26 September 2019


^^ Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash ^^

When I first decided to launch my lovely little creative business, Leaf Lane Studio, I had a mad vision of myself sitting calmly at my desk each day, working away on daily tasks, all planned to perfection of course, and floating out of my office at the end of the working day having ticked 'all the boxes' and achieved monumental things in my business. Why I suddenly thought I would become a superhero just from launching a business I will never know!
The reality of things (up to now) has involved many post it notes and scraps of paper, all piled up on my desk ready to be written into a planner ‘one day’ but that day just didn’t arrive (many more scraps of paper did though!). I would find myself sitting down to work and just starting something, with no real thought or direction behind what I was doing.

Whilst I would always give my all to client projects, I would lose my way with business-building work, such as writing blog copy or putting together a marketing structure and find myself lost in scrolling hell on Instagram, rather than using my precious time building my business.

I can tell you exactly what jolted me into reality: suffering major burn out and Holly Bray, from A Branch of Holly, more specifically her podcast, Blog It, Boss It Radio.

I will keep this brief because I wrote a post all about it last week (plus you can watch my Studio Vlogs on YouTube for more on the subject), but suffering burn out was one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. I am still suffering with it now, as it takes a long time to recover from, but the thing that hit me during the worst of it was this:

‘I am utterly exhausted, and working many hours, but what can I honestly say I have achieved? Has going through this even been worth it!’

I knew that I had to come up with a better way, because I was mentally berating myself for not doing all the things I ‘should’ be completing as a business owner, but feeling too tired to actually think about them, let alone put them into action. I knew there were better ways because I keep hearing about them, but I almost needed to hit rock bottom to see how awful it was in order to move forward.

Enter one of the most amazing podcasts out there for business owners, Blog It, Boss It Radio, by Holly Bray.

I have listened to Holly’s amazing tips and advice for a long time, downloaded all the freebies and thought about how I can do what she is saying, but I just never did anything about it. I was overwhelmed and in fear of not knowing what to do. But today, you join a changed woman, and here is why…

After listening to Holly, and a few other awesome ladies, talk about how they plan their days out to be the most productive versions of themselves, I decided to try the method I kept hearing over and over again: time-blocking and using a few resources to plan. I naturally started researching all the planners but quickly realised that I didn’t want something super complex, because it would be the excuse I needed to spend way too much time planning and not enough time doing. So when I stumbled upon Mal Paper’s ‘Daily Goal Setter’, and had a little flip though online, I realised I had found ‘the one’!

I really love this planner and pinky swear no-one has asked me/paid me (I wish!) to say these things, but I am truly seeing results through using it so want to share it. It isn’t rocket science, there is nothing ground breaking about it, but the format just gels with my brain and forces organisation (it helps that it has gratitude list space too!).

The first thing I did when I got the planner was to (finally) sit down for a good hour or two, with a piece of paper and jot down all of the goals, projects and things I have/need to do for the business. I could then pop these things into the beginning section of the goal setter, using the ‘long term/medium term/short term’ goals sections. What I like about this part of the planner is it forces you to think about the what/when/why and how of your goal; as a whole I am pretty rubbish with setting deadlines for things that don’t involve clients, and this really helped me to do this. There are also monthly, weekly and daily sections included within it too, so you can take a project, break it down and delegate it out!

Enough about my the new love of my life, let me share with you the three, yes three, things I am using to effectively plan my week/day. 

My business email has a useful calendar feature which also syncs up to the calendar on my iPhone, so I can use Holly’s tips for ‘time-blocking’ to lay down the foundations of my day. I start by entering in all the ‘musts’ within the week: workouts, appointments, client calls, part time job etc, then I can clearly see where I have availability to work on the business. I am also implementing Holly’s ‘batch-working’ technique, using between two and four hours at a time to work on one thing, such as these blog posts because, like Holly says, when you get in the ‘flow’ of a task, it makes sense to stay there, rather than trying to get into a different ‘mode’ and do something completely different. My phone and online calendar also gives me reminders when I am coming towards the end of a task and am needing to round things up. If you do this, be sure to add lunch breaks and tea breaks in there too.

I won’t go into the world of Trello here, it took me a long time to wrap my mind around how I could use it, which you can see in this studio vlog if you like, but simply put it is a fantastic organisational tool, where you can create projects, share boards with others and just invent your own world of organisation wonder! I also have the app for it on my phone and this really helps me be able to add things that will be on my desktop when I get home, eliminating even more scrap paper! 

I think I have given you enough to ponder on this planner, but I use it to take help block out my days, get into the nitty-gritty of a project and to also review my day and week.

These three things seem to have been all I have been looking for in life and, on the very first day I put them all into practice, I did more work in four hours then I would normally get through in four days, and I am not exaggerating. 

So that is it in a nutshell, I hope you found it useful. I really like hearing about how people plan, and it really is varied, but I am so happy to have found something that works for me at last! Share your thoughts and planning tips in the comments, I would love to know!


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