One of the hardest things you face as a solopreneur is getting your day under control. There are so many distractions and challenges, some you don’t even realize are getting in your way. Understanding how to organize and make the most of your day will mean a better you and a better business.
I am ashamed to admit how many days passed in 2015 that I just felt defeated and lost, many days went by where I wondered where the time went and felt like so little got done. I was distracted by housework, tv, social media, and who knows what else; I was overwhelmed by my to-do list, lacked focus, and felt anxiety. Of course, I’m still working on it, but I’m in a much better place after researching and implementing a number of different strategies that focus on building habits, establishing routines, and increasing productivity. This post starts the “Building A Better Day” series where I share some of those strategies.
Building A Better Day With Scheduling
I struggled a lot last year with productivity and motivation. I realized one of the reasons I felt so overwhelmed is because I had too much free time. Too much free time, how is that a complaint you ask? Well, this is the thing, I had very little structure to my day. Every day I woke up and then had to decide what I wanted/needed to do that day, I had no set schedule between the hours of 7 to 5. Every day I would debate should I exercise now or later, should I shower now or in an hour, sound I work on social media or writing. Everyday I was faced with a million decisions, mostly mundane, but still they took up so much space and energy. I would be tired by lunch time (whatever time that was), and feel frustrated.
The more decisions you have to make in a day, the more fatigued you get mentally (and physically). This is where scheduling comes in, you don’t have to decide what you need to do hour from hour. Scheduling gives your day structure and allows you to focus, it clears out some of that mental clutter. It makes sure you don’t need to ask yourself, what is next or search your to-do list. You just do, not decide what to do. Of course the level of scheduling will vary from person to person. Some people work better if scheduled hour by hour (or even 30 minutes), where some will work better if they have a more flexible schedule with larger time blocks.
Sometimes scheduling can seem too structured. To get around this, set a framework in which to give yourself permission to break the schedule. This keeps you on task, but with a set framework if other things come up or to keep you from feeling too structured. For example, some days writing comes more easily so I give myself permission to ignore my schedule if I’m in the groove.
Make sure to include breaks in your schedule. If you are the one in control of your schedule it is very easy to skip set meals or exercise, this is not the path to a well balanced business. Include things just for you! Be realistic too, you cannot everyday write for 6 hours straight. You need to vary tasks and make sure you are actively engaged, not glued trying to make yourself churn through a task for an unreasonable amount of time.
I find writing detailed tasks for time blocks helpful. For instance I don’t say, “write”, I say, “work on ______ post”. Of course not every tasks has to be detailed out. For example, I say, “social media for 30 minutes”, and let myself go with the flow. I often schedule tasks I dread or avoid for only 30 minute blocks, that way I know can force myself to actively work on it for 30 minutes, if it is an hour I tend not to be as productive. I sit there thinking OMG I don’t want to do this for an hour. On the flipside of that, I set limits for myself on tasks that I know can easily turn into time sucks. Social media being on the top of that list, I can easily get sucked into clicking on the next link, reading that next post, opening 20 tabs on the web browser, so I try to only do that for the time I have scheduled.
How do you manage your work day? Are you structured or more go with the flow?