It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
This week I asked our panel of experts …
“What's a typical work/week day like in your home? (As typical as it can get, that is.)
Include a schedule for a snapshot into one day, if you would like.”
I think you'll find the answers interesting.
Rachel Rofe of Time Management Tricks sent in a video:
You can see her referenced blog post here: 7 Tips To Make Working From Cafes More Productive and A Lot Of Fun!
And, be sure to check out Time Management Tricks, too.
Kristen Eckstein of Self Publish on Demand says:
Funny you should ask! My “typical” work week went out the window when my hubby lost his job a few months ago and joined our business full-time. There's been no shortage of work, but our schedules have been quite erratic as we've juggled working together, moving offices, who does what when and how, and so on. He likes a rigid structure (“From 9am-2pm I do xyz”) and I like more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants schedule (“Ooo shiny email! Must go handle…”). The fact is I need more structure in order to focus and get projects done, and he needs more flexibility to avoid getting stressed out and take time to spontaneously go for a walk or catch a movie in the middle of the day without guilt. To me, working from home is all about flexibility!
It hasn't been easy, and there have been several moments of overwhelm. However, we've slowly figured out what works, what times of the day should be devoted to what activities, and over the past two weeks I worked with my kickin' awesome life coach Therese Sparby to design a work schedule that meshes well with my hubby's, but still allows me the freedom I crave (see photo).
What I have found that works well for me is to batch my time. For example, I was able to Write a Non-Fiction Book in 3 1/2 Days because I had those days completely dedicated to my project and I was able to focus. Now I've applied the same principle to my entire schedule. Because my work relies heavily on communication and I need to check email several times a day, instead of just having my email up all day and checking it because it's there I now have “red” zone times where I work on things like sending author proofs, communicating, writing articles and blog posts, business marketing and networking, etc. I discovered those are activities I need to do every day, several times a day, but not necessarily all day (except Mondays).
An amazing thing happened when I implemented this schedule five days ago. The first day I got caught up on a lot of work. The second day I got to a task I'd been putting off for seven months. The third day I got everything crossed off my list, plus three more tasks from the next day's list! The fourth day everything was “done” by 2:30pm and I allowed myself time for fun and to dabble with a new project. And today, day five? I caught up on email, will work a little more on the new project, and this afternoon I'm skipping out early and going to a movie.
Here in a nutshell are things that have worked for me with this new schedule:
- I have a life coach. No one should have to do life alone. I was getting in my own way and literally pounding my head on the desk out of guilt and frustration for not getting things done. I lacked focus and was continuously stressed out. My type of schedule won't work for everyone. My life coach made a scheduling recommendation that I was then able to adapt to come up with something that totally works for me. For the first time in my life I feel like I can relax without feeling like I “should” be doing something!
- I batch my time. As you can see from my pretty color-coded schedule, parts of each day are divided for different activities. I crave variety, so my batches allow for flexibility. See those striped areas? While yellow times are reserved for coaching clients, if I don't have any coaching clients I do something in the striped color category.
- I allow myself plenty of morning and evening time. While my “office” time typically starts at 10am or sometimes later, my mornings give me the flexibility to hit the gym, make smoothies, get started on work early or sleep in. My evenings give me permission to stop working, but I still have fun playing on projects because I'm energized to do so.
- I don't over book myself. I highly recommend that while scheduling your tasks you only schedule one bigger project to work on each day and reserve the rest of your tasks for little things. If you get that one big thing done first (priority), even if you didn't get to half the little tasks you'll feel like you had a productive day. I also only reserve two days a week for coaching clients and appointments. What I've found is the days I've reserved for meetings are the natural days most people have chosen on my calendar anyway, so it won't be a big deal if people only have those two days to choose from. This also frees up the rest of my week for interviews, webinars and JV calls. If someone can't make one of my pre-scheduled appointment slots, I'm willing to still work with them, but I've found usually they can find a time that works for them even if it's on a typical lunch break.
I'm super excited to see where this new schedule will lead. Some people have thought I'm super productive before, and all I can say is watch out, now I'm focused! I encourage you to play around with various types of schedules until you come up with one that works for you!
Connie Ragen Green of Affiliate Marketing Case Studies says:
I like to say that every day is a Thursday for me now. I used to say every day was Saturday, but Saturdays can be very busy with running errands and catching up with things that didn’t get done during the week. Thursdays are more quiet and peaceful, and that's more of my typical day these days.
My typical day varies, depending on if I am at my home in Santa Clarita, California, or in Santa Barbara, or if I am away at an event or on vacation. What does not change is the fact that I love to start writing as soon as I get up, and I typically write for an hour or so before doing anything else.
If I’m in Santa Clarita, I get up by six because I have lots of little dogs who get up early and want to go outside. They go out, get a drink of water, and then go back to sleep, allowing me to start my writing. By nine or ten I’m ready to go to one of the charities I’m involved in to volunteer on one of their projects. Right now we have a project for the returning veterans and their families that I am enjoying very much.
In Santa Barbara I go for a walk when I arise, which is usually around seven or eight. I live near the Mission, and love walking through the rose gardens and around the magnificent surroundings to start my day. Then I go home and write for an hour before heading down to the beach to sit down with a book and listen to the ocean waves crashing gently to the shore. Later in the day I go to one of our Farmer's Markets to pick up some healthy foods. Some days I volunteer at the homeless shelter or at the library.
Having the time to write, go for long walks, spend time with my dogs, be an active volunteer, and do many other things I enjoy any time I want to is a true gift. Having an online business makes this all possible.
Kelly McCausey of Solo Smarts Podcast says:
Just saying ‘typical work week' gives me a shudder. I like variety and love to keep things from getting too predictable. Still, I have clients who depend on me so a schedule is a must.
I'm up for the day around 7:30 to 8:00am. When I'm home, I'm a one cup of coffee (no breakfast) gal and enjoy it with my devotional reading and some soft music. After that I check email, buzz Facebook and hit the forum at Solo Masterminds.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I do phone time. Phone time includes my coaching clients and podcast interviews. I use TimeTrade.com to make appointments on varying lengths available on those days between 9:00am and 3:00pm Eastern. I also have a three hour window on Thursday nights for clients with day jobs.
I schedule any personal appointments to fall on Tuesday if possible because I consider it my ‘off day'. I meet my stepdad for breakfast or lunch, do my shopping and use the empty hours on my schedule to plan and tackle miscellaneous small projects. Fridays are left open as a project day, some time set aside for clients, some for me.
I often take a long nap in the late afternoon, a couple of hours somewhere between 3 and 7pm. That sounds just awful to most people but it fits into my rhythm. I wake up totally refreshed and full of mental energy. If I don't have plans elsewhere, I work from 8:00pm til whenever, at last as midnight or 1:00am. A few nights a week I take a break to go to the gym.
Weekends are up to me. I'll confess I've been working through them a lot lately. Big goals and back to back projects require the extra time and I'm OK with it for a season. Overall, I'm not working as hard as most people think. I take breaks, walk away, run for a meal date with my Kindle – or my son or my sis. If I ever paint myself into a schedule that doesn't allow for that, I'm likely to just drop kick it and take the break anyways. (That's the advantage of being a solopreneur – you get to decide!)
Tiffany Dow of Ghostwriting Cash says:
Part of what I love about this career is that it does allow me to have an atypical word day or week. If I need to shelve work for my daughter’s play, I can. If life happens and I can’t focus for 2-3 days, it’s okay. But I do have some common days where I kind of keep to a schedule, so I’ll share that with you.
I work seven days a week – except when I don’t want to. When you do what you love, you crave it and you just have to check in on it. Some weeks I work more than others, depending on projects and external factors.
On a typical weekday, I wake up around 5:30 AM and while having coffee, I go through my Chrome tabs. I start opening tabs to go through various folders. I start with my main blog, and in between other tasks, I’m approving and responding to comments that came in overnight.
Then I move on to my Money folder where I go through PayPal, ClickBank, and all of my various money sources to see how they performed while I was sleeping. I then check email, Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, Forums, traffic stats, and I let myself get all riled about while visiting news websites.
While doing all of these, I’m up and down – making lunches, waking my kids up for the third time, making sure they’re all packed up, dressed right and in a good mood.
After that (around 7:15 AM) I do carpool – a 1 hour trek to and from my kids’ school. When I get back, I take out an old fashioned spiral notebook and jot down my to do list for the day. It usually includes things like:
- Continue or Start a Product Implementation Review
- Work on a New PLR Pack for PLR Mini Mart
- Work on New Product as eCourse or Kindle
- Do Some Tangible Affiliate Marketing Research
- Ghostwriting (like I teach in Ghostwriting Cash)
I then decide what needs to be outsourced (like having content written for a lens or my affiliate sites) and get started working on each item. I eat lunch sometime during the day while working or I sometimes stop to eat while catching up on Tivo.
At 2:30 PM I leave for pickup at school and return home around 4 PM. I work (while making sure homework gets done and stopping to chat with my kids about their day) until around 6:30 PM, when I make dinner.
I work right up until bed, but in between work, I spend time with my kids and relax a little in a nice scalding hot bath. Bedtime is anywhere from 8:30-10 PM, depending on whether or not I’m running on fumes at that point. All day long I check in on email or it becomes a beast.
Now there’s a big difference between the schedule you just read above and the one I used to have when I was a ghostwriter for others. When I only did service providing, I wasn’t fulfilled, so I couldn’t wait to call it a day. Now, I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow so I can see how my business is building, how I’m helping people, and discovering new levels of growth I can pursue.
I never feel overworked anymore. I might get tired, but it’s usually from external factors in my life – not from the work itself. I have tried many variations, like quit working at noon, only work 5 days a week, etc. But none of those ever satisfied me like the flexible one I have now where I work when I can and don’t work when I need to stop.
And if I need to go on vacation to the beach for two weeks, I can – I just do a light check in on email and customer support but I leave the rest of my work until I get “back on the clock” after my trip is over.
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
I asked our experts this question, because it’s something I’m always in the process of re-evaluating and tweaking in my own business.
For me, the best use of my time is spent in creating content, creating offers, reaching out to my lists, and relationships.
So, the majority of my time that I work during the day is spent –
- Blogging here or writing content for products or books. (Creating content.)
- Putting together offers. (For instance, brainstorming new packages of PLR for EasyPLR.com)
- Writing emails to customers & leads. (Lists and relationship building.)
- Connecting with my friends/mastermind partners & affiliates. (Goal setting, brainstorming, and JVs.)
- Communicating with my team so things are running smoothly. (Business management.)
- Getting exposure on other sites (doing interviews, guest blogging, article marketing, and video marketing). (Traffic.)
You guys know I’m a project person, so I like to break up my tasks by “chunking” them.Rather than writing one email each day, I’ll write all three for the week at one time and schedule them.
Rather than writing one blog post each day, I’ll write a few and schedule them.
So, I’ve learned that I work better when I focus on a weekly set of goals (or a weekly schedule) instead of a daily one.
I’m the kind of person who would spend one full day exercising each month rather than having to do it on a daily basis. I’ll also put off laundry until I have nothing to wear and am running around nearly nekkid. Then I’ll spend a day doing laundry, knowing that I don’t have to deal with it for another month. I also prefer to do batch cooking rather than cooking a meal every day. I’d rather make one big huge batch of chili and freeze it in meal-size containers than to have to cook every day. It’s just how I work.
However, I’ve also known people who NEED a daily schedule. They thrive on knowing exactly what they’ll be doing every day. It’s about knowing yourself and being true to that.
Rather than setting yourself up to fail – set yourself up to succeed.
I have two lists. A “must do” list and a “wish list” of things that I’d like to accomplish, but that’s a separate list. Never do the two meet.
So, here’s my “must do” to do list for this week – the things that I have to do or my accountability partner will beat me:
– Get podcast flow streamlined with Kelly – including followup emails
– Do practice recording
– Invite podcast guests (send out 6 invites)
– Release new PLR
– Notify lists of new PLR
– Publish podcast with Kelly
– Notify lists of new podcast on focus with Kelly
– Publish Expert Briefs
– Notify lists of new Expert Briefs
– Publish Alice's guest post
– Notify lists of Alice's post
– Get Kristen changes to book for final printing
– Get Kristen changes to final book cover for second book
– Talk with Melissa about moving CoachingPLRContent.com to Amember 4
As you can see it's basically – do something, share with my lists. Do something else, share with lists. 😉
That “must do” list doesn’t look too impressive, in my opinion. (The “wish list” is much longer.) But then again, I don’t work that many hours compared to a lot of my colleagues. In fact, many days I work only an hour a day. When I’m on vacation, I don’t work at all other than checking email every few days. But, the only reason I CAN do that is because I outsource to really smart people.
So what does a day look like?
- Wake up and get the kids off to school.
- Feed the puppies.
- Drink some coffee while catching up on a bit of email and Facebook.
- Look at my schedule to see if I have anything going on that day (webinar, podcast, appointment, Skype call with coaching client, etc.)
- Knock out my daily tasks
- Eat some lunch, maybe read a book in bed for a bit or run a few errands
- Get my daughter off the bus
- Start afterschool activities – I joined a gym near my daughter's afterschool activities, so I drop her off and run over for a workout during that time.
- Homework with kids
- Make dinner
- Watch TV with hubby
I don't normally work in the evenings unless I've got a really good book that sucked me in during the day – like today. 😉 So, since I read in bed for a bunch of the day with the puppies, I now am wrapping up my tasks a bit later in the day.
One other thing that’s really helped me with my “to do” lists is this book –
Focal Point: A Proven System to Simplify Your Life,
Double Your Productivity, and Achieve All Your Goals
Knowing where your focal point is – WHERE you should focus your time – helps to prioritize. Your list may be completely different than mine or my friends lists above. But, knowing where you should focus helps you to make a smart decision.
I hope this was helpful. Please throw your thoughts at me. I want them!