How To Create Your Ideal Business Schedule

Caroline Leon
8 min readMay 21, 2024

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
~ Annie Dillard

One of the very first things I ask all new clients about is their working schedule. More often than not, people readily admit that their schedule is all over the place and is something they know they need to work on. Even so, the vast majority of those will also admit that they feel some level of resistance when it comes to scheduling their day.

Rather than see having a schedule as liberating, they typically see it as something that will restrict their freedom and despite craving more structure, find themselves railing against having a schedule.

I totally get it. After well over a decade of working 9–5, I fully embraced not having a schedule when I first quit my career in pursuit of running my own business. For years I had to get up at 5.45am to catch a train at 7am in order to get to work for 9am, followed by feeling trapped in my place of work for the next 8 hours, only to repeat the same gruelling journey home again. I’ll admit, a schedule like that is enough to drive anyone to question their life choices, no matter how appealing the salary.

Despite this, I soon realised that having no schedule meant that I actually felt like I was either always working or never working and as a result doing very little to move my business forward. Having structure is what helped me to be able to really work when I’m working and rest when I’m resting.

The piece that people miss, however, when I bring up the topic of schedule, is the word IDEAL. Having a soul-sucking schedule is nobody’s idea of fun, but what if you could create a schedule that honours your passions and desired lifestyle and maximises your chances of creating a successful business doing work that helps you to change the world for the better? That’s what I’d like to show you how to do today.

Step 1 — identify when you don’t want to work

When designing your ideal schedule, given that life is more important than work (no matter how important your work is), I invite you to consider all of those times on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis that you DON’T want to work.

In my ideal schedule for example:

On a weekly basis, I don’t work on the weekend (Saturday and Sunday), this for me is FAMILY time. I also don’t work before 9.30am, this for me is MY time to exercise, shower and enjoy a slow and mindful breakfast.

On a daily basis, I don’t work over lunchtime, taking at least 1 hour for lunch on Mondays and Friday and on Tuesday — Thursday taking 2.5 hours as I have one or both of my sons home for lunch. I also don’t want to work beyond 6.30pm as my boys are home from school by then and that when we start family time.

I also have 2 x 30 minute breaks a day. One at 11–11.30am and one at 4.30–5.00pm.

In terms of annual holidays. I know that I want to take 2 weeks off in August for our family holiday as well as time at Christmas and Easter and I usually block these off for the year ahead. Most of the business owners I work with have never booked off their annual vacation time ahead of time. If that’s you, I highly recommend it. I typically take 7 weeks a year off.

On a monthly basis, I also usually take the 5th week of the month off on those months that have 5 weeks. This year, that’s March, May, August and November. I organise my 1:1 subscription and my group program so that I can take those off.

Now it’s your turn, when WON’T you work on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis? Once you’ve removed the times you don’t want to work, you should now have your working hours.

Mine for example are as follows:

Monday to Friday, 9.30am — 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 6.30pm.

That’s 6 hours a day, 5 days a week = 30 hours a week. 45 weeks a year.

I choose to work full-time because my boys are in school and I like bringing in a full-time income. I’ll share with you later how I bring flexibility into those full-time hours.

Step 2 — Identify what types of work you need to do

One of the most common questions I receive is what should I be doing to grow my business on a day to day basis? Of course, this will vary from business to business but I do believe there are some activities it’s important to incorporate into your weekly business schedule. These are:

  • Client hours — for me these are my 1:1 sessions and group program calls
  • Lead generation hours — these for me are my working together calls and times I am speaking or presenting to other people’s audiences. For many of my clients it might be when they are running gift sessions.
  • Admin — love it or hate it, we all have admin and inboxes to manage.
  • Content Marketing — this should include time to create, repurpose and promote your content.
  • Authentic outreach — if this isn’t something that you already do on the regular, I recommend scheduling time specifically for this activity.
  • CEO time — this is what I call the time I need to spend working “on” the business rather than “in” the business — it might be, for example, when I create the content for a new workshop or make changes to my website or create new systems or processes.

Step 3 — Identify when during your working hours you want to do each type of work

When we work on what is important. Many people will, for example, argue that the best time to do creative work is in the morning, when our brains our the freshest, but what works for one person may not work for another. Taking time to explore what feels ideal to you is key here.

To give you an example, here are some of the things I have found work best for me.

I don’t like doing video calls first thing. I like a slower start to my day so I don’t allow clients to book sessions before 11.30am.

I don’t like to do more than 4 video calls in any given day so the maximum slots you’ll ever find available on my schedule is 4 and on many days it’s far fewer than that.

I also like a slower start and end to the week so I only have one 5pm client call on a Monday and the rest of the day is dedicated to content creation (and my new art class!) and Friday’s are kept call-free and what I call my CEO day when I can catch up on client work, marketing and product and service creation.

The beauty of having Mondays and Fridays largely free of calls is that when friends or family come to visit or we want to go away for a long weekend, I can usually book these days off without too much hassle. It does mean I have a pretty intense Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but having a light Monday and Friday and the weekend off in between works well for me.

Step 4 — schedule these as recurring appointments in your calendar

It’s one thing to have your ideal schedule written down on a piece of paper and quite another to have it scheduled (and colour coded) in your online calendar. Personally, I recommend Google Calendar and here’s a screenshot of mine.

This image is my IDEAL schedule which I have as a seperate calendar inside Google calendar but my actual calendar looks pretty similar — I won’t share for confidentiality reasons.

If you are worried about having your days blocked off like this, know that you can mark appointments in Google calendar as busy or free so that you can have something showing in your calendar as for example “save for client session” but marked as free so it’s still bookable via a scheduler.

Also, your days don’t have to be as scheduled or as full as mine! Yours might look very different.

Having my schedule like this might look restrictive to some of you but actually the fact that I have a slow, leisurely start to my day, a long Spanish style lunch, morning and afternoon breaks and largely call free Mondays and Fridays is a dream for me after years of 9–5pm and hectic commutes through central London!

Step 5 — lean into your schedule with grace and compassion

Going from no schedule to following a full schedule is not something I would recommend. I’ve been working on my schedule for years and given much of my day is non-negotiable because it’s with paying clients, I have to stick to a schedule for the sake of my sanity.

If you have less client commitments right now, you’ll likely have more freedom to move things around and test and tweak your schedule to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s natural that it might take some time for you to fully lean into following your schedule so it’s important not to beat yourself up if you don’t follow it perfectly.

The most important thing is to give yourself grace and notice where you’ve scheduled to do something but consistently fail to follow through, looking at why that might be and making adjustments where necessary.

I often talk about building for growth. So even if you don’t need a schedule this defined right now, it’s easy to find yourself in a position down the line, where you’ve become a slave to your schedule. So why not design it to suit you now before you find yourself working evenings and weekends because you gave potential clients free reign to choose when worked best for them rather than you?

I’m curious, how does this land? Do you have a schedule already or has this piece given you food for thought? Feel free to hit reply and let me know.

If you’d like to read more from me like this directly in your inbox, you can head here to subscribe to my Soulful Strategies Weekly.

--

--

Caroline Leon

Business Coach helping conscious change makers to build and grow sustainable businesses, using strategies rooted in integrity. https://carolineleon.com