Do you ever look up at the end of the workday and realise it’s way past five pm and you’re not quite sure which tasks you completed? It’s easy as a solopreneur to be a workaholic but feel like you’re not getting anything done. Often, you’re the only person working on your business, and you’re pulled in a million different directions. The workday is one big haze of computer screens and phone calls.
This is where time management comes in. Unless you’re an extreme Type A personality, time management can be daunting. What do I even need? A colour-coded calendar, labeled timers, a strict four am morning routine that I can never stray from? The good news is, budgeting your time is all about learning your work style and only using the tools that work best for you.
Figure out how you like to work
Tailor your budgeting plan to your unique work style. First, take time to really examine how you like to work. Look at your habits, your productive moments, your slumps, the times you find yourself staring out the window.
An easy way to start tracking your work style is by using a time tracking app. There are so many helpful options that allow you to track your time easily. Or keep it simple and note when you start and stop projects during the day.
Detailed reports of how you spend your time every day are a game-changer. You can see how much time you’re spending on each project, but you can also see your highs and lows. The hours can seem like one big blur of typing and slouching over your computer during the workday. With this new information, you can take a step back from the workday and visualise your progress.
You can see an average of how long your daily tasks take you. You can also see what time of day you’re the most productive and the least productive. Instead of feeling bad that you’re struggling with productivity, re-frame how you see productivity. Think about productivity as the times of day when you’re the most passionate about your work. Follow your passion and make your schedule accordingly.
Make your strategy
Now that you know when you’re the most productive, how long tasks take you, and how you like to work, it’s time to start planning. Don’t be scared off. You don’t have to be a super Type A to make your schedule.
First, I always like to look at the big picture. Write down all of your tasks, type them up, color code them, display them in a way that makes the most sense to you. Then rank them from highest priority to lowest priority. Group the tasks according to their priorities. Now, you have the two most important details when creating a schedule—which tasks are the most urgent and which tasks take the longest.
I also love creating this detailed list because it shows me where I can lighten my workload. You’re allowed to ask for help. In fact, I encourage you to ask for help wherever you can. This will allow you to delegate smaller tasks while focusing on your highest priority projects.
Use helpful tricks and tools
Now that you’ve found a schedule that works for you, find a time management system that works best for your work style. Maybe it’s something as simple as a paper calendar with handwritten tasks. Possibly it’s a list in your notes app. Or, it could be a more in-depth virtual calendar or time management app.
Whichever method you choose, listing your tasks for the day is essential. I know, writing a list of all of the things you have to do in a day as a solopreneur can be daunting to look at. A trick for this is to include small mundane tasks on the list as well. These tasks can be tiny things you already do every day, such as making the bed, getting ready for the day, eating lunch, and so on.
Mixing in these daily tasks with your list of work tasks helps you feel accomplished throughout the day and keeps you motivated. Who doesn’t love checking something off their list? You’ll get a surge of productivity just from checking off “make the bed” at the beginning of the day.
Finally, you’re ready. You know what you like and dislike, and you have your schedule in hand. There’s just one more thing to keep in mind—yourself. You are the center of your business. You’re the brains, the passion, the living, breathing person working every day to make it happen.
Your work-life balance is crucial. Life is the keyword in that phrase. For your business to be successful, you have to take care of yourself and guard your time away from work. Set boundaries with your business. Put these boundaries in your schedule if you have to.
Take time for yourself throughout the workday. It could be as simple as taking thirty minutes to each lunch away from your computer. At the end of your meticulously scheduled day, have a hard stop, close the laptop, and disconnect from work.
Scheduling time for yourself, and your life away from work, allows you to be refreshed and ready to take on the next workday.
As business owners, we can only take one day at a time. Budgeting your time ensures each of your days is efficient and you’re able to maintain your life outside of work.
Good luck with your schedules!
Do you have a favourite time management tool or scheduling tips that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a comment below—or write me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.