Libby Rothschild, CEO of Dietitian Boss. Follow on LinkedIn.
As an entrepreneur, you probably want to get more time back into your day, but you may have noticed time eludes you and feel frustrated. If you can identify yourself, chances are your time management skills need an audit.
Time management is about working smarter, not harder, and many entrepreneurs, both new and experienced, struggle. I run a successful business while working less than 20 hours a week, and I want to share what my own process looks like to inspire you to monitor and adjust your own schedule.
Time freedom is possible for entrepreneurs.
If you want to create time freedom in your life, you need to clarify what that “freedom” looks like.
Time freedom is the ability to choose your working hours and create your own schedule. I define this concept as owning a “lifestyle business,” meaning you design your business to fit your life – not the other way around. Time freedom can look like limiting your work hours to a certain number of hours per week (say, 20 hours), creating a self-care routine, or promoting a four-day work week.
I created a lifestyle business that offers time freedom by focusing on a scalable business model with memberships, courses, online coaching and masterminds. Because my business is completely remote, I am location independent. I automate many processes, so that less staff is needed. I employ coaches who teach my method to our clients so that the business does not rely solely on me.
Why is time freedom important?
I grew up in a single-parent family and didn’t have much time with my family. My grandfather, who helped raise me as a child, worked until 11 p.m. most nights. My single mom worked overtime every week to pay for our tiny apartment, and I didn’t understand the complicated relationship people have with time. All I saw growing up was that you have to work a lot to survive.
As an adult, I worked seven jobs to make ends meet and pay off my student loans. I became my grandpa and worked until 11 p.m. until one day I woke up miserable because I didn’t have time for myself. I knew that if I wanted a family, I had to learn how to consolidate my unsustainable behavior. I asked my 9-to-5 job if I could work from home and was told no. I tried to negotiate a higher salary for my consulting work and was refused. One day I was telling my story online about different jobs and my colleagues (registered dietitians) asked me if I could help them. I created an online course and coaching program to show my colleagues how to make money, and eventually turned my brick-and-mortar consultancy into a virtual practice.
Now I can make my own schedule to enjoy life the way I want. I can enjoy spending time with my family, giving back to the community and exploring different hobbies including walking, running, art and travelling. It is important to me to be an example of freedom of time.
How can you achieve freedom of time in your life?
I recommend asking yourself a few questions.
1. How did you appreciate the time growing up?
2. What life do you want to create and what role does time play in your future?
The reason I suggest thinking about these questions is that freedom of time is associated with how you want to live your life. Otherwise, I think many of us function on a daily basis without seeing time as a system that we can control. As an entrepreneur, think about what life you want. I often create a vision board to crystallize my goals and work towards them. The life I want to live and work towards is documented, visual to my family and me, and respected by how I manage my time on a daily basis.
Now think about what your weekdays might look like.
I myself use time blocking, the Pareto principle, a digital schedule and a project management tool to plan my days. I also suggest choosing a theme for each day of the week so you can focus on specific activities. For example, Monday can be for management, Tuesday for customers, Wednesday for projects, Thursday for connecting and Friday for fun. The key is to adjust your schedule quarterly and make changes as your business needs change.
If you’re following the schedule above, here’s a more detailed look at what your week might look like based on my own experience with this approach.
• Monday: Focus on managing today. This could include holding meetings with your team and reviewing business processes and sales management.
• Tuesday: This day could be to put customers first. For example, I create content in batches and schedule clients back-to-back with breaks every three hours. You can also use this day for social media content creation, podcasting, writing, scheduling, etc. I suggest planning a quarter ahead and using an editorial calendar.
• Wednesday: Now you could focus on business development. Maybe you can spend half a day on projects. This is the approach I’ve taken in my own company, and over the past year we’ve focused on program improvements, so I’ve spent time redesigning and updating my programming. I devoted the other half of the day to self-care.
• Thursday: If you focus on connections on Thursday, you can spend half a day connecting with colleagues, former clients, or potential partners. For example, the other half of the day can be spent on sales activities, whether that’s a sales call or reviewing the performance of your sales associate and partner.
• Friday: Maybe Fridays can be your “catch up days”. You can use this day to catch up on any tasks for the week.
Working in an online company provides a scalable model that allows me to live a flexible life. Through this experience, I’ve found that setting up systems and sticking to your limits can help leaders enjoy life the way they want to.