Most entrepreneurs start sashaying down the glittering path of entrepreneurship because they want both financial and time freedom. They daydream about working from anywhere, on their own terms, without a cap on their income – or a rigid schedule (or blaring alarm) during the work week.
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that a lot of entrepreneurs don’t actually wind up with the spacious-feeling schedule they desire. Instead, they accidentally re-create the stifling conditions of the not-so-fun 9-5s they were trying to escape in the first place.
If you feel trapped in your home office or like you’re grinding 24/7, this post is for you. Below, we’ll explore ten actionable steps you can implement like right now to break free from your self-created grind and ‘do work’ on your terms (for real).
1) Delegate and Outsource
One of the quickest paths to schedule freedom – and much-needed breathing room – is to delegate tasks to your current team and/or hire new team members or freelancers to outsource to. If you haven’t already, identify the tasks that can be – and/or you want to be – handed off to virtual assistants or freelancers. Whether it’s administrative work, content creation, or customer support, delegating can free up oodles of valuable time to focus on the strategic aspects of your business–aka the ‘big picture’ stuff only you can do.
(Just imagine hitting up your favorite coffee shop on a random Wednesday, sipping your favorite latte and dreaming up new products, while someone else responds to customer inquiries, updates your website and/or puts together a jaw-dropping social media post. Yep, it’s possible!)
If you’re already outsourcing a lot and still feel buried under work, ask yourself this: What else would I need to outsource or delegate in order for the business to run without me? Write the specific tasks down, and then see if someone your current team could handle them or if you’d need to find a new freelancer to help.
2) Prioritize Time Management
It’s not sexy, but time management is definitely necessary if you actually want more flexibility in your schedule. If you can learn to maximize your productivity during your dedicated work hours, you’ll automatically create space for other activities outside of work – like, you know, the kid’s sports games and/or a Friday evening hot yoga class.
If you’re on the time management struggle bus, experiment. Use time tracking tools to keep you on track, create daily schedules with set work hours (and stick to them!), and establish clear priorities for each day. Once you find your rhythm, I promise you’ll find extra pockets of time you never knew existed.
3) Embrace (Thoughtful) Automation
Automation tools can be your best friend when it comes to freeing up your schedule. Taking a solid step back to map out ways to utilize marketing automation, email autoresponders, and social media schedulers to streamline repetitive tasks and ensure your business purrs along and your online presence remains active, even when you’re taking a breather (or off on a family trip to Disney). And I will dole out one caveat: If you’re using automation tools like AI, be sure to also continue to put your (or your team’s) human touch on everything you put out there. AI is meant to assist humans – not completely replace them.
4) Implement a 4-Day Workweek
As an entrepreneur, you generally get to set your own schedule. That said, why not explore the possibility of a 4-day workweek – or some other non-traditional schedule that works best for you & your family and work rhythms?
Condense your tasks into four focused days (you can even theme them–like Marketing Mondays, for example), and voilà, you’ve got an extra day for self-care or hobbies (or–let’s be honest–trips to Trader Joe’s).
5) Plan Regular Breaks and Vacations
Another super obvious and yet often overlooked tip: Schedule your breaks & vacations in advance – and treat them like appointments. Even if you aren’t planning to travel anywhere special (or tropical), regular time off from work is essential for staying productive, loving your work and avoiding burnout. Sprinkle short breaks into your workday and be sure to plan occasional vacations or extended time off to recharge and regain perspective, too. (If you think you get amazing business ideas in the shower with your lavender steamer going, just imagine how many brilliant ideas you could get while soaking in a bubbly hot tub in Cabo. Just saying.)
6) Re-evaluate Your Pricing (Raise Your Rates)
Working too much and feel like you can’t stop because, well, you need the money? Not only is this a mindset issue you might want to explore further, it’s also a sign to take a look at your current rates or pricing structure. It might be practically impossible to make as much as you need to live comfortably at your current rates or prices. Even a modest price increase on your digital products or client work can help free up time in your schedule.
7) Get Out of the House
Lots of entrepreneurs fall into the trap of working from home day after day because it’s easier (and let’s be real – leggings are super comfortable). That said, it’s good for your mental health & creativity to break the monotony of WFH every once in a while. You could try the hot local co-working space that’s buzzing with like-minded folks one day a week, or ensure you’re going to a coffee shop or library once a week. Getting out of the house to work can help you truly feel and experience the freedom you already have in your schedule.
8) Practice Mindfulness and Stress Reduction
While sitting on your cute meditation cushion won’t actually magically make more hours appear in your day, it can make even the craziest days feel a bit less rushed and hectic. That said, it’s worth working a mindfulness or stress reduction practice into your everyday. From meditation to yoga to deep breathing, there are myriad ways to manage stress, increase focus and ‘harness’ any anxiety, so even your most jam-packed days feel a bit more flexible.
9) Do Something “Special” Everyday
You probably have more control of your schedule than you think. Make time to do one luxurious, fun or soul-nourishing activity per day. What’s something you could never get away with in a traditional office – like a mid-day massage or even just a 20-minute walk in the sunshine? Choose one activity and make it a priority. (You can also work it into your morning routine – I have a whole blog post on successful morning routines for entrepreneurs.)
10) Get Good at Saying No
This one kinda goes without saying, but the only way to actually keep your schedule feeling nice & spacious & flexible long-term is to get good at saying no. When you can effectively say no, set boundaries with your clients and team (and yourself!), you’ll be able to avoid overcommitting and feel more control over your schedule.
So, there you have it – your schedule freedom and flexibility playbook. Your business isn’t just about making money; it’s about creating a life that you love. These ten hacks will help you create – and feel – more flexibility in your days, no matter how much is packed on your proverbial plate right now.