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Calendar planning 101 - time management for creatives

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Last week we spoke about how to manage your workload to make sure you don't take on too much. This week, we will look at your personal time and how to get the most out of your day.

The truth is, there are always more things we could do. On top of that, to-do lists are more like wish lists without an actionable plan. This often makes us feel overwhelmed and frustrated as we fail to accomplish as much as we would like.

In interviews with 239 successful entrepreneurs, Kevin Kruse found that successful people tend to use calendar planning rather than a to-do list. This technique works great regardless of what project management software or team collaboration tools you use and it's free! So let's dig in.

calendar planning


  • What is calendar planning?

  • Planning themes

  • Planning activities

  • Getting started

  • Keeping it up

What is calendar planning?

Calendar planning is all about blocking out time in your calendar for the tasks you want to get done. Contrary to the to-do list, we have to make the schedule realistic. This often leads to some pretty drastic rethinking of what actually matters in your business.

"When you say yes to something, you immediately say no to something else" - Chris Ducker

The key is to look at your calendar and face the fact that spending those extra 2 hours at work will take away from things you would rather do, like catching up with friends or finally getting your passion project off the ground. Is it worth it?

There are lots of ways you can approach calendar planning and we will now look at the two most common ones. To kick off, I would suggest using an online or desktop calendar rather than a notebook for this. It makes changing things around much easier.

Theme planning

The idea behind theme days is to help your brain focus on one thing and avoid distractions. This strategy means you schedule different themes for different days, like "focus days" "buffer days" and "off days". This means you know that creative work will happen on focus days and any tasks that can be done with less thinking (perhaps while listening to a podcast) can be done on buffer days.

Themes can be anything you like so if "marketing" or "client work" feel more natural to you, go for it.

When you know that you have scheduled time for something, it can help you drop it while working on something else.

Activity planning

If theme planning feels a little too open for your taste, activity planning might be for you. Activity planning breaks up the day in smaller blocks allocated to a type of activity, like "admin" or "content creation".

This is a great opportunity to plan the tasks you need most brainpower for earlier in the day and clump together activities that help each other. For example, if you are looking for ideas for your next creative blogpost and inspiration for a new client mood board, scheduling time for "idea hunting" could make better use of your time.

Getting started

Before you get started, you need to make sure you know the tasks you need to get done v.s. the wants. This way you can add in all the important tasks first and if you have time left, go right ahead and add those nice extra tasks.

The next step is to understand how long it actually takes you to do something. Once you have your plan, try it out. Use a tool like toggl to track your time and don't be scared to change it if it doesn't work. You can see the first few weeks like your calendar trial period.

project management

Keeping it up

The real message here is to value your time and avoid that voice that tells you to work crazy hours to get a promotion or that dream client.

To make your plan easy to follow, add in a lot of fun activities! If you have a block dedicated to date night, spending time with your kids or that yoga class you love, you will be less likely to stay in the office and "halfwork".

It is all about making good use of your time so you can enjoy work and other things you love.

Do you have a favourite tip we missed? Join our Facebook community and spread the wisdom!


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