How to Create a Structured, Balanced Workday
Being a small business owner, particularly a work-from-home small business owner, means our daily decisions are often completely up to us. It’s up to us to decide what each and every process looks like — and what our workday looks like. What we do and how we do it is completely up to us.
At first glance, making all of those decisions can seem a little overwhelming — but on the other hand, being in control of all of those decisions gives us a unique and special opportunity to create a structured, balanced workday — to create a schedule aligned with what we value, what we need both personally and professionally, and what we have to accomplish within our businesses.
So if you’ve ever found yourself:
- Struggling to design a workday in a way that makes sense to you,
- Working all day long, migrating from your desktop computer to the couch with your laptop in hand, or
- Ending your workday with a sense of guilt that you didn’t accomplish everything you set out to do…
Today’s episode is for you. Today, we’re sharing how to create a structured, balanced workday.
How to Create a Structured, Balanced Workday
Let me begin by saying, creating a structured and balanced workday requires you to know yourself, to know how you work best, and to know what’s possible for you in your unique life and lifestyle.
Doing what another business owner is doing could be a good starting place, but I wholeheartedly believe every person is unique and should keep their unique needs in mind — as best they can, or as best as possible — when designing their workday. That way, you can create a unique plan aligned with your values, life, and business, rather than molding your values, life, and business around what works well for someone else.
As an example, beyond designing a balanced workday, I value having time to cook healthy meals, having time to exercise, having time to pursue hobbies, and having time to connect with my husband, family, and friends. All of these values — the values I have beyond work — help me to bring my best self to my workday, so they’ve got to be factored in.
Lately, I’ve been using the Start Today Priority Planner by Rachel Hollis and her Start Today brand — and this planner has been so, so incredibly helpful for me because it’s allowed me to not only plan for a productive workday, but it has also encouraged me to schedule the things I value, too.
The planner has check-boxes to encourage you to wake up 1 hour earlier, exercise for 30 minutes, drink enough water, and practice daily gratitude. So, when I check off each of those check-boxes at the start of my day, I can rest assured I’m bringing my healthiest most balanced self into the workday.
The planner also asks you to list key tasks you’d like to accomplish and to map out your day from 5 AM – 9 PM — which altogether, helps to create an intentional day and better ensure you are taking daily, small, intentional steps in all of the key areas of your business and your life.
After my morning routine, my next step is to begin my workday. At With Grace and Gold, we use a combination of Basecamp and 17Hats to manage our projects. A step-by-step to-do list for every client is programmed into our project management systems. What this means is: When we open our computers to start our workday, we know exactly what needs to be worked on each day. Our project management system generates a list of what needs to be accomplished — and we know exactly what we have to work on or accomplish each day.
If you ever experience moments of: “What should I be working on today to move my business forward?” or “Have I heard back from my client yet?” or “What was going on with so-and-so?” — it’s truly worth exploring how a project management system can help you to approach every day with strategy.
We believe using a project management system is beyond essential. Whether you’re serving 3 clients or 30 clients, using a project management system allows you to use a reliable system to manage all of your tasks and to-dos. Even if you’ve got a great memory, and even if you love pencil and paper — which we both definitely do — a project management system is a reliable way to document everything that has been done and everything that needs to be done within your business.
Best of all, all that brain power you had been using to keep track of your clients and their processes can now be freed up to think creatively and innovatively about your business. You can truly take the weekend off, or take a vacation from your business — and come back to work knowing exactly what needs to be done.
For us, using a project management system saves us time, allows us to serve all of our clients using the same tried-and-true, step-by-step process, and allows us to manage all of the key areas of our business — not only our client work — in a balanced, systematic way. I can’t stress it enough; using a project management system is a business-changer and a life-changer.
And for one final piece of advice: Give yourself grace. As creative small business owners, we aren’t always creative or innovative. We can’t be. If you can, adjust your workday or your vision when you know you aren’t up to doing certain tasks. If you’re feeling less creative, focus on the tedious tasks like bookkeeping. If you’re feeling super creative, focus on your craft. If you’re feeling like you simply need to work ON your business rather than IN your business — do it! Rather than being hard on yourself, create and embrace variety.
So, to review:
- Get to know yourself: What you need every day both personally and professionally. Write down what you value and what you would be proud of yourself for accomplishing every day.
- Invest in a daily planner aligned with your values and goals. The goal is to bring your best self to your day — and to your workday. When your make time for your values in your everyday life, you can experience more balance and joy in every day — or every workday. You are more than your small business, and when you honor the important areas of your life, too — you’ll become a happier person and a happier business owner, too!
- Invest in a project management system for your business. When all of your to-dos are carefully organized and in place, you can begin and end every workday with purpose, you can free up brain space to be creative, and you can step away from your business for the evening, the weekend, or a long vacation — and return with peace of mind to a to-do list you can manage.
- Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. As much as we want to be creative and innovative all day, every day — we are people with personal lives, emotions, hills, and valleys. Do your best, and have peace when — not if — when your day doesn’t go as planned.
We are so hopeful today’s episode has gotten your wheels turning as you discover new ways to bring structure to this flexible, unique career path we’re in! Whether you’ve always been a work-from-home small business owner, or coronavirus has caused you to jump into a work-from-home lifestyle — there are small adjustments we can all make within our schedules to create a structured, balanced workday we feel proud of.
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