How do you organize your week?
How do you know what you’ll be working on during the day, on any given day?
How do you make time for fun things when there are so many “should dos” also pulling at you?
Whether you’re a leader of a team or just trying to manage yourself, knowing what you should be working on during those chunks of “free” or unscheduled time can be challenging - especially for solopreneurs. We often find ourselves filling time with things that make us feel productive. But take caution, being busy doesn’t necessarily mean we’re spending that time on the right things.
I recently participated in a NAPO Conference workshop lead by Mike Vardy, leader of The NOW Year Method (learn more via his website). There are many different methods out there for choosing tasks and priorities, but I wanted to give this one a try. Like other entrepreneurs, I sometimes struggle with knowing what to do during “deep work” sessions and how to take time off for activities that don’t necessarily move my business forward, like reading a novel or picking up an art project.
THE CHALLENGE - HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME
When there are countless activities that you want to participate in, how do you find time for them all? The sad truth is that you can’t do EVERYTHING at the same time. So at some point you have to choose what will take your focus and energy, and what will have to be dropped or delayed. Once you’ve narrowed your focus, then there is the challenge of figuring out how to fit these priorities into your week.
THE SOLUTION - CHOOSING THEMES FOR YOUR DAYS
Mike’s method involves choosing a theme for each day of the week, seven in total. For example, every Monday will always be “Planning Day." (There are other specifics to his method, but for this article I’m focusing on the daily theme.) Once you pick the theme for the day, the idea is to keep it the same for as long as possible, creating consistency. This is especially helpful when you run a business - and a perfect way to make time for the “important but not urgent” quadrant items that we discussed in #012.
In addition to work, this method is fantastic for making time for family, friends, and long lost hobbies, or setting aside specific times for chores or errands. (Take a look at Cali’s article about batching in social media. This same concept should be used in your everyday life!) Sometimes when the workday is over, we no longer have the mental capacity or willpower to decide what to do next. Should I do house chores? Should I run the errands I’ve been putting off? Should I watch a show with my family or study something new? When will I ever make time for learning the guitar?
For my test, here’s how I decided to break up my days so that I knew what work projects to prioritize during the day, and so that I could participate in family and hobby time guilt-free in the evenings.
MY NEW DAILY THEMES
For the evening and weekend themes, I discussed these with my husband and he was also on board to give it a try. That way we could agree on days were our themes overlapped, such as Date Night and Chores. We decided to keep the evening themes the same for both of us throughout the whole week, but you could plan them separately if there are only a few nights or days where you would share the activities and the time.
On the business side, these are the overarching themes and goals for my day. Of course I’ll have appointments to take or client work to do, but around those items when I have time to work on business development, these are the categories I’ve determined I should be focusing on. It helps me get to those important but not time sensitive tasks and keeps me focused. Even if you have a full time job and only an hour of time before or after the workday, give it a try. You’ll be surprised to see how much more you can do by being intentional with your time. This method will help create consistency with the small amount of time you might have to spare to your goals.
On the family side, creating themes allows us to schedule time together with loved ones, or to allow ourselves the freedom to pursue activities that may not be “productive” in the traditional sense. These are usually items that bring us joy, but make us feel guilty for taking time to do them. For me, alleviating that sense of guilt alone has been worth the experiment. I now can work on home projects or creative work, knowing that I’ve set aside time for the things that I feel like I “should” be doing instead.
TRY, TEST, AND ADJUST - TRY AGAIN
In general, use this is a guide – not necessarily as an absolute. Sometimes friends can only hang out on your chore day, or an event takes place on art night. Either skip your theme that week or try to flip the two days if there is a clean swap. Try not to make these exceptions every week, only when necessary or unavoidable. If you’re able to stick to your basic themes 80% of the time, I’d consider that a win.
If you are no longer interested in learning a new instrument but you have that as one of your themes, try switching it out for a new priority. Life changes and we have to be flexible, but creating systems that can help us make time for what we want will help us make sure we don’t just work through life and miss out on all the fun. Or if you’re not using your work time productively, try this method to build in a little structure that will help keep you on track.
If you’re looking for more structure, or guilt-free hobby time, give this method a try.
are you able to focus more on your business?
Are you making more time FOR CREATIVE activities that bring you joy?
Share your thoughts in the comments below. What effect has this method had on your life or business?
I can’t wait to hear about your new routine.
Want to discuss a little more and better understand how you can implement this in your life? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute call and we’ll get you started.