As a small business owner, you have to wear approximately 9,758 different hats. If you read any article about growing your small business, it will tell you a million things that you ought to be doing. And if you’re trying to grow your business while working full time, you know that you have an extremely limited amount of time to get these things done on top of your actual client work, with time left to have a personal life.
(Wait, we’re allowed to have a personal life?!)
As you know, I work full time as an architect while running Lauren Perry Studio. Architecture is a field notorious for crazy hours, so how do I get it all done? I can promise you, it’s not by chance when I happen to finish the other items on my to-do list. Because the to-do list never ends.
To get things done, you have to make time to do them. Seems simple, right?
When I was new to my business, I always had a list of things that I’d “get to” once xyz was done. “As soon as I finish this invitation proof, I’ll have time to work on that new product launch”. “Once I’m through wedding season, I’ll get all my blog posts written”. You’re probably reading this and nodding your head because you’ve said this too. And guess what, that time never comes! A last minute project always comes up, things take longer than they should, or life happens.
The secret to making time to do these things is to batch your workweek!
“Batching” basically means that instead of spending time doing several different things every day, you dedicate your work day to one theme. This works whether you are working part-time in evenings or mornings, or working full time at your business.
Since I work from 7-5 as an architect, my Lauren Perry Studio time is scheduled for week nights. Here’s how I batch my work weeks:
I recently outsourced some of my social media efforts to my incredible social media assistant Anna, so this day looks a little different than it used to. My Mondays are devoted to things like taking photos of my work for social media, downloading photographer galleries from weddings, writing blog posts, putting together my monthly e-mails, and updating my portfolio on my website. Obviously, you don’t need to do all of these things every Monday. So I typically schedule 1-2 of these things to happen one Monday a month. That way by the end of the month, everything on my Marketing “To-Do” list has gotten a little love.
Tuesdays: Client Work
Most of my time is spent doing client work! You should spend most of your time doing whatever is most profitable, and with the rest, schedule a reasonable amount of time for it and outsource what you can. With things like social media, you could ALWAYS spend more time. But if I was spending 3 days a week creating Instagram content, that only gives me 2 days to work on things that actually gets me paid. Instagram content may get me more followers, but paid client work keeps my business profitable and pays the bills!
Wednesdays: Client Work
Since I do client work Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays, I set most of my client deadlines on Wednesdays or Thursdays. That way I have Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening at a minimum to finish up a proof before sending it off to my client.
Thursdays: Client Work
If I don’t have a deadline on this day, I’ll use it to work on pushing forward on projects that span two to three weeks like envelope calligraphy, or to get ahead on next week’s client work. This also gives me buffer time if a client is late to provide me information. If a client provides me information late on Wednesday, without Thursday as a client work day they would be waiting all the way to the next Tuesday before getting their updated proof. That doesn’t work! When scheduling your client work days, keep them spread throughout the week as much as possible so that you can help yourself help your clients. Keep in mind when your clients are most needing to hear from you. Maybe you’re a wedding planner and your clients always work on pulling information together on the weekend, Mondays and Fridays might be good client work days for you so you can answer questions they’ve come up with over the weekend, and send e-mails on Friday to prep them for “homework” to do over the weekend.
Fridays: Wrap Up / Passion Projects
This has become one of my favorite batched days! This day is reserved for those projects that you always mean to get to, but never do. This can be preparing a new product, building a new website, or something as small as cleaning out your paper samples. This is my “growth” day. If I let it, client work would take up the whole week. But the key here is growing our businesses, so you need time to propel yours forward. When I was building my new website, this day was reserved for creating a few specific pages a week. Now, it’s reserved for creating new product offerings, or doing a general “check up” on my business and re-ordering business cards, packaging materials, nibs, and all of the other little things that always seem to be forgotten until the last minute.
Weekends: Rest / Catch Up
There is no fool proof system, so it’s always a good idea to plan for overflow. Since I’m working on LPS on weeknights after working all day, there are times where I’ve had one of “those” days and just cannot. That’s when Derek and I say forget it and go get margaritas and queso. So, I use my weekends as flexible time. With my batched system, I know exactly what didn’t get done those days, and can use my weekend, when I do not have work scheduled to get caught up. Or, if it has a pressing deadline you can move that work to the next day, and move a less pressing batched day to your flex time. Ahem – for those Enneagram Type 3’s like me, this is a scheduled rest day that is to be used for work only in emergencies. Free weekends are not your excuse to “get a few more things done” because you’ll end up overdoing it and land yourself straight in Overwhelm City. Respect your scheduled rest day like you’d respect a client deadline.
Chances are – your batched week will not look like mine! You may outsource more or less than me, need more or less time to work on specific things, or have more time to devote to your business than I do.
Depending on how much time you can devote to your business, and how much time you need to spend on each item, you can adjust your batched week accordingly. You could even batch your days so mornings are working on one theme, and afternoons are another. The key is to dedicate meaningful spans of time to accomplish each task so that you aren’t bouncing back and forth all day. You lose time getting started and digging in to each type of work, so stopping and starting throughout the day kills your productivity.
And for those odds and ends that only need tending to once a month, I do a monthly “LPS Day”. This is typically the first Saturday or Sunday of the month. I’ll share in a future blog post what tasks I accomplish during that day, and how I organize it!
I hope this helps you more confidently schedule your days, so that you can get more done in less time!