An effective schedule is composed solely of Routine, Rocks and Reserves. You should be able to look at your calendar and see them.
This is missing from most entrepreneur’s schedule. It’s the routine meetings and regular times you review reports. Of course you don’t have time for this. There’s too much happening in your day. And all those damn interruptions. What you don’t realize is that if you have the right routine it minimizes the interruptions and the surprises. But you may have to give up the adrenaline addiction, so it won’t feel the same.
What is the right routine? More than I can go into here but check out Mastering The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. It involves doing certain things daily, others weekly, monthly and quarterly. You can do them by phone when traveling so there’s no excuse. And they don’t take a lot of time but they must be done consistently.
These are the important things that are never urgent. The name comes from a story told in First Things First by Stephen Covey. (Buy it used at Amazon for a penny.)
The gist is that if you want to fill a bucket with some rocks, some gravel, some sand and some water, you need to put the rocks in first and let the other stuff flow around them. Your rocks are the projects you want to get done but can’t find time for. Pick one. Two at the most. You need to put rock time on your calendar just like you would any important meeting. Work on them till they’re finished then move to the next rocks. In a year, you’ll get much more done than if you try to work on thirty at once a little at a time.
For some people, rocks are the production time they need – this is true for lawyers, graphic artists, phone sales people and the like. The key to these rocks is to schedule time that’s uninterrupted and keep it that way. Don’t check email, don’t answer the phone, make sure the others in your office know not to knock unless there’s blood or fire.
Once your schedule has the routines and rocks in it, there should be space. That means you have to be selective about scheduling your rocks. Don’t fill up the schedule. Leave that space alone. The holes in your calendar are your reserve. They will fill up. Some problems and emergencies will arise (fewer than when you didn’t have routine, but some will.) More importantly, some opportunities will show up and you’ll now have time to take advantage of them. That’s what reserves are for.