Welcome to this 2 part series breaking down how I plan my day, week and month to maximise creativity and productivity! Don’t forget to sign up to the mailing list (opens in new window) to get updates on the blog as well FREE stock pics for your business!
Part 2: A typical month – this post
There may be affiliate links in this page, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase anything through that link. There’s no cost to you, and I’d never leave you high and dry – everything I promote or suggest is because I love it myself!
Last week I shared a typical ‘indoor’ business day for me. This week, it’s all about how I balance that schedule over the month. It’s not quite as in depth; it’s actually very simple!
A quick note on my working week:
I only plan a 4 day week. With a typical 7 hour day, that’s 28 hours a week. Monday through Thursday.
Why a four-day week?
Because I know what I’m like, and if you’re also running your own business, you’ll likely be similar; we take on too much. Too many times this year I’ve almost come to burning out through working 6 days a week at two jobs. When I went full time into this business, I was full on intent on cramming those 6 days with working full time on the business. But my ever-so-wise partner Kieran made a very good point:
If I plan a 6 day week, I’ll work a 7 day week. And if I plan a 5 day week, I’ll work a 6 day week.
And I knew he was right. Up until me leaving my job, I spent 3 days a week on the business (and 3 days at another job), but somehow I seemed to still plan 5 days of business stuff by taking on too much, not giving myself enough time or not allowing for delays, meetings, computers taking what felt like A WEEK to update, etc. So I’d work evenings and weekends to catch up – you can guess the rest.
So, full time on the business, day one, how was I going to work? I decided to plan a new 4 day working structure; Monday to Thursday, leaving Fridays completely free. If I plan a 4 day week, I’ll most likely work a 5 day week; much better.
That means if I have a meeting or event I want to go to, I can take the time out of the week, and make up for it Friday. If a jobs taking too long, no worries – I have Friday. And if everything miraculously has gone to plan and I have a free day, it means I can get a head start on the next week. Or a cheeky long weekend – hey I’m the boss now.
It also means I can balance out meeting a friend for a coffee or chatting to my mum for 7 hours and not worrying about the business – I have Fridays. This new schedule has also opened my eyes to how you get more done with less time allotted. I have less time in the week, so I work
harder smarter in the slots I’ve given myself.
I highly recommend you try it. Even if you’re only part time right now, reduce your availability by a fifth or a quarter. Yes it might delay progress to a point, but what you get back in your schedule will be invaluable in keeping all your hair.
A typical month:
If you haven’t already, check out my day-to-day post on how to get a basic structure to your day. Here I’ll break down how I use my ‘Big Jobs’ segment in the afternoon, which varies each week based on my overall business goals. And I’ve tried to adapt it to suit most small business needs.
Week one: Product creation
For me, this is putting together a new stock or mock-up collection. For you it’s whatever you ‘create’; be it handmade goods, courses, books, prints, client work etc. Over the course of the week, that’s 10 hours by my calculations. For me, that’s more than enough time to put together a beautiful stock photo set but if I need more, I’ll use some of my blog time at the start of the day. Depending on what you create, you may need less or more time than that, so you can adapt where needed.
Week two: Big picture stuff or more product creation
I love having a clear chunk of time to really get on with the big picture stuff. But it’s surprising how quickly and how often the big plans get shoved to the bottom of the priority list. All those small, picky jobs just get in the way right? Not anymore! Not thanks to your fancy new daily and monthly planner! Now you get 10 hours a month minimum to focus on growing your venture. May not sound much, but if you had no plan to begin with, it’s a heck of a lot more time than you were giving yourself I’ll bet. And don’t forget about those free Fridays!
And if you don’t need to grow your business or if client work is your main venture, you can use this week to get ahead on your product creation or job fulfilment instead.
Week three: Content creation
This is the week I sort all my content marketing. I like to be a few weeks in advance where I can, so here I’ll create 4 weeks of emails. I send on average about 1 a week, so that’s basically 4 emails to sort – super simple thanks to Mailchimp. Then I’ll sort my Pinterest out with some fresh content and schedule about a months worth of both mine and other creators pins. I seriously do this in about 15 minutes thanks to Tailwind!
And finally I’ll sort out my Instagram – I like this to a be a bit more real time, so I’ll usually curate imagery for a month, but possibly plan the captions a week or so in advance. And thanks to Tailwind, I can schedule my Instagram there too, along with previewing what my feed will look like, and auto-posting pins and posts to Facebook. Which is great as my Facebook game is just not happening.
Week four: Monthly admin
Being a small business owner, there’s a lot of hats to wear. So (being the freakishly organised person that I am) I created checklists of each area of the business that requires maintenance. For instance, every month I do a few quick checks of my website – making sure it’s up to date, plugins are updated, the database is backed up and the security is running smoothly. It takes about 10 minutes as I use Flywheel who basically sort all that for me on a daily basis. But it’s my site, my business and my responsibility to make sure everything is running tick-tock.
I’ll also use this slot to sort my accounts out – record the income, outgoings, budgets for growing the business and making sure all the services I use that get renewed are maintained and, well, renewed.
And I’ll also use this slot to keep my website and Creative Market shop looking refreshed. Re-ordering products so the seasonal products are up top, changing the banner and header graphics to something more suited to the time of year, and making sure the copy is on-point and the links are working.
Basically, look at the maintenance your business needs, break it down into a frequency you’re comfortable with – monthly, quarterly, 6-monthly etc, and use this time in your month to get this stuff done. It helps your business run like clockwork, and leaves you free for the other 3 weeks to concentrate on stuff that gets you paid.
Optional week five: Whatever else
Not every month has a 5th week, but if so, this is bonus time. Whether you want to concentrate on the big stuff some more, or get even further ahead with product or content creation, this is just one of those free weeks to get a head-start.
And there you have it! A typical month to help you plan your business to-do’s, and enjoying the odd long weekend here and there…
Do you have a monthly routine that works for you? Or have you used any of the framework above? Comment below with your experience!