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Schedules, Goals, and Achieving Big Results

(c) 2003 by Cheryl Williams Levey,

My typical day in 2002: Wake up around 7:00 am, make coffee, fire up the computer, open about six different programs and at least ten files and work on all of them at once, jumping from one to the other as I think of different things. Realize about 3:00 pm (when I start feeling sick from all the caffeine and lack of food) that I should eat some lunch, but don't always bother to take the time. Eat some quick snack (and not always healthy) instead.

Take sacred scheduled "play with the kids" break around 5:00 pm, have dinner, baths, reading, bedtimes, and head back to the computer around 9:00 pm. Surprisingly, this is the time that I'm laser sharp and get lots done. Because of this, work until about 2:00 am, sometimes later... er, earlier. Repeat. Sometimes even on weekends. And to be fair, there were a few 10 minute breaks throughout the day to rock the baby or kiss my son goodbye as he and his dad walked to school.

But overall, is it any wonder I was feeling burned out, mentally and physically? Was it just a few short months ago that I was feeling good?

I had several projects going on, and was actually actively looking for more. What was I thinking?!

There are only so many hours in the day, and I was starting to feel like I was killing myself. I was also starting to feel very disorganized, and like I was just scrambling to keep up with everything. The fact that I wasn't taking very good care of myself was also a factor.

So, during my holiday time, I made some decisions about my goals in both my life and my business.

One of those goals is to simplify what I'm doing. I was making things more complicated than they needed to be, so I changed that. I minimized the "busy" stuff. Stuff that seems useful but in the end does not further my business goals.

Another goal is to develop a basic step-by-step daily schedule so that I don't get off-track on my business building again. This schedule, based on a week's time, includes all facets of my business and life. It even includes breaks, downtime, reading, and other totally non-work activities. I know I won't be able to follow it to the letter every day, but I make the effort to. And no, I'm not anal enough to assign actual times and time limits... it's basically a list of things to do each day during the course of a week. For example, most of my non-work activities are listed on the weekend.

A third goal I made was to develop a financial plan - and include it on my schedule. I read in "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" (I think) that the wealthy spend an average of 20 hours per month on their financial matters. That's five hours a week. How many of us do that? How many of us have an actual strategy for our money, other than to pay the bills as we collect our paychecks? My plan isn't complicated, but again, having one helps me keep track of what's going on.

And as for my night-time work-til-dawn madness? My new schedule includes a mid-night to 1:00 am bedtime. I know, that's still rather late, but early compared to what I was doing! The idea is to go to bed as close to midnight as possible, but I know that I will usually have a few things to finish up and such. For those things I don't finish, I make a list every night of where to start back up in the morning. And I do. This helps me to focus in earlier in the day so that stopping earlier actually becomes feasible. I also give myself a night or two off per week, to spend with my husband. Nothing special, just to watch a movie or something, but it's nice to spend time together for a change.

Using a daily "list" is so simple that it doesn't even seem like it'd be worthwhile, but it has really been working for me.

Except for a few days off for holidays, I more or less follow my schedule (especially the bedtime, make the list, start with those tasks in the morning part), and it is working beautifully. I am feeling like I have a better handle on things, am accomplishing more, and am back on track.

I should note here that I'm not trying to change *everything* all at once, but setting up a plan to follow has been helping me immensely -- especially for those times that I sit down at the computer and wonder what my priorities are for the day.

Do you need to develop a general to-do plan to keep you on track in your life and business? It's simple, but somehow, having the plan written down to follow really does help to change thinking and actions to achieve bigger and better results.


Cheryl Williams Levey owns, a site
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