I talk with a lot of small business owners, for coaching sessions, in masterminds, and in general conversations!
One of the recurring questions in those conversations is, “Did you do the stuff you needed to do this month to grow the business or get sucked into the day-to-day?” And when I ask that question, the answer is the same: They hang their head, eyes get heavy and we both know they were too busy!
The reality is, you’re not alone!
As Entrepreneurs, we’ve all been there at some point: so wrapped up in fighting fires that we can’t grow our business. But the good news is, we don’t have to stay there! So what I want to do is give you one of the tools I most commonly use to combat getting sucked into firefighting: The Success Schedule.
The Success Schedule is based on the concept of Time Blocking and on the Pomodoro Technique, which is all about using focused spurts of time that zone you into knocking work out.
The Awesome Thing Is….
I’ve been teaching and using this for a long time, but something I didn’t initially realize is that this technique allows you to know exactly how much you are taking on. That realization came to me when I sat down to re-do my Success Schedule earlier this year and realized that I was giving myself 40+ hours of work to do each week. That didn’t include time for emails, handling fires, or even business growth strategies!
The Success Schedule helps identify issues like that and correct them by changing the amount of time spent in each aspect of the business. It also develops accountability and keeps you on track to actually spend time on projects that will create growth and success.
It’s a lifesaver in more ways than one!
How to Accomplish the Success Schedule
Start by creating a list of all the major categories you need to work in for your business. Generally, your list will look something like this:
(This one might get broken into a couple of categories like “Installation” and “Service” or “Coaching” and “Event Planning”)
Business Planning (this category is a must on anyone’s list!)
The point with this list is to create the 6-8 categories that need your attention and work in order to get your business moving forward. And I do mean 6-8 categories. Don’t create more than 8-10 because if you go beyond that, you’re either going too deep or spreading yourself too thin. To help narrow things down, list categories like “Sales” instead of activities like “Lead Generation” or “Running Sales Appointments.”
After creating the category list, the next step is to decide how much time you need to spend on each category per week. This decision requires looking at what activities you need to accomplish in each category per week, how long it will likely take, and then setting definite times on each one. E. G., deciding that you need to spend 7 hours per week in Sales, 2 hours per week in Team Management, 5 hours per week in Admin, etc.
Keep in mind that the amount of time spent in each category per person will vary. You know what kinds of activities you excel at and where you need to be spending your time, and where you don’t need to be spending your time. Make your time decisions based on where you need to spend time in order to create growth in the business. Not specifically on what needs to get done in the business. That’s why you have a team and outsource projects.
Your Sample Schedule
Now that you have your categories and times, use them to create a sample schedule for yourself. This sample schedule will help keep you accountable to spending time where you need to.
This sample schedule is going to be what your ideal week would look like based on the times you allotted to each category. For example, if you said you need to spend five hours a week on Admin and you know that the beginning of the week is the best time to normally do that, you might put down 2 hours of Admin on Monday and Tuesday mornings and then 30 minutes of Admin on Thursday and Friday. Whatever your ideal work week would be for business growth, that is what you will design in this sample schedule.
A Quick Note: White space is important in this calendar!
Whitespace is time between scheduled activities/events for things that go wrong. It’s the space you’ll use for a client that calls you in a panic or an employee that comes to you in tears. Because the reality is that stuff happens in life, and you need to set aside time for it otherwise you’ll end up overworked. So if you want to work a 40 hour week, you really need to schedule only 30-35 hours worth of time so that the random stuff that comes up is what brings you up to 40 hours/week and not what pushes you over the edge.
Back on topic...
I like to create my Sample Schedule in Gmail, with an account that is literally just my success schedule. Having my Sample Schedule in another place from my actual schedule helps me with accountability, because I can compare the schedules to see where I was supposed to spend time as opposed to where I actually spent time. From there I can adjust my actual schedule the next week to get it closer to my ideal growth work week.
The Key To Making This Work
The real key to the Success Schedule is coming back to it every Friday and looking at what you actually worked on versus what you were supposed to work on. Make time to sit down, compare your ideal week with your actual week, and make adjustments to your actual schedule for next week that brings you closer to your ideal week.
If you miss this step on Fridays, you’ll be wasting your time creating the Success Schedule in the first place. Why?
Parkinson's Law states that we use however much of a resource is available to us to be used. So if we allow ourselves 60-80 hours in a work week, we are always going to have 60-80 hours of work worth to do. Similarly, if we allow ourselves 40-60 hours in a work week, we will have 40-60 hours of work worth to do.
I know: you’re thinking, “there’s no way that works!”
I always initially think the same thing. But what's interesting is that it does work! Every time I run the success schedule and start scaling myself back into the hours that I want to work my business, I find that somehow I fit all my work into that time. And I still grow the business! It amazes me, but it just proves that Parkinson’s Law is very true: especially when it comes to the work we allow ourselves to do.
But remember: the biggest key is to compare and adjust your schedule at the end of the week! Start putting the Success Schedule into place, and you’ll not just create growth in your business but you will slowly begin to work the kind of weeks you want to.
If you’re looking for more help with growing and evolving your business, check out the Small Business Supercharge coming up next week! I’m super stoked to be the producer & host for this online event, because we are bringing some absolutely incredible speakers to the virtual stage and pitching is off-limits: this is an applicable content-only event!