Being an entrepreneur is hard work! You have to very carefully balance your home life with your new business, and maybe even your day job. With that much to balance, it is no wonder that up to 90% of new businesses fail in the first five years. If you want to be in that 10% that succeed, then you are going to need to have a productivity plan and put it into action.
1. Get a planner that works for you
Whether you are a paper person or love digital planners, find a planner that works for you so you will stick with it. I am definitely a believer in the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Utilizing a great planner is one of the ways I make sure I plan every day.
Although I love tech tools, I am definitely a paper planner person. My personal favorite is the Ink + Volt planner because of its minimalistic design that makes time blocking easy. It also has yearly, monthly, and weekly goal pages with reminders to review your goals and progress each week.
2. Create a weekly time blocking plan
When I discovered time blocking, it totally changed how I worked and saved my sanity! Time blocking is basically breaking down your schedule into blocks of time and assigning them to different tasks. I have time set aside for my family, nonprofit, client work, business marketing, and myself.
I used to really struggle with feeling guilty for having to say no to client work because of other obligations. But time blocking has allowed me to visualize my schedule and set realistic boundaries for myself. I can look at my schedule and see if I have time to take on another website without worrying about trying to squeeze it in somewhere.
Being able to compartmentalize different areas of my life has really helped me to give my whole attention to what I am doing without feeling guilty. I can spend time with my family without thinking about client work or marketing because I know that there is time set aside for those things.
3. Color code your planner
If you are like me (and all entrepreneurs) and wear a lot of different hats, then color-coding your planner can definitely help you keep it all straight. I assign different colors to different areas of my life. I block out time for different things using those colors and then write my to do list in those colors as well. I even have a key at the front of my planner so I don’t forget my own system!
Besides the fact that it just makes my planner look pretty, color coding really helps me to make sure my days and weeks are well balanced. If I am spending all of my work time on client projects and none on marketing, then I won’t have any new client work to do next week!
4. Create monthly and weekly goals
If you are serious about growing your business, then you need to know where you are heading and how you will get there. Your monthly and weekly goals can be the roadmap to your own success story, if you make them work for you. The key to goal setting is definitely setting goals that are action oriented, such as “work out three times a week” not “lose weight.”
I like to review my monthly goal progress each week so I can reevaluate how I am doing and make any necessary changes. Keeping my goals in front of me regularly and treating them like a to do list definitely helps me to accomplish them. There is no better feeling than looking back over your weekly and monthly goals after you have accomplished them all!
5. Plan for time for yourself
This is by far the hardest advice for me to give because I am often terrible at keeping it! When I am excited about a new project, I can often push aside my built in “me time” to work. But that is absolutely the fastest way to burn out as an entrepreneur. Without giving yourself time to rest and be rejuvenated, you cannot put out your best work. It is actually a scientific fact that your brain needs downtime!
Now Put Your Planner to Work for You
Planners are a great way to create balance in your new life as an entrepreneur if you utilize them. So take some time today to take a realistic look at your schedule and how you have been spending your time. Then choose a planner, set a time block schedule, color code, create your goals, and set aside some time for yourself. Although these steps may seem basic, they really can help you grow your business faster than you ever imagined!
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