An entire week on a calendar? Yep, you read that title right! I schedule out everything I’m doing in a week, both personal and business, on my digital calendar, hour by hour for every weekday. And, I’m going to teach you how to do it too in this blog post (and corresponding podcast episode).
This has been such a highly requested episode after the many times I’ve shown you guys my calendar on Instagram stories. And you’re like “What the heck is this magic?!” Well, it’s time to get into the magic! I’m covering how I take a handwritten to-do list and put each item into my calendar every week. This allows me to make decisions in advance, and therefore minimize how many small decisions I have to make in a day. Your mind will feel so free. I don’t do this perfectly, ever. I believe in imperfect action when it comes to things like this, but what I do does transform the way my day goes. Knowing the next step changes everything.
This process will help you increase productivity in the new year. So, if you’re ready to stop wasting so much time and start actually accomplish your big goals, let’s dive in! This may just be the encouragement you need to change things for you in the new year and give you the encouragement you need to go after your goals!
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE NOW:
If you’re reading this at the beginning of 2020, then you likely have all kinds of exciting goals set for your business and personal life right now. So the title may have freaked some of you out! Schedule everything on a calendar? Why would I do that? Maybe it sounds stressful to you or freedom inhibiting. Maybe it seems pointless or too intense?
No matter where you fall, let me tell you something cool — this system has totally changed the way I run my life. It has given me MORE freedom, helped me actually CREATE time, and given me peace of mind.
I get asked often how I get so much done during the week. People want to know productivity advice and they’re basing the question on seeing my business on social media and feeling like I get a lot done. To clear up the common misconception, social media isn’t always reality, so remember that. But, I also DO get a lot done. While I work an average of 40 hours or less each week, my business continues to grow like crazy every year.
First, let me give some credit where credit is due. I learned the foundation for these scheduling techniques from 2 very different women - Brooke Castillo from the Life Coach School. She has a podcast episode masterclass on this topic exactly. It was insane to me and changed the way I started scheduling right after that.
And, Lauryn Evarts Bosstick of the Skinny Confidential. I follow Lauryn less close, but she is a total master of productivity, so anytime she has topics relating to that - I’m always all ears for it! So, credit to both of them for teaching me well.
And I want to go ahead and say to you, don’t just do what I say exactly because it works for me. You have to figure out what works for your life. If you already have an amazingly productive way to schedule your day, then you might not need this. You have to figure out what works for you. What worked in one season might not work in another. Take what works and leave what doesn’t.
How this works:
I prefer to do this process on Sunday afternoon or evening. And, it usually takes me 30 to 45 minutes.
1. Write out everything you want to (and have to) do this week on a sheet of paper.
It needs to be PAPER. Paper is key here! While I do this, I usually have my computer out as well with my calendar app already pulled up so I can see what’s already on the calendar. Usually, I’ll already have some meetings for work or personal life on the calendar.
I write both personal and work stuff on the same page. I’ll usually put all the personal stuff grouped together, and business stuff sorted by categories. You will likely fill this blank sheet of paper all the way full. Write until you’re out of things to write. This DOES NOT have to be perfect. You might forget somethings, it’s ok. Ideally, you want to write in the mindset of completed tasks. So for example, instead of saying “work on email marketing” you would say something like “Draft 2 emails, put them in my email marketing platform, schedule them to be sent.” Be specific. The task needs to have an outcome.
2. Write down any obstacles to doing those to-do items. Sometimes there are no obstacles, but other times you’ll realize that the task is actually a couple of steps because other people are involved or one thing needs to happen before another thing can.
As an example: Yesterday, I wrote down “wrap all Christmas presents”, but I realized I actually can’t complete that without doing two other things. We still have family members to shop for, so I need to buy those gifts. And, on top of that, there are some people who I don’t know what to get them yet. So, I have to do two things: figure out what to buy and then buy it. I put that on my paper now too instead of just wrapping gifts.
So, once you’ve exhausted your brain and you have it all on your blank paper, you can move on!
3. Cross off what you don’t want to do or what can wait until next week.
4. Put it all into your calendar.
I do this on my computer on iCalendar. You can use Google Calendar or whatever you want for this. I like iCalendar because I can access it easily from my phone and my husband uses it too so we can see what the other has going on. But for me, he only sees some categories. I don’t want to bore him with what I do hour by hour! Ya know?!
You could also use a paper calendar, but I think digital is better since you can access it anywhere and it’s easy to change things later. I like to look at my list and maybe circle or highlight the things that are most important and I’ll try to put those in first.
The important thing is to strategically add everything you wrote down into your calendar. This takes practice. You’ll get better every week as you do this, but if you’re like me, you’ll never get it perfect, which is fine. This step might take a little while, you might put something in one spot then think it through more and move it to another day or time. I mark through everything as I add it to the calendar so I can know what’s on there and what’s not.
Here are some fast tips for putting it into your calendar:
- I like to color code everything. So, I have 10 different categories I’m using each day. Because of this, at a glance, I can see where my time will be going! How cool is that?!
- Leave margin for yourself! Don’t do every single thing back to back to back. Remember you’re human, you need breaks. And rest assured, that thanks to the digital nature of this, you can move things around later if needed.
- Throw away the to do list. There’s no need for it! How cool is that?! Throw it out, and have peace because all of the things you need to do are on a schedule that you just have to follow now.
Let’s get you in the right mindset:
Ok, time to talk mindset. Once you have your calendar and you’re ready to roll, here’s what might happen (and certainly will at some point)! I know it happens for me. You get to something on your calendar and you just don’t want to do it. You’re bored, you’re tired, you’re not feeling like it. You’d rather go scroll on Instagram for 15 minutes or do some mindless task.
So, ask yourself now… What kind of excuses are you going to tell yourself about the things you don’t end up wanting to do? And, more importantly, what are you going to say back to yourself? This is why I put notes to myself in the calendar. I see that workout I’m putting at 6:30 am on there, and I know I could easily say to myself… “You’re tired. You should just hit snooze again.” What would help me actually do the thing I want to do? Maybe I set my workout clothes out the night before. Maybe I go to bed early so I’m not as tired. Maybe I ask a friend to go with me so I have accountability. Figure out what you need to do to keep with the plan. And I love to remember this big key:
If I try to deviate from the calendar, I remember that the person with my best interest in mind created it. She set these big goals for me, she wants my business to grow. She’s smart and determined. What would she say? That girl on Sunday who wrote the calendar? What would she tell me when I’m thinking “But, I don’t want to design a website right now? I don’t feel like that!'' She'll probably tell me, it’s just a feeling and it will pass. Just get started and you’ll be happy you did it.
She has your best interest at heart. Isn’t that amazing that as your current self, you can plan the week for your future self? Then in the moment of doing the things your current self has to care for and respect what your past self prepared for you and what your future self is trying to achieve.
I know the past/future self stuff is confusing, but for me, it really solidifies things. Because in a year from now when you’ve done the things you wanted so bad, your future self is gonna be thanking you right now for doing that thing on the calendar when you actually wanted to just scroll Instagram. She’s thanking you because you guys did it. Plan like that. Put things on the calendar that drive you to where you want to be on this date a year from now. Put things on your calendar that move you towards where you want to be 20 to 30 years from now. Put stuff on your calendar that will make even just next week feel easier.
Practice doing what you say you’re going to do. Respect yourself that much. You honor your future self when you don’t give in to instant gratification all the time. If you had on your calendar a meeting with me, let’s say, we’re getting coffee as first time meeting each other. You’re probably going to be there on time. Do that for yourself too. Show up for yourself the same way you would a friend.
When you make decisions ahead of time and honor the decision, you take willpower out of it. You just have to do what you decided you would do. You have to just honor it. It’s exhausting to make little decisions all day. When you make these scheduling decisions ahead of time, you can focus your brainpower on the big decisions!
Tune into the podcast episode to hear me read off a day on my calendar this week and get a more extensive look at this process! If you want more details on this, Brooke Castillo’s masterclass on this is great! Click here to check it out.
“You can live your life in reactive mode, or you can live a deliberate life where you plan what you want to do.”
- Brooke Castillo