Entrepreneurs wear many hats.
As a coach who works with a lot of business owners and solopreneurs, I’ve seen my clients do everything from marketing to idea generation to logistical firefighting. Often, they’re doing all these things on the same day, if not the same hour. That makes about as much sense as actually balancing, wearing, and placing a stack of hats on your head at the same time. So I tell my clients, they need to put on one hat–one role–at a time, and adopt an A/B schedule.
I do this myself, dividing my schedule between “A” and “B” weeks for different types of work. Working this way has cut my hours almost in half, and has allowed me to run a nearly seven-figure business in just 20 hours a week. Even better, I feel more energized at the end of every day.
Life before and after an A/B schedule
The formal name for this type of schedule is “context switching.” I discovered just how big an impact it can have on your productivity when I worked as a coordinator overseeing autism programs at two schools in a particular district. Each school had its character and needs, and I found that if I tried to visit both each day I rushed through my prep and ended the day exhausted. Each time I switched schools, I drained my energy.
To plug these energy leaks, I developed a schedule in which I visited one school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the other on Tuesdays and Thursday. Suddenly everything changed. I knew ahead of time where I’d be each day, which let me prepare thoroughly and get in the right headspace for each. I was better at my job, and I felt better doing it.
These days, I work with CEOs, and alternate weeks rather than days. Each month I set aside two weeks for my group work with new entrepreneurs who require basic support, and two weeks for long-term VIP clients who are further along in their professional journeys. This provides consistency for my clients, who know in advance when I’ll be available for sessions. It also allows me to work efficiently and bring the right type of energy for each kind of client.
This approach limits scheduling headaches and helps me feel phenomenal at the end of the day. But more than that, it has improved my results. Now, I manage to get all my client work done in just 12-15 hours a week and my administrative work in another 5-8 hours, which leaves me plenty of time to focus my energy on dreaming up new products and find the right market for them. I no longer try to shoehorn backend tasks into the cracks in my day or think creatively late at night when I’m exhausted.
How to set up your own A/B schedule
Of course, setting up a method that worked for me and my current business took some time and tinkering. You’ll probably learn that you’ll have to test a few things before landing on a system that suits you.
To get started, I recommend taking the following steps:
- Examine your current schedule: Look closely at how many hours you’re spending on each task, or the role your work demands. Then imagine what it would look and feel like if you put each into its own block, day or week. Could you put all your meetings in one or two days? Reserve one day a week for deep, creative thinking? Would an alternate-week schedule like mine work best for you?
- Communicate: Once you’ve decided what sort of schedule blocking might work for you, be sure to communicate your new approach in advance to your clients and colleagues. No one should be taken by surprise when they can’t reach you at a specific time for a particular type of task.
- Tinker: It took me a while to figure out the exact pace and rhythm that suited my business and me. You’ll probably experience the same thing. Expect the first thirty days of any new schedule to involve lots of trial and error.
- Keep your health in mind: Remember, the goal of developing an A/B schedule is to feel great about your work at the end of the day. If you sit at your desk for eight hours straight, you’re not going to feel great. Make sure you build adequate rest breaks, movement, and time for healthy eating into your schedule. For every two hours of work, I schedule a 20-minute movement break in my calendar.
Every entrepreneur starts his or her business with particular aims in mind–the people they want to serve, the problems they want to solve, and the goals they want to reach. Fulfilling this purpose demands a lot of energy. If you’re constantly switching tasks, you’re leaking that precious energy. Save that effort. Set up an A/B schedule, and you can get more done with more power to spare.
Andee Love is a spiritual success coach who helps individuals and entrepreneurs spark business growth and overcome blocks to success. You can start now with her free Success Formula.