I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately from friends. They think I’ve gone insane or somehow miraculously found extra hours in the week that don’t exist to other people. I’m involved in….a lot. I always have been. I’m happier and more productive when I have a lot on my plate. Many people do. The busiest people get things done! But the recent addition of starting a new consulting business has people asking me a lot of questions…and I feel like it’s an opportunity to talk about schedule and priorities.
Two weeks ago I spent five days in New Orleans for my side gig. I’ve worked with the company for three years and never attended a convention. It was something like I’ve never experienced. The professionalism and coordination of the training, people, and logistics of maneuvering 15,000 people was something else. I left feeling invigorated about that business and felt like the content was so applicable for so many industries. As soon as I got home, I went public with my intentions of launching a consulting business on November 1st. Not only that, I joined the volunteer committee of a local non-profit and became their social media manager. I still help manage the women’s networking group I co-founded called Support Her Endeavors. I also have a husband, children, friends, and a life.
What?!?! “What are you doing now?” “Are you quitting your skincare business?” “You’re really, really busy.” “How are you doing all of that?” The questions keep coming in from family, friends, and acquaintances and they are all asked with curiosity and not judgement. And I want to share that I’m simply scheduling it out.
I just got off the phone with one friend that prompted me to immediately write this blog post. She said, “Well, it looks like you’re doing everything from social media.” Ah, there it is. We assume because we see things on social media that we know the breakdown of someone’s day. And it can be so misleading! I’m not on social media 10 hours a day. I’m not working 80 hours a week. I am, however, being smart about my time and making sure I’m showing the proper activities to attract the proper clients.
I want to explain a schedule…not to show off by what mine is, but to help you with your’s. I have my businesses scheduled into my week. Now that I’ve added my consulting business, I’m finding that I am working my other business less. But I’m also more productive so I’m not decreasing my numbers with my skincare business. On any given week, I am working 5-8 hours with my skincare business and 15-18 hours with my consulting business. I’m working part-time. (I’ll talk about what I do to make it look professional on social media, though.) Currently, because I’m also raising minions, I have two days a week where my children are in school. I also have another day my mother-in-law watches my daughter so I can work. If you work full-time, that may not seem like a lot of time to work. And it’s really not. But, this is why I chose the consulting profession and decided to be independent. I will do anything for flexibility and freedom. And you can get a lot done in 20-25 hours a week.
So here’s what I do: I schedule my Weekly Game Plan. I set aside time with my family first. Check my husband’s schedule and see when he has work events. All family activities are put in first. I then look at my check-list of income-producing activities I need to do and schedule those in. I add my workout times (I’m working out less now that I added my new business but still get to the gym.) Before or after my hour workout, I also schedule work at the gym’s cafe. My kids get two hours of “daycare” each day of the week and I make sure to take advantage of that. I can make calls or work on my computer for an hour. I’ll get done in an hour what takes me two hours at home with “interruptions” from life. It’s so simple, but not easy to do. Or everyone would do it.
That’s it! I’ve shared a blank weekly game plan on this blog before, but this is what my life looks like this week. I haven’t followed it to a T, but it gives me a structure in a self-employed world where I could really waste time. As my children get bigger, I will have more time to devote to my businesses. But I do not need to work a full-time job to make a full-time income. People think they have to be busy at work, and that’s just simply not true. You have to be focused and productive to be successful at work. To me it seems silly to work 60 hours when I know I can achieve my personal goals in less.
One comment about social media and what people perceive each other to be doing: Don’t assume anything! A friend of mine told me about later.com as a way to schedule my Instagram posts. You need to have a business account to do it. Once a week, I plan those posts. I have an hour scheduled in the morning to be on social media for my non-profit work, business, and my personal pages. But I cannot guarantee that I can do it all the time. I have four Instagram accounts. Telling people that makes them have anxiety! Three years ago it would take me 45 minutes to craft a post. I over-thought it. Now I can come up with them in a few minutes. The more we do, the better we get. The better we get, the more productive we become.
Here’s my final thought on the subject: We are all given the same 24 hours a day. If we are disciplined enough to remove distractions, we can gain HOURS of productive time. Say no to things that you don’t like doing or don’t get you closer to your goals. Say yes to activities that will increase your level of satisfaction. I struggle with balancing from week to week. I have arguments with my husband about how my goals and interests impact the family’s schedule. I sometimes over-extend myself. That’s okay! Progress, not perfection. Schedule, not wish.
Photo by Tracy Walsh Photography