Building FreeEO Days into Your Workweek — No Clients, No Meetings, No Rushing
Ever heard of a “CEO Day” for your business? A day where you do strategic planning, finances, take a walk…all the things that help you plan for the month ahead. I love this idea, but the name is problematic. Have you ever met a typical CEO? They’re in non-stop meetings, they’re dressed all business-like, and they work more in a week than I do in a month (okay, maybe not quite). Not only that, but they aren’t doing the same kind of work as us mostly-solo business owners. We have to manage the clients AND the business. And we’d like to do it in less time with a heck of a lot more ease and enjoyment.
Like I said, though, I love the idea. So, for fun, I’m going to rename these “FreeEO Days” and give you my spin on it.
One thing all my clients have in common with CEOs is they have way too much work and not enough time to do it in. On top of that, they have big dreams (they wouldn’t be working with me if they didn’t) but it’s a challenge to find time to do all the new things they want to do, or make the changes they want to make in their business. To compensate, they often work later into the evening than they want, try to get up earlier, sacrifice their lunch breaks, or sneak in some work on the weekends. It’s a desperate scramble to make things work, and they face near-certain burnout as a consequence.
If this is you, I get it. And getting out of this cycle might be one of the hardest things you ever do as a business owner. You get to decide if you can truly sustain the pace you’re working at now, or if you need to do something different. This article today is intended to give you some ideas of what changes you could make.
We can’t add more time into our lives, so I propose that you shift how you’re scheduling your existing time by scheduling one day each week to work on your business. Yup. A whole day.
Now before you give up and stop reading, I know this feels impossible right now. You’re already squeezing in as much work as you can so “losing” a day is inconceivable. Just hear me out, and remember you can take it in small steps. I’ll get to that a little bit later.
So, how do you make time for a FreeEO Day each week?
First, the easiest way I know to implement this is to use a calendar effectively. I wrote an article on this awhile back, so make sure to start practicing that if you aren’t already. You’ll find it very difficult to plan a day to work on your business if you aren’t already planning your days. I use my calendar consistently so I find it easy to make changes in my business by updating my calendar.
Second, pay attention to how you’re currently using your time. My guess is you’re mixing client work and business work all day, bouncing around from one thing to another. It’s probably hard to stay focused or be effective that way. You likely find yourself working late to fit everything in because you know you won’t have time to do it the next day. I propose you do the same amount of work (in the beginning) but keep the client work to certain days of the week, and your business work to another day of the week. It will never be 100% black and white like this in reality, so do what makes sense. You can refer to my other article about working ON vs. IN your business for some extra context.
What could this look like?
My FreeEO Day is every Thursday. If you’ve been following me for awhile you know I don’t work Fridays, so it makes the work week feel amazingly short. What I like about this is it’s a great buffer day for the tasks I don’t get done during the week, so instead of having to do them on an evening or weekend, I can do them on Thursday.
I recently read this article about doing this kind of day on a Monday (she calls them Bare Minimum Mondays) so you don’t start the week with dread, which I also like the idea of (though if you’re dreading your work week then maybe it’s a sign of a deeper problem).
If you don’t think you can start with a whole day every week (I’d be shocked if you could) then take it in increments. Could it be a half-day? Could it be every other week? Could it be just a few hours? One hour? The idea is to start blocking off time pro-actively when you aren’t focused on client work and you’re not in a meeting. Do your best to make this time non-negotiable and avoid interruptions during it.
What should you do during your FreeEO Day?
Anything you want!
I’d start with implementing the things in your business that will make your week easier. Typically that would be some sort of system or process that would free up more time for you or ease some sort of tension point.
After that, here’s an (incomplete) list of ideas to get you started. Eventually you might get to all of them once you’ve cleared up your backlog, but really prioritize the ones that give you the most momentum to keep going:
· Strategic planning, monthly planning, or anything big picture like reviewing your goals or values
· Creating something new like a new service for your clients or a new process to make things work better
· Working on the finances of your business — sending invoices, bookkeeping, taxes, budgeting, paying bills, payroll, or whatever else you need to get to.
· Marketing work, whatever that looks like for you. It could be reaching out to people, writing content, or whatever else you do to get clients.
· Hiring or team management tasks, like planning for a meeting, writing a job description, or fantasizing about what kind of help you want to hire.
· Learning, upskilling, or implementing something you’ve learned.
· Resting. Maybe this is going for a walk, having a nice meal, or just enjoying some time in the sun with a cup of tea.
I will say, having this day of the week without calls has also made it much easier to be flexible with my life. If I’m sick, I have a buffer day. If daycare is cancelled, I have a buffer day. If I want to take a long weekend, I have a buffer day. It’s critical to the sustainability of my work at this phase in my life. This might not be a true buffer day for you in the beginning when you’re catching up on all the things you’ve let go, but over time these days will allow you some flexibility.
Planning Your FreeEO Day
Here’s where you really get to tune in to what works best for you. Get to know the rhythms you work best with and what you need to have a good day.
For me, if I don’t plan the day ahead of time I’ll have a very unproductive and unsatisfying day. I like to mix little tasks, big tasks, and resting into the day. I might work on my Courage-Based Plan or catch up on a course. Right now I’m working on a new website so that involves copywriting and branding stuff. I always review my calendar and plan my content for the next week, and I try to make sure I get at least an hour to read. Often I plan a longer dog walk with a friend, or in the summer I’ll do a short trip to the beach. I put all of this on a checklist in a notebook or post-it so I’m ready to go the next morning. Knowing I have this day makes the rest of the week feel manageable even when it’s back-to-back with client calls and meetings.
The Bottom Line
· If you want things to change in your business, you have to make the time to change them. A FreeEO Day (or half-day or hour) can help with that.
· Plan ahead so you know what you want to accomplish.
· Take a deep breath. You’ve got this.
Looking for an alternative to the mainstream business advice you read online? Stephanie gives you permission to do business on your own terms. No nonsense, thorough, and immediately useful, her wisdom cuts to the chase of what you really need to succeed. To get articles and behind-the-scenes business insights delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to her weekly Field Notes here.