Do you feel like you need to find more time despite doing #allthethings all day, every day?
When you work in the service industry then providing good customer service and having great relationships with your clients is your bread and butter, but the danger of working ALL.THE.TIME is real. You can end up needing to find more time to work for your clients, resulting in less time for you to ‘manage’ your biz.
This might see you ending up working nights and weekends, trying to squeeze all the other things in – like creating content, invoicing, and just answering emails. All well and good, but the bigger picture of this is that it’s just not sustainable.
Balancing your time like you balance a budget
Mike Michalowicz, author of “Clockwork: Design your business to run itself” says
“Every entrepreneur starts out as a doer, because doing things is what we’re good at.
The problem arises when you get stuck in that phase, and all the Doing keeps you from your bigger vision.”
The key difference between spending your time working on your never ending to do list, and strategically managing your time is this balance.
Balancing the doing work (client work or providing your service) with being the CEO, being creative, connecting with others, self care…. You get the picture!
Which hat are your wearing?
I often refer to putting your CEO hat on, so that you can step away from the ‘doing’, or even mentally allowing yourself to take all the other hats off, and put your CEO hat on, so that you can make a change to the overwhelming stress of a never ending to do list.
This helps me bring a more strategic mindset to my business, and have more awareness about what’s not sustainable, and what needs to be improved.
Unless I stop and take time to review this, the relentless to do list can be soul-sucking, and that constant feeling persists, of “I need to find more time” even though I’ve worked ALL day!
Overwhelm hits hard
Focussing all of your time on your clients can be the logical thing to do when you start your business, but as you grow, and you get more work, you also need to balance out the work with marketing, so that you have a consistent stream of leads and connections.
More than that, there’s just the ‘managing’ of business so that you don’t end up wasting time re-inventing the wheel, chasing money, writing a LOT of content – all the hard things that suck the fun out of business. Staying on top of emails, being organised, and improving your systems are essential for growth – and keeping overwhelm at bay! Otherwise, I’ve seen clients left with no time to step out of this cycle and make important changes, improvements or upgrades – still working hard and feeling like they need to find more time.
The cost of investing all of your time into serving your clients
If we look deeper into the bigger picture, the client relationships and service delivery might be going gang-busters, but what’s not happening?
With all of the time spent ‘doing’ or serving your clients, there’s little time left to run the business. This looks like just keeping your head above water with cash flow, perhaps not even having time to invoice your clients, not feeling organised and having files, sticky notes, emails, ideas and meetings all over the place. It’s just making the running of your business harder.
This is where stress and overwhelm set in, when you are spread so thin, chasing your tail and never having enough time to get everything done. Well – you never will! There will always be more things to do, so I recommend setting up some boundaries around your time aka being the CEO, so that you can manage your business too.
How to find more time? Be the boss and put your CEO hat on!
Mike Michalowicz, author of’ Clockwork: Design your business to run itself’ also says
“Many solopreneurs fall intro the trap of having 95% or more of their time allocated too Doing.
They are living in a time-for-money trap – the Survival Trap, where the only way to grow is by doing more, but you can’t, because there is no time.”
#Hardtruth: There is no more time.
Therefore, being more strategic and effective about how you spend your time is the answer.
When you start to be proactive about how you want to spend your time, everything shifts. Taking charge of your time can mean lots of different things, but in essence, it is about being more strategic about what tasks you do, and when you do them.
You still have a giant list of things to do – but there’s thought behind HOW you’re going to achieve it, so that you can get the important things done, and so that you are less reactive.
You still have emails to reply to – but you get to set aside time to go into your Inbox, instead of the in/out hour by hour checking in and distractions.
(Did you know that it can take you between 16-23 mins to get your focus back after mindlessly checking your emails, or scrolling on Facebook? How many times a day do you that?)
Taking charge of your time means that you’re creating your freedom, and using it to support you, not stretch you. It also means that self care can move to near top of the list – which actually makes you MORE productive, which is perhaps opposite to how you have been working, by dropping the self care off the list altogether, because it’s not “work”.
You can be the boss of your time by implementing some of these strategies:
Batching your tasks for more efficiency
Prioritising your tasks so that you get the important things done first
Setting a timer when you’re in social media, so that you don’t get lost down the rabbit hole
Setting boundaries around when you check your emails, and your social media notifications
Planning breaks so that you’re more productive and less distracted later in the day
Customise your CEO Week
The suggestions above are definitely helpful time management strategies, but let’s take it even further and customise your CEO week. This is what your week would look like if you had your CEO had on, instead of all the other hats!
For starters, I like to look at a week because it’s a nice tidy chunk of time. A day isn’t long enough – because doing the same thing every day just isn’t feasible. A week allows for flexibility, variety, downtime.
Using a week as a framework also allows you to see the birds-eye view of ALL the things that you need to be successful and thrive. You can schedule in the self care, the appointments, the family appointments, as well as the larger areas of work that you need to cover.
Putting in your big rocks first
You have probably seen that experiment that shows when you put the big rocks in first, you can then fit more of the smaller rocks, and then the sand. This is to highlight that if you put the sand in first, there would be no space left for the big rocks. This is exactly how you have been using your time, and why I think it’s time to be more strategic it. That’s why I call if the CEO Week! 😉
Using Time Zones so that you still have flexibility
A common strategy is to use time blocks – but I like to call them time zones. This strategy is about blocking out a chunk of time for specific focus work. These are similar to Pomodoro’s, but don’t always need to be as focussed. It’s also just a way of mapping out time into categories of work throughout the week to ensure that you get all of the important tasks done without burning out.
The other huge benefit of this is that you become so much more efficient, because there is less switching from task to task. You can ‘batch’ all types of your work, and be more effective in finishing off tasks, getting ahead or going deeper.
A Pomodoro session might be a focussed time zone for writing a blog and newsletter, however an admin time zone might be for organising emails and updating your to do list.
Not a fan of routine? That’s OK
If you prefer going with the flow, you might think this kind of structure is going to dampen your creativity. I get it.
I have lots of clients who think that having structure is the absolute opposite of being creative. I recommend using Your CEO Week as a guide, to help you get #allthethings done AND to find more time to be creative.
There is still flexibility in using time zones – as a framework or guide. It’s not locking you into a routine, but providing some structure that allows time to get the important work done, as well as being creative and time to be the boss.
You could also reflect on how difficult you find it to be creative when you’re stressed out, disorganised and so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to start. Food for thought?
How to design your CEO Week to find more time
Firstly, it’s helpful to identify the key areas you need to work on over a week.
Don’t forget to include time to manage your business here. This is key. Remember, if all of your time is spent serving your clients, then your business will feel out of balance – which leaves you feeling stretched thin and chasing your tail.
Once you have identified your key areas, you can start to allocate them in as time zones over the week.
Work to your strengths by scheduling in the more strategic or thinking categories first thing in the morning, before you get too drained by the day’s activities.
Some areas will only need one time zone a week, whereas other admin ones will need daily allocation, but shorter (and more focussed) ones.
Plus, remember to schedule in your breaks, appointments and family appointments first.
Designing Your CEO Week is forcing you to prioritise and organise your time! You have to make decisions about how to spend it, so that it’s not pulling you from pillar to post, leaving you feeling over-stretched and overwhelmed.
Ultimately, you can only do one thing at a time, so prioritising and mapping out those things with better balance in mind will allow you to feel less overwhelmed, and get you unstuck.
This is how to start to get back on track. Balancing out the ‘doing’ with more strategic business tasks and allocating time for you.
Something has to change, so using better balance, helps you feel like you can find more time.
I also want to remind you that you work this way because you love your clients. It’s exactly because you want to make an impact for them, because you love to provide this service to them. However, YOU are actually more important. Your health and wellbeing is essential for the longevity of your business.
You know that working 24/7 is not what you signed up for.
You know that it’s costing you your health, and leaving you with sleepless nights thinking about everything else you still have to do.
I’d even hazard a guess to say that you started your business because you wanted to help others, but now find yourself feeling stuck and overwhelmed, and working all the time.
Here’s the thing – There is always more client work to do, and until you put the CEO hat on and manage your time more effectively, nothing will change and you will continue in survival mode.
Creating a CEO week means that you can design your week WITH catch up time in it.
You can design your week so that you have time for self care – and you’ll probably be so much more productive in less time. You can design your week so that there is time for the priorities AND the client work.
You can design your week so that the important and urgent work gets done, but there’s still time for the other work too.
Where to from here?
If you’re ready to find more time then join my five day challenge How to master your To Do list like a ~pro~ actually like a CEO.
Aerlie Wildy is a systems strategist & CEO Mentor. She guides business owners to transition from doing #allthethings to being supported by their business, and having more freedom and flexibility to make a bigger impact. You can connect with me on Facebook, join my Chief Executive Entrepreneurs Facebook Group, check out my Youtube Channel or Pin with me on Pinterest.