I’m a bit of an organisation freak. Give me something to organise and I’m all over it like a rash. I think this is one of the several reasons why this self-employment lark seems to suit me. I am utterly in control of my days, and I can dictate what I’m able to work on, how long it’s going to take me and when I need to stop for a break.
So whether you also work for yourself, or you just need some handy dandy organisational tips, I thought I would share what my day “typically” looks as I run my business and live my life. I’ll also pop in a few tips and tools to help you organise better too!
The Morning Routine (7:30am – 8:30am)
I am more of a morning person than any other time of the day. Although you won’t catch me waking up at 4am to start my day (I’m not mad), I will often get out of bed at about 7:30am so I have 30 mins to get ready to be at my laptop and ready to go.
Most days, the first thing I will do is jump into the shower. It wakes me up and means I can jump straight into what I’m wearing that day and hit the ground running. After showering, I will have about 15 minutes spare to make a cuppa and sit down with my Happiness Planner to start my day right.
In my Happiness Planner, I will jot down what I’m looking forward to in the day, any planned exercise (so I commit to it!) as well as a basic schedule and to-do list. I *highly* recommend doing this whether you have a planner or not, as it helps to give your day intention and also allows you the satisfaction at the end of the day to tick off those to-do’s and reflect. More on that later!
Getting started with work (8:30am – 9:00am)
As 8am rolls around (or occasionally 8:30am if I’m taking a bit of extra self-care time), I will set up in front of my laptop and open my Google Calendar.
I use my Google Calendar for *everything*. I will block out time for:
- Client work
- Business admin (e.g. each week I put aside an hour on a Friday to make sure my receipts and invoices are up to date)
- Travel time (really handy for reminding me to update my business mileage!)
- Lunch (to make sure I actually take the time I need)
- Self-care time/mini breaks in the day – this might be a walk to the local shops, a trip to the gym or simply just a tea break
- Evening plans – cinema, dinner etc
Each different task type is colour coded, and I block out the amount of time I feel a task will take (usually overcompensating so I don’t feel overwhelmed). Each morning I look at my agenda and will move things around as needed. If I have any meetings or calls planned for the following day, my next task will be to email the person to make sure they are still available.
The last part of my “getting started” with my working day is to check emails. If the response to an email is more than a short reply to confirm something, I will add a task in my day to dedicate time to sort it. This stops me from getting bogged down in emails and getting distracted from my schedule.
Sometimes I will want to schedule an email to send later – I use Boomerang for Gmail to do just that. Boomerang has a bunch of other nifty tools such as Inbox Pause as well, but I’m yet to use it!
Tracking the day’s progress (9am – 5pm)
I love having a weekly list pad on my desk to give me a week’s overview of my goals, to-do’s and the day-to-day core tasks that need completing. I tend to give myself about 3 core tasks each day that *have* to be done that day to stay productive, so I use a weekly list pad to note these down and tick them off as I go.
These to-do’s and goals are separate to my Happiness Planner as they are specific to work and are often related to client work or meetings. The goals I set for the week are usually tied to working on the business – for example, one of my goals every week is to complete and promote a blog post for the business. It keeps me accountable and consistent each week!
I bought my weekly list pad from Homesense, but I love this desk pad from Paperchase as it gives you loads of room to write for each day.
I recently also introduced a CRM system to my business called Capsule at the recommendation of one of my clients. I use this to store all client emails and files in one place so I am not having to search frantically through my inbox to find the last communication I had with a client. It’s also super handy because I can set tasks within it (my most popular task being “chase client for feedback”!), and that task will then sync into my Google Calendar.
End of the day admin (5pm – 5:30pm)
From time to time, I’ll have some time at the end of the day to tidy up admin. That can involve going back into my emails to respond to any I’ve received in the day (or scheduling in emails to send the next day).
This is often the time I will check in with my accounting software Wave to see if I need to send any invoice reminders to clients who owe me money. Wave also lets me log all my receipts in one place and add notes to them that may prove handy if HMRC ever wants to check up on me.
At some point in the evening, I will go back to my Happiness Planner and tick off the tasks I’ve completed, log my meals and write what I have been grateful for and happy with that day.
The responses aren’t always related to the business, but often they are and it’s nice to look back at what has been positive and gone well that day.
Other organisational tips!
- Try and avoid opening your emails during the day unless you are waiting for something specific – it’s amazing how distracted you can get!
- Don’t forget to incorporate time for breaks in your working day. Getting burned out is not good for you or your business!
- If you have a meeting at a coffee shop, arrive early and do some work while you’re there. That way you avoid the last minute panic of getting ready to go because you’ve got your head down in some work!
- Keep a log of your successes each week – it’s really useful to look back on when you need motivation. It’s tough being a business owner, and inevitably not every week is going to feel great.