Can I tell you a secret?
(It’s a turn-my-cheeks-red-wanna-hide-under-my-desk-after-tellin-you one.)
For most of my entrepreneurial life, up until a couple of years ago, I have been a master of being insanely busy… and completely unproductive.
Oh man, I was so good at having a jam-packed to-do list, but somehow still completely losing track of my day until it’s 8 PM, and somehow I. Hadn’t. Finished. A. Single. Thing. (Gulp.)
Now, I’ll be real with you: Sadly, I didn’t lag behind because I’m away from my desk saving the world.
I was just really great at convincing myself I can put something off ‘til tomorrow because I was already overwhelmed by what I have to do today. Repeat that the next day, and the next, and the next, until it’d be weeks (ok, months….) later and I’m kicking myself for not getting the damn thing done.
But wait: does this happen to me, and thousands of other entrepreneurs all over the world, because we’re lazy and less-than-awesome?
Nope, not at all (and it took a looong time to realize that).
It’s just part of being human. When things get busy, we get overwhelmed, and when we’re overwhelmed, we can get stressed out and freeze up. Decision fatigue sets in, and we exhaust ourselves just figuring out what to prioritize when there’s far too much to do.
Here’s the good news: There is a secret to combatting that stuck-at-the-starting-line feeling. It’s the method I now use. It takes a little work, and a little practice, but once you master it? Well, it’s changed the game for me. And I’m excited to share it with you so you can reap the benefits too.
The deceptively simple secret is: Having a clear, mapped out Master Schedule for every day of your week.
(I’ve created a gorgeous little workbook to help you do exactly that, and you can click the button below to grab it for free now!)
Why is this so crazy transformational?
Because having a Master Schedule doesn’t just give you a clear picture of what needs to be done, it also prevents you from too-much-work-itis that tends to turn you into an utterly overwhelmed, relentless procrastinator.
After all, it’s way easier to climb a mountain if you just follow the map, and put one foot in front of the other. The more time you spend staring at how far the summit is from you, the more you’re going to freak yourself out, and maybe even try to turn around.
Here’s why your escape from To Do list mountain overwhelm lies in Master Schedule.
I know a fair few entrepreneurs who’d run away screaming at the word “schedule”. If that’s you, stick with me.
I get it. After all, we all started businesses because we wanted more freedom; freedom to live and work the way we wanted. So “schedule” sounds spookily like going by someone else’s clock, and reminds us of a life where we had zero flexibility to go for a yoga sesh in the middle of the day, or have an extra-long lunch with a girlfriend.
Here’s the thing: I’ve learnt that a completely open schedule does not necessarily mean freedom either! In fact, after starting their own businesses, many of my clients come to me saying that they soon found themselves working more hours than they used to, especially late into the night. Somehow, they never seemed to finish their to-do lists, or feel like they were ever able to get ahead on their work.
That’s when overwhelm and resentment sets in – a.k.a. the ultimate motivation killers.
Sound like you? Then let me be clear: this isn’t about regimenting your life, or stuffing yourself into a little box.
Master Schedules aren’t about restricting. They’re about making space.
I’ve found that when you put up boundaries around your work time and playtime, and create clear distinctions around how many hours you want to spend doing what, you actually create more freedom, by allowing yourself to focus on what’s really important (and only that!) and be more productive in your business.
Even my most freedom-adoring, flowers-in-their-hair clients tell me they immediately feel massively relieved after creating a master schedule because it reflects their perfect routine.
For example, let’s say you’d love to have an email subscriber list 3,000 strong. Perhaps you time block out 2 hours in the morning every day to focus on list building. So then, maybe your perfect workday involves 2 hours spent working on list building in the morning, 3 hours on client work, an hour or two lunch with your bestie at 2 PM, then back to work until you schedule in a 6 PM “laptop closed” time and head to a dance class.
Design your Master Schedule to capture these time blocks, and give yourself permission to make it happen!
When you become intentional about the type of activities and time you want to be working, versus just focusing on whatever feels most urgent right now, you’ll finally start creating the life and business you always meant to build when you ditched your desk job.
Importantly, the process of mapping out your ideal week in a Master Schedule can change everything because it quickly helps you identify the types of activities and business functions you MUST focus on to grow your business, maintain your wellbeing and achieve your goals. That means you can be more aware and intentional every day, in real time, about where you’re pouring your energy, so you can make sure you dedicate yourself to the highest-impact activities only.
Have I inspired to create your own Master Schedule? I hope so! Here are 3 tips to help you get started designing your Master Schedule (without getting overwhelmed).
1. Get clear on where you are right now.
What personal tasks do you feel you’re spending too much time on? What business tasks do you find yourself pouring extra hours into? What are your current commitments? What would you like to spend more time focused on?
Spend a week tracking exactly how you’re spending your time at the moment. Once you’re done, ask yourself what you wish you’d spent more time on, less time on, and what important business functions and goals didn’t get a look in at all. Spend some time capturing your thoughts in your journal.
Getting clear on where your time is going now is the most important starting point for building your Master Schedule. If you don’t know where the time sucks lie, you can’t plug the holes!
2. Get bold about your goals (personal and business-related).
As the saying goes, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. So taking time to get clear on where you want to be in 3 to 6 months in your business and life is the key to identifying and prioritising time blocks in your schedule.
Do you want to finish writing your book? Launch your new program? Land a media placement or two? Don’t be shy – write them down in your journal too.
These are the dreams your Master Schedule can help you bring to life.
3. Plot out and time block your ideal week – and make sure it’s a normal week.
When I say “normal week”, I mean no travelling, no vacations, no special events/conferences – just you, your desk (or dining table or cafe table?), and a regular 7-day week.
Each of the 7 days will include blocks for different activities THAT ALIGN TO THE GOALS you came up with, both business and fun. Making sure you’ve got dedicated time each day or week carved out to focus on the actions that’ll bring your priority goals to life is THE crucial step here. The intent here is to create an outline of what you want to accomplish within a week, so your to-do lists goes from “total mess up inside your head” to utterly actionable clarity.
Pro Tip: Take the time to think through the critical business functions that’ll help your business take off, and allocate the time blocks you need to get those babies done each week.
Commit to running each day in accordance with your new Master Schedule and you’ll quickly be smashing out your goals and feeling more freedom in your day.
Now: it’s time to create your own Master Schedule!
I’ve created a special workbook to help you easily kick off your own game-changing productivity adventure. Grab your copy by clicking on the button below.