How to Prioritize your Time

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Time management is, quite possibly, the biggest challenge of business ownership. How do you make progress on #allthethings for your own business, while also providing a deep level of client care and an exceptional end product? It’s a never-ending balancing act of finding time to work ON your business as much as you work IN it, and prioritizing your business needs as much as you prioritize your clients’ needs.

The hustle will only get you so far if your priorities aren’t in line. When push comes to shove, the things you “don’t have time to do” are really the things that you’ve subconsciously determined aren’t a priority for you. So how can you structure your to-do list and manage your time so that you balance client and admin work with big-picture projects that contribute to growth?

The secret to feeling in control of your workload every day is in understanding where you spend your time. You need an acute understanding of what is mission-critical to the success of your business, and you need to be able to evaluate the income-generating potential of each item competing for attention on your to-do list.

What I practice in my own business (and what I recommend to my clients) is finding a 60/10/30 split, with 60% of your time spent on client work, 10% spent on admin work, and 30% spent on income-generating work.

So let’s run through an example…

Below is my to-do list from last week; this includes every task and project that I needed to complete for both myself and my clients.

  • Check email (daily)

  • Send invoices to 2 clients

  • Schedule social media for the month

  • Finish new workbook opt-in

  • Write welcome sequence for workbook

  • Create outline for new product

  • Create content for new product

  • Launch new product

  • Onboard new client

  • Setup workflow for Client A

  • Record explainer video for Client A

  • Setup Asana for Client B

  • Record Asana training for Client B

  • Schedule training call with Client C

  • Offboard Client C

  • Respond to questions from clients

  • Reach out to past client for testimonial

  • Pitch to podcast

  • Promote podcast interview

Now let’s put these into three groups - a client work task group, an admin task group, and an income-generating task group.

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From last week’s to-do list, there are 19 tasks total. 42% of them are related to client work. 21% are administrative tasks. And 37% are tasks that will contribute to generating income for me at some point. It’s not perfect, but it’s close to that ideal 60/10/30 balance that I strive for. And since this week is admin-heavy, I’ll make sure that next week is lighter in that area. 

Understanding that split and where I’m spending the majority of my time is an exercise that I go through each week as I’m planning. 

On Friday (or the last working day of the week), I spend 20 minutes in my project management system looking at the week ahead, as well as the following week. I look at the client deadlines that are upcoming, any monthly or weekly recurring administrative things that will need to be done, my batching schedule for content, and any bigger-picture projects that I’m working on. Then I take everything that’s upcoming and sort it into these categories so that I can assign the appropriate balance of tasks to my list for the week. When it’s all said and done, I have no more than 15-20 tasks on my list for any given week because I know that’s all I can realistically accomplish, and those tasks are a good balance of working both IN and ON my business. Anything that doesn’t fit on my list this week gets pushed to the following week. 

Ultimately the number of tasks and the specific breakdown will depend on the type of work you do and the time it takes you to complete tasks and projects. But what’s most important is that you pick a realistic number and set a schedule that allows you to complete all of the tasks on your list each week. 

My personal go to for managing my workload and task list is Asana. It’s a fantastic tool that helps to aggregate project work, client work, random tasks that pop up, and general to-do lists into one tidy spot. It shows you exactly where you should be focusing your attention at any given time and the calendar feature helps you arrange your workload to fit your lifestyle.

I live by this rule: If it’s not in Asana, it doesn’t happen.

I know that it can be really tough to step back and see the big picture. Prioritizing is H A R D when we feel like we need to do everything “right now.” But by taking a critical and discerning look at your list and setting intentional and non-negotiable priorities each week, I promise you can find a balance. 

If you need help creating structure and managing your workload, my Workflow in a Week program could serve you well! Together, we'll link your systems to your to-dos to create a back-end workspace that is geared toward productivity. Learn more, here

Annie McCarty