3 Effective Time Management Strategies for Wellness Professionals
As a health and wellness entrepreneur your day is hectic and typically focused on the needs of others. There are many days where you just want to scream because there is no way you can accomplish everything everyone wants from you. Your clients are extremely important, but so are your family/friends, and your own needs. When your life’s work is focused on helping others, finding balance can seem unachievable.
Stop scrambling and start valuing your time. Time is finite, you only get so much, and it is very important to treat your time like a resource to be invested for maximum returns.
Time Management - Planning
1. Schedule Time to Schedule
Pick a day in the near future. Today, tonight, or right now are likely perfect.
Turn off all distractions. Your phone, email, social media, the internet, shut it all down and focus on your time.
Expect this exercise to take 1 or 2 hours. But don’t view it as time wasted. This time is an investment. You will see returns throughout the month, in your happiness and productivity, whose value far outweigh the amount of time spent planning.
2. Effective Time Management Begins with Intention
Before quickly pounding out a schedule based on a quickly made to-do list, take a step back and look at the big picture.
An effective schedule is one that is inline with your goals, values, and purpose. For a schedule to become truly worthwhile, and not just loosely followed blocks of time irritatingly lighting up your phone, you must begin with intention.
Start by writing down your goals, values, and purpose. This is the big picture stuff.
What do you value?
What do you want to accomplish with your business?
What relationship do you want to have with your friends and family?
Where do you see yourself in 1 year, then in 5 years?
Why are you doing what you do?
Next drill these intentions down. How do they relate to the month you are scheduling? What goals do you want to accomplish this month, both personal and professional? Write it all down.
Use this information as a guide or rule book for scheduling your months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds.
3. What are Your Obligations and Desires
Again, start with the big picture. What were those goals you have for the coming month?
Keep this information in front of you.
On a blank sheet create two columns. In the first column write out all the tasks you foresee needing to get done in your business and personal life. Then in the second column write out everything you would like to do this month, all your wants.
Next relate these two lists with your goals, values, and purpose.
Obviously, you will need to fulfill all your obligations and tasks that you must complete. However, highlight those obligations that don’t fall inline with your goals. You will want to schedule less time working on these tasks.
Same goes for your desires. Those tasks and activities that you want to do. Are they serving your purpose and goals for the month? If not, highlight them. Maybe they can be moved to a different month’s schedule or held on the back-burner in case you find some extra time.
This list of tasks/activities, as well as your list of intentions, is going to be the basis for your schedule.
4. Follow a Routine
Before jumping into different scheduling techniques, take some time to analyze your routines. Many of the worlds most successful influencers abide by routine, and as many of these people are highly creative and productive, you do not have to worry that regularity equates to boring or stifled.
A routine simply puts things into auto-pilot so you can get more done without thinking about it. They add structure to your day and lend to higher productivity. A routine is made-up of a set of good habits that help us be healthier, happier, and more productive.
You likely already have a few routines happening throughout your day. Write them down.
What are your morning and bedtime rituals? What routines do you do during your work day, your day’s away from work?
What are your habits? What did last week look like? Were there any consistencies in your actions, good or bad?
After writing down as much information as you can, analyze your findings. Are there habits that negatively impact your day? Are there habits that aren’t in line with your intentions? How can you change your routines for maximum effectiveness?
After marking up those routines with red pen, re-write them the way you would like them to be. Re-align those routines with your goals, values, and purpose.
These re-imagined routines will help you form structure into your schedule.
Time Management - Scheduling
There are many ways people go about scheduling their lives. There is no one sized fits all approach to scheduling. All you can do is some trial and error and find what works for you.
I have found three dominant approaches to scheduling which I will share with you. Read them through and choose your best method. Don’t be afraid to adapt the technique for a more tailored fit to your life.
1. Time Blocking Method
This method is by far the most regimented. Although you can back off a bit and only schedule what you believe needs to be scheduled. Many highly creative and successful people, like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and the founder of this technique Cal Newport, use this method to schedule their time.
Time blocking is generally done without a to-do list in mind, so all that work we did in planning step 2 may be irrelevant here. Personally though, I think any good schedule is created on the backbone of a to-do list.
The time blocking method fills up every minute of every day with a pre-scheduled task or activity. It is based on planning routines, rendering planning step 4 highly important. Rather than blocking time for tasks, you make time for general activities you would normally do.
For example, you may block off 2 hours for answering emails, responding on social media, following up on voicemails and other odd tasks. I would call this block “Customer Follow-Up”, or something like that. You could also create a block for your lunch break and other breaks throughout the day.
How to Create Your Schedule – The Time Blocking Method (1)
Start with an A4 sized page of lined paper, the type you probably used during your school days. This can be a notebook or a single sheet of paper.
Write the day of the week and the date at the top of the page
Draw a line down the center of the page, creating two columns.
Each line on the page is equal to ½ an hour, so two lines is equal to 1 hour of your day.
In column 1 on the very left side of the lines you can write down the hours of the day, from when you wake-up until you plan to go to bed. The first line, and every second line thereafter will have a number.
Block your time by simply drawing a square around the total time you want to spend on something.
In the second column you can write down the specifics for the time you’ve blocked off in the first column. Any tasks you plan to complete during that specific block of time should be detailed here.
This method of planning would likely be done daily. You would plan the next day the night before, or as part of your morning routine. I recommend reading through your goals, values, and purpose then planning your day, just to ensure everything you schedule is meeting those intentions.
Time Blocking is a simple and straightforward method of scheduling. Its simplicity is what makes this a popular method of scheduling. It also fills up your free blocks of time with pre-planned productive activities and a plan of action, allowing you to be more productive in a shorter time period.
Although I showed this on a piece of paper, you could easily set this up in your digital calendar. This would allow you to create reminders and alerts, potentially keeping you on track.
For Time Blocking to be successful, you must get honest with yourself. How long do you really need for each activity?
The issue I have with time blocking is its regimented style. I’m not very good at sticking to a schedule that fills up my entire day. If you are like me, I recommend leaving extra free blocks throughout the day and focus your scheduling on the important activities.
2. The “Wing It” Method
This method is likely what most of us do. You feel organized, but your days aren’t strategically laid out, which can leave you floundering and feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
I admit the “Wing It” scheduling method was my go-to for pretty much my whole life.
How to Create Your Schedule – The “Wing It” Method
Write your to-do list
Schedule appointments in your calendar
Work on your to-do list when you can
There is very little planning and strategy involved with this way of organizing your time. Consequently, you likely won’t get very much done in the day.
By “Winging It” you are leaving yourself open to distractions, like social media notifications and emails. Although these tasks seem urgent at the time, they likely aren’t leading you towards your end goal, supporting your values or giving you purpose.
3. The Productivity Planner Method
Planning every moment of every day is not achievable for me. Not only because it is too regimented, but because my days are wildly different from each other. I’m a stay at home mom and a freelance health writer. On any given day I am juggling kid’s activities, household chores, client responsibilities, and trying to find time for myself, my husband, and my friends. My kids, adorable as they are, dictate how most days are going to be spent. The best I can hope for is finding moments throughout the day to focus on my other obligations.
Until recently, the “Wing It” method was my go too. This “fly by the seat of your pants” type method works, but I wanted a little more strategy.
I found the below Productivity Planner scheduling method on Jasmine Star’s website and I love it! This method can be as regimented or loose as you want.
How to Create Your Schedule – The Productivity Planner Method
Write your to-do list as we did in planning step 3, this is your master list. Go big here, write down everything that you do, including social media and answering emails.
Use your list of intentions to help prioritize these tasks and ensure they are helping you work towards your goals.
I then write down an allotted time beside each task, how long I honestly think that activity is going to take.
Group your to-do’s into weeks, the tasks and activities you need to complete for each week of the month.
Group those weekly to-do’s into the days of the week that you want to do them.
Some of these tasks and activities are going to be repetitive and occur on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
At this point you can schedule certain times for these tasks and activities within that day, or you can simply leave them as tasks.
I take this one step further and organize my tasks into categories: family, business, and me.
Schedule all your appointments into each day of the calendar as well.
This method can be printed out and stored in a binder, as Jasmine does, or you can use a calendar app like Google Calendar or iCal.
Google Calendar has a handy task integration which automatically places your tasks and “Time Blocks” into one day of the calendar. I recommend this calendar for android and iPhone users alike as it’s more shareable and robust than the iCal option offered by Apple.
Jasmine schedules all aspects of her day, but I can’t do this, my days are too volatile. So, I leave most items as tasks and only schedule the activities that must be done at a certain time.
I do however schedule in time for my morning and evening routines. I have chosen to work on both these areas of my life because these routines allow me time for myself and for rest.
What I love about this Productivity Planner method is the focus is on your end goals, values, and intentions. You organize and plan your tasks with purpose.
This method is a little more work to plan than the Time Block method, but I feel the upfront work pays great dividends. You can make this method as simple or as complicated as you would like.
Whichever scheduling method you choose, the important take away is to plan each day with intention.
There is no one-sized-fits all approach to scheduling. Find a method that works for you and put a plan in place to stick to your schedule.
Scheduling is the first step to finding a good work-life balance, something I’m sure you may be finding hard to achieve. Creating a schedule for yourself also helps shape your day and alleviate any stress.
If you are struggling to complete all your obligations in a day, consider contracting out some of your responsibilities. I am a freelance writer and I would love to set up a meeting to learn about how I can help you create a looser schedule and return your focus to your clients instead of writing content.
What method do you use for scheduling your time? Share in the comments below to help other health and wellness entrepreneurs find balance in their days.
Krystal Bernier is a freelance health writer extraordinaire. She specializes in writing high quality researched health articles for wellness entrepreneurs. She always reflects your brand and writes with the goal to convert readers to clients. She lives in Alberta and is mother to two wonderfully grubby little red heads.