Every Entrepreneur I’ve worked with so far this year has complained of overwhelm. Not enough rest, too much strategy, overload and frustration. Sure, delegation is a factor and a skill we can all better master, but it’s the foundations we need to get right first before we find ourselves in December, burnt out and frustrated.
For me, starting the year off right means setting up my weekly blueprint; it’s the foundation that gives me structure when it comes to scheduling my life, and that’s what I like. Without it, I’d most definitely not be rising with the birds, making time to read in my area of expertise, leaving the office on time (without taking work home), or running on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday to name but a few.
An organised blueprint
My weekly blueprint takes away the guess work of what type of task I should be doing when, it keeps me in balance and prevents me from reaching that critical point of overwhelm which inevitably makes me irritable (I’ve been called a troll) and procrastinate. While it’s not rocket science, it does work. This is how I do mine:
- Gather information in terms of weekly/monthly scheduled meetings/appointments. This includes club and association meetings that typically happen outside of work hours. As a busy parent, I also need to note the children’s extra mural activities and be mindful of when I am responsible for the carrying and fetching.
- Revisit your core job specification. I simply ask: what is it that I am employed to do … and out of that, where will I be offering the greatest value. Most clients I work with spend too much time in meetings and then complain of not having time to follow through on the resulting action required. The many entrepreneurs I’m fortunate to call my clients, tend to take on work whenever it comes around and then become frustrated that they have no time left for themselves. I need to make sure I plan for time for strategy and reading. If I don’t have time scheduled in my blueprint, these high focus, high value tasks tend to slip.
- Review your sales target. Elementary as this might sound, when I know what I want/need to earn, I can determine what time I need to allocate to sales/marketing and block off time in my week for appointments/consultations/training sessions.
- Create an Excel spread sheet. Now for the easy bit. Across the horizontal axis type Monday through to Sunday (one word per cell) and on the vertical axis, jot down the time you wake up, to the time you go to bed (moving up in half hour increments, one time slot per cell). Create a colour code for categories such as: communication, planning, exercise, meetings, power hour and block off time slots within your week to indicate the type of action you need to be taking when (you will schedule the actual action from your to-do list into your calendar/diary). It is not about filling each time slot but rather about blocking time so you take away the guess work about what type of task you should be doing when. Leave plenty of open cells for doing the actual work.
Note: Communication sessions involve returning calls and checking & filtering email. For emails requiring an action that will take me longer than 2 minutes, I wait for my open time (the white cells in my spread sheet) and tackle them based on priority.
- Use your blueprint template. While some of my clients like to programme these pockets of time in their calendar, this gets me confused so I simply print off a copy of my spread sheet and use it as a guide for scheduling. It doesn’t take too long before I remember that meetings should be scheduled for a Tuesday or Friday afternoon for example.
The blueprint becomes your template for the year. Remember, that it is not for scheduling specific appointments but rather for knowing when to schedule these appointments. And while it might take you time within your already crowded schedule to put this together … long term, it will save you hours and ultimately your sanity. Trust me, I’m an entrepreneur!