It can be hard to stick to a schedule as a business owner handling several things at a go. Effective time management comes with the realization that it’s okay to ask for help, delegate and allocate enough time for each essential task. It’s about being realistic with the goals you hope to achieve on a given day/week/month.
Here’s what entrepreneurs had to say about maintaining a schedule for more productivity.
#1- Three ways
I use a combination of a paper day planner, my computer calendar and lists with an occasional sticky note to maintain my schedule. I have regular weekly meetings that anchor my week then block off discreet time to return calls and e-mails, draft presentations/proposals and speeches. I also schedule time for professional development, networking and exercise. I know when I incorporate time for work, rest and fun I am at my best!
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
#2- Organising daily tasks and creating weekly to-do lists
Maintaining your work schedule is always a challenge. In order to effectively stick to my agenda, I employ two strategies: First, I organize my daily tasks on my smartphone calendar, such that I dedicate a fixed time interval for any given task. This is very useful, as smartphones provide an alert once one assignment needs to end and another needs to begin – which helps prevent me from getting carried away with a single task throughout the day. Additionally, I create a weekly to-do list at the beginning of each week, which outlines the important goals for the upcoming business days. Employing these two strategies facilitates increased productivity, improved time management, and helps me adhere to my schedule.
Thanks to Bill Joseph, Frontier Blades!
The best advice I could give anyone – surround yourself with caring people who you trust and have your back, then effectively delegate. Be confident enough to let those you hire do their best work in their areas of expertise. Encourage and foster confidence in those around you to do their best for themselves and the common goal of the project, business, or whatever your endeavor. Recognize your own weaknesses and fill that void with those smarter and more capable than you in those fields and be receptive to learning from them. Truly listen and learn, be humble and confident enough to embrace new thoughts, ideas, approaches to better yourself and your endeavors with continual iterations. That is the only way I could have raised 3 young adult children attending Stanford, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins, maintain my full-time private practice as a plastic surgeon, run and grow my own startup skincare line, and stay married for 30 years.
Thanks to Michele Koo, MD, FACS, Dr. Koo Skin Care!
#4- Time-blocking and writing everything down
As an owner of multiple businesses and having a side hustle, my schedule is only maintained by writing everything down in my calendar and using time-blocking techniques to make sure I get it all accomplished. If it isn’t in my calendar then it doesn’t get done. Plain and simple. The other way I maintain my schedule is to delegate when possible. I focus my attention on daily activities that make money and rely on others to focus on logistics and the always dreaded paperwork. When starting a business must plan for time management and that includes making a plan for help. There is no way to do it all so business owners/CEOs must go into each workday in control of their time.
Thanks to Robyn Flint, FreeAdvice.com!
#5- I use Trello to get organized
There is one tool that I use not just to maintain my professional schedule but also to organize pretty much my entire life. That tool is Trello. It is a simple tool that enables you to- Set deadlines for each task, Collaborate with other people, Organise each task by adding files, Visualise each task and its current status, Communicate with others through the cards. I have a different Trello board for each project I am working on which helps me schedule and progress tasks for myself and my team. If you wanted to use a Trello board for content execution, it could look something like this… And within each card you can add… Due date, Labels, Assign to a specific person, Attachments – files and images to assist with the task, A full description, Comments, You can set up tasks to appear automatically on your board to a specific frequency. For example every day a task drops in my ‘To Do’ list to clear my inbox. The first thing I do each morning is head to my Trello boards and review the tasks for the day/week. And I have even added the mobile app to my partner’s phone so I can send her tasks (that didn’t go down too well).
Thanks to Matthew Woodward
#6- Make timelines and map out the days
I focus on major and not on minor activities and tasks; on the right activities and use my time wisely. That is front and center in my mind. A card is taped on my computer and I carry another card with me to read during the day. I create a business timetable to stay on track. I organize the days and weeks in a way that work for me. Then at the beginning of the week I set intentions for the week followed by the month. It’s important to get really clear on what I want to achieve by the end of the week. That helps me categorize on what I need to do and want to accomplish in the week. I prioritize the activities and decide what is important to achieve each day and create a daily and weekly plan. So I don’t get overwhelmed I break everything down and create small manageable steps of 1-3 hours chunks of time. After these steps I map it out. If something doesn’t happen one day i move it into the next day and prioritize again. This is much like an event or meeting planner does to create a successful event. The make up specific timelines and map out the days on a whiteboard on large white paper taped to the wall.
Thanks to Sylvia RJ Scott, Girl’s C.E.O. Connection™!
#7- Planning and sticking to a weekly routine
Plan a routine practice it religiously: I follow a certain routine as much as possible. Meetings are regularly done on Mondays and Thursdays. Making sure that my team and I are in line also helps as it avoids unnecessary meetings and emails. I also make sure that all emails are read and responded to by the end of the day. By sticking to a routine each week, it allows me to allocate my time since I know when to do that task. It keeps me organized and not looking for a day to accomplish things.
Thanks to Mason Culligan, Sleep for Mattress Battle!
#8- By being a planner and list writer!
Without my calendars and notes app on my phone, I would be lost! Unlike many people these days, I keep both a paper calendar (for long-term planning) and an electronic calendar (for daily and hourly tasks/meetings). My e-calendar is essential to set up reminders for business and personal events, including keeping my kids calendars all in one place! I love having the e-calendar on my computer and phone for my morning and evening walks. That's when I review my daily appointments and always look one or two days ahead to keep things fresh in my memory. I am then adequately prepared for upcoming meetings and radio shows.
Thanks to Jennifer Q Williams, Saint Louis Closet Co!
#9- Three ways
Managing my schedule as the founder and director of a young nonprofit has been a learning experience since its inception. I have a few rules that I established that I work diligently to follow that have led me to successfully manage my schedule and MorDance's schedule. First and foremost build a team that are fearless, calm under pressure, and set lofty goals. Second, and this is a challenge for me but maintain a work-life balance. My mental and physical health enables me to lead a successful and growing organization. Prioritizing and delegating to the team you've established. Lastly, be adaptable and reevaluate your strategies regularly. I love meeting with new go-getters and asking them for their help and expertise. As a mom to be I'm anticipating having to become even more malleable and an even more astute manager of schedules.
Thanks to Morgan McEwen, MorDance!
#10- Scheduling priorities' not my schedule'
I don't believe in work/life balance or putting everything on your calendar and trying to fit it in. It's all just LIFE and you write your story. I spend time thinking about where I want to end up; personally, with my career, in my relationships. When you know that, then you can reverse engineer it. You make sure to schedule the steps necessary to achieve it. This allows you to see all the things that you are doing that are not helping you reach your goals. It gives clarity to what matters and makes you feel much better about saying no to things that don't align with your plans.
Thanks to Nina Sossomon Pogue, NSP Communications!
#11- Leaving it to the tools
When your schedule is packed tightly, you have no choice but to leave it to Google Calendar, Notion, Jira, and even Google Sheets. My Google Calendar is the one tool that I rely heavily on. It notifies me about my every appointment, meeting and plan I have 10 minutes ahead and I also cross-check everything there several times a day. Jira works great for keeping all the tasks for me and the team connected. And Notion is probably the best tool for everything else – plans, notes, lists, docs and whatnot.
Thanks to Pavel Pavlenko, HelpCrunch!
#12- Two ways
There are a few things I do to maintain my schedule but they all revolve around my calendar. First, I have one calendar for everything. I know it may sound odd but I want to see what's happening in my professional and personal life at one glance. I try to incorporate doing personal things during the workday to help break the day up for me so being able to see both really helps; I colour professional stuff blue & personal stuff purple so I know what is what. Second, I schedule specific tasks within a time frame that it should take me. If I complete the task sooner, I get a break but I also schedule in, what I call, free blocks so I can do whatever I want – it helps spice up my routine! Last, I book all my meetings in blocks. Getting back into work-mode after a meeting for me is rather difficult so I try to book meetings on one day a week so that way that's my only focus!
Thanks to Ameet Khabra
#13- Having enough sleep
Entrepreneurs should be immune to tight schedules and one way I keep on top of mine is by making sure that I get enough sleep as possible. There are numerous benefits to maintaining great sleep habits and one of those is that sleep keeps the hormones affecting your emotions in check, making you more energized and motivated to finish tasks quickly and effectively.
Thanks to Liz Brown, Sleeping Lucid!
#14- Analog and Digital
The best way for me to keep a schedule has been to mix something old and something new. I keep both a physical to-do list and mix it with my digital calendar. Keeping my phone on me can be distracting so I used this my digital calendar to plan out my week and know at what times I need to be doing my tasks. My to-do list is kept on paper which is on me at all times. This helps keep me on track and it feels so good to physically check things off of my to-do list as I complete them. E-mail distractions, text messages and social media are no longer a distraction for me.
Thanks to Steven Wood, Swankyden.com!
#15- Combining calendar plus to-do list apps
I maintain my schedules with a combination of Apple's iCal or Google Calendar for my calendar, and a todo list like Clear. Both of these apps sync between my computer and my iPhone so I can enter appointments and time-sensitive schedules into my calendar, and my less sensitive daily items in my to-do list. They also both have an alerts feature, so I can ping both my computer and my phone a day before that task to remind me of it. For example, if I have a call in a few hours, I'll add an alert that will fire exactly 3 hours before the call to remind me of it. Even if I'm away from the office, I will get an alert on my phone to remind me, so I will have plenty of time to make it back to the office in time to accommodate my schedule.
Thanks to James Parsons, ContentPowered.com!
#16- Making weekly checklists
Since my schedule is always packed, I started making weekly checklists in order to keep my tasks organized. I write down everything that I have to do in advance and assign each task a specific date and time. Although it’s not always possible to stick to these, I try to be as consistent as possible. Also, I leave space for unexpected things, but I always make sure to add them to my checklist. In the beginning, it was very difficult to discipline myself and stick to a schedule instead of improvising. However, after a few months, I noticed how I became much more productive and efficient.
Thanks to Dr. Nikola Djordjevic MD, HealthCareers!
#17- I colour code everything in order of importance
Things that need immediate attention are in pink, things that important but less urgent in orange and low priority tasks in blue. This is reflected in the post-its I put on the notice board as well as my calendar. For smaller tasks that are easier to forget, I put them on a to-do list. I try and do these smaller tasks during my traveling times and to conduct my meetings in the most timely manner I can. I am happy to do walking meetings too (where convenient ofcourse) you can't forget your exercise. Something new that I have recently introduced is scheduled downtime, which has definitely helped to boost my productivity.
Thanks to Ray Sang, IndustryMe!
Tight prioritizing of your tasks and time is essential. I use the 4 quadrant rule to schedule my day: You separate your tasks into what's: 1 Important and Urgent, 2 Urgent and Unimportant, 3 Important and Nonurgent and 4 Unimportant and Nonurgent. First I throw away the Unimportant and Nonurgent, these are just filler tasks. Then I do the Important and Urgent ones as fast and as early as possible. Heres the kicker, I then do the Important and Nonurgent tasks, and if I have time I take care of the Urgent and Unimportant. When scoping big projects divide your tasks into the smallest unit possible and estimate the time. Add it all up and ad 20% because we all underestimate the time it takes to complete projects.
Thanks to Kenneth Holm-Dahlin, Appeal – Moving Content!
#19- I start my workday late morning
Juggling two small businesses and two small kids is no easy feat! I'm a night owl, so I try to get in valuable family time during the morning, and start my workday late morning after my eldest is in preschool. Then, I crank out work until late afternoon, and take an early evening break for more family time. Once the house has quieted down, I squeeze in another 2-3 hours. I especially love working at night, because not only is my family asleep, but also my coworkers are out of the office: it's pure solo execution time. Some are a fan of the Pomodoro technique – I just work until I've fizzled out, then get up for a walk to break up the workday. Once I've taken a 20-30 minute stroll, I usually find my mind is in the right spot for more.
Thanks to Morgan Taylor, LetMeBank!
#20- Working a half-day with clients
Organizing an entrepreneurial schedule with weekend client appointments alongside family commitments isn't easy, but it's worth it for the flexibility. I reserve hours that my kids are at school to do administrative work, connect with clients by phone, and run errands when traffic is lighter and lines are shorter. I'm at home to meet the school bus by 3 pm, and we share dinner together most nights. I often head back into the office after 9 pm to write and take online classes. I work a half-day with clients most weekend days, which leaves most of the day for family fun. It's not a traditional schedule, but when it gives me the flexibility I need to be present at school events or social gatherings. It's worked for 15 years, and my employees, especially the millennials, love the fact that we aren't tied to a desk for an arbitrary forty hours.
Thanks to Darla DeMorrow, HeartWork Organizing, LLC!
#21- Maintaining a group calendar
At my law firm, everyone has access to my schedule—to see and edit.. Also, I make a concerted effort to put my personal obligations and non-work appointments on my schedule. Outside of that, the staff at my office has the authority to schedule me as needed to ensure our cases are worked efficiently and without hesitation due to my schedule. Over time, we have had to make sure everyone considers preparation and travel time in scheduling which has been a challenge. In the end, we have a fairly well-oiled machine when it comes to scheduling and sticking to that schedule. There are hiccups, but as long as we focus on maintaining a group calendar, it works well.
Thanks to Justin A. Hill, Hill Law Firm!
#22- Clear goals and effective planning
To start, I set goals at the beginning of the year, breaking them down into specific tasks and action steps. Then, I plan my schedule in 90 day increments, ensuring I'm never working on any more than 3 goals at a given time. Planning on a daily and weekly basis is also critical. I set limits on my working hours, schedule important business projects and personal priorities first and plan my week ahead on a Sunday afternoon. Finally, at the start of each day I get clear on the number one priority task I need to complete and commit to that before moving onto anything else. This is always the most important activity that will move the needle in my business.
Thanks to Stacey Back, Profile Careers!
#23- Focused Meetings
For me, limiting time in meetings is key. We try to restrict meetings to 25 or 50 minutes (versus 30 and 60) to keep our days on time and our meetings focused. Also, every meeting has to have a goal and an agenda. This is set before the meeting by the organizer. We find that meetings that meet these criteria are both more productive and help to maintain our schedules. It also allows me to skip meetings that the team can handle on their own. If other topics come up during a meeting, we can discuss those at an alternate time.
Thanks to Kristine Pachuta, AlltimePower!
#24- Two techniques
Two techniques that I do in order to maintain my schedule is being realistic with my deadlines and making sure to take breaks in between tasks. Being realistic about my schedule has taken off a serious amount of pressure on my end and taking breaks has given me time to breathe and recharge which makes me more energized and productive.
Thanks to Simon Hansen, Homebrew Expert!