6 Ways Setting a Schedule Kick-Started My Business

One benefit of working for yourself is the control you have over your time. You can decide when you work and what you work on during that time. You can also decide when you’re not going to work.

As an entrepreneur, in order to succeed, you must stay focused. If you don’t, days, weeks or months will slip by as projects and tasks go unfinished. This can cause missed internal and external deadlines, delayed sales, upset customers, and ultimately a failed business. Setting a schedule can help combat this and give you the needed focus to reach your entrepreneurship goals. I learned this quickly when I started my business.

Setting a schedule benefitted me greatly. The people I interact with me on both a personal and professional level have also benefitted.

Read on to learn the top six ways setting a schedule helped me become focused and kick-start my business.

Setting A Schedule Allows Me To Say No

As I discussed in The Perks and Drawbacks of Working a Part-Time Job While Starting Your Own Business, when I left my full-time job they offered me a part-time position. With working on some of the same projects, with some of the same people, it was hard for me to transition from being dedicated 9-to-5 to part-time availability.

At first, as long as I stayed within my maximum hours for the week I thought I would be able to easily manage both the part-time work and my new business. I quickly realized that my part-time job was monopolizing my time. Every day I had meetings scheduled and people would reach out requesting items anytime during business hours. Because of my previous response times from when I was in the office, I felt uncomfortable not responding to emails I knew were in my inbox. I couldn’t be available 40 hours a week when I was only supposed to work 10 hours.

After only two weeks, I decided something needed to change. Two weeks might not seem very long, but I wanted to run out of the starting gate for my business, not crawl. Honestly, after those two weeks, I did not even feel like I was crawling. I felt stuck at the gate.

I talked to my boss and we decided that I would be available only two days of the week for meetings and I would reply to all pending requests at some point during those days. Setting this standard allowed me to say no meetings. If someone wanted to meet during a day that I was not scheduled to work, I could say no and not feel guilty.

The very next week, I went from feeling like my part-time job overwhelmed my life to it being just a small part of my work responsibilities.

Setting A Schedule Allows People Know When I Am Available

I made sure to fully communicate my new schedule to those I was working with on projects. My co-workers were notified by email which days of the week I would be available, and I set an out of office reply that stated that my hours would vary. I set the expectation that I would not be able to immediately reply to emails and that meetings had to be on my schedule.

The people I worked with were very receptive of my schedule. They knew that they could always call me if there was an emergency request. Outside of emergencies, they knew that they would receive a response in a timely manner according to my schedule. No one protested about my schedule or tried to schedule meetings on my days off without asking if it was okay.

I was surprised that I didn’t have to keep reminding my coworkers. They knew when I was available and worked around my schedule. This success continued until I decided to give up my part-time gig and focus completely on my business.

Now, for my business, the only person I am working with is my husband. Seeing he’s still working his full-time job, I do not have to worry about him during the daytime hours and we’re on the same schedule for our nighttime priorities. When we need to work together, we can easily find a time that works for us both. However, I know that when I hire my first employee, I will need to be more transparent with my schedule.

Setting A Schedule Gives Me Focus

When I had no schedule, every day was a mix of completing what I wanted to complete for my business and completing what I needed to do for my part-time job. When I tried to dedicate time to my business, I was always being interrupted by other priorities. I was also deciding the moment I sat down to work what to focus on which led to forgotten items, half-finished action items, and tasks that I kept putting off to the next day.

I took the opportunity to look at my week and made a rough schedule. I know what I need to focus on each time I sat down to work because I have a schedule. If I miss working on something during the dedicated time, I have to wait until the next scheduled time to complete the task. As I started dedicating my time, I became more relaxed overall and most importantly, I started being able to check items off my to-do list.

Setting A Schedule Helps Me Balance My Responsibilities

There is a lot of work that goes into starting a business. If you’re going to do everything correctly from the beginning, not only are you developing your first product, you are formally setting up your business.

Without a schedule, every time I sat down at my computer, everything became a priority. At the end of the day, I felt like I had accomplished nothing. Same for the week. I would look at my to-do list and there was nothing I could cross off – a total motivation crusher!

When I created my schedule, I told myself exactly what to focus on each day. I even went as far as telling myself what I would focus on for each part of the day. My schedules do not contain specific tasks but rather activities that the specific tasks would fall into. By doing this, I know what I should focus on each time I sit down to work; the tasks are completed and no action items are ignored.

Sample schedule from summer 2016.

Setting A Schedule Allows Me Flexibility

It might sound like a contradiction, but following a schedule gives me flexibility. I know where my focus should be and therefore I can decide if I able to shift priorities for other work activities or to take time off.

For example, I can decide to take a Friday off to go somewhere with my kids. By knowing what project items I am supposed to complete during this time, I can transition those actions at another time (maybe Saturday afternoon) or decide if the tasks can be postponed to the next week.

Setting A Schedule Tells Me That I Only Have So Much Time

With a schedule, I know that I only have so much time to complete each task. This has made me extremely focused. I sit down and complete my work – nothing else. I have made a commitment to myself that during the time I am working I will not check personal email, I will not go on social media (my social media time to promote my business is now built into my schedule), I will not answer text messages, I will not complete chores around the house, and I will not let my mind wander to other work priorities.

Now, I do have a little more motivation in this area than some people. Most days, my youngest daughter is home with me all day. Luckily she has a great nap schedule and takes two two-hour long naps a day. While some days my parents will watch her outside of nap time, most days these four hours are the only hours I have to complete my work until my husband comes home. Knowing that I have this limited time has made me very focused.

The same can be true even if you do not have kids as home. You might be starting a business while working a day job. If this is you, you only have so many hours each night and weekend to complete your work. You must use your time wisely if you want to accomplish your goals in a timely manner. Otherwise, days, months, or years will pass and you will not be any closer to the day you will accept your first payment from a customer.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your business?

Idea to Success: 13 Action Steps for Starting a Business

Free PDF!

x