I’ll admit I’m a night owl and so are my kids. Summer is a free-for-all at my house. There is no schedule. We stay up half the night and sleep til noon because we can and I’m damn grateful for the unstructured days of summer vacation. But as we near the end of the season and back to school approaches, I find myself longing for schedule and structure. Even if it wears thin by Halloween.
Back to school is synonymous with a fresh start. Since you were a grade student, the season meant fresh pencils and crisp binders. We met the beginning of the school year organized and ready to take on a new schedule and learn new exciting things. I still get this way during the back to school season – only now my preparation is a little bit different.
The first step is to get organized. Spend a day filing and checking off administrative tasks. Update your business plan. Create organizational and planning forms. Check your progress or create a multi-faceted marketing plan. Buy a planner and set editorial dates and guest posting goals. Set marketing goals to create pins for every post or design a sign up bar you can insert in your blog posts.
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If you’re freelancing, file receipts and check for unpaid invoices. Set professional goals and aim for one new client that will earn you a raise. Plan possible guest posts or print assignments that will break you into a new niche. Revamp and add new clips to your professional website.
Treat yourself to a new binder or notebook. Maybe some new highlighters. Try using index cards to brainstorm blog post ideas. Get that planner you’ve been eyeing or see if a desk calendar helps you see your deadlines (and checkpoints) clearly.
In honor of organization, I’ve created two new planning sheets: one for content and one for my monthly marketing plans. I think they’ll give me a good at-a-glance of my monthly efforts. I’m sure I’ll tweak them but I thought they might help you as well. Feel free to edit them to suit your marketing style.
Now that you’re organized, decide what you want your back-to-school schedule to look like. Even if you don’t have kids that will now be out of the house during the day, this is an opportune time to reimagine how you spend your time. I plan to get in a workout between getting my oldest out the door and waking my younger kids up for school.
What have you been meaning to dedicate time to? How do you want to spend your day? Make sipping coffee on the patio with your book part of your morning routine. Schedule a mid-morning walk to give you a break from your desk. Portion and freeze some healthy breakfasts and dinners to make mealtimes easier. Download a meditation app for before bed. Or some podcasts to listen to during your workout.
This is your chance to completely redesign your day. It’s about doing more of what you want to spend your time doing.
Now write it out and post it somewhere or put it on a whiteboard. (My personal favorite.)
This can include something as elaborate and pricey as signing up for a guided course or something as simple as ordering a new nonfiction from Amazon. If you’re like me you already have a bookshelf or two filled with knowledge you haven’t gotten to yet. 🙂 Put yourself through a course by grabbing a book and taking notes. Do the practice assignments. Design your first landing page. Learn to write white papers. Practice your sales copy or study all you can on SEO and link-building. Get yourself excited for a little professional development then pick a topic and learn all you can. Take notes and write down actual tasks that will help you master these new skills and apply them to your business.
There’s your first semester. You’re all set with your new schedule and organized backpack full of tools to help you succeed. You’re enrolled in a new class and excited to learn something new. Guess how long the semester lasts? That’s up to you but I suggest scheduling your semesters quarterly. This means each new quarter you’ll be ready to tweak your schedule, sign up for a new course and reorganize your business, which should land conveniently around tax time.