When you’re adjusting to rapid change, effectively managing your time is crucial for living a productive and low-stress life. As a small business owner, especially, it can be challenging to stay on task when the world around you shifts. Unfortunately, ups and downs in our workflows are bound to happen in these situations.
Instead of blaming yourself when things get tough, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself: What do I need to be successful? I’ve found, over time, three time-management strategies can help you achieve your goals.
1. Establish a morning routine
Something I can’t live without is my morning routine. When things feel unpredictable, starting each day on my terms is so necessary for keeping my mindset right and making the most of my time. I start by drinking a glass of lemon water to get myself hydrated and wake up my body. Then I do a quick skincare routine. After that, I journal my Morning Pages: three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing to clear my head before the day begins.
I avoid social media, emails, and, frankly, all types of conversations until I finish my routine, so I can focus on my thoughts. These practices have become a ritual that brings me peace every day. And they allow me to spend time with myself before I give my time to the rest of the world.
If you’re trying to take control of your time, start at the beginning. Assess what you need to start your day in a way that brings you peace. Then reverse engineer your schedule to allow for those things. Do you need to wake up earlier? Reschedule other tasks? Talk to loved ones about a need for some quiet time? Find what you need, and don’t be afraid to ask for it. If it matters to you, you can find a way to make it happen.
2. Practice calendar blocking and time batching
My Holy Grails! Calendar blocking and time batching are time-management practices that help me live my most productive life, no matter what’s going on around me. In a time of massive change, every second counts for small business owners. It’s even more necessary to get super-clear with yourself on what matters in your life so that you can make time for them.
If you have tasks to complete and responsibilities to meet, schedule them into your calendar as time blocks. If something takes an hour, carve out that whole hour in your schedule. This will allow you to see your tasks as things that use real time, rather than boxes to check on a to-do list.
Time batching and calendar blocking are a match made in heaven. If you have similar tasks spread throughout the week—like phone calls or video conferences—try to schedule them for one day and time. Make Wednesday mornings your meeting time, and schedule all meetings for that day. This will keep you in the mindset that’s most effective for getting that work done. And at the end of the day, you’ll have conquered all those tasks for the week.
3. Establish an evening routine
Set yourself up for success by creating an evening routine that gives you plenty of time to wind down. I shut off my phone at least an hour before shut-eye. My phone even sleeps in another room (in its own bed!). I take some water, a notebook, a pen, and, sometimes, my Kindle to bed. That way, I can either read to relax my mind or journal to get all my thoughts out.
If you write Morning Pages, journaling before bed can be your Evening Pages. Journaling in the evening can help you clear out the thoughts that otherwise would keep you lying awake through the night. As you create your evening routine, consider what I call your “sleep buffer period.” We don’t often fall asleep the moment our head hits the pillow. So if you want to be asleep by 11 PM, what time do you need to get into bed? The same goes for your morning. If you want to be up and at ‘em by 6 AM, when would the alarm need to go off?
Reverse engineer the goals you set for yourself, and give yourself room to breathe in your routines. This will keep you from feeling pressured and let you take your time throughout your day.
These are the components of my day that help me cover my bases and keep my mindset right to get things done. Keeping your mindset in check is a huge part of leading a productive life and running a small business, despite what may be going on around you. Be mindful of how you feel throughout your day, and adjust your workload accordingly. If I find myself feeling overwhelmed, I extend my morning routine or my evening routine to give myself more time to realign.
Find routines that work for you and your lifestyle, and schedule them into your calendar. Keeping up with routines and taking control of your time is a great way to show up for yourself and your business. Routines help you create the life you want, no matter what challenges you encounter. Take ownership of your time, so you can go after the life you want!
This content is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc. does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit Inc. does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.
We provide third-party links as a convenience and for informational purposes only. Intuit does not endorse or approve these products and services, or the opinions of these corporations or organizations or individuals. Intuit accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content on these sites.