work like youre going on vacation

It’s vacation time

I just finalized our plans for our annual summer trip to visit with my family.

Every year, my son Jake and I take off for a week to see my family who lives in another state. We make our plans for all the cool things we want to see, mini-one day trips we’ll take and of course, the days when we just spend time with my family, talking and catching up.

Once I got the dates in place and the day trips planned, I started to think about my work that needs to get done during that time. Isn’t it crazy how the mind of a small business owner will go in that direction?

Here’s where my mind went – Isn’t that the week after the deadline for that project I wanted to get done? Do I skip blogging that week or just double up the week before and schedule the thing?

As my mind starting swirling around about the projects that I need to work on, I got out my calendar and immediately jumped into project management mode.

Can you afford to lose 6 weeks of time?

Have you ever noticed how much work you get done before you leave on vacation? You plan, you make checklists, you work with a purpose.

Everything gets prioritized and the top items on that checklist get your attention when you first sit down to your laptop. You want that stuff off your plate so you don’t worry about it while you’re taking a much needed break.

The whole vacation planning thing got me thinking – what if you worked like this every week, whether you leave town or not?

As business owners, we know that we should be planning our days with a planner and system that works with our workstyle. We all get that by now.

But did you know that without a plan for your day, you can easily lose at least an hour a day? An hour a day is five hours per week. That’s 250 hours a year which totals to 6 weeks of your life you’ve wasted.

What would you do with an extra 6 weeks added to your life? I sure could think of quite a few ideas, including throwing in another week of vacation time.

What can you do to plan better?

You don’t need to be leaving for your big summer trip to get more done in less time. Other than doing the basics like putting your phone on silent and staying off of your social sites, here’s a few suggestions you can implement right now:

1. Plan Your Schedule in Advance

You plan out your vacation weeks (sometimes months!) in advance. Why can’t you plan out your work projects weeks in advance?

Before I even begin one of my major projects, the first thing I do is create a master list. I start with the end date of the project, whether it’s the launch date, the date I’m going to teach a workshop or the deadline that a client gave me to finish the work.

Everything has a final date when the work is done.

{ I mean there’s always tweaks along the way, but eventually, you have to stop changing and shifting things and hit the darn publish button! }

Take your end date and work backwards to where you are now. For each action item, add in smaller deadline dates into your master list. This should give you a timeline of what needs to be done each week to stay on track with your final end date.

And a small tip that I’ll share from personal experience – always pad your action item deadline dates with extra days. It seems silly to think that doing this one small thing will take more than one hour but remember, there’s this thing we all have called LIFE. And it seems to pop up with a flat tire, a sick kid or something breaking down that likes to throw a wrench into our well-oiled plans.

Be prepared for those moments when life throws you curve balls and just tack a little extra time into your planning calendar.

2. Prioritize and Take Notes

OK, yeah, you’re going to tell me that everything on that master list is a priority. I get that. I think the same thing when I pull together my checklist for the week.

I’m sure it’s important for you to post that picture on Instagram of the behind the scenes look of you creating your latest amazing thing you’re selling. But is it going to get you real results?

If you can answer YES to that question and prove that Instagram brings you 50% of your site traffic, then by all means, spend your time getting the shot just right and upload that thing.

But if you answered NO to that question and that action item doesn’t have a deadline attached to it { like your client is waiting for you to send them your feedback on their stuff } then it’s truly not a priority. These are the items that should be moved to the bottom of the list and pulled into your day when you’ve crossed off all your top items that will bring you closer to your goals.

And have a place where you can keep some notes. It could be your daily planner, an online note taking program like Evernote or a sticky note that you put on your laptop.

At the end of your day, make a few notes to yourself about what’s unfinished and what needs immediate action when you get back to your desk.

3. Work Ahead

There are far too many programs out there for you NOT to schedule your social media posts.

Both Facebook and Twitter have an internal scheduler. Hootsuite can post to Twitter, Facebook fan page, Facebook groups (if you’re the admin) and LinkedIn. And all of these programs are FREE { I’m referring to Hootsuite’s basic program }.

There are several programs like Buffer that require you to spend a little bit of money but they’ll help you post to all your social networks including Pinterest.

Seriously, there’s no reason you should be manually logging into every one of your social sites every day and posting your updates. Find a scheduling program that works for you and spend a little time figuring out how to use it.

The time it takes for you learn a new program will come back to you tenfold when you’re busy working through your list. You may not be personally engaging at that time but your social sites are still posting your updates.

4. Get Some Help

Sometimes I think that word ‘delegate’ is one of the hardest things for small business owners to do. We can’t imagine that anyone could post to Facebook like the copy we would write or how could they ever understand the difference between what gets posted in my blog and what goes in my newsletter?

I believe that someone can and they will – if you train them the right way. There’s a ton of Virtual Assistants out there who are more than capable of helping you with whatever project you need to get done and take that load off your already full plate.

I can honestly say that I struggle with this one myself.

I finally had to learn to let go and realize that I needed to get some help. So, I met with someone last week and let’s just say, I see some relief in sight!

Real growth in your business won’t happen until you release the real things that are holding you down.

Prioritize your day with the things that will bring you closer to your goals. As you’re scheduling your week and planning out your master list, ask yourself if these things you’re adding to your day are just busy work or are they  generating real results for your business.