Keys to Success when the Schedule is Super Busy

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It’s that time of year for me.

Work has exploded. For those of you that are new around here, I’m a health and life insurance agent by day, and I’m deep in enrollment season. In past years, I’ve just tied a knot and hung on for the ride.

This year is different. Even though the enrollment season was cut in half this year, I’m not feeling nearly as stressed.

Why? What are the keys to success here? Here’s the answer: “It’s a combination lock.”

This year, I have stronger systems in place. My coach and I have been preparing for this busy season, and that work is definitely manifesting in me feeling much calmer and having way more focus at the office.

Plan the Week

I’ve talked before about my weekly planning session, the two-hour solution. Each Sunday, I review my calendar and schedule the time for my week. This goes beyond just reviewing when I have appointments.

I allocate my time to scheduled appointments (black), excellence/learning time (blue), money-making activities (green), administrative tasks (red), and flex time because things will come up. For me examples of these categories might look like this:

  • Black: doctors appointments, meetings for volunteer work, lunch or dinner with friends, birthday parties, weddings
  • Blue: jujitsu class, time spent reading each day before work, meditation, church
  • Green: client appointments, appointment prep work and running illustrations, prospect sales calls and emails, networking meetings
  • Red: client service calls and emails, running errands, business accounting time, data entry and filing, grocery shopping and meal prep, housework and laundry

I actually use colored pens when I write my calendar out, and I write the time blocks out in that order. Because I’m scheduling my excellence time and money-making activities ahead of administrative work, I can guarantee that tasks such as responding to email or filing paperwork don’t hijack my day.

I don’t schedule myself a day without any learning/excellence time. I also can also make sure that I don’t go too many days without time for red activities because those turn into fires when neglected. These days, I try to leave plenty of flex time so when a client calls at that last minute, I can actually accommodate their schedule without wrecking my own.

Plan Tomorrow’s To-Do List Today

Have you heard of the Daily Big Six (DB6)? Each day I write out a task list of the six most important activities that need to be done that day in order of importance. And then I work on them in that order.

This is key when I have a block time that is noted as something link “appointment prep” or “health insurance illustrations.” It can be easy to let one task expand to take an entire block, but if I can see the next three tasks waiting, I pace my time better.

I prefer to write out my DB6 for the next day when right before I leave the office. Then I don’t have to think about what to start on when I come in fresh each morning.  Also, I find that I don’t wake up at night with my to-do list on loop in my head because I already have a plan for the day.

Review My Goals Every Day

So I have a morning routine. It involves coffee (of course), but it also involves some quiet time writing in my Five Minute Journal and reading through my core values, mission statement, vision statement, and monthly/quarterly goals. Every morning.

The practice is important for feeding my subconscious with my priorities. And it ensures I start the day with the right head space to make my vision statement become a reality.

When I first started working with my business coach, I was frustrated that we spent so much time crafting these elements. Now I know that my core values and vision statement are what drive my goals. And my goals drive my daily activities; so I’m glad we laid a solid foundation.

Clear Mental Bandwidth

A key to maintaining mental bandwidth was taking a hard look at what I could let go of this season.  I did this by establishing a few habits:

  • Ask for help at home. I am lucky that the Mister is super supportive and will take on just about any task around that house that I ask him too. These days, he handles most of the laundry and a lot of the housework.
  • Let someone else do the meal planning. I mentioned in my last life update that I am trying out Prep Dish‘s meal planning service. I would never have imagined that not having to create a meal plan and grocery list would make such a difference for me. But at this season of life, it’s been a game changer for me. We’re saving money by staying home and eating healthier. Also, the Mister has a clear plan to start dinner if I have to stay late at the office.
  • Manage call and email time. I update my work voicemail message every morning with my availability for calls and use the Boomerang “pause” button in my inbox. Not feeling the pressure to answer the phone or see emails pile up when I’m working on other tasks alleviates a lot of pressure from feeling like I need to be constantly available.
  • Set an alarm to leave the office.  I know that my days may get a little later in about a month when it’s the last week of Open Enrollment. But for now, I’m using my Echo Dot to remind me to take care of me. An alarm for lunch and an alarm at the end of the workday. The reality is that the work will be there tomorrow, but it won’t get done if I run myself down and wind up sick.

I want to hear from you. Please take a moment to share your tips for managing stress and busy seasons at work. Let me know if you try any of these strategies and how they work for you.