Plan, Break Down and MASTER Your Day in 10 Minutes

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on November 11, 2010 in: Time Management Strategies, Tips in 10

Hi guys! I hope you like this article of Tips in 10 because it is something I do, which is so hugely useful to me that I am not quite sure how I ever lived without it before. I have talked about keeping track of your work with your project management system and calendar, and all that stuff, but I am going to show you today how to EXPLODE your day. (Not in the sense of blowing it up and making it horrible; but rather exploding it in the sense of “expanding the detail”).

Exploding your day will help you stay on track, and probably help improve things like your cash flow and professional relationships. “What?!?” you say, “my schedule can help improve my cash flow?!?” Well it certainly has mine and I’ll show you how it can help you.

I have broken my day into three segments:

1. Billable or Revenue Generating
2. Revenue Planning and Growth
3. Organizational, Personal & Other

Each of these break down like this:

Billable or Revenue Generating tasks are things that directly or indirectly bring me money, such as a coaching session, bookkeeping work, or writing a newsletter for an affiliate product I am promoting.

Revenue Planning and Growth are things that will bring success later (perhaps it’s a stronger team, a stronger community, better products, more money etc.). These are things like writing a Tips in Ten issue, Monthly Operations meeting, Speaking to a prospect on the phone.

Organizational, Personal & Other are things that I must do, but which don’t bring any direct “success”. These are things like checking email, authorizing bills to pay, taking lunch, or personal things like calling my child’s school. (To be clear: They are things I must do and they are rewarding and enjoyable. I’m just referring to “success” from a business perspective).

I can just about classify all of the things I need or want to do in a day into one of those three categories. Now the trick is to have the right amount in each category! Here’s how I do that: Do you remember in school those “divided” plates, in which the main course had a larger section and the two sides had smaller sections? Well exploding your day is like organizing your day on that divided plate.

To make it easy for you I am providing you with a spreadsheet (download it here). This is the same spreadsheet my assistant and I use in Google Docs to explode my day.

I’ll briefly walk you through it so you can customize it to your needs:

1) You’ll note that I have my day broken down into 30 minute increments. Each increment I call a “Part” and you’ll see in a moment how I use those.

2) I have from 5am to 5pm shown there. I am an early riser and I rarely work past 5:30 pm (or if I do it is random and unplanned stuff). Obviously I am not requiring you work a 12.5 hour day to make this work, so break it down for what is best for you. If you don’t work before 8am remove lines 2 through 7.

3) Each half hour segment is one “Part” of my day. These are the total number of allotted times I can use. You’ll note in my spreadsheet, which lists 12.5 hours per workday, I have a total of 25 parts (half-hour segments) in the day. And if you look across the bottom row, you’ll see that I’ve assigned some of those available 25 parts to each column: 12 Billable or Revenue Generating parts, 8 Revenue Planning and Growth parts, and 5 Organizational, Personal & Other parts. Depending on how many hours you work each day, you will have to adjust the number of Parts in the last row.

Here are some guidelines to go with:

  • If you work 12.5 hours per day: 25 part day = 12 parts Billable/Revenue, 8 parts Planning/Growth, 5 parts Organizational/Other
  • If you work 10 hours per day: 20 part day = 9 parts Billable/Revenue, 6 parts Planning/Growth, 5 parts Organizational/Other
  • If you work 8 hours per day: 16 part day = 7 parts Billable/Revenue, 5 parts Planning/Growth, 4 parts Organizational/Other
  • If you work 6 hours per day: 12 part day = 5 parts Billable/Revenue, 4 parts Planning/Growth, 3 parts Organizational/Other
  • If you work 4 hours per day: 8 part day = 3 parts Billable/Revenue, 3 parts Planning/Growth, 2 parts Organizational/Other

So just adjust the number along the Parts row in the spreadsheet to reflect the change. Let’s assume that you are going to go with an 8 hour day. That means your column 1 should show #/7 and your column 2 should show #/5 and your column 3 should show #/4.

So, now you have your spreadsheet all set up. Only your working hours are on it, and you have your part/segment quota broken down. Now it is time to fill it up.

First I would like to give some suggestions:

1) I have my assistant do this for me the night before so that when I wake up in the morning my schedule is ready.

2) When I have things I want to do that are not in my calendar, email or project management system, I put them over in the Other Tasks tab for my assistant to fit them in where available.

3) Consider loading this into Google Docs so that you and your VA can share it as needed.

Okay, now it’s time to fill out the sheet:

Step 1: Go to your calendar first and put all time sensitive appointments on there. These include calls and meetings that are scheduled. Make it easy! Don’t just put “meeting”. Instead, put “Meeting with Jane Doe re: Computer purchase – you call her – 555-1212”. So with a quick glance you have everything you need. Make sure to put these appointments in their correct column (if they are billable or revenue generating in column 1, if it is revenue planning or growth in column 2, and all else in column 3).

Step 2: After you have your firm “already set” appointments in, schedule the things that you “need”. This would be your lunch break, your times when you pick up your child from school (or take them there); for me, I check emails at specific times so I slot those in there. Most of these types of things go in the column 3.

Step 3: Open up your project or task management system or to do list (wherever you keep the “work” organized that you have to do) and start scheduling them into your spreadsheet.

Step 4: Tally it all up. How many cells are full in column 1? Replace the ‘#’ in Column 1 with the number of cells. Same thing with column 2 and column 3.

Step 5: Analyze:

  • What are you missing? Do you have a lot of blank space? If so click over to your “Other tasks” sheet (at the bottom of your spreadsheet) and try to fill in the blank space. (When in doubt, fill blank space with Column 1 and 2 activities first, since they impact your business the most).
  • Are you past your quota or under it in some columns? If you have a greater first number than second number in column 3 then you need to figure out how to decrease that number. Remember you derive no business benefit from column 3, so see if you can hire an assistant or outsource excess column 3’s in some way. If you do not have enough in column 2 then Pull out some previous Tips In Ten on revenue generating ideas and fill up column 2 with reading, studying and practicing those ideas. If you don’t have enough in Column 1, but you do have work then put in proactive work and start working on it early.

This sheet lets you take a critical look at you and how you work IN and ON your business.

1) Try to meet the segment quotas when at all possible and adjust your thinking to attempt to meet them.
2) If you find you have excess parts in one column and not enough in another, take a deeper look at your business and figure out why.
3) Exceed deadlines, just don’t meet them.
4) Account for all the time in your day!
5) Cross off each cell with the “strikethrough” feature once you have completed a task!

That’s it! It’s an easy way to quickly sort and prioritize your daily tasks and to always make sure that you are putting the majority of your focus on the most important business-building, revenue-generating tasks.

Heather Recommends:

Running a business can be busy, challenging work. I can help you become more productive and successful. Find out how.

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