Managing Your Day

As an entrepreneur, the best and potentially worst thing that could ever happen to you is to gain the freedom of time. The construct of a 9-5, Monday – Friday schedule is completely made up, but it works, and it is still being adopted by most companies. Once you take the step of being an entrepreneur, you realize how imaginary these schedules are in your new life and how quickly you need to define what works for you.

8-hour workdays were said to have been introduced by Henry Ford back in the 20th century. This was during the time of the industrial revolution, and if limitations were not placed on manual labor, people would continue to complain and be overworked. Let us be honest, the 8-hour workday is a straightforward way to manage employees. By most standards, you work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and get a paycheck to compensate you for your time. I will not deny the importance of creating a work schedule so that you dedicate time to your business, but task-based working is worth considering.

A task-based work schedule prioritizes completing the work at hand regardless of how much time it takes while a time-based work schedule means working as much as possible within the parameters of time. Many employees work on a time-based schedule, so you may hear your coworkers say something like, “ugh, it’s not 5 yet!?.” Work is spread out within the confines of their time schedule and what is not completed today is often pushed into tomorrow. As an entrepreneur, you are afforded the flexibility to switch to a task-based schedule, and it changes how you view business.

For example, after resigning from my corporate job, I immediately realized how warped my mind was to this system. I could not help but think Friday was the best day of the week, Sunday nights were spent dreading Mondays, and days off had to be scheduled around the holidays. However, this does not have to be the case. As an entrepreneur, you decide how to spend your time, and the fruits of your labor will show if your time was spent wisely. I adopted task-based scheduling because I realized that I would rather work until the work is done. I approach this system by first mapping out what I want to accomplish and then breaking it down into tasks for each day. For instance, if my goal is to finish an online course for my certificate, I may opt to schedule specific classes to complete each day. Some classes may take me 6 hours, others may take me 3, but in a task-based system, the time spent is irrelevant. If I have assigned it to myself for that day, it must get done.

Keep in mind that this system is easier said than done, but once you get a handle on it, it can be one of your best decisions. A couple of things to consider when switching to task-based scheduling:

1. Weekends are not off-limits.

  • This is one of the hardest things to grasp as an entrepreneur, but the sooner the better. Focusing too much on enjoying your weekend can cause you to waste valuable time that you could be using to develop yourself and your business. If you want to ease into it, try scheduling fewer tasks on your weekends until you are comfortable with treating it like a standard workday.

2. Even God rested.

  • Now that you are an entrepreneur, you may not have someone looming over your shoulder telling you to take a lunch or vacation, but this does not mean that you should not. Take some time in-between tasks to workout, get some air, or socialize with a friend/loved one before getting back to work. Since you determine your schedule, you can take 30-minute breaks or 5-hour breaks but decide what will truly benefit you long-term.

3. Define the end goal and work backward.

  • Since you will be breaking your day out into tasks, you need to know what those tasks are. When you are your own boss, you must have a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish before you start working. Then, you can create action items that will help you reach your end goal.

4. Recalibrate. Constantly.

  • There may be some days where some tasks get overlooked or are left for dead. Listen, it is okay. Do not make a habit of leftover action items, but do not spend time mulling over them either. Life happens and unexpected things come up that may derail our schedule. Try shuffling your schedule around to make sure that whatever was missed gets addressed as soon as possible.

5. Challenge yourself.

  • If you are noticing that your daily tasks are taking you less than an hour to complete each day, then it may be time to start challenging yourself or adding a new goal. This is not to say that time spent working defines the quality of work, but you should end each day feeling accomplished and fulfilled. There are days where I only invest four hours into my business, but those are four hours that had my brain spinning like the machine that it was created to be. I leave my computer feeling rewarded by my work, and if you do not feel like that at the end of your workday, challenge yourself.

As an owner, I had to find ways to make task-based scheduling work for me. One thing that I realized was that if something was not on my calendar, it did not get done. So, if you have a planner or online calendar, be sure to use it and set reminders of all your tasks so that it is visible. Another cool hack that has helped me tremendously is using the iOS home screen to my advantage. I am always on my phone, so why not make my phone work for me? When I swipe right, I have organized my widgets so that the most impactful apps are seen first. I have the Verse of the Day from the Bible app, so I never miss my daily bread, my calendar and weather widgets, and importantly, my to-do list using the reminder app. Now, I see a high-level overview of everything that I have set to accomplish for the day to keep me on track. Lastly, this mindset switch is not just for entrepreneurs; it is just easier for us because we own our time. However, anyone who is looking to change their perspective in managing their day can benefit from this life hack.