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Own Your Calendar to Own Your Life

Inspired by this week’s featured Reflection Weeks episode of the Moms Making Six Figures Podcast with our founder, Heidi Bartolotta, who believes in owning your calendar to own your life.  There is freedom in taking back your most finite resource: time. 


One of the perks of mentoring teens through some of their most tumultuous years is getting to be a first-hand witness to their astounding growth as they step into their identity and find their passion for life.  Their contagious energy is also wildly admirable (yes, I realize they sleep in absurd stretches of time, but have you seen what they juggle and accomplish when they are awake?!) and I often find myself thinking back to my own college days while drinking my third cup of coffee, “How do they do it? How did I do it?”

Quite simply, young adults are experts at time management (please suspend your disbelief, I can hear your cries of outrage echoing across the internet).   Really, it’s true.  Their schedules are every bit as demanding and filled to the brim as our own, but they have the hard-wired training and resources to manage all the moving pieces (with our guidance, chauffeuring, and financial support of course). They know the secrets many of us have forgotten when we left the world of 18 credit semesters and part-time jobs behind: the secrets of time blocking and a balanced calendar.  Here are six strategies you can begin implementing today to take back your calendar, and your time, to find freedom for fun and pursuing your passions.


Time Blocking

Unlike teens and university students, most of us don’t have dedicated and focused amounts of time (blocks) throughout our day for specific and similar tasks, like our ENGL 101 course. When we were students, whatever remained to be completed at the end of a class got put on the back burner while we focused our attention on the next block, and it didn’t come back to our mind until we hit our study block later that day.

Looking over your own calendar, begin by identifying all the daily tasks that are an essential and necessary part of your routine, both personally and professionally.  Group like tasks, and assign blocks of time to each.  Instead of living by a to-do list that will inevitably lead to burn out, with time blocking you focus your attention and energy on related tasks in a set period of time; what remains to be done, will remain to be done, and you move on to the next block.

Color Coding

Now that you’ve organized your calendar into blocks of time, designate each block with its corresponding color of your seven chakras.  This isn’t just some new age magic or an excuse to play with colorful pens, instead this technique allows you to see, visually, where your calendar and likely your life is out of alignment.  Each of your chakras corresponds to one of seven energy points in your body; if we’re trying to better manage our time, motivation, and energy, it would make sense to start from a point of reflection to achieve more synergy.

Here is just one way to approach this technique according to LinkedIn blogger John Rampton, “For example, because red is the root chakra symbolizing survival and safety, you would want to use that color for all work-related tasks.  For creative tasks, you might choose to use orange; yellow would represent the items that help you grow; green is reserved for personal events like lunch with a friend; blue equates to activities that express your mind like writing, and indigo is meant for activities that deserve your attention.”

E-mail

It’s a necessary part of doing business, and most parts of our modern lives.  If we don’t manage our e-mail, our avoidance of it will eventually manage us.  You have to commit time to organizing your personal and professional communication, and once you have a system in place, in order to maintain it, you need to give it its own block in your day.  We said we what we said, there is no way around it.  See Do It Yourselfbelow.

Eat the Frog

There’s a reason this time management technique took the business world by storm when it first debuted, and continues to do so.  According to Brian Tracy, the technique’s founder, when you tackle your Most Important Task of the day before you turn your attention to anything else, you can, “go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things are going to [go] all day long.”  Even science proves that our most productive and focused hours are in the morning, before other distractions and tasks consume our energy.

Determine when your “Power Hours” are and dedicate that Time Block to your biggest work frog each day; best to eat it before lunch so you can cleanse your palate as the day continues.

Schedule Everything

If it isn’t important enough to make it on your calendar, it probably doesn’t deserve one of your time blocks.  Conversely, there are aspects of our lives that are essential to our well-being and our soul’s nourishment; if these areas aren’t making it onto your calendar, you’re likely experiencing some alignment issues between your personal and professional life.  Just as you would schedule a block of time for meetings, schedule a block of time to take care of your physical and mental health, whatever that looks like for you. And, if you have a tendency to allow your work day to linger long into the evenings and time with your family and friends is continually being compromised, it’s time to begin scheduling an ‘Out of Office’ time as well.

Make yourself an optional list of ‘electives’ and ‘extra-curriculars’ you’d like to pursue if there are openings in your schedule, but that can also be the first things to be removed when your calendar begins to feel chaotic or life begins to feel unbalanced.  And perhaps the biggest challenge, dare we say it, begin to block open time into your day every single day that you can choose how to flexibly fill depending on what the day and your dreams demand

Do It Yourself

When you find the system, or systems, that work best for you, the most successful entrepreneurs have found that as soon as they begin to outsource their time management, they begin to outsource their control over their own life as well. Maintain your own calendar, reflect on it and refine it often, and share it with the people who it affects the most, but never outsource your schedule to someone else to plan for you.


Teens and young adults are exceptional at time-management because they have no other choice but to be.  When you own your calendar, you own your time and ultimately you own your life.  Fine tune this skill and achieve your personal and professional goals while also gaining better alignment and freedom with your most finite resource: time.

 

Corporate Time Work at Home

Is Time Your Friend? How to Move Towards the Life You Want!

Do you ever think to yourself, “Is this it?”

Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Play with the kids. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Does this sound like your life?

On the one hand, routine is somewhat of a necessity in the life of a corporate mom – it helps keep the ship moving. On the other hand, there is the danger of never getting the chance to reach our full personal potential, and that routine becomes a rut.

As mothers, we are ready to do anything for our family, even if it means staying in a job we hate or find unfulfilling just so that we can pay the bills. Your intentions may be honorable, but eventually you will find yourself stuck in a seemingly endless cycle that leaves you feeling as though you’re not in the driver’s seat of your life. Instead, you are running endlessly on a hamster wheel. Days go by and blur together. Before you know it, a year has passed and nothing has changed. The goals you once had now seem impossible to reach.

Life can throw some unavoidable curveballs at you, and it may seem like you have no control over it – but most of the time, you do! Here’s how you can break that cycle:

Change Your Thought Process

This is YOUR life. Instead of wallowing in negative thoughts, take the time to acknowledge that yes, you may not have achieved your original career aspirations, but you can still do something about it. Sometimes things happen and it’s not always your fault, but it’s never too late to change your situation.

Psychologists suggest counterfactual thinking. This goes a step further than positive thoughts. For example, let’s say you’re not progressing because the job you have doesn’t pay enough and you are always behind on your bills. One way to look at it would be, “At least I have a job.” However, this will not prompt progress. Instead, shift your thought process to, “What can I do better?” or, “What solutions are available to me?” This type of thinking is known as solution-based thinking, which prompts action and progress.

Identify the Difference Between a Rut and a Routine

Do you remember what happened yesterday? Can you recall your feelings or what exactly was going on around you as you went through your day? If not, chances are you’re in a rut. Ruts tend to put us in “zombie mode” – simply going about our day zoned out and out of tune with ourselves and the world around us.

Snap out of it! Change your routine for a week and see what that does for you. This might look like taking a morning walk before you leave for work, getting up 15 minutes early to write in your journal, or ordering takeout one night and devoting the time usually spent cooking to a fun family game night. Slight alterations in your daily schedule will help you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Leave Your Comfort Zone

“A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd

You may not feel fulfilled in your current job, but it feels safe – in a way. It pays the bills and offers some sort of stability for your family. Understandable, but what is it costing you?

Leaving your corporate job may feel scary. If you’re not ready to take the leap, start small.

Conquer Your Fears. New professional opportunities often loom so big they’re completely overwhelming, causing us to freeze up instead of taking action. Exploring your options doesn’t have to be a big deal. Have you always loved playing with images and graphics? Enroll in a graphic design class at your local community college. Have you always had a knack for sales and marketing and think you might want to go solo? Get your feet wet by joining a local professional association or meetup that’s focused on marketing. Want to spend more time at home with the kids? Take a week off work (use some of those sick/vacation days for once!) and give staying at home a try – it’s the perfect way to find out if you love it or hate it! It might be freeing, or it might be tedious – but at least you’ll know.
Stop Talking and DO it. Write that book. Go on that vacation. Take that dance class. Say YES to other interests in your life beyond work.

Work Smarter, Not Harder – Become a Work-at-Home Mom

The daily rat race may leave you feeling as if there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get your work done and make time for the family, or even yourself. The truth is, time is limited. We all only get 24 hours in a day. Rather than regarding time as your enemy, turn it around and make time your friend. When you live a fulfilling life, everything else falls into place.

If your current job doesn’t fit your ideal rhythm, it might be time to explore other career options. Forget the excuses: working from home may be the solution you’ve been looking for. We at Moms Making Six Figures can help you make time your friend by moving towards the life you want. For more information about getting started on the path to your best life, call us at (858) 837-1505, or visit our website at momsmakingsixfigures.com.