“Tonia, how do you stay so organized? How have you been productive and create/launch a new podcast, put out new content each month, build your email list, Instagram and Pinterest marketing skills so quickly?” These are questions I’ve been asked in one way or another over the past few months, since I left my corporate job in October 2019. After listening to the habits, tips and tricks of entrepreneurs and thought leaders I admire while simultaneously putting my organization and scheduling skills to the test, I’ve come up with a way of mapping out my life to be productive and balanced, and believe it or not, it all has to do with my menstrual cycle.
After coming across Period Coach (as in menstruation) Claire Baker, I discovered a whole new way to manage the physical and emotional ups and downs we women naturally experience on a monthly/weekly basis. After reading her eBook Adore Your Cycle, I completely revamped how I structured my schedule, working with (not against) my body during the different “seasons” of my menstrual cycle. Now, the first thing I do when I’m organizing my monthly schedule is to actually check my cycle chart to see what days I will naturally have more or less energy. Then, I schedule out from there.
I stopped forcing myself to write blogs and be thoughtfully creative when I was in the middle of “winter” (menstruation phase) feeling tired, deflated and uninspired. Instead I shifted those creatively demanding days to my “spring” (pre-ovulation) phase when my energy was up. Claire’s methodology has helped me slow down, acknowledge and be kinder to myself and my body.
I’ve shared a photo example of what my monthly schedule looks like, covering the last week of January 2020 through the end of February. The calendar is structured according to my menstrual cycle charting app. During that last week of January, I was in my “summer” (ovulation phase). I knew I’d be feeling happy, with a lot of natural energy, so I wrote the first of my two February blog posts, the script for my next solo podcast, sent out email marketing videos, took photos, completed editing and scheduling them for my social media page – all things I would not feel like doing if I had worked against my natural rhythms and scheduled them during my “winter” (period) phase.
Ladies, are you feeling this vibe? Why, oh why, have we been working against ourselves? I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner. I’d highly encourage you to checkout Claire Baker. She has many free resources on her page to help understand your cycle and our “inner seasons.”
Side note: Men, you’re not exempt. If you have a special lady in your life, this is a great way for you to be more in-tune to her body and mood. It can help you understand how and why the women in your life act and feel as they do.
As you can see from my calendar, on a weekly basis I have five dedicated areas of focus each week in order to keep my business simultaneously growing and developing.
Each weekday is dedicated to one of these five areas of focus. The nice thing is these areas can always change depending on my business goals!
Now that I know how to go with my flow, I reserve the “spring” and “summer” phases of my cycle for the monthly tasks that need to get done for the blog, podcast, email list, social media, and learning/growth that require the most amount of creative energy, thought and physical presence – i.e. writing blogs, outlining podcast scripts or guest questions, recording the podcasts, taking photos, writing out my social media and email list weekly content, promoting new content or product launches. I reserve my “fall” and “winter” cycle weeks for the less taxing activities – i.e. brainstorming upcoming blog topics, brainstorming podcast guests, editing the podcast episodes, editing photos I’ve taken, reading personal development books, and doing online courses.
A skill that has helped me be successful in getting things done in these areas is “batch working.” I’ve also heard it called, “backwards chaining.” It’s essentially focusing a measurable period of time – normally, 1-3 hours – on one task, topic or area of business. This approach helps me channel all my energy on one thing and avoids getting distracted by anything unrelated. For example, with the Unapologetically Alive Podcast I know that I want to use the most energetic days of my menstrual cycle to either write my solo show scripts and/or outline the questions and talking points for my guest shows, or actually record the episodes. I know it’s best for me to do this during my “spring/summer” weeks, because I’ll naturally be livelier and more energetic. For me, that clearly comes across in both my writing and my voice. So, I look at the dates the next solo/guest podcast show needs to go live on iTunes and then look at my ovulation calendar for when I’ll be in my “spring/summer” phase. Then, I block off two hours for batch working my podcast. If you try “batch working” make sure to set a time limit for yourself. I allot two hours of my morning for each of my five areas of focus during the week to specifically and ONLY work on the blog, the podcast, email list, social media, and learning. I’m most focused and creative in the morning, so I reserve between 9:30-11:30am to “batch work.” why I’ve also been successful in getting my shit done!
I challenge you to map out five areas of focus that you want to actively breathe life into each week. Decide where in your day you want to allot your hyper-attentive two hours of “batch working” focus. Is it early in the morning? Midday? Late evenings? It’s up to you to decide what works best for you! And remember, your areas of focus don’t have to be solely on your business. You can focus on your wellness or even a new skillset or hobby. Whatever it is, do yourself a favor and map it out! Use my monthly/weekly schedule above as a template and make it your own.
To be honest, I was personally struggling with how to manage work and life, hour-by-hour until about three weeks ago. I actually posted on my Instagram stories asking for help and insights. A friend came to the rescue! I was doing great at “batch working” and getting things done, but I was neglecting things like eating lunch and starting dinner. The challenge working from home is that it’s easy to procrastinate working on my business because the laundry needs to get done, or the trash taken out, when in reality, those can easily be moved to “out of office hours.”
My issue working from home was that even though my calendar was time blocked and scheduled (business and life all included), it was easy for me disregard the calendar reminder popping up on my phone to eat lunch vs. just continuing to work on my social media strategy or editing a blog post. What I’ve heard from many of my friends and clients who work from home is that they tend to work longer hours when they work from home than they would in a traditional office. Why is this? Because our homes double as our offices, it’s easy for time to pass and the work-life balance to become unbalanced.
Here’s a great tip: while it’s all well and good to time block your calendar, we often need an auditory reminder to pull us out of whatever it is we’re doing. When tunnel vision has taken over an audible que can help you move onto the next thing. My friend suggested setting various alarms to timestamp what I need to do for my business and my life each day when working from home. So far, this has been helpful in pulling me out of my zone and refocusing on work-life balance. I’ve been eating my lunch each day at the allotted time, getting back into studying French, meditating each morning, and also my love of cooking a fresh dinner.
The alarms I have set up for myself serve as auditory reminders for business and life and have been keeping me on track, happy and fulfilled so far – shout out to my friend Alysha for sharing this with me!
This is how I do it. It’s not easy. It takes work to create a routine. Thankfully, I figured out how to go with my flow. Tuning into my body, taking my health and well-being into consideration (aren’t we seeing a pattern here) and balancing that with my goals for the day, week and month have helped me find productivity at home.
I hope this was helpful. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you’ve had a similar experience, or if any of this wisdom provided an “ah ha” moment for you. How do you plan to apply this to your life, business and career? Leave me comments and feedback below.
If you’re looking for some one-on-one personalized guidance on how you can customize and implement this into your own life, I’m here for you. I work with ambitious women who are ready to make shifts to live with excitement and purpose! To get started all you need to do is schedule a Complimentary Consultation Call. We’ll dive in together so you can start seeing and feeling big shifts in your life.