Why I Ditched Traditional Planning and You Can, Too!
Processes, systems, organization. Any seasoned business owner will tell you these three things are needed to run your company efficiently. Now, I am not a “seasoned business owner”, nor do I claim to have it all together; however, I can tell you how amazing it is when I tap into a better way of managing something in my business. It just feels great, like warm chocolate chip cooks and a tall glass of milk.
I have tried quite a few planners and organizers (okay, partially because I can’t resist buying a super cute one here and there). Yet, instead of feeling more organized and ready to conquer the world, I always ended up feeling like I was groping around for my glasses in a dark room. You see, I would do as many of the gurus suggest: plan my week. I tried planning by the hour. I tried just planning 3-5 tasks per day without specific times. I even made my own planner sheet and process. I brain dumped everything I had to do for that week, and then I’d strategically put activities on each day of the week.
You want to know the truth? I had one or two really great weeks, but then it happened. Life happened--usually every week.
I am a wife, a mom of three energetic daughters, a grad student, and much more. So, oftentimes, I found unexpected things occurring that needed my immediate attention. My hubby would tell me life would end as we know it if I didn't get the oil changed on that particular day or I would get a reminder about a school event for my kiddos. The problem was, these things weren’t planned for, and therefore, I was unable to complete the tasks I scheduled for that particular day. This would in turn cause a domino effect, meaning, the rest of my week was impacted, too.
I felt like a failure. I mean, how could these gurus make it look so easy? Why was I continuously failing at meeting my goals I planned for the week? For crying out loud, I am a former educator of 8 years. I should be the QUEEN of planning, right? So, what was my deal?
Fortunately, I was able to have a chat session with my beloved shero, Regina of byRegina. I explained my frustrations to her, and for the first time, I felt like someone not only understood me but also had a solution I never heard of before. Instead of the traditional plugging in activities I wanted to accomplish on each day of the week, Regina suggested breaking up activities by how long I projected it would take to accomplish them. She suggested grouping activities like this: 15 minutes to complete, 1 hour to complete, or 1 day to complete. Regina was even kind enough to show me the exact sheet she uses to plan. Because I write a lot and wanted more flexibility with the time frames, I decided to make my own version of this sheet.
I admit, when Regina first explained the concept to me, I wasn’t 100% sure if it would work for me because of all my previously failed attempts at planning my life around my family and other responsibilities.
Let’s just say, I now tip my hat towards the amazing Regina. Why? Because this method is the best thing since sliced bread, my friend.
Here's how I used Regina's method. I knew I was planning on revamping my Self-Publishing Fundamentals e-course, creating a new service, and working on crafting an upcoming community. So, I wrote down all the steps it would take to accomplish those overall goals. From that point on, I could organize those steps into the allotted time frames (15 minutes, 1 hour, or 1 day). I can still have the sheer satisfaction of marking a task off, too. Granted, I fudge the times occasionally and maybe extend work to two hours, but overall this process truly works, and I’ll tell you why.
I no longer felt guilty about not completing my daily “to do list”.
Entrepreneurs know it is quite easy to fill a schedule with a long list of things that must be completed. Don’t get me wrong. I believe “to do lists” can be beneficial. I used them every day in the classroom. There is something powerful and exhilarating about marking off a task. Yet, as a stay at home mom, grad student, writer, etc. I cannot guarantee that I will be free from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day to do XYZ. My toddler has a mind of her own, and I find it better to no longer fight against reality--the reality that children are unpredictable.
While having a profitable business that helps others is important to me, so is time with my family, and being there for them. With this kind of planning Regina introduced to me, it's easy to still be productive while not focusing on sticking to a timed schedule. The joy of not feeling extra pressure and guilt is simply AH-MAZING!
I live life more in balance
One of my main concerns about starting a business was making it work around my family’s schedule. Having a toddler at home definitely makes for challenging days. As many other moms with businesses suggested, there is always the option to hire a nanny. However, what do you do when you’re just starting out and you’re not quite rolling in the dough just yet? Or what do you do when summer is here and all of your kiddos are at home? I had those questions, too. To be completely honest, you just make it work the best you can! Traditional planning doesn't always accommodate for real life. I felt really depressed at times because I thought I should be able to do it all. But the simple reality is that I can’t do it all. There are not enough hours in a day.
That’s why I’m so glad Regina told me about this unconventional way of planning. Now I’m able to spend time with my family and still set business goals that I can reach by working at my own pace. I no longer have to feel the pressure to check off every task for the day. I also don’t have to feel guilty about spending time with my family. My family does support me when I must work with clients and do prep work; however, I don’t have to feel pressure to be completely consumed with accomplishing an unrealistic amount of tasks each day. I can live life in balance.