Time management for coaches and consultants
Running a business is difficult. It looks like an easy job from the outside, but there is lots to do and you are the person to do it. It could be quite overwhelming and because there is nobody to kick you out of bed, procrastination is breathing down your neck. In addition, many of us work from home and often in their pyjamas - so that's not very motivating.
When I first started as a coach, I read a lot about how to handle the situation and none of it all really worked for me. I was confused about what to do and when to do it; which task is more important and whether the whole thing makes any sense anyway. I am happy to say everything is running a lot smoother now, but it didn't happen over night. It took me a while to create and perfect a system which worked for me and as usual when you fix something, you forget you ever had the problem. Until recently I had a chat with a colleague who was new in the business and needed some help, so I decided to write this article for everyone struggling with their days.
Don't carry the weight of the world on your shoulders
Our brain processes information in batches. For example, this is why we separate our phone numbers in groups - 123 456 789, instead of 123456789. When you have a million tasks to do, which if you are a new coach I am sure you do have, your brain can get easily confused.
In order to deal with this, separate your daily tasks in groups, preferably no more than three. My three groups are Coaching Tasks, Writing Tasks, Other Tasks. My Coaching Tasks include everything that has to do with clients - coaching hours, e-mails, scheduling and rescheduling, signing contracts, keeping files, checking home-works. My Writing Tasks include everything to do with writing - creating content for my personal blog, writing articles for all other blogs and sites I contribute to, writing my novel, even researching and coming up with ideas. My Other Tasks include, well, other tasks - improvements on my website; taking a class; paperwork and taxes; organizing events etc.
If you feel those groups would apply to your scenario, go on and use them. If not, create your own groups.
Pick a number
We all run our businesses in different ways. For some it is a second job, some combine it with babysitting and housework and others do it full-time. Think about how much time you can and want to devote to your coaching or consultancy business and pick a number of tasks you have to do daily.
Depending on how you get motivated, you can go one of two ways here. I like to take it easy, so my minimum tasks for the day are six. If I do six tasks today, I have done my job. But most of the days I do seven or eight, because I have some time left and I feel like completing another task. I am this type of person. Others prefer to put 20 tasks on their daily list and try to do as many as possible, even if they don't finish all. Consider what kind of person you are and pick a number of minimum tasks per day that would satisfy you.
I do my Coaching Tasks first, then my Writing Tasks and then Other. So today I had three sessions, wrote two articles and booked a room for my February event = six tasks. Good for me. At the beginning though, when I didn't have many clients, I spent most of my time writing. For me, writing is not only a separate job, but also a great way to market my coaching. So, naturally, when I didn't have much coaching to do, I did more marketing.
Look at the number you picked and the groups you separated your work in and decide how many tasks of which group daily you would do. Ideally, you do that by deciding what is top priority, what is second and what is last.
I almost forgot the beginning of it all. Every Monday morning I sit down and write all my tasks for the week. I include everything, whether it's just an idea I'd like to look into or a booked session. Then I mark each task with the letters C, W and O. If you've read carefully, you need to know what those are by now. Then I start a new to-do list for each day, trying to choose three C's, two W's and one O. Typically, by Thursday or Friday my list is a combination of whatever's left in the weekly tasks, but this doesn't matter.
What matters is that things get done. And doing things is the only way to have your practice succeed.
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