Episode #5: Schedule for Success
Welcome to the fifth episode of The Strategy Corner. In this episode I am going to share Dan Sullivan’s time keeping system strategy that I use in coordination with lasts weeks strategy by Brooke Castillo to accomplish and schedule everything for success.
I dig into Dan’s strategy that includes creating 3 types of days and how you can utilize them to successfully plan and schedule your week. I will share how I currently utilize the system, what I have learned, and how you can incorporate it in your Entrepreneurial life along with strategies for those with corporate positions. Dan’s system helps eliminate the daily question of, “What should I be working on” and keeps you focused on the big picture and what is most important. Come join me as we learn how to Schedule for Success, LET’S TAKE ACTION!
Hello and welcome to episode number five of The Strategy Corner, where our goal is to get you to take action. I’m your host, Michelle Zinke, the owner of intentional Solutions Corp. Today’s strategy we’re going to dive into is how to schedule your work week for success. Last week, we talked about how to download all of your information and things you need to do on pieces of paper and to actually get that scheduled on a computer, and that strategy was one from Brooke Castillo. If you haven’t listened to it, definitely go back, because these definitely compliment each other, so you can utilize the system from last week’s episode and this system to create a true time keeping system that you can utilize in your business and with your life.
This week, we’re going to dive into Dan Sullivan’s timekeeping system that I use in love. He is the owner of The Strategic Coach and the author to an assortment of amazing books. If you don’t know Dan, you can find his podcast on iTunes and you can check out his resources and all of his documents and articles on his websites, and you can look him up on YouTube. He has been very gracious with sharing a lot of his learning on multiple platforms and I just love his thoughts.
I started using this strategy when I became an entrepreneur. Not to say couldn’t have used this in my corporate job, but when you work for a company, your time a lot of times isn’t your own and you can’t plan your days as well as you can when you own your own business. I will share with you how I use this from a business owner perspective and then at the end how I would use it if I were a leader in organization. Dan’s philosophy is there are three types of days: buffer, focused, and free days, and I’ll go ahead and dive into each one and what it means.
First one is a free day. Free day is a full day off. That’s from midnight to midnight. No work emails, no professional books, no work calls, nothing. You should be doing something that brings you joy during these days: time with your children, riding bikes, reading a good fiction book, exploring your city, whatever that might be.
Then there are focus days and those items are moneymaking activities. Depending on your company or role, this can be different for everyone. For me it is client meetings, producing work for client, attending a luncheon, having a strategy, or a coaching call. For you, you would think about your business and think about the activities that you do that actually bring money into your business.
The final day is buffer days. On buffer days, items that you need to get done so you can have better free and focused days are items such as grocery shopping, running errands, paying your business or professional bills, setting up a lunch with a friend, doing expense reports, et cetera. When and if you get really good at this, your free days would truly be free, no cleaning, no grocery shopping, et cetera. My goal is to get my buffer days down from two to one, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
Let me share with you how I schedule my week: four focus days, and those days are Monday through Thursday. Those are the days that I go ahead and schedule client meetings, I work on producing work for a client, I intend luncheons during that time. Monday through Thursday I’m very focused on those particular items. Then on Friday and Saturday is when I have my buffer days. Those are the days that I run errands, that I do my QuickBooks, go to the grocery store, all of the things that I need to get done, I do those on my buffer days. Again, these are things that are not bringing me money but are things that need to get done so that I do have better focus days and I have better free days.
Then right now I have one free day, so I keep Sunday as a free day. Now, I’ve got to be honest, right now my Sundays do include grocery shopping and sometimes the gym. I would love to get to a point where I have one full day where I’m actually doing no buffer items on there, so I would go ahead and get my workout in on Saturday. I would go ahead and get all my grocery shopping done on Saturday. Then Sunday if I wanted to do something with my daughter and husband like ride bikes, that’s okay, but be truly a day to kind of relax and do things that are fun like going to the movies or things of that nature.
I’m not there yet. Right now I have one day that’s free and I do sprinkle in a few things in there that are buffer, but I do hope to get to two free days, which would be amazing. But right now as a new business owner, I don’t know when that’s going to happen, but that’s definitely my goal.
When I actually use my calendar, I code these three different days. My focus days, I code as red. If you were going to work to go to my Google calendar, you would see that on the focus days, Monday through Thursday, there’d be a red color associated to it and I say focus day. Then for my buffer days, I use blue, and I have my buffer days on Friday and Saturday, so if you went to my calendar, you would see those days and there’d be a blue color. Then for my free day, I use green, and that’s right now for my Sunday. So even though, again I do a few things on Sunday that would be considered buffer items, I do consider that a free day, because most of the day is to have fun and to be with my family.
So if I were to utilize this system in corporate America, free days would be a full day of fun, right? That could be Saturday and Sunday if you have the ability to take off those two days. That would mean you wouldn’t be checking emails for work, you wouldn’t be scheduling anything, so realistically you might just be able to have one full free day, but you might have the ability to have two free days. Then your focus days would be meetings with clients, client prep with employees, meetings with your boss. In my case when I was in manufacturing, it would have been like when I do my job costing, when I prepare dividends for the owners, meeting with insurance reps. Those are the things that I would do on the focus days. Then for my buffer, those would be meetings with employees on issues, preparing expense reports, scheduling my calendar for the following week.
Another thing, too, when you’re thinking about corporate America and thinking about this idea of creating these three types of days, is that for you it might not be a full day. You can actually utilize the buffer day for half a day, so you might have Friday afternoon is when you go ahead and do those buffer items, and then the rest of the week are focused.
You might have a Saturday where half of your day is focused because you need to do some work, and then the rest of the day could be a free day. Even though I’m saying a full day, you can really manipulate this to work for your schedule, but it really helps you for when you actually download everything you need to get done in a week and then you see what bucket it falls into. So if it’s a buffer, if it’s a free, if it’s a focused, then you can go to those days and start scheduling thing or go to those half a days, so it even helps you become even more focused on where you can utilize and put things if you even come down to the granular level where you’re utilizing these three different types of days.
Now what I’ve learned and how it’s helped me is I started off simple. I decided my buffer focus and free days for one month. In the beginning, I was scheduling buffer days on focus days. In the beginning, I really didn’t understand the difference, I was just kind of playing with it, and so some of my items that I thought were buffer were actually focused, like reading and researching items to send to clients. I got better on determining what those three buckets meant to me personally in my business as I did this system more often. I also began using the word admin instead of buffer to begin, and realized this left me uninspired to take action on those admin items. I didn’t realize, but I put admin stuff in a place like don’t want to do this stuff and beneath me items and thus I struggled with completing any items on those days.
But now with the slight change to buffer, I see these items on these days are important. These items helped me to be a better person on focus and free days, so it’s really helped me to get clear and I’m more accomplished and focus by doing the buffer items on the right day. I also learned that having these days set ahead of time allows me to be able to schedule my to-do’s more effectively and timely because I know what days I can do what on what day. It creates freedom to move around buffer and focus days if need be based off my schedule. So if I do have vacation, I might have more free days that week than normal, but I can go ahead when I get back, and if I come back let’s say on a Friday, instead of utilizing that as a buffer day, I could change that to a focus day to get caught up in my emails and to do client work.
It also takes time and patience, like every other system, to figure out how to utilize it for yourself and your situation, so be patient with yourself, because this is something that really is worth it and the effort you put in is exactly what you get out from it. Just be patient just like the last episode, try for a month and see how it goes.
Now it’s your turn. Your call to actions are number one, play with the system for a month. See how it goes.
Number two, think about your days. Are there days you are more active and focused on money-driven activities like client meetings, prospecting, researching? Are there certain days you are more inward focus and need to get some things done like paying invoices or if in corporate America doing your expense reports? Then what days do you like free? What are the days during the week that you’d like to have a full day where you’re free of any type of work?
Number three, go to your paper or electronic calendar and set your free, focused, and buffer days. Color code them if you’d like for the next four weeks.
Number four, start scheduling your to-do items into those days if you are a business owner, and if you work in corporate America or are an executive, you can play with scheduling half days in these different categories. Again, if you want to go back to my last episode, episode number four to hear about the downloading of all your to do items.
Then number five, have fun with it. Yes, fun. Play with the concept and see how you can get it to work for you. Because the thing is is that these systems are really usable, but again, only if you put them into place. So have fun with it, give yourself a break, and really see how you can utilize this system to better manage your day, and your week, and your life.
So please, if you can go to iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play and subscribe to The Strategy Corner. You can also go to my website, www.intentionalsolutionscorp.com and sign up to get my weekly blog posts, which also includes a link to the latest podcast. I will also have a link to Dan Sullivan’s work in the show notes for you to be able to go to his website.
Until next time, remember through action and growth, progression happens. Let’s take action.