Working for yourself.
It's the ultimate dream these days, right?
Be your own boss. Make bucket loads of money. Live life on your terms.
That’s the script you’ve been hoping for. But that's not how things have panned out for you. Truth be told, the dream has turned into a nightmare.
There are too many tasks to do, but only 24 hours. You are juggling too many balls in the air and they are falling all over the place. You're overwhelmed. Your energy levels are getting lower and lower. All because you haven’t mastered the scheduling tactics used by successful entrepreneurs.
Here are five scheduling tips for solopreneurs to help you stay on top of things.
#1. Assess how you spend your time
What happens when you go to see a doctor?
Does the doctor quickly prescribe meds for you as soon as you step into his office?
Of course not!
They take time to examine you and probe until they find the source of your ailment. And then she prescribes medication. The diagnosis precedes prescription—always. That’s how you should approach scheduling. Put your daily routine under the microscope first.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What exactly do you spend the day doing?
List every single activity down.
- How long does it take you to do the task?
Tabulate tasks according to the time it takes to do them.
- Is the task worth doing in the first place?
Does the task deserve a place on your calendar?
- Which activities steal your time?
Identify time-thieves that crowd out important tasks e.g. chatting with friends on the app, doing unplanned work, email, etc.
Identify the bottlenecks in your routine. Discard what weighs you down. Keep and fine-tune what’s working. For instance, if you realize you spend too much time writing copy for your website, outsource the task to a professional copywriter.
#2. Prioritize your tasks
While working for yourself or making money on the side is superb, you can get submerged by a flood of endless tasks in no time.
Here’s the thing.
The more your business grows, the more your daily tasks and responsibilities grow. Without prioritizing, you end up concentrating on the mundane and leave the crucial tasks undone. That’s because we all are slaves of urgent jobs. To free yourself from the tyranny of the urgent and get a grip on your day, list the day’s tasks in order of importance.
The Eisenhower Matrix comes in handy here.
It grades each task according to urgency and importance. You then put the task in the relevant box of the matrix.
Let’s unpack the framework.
- Important and urgent
These are top-of-the-list tasks. Do them first.
- Important, but not urgent
Schedule a time for jobs that are important, but not urgent. They may not be on top of your list, but they must be in your schedule.
- Urgent, but not important
Delegate or outsource urgent tasks you don’t have time for.
- Not urgent or important
If something’s neither urgent nor important, drop it from your calendar altogether.
Once you’ve identified the priority tasks, batch them. Putting similar activities into groups:
- Improves focus.
- Increases efficiency.
- Saves time.
- Reduces stress levels.
Plus, task-batching breaks down enormous projects into smaller bite-sized bits that don’t sound intimidating.
#3. Trim your to-do list
As an entrepreneur you have a gazillion things on your plate:
- Meetings with clients.
- Responding to emails.
- Customer service (including managing a small business phone system).
- Marketing your business.
- Invoicing and accounting.
- Planning and strategizing.
- Following up and closing sales.
- Managing your blog.
- Engaging your audience on social media.
Trying to cram all of them into your daily to-do list is impossible, even after you’ve prioritized the activities.
To move forward, only measure key actions, not everything. Align your calendar to your big goal. Drop everything on your calendar that doesn’t contribute to your major goal in the day, week, month, or quarter.
Whittle down your day’s chores and remain with the vitals. Focus on the tasks that move your business forward the most.
You will be focused and hit your goals for the day.
#3. Slate tough jobs for ‘the zone’
Another effective scheduling tip is reserving the toughest jobs for your most productive moments in the day.
We are wired differently and favor certain times in the day.
Are you a night owl or a morning rooster?
- Night Owl: If you are a night owl, your biological engine takes a while to warm up in the morning. You struggle with mornings because most of the time you are still half asleep and aren’t that productive. But later on in the day, you’re firing on all cylinders and can take on the world.
- Morning Rooster: Morning roosters are the opposite of night owls. If you are a rooster, you wake up with a song on your lips. You are pumped up the second you open one eye. You go full steam from the moment your feet hit the ground. However, as the day drags on, your energy and focus levels dip sharply.
To have a highly productive day, work with your biological inclinations, not against them. Follow your natural body clock for greater productivity.
Schedule easier routine tasks that don't demand a lot of concentration during times when you struggle. Because the tasks aren’t demanding, you will still tick off your to-do list and hit your goals for the day.
Put the tough tasks in your peak moments. When you work during your zone of effortless excellence, you are unbeatable. You work faster and accomplish more.
#4. Schedule (and take) breaks
Building a business on your own is not a child’s play.
It takes sweat, blood, and tears to run a successful business.
As a solo business owner, it’s easy to slip into 15-hour working days, especially in the early stages of a start-up.
You're chasing the dream of a blockbuster business. However, if you do this too for long, you’ll burn yourself out sooner rather than later. Make regular breaks a part of your daily workflow.
Stop. Disengage from the endless grind.
Stretch. Exercise. Do something fun.
Go outside and let the cool, soft breeze hug you. You’ll come back refreshed, rejuvenated, reborn.
But to make that happen, you must schedule breaks. Plan for breaks otherwise you’ll forget to take them because you want to hit your goals for the day no matter what . However, scheduling breaks is one thing, taking them is another.
Ensure you stick to your timetable.
#5. Use the right tools
Technology can be both a curse and a blessing.
Because we are always connected to multiple devices as part of our workflow, technology can be an enormous distraction.
Multiple messaging apps, pinging email notifications, multiple browsers open, all demanding our immediate attention-staying focused is hard.
But technology can save you too, especially scheduling software. With smart software on hand, you save time and manage your calendar better.
Qhubekani Nyathi aka The Click Guy is an offbeat certified freelance writer for hire who writes zingy long-form content that ranks, drives qualified traffic, and leads for B2B and B2C companies. He identified five reasons contributing towards successful choice of a scheduling software for business.
“A scheduling tool, in my opinion, should be:
- User-friendly- super-easy to use even for non-techies.
- Customizable- allows you to work from your domain.
- Intuitive- schedules or organizes meetings in one or two clicks.
- Integrable- flexible enough to connect with your favorite apps and tools.
- Centralized- allows you to access all calendars and meetings in one place.
In short, look for agile software.”
Scheduling Tips: Join The Smart Solopreneurs Club For Greater Productivity
These scheduling tips for solopreneurs underline one thing:
Stop trying to be superman.
You can’t do everything yourself.
But if you prioritize, focus on essentials, delegate some tasks, and use agile software, you can become more productive without burning yourself out.
So schedule smart and do splendid work.
Your business (and health) will be better for it.