If you own your own business you have a lot to do every week and you are probably wearing many hats. The worst feeling is looking back on a week that is ending and realizing all of the really important things that didn’t get done this week. The nauseating part of the whole realization is these were the key items that you woke up thinking about last weekend. The racing thoughts that had you watch the clock at 2 am, 3 am, 3:30 am…..
But….when you walked into the office on Monday, phones began ringing, people started interrupting, and things needed to get done. The racing thoughts of the nights before were smothered by the distractions of the day.
And this isn’t the first time this has happened!
How do you stop the madness?
The answer really is as boring as this: you need a plan ahead for the week.
I’m not just talking about a to do list with the important items on it. You know that list just get’s buried under the new papers that hit your desk Monday – just like all the new texts and emails that hit your electronic device bury the really important ones from last week.
You need to spend about 30 minutes planning your week out on a calendar. You will find endless advice, methods and tools for doing this. But, I learned the absolute best advice about this from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habit’s of Highly Effective People:
Get Control Over Your Week – a la Stephen Covey
- Make a master list of tasks that need to happen in the coming week.
- Pull up your calendar. Review pre-planned appointments already in your calendar.
- Add new events or appointments or meetings in that are important. Review again. Do you need to move anything?
- Look at your task list and prioritize based on importance and due date. Add in time for important tasks to be complete prior to their due date. Add it in right on your calendar.
- Do they all fit? Do you still have time to eat and sleep? If not, circle the things in your calendar that are the least important for you to personally do. Then think about if you can delegate or move to the next week.
- Sometimes we need to move appointments or deadlines. To do this with integrity, call and rearrange with the person expecting you, or something from you. Most people are flexible if they are communicated in advance and know what to expect. Waiting until the last minute to communicate, or just missing a deadline, is where the problems come in.
- Leave a little margin in your schedule in case an unexpected emergency arises. They usually do!
- Monday morning, begin to work according to your plan.
- When people call and drop by, explain that you will have to get to their new item at some scheduled time in the future. (Unless it is one of those emergencies)
- Begin again at the end of the week for the following week.
This seems like common sense, I know, but few small business owners actually do some form of this. Most are in the category I described at the beginning.
Confession: Every few months I slip back to the description at the beginning of this post. Now I can pull this up as a reminder every few weeks so I don’t fall!
One last thing….make sure you include your personal life on the calendar. Remember to always put First Things First a la Covey. First things are usually God and family. They need to be put into the schedule first!