Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan - My New Mantra

As my tone of late might be implying, I've been having some trouble fitting everything into my ever-busier schedule. With orders going up (woohoo!) and shopkeeping activities a necessary part of daily life, even my "foolproof" system has been failing me a bit. While it definitely helps to designate certain days for certain areas of focus - Monday Monday, Trashy Tuesday (not what it sounds like), etc. - I find that I'm constantly frustrated at my seeming inability to ever get ahead. I'm able to maintain, but just barely, and when it comes to exploring new ways to grow my business... forget about it. I constantly feel like opportunity is whizzing by me and I'm just an hour or two shy of being able to take advantage of it.

Recently a friend and fellow work-at-home mommy gave me some great advice. She suggested I create a schedule for the week that includes everything - meals, chores, my daughter's classes, showers, workouts, and even transit time. Once that was complete, I'd be able to see how much time I really had to devote to my business, and could schedule individual activities into each available block of time. Since I was tearing my hair out and willing to try anything, I actually made some time two Sundays ago to do it. It was an elightening exercise, let me tell you. No wonder I was feeling frustrated! It wasn't just that I was feeling like there were never enough hours in the day to get everything done, there actually weren't enough hours in the day to get it done! When you factor in all of my daily responsibilities and keeping up with my orders (the best part of my day, by the way), there are, on average maybe ninety minutes a day in which to promote the business, pursue new opportunities or explore new avenues.
Seeing my daily life on paper was a serious wakeup call. I realized immediately that I was going to have to reset my expectations. Although I hope it will be someday, my business is not my full-time job, and to expect to approach it as though I have 40 hours a week to devote is to set myself up for constant disappointment. I'm not going to pretend like that's sitting well with me, but I know it to be true, and am working on aligning my mindset with my reality.

To that end, I made a long list of things that I wanted to accomplish and began to plug them into the open spaces on my calendar, literally in 30 minute increments. Some promotion-type things I set up as recurring appointments just so I don't have to remember to do them on a regular basis. For a few biggies (like finishing those new designs or working on my invitation portfolio), I actually blocked out 2-hour chunks and simply re-arranged some of my daily commitments to make it happen. I have to admit that the activity was really empowering. It forced me to accept that I cannot do it all. And it challenged me to find creative ways to re-arrange the boring stuff to allow for more exciting pursuits. And you know what? So far, think it's actually working. So far, at least. I mean, look! Here it is 12:30, my calendar says "Blog," and I'm blogging! Wha'dayaknow...........

4 comments:

Nikki said...

Wow, I need to sit down and do some planning and prioritizing. I've been putting it off too long.

Kelly said...

I had been too, girl. It's a serious shot of reality to have to move things around on a calendar rather than just think "I'll get to that sometime..."

ElegantSnobbery said...

Okay, I am so going to do that. I find that my hours fly by before I've even done anything. And I mean ANYTHING!! I get so stressed because I feel like I don't accomplish anything anymore. I really need a plan.

Cicada Studio said...

Oh boy, this sounds like me. And I'm afraid if I do the same as you I will get the same results: no time. At this particular junction in my life, I'm not going to be able to face that. So, I will live in denial a bit longer and hope that I don't break down. But eventually, I will have to face the facts. Hopefully by then all my hard work and lack of sleep will pay off in a way, and I can cross "go to day job" off my list o' things to do! (gotta keep it positive!)