The living is easy and the kids are…home.  You are stuck between wanting to relax and wanting to keep the business ball rolling.  You feel scattered, pulled in all directions, guilty for not being all things to all people, unable to say “No,” and stressed about doing the bare minimum to keep the business afloat.  So, you suck it up, soothe yourself with the thought that the kids will be in school in just a few short weeks, grab your copy of “City of Girls,” park yourself by the pool and put off work yet another day.

Sound familiar?

I get it. 

This does not have to be an either/or situation: either fully engaged in your business OR fully committed to fam.  There’s a Both/And Solution here…  One you can begin to put into practice right now.

Now, I know what you’re going to say, “Yea, but, how am I going to find the time to do it all?  I can hardly fit one more commitment on my plate!” 

I hear you – and you may be familiar with an expression Desmond Tutu, Nobel Prize winner for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid in South Africa, once wisely said: “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

Step One

Plot Your Course: Create a Plan

This may seem like an odd question, but have you ever considered your relationship with time?  The greatest complaints I hear from the women I work in my coaching practice have to do with their lack of time.  They use expressions such as not having enough it, it flying or passing quickly, wasting it, it being too late, having limited amounts of it, it being against you, running out of it and wouldn’t it be nice if they had it to do [fill in the blank.]  Not to mention our cultural identification and gripping fear of aging, regret, frittering it away… There is a lot of pressure we put on ourselves in regards to time.

Just as you have relationships with loved ones, partners and yourself, you have a relationship with time. 

If you were to see time as a sentient being, by the relationship you have with it, would you say it was more of a foe or a friend?  Do you follow its lead or feel controlled by it?  Are you time’s driver or its victim?

It’s time to take time back and create a bite-size plan (remember we’re not going to eat the elephant all at once…)

Let’s take a good look at your next 30 days in your business and life.  We are going to divide your time into 3 categories: personal time, business time, and contact time. 

Plot and mark off your personal time in first.  (Wha?  But what about all off my obligations?  My clients, my responsibilities?  What will people think?????)  I know this is a bit of a mind bender, and you know what they say, “if Mama ain’t happy….”  So, go ahead a chart out your pedicure time, pleasure reading time, vacay with family time, shopping for school time, girl’s night out time etc.. FIRST. 

Next, plot and mark off your business time.  This time is dedicated to doing things like sending emails, writing copy, planning out your next workshop, scheduling gigs, creating new packages/programming etc… (by the way, the work you are doing here in planning your 30 days can be considered business time…)

Finally, plot and mark off your contact time.  This is time you’ve specifically put aside to pick up the phone, meet with a client, go to a networking event, give an estimate, talk to prospective clients….

You may or may not have anything going on during your dedicated “contact time” and, by making time for it in your planner, it makes it that much easier to make appointments and dates so you no longer find yourself scrambling to “squeeze” somebody in.  In fact, you can tell people, I have dates/times available for this purpose, what works for you?

Don’t you already feel the difference?  Yep. You.  In time’s driver seat.

Step Two:

Maintain Routines: Keep a Weekly Plan

Routines… you might be thinking… are only for kids, right?  Nope.

You might find yourself throwing a 3 year-old tantrum here….: But I like things loosey goosey, I don’t like to be tied down, I do better when I can be spontaneous!

Does this mean you like the unpredictability of your business?   Does that mean you thrive on inconsistent income? Does this mean you enjoy being at the mercy of time, obligation and responsibilities that do not serve your financial Dire Need?

I’m pretty certain you’d say no.

So, stay with me here.  Let’s create, what is referred to in The Nia Technique, as a tight, but loose structure for your week.

Begin your week with your 3 Top Goals…  Not planning what you’d like to achieve by the end of the week is akin to trusting a blind pilot to get you to your destination…  Have you blocked out uninterrupted time for these activities or projects?

Check your calendar at the beginning of the week, make sure you’re ready for the upcoming personal, business, and contact time commitments so you are not caught completely off guard.

Have a weekly planning list – this is a checklist or default template you can go through every week.  Make sure to have your top 3 priorities on the top of your checklist as well as all of the regular admin, calendaring and blocked off times accounted for.

One of the advantages of planning your days, your weeks, your month is that it takes away a lot of stress because you know exactly when you will do what and that you have thought of everything.  To avoid the sense that you’ve over plan, account for buffer times in your day.  For example, add 15 extra minutes to every event that lasts an hour or more, especially when other people are involved.

Step 3

Be Ready When Unpredictable Events Strike. 

Although planning can have its dark side – being spontaneity’s worst enemy – life is life.  And we are human, subject to the unpredictable: a child getting the flu, the in-laws dropping in…

So, plan for it.  Leave some space in there for you to breathe and to honor the “loose” part of that “tight but loose” idea from The Nia Technique.  For example, keep your weekends plan free so you can spontaneously go to the pool with the kids, hit a matinee on a rainy day, go for an unplanned Sunday drive.

You needn’t eat the elephant all at once when it comes to creating boundaries around your time and schedule.  Taking a step-by step approach to taking back your time will allow you to decrease your stress level, anxiety and guilt so you can increase your business’ bottom line.  Truly working harder is for the birds.  Working wiser, now, that’s the way to go.

Let us know in the comments what is your relationship with time and what are you willing to change or enhance in that relationship?

Savvy Blog Contributor:

Joelle Lydon

Joëlle is an internationally sought after Relationship Expert, mentoring smart, successful, self-aware and spiritual women to transform their life and love struggles, low self-esteem and mistrust into ease and confidence. Her clients are able to release their painful stories about what it means to be highly sensitive, take responsibility for themselves as Grown Woman rather than a little girl,  and change their life trajectory.

Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own, and do not express the opinions of the Savvy Professional Women Network.