Every August I’m shocked to see back-to-school items and Halloween decor appearing on the shelves, it seems like summer has just started, and then – wham! – we’re thrown right back into the daily routines of early mornings, breakfast on the run, and “don’t forget your homework!” as we run out the door. The lazy days of summer come to an end too soon, a feeling made all the more apparent with two little girls who are growing up too fast.
As an entrepreneur, you probably went into business for yourself so you could get more freedom in your day to do what you love, with the people you love. But the daydream of painting in a sunlit room with a fresh cup of coffee, followed by a morning stroll through the garden, and taking your children to the park gives way to never-ending to-do lists, emails, and more computer work than you ever imagined. And as your business has grown, you’ve probably noticed that you have even less time to do the creative part that you love and are spending most of your week on administrative tasks, client communications, and accounting.
But does it have to be that way? Can the lifestyle that inspired you to go out on your own become your reality without sacrificing income, clients, and ultimately your business?
While there’s no silver bullet solution (and anyone who tells you to just create a morning routine or change what you’re worth is, in my opinion, an idiot) there are some mindset and calendar shifts I’ve made that have actually and directly impacted my life and nudged me closer to the sunlit easy mornings I envisioned.
#1 Decide and declare if you have a business or a hobby
Assess honestly if you have a business or a hobby. I’ve met, coached, and talked with countless entrepreneurs who, though they work full time, don’t treat their work like a business and in truth have a hobby. What’s the difference? A hobby is something you do for self-fulfillment and enjoyment, and make little to no profit. Having a hobby is great! But, if you’re serious about wanting to replace your corporate 9-5 income, the hobby approach isn’t going to cut it.
A business, on the other hand, means consistency, scheduling, contracts, and pricing your work for profit and growth. You’re investing in your business (and self) regularly, you don’t offer family and friends discounts, and you schedule time in your week for the things that will move the needle in your business (aka marketing, sales, and creative work).
Setting a daily schedule and weekly plan is the most important (non-mental) shift I’ve made in my business. Here are a few of the things I’ve done that you can steal and immediately reap the benefits…
#2 Set your schedule
- Marketing Monday – Block off every Monday (or whatever is the first day of your work week) and dedicate it to marketing and learning. I literally cross off Mondays on my calendar so nothing else can be scheduled (and don’t leave this until the end of the week – client work will undoubtedly pile up and you’ll be tempted to do ‘paid’ work instead). On Mondays, I write blog content, schedule my Instagram and Pinterest posts, answer client emails from the weekend, update my website, and reach out to dream clients.
- Make Time for Fun – Your never-ending to-do list will still be there in a week, so block off the days and weeks you know will be extra busy with life’s special events (first week of school, vacation, pre-vacation prep, post-vacation unpacking, holidays, birthdays, etc.). Rushing through those memory-making days is a recipe for stress. You are at your best for your clients and family when you can focus on just one at a time.
- Dedicate Weeks Just to Doing Your Business – Can you sense the theme? It’s called block it off! Set aside an entire week just to create new products, update your website, finally create your email marketing, reach out to your dream brands, and finish that course. Your business requires just as much love and attention as client work, so make time for it.
#3 Honor your time
Setting your schedule is the easy part – the hard part is sticking to it. Honoring the time you’ve set aside to work on the business of your business (creating, marketing, learning) is so tempting to fill with client work, but in the end, makes all the difference. For the health of your business, the quality of your work (and let’s be honest, your sanity) it’s important to resist the temptation to take on those rush jobs and last-minute clients who would take over your scheduled time.