Clean up your schedule

I wanted to write this particularly for those individuals that deal with anxiety and are currently managing a business. I understand and feel your pain. I personally have been through bouts where my anxiety has got in the way of my own progression, forcing me to feel as if I wasn’t really in control of myself or my business. Worrying about how I would pay my next bill, if my company would survive, what product to make, all combined together to create a strong sense of apprehension, stress and urgency.

Now don’t get me wrong sometimes urgency itself can be a great thing. It can spark lazer sharp focus and the adrenaline itself can guide you through your tasks on the days when your energy is low. But this is usually the root cause to lifestyle imbalances. We end up “working harder” to compensate and counter our stresses, a distraction of some sort, doing things just to suppress our feelings only to see that our productivity has taken a hit and that something doesn’t fit right.

I want you to truly realise that over-working is not the key to success. If anything. it is a key problem that leads to poor habits and inefficiencies down the line. One of the main reasons why many of us are overwhelmed is simply down to poor planning and over-scheduling.

I have seen so many entrepreneurs take on far more than they can chew. Their schedules are often packed with numerous to do lists and unrealistic targets that they are never able to complete. Some argue that this is ambition, forcing yourself to exceed your own expectations whereas I see it as self-sabotage. By setting yourself with schedules rooted in over-working you effectively creating a personal system fails to celebrate the small wins. You are always working hard only to be left at the end of the day feeling as if you haven’t done enough, a feeling that if left unchecked can truly impact your life as whole. You may struggle to feel content.  

To really combat this problem, I encourage you to adopt the less is more approach. To actively streamline your schedules so that you are able to deliver things consistently and to the highest standards. Remember that running a business is like a marathon and not a sprint and you need to create processes within your life today that allow you to continue to work sustainably in the future! Below are some tips you can apply to your current schedules. I would also recommend grabbing a good old-fashioned yearly planner, preferably one which allows for week to week scheduling. You can go for an app or use Google calendar but I find that these can sometimes lead to distractions. 

  1. Schedule no more than 4 key tasks within a day. This allows for project variety, but it also allows you to space out your workload into more manageable chunks which will elevate some of your pressure.
  1. Never under-estimate your tasks. Make sure that you have a firm grasp on timings and a strong understanding on what each task actually requires. The worst feeling is when your work begins to drag and most of the time this feeling can be avoided by anticipating the challenges in your work correctly. 
  1. Prioritise effectively. Not all tasks should be weighted equally. I would advise that you rank these each task in importance, deadline and difficulty. Ensure that you plan for contingencies to ensure that you don’t come across any nasty surprises and that you have plenty of time to refine your work. 
  1. Set expectations & boundaries. I have had clients call me at 2am on a Saturday evening. This is not normal nor is this healthy. Having no boundaries forces you to constantly be in work mode, which takes away from your productivity. Don’t let it. When you set time to relax or for personal activities, make sure that make an active effort to step away mentally from your workload. 
  1. It sounds cliché but many entrepreneurs trade off their sleep-in order to get things done. I get that there are times when the momentum is with you or you have a deadline which forces you to pull that all nighter but making it a regular occurrence will only cause you to crash somewhere along the line. I recommend even scheduling power naps during the course of the day especially during the afternoon, you will be surprised and how much more productive you are. 
  1. Planning days. I usually use my Sunday evenings for this but making time to plan gives me that psychological assurance that I am in control of what is ahead of me. Many entrepreneurs aimlessly work towards short-term goals which sometimes distort our own purpose. It’s important to use this time to evaluate you progress and to celebrate it but to also remind yourself on why you are doing the things that you are doing. This will also help remove the monotony of those everyday micro-tasks. 

The key to all of this is balance. If you are able get adequate sleep (8 hours ), work hard in the time that you have allocated  and have the ability to mentally park your work when needed, then you will be able to not only enjoy your life but you feel less pressure from it as a whole. Making time to plan properly and creating discipline helps to free you from the shackles of stress that you created. Remember that the we way we work and think is also a habit and no matter how long you have been doing this for, you are always able to change them for the better.

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