Being Aware We Have a Problem
Today I want to share some of my experiences where scheduling is concerned. If we are not finding enough time in the day to complete our work we have to find a solution before we become stressed.
The first step is to acknowledge we have a problem where time is concerned, then we move on to finding how we can better our time management.
When I decided to start my own business, Motivational Steps, 17 years ago I had never operated a business before. After leaving High School in the UK where I was born I worked as a Secretary for an Insurance Brokerage. My time was pretty much set by the work I had to do, tea breaks and of course lunch.
I gave up work to be a full time Mom to my four children, which meant my schedule had to be firmly in place otherwise I would have had problems trying to find the time to drive one child to school and another child to nursery. This left me with two underage children at home to look after. Housework, cleaning, cooking, after school activities meant I kept a pretty tight schedule, of my own making.
Maybe because I truly enjoyed being a stay at home Mom it was easier for me to do the things on my schedule because I enjoyed all of them?
Working Three Jobs
When I was working three jobs, and juggling the schedules my managers gave me, along with taking care of my children, along with shopping, housework and actually trying to get 8 hours sleep I actually did a great job, or so I thought.
I knew I was stretching myself when the stress jumped out at me and that’s when I decided something had to give. In my case I concentrate on one full time job and of course my many duties as a full time single Mom.
Operating Your Own Business
In the early days of operating our own business the excitement and change of pace is actually fun and we think we can do everything, be everything and actually survive at the fast pace we are moving.
Once the realization sets in that we need to actually ensure revenue at least pops by every few months, we panic and decide we can’t cope. Obviously we started our own business to make more money, have more time to ourselves, more holidays and it should all be fun!
Hands up who relies solely on their digital camera hidden away in your phone? It’s OK many people do, but the problem with that is you can’t see your calendar all the time. There is a saying, out of sight out of mind. That’s where the calendar on our phone comes in, we can’t see at a glance all the things we have to do, and all the things we need to do, and all the things we want to do, right in front of our eyes.
I did not have a smart phone when I started my first business almost 18 years ago. I relied on the calendar on my desktop computer and got into a big mess. That’s when I trotted along to the Dollar store and purchased a paper wall calendar that had a whole month on each page. Once I had this to glance at, on the wall, an easy view from my desk I noticed quite a few things:
- I had entered all my business appointments with prospective clients on certain days.
- I could see some white space on the calendar, and this meant that was time when I did not have appointments.
Because I had only been in business a few months my client list was small, and work was slow to come. This was a perfect time to schedule time for the other ‘work’ which I did not think I had time for, because when you are running a business you always have to be out and about meeting clients, or so I presumed.
The list I made read something like this:
- April 20th 8am – 10 am Research my target market
- ” Break Time 15 Minutes
- 11am – 12.00 Write articles
- ” 12.30 Lunch
So I marked all the things I could do in my slow time when I was in my office. The above list is just a general idea, I had more tasks to do but I also left time for other stuff such as:
- April 20th 2.30 Doctors appointment
I marked my personal appointments, such as my Doctors appointment in Blue so it stood out from the Red business related tasks.
- April 20th 4pm Drop business cards off at various locations
The other idea I had was to specify the time I needed with my family, such as:
- April 20th 5.30pm Dinner with family
- ” 7.00pm Laundry
The above list is a small example of how, before I got really busy with two businesses I filled my day and evenings. By adding personal tasks to my calendar on the wall I could see I had the time i.e. a white space on the calendar. This mean I was not stressing about fitting in work and personal tasks.
Once I got busier, and for me it took less than a year, I decided to split my work related tasks such as:
- Working outside of the office would be marked with a Green pen on my calendar, this alerted me to when I would not be close to my home office. If there was an emergency I had to allow time, or allocate someone else to take care of the children, as an example, in case of the emergency. I knew to always expect the unexpected by now.
- Working on cold calling via my office phone ( yes I did that years ago) I marked in Black because it was a task I disliked but I knew I had to take care of. I also made sure I took care of this task early in the morning when I felt I was at my best.
- Working on proposals was marked in Purple because I felt I quite enjoyed this part of my work and it had the promise of more revenue.
Again the above list is an idea of what my wall calendar looked like all those years ago. I still marked my phone calendar with all my appointments.
Being organized, and when I was in my office looking at my wall calendar quickly, I could see not only what tasks I had to take care of and when, I could see my personal commitments also. One of the awful things about becoming too busy is forgetting our family and friends and running out of time to spend with them.
I could also see some white space left on my wall calendar, which meant I could add more tasks to those days and times, and I could leave them blank. By leaving space in my calendar did mean when those unexpected emergencies occurred I could easily re-schedule.
Once I had gotten into my new routine of being organized, in my personal and business life, I was on my way to my future success.
My stress level dropped, my clients were happy, my workload did not feel overwhelming, and of course I had time for my family and friends.
I never like to reinvent the wheel, and neither should you. If any of my ideas work try, them out, if not look for other ideas that work for you. But – don’t reinvent the wheel and take all of your time up looking for the perfect solution, there is not one way to do anything.
Thanks for reading my blog post, as always I love receiving your emails and comments, thanks.