As small business owners our most precious resource is time! As a huge planner nerd I have gone through different seasons of planning daily, weekly and monthly. Here are my best tips and ideas for each style of planning your day.
Criteria For Planning
What changes your style of planning is the kinds of work that you have to do. For example when I had a social media marketing company doing work for clients I definitely had to plan on a daily basis so that I could accomplish my goals for my company and my clients. Now that my business is blogging and I have less appointments I plan on a weekly basis.
What do you HAVE to do?
Before you go through these styles of planning, stop for a wee minute and think about the kinds of things you HAVE to do for your business right now, not all the time, but right now.
For example, my friend Kirsten just had a baby. What she HAD to do in her business 6 months ago is very different than what she has to do right now. Right now she is doing the bare minimum to keep the lights on, in a few months she will probably be able to add a few more items to her daily todos.
Having too much to do
One of the big mistakes I see small business owners do is add on and add on things that they feel are super important. That old saying is true, if everything is important then nothing is important.
So instead of just cramming all the things you think you should do, take a second now and list the most important tasks you have to do.
- What To Do When You Are Just Too Busy
- The One Thing Book (#promo) – this is a GREAT book if you are trying to increase your business and decrease the time you spend working!
Going through seasons of planning
Most times when people are stressed out they look for a post like this. They are trying to find a solution to a time problem by learning about planners.
But your problem isn't your planner, your problem is your time.
Right now your life may be crazy busy and you want to find a way to wrangle everything you have to do. In that case you probably need a daily planning solution. But if you are having trouble getting everything you want accomplished on a higher level, you might need a weekly style of planning.
Daily Business Planning
This is what you need when you are crazy busy! Having a daily list of all the things you have to accomplish is vital to getting a huge amount of work done, especially when it has a lot of moving pieces.
Even with lots to do, make sure you know the ONE THING that is most important today in your business. This could be to pay your bills, write a blog post or even have a sales call or meeting. Make that one thing a priority and put it at the top of your page.
3 Critical tasks
Then think of the 3 most important things you need to get done today and put them at the top of your todo list or appointment calendar. Set reminders for yourself that you need to do these things today.
Note…. once you have those 4 things done today, you are good! You can pat yourself on the back and call it a good day! Yes, there is probably lots more that you will get done, but give yourself some grace and say “good job” when your most important tasks are done every day.
Now you need to have a list of other ToDos you have to get done. If any of them are two minute or less tasks then do them and cross them off your list. The rest you should prioritize and move to the following day if you know you can't get to them in your work day.
Having a whole list of tasks you know you can't complete is demoralizing and mean. Give yourself reasonable stretch goals, but don't overwhelm your ToDos with un-accomplishable amounts of tasks.
Appointments are part of some people's day. Just don't fool yourself about how long an appointment will take.
For example, I used to put 1 hour in for an appointment and not put the corresponding travel time in there. That meant that a 1 hour appointment could really be anywhere between and hour and a half and three hours, but I was beating myself up over not getting as much done when I had less time than I actually thought I did to work.
Weekly Business Planning
If you are focused on growing your business, launching a new product or doing anything else strategy focused, you might want to start planning on a weekly basis (you can still have a fun little ToDo list to get your daily things done!)
Strategy for your business
Weekly planning is the best way to get a good overhead view of what you are actually trying to accomplish in your business overall.
Each week you should sit down and figure out what needs to happen THIS week to move you towards a big goal.
I feel that most business owners should be working with a weekly planner of some form or another. This will force you to get out of the day-to-day grind and start prioritizing what will move your business to the next level.
Because there is so much less space on a weekly planner, knowing your one thing is even more important. This can be a bigger task that has lots of moving parts, but you need to be super clear on what your most important thing to accomplish each day is!
3 Critical tasks
You still need 3 critical tasks for each day too. If you skipped the daily section, please go back up and read about how to be nice to yourself once you get these tasks done each day!
Doing to dos in your planner becomes harder with a weekly view. Having a tiny little list of a million things to do each day will just mess up your weekly view. If you truly have long lists of tasks, maybe consider using a daily planner page for a while until your work lightens up a wee bit.
If you have more that a few appointments a day, then you should be a using a daily planner. Imagine trying to cram 8 appointments into that little area you get PLUS all your important tasks PLUS all your todos.
I plan weekly now and I have a great grasp on my 1 Thing and Critical tasks . Those 4 things are about all I do in a day. I write a blog post, check my stats, do some listings and maybe one other thing and after that I am done!
If your list of important items and appointments is small a weekly planner could be your best option!
- Weekly Spread Printable Planner Pages
- The 12 Week Year (#promo) – Super interesting concept about business planning, reducing timelines from annual planning to 12 weeks
Monthly Business Planning
If you are wicked busy right now Monthly planning can seem like a pipe dream, but for some business owners it is vital!
High level overview
Planning on a monthly basis lets you see a high level overview of everything you have going on AND lets you time block by days rather than hours.
For example, sometimes I have days where I am doing just content creation or just photography and I don't need to know any more than just that time is not available for anything else.
Good for speakers/travelers
I first made a three month planner page for a friend who travels a lot. She worked for the airline industry so she goes on trips at least once a month.
Functionally she is just needs to know when she is going to be where and for how long.
If you are a speaker as your trade, this might work for you too! Knowing what city or town you are going to be in at a high level will let you see what your future schedule holds.
A long range, month by month calendar is also good for scheduling out appointments that are a ways away. One of the things that I fear most with my planner is missing something that is going on in the future that I might forget.
Having a monthly planner let's you see far in advance what is going on.