I have loved creating these simple episodes to introduce you to just a few of the concepts we cover inside our membership community – and answering some of the questions I hear all the time!
Next week, we’ll be going back to our regularly scheduled programming with interviews with fierce women sharing their stories and wisdom!
But, I’ve enjoyed creating these ‘how-to’ and Q&A episodes so much, I’ll be back with more of these as pop up episodes in the future!
Since we started this series, we’ve explored what it means to follow your passion and purpose, how to start your own business or side gig and how to build a powerful personal brand and a business brand that connects with your ideal audience, and last week we talked about how to avoid fear of failure and overcome challenges.
If you have a specific question you’d like me to answer or invite a guest expert on to answer, please let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
Today, I want to talk to you about a very simple concept… setting your priorities and blocking time for what really matters.
This is a HUGE topic, but today I am going to focus on one of the tools I’ve learned that – if you actually implement use it in your schedule – will help you make real change in your overall schedule, reduce feelings of overwhelm and help you make real progress toward the goals that matter to you.
This is a very simple practice that can change your life – called Time Blocking.
Time blocking is basically the practice of prioritizing your time through pre-scheduling your calendar in a way that serves your goals first and your obligations second.
So – what does that mean?
You will be creating very clearly defined blocks of time in your schedule for the various tasks and responsibilities you have.
Let me ask you a question:
If you open your calendar right now, is it just a mess of back-to-back meetings each day with very little time scheduled in to actually get work done, which means you have to get work done in off-hours… oh, and if you’re a mom or caregiver, you also have all the double-bookings for work and non-negotiable personal obligations like picking your kids up from school?
First of all – you’re not alone! Almost every woman I meet from all walks of life and with differing professional experiences and goals is suffering from some form of overwhelm.
You can’t necessarily get rid of all of your obligations, but you can prioritize them by blocking your time to serve your goals – not just the many tasks other people have asked you to manage!
So, first things first:
In order to successfully block your time, you have to acknowledge – truly acknowledge two different categories first:
- Your non-negotiable obligations
- Your goals and what actions you need to take to achieve them
#1 – Your non-negotiable obligations
In order to do this, you first have to start by recognizing where you are now, without judgment.
There are many tasks on your list and meetings you have scheduled that are not non-negotiable, even if you don’t feel like you have a choice right now.
The first thing I want you to do is write out all of the tasks you have on your ‘to-do’ list right now, and the regular meetings you have scheduled.
Now, add any other common obligations that don’t have set times, but you know will pop up consistently. Examples of these might be stopping by to check on an elderly parent because they have called you with a request, staying late to finish a work project because your boss or client has made another last minute request or moving your schedule around last minute to accommodate your children’s activity schedules.
When you’re done with this exercise, you should have a full list of the many tasks and appointments you are regularly managing written down.
Take a long, hard look at this list – and get out your red pen!
Put a star next to every item that is absolutely non-negotiable if you want to continue to live your life as you are now (in our next section, we’ll discuss what to do if you don’t want to maintain your current lifestyle, but are looking for change instead).
Now, get ruthless. Cross out anything that can easily be removed from your list.
First, decide what you can absolutely delete by saying ‘no’ in the future.
What obligations are on your list that you are doing simply because someone asked you to?
Perhaps you’re like one woman I know who was President of her school PTA even though you have a full-time job and manage your kids and care for your parents? When I asked her, “Why are you taking on this year-long responsible role with many stakeholders when your stress level is off the charts?”
Her answer was, “Well, they asked because no-one else could do it, and I knew I would do a good job.”
If some version of her story sounds like your life, please hear this: Just because you CAN do something, or even if you would be the BEST person to do something, doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it.
You have an obligation to yourself to care for your own well-being, and part of that is not taking on projects just because others aren’t up to the task or don’t want to!
The second step to knowing what is and what is not non-negotiable is to decide what does HAVE to get done, but not by you.
What can you delegate?
Some easy examples might be tasks you can delegate to others – these could be as simple as giving your kids responsibilities like doing the dishes in the evening or washing their own clothes.
Other areas you may want to consider delegating if you are in a position to include hiring a housekeeper so you’re not overwhelmed by clutter or mess every day, buying pre-made meals so you don’t have to cook a full meal each night (or even doing meal prep on the weekend if you prefer to make your own meals), or delegating the project you just don’t want to give up control over to someone on your work team.
So, with our first step of deciding what your non-negotiable tasks are, you will know what tasks on your current list you will keep, which you will say no to in the future, and which you can now feel empowered to delegate.
You’re ready for the next step… #2 – Focusing on your goals and what actions you need to take to achieve them
If you’re struggling to really clarify or articulate your goals, don’t worry!
You can refer back to Podcast episode #40 where we talk about following your passion and purpose, or jump into our full Goal-setting workshops and workbooks within the She Is Fierce! Membership to flesh these out.
Once you have those goals clarified, I want you to look at your calendar – not your task list, your calendar.
If your schedule is all over the place with back to back events, meetings and obligations, this is your chance to clear the decks!
You’ve already identified the tasks and obligations you can either ‘delete’ from your calendar (and life) and the ones you can delegate.
So, the first thing I want you to do is remove all of those items from your calendar – you can do this one month into the future, or however long you need to make sure you had time to graciously say ‘no’ or to delegate.
Then, look at what is left. Are there blocks of similar meetings all over the place? For example, are you meeting on one project in the morning on Monday, the afternoon Tuesday and then again on Thursday or Friday?
That ‘randomness’ is costing you mentally and emotionally, whether you realize it or not.
You’re forcing yourself to jump around mentally between projects
Consider condensing your similarly-themed meetings by bringing multiple parties together or simply bringing the meetings together into the same ‘block’ of time – maybe 9 – 12 on a Wednesday instead of random meetings all week.
Once you’ve decided which meetings you will block together, consider the actual work you have to do – both the tasks you’ve identified as still important or non-negotiable and then, and here is the wonderful part of time blocking, add in the tasks that will move you closer to your goals.
So, you should have these three things in mind:
1 – Your meetings and appointments (all nicely blocked by theme)
2 – Your necessary tasks and work you need to get done
3 – The tasks you will ADD to your schedule to help move you closer to your goals.
Now, build out a calendar that includes time blocks of an hour to multiple hours for related meetings, related work and time for your goals and planning.
If you have the ability to do so – maybe you’re a business owner or a leader with some autonomy – I suggest blocking a full morning or even a full day to get work done each week and to plan for the week ahead.
I LOVE Fridays when I can just get all the projects that have been hanging over me done and have time to think of what comes next.
Before I discovered and implemented time blocking, I absolutely NEVER had a block of time when I could think clearly without jumping around mentally.
Those mental gymnastics make it hard to get into your zone of genius!
Give yourself the freedom to plan for a life well-lived, to work on your goals, to get the tasks done that are necessary and to enjoy (or at least get good results from) the meetings you do have on your schedule!
Doing this can sound overwhelming before you get started.
But, once you actually sit down and start moving things around, saying no to all of those ‘extra’ obligations and building a schedule that serves your goals.
I have never spoken to anyone who tried time blocking and didn’t see positive results. You will likely adapt your schedule over time to work even better for you, but taking the time to work through this process allows you to build some freedom into your schedule, reduces overwhelm and gives you permission to think bigger about WHY you’re doing everything you’re doing and what time and effort you are willing to expend to get the results you want.
I hope this summer school series has inspired you to think outside of your everyday and follow your passions and purpose… and given you some of the tools you need to do just that!
If you are a business owner or leader, I have some amazing news for you!
We are opening the doors to our Fall CEO Mastermind Circle intensive, which kicks off with live coaching sessions on September 21st!
Inside this group of powerful mission-driven women, you have the chance to work with me directly on your business goals and everything from building out your business offers and pricing to building a brand, making more sales and getting press attention on the work you’re doing… and lots more!
You can learn more about the program at sheisfiercehq.com/ceo – or email me directly at email@example.com to set up a time to talk and see if this is a great fit for you!
The best part? You get more than just the eight weeks of intensive sessions this Fall – you get access to a full year of programming including more intensive sessions, in-person events and more, all included in your CEO Mastermind Circle membership.
If you are looking for a program that helps you through live virtual, interactive coaching alongside other female business owners and leaders, with both group connection and 1:1 time with me and our SIF leadership team, this could be a great fit for you!
I can’t wait to connect with you and help you bring your vision to life!