One of the best tools I know of to keep me on track, disciplined and focused is… my calendar.
“Calendarizing” just about everything related to my business—even personal stuff like exercise, meditation, date nights and social time—may sound constricting or rigid.
But, in fact, it’s just the opposite… it’s liberating!
Having appointments, work projects AND personal commitments to myself on my calendar give structure to my day (something I need as an entrepreneur who works from home) and helps me grow my business AND enjoy a balanced life with ease and grace.
If you struggle with overwhelm, lack of focus, prioritizing or just getting the important things done in your biz and life, here are five tips to help you:
1) First off, make friends with your calendar.
Express your “calendar-love” daily by investing at least 10-15 minutes of your time planning, keeping it organized and clutter-free and working for you, not against you.
Google or other online calendars make this sooooo easy. I love being able to easily set “repeat” events like I do for meditation, exercise, marketing outreach and tracking my numbers each day, plus other great features that pencil & paper calendars don’t have. Plus, I sync it with my iPhone, so I always have my calendar with me and can set appointments or schedule things on the go.
Here’s an empowering calendar mindset for you:
My calendar is my friend. It’s here to support me in positive, productive AND profitable ways each day.
2) Make sure everything that’s on your calendar is what you WANT to be there.
Is it packed to the gills with appointments and your long to-do list? Then, look at where you need to build in more buffer or integration time between projects and appointments, as well what things you can cross off your list.
Yes, part of growing a business and building your dreams is discerning what needs to be let go of–or delegated!
Or if there’s too many blank spaces and “unaccounted for” time on your calendar, then you’ll want to start scheduling in those things that are most important to you—such as marketing your business, networking, family and relationship time, and, yes, self-care.
Essentially, you want to ensure that your calendar serves you and not you being a slave to it.
3) Schedule a minimum of 30 minutes of personal one-on-one marketing outreach or dreambuilding time every single workday on your calendar—first thing in the morning is best. Just get it done!
This one simple action has made a HUGE difference in the growth of my business. There’s the old saying, “Little hinges swing big doors.” And when you stay in action consistently each and every day with building your business and creating your dreams, the doors of income and opportunity will swing open wide for you.
Use this 30-minute block of time to make calls, send emails and follow up with former, current and prospective clients for setting appointments and booking NEW business, or taking steps toward your big dreams.
4) Use a timer or hourglass to keep you focused on the project at hand.
This is one of my absolutely favorite tips. Many entrepreneurs like me work from home—and there’s soooo many distractions that can call to us: The laundry! The dishes! Email! Facebook! The online shopping that needs to get done! The list can go on.
So we need support, yes?
To help you stay on track and minimize those pesky distractions, set a timer for 30 or 60 minutes when you’re doing some critical (yet easy-to-avoid) business-building activity such as outreach phone calls, updating your website or writing a blog post.
Use that timer as your little sidekick buddy and as a signal to the Universe that you’re serious about focusing and getting a particular task DONE. And when your mind starts to wander and think about doing other things like checking email or Facebook, you can just take a look at your timer and hear it’s friendly reminder saying, “Not yet, sweetie…”
Then, when your 30 or 60 minutes are up, consciously choose whether you want to keep going or conclude your focused time for the day. (Set a new timer for the desired amount if you’re continuing.)
You can even use a timer for 10- or 15-minute time blocks, too, like I’m doing now to help me finish this article. 🙂
5) Don’t forget to schedule in “YOU” time for spiritual renewal, rest and fun.
Too many entrepreneurs (especially moms with kids and most Type A personalities) can neglect themselves or forget to schedule in downtime when running their own business. But the truth is, when our well is dry and depleted we have nothing to give to others anyway. So it’s critical to schedule in time for rest, renewal, fun and self-care.
When I first started my business and left my full-time job, I couldn’t wait to start taking my favorite yoga class with my favorite teacher on Tuesdays at 9:15 a.m. For the first 6 months or so, though, for the life of me, I couldn’t get myself to go to that yoga class! I tried once or twice, but would end up feeling guilty for going to yoga during “work hours.” (Obviously, the 9-5 grind was so engrained in me.)
I didn’t give up, though. I faithfully kept that yoga class on my calendar, started showing up (guilty feelings and all) and eventually it became a habit—and one that I look forward to every week now.
So just because you set an intention to meditate everyday, for example, and then you take the step of putting it on your calendar to remind you, but end up not doing it… don’t give up! Be patient with yourself—and, eventually, the healthy habit will become part of your normal routine. AND you’ll feel great knowing that you are not only doing something that takes care of yourself, but also benefits your family, your friends, your clients, your community, and your bank account.
P.S. As always, I want to hear from you! Post a comment below and let me know your thoughts on these 5 tips for making each day positive, productive—and profitable.
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