TIDKT: Planning and not over-booking

The first two years of my business were pretty much defined by taking too much on. A lot of late nights, a lot of being tired and a bit grumpy. I wrote a bit about this when I wrote about obtaining balance as a self employed here. It got to a point where it really wasn’t working for me anymore and I had to reassess why I started the business and what I wanted from it. I wrote a little bit about this and the aims I set out to achieve a better work life balance in this post. And do you know what? I’ve been pretty good at sticking to more sensible working hours and finding a bit of balance.

First up: I am a little bit nervous about suggesting that I am the perfect example of time management. I’m not. And everyone needs a system that suits you. This suits me for now and works well and I offer it up only as an example for you to try or to adapt to yourself if you like.

So how do I do it?

I have very few working hours at the moment (about 10 a week plus any teaching hours) I try to stick to only doing office work in the time my daughter is at preschool. I will sit and make (and daydream and sometimes write lists) when the family are around but I try not to be at a computer. There will be the odd time when something takes much longer and I work a little in the evening but I aim for that to be the exception not the rule.

Achieving this means I need to maximise the precious work hours and not over book myself. Enter the planner! *small trumpet toots*

work planner

At the start of every week I sit down for a few minutes.

What do I need to achieve this week? What deadlines do I have? What didn’t I finish last week?

I write each task into the day that I hope to achieve it and try to put the most urgent or important tasks into Monday and things that can possibly slide towards the end of the week.

As work comes in over the week I add it to the planner if there is room, if there isn’t it will be added in to next week. I don’t plan in more than a week ahead (long deadlines are stored separately and reviewed when deciding which work to do this week)

I keep the far right column of the planner as an ideas jotter that can be used as inspiration for filling the tasks too.

Anything I finish gets ticked off, anything I don’t need to do anymore gets crossed out, anything I can’t finish gets an arrow next to it to tell me to move it onto next week.

Its not rocket science and there is probably an app for it but I prefer the real stationary buzz of doing it on paper. It feels real and more tangible and less likely to get distracted from the task when its on paper.

The planner was part of the Blogtacular 2014 goodie bag and is from lollipop. When I have more office time I think I’ll use the planner for a week and use the different columns for different activities such as admin, designing, making, social media, blogging etc. But for now not having too much room to write stops me planning in more than I can realistically do.

Over the weeks I’ve been doing this (about 10 now) I’ve learnt so much about what I am actually managing to achieve which is really helping me plan better.

I hope this helps someone. What planning systems do you have in place?

If you enjoyed this post – you might like others in the series.


  1. says

    I’m really enjoying this series of posts Joanne – thank you! I think the planner idea is great. I’ve been trying out Bullet Journalling, which is similar, but I’m finding it hard to stick to it as it’s all tucked away in a notebook. Maybe a planner on the wall is the answer – then everyone else can see what work I have planned too! x

  2. says

    Interesting idea, thanks! Our household has started using Evernote – which is easy and fine as long as 1 – we remember to look at it, and 2 – that we don’t get distracted by online inducements while the computer is open. I like the idea of a real tangible paper and pen solution. As long as I still can remember how to write that is!

  3. says

    I’m app-tastic when it comes to this… I use my Google calendar to block out areas of time, generally a couple of days in advance apart from maintenance jobs which are timetabled automatically. Then I use http://trello.com to organise tasks in different categories and have a ‘Doing’ column with the task I’m doing Right Now. I also use GTasks on my phone to capture all the jobs I think of while I’m doing something else. My brain seems to be more sieve than grey-matter these days and with this lot in place I’m free to get on without worrying that I’m missing something! I do know what you mean about pen and paper though, I just find the automatically recurring tasks and easy availability of the online-and-synched stuff more convenient.