I love September. It's the ultimate start afresh, get-a-new-pencil-case time of year for me; much more inviting than the stern face of January. It's more of a friendly nudge to roll up our sleeves and get on with all the things we'd promise we'd achieve, those self-set expectations and anything that's been idling on our 'to do' list for the past year or in my case, years.
I've already ordered a gorgeous day planner from Etsy, so looking forward to that arriving but in the meantime, I've been thinking about how we work. It's the privilege of the entrepreneur to set her own hours; to work when the muse finds us or to toil in to the small hours so that we can do as we please in the daytime but for me, that's romantic nonsense. Everyone's different but I just can't look at my screen at anything past six pm. I'm not giving my best to anyone after then. I'm great in the morning and throughout the afternoon, with the right breaks. Perhaps, nine to five just became ingrained on to my working mind and won't leave me. I also think, if we have our business properly aligned then we shouldn't have to work more than seven hours a day, you know, if that.
So, I'm proposing that we all go back to school to create our dream timetable. Picture your perfect 'play school'. There would be stretching and moving first thing - meditation or exercise. I have a dog, so have the perfect reminder to walk for an hour, setting my intentions at the start of the day. Then, I always advocate having three things that need to be achieved throughout the day. Let's put these on the timetable as 90 minute sessions. There's no mucking about, passing notes or throwing things - this is your time to get that one task sorted during each session. If you work, uninterrupted, emails, social media, phone and anything else that calls for your attention off and out, then 90 minutes is a significantly good amount of time. If you're working on one large project - a book or a client task, then break it down in to something that's achievable within those 90 minutes.
Then it's playtime. Put your favourite song on and dance. Set the timer on your phone again and sit and breathe or run to put the washing on but just get your thoughts out of work for 15 minutes. Then, head down for the next 90 minutes on a new action before lunch hour - sit down and eat mindfully and not over your computer, so you're powered up for the last 90 minutes of the day.
That's three key things that you've achieved. Three really is the magic number. Achieving your goals is about doing something every day to move towards them but you do need to feel rested and inspired to use that time diligently. Remember how precious your time is, so don't give it away too willingly.
Of course, days don't run smoothly - you may have to travel to meetings, urgent things fly in to your inbox and your attention may be called elsewhere but do what you can to register how you do spend your time. Is every meeting essential? Can you work by video conference or speak to each other on the phone? Perhaps you can shrink the 90 minutes to 60 minutes and get away from your desk sooner? Once you practice focus and you know what you absolutely must achieve, then it adds some go-faster stripes to your tasks. Look at the work sessions. Can you allocate a short amount of time to answering emails at the start of each session? Can you call yourself to order and not stray over to social media and let the bell ring at the end of each work block signifying that you must stop, there?
Get out the felt tips and start creating a timetable that works for you. You might want to throw in a few PE lessons or even double Maths throughout the week too!
Lyndsey Whiteside is a personal and PR coach for wild and wonderful women in business. Get a free 'Insider Guide to Powerful PR' at www.lyndseywhiteside.com