As we all know, running your own business is often more than a full time job. And along with that we have families and personal lives to manage. It can be a daunting task. And if not managed well, it can be very stressful too.
Below are a few tips on managing your business schedule to work with all the things in your life to help you meet the challenge.
1. Office Hours ~ Have clear, established office hours. These are the hours you are available for calls, meetings or electronic communication with clients. It won’t be the only hours you work per se, but will confirm the time in your schedule you are readily available to take a call or hop on a Zoom meeting. Having these hours clearly established will be beneficial for both you and your client, and sets clear expectations on response time from you for your clients.
2. Technology ~ We all know work is done outside of our established office hours. However, if we send emails at 10pm, then the expectation may be that we are available to respond to an email at 10pm. If this isn’t the case, then utilizing technology such as email scheduling will help. Schedule that email you typed at 6am on a Sunday to send during your established office hours. Doing so enables you to utilize that time to get work done, without compromising your set office hours.
Bonus tip ~ Have your calendar online and available for clients or potential clients to book time with you when it is convenient for them. This allows people to get on your calendar with little effort on your part. No back and forth emails about availability. They can access your calendar at any time, not just during your office hours. This will be a big time saver for you!
3. Expectations ~ Setting clear expectations from the beginning of a working relationship is the best plan of action. If your client is unaware of how you work, then they may not understand why you aren’t responding to their email on Saturday. Do you prefer email over text communications? Then your client needs to know that. Have your preferences for methods of contact, office hours and anticipated turnaround time for email responses clearly stated. Include this in your client onboarding process. With everyone on the same page from the beginning, it is less likely there will be confusion.
Bonus tip ~ Make a checklist for your client onboarding process. (Who doesn’t love a good checklist!) This will help ensure everything is covered and completed when bringing on a new client into your business.
4. Exceptions ~ There will certainly be times you may need to work outside of your office hours with or for a client. We all know things happen. Emergencies and “must do now” situations are bound to occur. And as business owners, we must be willing to make exceptions. No one should be available all the time, but we need to be flexible as well. Your client will be appreciative of the prompt attention they receive and your willingness to assist them through a tough situation.
5. Personal Time ~ When you work a regular job taking time off is easy. When you work for yourself, it can be hard to turn your work mind off. If you find yourself taking your laptop and notebook with you everywhere you go, even on vacation, you may need to work on scheduling some real time off. No one benefits from you being “on the clock” all the time. Having time for yourself is very important. It can help avoid burn out and leave you refreshed. Turn work off and spend time doing whatever brings you joy! The work will certainly be there when you return. And you will be renewed and ready to go!
Following these steps will help keep your work schedule under control, and help you keep your sanity! Your clients will know what to expect when contacting you, and you can spend quality time with family and friends without worrying about checking your emails. This will add great value to the relationship with your clients, as they too must manage their time.