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Top 5 Tips for Mastering your Schedule

One of the things I have learned as not only an entrepreneur, but also as a mom and as a friend, is that my calendar is my number one tool. I’ve told people so many times, If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist.


It’s so true too. One time a girlfriend had text me on a Saturday morning and said, “Hey, I’m leaving the neighborhood around 10:30, want me to pick you up on the way?” My response was ??? Seriously, I was confused. Her reply reminded me that we bought comedy show tickets for an afternoon show and I immediately checked my calendar and I had forgotten to put it in there and because I didn’t see it, I had scheduled home showings with clients for that day. Sorry again, Jessica!


Last year I bought tickets for the Elton John: Last Tour concert when they were released, because why not, right?! A few months down the road my friend asks, “Hey, when is that Elton John concert you’re going to?” I panicked. Oh my goodness I forgot all about that! I did a quick Google search and saw that the September dates had just passed two weeks ago. I was livid with myself. Those weren’t cheap tickets. A couple of weeks later I passed a billboard that mentioned the show for September of NEXT year and my first thought was Well that “Last Tour” was some false advertisement bullshit. Then common sense kicked in to check my email and sure enough, the tickets I bought were for the following year, thank goodness! So at least that one I won’t miss because it’s now in my calendar!


When you’re busy with work, home life, kids’ schedules, and have a desire for a social life, it can get hectic to keep it all in one place. Specifically, as a business owner there can be so many roles and tasks required of you. Keeping yourself organized so you don’t forget the important tasks, dates, appointments, and so on has seemed to be key. Then you have to add in your kids’ schedule for their sports practices and games. Maybe parent-teacher conferences. Maybe your volunteer commitments. Wine dates with your friends. Book clubs. Oh, and there should be room left for date nights, right? See what I mean? It piles on so quickly.


I also want to add that one of the top calendar things I do when goal setting for the following year is sketching out my entire year's worth of vacation time. I think it's imperative that you do this in advance so you can be intentional in actually living life for those moments and to also be prepared to work around them. It's now even more important for me to do that now that I share some weekends with my ex-husband.


I used to get frustrated at times when I felt like I wasn’t leaving any room for flexibility or spontaneous activities. Until I realized that life isn’t about doing the maximum amount of things I could do in a day. In fact, that white space that I now leave for myself is done in such an intentional manner that I look at it with gratitude. When I see it on my calendar, I thank myself for taking care of me too. In a culture that wants you to go, go, go, you can be quick to be hard on yourself for not “achieving” every hour of your day. However, we know that can lead to burnout. You can’t show up 100% for your tasks, your responsibilities, your people or yourself if you are running on empty.


So I thought I’d share with you some of the top things I’ve learned over the years how to best manage your schedule so you can create more of a balance and life by design. By no means am I saying that I’m a master of this 100% of the time, and you shouldn’t expect to be either. It’s about creating the intention and setting the intention to follow it the best that you can. If that’s 70-80% of the time, then that is a win! It takes regular practice and even some redirect at times.

Set Time Aside to Schedule Out Your Week in Advance

This is your starting point. Set the intention for your week and schedule your top priorities first. When you do this, you’re actually creating the best version of yourself for that week. When a distraction comes up in the week that could take you away from your intended schedule, it’s helpful to remind yourself that you created that schedule in order to best serve your goals and your balanced life. A coach once shared with me the best way for me to turn away an invitation that I’d love to support but I know that it shouldn’t take priority over the commitments I’ve already intended: “My heart says yes, my calendar says no.” It truly resonated with me in a way that allowed me to authentically communicate that I truly want to, and to please keep me in mind for future opportunities, and allows me to also stick to my intention for the day or week.

Leave White Space

One of the common things I’ve found myself, and others, to be guilty of is that we time block out our entire day. I mean the whole thing. We’ve got to leave room in between tasks, which is what we call white space. This is for transitioning to another task, for meetings/appointments that run over, or general needs for reset breaks. Otherwise when are you going to get up and go to the bathroom?! And you certainly don’t want to keep coming back to the next task feeling like you’re behind because it will have an affect on your mindset and ultimately your productivity. Sure, there are days where you very well may have back to back meetings that you can’t prevent, but be mindful of that when scheduling out the days around it. Sometimes white space may also mean intentionally not scheduling anything a few nights a week. Which then leaves you room for those spontaneous invitations or just a good ole self-care evening of relaxation.


When it comes to efficient productivity, one trick is batching, or some call it theming. What this means is you purposefully plan a time block for several tasks of the same category. I even color code my schedule so that I can quickly and visually identify what type of task is upcoming. For example, if you wear many hats in your role, you may choose for one day or one afternoon to be strictly content creation and then schedule it in batches for your platforms to post. By doing so, you keep your focus in that one creative space for an extended period of time and get into your flow. You may even call that your themed day. In my line of real estate business I like to have a few afternoons set aside specifically available for listing appointments or networking meetings. This way I am not switching back and forth between different mindsets that require my energy to show up in different ways. As an entrepreneur, this is also beneficial for administrative days. Maybe you set aside Friday afternoons to get caught up on paperwork, accounting work, creating next week’s schedule, reviewing accountability measures for employees, etc.

By working themed days, or batching, into your schedule, you preserve energy by not switching tasks as many times throughout the day, which ultimately makes you more productive and less prone to burnout. Bonus tip: schedule your most mentally challenging tasks for whatever time of day you have your most energy and create a distraction free space during that time. That may include turning off notifications on your phone, or leaving it in another room. Maybe it’s exiting your email tab so you’re not tempted. Whatever that may be, plan your most income producing task or most mentally challenging task in the time block where you are at your peak in the day.

By the way, if you struggle staying in the zone, I get it. As an entrepreneur who has to manage ADHD, I have 15 tabs open on three different windows on the regular. But I found an app that tremendously helps keep me focused - like in a mind blowing way! If you use my link and the discount code determinedaf you'll receive 20% off! Trust me, it's worth a try. You'll be shocked how much you knock out.

Erase and Replace

Things come up, which is why I previously mentioned that if you follow your time block 70-80% of the time, then it’s a success. Too often we forget that and expect ourselves to hit it 100% and when we don’t complete it all, we feel a sense of failure. If you need a good way to track and measure that habit, go back and add a checkmark to the front of the task title in your calendar so you can then reflect on the day or week and can visually see your wins. If something truly comes up and it has to take the place of another set task, replace it into your schedule later in the week (another reason why you need to leave white space).

Remember, you created your schedule to be the best version of yourself, so be sure to replace the missed task somewhere else on your schedule in order to remain on track for your goals.

Set Expectations to Reduce Frustrations

As a self employed entrepreneur, not all of my time blocks include actual meetings with other people. However, they are appointments with myself for my business. If I don’t get them done, then things get missed and my business or my clients could suffer. It can be easy to want to check in on my email during those time blocks, or take that call that comes in. However, those can be the quickest way to derail the rest of that time block or even the rest of the afternoon.

When clients call during a time that is set for a focused task, it's okay to wait and call them back. It's rarely an emergency and if it is, they'll let you know. If you are one who must communicate with others so they don’t feel they are being ignored, then use the quick response button on your phone when the incoming call occurs. (Here’s a quick tutorial for you to learn how to set that up.) It’s perfectly okay to not be immediately available all of the time. Think about it, can you always get in touch with your CPA or your doctor the moment that you want to? No. As an entrepreneur, your desire to answer right away is partly due to a scarcity and fear mindset. Your fear is that they will go somewhere else. Just set the expectation with them, I’m in an appointment and will return your call shortly. Or try, I will return your call after this meeting is over, close to 11:30. These are not lies.

Again, you have an appointment with yourself because you created the best version already when you set that intention with your schedule and you left whitespace for those things. Bonus tip: when you return that call, if they are requesting something of you and you know you have another priority time block coming up, set the expectation with them as to when you will get it to them, Absolutely. I’ll get that over to you by 4:00p today, will that work for you? People just need communication in life. This is also a life hack for your personal relationships at home. Share your schedules with each other so they know what to expect from your week and what you can expect from theirs and that way you can work together to support one another and prioritize time for one another.


These are just a few of the tips I’ve learned and practiced over the years to help me become more organized and productive, both of which support consistency in my business along with room for a personal life. I’d love to hear about any of your practices that have proved to be some of your top-performing habits when it comes to your calendar!


Yours in growth,

jamie milam sig

**Disclosure** This post may contain affiliate links and they are at no additional cost to you, though I may earn a small commission. Don't worry, I only recommend products or services that I have tried or believe would be of great value to you! All opinions expressed are those of my own!

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