How to Make Your Schedule Work For You (Not Against You)

“There’s too much to do and not enough time” is a common refrain amongst business owners. 

When you started this adventure in entrepreneurship, it was so that you could work on your own terms, be your own boss, and live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. After years of pouring everything you’ve got into building a viable business, it feels like you live to work. 

No matter how many hours you put in, you can’t seem to get out from under the ever-growing avalanche of crap that needs to be done. 

Any concept of boundaries around your time went out the window a long time ago. Now you’re just trying to keep your head above water.

The only way to get back to steering the ship instead of drowning in its wake is if you start structuring your time so that the clock works for you, not against you.

A Personalized Approach to Time Management

Time management is a hot topic and with good reason. 

Time is a precious, finite resource. 

For all the tools and techniques available to help you master your schedule, a key factor is often left out of the conversation. 

When it comes to effectively managing your time–and with it your energy and focus–you need to understand your own unique Introversion/Extroversion Ratio. 

You’re probably thinking, “Whether I’m introverted or extroverted isn’t going to change the fact that I need to get these proposals out the door and jump on Zoom, Dana.”

Well, you just might be wrong about that. 

What is Your Introversion/Extroversion Ratio?

Your Introversion/Extroversion Ratio is more than a simple question of, “Are you an introvert or an extrovert?” 

We all live on a spectrum of introversion and extroversion, and each of us has specific needs rooted in where we fall on the scale.

An extreme extrovert can be totally ON and rocking for an hour, needing only a moment alone to feel restored and rebalanced.  Meanwhile, an hour of fully ON, engaged interaction can be utterly depleting for a profound introvert, and have far longer-lasting effects. 

Most of us live somewhere on the spectrum between these two personalities. The problem is that we often aren’t really aware of these energetic boundaries unless we experience an especially draining or invigorating circumstance. And one of the places that lack of awareness trips us up is in how we manage and plan our time, which impacts our personal productivity. 

When you’re familiar with your ratio of Extroversion/Introversion and plan your time to honor these intrinsic needs, you set yourself up to succeed–and empower yourself to do it entirely on your own terms.

Activities like internal team meetings, coffee dates, structured networking circles, and everyday activities that require you to put on your public face typically require an equivalent amount of quiet time to counterbalance. As a pretty extroverted individual, I generally need about 30 minutes of alone time to get me back to equilibrium in these instances. 

On the other hand, if I’m on stage giving an hour-long speech and need to be present and available for questions and conversations with participants for another hour afterward, I know that I’ll need at least four to five hours of alone time to restore myself. 

But, many of us often aren’t aware of these deeper needs, or we don’t know how to use that awareness to offer ourselves authentic support, or we think we just don’t have the time to figure it out. 

There are so many competing demands for our energy and attention that many business owners ignore their own basic needs for “five more minutes” to get something done. We become accustomed to tuning out our natural boundaries and basic needs until our productivity is in the toilet and we’re out of capacity.

It’s no wonder so many business owners are burnt out and disconnected. Who needs to drink water, stretch, eat lunch, or go to the bathroom?! 

Only every human being on the planet, including you.

How to Honor Your Introversion/Extroversion Ratio

You know what tuning out your personal needs looks like. What would it look like if you decided to honor your needs and your introversion/extroversion ratio instead? 

For starters, you need to get clear on how much IN time (internal/input) you need to balance the ON time (external/output) your business demands.

To show up at your most focused and effective, your schedule has to accommodate your Extroversion/Introversion Ratio. 

If you’re a business owner struggling to balance your schedule, productivity, and well-being, I challenge you to do an internal audit of your time and energy. 

Ask yourself:

For every five minutes you spend engaged with others, how much renewal time do you need for yourself? 

What kinds of tasks or activities require more energy from you than your typical ON time? How much more renewal time do you need to recover after doing these things? 

If you need 30 minutes to ground yourself for every hour you spend interacting with other people, then your schedule needs to reflect that an hour-long client meeting requires 90 minutes on your calendar. 

To manage your time and energy effectively, you need to be honest with yourself about what investing those resources costs you and carve out space to restore your balance and regain your focus. This helps manage your stress level and actually allows you to feel less overwhelmed by what you have on your plate. 

Get Back to Equilibrium

Being intentional with your time and energy doesn’t just apply to getting work done. Once you learn to recognize your physical and energetic boundaries, the next step is to identify the hobbies and pastimes that bring you back to equilibrium. 

Make a list of activities that renew you and refill your cup. That way, when you have half an hour to recoup after your next client meeting, you have a list of options available to help you practice taking time to tune IN. 

In my world, that might look like taking the pups out for a walk, getting comfy and reading a good book, or lying on my bed and scrolling social media. There are even some admin tasks that give back the same level of energy for me. As someone who is more extroverted than introverted, connecting with a friend or client can also fill up my energy bank, even if I used it up by leading a class or having a sales conversation. 

Knowing this about myself empowers me to manage my time and productivity so that my schedule supports my personal needs and I can deliver what my business needs.

Practice Intentional Implementation
⇒ Every time you engage with a task that drains your energy, commit to scheduling your necessary window of restorative activity at the end.
⇒ Try assigning a specific recovery activity to your most common tasks that you find most draining. 
⇒ Or try creating a weekly or monthly “shortlist” of restoration activities to minimize the decisions you have to make and the energy you have to expend to start refilling your cup.

Make Your Schedule Work For You

Making your schedule work for you instead of against you is an essential part of running your business, rather than your business running you into the ground.

If you want to take back your time, you need to tune in to identify the work that drains you and what you need to recover. This intentional awareness allows you to structure your schedule to balance the demands of your output with dedicated, restorative input. 

Honoring your Introversion/Extroversion Ration isn’t just a strategic technique to increase your efficiency and productivity. It’s also a personal decision to recognize your unique needs and prioritize your well-being.  And it’s a practical tool that empowers you to take back your time and energy. 

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