I started setting a schedule and making a goal of working a certain amount of hours per week. These constraints helped me to carve out time to invest in the relationships that make my life truly rich–without feeling guilty for taking time to relax!
Here’s My Routine:
Each weekday, I get up at 6 a.m. and go through my morning routine—breakfast, prayer, shower, stare out the window, etc. By 8:15 a.m., I’m at my computer and answer a few personal e-mails before starting to work at 8:30 a.m. One of my first activities of the day is going into an Excel spreadsheet where I record when I plan to start and stop work and take my lunch break. Then I spend the first 1 ½ to 2 hours of my day doing my routine processing.
Going through this checklist each morning has a number of benefits:
• I don’t waste time deciding how to start.
• I can operate on autopilot if my brain still needs to wake up.
• I feel confident that I’m up-to-date on all recent communication.
• I feel no compulsion to answer e-mail or answer the phone throughout the day.
• I’m able to set a clear list of objectives and time block based on the most recent data.
Once I’m done with processing, I do sales calls and e-mails for about an hour. I set this as my next time block because it’s one of the most important ways I can grow my business but one of the activities I most avoided. By putting it first, I actually complete this task and it doesn’t even stress me out anymore! (To keep myself motivated, I sometimes treat myself by moving to a new location–like the sunny backyard–before contacting women in business conference organizers and potential time coaching clients.)
The rest of my hours contain an ever-changing mix of business development projects, client assignments, and meetings. At the beginning of each week, I roughly time block these into my schedule to make sure I’m fitting in the most important projects. Then each morning, I review my daily plan, number the tasks in order of importance, and then set more precise time sprints.
• Forces me to be very realistic about how much I can get done and still be able to wrap up by 5:30 p.m.
• Directs my focus to the most urgent and important tasks first. If I don’t complete the items at the bottom of my list, it usually doesn’t matter if take care of them the next day.
• Puts me on autopilot. I start on the first task and then move to the next and the next without questioning what’s most important. To allow my mind to make the mental shift between projects, I’ll usually get up from my computer and get a cup of tea or let myself take 5-to-10 minutes to check e-mail. Then it’s on to the next project.
I hope you find this sneak peek into my world insightful. In next week’s blog post, I’ll share more details about how I stay focused and build in motivation and accountability.
But the big thing I want you to remember is that setting the right schedule can play a huge role in your ability to stay positive and make progress toward your goals–whether those include looking for a job, building a business, making more sales, or simply having more time to sleep. I have some Schedule Makeover clients that get up at 4:30 a.m. and others that rise at 9 a.m. Both schedules work well because they suit my clients’ personal preferences and body rhythms.
The key to success is find the system that works for you!
Have a brilliant day!
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time coach & professional speaker who helps men and women who are overwhelmed and frustrated because they want to achieve a life of peace and productivity but are struggling to make it happen.
For more insight on how to move forward, feel peaceful and create a life of love, meaning and purpose, check out ScheduleMakeover.com
Elizabeth has been featured in Inc magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and on NBC, and is happy to be interviewed for your broadcast or publication.