Planning Out the MonthThis post is Part Three in my quest to defeat The Bossy Inbox and to take control of my days. Part Two outlined how I went about drilling down more into what time was needed each month for billable client work. Check out the overview post here.

Pre-Note: You can get a more detailed and visual “how to” for my style of monthly planning when you purchase the fully customizable Planner System for Virtual Assistants. Use code: CLIENTLOVE to receive 10% off through April 15, 2018 

It was easier to start planning out the month once I had that data (and the associated sizes) from the exercise outlined in Part Two. Admittedly, it took me nearly five months and a firm nudge from my Coach to actually compile it into an easy to use format. But I finally did it, and that’s what counts, right?

The original objective was to figure out if I was really as behind as I felt, since I knew there was a chance I just had unrealistic expectations of myself. The secondary objective was to determine how much time could be allocated to my personal life and business development. I had gotten so accustomed to saying yes to every request on my time that I had allowed my own dreams to become sidelined. I don’t recommend this.

I had gotten to the point that I regularly joked with my assistant that my biggest problem is that I plan for ideal, not reality. I needed to break that cycle, and awareness was paramount.

The only two tools I needed:

  • Google Calendar (I live by it!)
  • A printed monthly calendar (I realize this may seem weird and a bit redundant, but it really was easier for me this way) ***
  • OK, fine. A third item: A pen. There. We’re done.

Using my Google Calendar, I wrote out what big commitments I had already made onto the paper calendar. That allowed me to easily calculate how many 90-minute blocks would be available for each day.

Once I had the total of blocks available, it was quite easy to figure out how many desk hours I’d have for the month.

Because I want everything to be fully customizable, dynamic and in the cloud, I took this exercise a step further and created a new tab on the Google Drive Daily Planner. (You get this when you buy the planner system!) The data on the paper calendar was transferred. Easy as pie.

This new tab utilizes formulas to do a lot of the calculations, including entering in the day of the week based on a specific calendar date. (Example: It will automatically populate Thursday based off of a 12/14/17 in a cell. Super handy.)

From the exercise in Part Two, I know I need at least 142 hours for client work. Because I track every minute at my desk, I know I typically spend 200 hours at my desk, and 30% of my time is not billable.

Data that was useful:

  • Total monthly hours available (I need at least 200)
  • A visual of planned absences / downtime due to travel, time with loved ones, etc.
  • Automatic calculations to see where I stand at any given point as changes are made to the number of 90-minute blocks I believe I can work.

What I learned:

  • I wasn’t factoring in enough time to help my assistant. And hiring an assistant to help my first assistant didn’t seem like a good workaround.
  • I needed to let some clients go in order to free up time to work on business development. It just so happened my assistant wanted more hours, so she got some (of the clients) and some were handed off to the new Strategic Partners in my network.
  • Self-Care had to be factored in as a given vs. my typical “if there’s time left over” MO. If you’re a business owner, you probably know how it goes!

This 30,000’ view of my month was just the visual I needed to remind me how crucial it was to be very intentional and selective before taking on any extra things. Saying no to unknown parties is easy. Saying no to those I love and care about (which is a really long list of people) is super hard because I genuinely want to say yes. Every. Single. Time.  (This continues to be the area where I need the most improvement!)

Need a head start to doing the same for yourself? Buy this fully customizable digital planner. You’ll get the three cornerstone pieces of my plan: The daily planner, the weekly tracking and the monthly. There are video walk-throughs included for each piece, too.

I hope you’ll find the time to stop by next week so you can learn more about the final piece to conquering my days. It’s a bit of a twist on using a classic office supply item!