By Monserrat Irazoqui.
Life is a wonderful journey. It can become a hectic one for those who choose to become an entrepreneur, and an even more chaotic one for the ones who choose to become an entrepreneur with a work-life balance. Meetings, exercise, meditation, coffee with friends, family dinner, date night…how the hell are you going to make time for all this? Is it even possible? Oh, yes, it is! Everything is possible when you plan things out.
First thing you should know about planning for a productive day, week, month, life is that it serves as a guideline of where your focus, time, and effort should be oriented to. If you over plan, you’re going to stress and frustrate yourself out, which is the complete opposite of the objective of planning and organizing is.
Your time is one of the most valuable assets you’ll always have and you have to make sure that it is being invested and not wasted. Here are some methods to have a productive week that have worked for me and the people I have suggested them to:
Make a list. Sunday is not just a day to be a couch potato, it is a great day to plan your week out. Make a list of all the things that you have to do throughout the upcoming week in every area of your life: work 1, work 2, side hustle, social, personal, and family. Write everything down as it comes to your head, the order does not matter for now. Following this, categorize them in the different areas. After that, prioritize; which are the duties that should absolutely be done this week? Mark them as important.
Now that you know what to do, choose a date, time, and place for each (*bonus tip: if you have a meeting/event/something else at a place you’ve never been to before, look up the address on Google Maps/Maps/Waze/something else to know how far it is and where it is located; this way it will save you time and stress the day of). And, to conclude this awesome process, write each of these duties on your planner or online calendar; whichever works best for you.
Check your planner throughout the day to know what you have to do, and always check it at night to see what you were able to do and what you didn’t in order to plan the following day to be more productive.
Pick out your outfit beforehand. This was an advice and, pretty much, an obligation for me growing up. My mom would always tell me to have my uniform prepared the night before class. This has stuck with me and I still put my outfit together the night before work. I even choose what kind of makeup I will be wearing. I’ve been doing this for years and it always helps me “gain” more time throughout the day.
Now, I know that picking an outfit can be sometimes hard to do, especially if you’re a girl. It is a universal stereotype for women that we can take up to 2-3 hours to get ready for a night out, for example; I take 15 minutes or 30 at the very most. Since this blog is to share experiences of our own that have worked, I’m sharing with you a secret.
When I was a teenager, I had a lot of free time on my hands, just as any other teenager (unless you were Sean Parker creating Napster). So, among the things that I did in my free time was to go to my closet and put outfits together and try them on. This way I was able to tell which ones looked good on me and which ones didn’t. Same with makeup, I would watch YouTube tutorials and try different looks and decide which ones I liked and disliked; and the same with hair, I tried different hairstyles and chose which were good and which were bad. Since I tried all this different stuff, I know what works and what doesn’t and I know now how to do each. Whenever my girlfriends would ask me “How do you get ready so fast?” I would give them the short version of this paragraph: “I’ve had practice” and wait for them 2 more hours to go out.
Schedule personal and social events. Sometimes the weekend comes, and you just want to hibernate, but you haven’t seen your friends in a while and they have big stuff to share with you. If you mark it on your calendar days before, you are more likely to attend because you already made the commitment to go.
Also, if you’ve been wanting to go get a massage or a mani/pedi or something else to pamper yourself, make the appointment on Sunday when you’re planning your week. As well as important health-related stuff like going to the gym or going to therapy, among many others.
Doing this will make you less prone to shut down areas of your life that can become overpowered by work.
Use post-its. 3M, the company that created post-its, has been in the top 5 Most Innovative companies for years. Such a simple but great human creation. Post-its are great for more chill reminders, like “take toiletries, grab lunch, bring camera, turn printer off” and paste them where each item is. These things can seem kinda dumb but when we’re productive all day, they can just run across everything but our minds and we can forget them. Funny enough, these banal things actually help us be more productive. For example, if you forget your lunch, then you have to order food or go somewhere to get it and eat it and there goes 30-40 minutes that you could have employed in something more productive.
None of these methods will work if you don’t first accept that no matter how much you plan, some things are out of your control and you must pivot and adapt to these changes. If your day didn’t go as planned, be easy on yourself. We’re all human and make mistakes. Constantly analyze what went wrong and right and try your best to fix it to make tomorrow more productive. Being aware of your time and energy takes both time and energy to discover, but as they say “Practice makes the master”.