It’s been 9 months since I quit my job in the corporate world (25 years of software engineering!) to partner with my wife Dr. Minette Riordan to co-found the Path to Profit Academy. One of the biggest challenges in that transition has been how to structure my time by balancing the many different activities it takes to build our business, marketing training courses, Ironman training, travel, and our kid’s school and music events. By the time my Ironman training reached its’ peak in July I was doing more training than work on the business.
Now that my Ironman race is past (now I can call myself a 2-time Ironman finisher – woot!) and I’m adding in more networking activities it is time to really step up my commitment to having a schedule.
It’s something I should have done way earlier, but I think I used my Ironman training as an excuse to not be as rigid with the rest of my life!
You don’t have to be in an Ironman training cycle to relate to this.
Maybe you’re in a phase where it’s more fun to be Creative.
Maybe trying to get more Facebook likes sounds like more fun than looking at how many new prospects and clients are in your funnel.
I get it … but it won’t move the needle on your business.
Here are some of the techniques I’m using to get my schedule back on track. They all overlap: take the best parts of each!
I use Google Calendar because it rocks and makes this stuff easy
Technique #1: Time Blocking
Minette teaches this technique in her book, A Time Management System for Creative Entrepreneurs. You’ll note that she references “Your Big Six”: these are the 6 (or fewer) items that you must get done today.
“Time blocking is one of the best time-management tips I have implemented in my business. When I don’t do this, I can see where it impacts not only my work-life balance but also my bottom line.
I’m just like you—if I don’t plan for and commit to my marketing activities, they don’t get done on a regular basis. What happens when I’m not marketing? No new clients are flowing in!
Time blocking your calendar means putting your Big Six into specific blocks of time dedicated to the different activities you are committed to accomplishing. The basic concept is to write yourself into your own calendar and to block off time for completing tasks, which could include exercise, putting a pot roast in the slow cooker, making sales calls, or writing a blog post.
The secret to success is to take back your time and make your Big Six the highest priority. Who knows? You might get all six done before lunchtime.
Here’s a sample of what a day might look like using time blocks:
8:00 a.m. – Exercise
9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. – Marketing
11:00 a.m. – Check e-mail, clear paper clutter
11:30 a.m. – Lunch
12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Client calls
3:00 p.m. – Carpool
3:30 p.m. – Social media check-in
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Prepare for next day’s presentation
5:00 p.m. – Check e-mail, create Big Six for next day
If you are clear about what needs to get done by when, you can allow more flow into your activities. But you have to start by staking a claim for your creative time, marketing time, and self-care time. Time blocking stops you from overfilling your calendar with people and tasks that don’t move you toward your goals.”
She suggests either using Google Calendar or to “Use a wall-sized calendar and sticky notes to keep it visual and flexible”.
Technique #2: Flexible Personal Schedule
I learned this from some life coaching sessions I got from Jenny Bair at Living Well Dallas.
The idea is to list out all of the things you would like to do on a regular basis, especially as it relates to your personal life.
In my case this was things like “Play Music”, “Play games with the kids”, “Date night”, “Home Maintenance”.
Once you have those things, add them as repeating events in your personal calendar at the times you would most like to do them. If they are shared events (Date Night!) make sure others are invitees.
Remember that this is a flexible personal schedule. The point is not that you will absolutely do every one of these every week, rather that they act as reminders/triggers. They also act as things that you are more reluctant to schedule conflicts with.
On a week-to-week basis the flexible personal schedule can help you phase in good habits. You may choose to only start with one weekly event on your personal schedule and then add more.
Technique #3: Ideal Week
I learned this cool technique at my mastermind the other night – you may be interested.
This will be more effective if you use calendar system that allows multiple separate calendars with different colors (e.g. personal, business, kids, etc.).
- Create a separate calendar called “Ideal week” or similar.
- Give it a color – the suggestion was grey, since these entries will be sort of a suggestion for what to do.
- Block out sections of time in the Ideal week calendar with things you think you would do if your week was an ideal one. Make them recurring each week at that time.
- Now every week you have a reference for what you would like to be doing at any one time. This can be used for planning or suggestive activities when you are stuck. You can turn it on and off for reference.
Go ahead and Google for ‘ideal week calendar’. Here’s a post that describes it more and some of the background – https://michaelhyatt.com/ideal-week.html
I hope this helps give you some ideas of how to grab ahold of your calendar and take back your time! Leave us a note in the comments and let us know your thoughts.
- Minette’s book: A Time Management System for Creative Entrepreneurs.
- Listen to Brad and Minette talk more about Time Management for Creative Entrepreneurs in this podcast episode.
- Fierce Focus Online Time Management course: http://pathtoprofitacademy.pages.ontraport.net/FindingFocus