If I tell you that a structured schedule will make a huge impact on your productivity, would you believe me? You should.
While too much structure might seem to run contradictory to entrepreneurship, most entrepreneurs pursue their dreams precisely so they can do what they love at a time they choose.
Thus, adhering to a structured schedule (of your own creation) not only makes sense, it will also make you 10x more productive and drive the results you crave.
In this post, we’ll dig deeper into why a structured schedule works and how to commit to making it part of your life.
The Biggest Myth
When people think about a structured schedule, they usually envision all their free time suffocated by work. They even imagine their work time (not to mention their creativity) becoming suffocated.
They think, “No, I can’t make a video at this time because my schedule says that I must write a blog post.” It’s true that a structured schedule is very specific, but that’s exactly why it works.
The problem with free time — even the time spent thinking about what to work on — is choices. Let’s say you’re trying to decide whether to:
- Write a blog post.
- Send an email to a particular person.
- Write an email broadcast.
- Make a YouTube video.
- Interview someone for your podcast.
- Write a chapter of an ebook.
- Create a training series.
- Read a book.
- Participate in an online course.
Tell me in TWO seconds which one you’ll choose: 1…2…
Have you made a choice? Do you need more time to ponder the list? Have you thought of something to add to the list? Did the list remind you of something else?
What usually happens is all of these ideas (and others) will float around in your head until you eventually decide on one. But even when you do, you’ll likely wonder if you’ve made the right decision, or if you’ve forgotten about something more important than your chosen task.
Let’s say you decide to write a blog post. After you complete the post, you’ll once again have to decide what to do next. It’s an endless, anxious cycle. And a huge waste of time.
Should I make a video? On what topic? Should I scrap that idea and read instead? Actually, should I read or watch a training course?
A structured schedule creates clarity and takes the guesswork (and anxiety) out of deciding what to do next. And a structured schedule even offers flexibility.
For example, bloggers try to avoid writer’s block — when ideas aren’t flowing and they’re left staring at a blank screen, sometimes for hours. Lots of people experience this feeling several times a day or week.
A schedule can save you in times like this. Simply switch up your tasks and keep moving.
Plan Out The Bookends Of Your Day
While writing this blog post, I anticipated one common response might be: “How can I structure my schedule when it’s bound to constantly change?What if someone cancels an interview? What if a real-time emergency comes up?”
Like the writer’s block example above, you may have to make adjustments during the day so you can maintain an optimal level of productivity. And a structured schedule will help you switch things up with efficiency.
With that said, there are two untouchable portions of the day during which no person or unrelated task can ruin your productivity.
These are your bookends: early morning and late in the evening. Think about what you usually do at 3pm and 5am. I’ll bet that at 5am nothing is standing between you and your productivity. At 3pm, however, it may seem as if everything is standing in your way.
Realizing that you won’t likely get as much done at 9pm as you would during the work day, plan out your day from start to finish paying special attention to the bookends — because virtually nothing stands in the way of your productivity during those times.
Wake Up Earlier
The earlier you wake up, the more poised you are for success. I strongly believe that, and here’s the logic: no one is going to interrupt you or make a request at 5am. That’s when “everyone else” is sleeping. If you wake up at 5am, you’ll have several hours of undisturbed productivity.
Being an early bird works better than being a night owl. I’ve tried both, and it’s better to get to bed earlier so you can wake up earlier. The biggest reason for that is because starting fresh lets you get much more accomplished than you can after a taxing day when your willpower has been tested to the max.
Just one aggravating issue during the day can interrupt your concentration at night. As an early bird, nothing has happened yet so there’s no prior events from the day that can distract you from your work. Rising early and getting things done also makes you feel more productive as the day goes on.
In addition to feeling (and being) more productive, you’ll enjoy improved health. I don’t understand why so many people take their health for granted. I’ll just say that the healthier you are, the more productive you are. Think about that the next time you go to McDonald’s (if you don’t eat there, good for you!).
Putting that shade aside, here’s the truth about early birds and night owls:
- Early birds are exceptionally successful.
- Night owls can also become successful, but they increasingly think negatively and worry often.
Your brain is still active when you sleep. If the last thing you think about is how anxious you feel about your work, those thoughts of anxiety will carry over into your sleep and still be there when you wake up.
This is why I read a personal development book before I go to bed. I feel mentally charged when I go to bed, and that feeling carries over into the beginning of the next day.
And did you know that the first hour of your day determines how the rest of your day will go?
Track Your Results
Once you identify how to structure your day, keep track of your progress. This is where you walk the walk instead of only talking the talk. The best place to track your results is in a notebook because you can refer to it at any time and make any necessary adjustments.
Tracking your results in a notebook lets you see in which areas you struggle and in which areas you thrive. If you timestamp when you accomplish certain goals, you can also identify which times of day work best for accomplishing specific objectives.
Are you better at writing blog posts before 11am or after 2pm? Tracking your results and adding a few details allows you to answer that question. The more of these types of questions you can answer, the more productive you’ll become and the more you’ll optimize your structured schedule.
Creating a structured schedule allows you to gain clarity into what goals you need to accomplish and when you need to accomplish them. Structured schedules don’t remove the freedoms of entrepreneurship. Rather, they amplify your potential.
What are your thoughts on creating a structured schedule? What would you like to accomplish with a structured schedule? Have any productivity tips for us? Sound off in the comments section below.