All memes aside, I really do love the month of May. We’re into the second quarter of the year, crushing business goals – or maybe redefining some of those things we set out to accomplish back in January. May is also one of my favorite times to work on goal-setting because it’s my birthday month! New Years and birthdays are really wonderful times to reflect, revise and make new paths towards achieving whatever you set out to do this year. My main wellness goal for this year is to create a routine that helps me achieve better work-life balance.
In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed.
— Sid Caesar
I rely heavily on my Google Calendar (hello, notifications & calendar invites!) so it’s very easy to mix up my routine when things just aren’t falling into place. In order to stick to a schedule, I need the layout to be very visual, organized and easy to understand. If you’re ready to get yourself on a schedule that works, keep reading!
P.S. there’s a new desktop calendar download at the end of the post 😉
1. Write down everything you want to track:
List out all of the activities you do on a daily or weekly basis. Now you can get as granular as you want to on this – totally up to you. Initially, I wrote down EVERYTHING. From the time I woke up to the time I shut my eyes, I scheduled out everything. But then I realized that tracking every single part of my day made me more anxious than excited about sticking to a schedule altogether, so I narrowed down my list to the activities that really matter most.
Here’s what I currently schedule in my calendar:
- Travel Time
- Client Work / Design Time
- Lunch Breaks
- Phone Calls
- Project Management
- Sales + Proposal Writing
Most of these items are work related but in order to achieve that balance, I also keep track of my workouts and lunch breaks so the time in my day doesn’t get taken up by meetings or other items. It’s important to schedule time for everything in your day that is vital to getting your work done so your calendar doesn’t appear wide open when a client calls asking to schedule a meeting.
Before I tracked my time, I would say YES to early morning meetings until I realized that’s when I got my best design work done. Now I have a visual to remind me that the mornings are my time to create work for my clients, so there’s no excuse for scheduling on top of those activities with something else. Remember, PROTECT YOUR TIME!
2. Categorize & color-code:
In Google Calendar, it’s easy to create a new “calendar” for each category of activities. The best part about this function? COLOR CODING! Group activities from your list above into different sections – things that visually make sense together.
For me, this looks like:
- Admin (tasks) + Travel time
- Client Work
- Lynsey Creative (researching + creating content)
Just click on the arrow next to “my calendars” to create a new calendar. Label it and give it a new color. I like incorporating my brand colors (or a combo that helps separate the categories easily.)
3. Block off chunks of time:
Now you’re ready to get scheduling! Start with those activities that always happen at the same time. Lunch is the easiest one! Then set that to repeat for however many days each week it should occur. Give yourself time to think through how you want to schedule your day. Do you like to get in a nice workout before the world starts sending you emails? Have a standing meeting with a client every Tuesday?
I’ve found that I need solid chunks of time during my day associated with activities, like getting my design work done in the morning so I have my afternoons ready for writing and talking brand strategy with clients. This will look different for everyone but just go with your gut instinct until you settle into a routine that works.
There will always be something that comes up, so remember not to schedule yourself so tight that you don’t make room for those oh-crap moments. I’ve started scheduling 30-minute breaks before and after my writing & brand strategy phone calls so I have time to process the information (and help clients with any last-minute emergencies as they arise.)
5. Test and change:
So, you see this organized calendar up there? Well, that’s probably the 15th version of my routine since I started working on it last year. I don’t make drastic changes often unless something is really broken, but I do make note of what’s not working and implement changes to the schedule. Ultimately you know yourself best and will make the right decision what activities to track and how much time you need to protect.
Remember to give yourself a little grace, deal? Comment below with how your scheduling is going!