In working with my cookbook coaching clients, mastermind groups, and on my own projects, I realize the importance of planning my time to get the most out of my week. I’ve always had a pretty consistent pattern for activities do on a weekly basis, but use care when planning tasks for work, book writing, free time, and family activities. Planning ahead of time keeps projects moving along in my business and sets up the time to enjoy activities with family and friends.
I once heard the analogy that a calendar with a well-planned week is like a river. It has strong banks, a certain direction, and flows quickly with energy and focus. A week that isn’t well planned is like a lake – big, open, and lazy – beautiful to look at, but lacking direction and focus. Lakes are nice for weeks of vacation but in order to schedule time for everything I enjoy I prefer to use my calendar like a river. Each week the flow takes me where I want to go, and not where is wants to take me.
1. Make decisions and move forward
The best thing we can all do to become more in charge of our time is to decide ahead of time. Plan for tomorrow and the next day, today. Decide ahead of time when you are going to work, eat, answer email, shower, exercise, read. Decide what projects you are going to focus on. Decide what you are going to say no to. Decide, decide, decide. So much of our time is wasted in indecision. Your ability to be successful is directly related to making decisions (and sticking with the decisions you make.) Read more in the book Decide: The Ultimate Success Trigger by Jim Palmer.
2. Schedule actions that produce results
When you plan actions to take and put on your calendar, focus on items that produce results. For example, when working on my cookbooks, I focus on specific tasks to schedule. Instead of saying, research salad dressing recipes, or think about salad dressing, I write specific action-oriented tasks such as write a recipe ingredient outline and list for 5 salad dressing recipes. This is specific, action-oriented, and get things accomplished
3. Plan your calendar with discipline and precision
I plan my calendar for the next week on Fridays. At the end of the workweek, I put in my appointments, client calls, and daily tasks for marketing, bookkeeping, ingredient shopping, phone calls, and follow-up on the calendar to complete at a specific time. Then I schedule in any tasks related to my 90-day goals. When Monday morning rolls around, I’ve decided ahead of time how to use my time and I follow the plan. I can accomplish a lot this way and it’s very freeing, not restrictive.
4. Plan your perfect day
One reason calendars fail us is that we don’t schedule the time to do things we enjoy. Want to go out with your mate on a Thursday night each week? Then put it on your calendar. Want to walk the dog each evening? Or relax for a half-hour every afternoon? Read a book a week, or learn to crochet? Put these fun things on your calendar.
5. Honor your plan
If you don’t hold yourself accountable, no one will. This is especially true for business owners. Do what you say you’re going to do when you make your weekly plan. You deserve not to let yourself down.
6. Constrain your focus
Read this blog post about a 12-week year. The concept is using laser focus to work one project for 12 weeks. Much to the surprise of many, limitations don’t restrict your life. They allow freedom – freedom to work on one thing and know that in 12 weeks you will have accomplished a lot and you can move on to another project for the next 12 weeks.
7. Stop distractions
Turn off the notifications on your phone, desktop, and laptop. Turn off the ringer too. Don’t take any text messages. Save phone calls and email for a scheduled time during the day. Distractions are really the enemy of focus and making traction on your projects. Commit to being distraction free while you work.
If you suck at something or despise doing it, and if you’re spending a lot of mental energy resisting and avoiding something, consider delegating the task to someone else who doesn’t suck at it and who would be much faster and better at the task than you are.
9. Complete items
Don’t quit before you finish. Trust yourself to finish. Get started, get busy, and finish or close the deal. Quitting is failing ahead of time. If you want to write a book and you think I can’t do it, it’s too hard, no one will like it, so I quit just remember that you are getting the results your thoughts created. You don’t do it, it seems hard, and no one will like it because it’s never been published.
10. Quit trying
Trying doesn’t get anything accomplished. What you accomplish is based on what you follow-through on, not what you “try” to do. Commit to creating results and not just “trying”.
Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?