It seems every day I’m tweaking my schedule to try to find the optimal use of my time. I want to be productive, and I can’t afford to waste precious time while growing a business.
By the way, if you haven’t written out goals for yourself, you will not know what you want to accomplish. You may have a vague idea in your head, but that doesn’t help you to take measurable steps to complete them.
Try using SMART Goals to gain clarity before working on a schedule.
Every morning, I get up between 7:00 and 7:30 at the latest.
I’m not in the 4 AM club some of my other writer friends are members of. But then, I also don’t have young children anymore.
I get ready for my day by getting cleaned up because there could be a Zoom call that day, and I don’t want to look like too much of a mess.
I go downstairs, take some supplements, cut up an apple, and make some green tea. I bring it upstairs to my office, and I invite my dog to come to lie down in her spot. We like each other’s company.
Bringing my breakfast up with my tea helps me to stay in one spot for a longer period of time and be more productive.
The AHA moment
This morning I realized I think I hit the sweet spot in my work-day schedule! And I’ll share how YOU can find yours.
First, what is it you want to accomplish? For me, it is:
- Writing for freelance/social media/etc.
- Diving into and finishing a course
- Working part-time for a company I work for — 20 hours per week.
Maybe someday I’ll find myself ditching the clock and walking along the beach like other successful writers…
…but for now, I am building and need to be diligent.
And I don’t see that changing this year, so I certainly want to keep working on this schedule. It will keep my nose to the grind.
Also, keep in mind that just when you think you found the right schedule for you, it will change. That’s ok. Keep tweaking!
And you need to be flexible because life happens, and the next thing you know it, you’re way off what you thought you’d be doing that day.
Instead of getting frustrated, roll with it. You’ll be back in your schedule tomorrow.
Your writing sweet spot
Next, when is your best time to write? For me, it’s first thing in the morning. It’s 8:07 AM right now; my mind is fresh and flowing with ideas.
But how long do I give myself? I still want to get through a course, make sure I have lunch, and work 4 hours as a Marketing Coordinator.
Since I’m really excited about the course I’m taking right now, I want to master it and start applying it to my freelance life ASAP. So I’m giving sufficient time to that in my day.
If I begin writing at 8:00, I can start my course at 10:00, and then take lunch sometime between 12:00 and 1:00.
Those are now the times I have set in stone. For now.
One benefit of giving myself two hours in the mornings to write is that it pushes me to get it all done in that amount of time.
It gets me used to working under a deadline. It’s a good practice.
Then I need to work my part-time job for 4 hours in the afternoon. That usually begins at 1:00.
Although yesterday I had a video chat date with a couple of friends (every Tuesday at 1). That’s for sanity during quarantine, and I can easily adjust for that.
As a result of this schedule, I feel satisfied that I have plenty of time to write articles like this one in the mornings or edit pieces I already wrote to submit for a guest post or paid gig.
Then I have the time to accomplish a good chunk of the course.
I feel like Wonder Woman! Yes!! I can do it all!! And so can YOU!
The course is broken up into seven segments, so I wrote the name of the course at the top of this week in my planner plus “Week 1,” and next week, I wrote “Week 2.”
This way, I push myself to get it all done in seven weeks. I’m not sure yet if this goal is realistic. There is a lot to do in each segment, so this is a stretch. If I need to, I’ll work on it at night to keep up.
I do my tasks for my part-time job in the afternoon.
Still not done
I wasn’t quite done yet with my schedule. Because I don’t want to waste ANY time, even though I have my days scheduled out, I went a step farther and wrote out what tasks I’ll do on specific days for my part-time job.
Being a Marketing Coordinator for a company means I’m in charge of:
- writing articles
- social media posts
- finding speaking engagements for my boss
- finding reputable publications where I can guest post
- and staying on top of the beat, so I know what’s relevant and what to write.
Without a written course of action, I would easily flounder and feel stressed.
Here’s what I did.
Break it up
I broke up the tasks so that I can touch on each one every week. Nothing falls through the cracks.
Every day, I look at what I have to do. I check emails and all schedules carefully to make sure I don’t miss a meeting — from not writing it down in my planner or something. It’s happened! So embarrassing!
Yes, it’s in my Google calendar, but if it’s not staring at me in my planner — highlighted and circled — there’s trouble.
Then I go through my daily tasks.
On Mondays, I check the social media calendar to make sure everything is current. I may need to add more to it or move something based on what’s happening in the world that should take precedence.
I take time to research world news buzz. Much of my time is spent going back and forth with teammates, discussing projects, on Zoom or through email.
On Tuesdays, I have allocated time for writing from the content we have on the website: promos, social media posts, and thinking creatively about where else it can go. Then I schedule those media posts in Buffer to go live at a later date.
If you haven’t discovered Buffer, I highly recommend it for scheduling out your social media posts.
Wednesdays are the days I finish writing from Tuesday, if necessary. I check on speaking engagement opportunities that are out there. And I research reputable sources to publish guest posts. I currently have just three, but my goal is to hit ten.
On Thursdays, I contact publications to guest post articles I have ghostwritten. I work on any projects we have going on and check off tasks I have in Google calendar.
Right now, we’re developing a podcast, so that’s taking up a lot of my research time.
Fridays. I would love to take Fridays off. BUT. There’s a Marketing Course my boss bought for the two of us to go through together. I’ve been struggling to get to it, so I just needed to schedule it into my week.
Incentive: If I finish that course, I can use Fridays for other courses I’ve personally purchased, and finally get through those too!
Another incentive: If I finish all my courses on Fridays, then I can start taking Fridays off! At least some Fridays. And probably not until next year sometime. Yes. I bought that many!
I hope this thought process has helped you with figuring out the best schedule for you! But remember, it will always be a work in progress.