If you’re a small business owner, but you also wear many hats professionally and personally, how do you keep your daily schedule together without missing a beat? How do you balance your work life and personal life without forgetting something you needed to pick up at the supermarket or you needed to pick up a child from practice? Let me guess. You don’t have a schedule…you just fly by the seat of your pants and get through your day! That’s not always the best way to manage your schedule. If you work with multiple clients like I do, you have to be able to schedule them in either daily or weekly. The bigger the client, the more time you need to be able to block out of your daily schedule to give them the support they need.

I realized I needed to organize my day better so I could be more productive and complete projects on time. So I decided to place time-blocks on my daily calendar. At first, I printed out a schedule I created in Excel, color-coding the blocks of time for each client I wanted to work with that given day. That works well for someone who still likes to use pen and paper for to-do lists. That would be me. I’m guilty of this! However, you’re printing a piece of paper for each day and that can get costly and be a lot of paper waste when you really think about it. 

A few weeks ago, I started using my Trello account to organize tasks and then I came across an extension called Planyway that is a calendar that allows you to move your tasks around. It also allows you to create the time blocks that you’re able to see right on your computer screen. Problem solved! No need for paper to view your schedule! In my next post, I will demonstrate how to use Trello with Planyway to create your own daily client schedule. But first, I want to share with you three simple steps to time-block your schedule.

1 – Choose the time of the day that you are most productive, more alert

Decide what time in the day that you are more focused and can prioritize your most challenging or difficult tasks then. If you’re a morning person, I’m going to guess you’re more alert and focused from the hours of 8 AM and 12 PM. If you’re an afternoon or evening person, you’re productive hours would be between say 2 PM and 6 PM or later. Block those time-slots on your calendar for focused work. 

2 – Schedule and stick to it

Choose a 60-minute time-slot when you feel your best. Do not let anyone disturb you during this productive period. Turn off ALL distractions around you…your phone, your email program…anything that makes you stop what you’re doing to check it. If you have an office door, close it. Put a “do not disturb” sign on it, letting everyone know not to bother you. Book this 60-minute time-slot for the next seven days on your calendar. Once you get into the habit of time-blocking for more than a week or so, you’ll start to naturally find yourself sticking to it…like any habit you create.

3 – Put your most important tasks in your 60-minute time-slot

Focus only on the tasks within that 60-minute block. Otherwise, you’ll push them back and they will not get the focus and attention they deserve. Move the less meaningful tasks when you’re less productive to after that 60-minute block, such as email, follow-up calls, etc.

Now with any new habit, there is a downside and challenges. Time-blocking requires:

  • Planning ahead…not on the fly
  • Start and be consistent and disciplined and it will be a good habit
  • Planning ensures that you map out all potential roadblocks and threats to your productive week

What if you end up picking the wrong time of day to be productive? It can happen. Just change it. Use these next few days to test your productivity and if it isn’t working, adjust your schedule. Just that simple.

One other technique that can help time-blocking is called “sprints”. You take a task list, prioritizing those tasks for the current week, moving less priority tasks to the following week. 

I hope I was able to provide some good tips on how to better manage your schedule. It has been a huge help for me in just a few short days I created time-blocks in my schedule. My clients are happier. I am happier. Just be consistent and stick to this daily habit and I promise you it will be well worth it.

Tomorrow, look for the second part of this post where I demonstrate, by video, how to set up your Trello and Planyway calendar with time-blocks and tasks within these time-blocks. It’s really cool!

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Aletha McManama
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