How I work (by the numbers)

by | Jul 8, 2021 | Leadership

I talk a lot about time leadership as an idea. We’re all unique, and what’s best for each of us is unique too. I don’t ever want to place a box around what ‘time well spent’ looks like.

That said, some of the most helpful information I’ve received from other entrepreneurs comes in the specifics. When they’re willing to share how things work for them, I can more easily calibrate how I want my own life to look. It’s like a living case study.

So today, I’m going to give you the specifics of how I spend my working time and how that’s changed over the past few years. I’ll also share what I did right and what I wish I would’ve done differently in each season. I hope it’ll help you as you think about how you want to design your own days.

Season One – early entrepreneurship, no children

  • I started my business right at the end of 2017, so this season was mainly 2018 and a few months of 2019
  • I averaged 40 hours of work per week…your traditional full-time job. I still thought in terms of the 9 to 5 and would feel guilty if I wasn’t working during ‘business hours’
  • I was ‘at work’ for more than 40 hours because I didn’t log time for things like short breaks or distractions, but it was a sustainable pace for that stage of our lives
  • Most of my time was focused on client delivery – probably about 75%. But I did have enough time to go to in-person events, which I wasn’t able to do in later seasons
  • Biggest time leadership accomplishment: I protected my evenings and weekends and began to learn a new approach to my to-do list
  • Biggest regret: I didn’t create space for ebbs and flows in my energy. I was extremely tired during my first trimester of pregnancy but didn’t let myself slow down

Season Two – newborn in the house

  • I hired my first client-facing team members in February of 2019, and Averee was born two months later. I stepped away from the business for five weeks while my team took care of my clients
  • I averaged 25 hours of work per week during Averee’s first year. I hired an in-home babysitter when Averee was five months old. At first, she worked for 8 hours each week. Eventually, we increased the hours to 12 and are still there
  • Our revenue dropped 40% while I was away, but compared to the complete drop that would have happened without a team, it was still a win
  • Biggest time leadership accomplishment: Even with my maternity leave and lower hours, our revenue increased by 58% over the course of the year compared to 2018
  • Biggest regret: I still struggled to let go and trust my team. Micromanagement limited the amount of benefit we could have had

Season Three – 2020

  • No matter who you are, 2020 was weird when it came to time. I saw less of a lifestyle disruption because I already worked from home, but I did work for two months with no childcare at all
  • Thankfully, Averee began to have a long daily nap, allowing me to bump my hours up a bit above 30 per week
  • I began the process of writing Eureka Results in the summer of 2020, which sometimes bumped my hours all the way up to 40 per week. I had to do less at home and work late in the evening some weeks to accommodate the extra time
  • I implemented six-week and daily/weekly planning for the first time in 2020, and it revolutionized not just how I spent my time, but how I felt about it. Experiencing a sense of accomplishment and giving myself a chance to win rather than constantly feeling behind did wonders for my energy and focus
  • Biggest time leadership accomplishment: We found a rhythm that worked for us and I was able to complete my book on time
  • Biggest regret: I felt like I was in a sales rut for a lot of 2020 and tried to work my way out of it by force. Despite working much harder and investing a lot in marketing support, we only grew by 16% compared to 2019. It felt like a failure to me, even though I was grateful to grow at all in a pandemic year

Season Four – 2021

  • At the halfway point for the year, I love my working rhythm. My hours are back to 30-35 hours, and now that the book is published, I’m free from intense deadlines
  • I’ve focused this year on building leverage into the business. I’ve hired two people to focus on organic outreach, started a group program, and narrowed my focus to the marketing strategies that work best for us
  • Biggest time leadership accomplishment (so far): my system for time leadership is continuing to work incredibly well and has allowed me to flex around unexpected changes without playing catch up. I’m able to make conscious choices about where I spend my time
  • Biggest regret: I still spend a lot of time on Zoom (up to 15 hours a week), which could make my 2022 goals hard to reach without some changes. Thankfully, our group program will naturally lower these hours over time

The Next Season – 2022

  • Next year, my biggest goals are related to time. My plan is to start working only 15-20 hours per week and be able to step away from the business for months at a time without any drop in the service our clients receive. I’m excited to see how it unfolds.

I hope this was an interesting case study for you! Just completing this exercise has been really helpful for me. Some of the data I found – like how much I worked during different seasons or when certain changes happened – was really surprising for me and helped me see how far I’ve come.

If you’re thinking about making some tweaks to how you use your time, looking back over your past year or two could be helpful in a similar way! You can see more clearly what’s working for you, what’s not, and where you want to go next.

It’s a constant journey rather than a destination, after all.

I’d love to hear from you – what’s your biggest takeaway from this case study? Is there anything you’re working towards in your own time leadership process?