Let’s talk about how to carve out more time for your business or those things you’ve been wanting to do but never find the time for. When you’re in business for yourself It is easy to get distracted and sometimes it’s hard to show up. Stay with me here because even if you aren’t in business for yourself you can apply these tips to carve out more time for the things you want to do, but still retain balance in your life. I’ve found it to be incredibly important to set boundaries with your time so that you aren’t pulled in several different directions by your family and people with whom you work. Create business hours and stick to them. The best way to do this is to take a look at your week, block off time for the income generating activities, then fill in the rest.

Have you ever heard of the Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand Analogy? There’s a story of a philosopher who was giving a lecture and he held up a big glass jar to the students. He poured in big rocks and filled the jar to the brim and he asked his class if the jar was full, they all agreed that the jar was full. He then poured in small pebbles and the class watched as they filled in the cracks between the bigger rocks. He asked the class again if the jar was now full and they all agreed that the jar was now full. The philosopher then poured in sand and it filled in space between the rocks and pebbles. And he asked if the jar was full now. They all looked at each other and agreed that the jar was full now. The philosopher asked “is it really full?” And he poured water from a jug into the glass jar. The students watched as the water filled in the remaining space in the jar. “Now, the jar is full.” Said the philosopher.

The jar represents your life. The large rocks are the important things like your family, friends, your health, etc. The pebbles represent other important things like your job, household stuff, etc. The sand represents everything else, all the small stuff. If you spend your time focusing on the small stuff, the bigger stuff will never get done and will become neglected. Pay attention to those things (and people) that make you happy – the big rocks, and fill in the rest of your time with the pebbles and sand, the smaller stuff.

You want to place the big rocks into the jar first, then the smaller rocks, then the sand. This way all the available space is used and used efficiently. If you were to put the sand in first, then the smaller rocks and bigger rocks, there would be unused space left over. In this analogy, the unused space is time. The most efficient use of your time is to start with the bigger rocks, fill in the empty space with the smaller pebbles, and then pour in the sand. The result is a full jar with no empty space, and a happy YOU!

If you’re running your own business, the pebbles represent time set aside to work on your business. The bigger rocks are important and should never be compromised, so that means that you carve out the time where the pebbles are going to go in your calendar week in between the bigger rocks.

However, when it comes to your business hours, there are bigger rocks, smaller pebbles, and sand too. The big rocks represent the income generating activities, in other words, those activities that bring in new business and retain old business. The pebbles are those things that will retain your current business and old customers. The sand represents the small things that are important but not necessarily income generating, like admin stuff, planning, and anything else that needs to happen to keep your business running.

Here are 5 tips for Efficiently Using Your Time to Maintain Work-life Balance

1. Print out a calendar week
2. Fill in the “Have-To’s” – job hours, family & community obligations, bill paying etc.
3. Fill in the Self-Care stuff – eating, sleeping, exercise, self-care appointments (dentist/hair, etc)
4. Fill in the “Want-To’s” – time for hobbies, friends, church, your favorite TV shows etc.
5. Block out your business hours from the left over time
a. Block out where you will do the income generating activities – the big rocks (in-between the big rocks of your life).
b. Block out where you will business retention stuff – the smaller pebbles (customer calls, etc)
c. Block out where you will do the admin stuff, planning, marketing, etc. (a.k.a. “the sand”)

If you’re more of a free spirit with your time and you don’t see yourself sticking to business hours. Just make sure that you have a to-do list each day with the top 3 income generating activities to get done in-between the other life stuff and make sure to check them off your list!