Creating and planning your daily schedule is often the missing ingredient you need to build a business that supports you. This is why (if you don’t already know how to successfully do so) you could be missing out on so much potential both for yourself and your business. The right schedule is key to a productive day of work and making sure you enjoy your time outside of business hours.
Ready to learn exactly how to create a schedule that works for you? Read on to learn how to create your daily schedule and our favourite way to plan each day efficiently.
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The Importance of Planning Your Schedule
If you feel stressed and like you’re constantly falling behind in your business, effectively planning your schedule may be of some help. Most entrepreneurs agree that they’re BUSY every day, but how many would say that they’re truly PRODUCTIVE? (Did you even realize that there’s a difference between the two?). The biggest difference between being busy and being productive is busyness comes with a sense of chaos. There are a thousand things that need to be done and you’re frantically ticking them off haphazardly. By planning your schedule effectively, it will help you eliminate most of that chaos and instead focus more intently on what really needs to get done. You’ll be able to better organize your time with good habits to help you stay productive.
So, how do you become more productive? Well, it all comes down to better boundaries. Overcommitting your time is no fun and can quickly lead to burnout. That’s why, when creating your schedule (tips to do so below!), you can account for times when you’re flexible and times when you’re more rigid with what you can give to others. This technique will also help you evaluate whether or not certain business opportunities are the best fit for you.
From there, you can plan out your schedule to make room for deep-focus work. Distractions can pop up in the form of Slack messages, Instagram notifications, and even other people you live with. By scheduling time for deep-focus work, you’ll know to silence the notifications and concentrate on projects that need the most attention.
3 Steps to Create Your Daily Schedule
Now that you know why your schedule is important, let’s take a look at how to create your daily schedule. These steps will work for you if you’re new to creating a schedule or looking to better revise your scheduling strategy.
Creating a schedule usually happens in 3 stages:
1. The Planning Stage
One can never plan too much! Start by picking a day that will work best for you. This day will be influenced by your workload, personal preferences, and lifestyle. Early on, after starting TM+Co, our founder, Taylor, used to prep for the week ahead on the weekend. Now, she preps her schedule on Fridays so she can fully enjoy the weekend off!
When you’re in the planning stage, it’s important to look at small and large projects alike. Big projects will most likely take up a chunk of your attention. However, there are still recurring tasks that need to be completed as well. Any of your daily and weekly tasks that occur in your business – no matter how trivial they may seem – take away from your productivity time.
We always schedule in an “Admin” day – a day solely dedicated to knocking out the recurring tasks and administrative needs that just never seem to end. By scheduling these tasks, you might even be able to reevaluate them and realize some are no longer necessary. If they aren’t helping your business, they need to go!
2. The Reflection Stage
Next comes the reflection stage. During this stage, you can take time to reflect on your schedule and really figure out what works best for you.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- What do I currently enjoy most in my daily/weekly routine?
- Are there any tasks that I don’t enjoy or that make me feel overwhelmed?
- Where does my biggest point of frustration come from?
- Can I add automations to anything to save time?
- What task would I take on or project would I start if I had more time in my schedule?
- Can I delegate any tasks to my team? (If you don’t have a team yet, think of something you would like to hand over in the future).
3. The Evaluation Stage
Despite what you might believe, productivity is not the same for everyone. Some people are early birds, like most of us at Team TM+Co. We find we’re the most productive in the mornings so we try to schedule our biggest tasks that will require all of our focus early in the day. On the other hand, some people are night owls and work best at 3am when there’s absolute silence.
Evaluate your productivity levels during the day. Is there a particular time when you’re really able to dig in and focus on completing tasks? Make note of what time of day you’re most and least productive. From there, you can schedule your tasks accordingly!
Pro Tip: Forcing productivity is never the answer. Instead, take some time away from your tasks. If you’re working from home, why not go for a walk to clear your mind? Or, if you need a change of scenery, why not head to a local coffee shop? Take a moment to refresh your mind and come back to your tasks later with a clear head.
Time Blocking – aka the Best Way to Plan Your Schedule
Time blocking is a time management method that involves dividing your days into manageable chunks. Rather than having a 3-foot-long to-do list of tasks, you organize those tasks into categories that work for you and schedule a specific time to focus on them. Time blocking is a great way to keep you accountable, while also increasing your productivity levels.
There are 2 main types of time blocking that we’ve found to be particularly efficient:
1. Scheduling by Day
When you schedule tasks by day, you’re batching your similar tasks together and dedicating a specific day of the week to completing them. Many business owners like to separate tasks into categories such as admin, client work, and marketing. Here’s an example of how this could look:
Mondays – Admin Day – This would involve sending invoices, following up on emails, or tracking data.
Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays – Client Work – Any tasks that you need to complete for a particular client.
Fridays – Marketing Day – Complete tasks such as social media content creation, email copywriting, or other marketing needs.
2. Organizing by Task
Organizing your schedule by tasks is slightly similar to scheduling by day but is more spread out throughout the week. You would set certain blocks of time throughout your day for each group of tasks. If you’re the type of person who wants organization AND variety, this method could be for you. Take a look at this example:
*You get extra bonus points if you batch work based on specific clients!
Pro Tip: If you aren’t sure what will work best, why not try a little of both? We build in daily admin time and our client time blocks, but we also often dedicate certain days for themed tasks (for example, Friday afternoons are focused on marketing).
How to Time Block Your Schedule
Learning how to properly time block your schedule can make a world of difference. By breaking out your tasks into batches, you’ll be able to figure out how much time you can commit to certain tasks (and exactly how long it will take you). When you take on a task, sometimes we only visualize the task as a whole rather than the specific steps it will take to complete it. By breaking down your time you’ll have a more realistic timeframe of what you can actually accomplish on any given day. You’ll begin to notice an improvement in productivity and an increase in work output.
Now, let’s start time blocking!
Step 1 – Categorize your tasks
You can categorize tasks based on specific categories or general categories. (This is not a hard and fast rule but can definitely help you out!) Specific categories can include tasks such as client meetings, content creation, or social media scheduling – anything that’s one exact type of task. General categories can include tasks such as personal tasks, admin tasks, client tasks, or marketing tasks – basically, anything that falls under a bigger umbrella of task classification.
Step 2 – Add in your morning routine
Start your day on the right foot by incorporating your morning routine! When creating your daily schedule, start by mapping out when you wake up (or, even, when you’d like to wake up!) then add in the routine that helps you get ready for the day.
Your morning routine can be simple, such as brushing your teeth, showering, making coffee and eating breakfast. It could also be anything like going for a morning run, yoga, meditation, or even packing the kids’ lunches and driving them to school.
Step 3 – Add in your categorized blocks
For this, think about your most difficult tasks first! Remember when you’re most efficient and block out time for these tasks during that period so you can then plan everything else around it. Here’s an example of how your blocks could look:
Block 1: Content Creation – For our founder, content creation requires the most amount of focus, so she schedules it early in her day.
Block 2: Client Work – We like to divide our week up by assigning certain clients to particular times during each day (of course, there’s room for flexibility as needed but the organization keeps us productive). For you, it may be you schedule each client’s work per day, or only allow bookings on these days.
Block 3: Admin Tasks – Taylor always likes to end the day by tying up any little loose ends that are easy to do and don’t require much brain power after a long day.
Step 4 – Add in breaks!
Don’t forget to eat! It isn’t an accomplishment to eat your lunch at your desk every day. (This isn’t a corporate job, right?!) Chances are if you don’t schedule in time for breaks and food, you won’t take them. Be sure to add breaks to your schedule and take a step away (and maybe move around a bit or do some stretches. You’ve been sitting in that chair for too long!). When you come back, you’ll be energized and more productive.
Most importantly, schedule a time to log off for the day! Once 6pm hits (or whenever your end of day time is), sign out completely for the day and don’t look back until tomorrow!
Overall, creating and planning your daily schedule will take time, especially when it comes to figuring out what works best for you! So, don’t sweat it if it doesn’t work on the first go. This is all part of the process.
If time-blocking is too hard to stick to (when life inevitably gets in the way), choose to see it as a guide instead of a rule. Remember, you can experiment with your schedule to find what works best. And, as things change in your lifestyle and business, so can your schedule!