For those of you that don’t know me, personally, I’ll give you a little glimpse into my schedule. I own Sugar Five, run three monthly Meetups, and homeschool my son. That sounds like a lot, but I have a lot of help, both personally and professionally. Not surprisingly, time management is an issue for me. Surprisingly, it isn’t the biggest issue. The biggest obstacle I encounter again and again is my limitation as an introvert.
Those of you who do know me may find it surprising that I identify with introversion. I’m outgoing and like public speaking and coaching. I really enjoy those things, but interacting drains my batteries. I find that if I spend a full day of active listening, I don’t have a lot left over for my family, when I get home. Switching from a paper calendar to Google Calendar has made a world of difference for me.
Color-Coding my Calendar
I use four main colors to track my balancing act in my calendar.
- Yellow – family time, including homeschooling
- Purple – client meetings
- Green – production time (project management or actually getting sh** done)
- Red – community (WordPress Meetups of mine and others, networking, masterminding, and other meetings, such as The Women’s Entrepreneur Meetup and Local Service Academy.)
This is what last week looked like:
Yellow: We do school from 7-9 in the morning and from 8-8:30 at night. We school 365/7 days a week, so we don’t have to have a super long day. We also do a little here and there, with attendance to co-op classes and such, and his dad takes him for a full day of outside exploration (or trips to the zoo) once a week. His caregiver adds to that. Before I starting putting this time on the calendar, I found myself working into dinner time, or passing off night-time school to my son’s dad, a little too much.
The bigger issue, though, was that I was booking myself solid during the day and then jumping right into family time. Because I had been interacting with people since 7am, by 7pm, I was either not present, or super-irritable. Putting it on the calendar helps me to prioritize this time and also account for its impact on my introverted self. Also, notice I put me time in there every night. It usually gets co-opted, but the intent is there.
Purple: My goal is to have at least 5 scheduled client meetings a week. That is either a selling appointment or a coaching/consulting appointment. I don’t count calls that just happen, for this purpose. These are scheduled follow-ups or paid appointments. You can see I met that goal this week. Having this color broken out allows me to see, at a glance, if I’m on target, or not. Is there enough purple in my week? That is super important.
Green: This is the time of day when I am getting things done. I’m either actively managing projects or working on them, myself. I project manage at multiple times of day, but these are dedicated times I am crossing things off my project to-do lists. It is great to have client appointments scheduled, but if I get behind, I’m not as enthusiastic about bringing in new business.
Red: My goal is to spend at least 20% of my business week in community. I’ve found that strategy to be a force multiplier for not only my skill set, but also my efficiency. This was a heavy week, but that’s ok. Some weeks are lighter. It all comes out in the wash. If there is no red, I know I’m falling behind in my networking goals. If there is too much red, I’m cutting into my income producing activities. If every week looked like this one, it would be a problem. Thankfully, they don’t.
White: This is the most important color on my calendar. Not only is this flex time, but it is time I can be alone, if I need it. A lot of production time is alone time, but sometimes it is collaboration. I need at least an hour and a half a day I can be completely quiet and recharge. That may seem indulgent, but if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. In a light week, this time may end up being a trip to the park, or running errands. On a busy week, this is me locked in my office putting out a “do not disturb” vibe.
This particular week was an almost ideal week. I got a lot done, made some sales, moved projects along, and spent a lot of time with my son. I mostly had Mon am off and Fri afternoon. Because of my color balancing, I can look at the week and see that I hit my marks. If any one color dominated, or was absent, I would know I need to fix something. As someone who juggles a lot, this has been extremely helpful in helping me keep a little balance. How do you do it?