Libby Rothschild, CEO of Dietitian Boss. Follow on LinkedIn.
As a business owner, you likely want to get more time back in your day, but perhaps you’ve noticed that time escapes you, and you feel frustrated. If you can relate, there’s a chance your time management skills need an audit.
Time management is about working smarter, not harder, and many business owners, both new and seasoned, struggle. I run a successful company while working less than 20 hours a week, and I want to share what my own process looks like to inspire you to audit your own schedule and adjust.
Time freedom is possible for business owners.
If you want to create time freedom in your life, you need to clarify 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,” meaning that you design your business to fit your life—not the other way around. Time freedom can look like restricting your working hours to a certain number per week (e.g., 20 hours), creating a self-care routine or promoting a four-day workweek.
I created a lifestyle business that allows for time freedom by focusing on a scalable business model that includes memberships, courses, online coaching and masterminds. Because my business is fully remote, I’m location-independent. I automate many processes, which creates a decreased need for staff. I employ coaches who teach my method to our clients so the business does not only rely on me.
Why is time freedom important?
Growing up in a single-parent household, I didn’t have much time with my family. My grandpa, who helped raise me as a child, worked until 11 p.m. most nights. My single mom worked overtime every week to afford our small apartment, and I didn’t understand the complicated relationship people have with time. All I saw growing up was that in order to survive, you have to work a lot.
As an adult, I worked seven jobs trying to make ends meet and pay off my graduate school loans. I became my grandpa working until 11 p.m. at night until, one day, I woke up miserable because I didn’t have time for myself. I knew that if I wanted a family, I’d have to learn how to consolidate my unsustainable behaviors. I asked my 9-to-5 job if I could work from home and was told no. I tried to negotiate higher pay for my consulting work and was denied. One day, I told my story online about working several jobs, and my colleagues (registered dietitians) asked me if I could help them. I created an online course and coaching program to show my peers how to make money, and eventually, I turned my physical consulting business into a virtual practice.
Now, I’m able to create my own schedule to enjoy life how I please. I can enjoy spending time with my family, giving back to the community and exploring various hobbies, including hiking, running, art and traveling. It’s important for me to role model time freedom.
How can you achieve time freedom in your life?
I recommend asking yourself a couple of questions.
1. How did you value time growing up?
2. What life do you want to create, and what role does time play in your future?
The reason I suggest thinking about these questions is that time freedom is associated with how you want to live your life. Otherwise, I believe many of us function on a daily basis without thinking of time as a system we can control. As a business owner, think about what life you want. I often create a vision board to help crystallize my goals and work toward them. The life I want to live and work toward is documented, visual to my family and me and respected with how I manage my time on a daily basis.
Now, consider what your weekdays could look like.
Personally, I use time blocking, the Pareto principle, a digital schedule and a project management tool to help plan my days. I also suggest deciding on a theme for each day of the week so you can focus on specific activities. For example, Mondays might be for managing, Tuesdays for clients, Wednesdays for projects, Thursdays for connecting and Fridays for fun. The key is to adjust your schedule every quarter and make modifications as your business needs change.
If you follow the above schedule, here’s a more detailed look at what your week might look like based on my own experience using this approach.
• Monday: Focus on managing today. This could include holding meetings with your team and reviewing company processes and sales management.
• Tuesday: This day could be for focusing on clients. For instance, I batch-create content and schedule clients back-to-back with breaks every three hours. You can also use this day for creating content for social media, podcasting, writing, planning, etc. I suggest planning a quarter ahead and using an editorial calendar.
• Wednesday: Now, you might focus on business development. Perhaps you could dedicate half the day toward projects. This is the approach I took in my own business, and this past year, we focused on program improvements, so I spent time redesigning and updating my programming. I dedicated the other half of the day to self-care.
• Thursday: If you focus on connections on Thursdays, you can spend half the day connecting with peers, former clients or possible partners. The other half of the day can be spent on sales activities, for example, whether that’s a sales call or reviewing your sales associate and affiliate performance.
• Friday: Perhaps Fridays could be your “catch-up” days. You can use this day to catch up on any tasks from the week.
Working in an online business provides a scalable model that allows me to live a flexible life. Through this experience, I’ve found that setting up systems and staying firm with your boundaries can allow leaders to enjoy life the way they want.