HOW TO CREATE A BIZ SCHEDULE THAT WORKS FOR YOU.
You’re frazzled, overwhelmed and drowning in to-do lists and post-it notes.
Something important needs to be done today but you can’t remember where you wrote it down or IF you even wrote it down. Every day feels like you’re just getting through the basics in your biz so you don’t fall behind and yet somehow you still feel behind. ALL.THE.TIME.
This is me at least once a month, sometimes once a week and sometimes daily if I don’t schedule my time and tasks properly. Do you ever feel like this?
The way I manage my time is the biggest factor in successfully accomplishing tasks, growing my biz and being HAPPY. It’s hard to be happy when you feel completely overwhelmed.
Managing your time as a maker is just as important as making sure you deliver your products to your clients.
If you don’t manage your time properly, you will burn out and eventually your biz will see the negative effects.
So let’s take a look at the 6 steps you should go through before you create your schedule and then we’ll go through creating one that works for YOU!
Here are 6 steps to go through before creating YOUR schedule:
Identify the tasks you need to accomplish
Scheduling your time effectively involves knowing what tasks need to be done in order to achieve your biz goals. Open your notebook and look at the goals you’ve created for your biz. If you haven’t written down your goals, write them down now.
Open up a program (like Trello, Google Keep, a Planner or anything that suits you) where you can create a long list of tasks that can be arranged and moved around and then write down ALL the tasks you need to do to achieve your goals.
This list will be your RUNNING LIST OF TASKS. It should include continuous tasks, like paying for your website hosting each year, as well as once off tasks, like buying pink wool for a specific project.
This running list of tasks is NOT designed to be empty at any point, so don’t think that because it keeps growing you aren’t accomplishing what you need to. The running list creates one central location for all of your tasks and to-dos to go so you’re not scrambling through post-it notes all the time.
Identify when YOU work best
We all have times when we flourish and are on fire and times when we feel like the world is ending and we’re a complete failure.
You need to identify which hours during the day are your “HIGH PERFORMING” hours and which hours are your “LOW PERFORMING” hours.
Working on tasks that take a lot of mental capacity and focus should be done in your “HIGH PERFORMING” hours and something that can be done while watching Netflix should be done in your “LOW PERFORMING” hours.
Keep these times in mind when you schedule your business activities.
FACT: You’re not always going to be able to work during your HIGH PERFORMING hours because of other priorities like family. The key is to identify those times and try your best to change up your routine to allow for work during those high performing hours.
Are you a techy or paper gal?
I love using Trello, to manage my RUNNING LIST but I prefer using a planner for my daily and weekly schedule.
It’s important to find what works for YOU. It’s tempting to get that gorgeous planner you saw on Instagram but if it does nothing to help you then ditch it. Ask yourself: “Do I perform better using a phone/computer app or a physical paper planner?”
And give yourself the freedom to choose a mix if that works better for you.
Your schedule needs to fit into your lifestyle like the BFF you want to spend every moment with. So be realistic about what is accessible to you on a daily basis and your lifestyle.
Identify the hours you have available each day for your biz.
You can’t schedule your tasks if you don’t know how many hours you have available for work in the day. If your day is pretty sporadic and you have 1 hour before school drop off, 2 hours during nap time, 4 hours after bed time, for example, write down those hours now. Knowing how many hours you have for work each day will help you see what you can realistically accomplish and schedule each day.
Allocate each task to a specific category
Sometimes when you run your own biz you can spend an entire week on marketing tasks and not even think of making or dreaming.
The challenge is to create a schedule that has the perfect mix of marketing, making, dreaming, blogging, packaging, shipping etc. The best way to make sure you can move forward in all those areas is to separate your tasks into categories.
For example, your categories may be blogging, designing, making, dreaming and website maintenance.
You need to identify the categories that are specific to YOUR biz and then separate the tasks from your running list into those categories.
Once you’ve allocated the tasks to the different categories, you will be able to make sure you include at least one task from each category into your schedule every week.
Allocate an estimated time to each task in your RUNNING LIST
Next to each item on your running list, estimate the time it will take to complete that task. You will notice that some tasks only take 20 minutes, like responding to emails.
Your emails were listed as maintenance so in the week find 3-4 time slots of 20 minutes to respond to emails. This will allow you to keep up with the maintenance of your biz. The benefit of allocating a time to your task, is that you will realize how many tasks can be done in under 10 minutes.
So next time you have 10 minutes while your washing is on a spin cycle, go to your list and grab a 10min task to complete before taking out the washing! This adds up over time and you’ll find that those random small tasks are now being completed in time you would otherwise have wasted.
Now let’s get scheduling.
Now that you’ve identified: what tasks you need to complete; how much time you have available in a day; what times in the day you work best and whether you’re a paper or tech or both kind of person, you will be able to create the best time management schedule for YOU.
Choose your scheduler
Choose a scheduler that works for YOU. My favorite tool for making a long running list is Trello because it allows me to easily move and shift my tasks AND categorize all the tasks. You could use a note keeping app, excel spreadsheet or a time scheduling app.
If you’re a pen & paper kind of girl, then get yourself a great planner that allows you to schedule for the month and keep running lists. You could also create a planner that suits your needs and print it or download the printable on The Wake to Make Resource Library.
Set out your time available
Start with the time you have available every day and put that in your scheduler of choice. If you’re using a planner write down or mark the times you have available for work. For example I have set out the hours below as an example of the hours I have available tomorrow. You can write them down in hourly chunks or in a way that suits you.
6:30 – 7:30
09:30 – 12:30
15:00 – 17:00
20:00 – 22:00
Highlight your best hours
Once you’ve set aside the times you have available, you need to highlight you BEST work hours.
6:30 – 7:30
09:30 – 12:30
15:00 – 17:00
20:00 – 22:00
Schedule your tasks
Filling up your schedule will be easier now that you know how long each task will take, what category they fall under and whether they are difficult or easy. The goal is to create a mix throughout the week so that you are doing tasks from each category (making, marketing, managing, blogging etc.) and maximizing your HIGH PERFORMING hours by doing difficult tasks during those hours.
So here is an example of how you can schedule your tasks for a good mix based on the times mentioned earlier:
Choose ONE difficult/ mentally straining task from your running list and put it in your highlighted HIGH PERFORMING time.
06:30 – 07:30 – Write the first draft of the blog post on time management (1 hour; Difficult, BLOGGING)
As you can see I chose a difficult task, it had an estimated time of 1 hour (which fits perfectly into my BEST time) and it was categorized as BLOGGING.
Now choose another difficult task from your running list and put it in the remaining highlighted HIGH PERFORMING times.
09:30 – 12:30 – Batch schedule Social Media Posts for the week (3 hours; Difficult; MARKETING)
As you can see I chose a difficult task, it had an estimated time of 3 hours and it was categorized as MARKETING.
Based on this schedule by midday I will have completed TWO difficult tasks, one related to blogging and another related to marketing.
Now we are entering the times that are not our best, which means scheduling tasks that are not as difficult.
15:00 – 17:00 – Plan the fall collection (2 hours; DREAMING)
20:00 – 20:20 – Read & reply to emails (20 min; MANAGEMENT)
20:20 – 20:40 – Reply to Social Media Comments (20min; MARKETING)
20:40 – 22:00 – Add 2 new product to Etsy (1hr 20min, MARKETING)
As you can see we’ve scheduled difficult tasks in the high performing times and easier tasks in the low performing times.
We also included tasks from the following categories: Blogging, Marketing, Dreaming and Management. So for tomorrow’s schedule we would make sure to include tasks from the MAKING category since we didn’t schedule any tasks like that for today.
There are infinite ways to schedule your time and it’s important to find the right mix for YOU. So take the important considerations like difficulty, time to complete, your high and low performing hours and the biz categories they fall under and test the variations throughout the week.
You can batch schedule your tasks, like scheduling all of your social media posts for the whole day. Just remember to always have a mix of tasks from different categories throughout the WEEK.
Tips to make time management work best for you
Once you’ve schedule your weekly tasks and you get down to following the schedule, DON’T try and multi-task by opening up your emails and answering them. If you need a break from a task, GET UP and walk to the kitchen to make some tea.
Your time will get sucked away if you’re juggling different tasks at once. The reason you made your schedule was so that in your week you would have time for the important tasks, basic tasks and still have time to dream and make. If you don’t focus on the tasks in their scheduled time, you WON’T get the task completed and you’ll feel overwhelmed.
Trust your schedule
rust the effort you’ve put into setting aside dedicated time for emails, for making, for marketing and for dreaming.
Add time for rest
Filling every minute with activities will cause you to burn out. Be sure to schedule in your “ME TIME” each week and do something for YOU.
The only way to truly manage your time better is to understand how you use your time, what you need to accomplish, when you work best and what tools will realistically and seamlessly fit into your life. You need to KNOW YOURSELF enough to understand your strengths and weaknesses.
Managing your time is the most important task you have as a maker, it’s the way you will turn your making into a profitable biz.
It is important to schedule your week in a way that will allow you to accomplish the tasks you need to. But sometimes you will need to be flexible because life happens. If you keep the tips above in mind, you can easily shift tasks around without effecting your results.
As a maker, time management and scheduling is always a challenge because there are a million things pulling us in all directions.
If you want to have time for marketing, making, dreaming and blogging in your biz, then you need become intentional about how you schedule your time.
Your time is valuable, if you don’t intentionally schedule your tasks, you will struggle to achieve all the goals you have set.
Don’t lose your marbles because you feel overwhelmed and never have time for certain tasks. Create a schedule and be intentional about it.
Kathryn Moorhouse is a social media strategist and virtual assistant, based in South Africa. She is also the founder of the handmade baby and kids clothing brand - Zoey & Logan. Her love for business and passion for helping others, has opened up opportunities for her to help other biz owners manage their social media and business tasks. She is an obsessive planner and organizer with a deep love for good coffee, doughnuts and going on adventures across the globe. You can find her at www.zoeyandlogan.com and www.kathrynmoorhouse.com.