- Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire.
- Early on as an entrepreneur, Glantz says she often found herself working 12- to 14-hour days.
- Now she uses scheduling hacks to be more efficient and fit her workload into just 5 hours a day.
When I first became a full-time entrepreneur in 2015, I found myself working 12- to 14-hour days. I felt bad taking breaks and used any downtime I had to research new ways to scale my business or grow my customer base. After a year of working long days and ditching most of my hobbies or weeknight social activities, I realized I needed to change my work habits if I wanted to continue to be an entrepreneur in a sustainable way.
That’s when I decided to take inventory of my time, see where I was wasting parts of my day, and make changes to swap a traditional eight-hour (or 14-hour) day for a productive five-hour workday.
Here are the five hacks I swear by that allow me to have a healthy work-life balance while still crossing everything off my to-do list.
1. Enter the week with a game plan and time budget
When you’re the boss, nobody tells you what tasks you need to accomplish, so it’s on you to plan your schedule. Instead of spending an hour each day deciding what to tackle, I spend an hour on Sunday evening mapping out all of my goals and tasks for the week ahead. I write down everything on a piece of paper, set a time limit for each task (based on an estimation) and then plan when I’ll get it done during the week.
This allows me to get straight to work every day, without spending an hour playing a guessing game around what I have to do today versus the next day.
2. Schedule calls on only one to 2 days a week
I noticed a big reason I was working eight- to 14-hour days was not because of a heavy workload but because of sporadic calls. I’d have three to six calls a day, at random times, and would have to drop the tasks I was working on when they were halfway complete just to sit on a call. That pulled me away from my focus and forced me to switch gears too many times, which wasn’t good for productivity.
Instead, I only have one to two call days a week, where I block off two to three hours on those afternoons to take calls. This has not only allowed me to take control of my schedule and finish to-do’s without interruptions, but it’s also freed up my mornings to do actual work, which is important to me because that’s when I have the most focus and energy.
3. Ditch your phone and social media apps during work hours
Whenever I felt anxious, overwhelmed, or became eager to procrastinate, I’d pick up my phone and scroll through social media. When I took inventory on how I spent my time during the day, I realized I was spending 90 minutes of my workday wasting time on social media.
I decided to put my phone on the top shelf of my closet during work hours. I pick it up only during scheduled breaks in my day and set a time limit (a setting I turned on in my iPhone) to alert me after I’ve been on social media for 15 minutes. Now, I allow myself one social media break during my work hours, and it’s helped me be less distracted throughout the day.
4. Schedule 3 to 4 short breaks throughout the day
In order to maintain my focus during my work hours, I schedule three or four breaks into my day to take my mind off business and refresh.
I like to take one mid-morning break for 15 minutes, an hour lunch at noon, and two breaks during the afternoon for 15 to 20 minutes. These breaks don’t count as part of the five hours I use for work, so they extend my day a little bit — however, I don’t do any work or email reading during this time and use these breaks as full-stop pauses in my day to reenergize.
5. Limit how often you check your email
A big time suck for me as an entrepreneur has always been my inbox. I can spend two to three hours a day just managing incoming emails and responding to requests or clients.
In order to take control of my workday, I’ve implemented a policy where I only check my emails three times a day. When I do enter my inbox, I set a 20-minute timer to make sure that I’m only spending that allocated amount of time answering emails. Any extra emails I don’t have time to answer that day fall to the next workday’s priority list.
As an entrepreneur, it can be tempting to want to spend every hour of your day working on your business, but it’s not sustainable. Take inventory of your time, limit distractions, and work toward creating a workday that lets you find a solid work-life balance.