As a solopreneur, a schedule is a must-have in order to stay on track and get all the essentials done. You may be thinking “What? The whole reason I went into business for myself was to be free of having a schedule.” Yes, freedom is a wonderful thing but it is important to have structure in you days, weeks, months and even years if you are going to be successful.
Here’s a few kinds of schedule-free time management tactics that don’t work:
- Squeaky wheel, as in “The squeaky wheel gets the oil,” or what is screaming at you the most. This doesn’t work because some things done make any sound at all. A lucrative book can sit unwritten in your head for your entire life and never make a peep. Other things don’t make any noise until they are problematic – for example, renewing your business license is just one of a blur of many tasks until it’s late and you get a hefty fine. Then it squeaks, but that’s not a good way to decide when to work on it.
- Whatever’s in front of you. This doesn’t work because it is too haphazard. You often have no control over what ends up in front of you. Pesky alerts on your phone or desktop can beckon you to address low priority tasks like a siren song.
- Whatever you feel like doing. This doesn’t work because there are tasks you may have to do that you never feel like doing more than the alternatives. If filing is your least favorite task, you’ll never “feel like” filing and yet it has to be done at some point. There will always be something you can do and would rather do than file. Under this method, you would never do those tasks you don’t particularly enjoy. Most of us would probably spend the day on social media!
So what does work?
You need some kind of schedule. The right way to schedule probably varies as much as people do, but there has to be some basic plan for your days and weeks. If you can plan into months and years, that’s good to but at the very minimum you day and week needs some structure.
Here are some scheduling tips for solopreneurs:
- Start with the fixed items in your day such as family obligations, classes, appointments, etc.
- It may be helpful to look at your week as a whole. You may not get a lot of time on your current project on Monday and Tuesday, but then you know you need to put some time into it on Wednesday.
- Schedule time for your health and make it your number one priority. Without your health, you may not have a business and won’t be able to enjoy your life to the greatest extent possible.
- Learn to make use of smaller blocks of time. It’s likely they will account for much more of your time than big blocks.
- Make use of your own personal rhythm. Are you a morning person, a night owl or fan of afternoon siestas? Whatever your personal daily rhythm is, plan you schedule around it.
- Specify what you are going to be doing during each block of time. Whether it’s digging into your to-do list, working on a big current project, clearing your email inbox or something else, make sure you know what to be doing during each segment of your day. It will save you a lot of time not having to weed through everything on your plate and decide what to do.
- If you have a project that’s in “crunch” mode, meaning you just have to crank through it until it’s done, try to set a limit on how long it can take you. Many projects tend to follow Parkinson’s Law, e.g “work expands to fill the time available.”
There’s many right ways to schedule your time, just make sure you do it! What are your scheduling tips for solopreneurs? Share them in the comments.