One of the most difficult parts of being my own boss is managing my time effectively. By nature, I’m a procrastinator, but I’m also a planner, so while I’m still adjusting to answering only to myself (and my clients), I’ve tried a few techniques for structuring my time.
Part of the reason I was drawn to entrepreneurship (instead of getting a job working for an interior designer) is prioritizing and scheduling my own projects, working on what is exciting to me, and not having to read a supervisor’s mind in what they expect you to have been working on that day. But it’s easy for the “boring stuff” (ie financials, following up on email dead-ends, billing, etc) to get pushed to the side – or even for my blog to take a hit when I’ve spent all day searching for the perfect pillow to finish off a room and don’t want to blog.
I am by no means an expert on time management and I’m still figuring this out – but here’s kind of what I’m shooting for right now:
Monday: Post writing – I like to catch up on my blog reading, find cool links, and try to write 5 posts so I’m good for another week. I’ve yet to hit a full five (usually max out at three…)
Tuesday: Design work, based on which client is expecting to hear something soonest, then by what sounds fun to look for or (if I’m feeling ambitious) the hardest piece to find. I also like to devote some time to business-type tasks like tracking expenses or updating my mileage.
Wednesday: Big Project Day. Get to work on whatever is fun and exciting. Project doesn’t HAVE to be big, but usually is a multi-part job, like planning a class I want to teach, or working on an ebook.
Thursday: More design work. Some time spent thinking about/working on marketing plan.
Friday: Daydream time, and then whatever needs to be finished before the weekend.
I don’t know that I’ve had a full week that has stuck to this completely, but I like to have some kind of direction for those mornings when I think “I don’t know what to work on first.” And of course, deadlines, meetings, installs, etc. all happen whenever and interrupt the “schedule” but that’s ok. That’s why I don’t schedule by the hour : ).
So a “normal” day is kind of like this, assuming I don’t have any meetings and I’m staying home in the evening and not going out for networking drinks or whatever:
Usually I wake up when my boyfriend does to go to his day job (about 7:30 or 8). I check my email, read a few blogs, eat breakfast. I’ll usually spend a few hours working on any client projects – right now they’ll all online, so I spend a lot of time at the computer. I buckle down to whatever the day’s “focus” is. I usually take a shower in the middle of the day, and I’m trying to do some kind of exercise daily (this is also a work in progress). I’ll have lunch whenever I’m getting antsy and that’s when I’ll do dishes or laundry. Once I settle in for the afternoon I’m usually drawn to one of my ongoing bigger projects – marketing plan, researching networking opportunities, the website redesign. I’ll work on that unless I have any pressing deadlines. Once Ryan gets home we have dinner and I’m free to do whatever (tv, run errands, go to the park) unless I’ve been bad about my blogging and have to write a post.
I’m also trying to schedule at least one get-together each week with another creative person or blogger in the area. I find that I’m really inspired after even just a casual coffee date or happy hour. I’m also trying to find more events and networking opportunities to meet potential clients, so those are in the evening.
I’m also a list-maker. I try really hard to make lists that are action specific (I picked this up from Getting Things Done). So I’ll put “choose 5 pillow options for Davis house” instead of “pillows” or “Davis living room”. Anytime I’ve tried to break these out into days, it gets totally haywire but I usually have a couple items that are day-specific so those take priority. I sometimes use Remember the Milk online (and on my phone) but typically a good old lined notebook works best for me. I like crossing things off.
So that’s a dose of my time management – one of my growth areas, I think! Figuring it out. It’s not something I expected to be challenged by in business-ownership but it’s proving to be the toughest part.