Being self employed has taught me a lot about myself. I’ve learned the most from the challenge of being 100% accountable for how I use my time. Because of my tendencies to dive into what I love – and buying into the idea that you have to work crazy hard to make ends meet as a small business owner, while I love what I do I haven’t been living well.
This year I’m changing that- and the changes that I’ve made so far have absolutely changed my life!
On Tuesdays for the next five weeks I’m going to share the first steps I’ve taken to get from overwhelmed and stressed to seeing a new way of working that’s positive, productive and doesn’t rule my life. These are practical and simple things that have helped me ramp down my stress and get centered so I can be better at my business and be more fun in my down time. They can work for you whether you’re self employed or love working at your a nine to five- and if you’re stressed out or burned out, I hope they turn things around for you too.
Step Three – Take control of your work experience with scheduling
At the peak of my stressed out previous life, I had endless to do lists of tasks that never seemed to get done. Each week felt like a battle, and I wasn’t winning! There were days when I felt like I couldn’t even dig my way out of my inbox to get to the important things that needed to get done and would pay my bills.
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this, but when I started examining what was happening I was surprised by what I found. I was scheduling my day based on what other people required of me, and treating my email like a never ending To Do list.
No wonder I felt like I was always behind and overwhelmed. I had placed my day to day work experience completely outside of my control!
This changed when I started structuring my week how I wanted it to look (based on how much I wanted to get done) and then scheduling tasks that came into the available time. This is batching 101, and the idea is that you decide on the type of work you’ll be doing ahead of time so you can have more input into what your life looks like. It’s simple and beautiful.
This is what that looks like for me:
When I open my iCal, this is what every week looks like: a half hour (sanity supporting!) blast through the inbox, client work in the morning, client work in the afternoon, and then email at the end of the day. I have dedicated time for writing and catch up on Fridays, and a weekly team meeting on Tuesdays.
As someone who’s really visual, this goes a huge way into making sure that my scheduling reflects my priorities, which makes sure that my work life reflects my actual priorities. But the first example is a little sterile, so this is what it looks like when I’ve added into my work week…
Right now I have lots of client facing time and am wrapping up projects. It’s not perfect and it will absolutely change in time, but knowing that I’m working more with clients than I am in sorting through email is incredibly satisfying. The best part is that you can apply this to any job and totally transform how you work- and how you feel at work.
Want to learn more about batching your work? It’s also called “chunking” and is supported by the pomodoro method (though I encourage you to schedule your time in advance & then use Pomodoro’s to get great at breaking tasks into small steps) and you can learn more about it at Freelance Folder in The Four Hour Work Week, or from the lovely & talented Jess Lively.
This is the third step in a five part series that I’ll be sharing on Tuesdays over the next few weeks, so be sure to check back next week!