How I structure my week as an online entrepreneur
Want the back stage pass to my business organization and scheduling? Well here it is gal!
I've shared bits and pieces of my processes and what my week/day looks like before, but never gave the full run down and reasoning behind it all.
My current schedule and structure was one that took a while to nail down. In fact, I think it's safe to say that in my first two weeks full time, my business was a bit of a hot mess.
So, how on exactly does this business run? What exactly does my day/week look like?
Some background details you need to know before I tell you all about my schedule.
In my business I have 2 main types of work to take care of. First is my clients website design projects. Second is the business tasks that keep this whole brand chugging along day to day.
Theme days & task blocking
I moved over to themed days when I went from part-time to full-time with my business and it's been the most wonderful change to my life I could have asked for!
I'm the type of person who is a marathon worker, not a sprinter. Give me 1 hour and I'll get a whole lot of nothing done. Give me 8 uninterrupted hours and I'll polish off half a website.
Knowing that I work best by focusing on just one large task and ploughing through it, I don't do little bits of different things here and there.
I take care of a large task or small similar tasks (eg. scheduling a weeks worth of social media) all at once.
When I was part-time I didn't really have this luxury of time blocking, my life was more a 'deal with it when the task/problem came up' situation.
Now, I know what my priorities and tasks are, and I schedule them accordingly. I don't have anyone else dictating what I need to get done when, so it allows me to plan my week exactly the way I work best.
On Monday's I take care of 'business tasks'.
This includes tracking success metrics (email list size, website traffic, project inquiries, projects booked, etc), tracking financials (adding the past weeks income & expenses into my super high-tech financial system *ahem ... excel document* ... I admit, this could probably be done better), responding to blog comments, and any other general businessey tasks (eg. filing my taxes).
I have to say, I truly look forward to doing this every Monday; it's a great way to start the week! I see how much I made which is always super motivating (anyone else also super excited by looking at their Stripe account?) On Monday's I get to watch my business stats grow and interact with readers in the comments of my blog, a perfect start to the week!
On Tuesdays I write blog posts, create the graphic to go with it, and schedule it.
I post to my blog every Tuesday & Thursday, though I write my posts 1.5 weeks in advance. I do this to ensure I have buffer room in case life happens and I don't get around to writing for whatever reason.
(Like that one time my Mac gave me the black screen of death and I was a computer-less website designer for a week... Fun times.)
Writing 1.5 weeks in advance means my blog posts are always consistently released on the promised Tuesday & Thursday, no matter what happens in my life.
Wednesdays I keep 'free' for whatever major priority I'm working on. At the moment, it's B-School. When B-School is wrapped up I'll be committing my Wednesdays to the next overall business To Do (more on my overall To Do list to come).
Thursdays is another blogging day, the same as Tuesday.
Friday is my day for social media. (I swear by Friday my brain is mush and I can't accomplish anything more difficult than this!)
On Friday I schedule a weeks worth of Facebook posts, normally 7 - 10 posts. I do this all in the Facebook scheduling tool that’s integrated into the fan page.
I used to spend time during my ‘social media Fridays’ for Pinterest, but thankfully now its taken care of by the ah-mazing BoardBooster.
BoardBooster helped me to put my Pinterest account 100% on autopilot and it grows by about 20 followers a day (thats 140 a week, or 560 a month) all by itself!
It’s also the best social platform for driving traffic to my blog and takes no time. How fab, right?! As you can imagine I love it!
It did take a while to set up and populate my boards to a few hundred pins each in the beginning, but now BoardBooster just takes care of it all by looping and scheduling to group boards. If you're not already using it, go take it for a test drive already!
In business and life, I take the less is more approach to most things. As such, I decided to build up one social platform at a time, get really into the habit of creating for it and growing it before moving onto the next.
All of that is what I call 'weekly business tasks,’ but of course I also have my client work each day to do as well.
(I wish I just scheduled a few Facebook posts and then called it a day!)
CLIENT WORK - A 2 WEEK WEBSITE
I do my client work a little differently than most website designers, and I wouldn’t have it any other way (neither would my clients)!
I dedicate to just one client at a time for a 2 week block of time.
(Starting to see the theme with staying focused on one thing instead of dividing attention between many?)
My clients love the two week process because they know they have my undivided attention and I’m not juggling their project with a bunch of others.
My clients emails are top priority in my inbox for those two weeks, and they get unlimited edits to their website. Our only deadline is the Friday of week 2.
Clients can go plan a website launch celebration in advance if they want, because their launch date is guaranteed!
For me, I get to focus on one thing at a time (the way I work best) and fully invest myself into their brand and style for that time.
I also don’t have to stress myself about a variety of deadlines, and needing to try to provide stellar service to, say, 5 clients at a time.
I also can take proper vacations because I dedicate to my clients for two weeks, teach them how to use their website until they’re confident in the back end, and they almost never need help again. I don’t have projects drag on or client issue emails flooding my inbox.
It is truly a blessing to both my clients & myself. (For full details on how I complete a website in 2 weeks, you’ll want to keep an eye on the blog for that post; it’s coming!)
For the purposes of this post and my scheduling however, I’ll give you a quick overview of my work on a clients website.
On Monday of day 1 I hold an hour call with them. Throughout the first week I spend a good chunk of hours every day working at the mood board and color palette, building out each page, and designing graphics. In week two I complete site edits and on the Friday we hop on a 1.5 hour video call for a Squarespace lesson and to launch the site.
So, generally I take a block of a few hours each day to work at the project, with some days having set times I need to meet with the clients (for our calls), but otherwise when I do the work in my day (eg. pre or post lunch) is pretty flexible.
I don’t have a set ‘do business tasks in the morning’ and ‘do client work after lunch.’ In fact, I don’t set hour limits on any of these things, I just work at something until it’s done.
At the end of each business day I look at my to do’s and either move over to the next day anything I didn’t complete, or cross it off (also a fab way to get things ‘done’). I also then prioritize my tasks for the next day, and put them in order of what I’ll do first, second, etc.
While I do hold a lot of calls with current clients, potential clients, and other entrepreneurs for various reasons, I set call hours to help me with staying in the ‘flow’ of work.
I set up my Acuity account to offer call time slots between 3 PM - 6 PM. If a client can’t make those times I’m happy to get flexible and work with their schedule, but generally it’s not an issue, and having my Acuity call scheduling times set between 3 - 6 encourages people to pick somewhere in that time block.
In the early part of the day, 10 AM - 3 PM is my time to knock out business tasks and client work with no distractions, and it’s SO nice. It’s amazing what I can accomplish in those hours!
Overall to do’s
These are business tasks that need to get done, but not necessarily every week.
My overall to do list has items such as creating new opt-in gifts, running a reader survey, Beta testing new service ideas, etc. These overall to do’s are arranged in priority in my Mac notes app, so anytime I have polished off my work for the day, I head over to my overall to do list to determine what’s up next.
Most of these I can squeeze into a day, around business tasks and client work, however if there’s something major (eg. developing a digital product or course) I might change my availability for design work, ‘book’ myself out for a week, and not take on a client in that time so I can devote myself to that major task.
Ah yes, the ongoing nightmare that is an email inbox.
I did so well after reading The 4 Hour Workweek to check and respond to email only twice a day, but I admit I've fallen off the wagon lately. While I will check and respond to emails throughout the day, I only email clients during work hours, and not on weekends or at midnight.
I've found this stops a whole host of headaches. If I do need to write an email after work hours, I schedule it to send the next morning at 8 AM... Which makes me look like I'm a super early bird, but let's be real, I'm far from it.
A typical day
8:30 - 9: Wake up. (I'm not an early riser, even this is a struggle!)
9 - 10: Miracle morning (no idea that what is? read this book), breakfast, get pretty, make the 4 second commute to my office
10: Check on my already prioritized to do’s & start working through them
3 - 6 PM: Calls, if I have them, or continuing through my to do’s
6 PM: Move any tasks I didn’t get done to the next day or cross them out & write out my to do’s in priority order for the next day.
That's pretty much my day/week!
It’s definitely different than others who schedule many more set times for certain things, but mine is more a marathon-style through my tasks, one at a time.
(I think it's safe to say my work marathons will be the only type of marathon I'll be completing anytime soon!)