Setting a Schedule to Avoid Overwhelm

The saying goes, “Time is money.” For me, time is one of my most valuable resources as I know I am not getting any younger! If you are like me, time can be difficult to come by because we are just so busy with work or other obligations.

Planning out your days and weeks will allow you more free time – and while it sounds pretty obvious, it is often hard to do. I have found that having a plan, and sticking to it, even if I don’t get everything done, can really help with the day-to-day tasks and also with long-term personal and business goals.

I have become pretty disciplined in my time management, that is not to say things pop up that can derail my best intentions but I find when I plan, I get a lot more done. It also helps to stop me from working on distractions during the day. 

If you find yourself working later into the evening, borrowing time from the time your should be relaxing, then having a plan and sticking to it might be the key.

 

Managing Time More Efficiently

Here are some things I do, and tools I use to help me manage my time.

A dedicated workspace

I have been a remote worker for many years, probably close to 20 years or more, I have lost count. The one thing I learned very early on is that I have to have a dedicated workspace and dedicated work times. Over the years I have assigned a spare bedroom to an office but in the last 10 years or so I have rented office space. Having this dedicated workspace away from the house allows me to arrive at work, get work done and then leave work. 

Sometimes it is pretty late at night, but at least I leave my work behind. I find when I travel and I am working at a desk in my hotel room or in a dining room at a B&B or STVR I never seem to get quite as much done as when I am in my office.

    • Tip: If you don’t have enough room for a dedicated space, see if you can screen off your work area in some way so when you are done at night you are not tempted to go back and just check your email one more time.

Regularly declutter

If like me you get stressed out by clutter then a cluttered desk and work area can make for a stressed-out mind. When my work area is tidy and clean then I feel like I can get on with the tasks due for the day. My desk tends to collect items throughout the day, but a few days a week I go through the post-it notes and other clutter and clean up, I either move the notes to an electric system if important or into the trash.

    • Tip: Check your desk, is everything on it vital to your workday? If not, tidy it away.

Setting tasks at the beginning of the week. 

Each week, usually on a Friday afternoon I run through all the tasks I didn’t get to within the workweek and prioritize them and move them to the following week. This helps in a few ways, first when I arrive on Monday morning I know what I need to work on first, but more importantly, it takes it off my mind for the weekend when I prefer not to have to think about work.

    • Tip: Add a task to your calendar for time to organize for next week.
    • Download a copy of my Daily Focus pdf. I use this each day to prioritize my tasks and document my meetings. I have shared this with a number of clients and they have found it helpful for an easy and quick way to organize each day.

Add a meeting FREE DAY to the calendar

What a lifesaver! When I started to close off one day a week as a no meeting day it made a huge difference. For me, this is every Friday, it is blocked on my calendar and says – No Meeting Day in case I slip up. Once in a while, I have to have a meeting before the weekend but I try very hard to never book meetings on a Friday, and for the most part, I can usually do the call or meeting another day or push to the following week. This gives me the space to work on my tasks for next week, focus on the business goals, wrap up any loose ends from the current week, and maybe even leave a little early to start my weekend.

    • Tip: Block one day to work on the business and those tasks that take focus. For you, it might be Monday to get your head together for the week, or mid-week, or like me, a Friday. I cannot recommend this trick enough. For businesses that have clients or guests coming in each day, hire someone to cover for that one day or even half a day so you can have an office and no-client day to stay focused.

Group small tasks together

When you are scattered and trying to do lots of little tasks in between larger tasks, the larger tasks take more time. See where you can groups tasks together and do them all at one time to leave bigger sections of your calendar for the larger projects. I read somewhere that when you are working on a big task, a distraction can add 20 or more minutes to get back to where you were.

    • Tip: Block off an hour or so each morning, or after lunch to deal with the little tasks, leaving the better part of the day to get the bigger projects done. Move any non-critical tasks to the next day.
    • Tip: Figure out when you are most productive. I find mornings are better for me so I try to tackle big tasks that require more brainpower in the morning and leave the little tasks to the afternoon.

Leave some tasks to the experts

How much time have I spent over the years trying to work on something that isn’t my expertise and something I just don’t care to do? We all have those areas in our business where it is such a time sink to do it ourselves it is better to just pay someone to take care of it. Tasks like accounting. A CPA does a much better job than I do on my taxes. I pay them because that is their expertise. What would take me days, takes them hours and they know what to look for. Another example is website management or marketing. Handing those tasks off to someone who can do these for you and do them on a daily basis can save you a lot of time and will probably have much better results.

    • Tip: Figure those tasks you are not good at or don’t enjoy and find a service that will do them for you.
    • Tip: Let us help you manage your website, sign up for a Care Plan and we will take care of the backups, fixes, and updates.

Identify distractions

Distractions will eat up your time quickly. Stay in the zone and eliminate distractions during your blocks of work time. My cell is on silent, face down when I am in the focus zone. Banners, pings, and notifications can pull my attention away in a heartbeat. I also turn off notification noises on my laptop. I really don’t need to know when every single email comes in.

    • Tip: What distractions can you identify and turn off? Even if for a few hours in the day to get started.
    • Tip: Only open your email at set times during the day. Check it and then close it down. I have found that email can be a huge time sink if I try to answer when they come in. Check it, reply and then leave.
    • Tip: Only go on Social Media with the intention to chill. Just like with TV you can sit down and start browsing and find that 2-hours or more of your life have evaporated. Set times to view then log off and leave.

Have systems and tools

My brain stopped being able to remember everything I need to get done many, many years ago. The more I needed to remember, the less I could remember. You probably find that too. Here are some tools that I work with on a daily basis to keep me organized.

  • Asana this free tool will be life-changing if you don’t already have something in place. Just use it to add all your tasks. Set a date and even delegate to others on your team. If not Asana then find another tool you can use to add tasks and set a due date. Others include; Trello, ClickUp, Google Calendar, Monday. Find one you will use and stick to it.
  • Evernote I pay for the Personal version as I use it so much I want to support the company, but the free version works just as well. I use it to keep track of all my meeting notes. It allows me to organize notes by clients and to use tags to easily find notes. It has an option for TODO lists which can also help after a meeting to create a quick list of tasks that need to be done. Amongst other features, it also has a clip-to-Evernote option, which I use all the time. When I am on a website and want to save an article I use the Chrome extension and clip the article to Evernote.
  • Standard Operating Processes – we have documented all the tasks we take care of on a regular basis, this makes sure that the task is done the same way each time and saves time because we are following a documented system. If you can make a document of all the things you do on a regular basis, like reconciling an account, managing bookings, taking calls, or other tasks then you can then delegate that task more easily by training with the document. These are called our SOPs – Standard Operating Procedures. When I delegate tasks it frees up my time to work on the business or have time to take a nice walk.


I know from experience being a business owner can be overwhelming at times, but by using some of these tools and tips I have found that I sleep better at night knowing everything is in order and my stress levels are greatly reduced. Which my doc tells me is a good thing.