Not long ago, I wrote this article about the importance of setting 90-day goals instead of New Year’s resolutions. It’s wonderful to have lofty goals, but when you don’t have a strategy to get there, they easily fall by the wayside when life gets busy or tough. Having 90-day goals prevents this from happening because our objective is close and the steps needed to get there are clear.
As I mentioned in that article, we should work backward from a 3-5 year life vision to find an annual goal, then break that annual goal into quarterly goals. Then, we can assign weekly targets to the 12 or 13 weeks in the first quarter. Lastly, we can flush out the first week with specific tasks that will help us achieve the given targets.
This sounds great and all, but where is the room for our intuition? Where’s the wiggle room for spontaneity and change? It sounds a bit rigid to have your life planned down to the day.
Creativity, epiphanies, intuition, connection, vulnerability, deep thought, and alternative thinking cannot thrive without quiet space. These things are essential to grow your business. It takes time and space to invite in alternative thinking and to ask yourself the different questions that act as a catalyst for expansion. Having a rigid, action-packed schedule won’t allow this.
It is, therefore, essential in every business to establish non-negotiable whitespace in your calendar (and for your personal life!).
The strategy I outlined above allows this to flow very easily because our goal is to complete weekly targets, not daily tasks. That means if there’s a day where things come up or where my mood doesn’t align with those daily tasks, I can shift things around and work on other things that feel better to me. Or, I can take time off for a little self-care and work harder another day to stay on track.
The important thing here is to be realistic with yourself about how long things take when scheduling your weekly targets. This is something I am still working on with an accountability coach! I suffer from the common human condition of being overly optimistic, especially when it comes to time. Write a blog post? Oh, that should only take 1 hour! (Yeah, only about half the time, Courtney…)
My coach told me, “Courtney, I want you to double the amount of time you set for a task. You can always finish early and be proud of yourself. But constantly playing catch up is more psychologically damaging than you realize.” Ok, this was a total paraphrase, but this is what I understood from her. It’s better to exceed your expectations than to set impossible goals, never reach them, and then beat yourself up about it. So when you set your weekly targets, keep the “double your time” tip in mind.
So, to reiterate, my weekly targets are set in stone but my daily tasks are flexible. I can change these depending on my mood and feeling. But how do I go about organizing my daily tasks? And how do I add in that critical whitespace?
I start by creating themed days for each week of the month. Check out an example of my schedule below:
Like this calendar? Download a blank version for yourself!
You can see I color-coded the days and wrote the themes on the left. Lots of business owners talk about themed days in their week. However, when I tried to implement a “Monday’s I do admin”, “Tuesdays I do blog posts” approach, I quickly realized that the needs of my business changed from week to week and having one set theme for each day didn’t make any sense.
So what I’ve done in my schedule is go through my weekly targets and look at the theme that would make sense for a given week in the month. For example, the first month will be spent focusing on creating these blog posts, the second month focuses on recording the videos related to those posts, the third week is about creating social content, and the fourth is all about working on bigger projects.
Then, within these weeks, I have themed days to guide me. Tuesday is content creation day. So, on Tuesday in week 1, I will be writing blog posts. On Tuesday in week 2, I’ll be recording, and so on and so forth. The goal is that I never sit down without knowing what I should be doing that day. Having a plan ahead of time saves you so much more time down the line. The plan isn’t fixed, but it is a helpful guideline to support me.
You’ll also notice that I’m focusing on one type of content per week. This allows me to megabatch and avoid task-switching as much as possible. If I can record 5 videos in one day and write 5 blog posts in 1 week, then I’ll be able to work faster, more streamlined, have more energy, and have more time for whitespace later on.
As I mentioned earlier, whitespace is an essential aspect of your business and life. Michael Hyatt schedules his whitespace after he exercises in the morning. He uses this time to write and brainstorm because he knows his blood is flowing post-workout and no one will be bothering him that early.
I like to schedule my whitespace on Fridays and sprinkled throughout the week. It’s important to choose a time when you will experience the least amount of interruptions and make it a sacred time for yourself. Maybe you can light a candle, brew some tea, and put on your favorite music. Do whatever you need to feel good in that moment, feel open to new thinking, and feel relaxed. This can be easier said than done when you think about all the things you could be doing, but always taking action without reflection is a recipe for disaster.
Everyone has different ways to incite this reflection. I love to journal, pull oracle cards, read, listen to podcasts while I walk, and learn and take notes.
What are the things that you like to do in your whitespace time?
If you really reflect on all the life changing decisions and ideas you’ve ever had, I’m sure you’ll realize they were always born in this quiet space of your day.
Are you ready to make more whitespace in your life? Take action on the steps outlined above and you’ll quickly notice what good can come from it.