A few years ago, I wanted to have the freedom to make my own schedule and do what I wanted when I wanted to. I achieved that and I learned a lot in the process and that is what I want to share with you today.
Whether you are still in a job or you are a full-time entrepreneur, this blog + video will show you how to create a master schedule that turns your ideas into reality.
Let’s go back to the idea of “doing what you want when you want”. This is such a catch phrase in the industry. But what no one tells you is that having the freedom to do what you want when you want can be both freeing and disorienting.
When you beat the 9-5 grid, you also lose all the structure that was built into that.
Add working from home into the mix and now you don’t even have the environmental cues to know that time is passing. Days mashed up together and I found myself procrastinating more and more in my business.
Since my reality was not just me alone but with kids in the mix, I was in constant reactive mode. Reacting to their every whim and tantrum and little structure in my days it meant I wasn’t proactively working towards my goals.
This was a recipe for mediocrity.
I knew that even though it is the “entrepreneurial dream” to do what you want when you want it, there is immense value in the structure that schedule and routines provide.
I started to notice that my kids thrive on the structure of knowing that things in the day go in an order, that dinner is at 5 and that after snack they can do screen time.
I started researching and I discovered that predictable schedules help kids feel secure, safe, and comfortable. I realized that even as an adult, I was not too far from that.
Having less structure and fewer routines raised my stress levels. In addition, I noticed that every day that passed I seemed to be moving further and further away from my goal of living a joyful intentional life.
When we resist structure and routine, we also lose out on the benefits. As an entrepreneur, the benefits are making more money, helping more people, and enjoying our life on purpose.
So, how can we create a daily schedule that fits our creative entrepreneurial brains, gives us freedom, and at the same time turns our ideas into reality?
That sure is a tall order but the answer that I have discovered and taught to our clients is called The Master Schedule.
A master schedule is the process of making your ideas a reality.
Here is how to approach it:
Step 1: Decide what your goals are. Some people like to do long term goals, like 5-10 years, others like to do shorter term goals like quarterly or yearly. It really doesn’t matter the timeframe you choose as long as you are setting a goal or a direction for your life. If you tend to overthink the breakdown of the 5-year goal to the quarterly goal, then just choose a direction for your longer term and pick one tiny milestone that would take you in that direction. Also, don’t focus so much on the timeline because you can always extend or contract the timeline as you learn more about what the goal actually entails.
Step 2: Decide on what projects would help you attain the goal. Don't overthink here. Remember taking action leads to clarity. If you accidentally do pick the wrong project to take you to your goal, you will figure that out along the way. It is much faster to start down a path than to think about which path would be perfect for a long period of time.
Constrain yourself on the number of projects to take on at a time and consider projects in all areas and not just business. I use 3 buckets for my projects: Home, Business and Me. I choose me as it’s own project because I tend to do a lot for business and home and don’t take on as many for myself. Using these three broad categories for projects, I prevent taking on 2 or 3 big projects in different areas of life at the same time and wondering why I am so stressed.
Although I wish it would be as simple as this has to be done every 2 weeks or every month, the reality is that some projects take a week, others take months. How I handle this is anytime I want to take on something new (I get an idea about something I want to do), I write it down in my future projects list. That is when I review the current projects that I am working on and the other future projects. This is fantastic for avoiding shiny objects and what tended to happen before, which was abandoning projects halfway through when a better idea came up.
Step 3: Focus on the process. I like to ask myself: “What routines will help me to complete this project and/or reach the goal?” It is so much easier for me to build in a regular routine than it is to try to sit down every so often and do some big push. Example: Sorting through paper clutter. I was finding that the mail would accumulate in my entryway. I was frustrated by the pile of mail. I discovered that if I would take care of every piece of paper as it was coming in instead of waiting until “later” to sort it, it would take immense pressure to actually sit down and sort that big pile. When I handled it as it came in little by little, I no longer needed a time block for it as I could just make it a regular part of my routine coming in the house. If the routine is one that you will need to do in a 15+ minute block, then put that into your calendar on a repeating basis. When I am trying to integrate a new habit, putting it into my calendar helps me a lot to set it in or stacking it onto an existing habit makes it stick. Once it is a true habit, I can take it off my daily calendar and put a more general time block like “Morning routine”. Leave me a comment below and let me know what is one routine you have identified for yourself that would help you reach your goal or complete one of your projects more easily?
Step 4: Block out what you will be doing throughout your week using your calendar. There should be time for the routines as well as for projects that you are working on. I took one year to fully integrate the Master Schedule into my life. During that time, I was very strict about what was going onto my calendar and making sure everything I was doing went in. This included personal time, sleep and morning routine. This level of time blocking is useful to work on your relationship with time, your schedule and yourself. For example, I found at first that I would have a lot of anxiety when I had every minute of every day planned. I had to examine why that was. The way I was living my life before was using every single minute of every day to react which also meant that same amount of time was filled. I was just not intentional about it. Putting everything on there on purpose allowed me to take back control of my time and what I was creating with that time.
Step 5: Manage your brain. There will be things that come up on your calendar that you don’t want to do at the moment. This is normal when you have a human brain. Nothing is wrong here. You are not “off plan”, you are not “undisciplined”, or bad at systems, you just have a human brain. The question is, how will you handle it? This is where the magic of developing a loving, nurturing relationship with yourself while also honoring your word to yourself comes in. This is a fine line and learning how to balance between lovingly getting yourself to do something you said you would do is key to creating exponential growth in yourself and your business. I believe this is the crux of the incredible opportunity that a master schedule provides. It allows us to develop a healthy relationship with ourselves and creates trust with ourselves.
One of the best opportunities that is formed when clients do their master schedules is the opportunity to see how much down time you are taking for yourself. What I find with clients that I am working with is that more often than not, I am asking them to put themselves on their own calendar more than I am telling them to add more business tasks.
There is no “right” or “wrong” amount of time that someone should be taking off from work. You will know if something feels off. If you are integrating the Master Schedule into your life and then you notice there is a lot of resistance to doing it, sticking with it, or it feels like it’s unsustainable, then most likely you aren’t taking enough time off. Give me a thumbs up in this video if you have ever tried to implement a system that felt forced?
There is a difference between taking time off intentionally and not intentionally. Like when we have family time, it is one thing to intentionally take the kids to an activity we all want to do together or do something at home we have been wanting to do together vs. letting the family time pass by without intentionality. For me, that usually ends up being watching TV together or something else that isn’t really adding as much value to our lives. I am not saying not to watch TV, I am saying there should be a mix of both intentional time off and true down time.
Note that there is a need for alone time as well. Especially if you are a mom and/or an introvert this is time is not optional. During that time, you can schedule things or you can allow it to be more open. Test both and see what refuels you the most.