Libby Rothschild, CEO of Dietitian Boss.follow up LinkedIn.
As a business owner, you probably wish you had more hours in your day, but maybe you’ve noticed the time slipping away from you and you’ve gotten frustrated. If you can understand, then your time management skills probably need an audit.
Time management is about working smarter, not harder, and many business owners old and new struggle with it. I run a successful company but work less than 20 hours a week and I want to share my own process to inspire you to look at your schedule and make adjustments.
Time freedom for business owners is possible.
If you want to create time freedom in your life, you need to figure out 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,” which means you design your business to fit your life, not the other way around. Freedom of time can look like limiting your workweek to a certain number (say 20 hours), creating a self-care routine or promoting a four-day workweek.
I created a lifestyle business to achieve time freedom by focusing on a scalable business model including memberships, courses, online coaching and planners. Since my business is completely remote, I’m not limited by location. I automated many processes, reducing the need for staff. I hire coaches who teach my methods to our clients, so the business doesn’t just depend on me.
Why is time freedom important?
I grew up in a single parent household and didn’t have much time for my family. My grandfather who helped raise me as a kid worked until 11pm most nights. As a single mom who works overtime every week to afford our small apartment, I don’t understand the complex relationship between people and time. What I saw growing up is that you have to work a lot to survive.
As an adult, I worked seven jobs trying to make ends meet and pay off my graduate student loans. I became my grandfather and worked nights until 11pm 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 reinforce my unsustainable behavior. I asked if I could work from home from my 9-5 job, and was turned down. I tried to get paid better for my consulting work and was turned down. One day I was telling a story online about the few jobs I had, and my co-workers (registered dietitians) asked if I could help them. I created an online class and coaching program to show my peers how to make money, and eventually, I turned my body consulting business into a virtual practice.
Now I can make my own schedule and enjoy life as I want. I get to enjoy spending time with my family, giving back to my community, and exploring hobbies including hiking, running, art, and travel. Modeling time freedom is important to me.
How to achieve time freedom in your life?
I suggest asking yourself a few questions.
1. How do you value the time you spent growing up?
2. What kind of life do you want to create, and what role will time play in your future?
The reason I suggest thinking about these questions is that time freedom has to do with how you want to live your life. Otherwise, I believe many of us go to work every day without viewing time as a system we can control. As a business owner, think about what kind of life you want. I often create a vision board to help clarify my goals and work towards them. The life I want to live and work in is documented, visible to my family and me, and respectful of how I manage my time each day.
Now, think about what your workday will look like.
Personally, I use time blocks, the Pareto principle, digital timesheets, and project management tools to help plan my days. I also recommend identifying a theme for each day of the week so you can focus on specific activities. For example, Monday might be for administration, Tuesday for clients, Wednesday for projects, Thursday for networking, and Friday for fun. The key is to adjust your schedule quarterly and modify it as business needs change.
If you follow the schedule above, it’s possible to get a more detailed look at your week, based on my own experience with this method.
• on Monday: Focus on managing today. This may include meeting with your team and reviewing company processes and sales management.
• Tuesday: This is the day to focus on the client. For example, I create content in batches and schedule clients back-to-back, taking breaks every three hours. You can also use this day to create content for social media, podcasts, writing, planning and more. I recommend planning a quarter in advance and using an editorial calendar.
• Wednesday: Right now, you’re likely to focus on business development. Maybe you can spend half a day working on a project. This is the approach I take in my own business, and over the past year we’ve focused on program improvements, so I’ve taken the time to redesign and update my program. I devote the remaining half of the day to self-care.
• Thursday: If you focus on connecting on Thursday, you can spend half the day connecting with peers, ex-clients or possible partners. The other half of the day can be spent on sales activities, for example, whether it’s a sales call or reviewing the performance of your sales associates and affiliates.
• Friday: Maybe Friday is your “catch-up” day. You can use this day to complete any task for the week.
Working in an online business provides a scalable model that allows me to live a flexible life. Through this experience, I’ve discovered that establishing systems and being firm about one’s own boundaries can allow leaders to enjoy life the way they want.
The Forbes Business Council is the premier growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Am I eligible?