Outsmart Chaos: The planning habits every copywriter needs 

Image of chaotic thread with the words "The simple and quick planning habits that will outsmart chaos and inaction"

Have you heard of “CEO time”?

It’s dedicated time to work on your business, not in it. 

And while time to work on your business sounds amazing – how often does client work take up All. The. Space. in your schedule?

Pretty often?

CEO time sounds like the habit of a high performer. Not something for the likes of us as we muddle through each week, collapsing on the weekend, only to rise again for the household and family obligations of regular adulting.

CEO time may seem like a luxury. Something you get to have once you have a steady pipeline of well-paid work.

But here’s the truth.

You don’t “get to schedule CEO time when you’re successful”.

You’re successful because you schedule CEO time.

If you only do client work, you won’t make progress on that list of things you want to accomplish. 

You need to make time to work on your business. And you need a plan. 

I suspect you already know this, %FIRSTNAME%. In fact, I bet you’ve already had a block on time in your calendar for the kind of work I’m talking about.

Let me know if this is familiar…

You have a block of time labelled CEO TIME (or similar) in your calendar.

You are determined to work on your business during that time (no client work allowed!).

It’s CEO time! You sit down and ponder what you’ll do.

Think about your annual goals?

Send a pitch to drum up some work?

Create a month of social posts?

Draft that lead magnet you’ve been thinking about?

Rewrite your website copy?

So. Many. Ideas.

You feel totally overwhelmed, so you start with something easy: clearing your inbox and replying to some IG posts. And just like that your CEO time is over.
Another bust.

The most common derailer of CEO time is having too many things to do (and no plan on how to do them).

I talk a lot about making time for planning in Confident Copywriting (it’s the perfect excuse reason to buy more stationery).

I find that regular planning (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly) means I never have to ask “What should I focus on?” in any given week. Nor am I plucking a task from a list of 100 ideas I’ve accumulated over the years. 

Past-Belinda always makes sure that Future-Belinda knows what she should focus on.

Not a big planner, yet?

If you aren’t building up your CEO muscles with regular planning, don’t beat yourself up. To get you started, you can swipe my planning routine.

Each month and quarter I spend an hour reviewing 

  • Personal events like vacations and school field trips I’ve promised to chaperone. 
  • Public holidays that mean everyone is home from work and school.
  • The business development projects that need my energy and attention. 
  • Client work that needs to be done (for programs and coaching).

I check in with my capacity and make sure I’ve got time to rest and restore. And time pressures force me to prioritise, so only the most important work gets my time and energy.

Is the month already booked up? No more yeses.

Some things to note: 

  • Personal events are scheduled first (so I’m not caught off guard).
  • Business development work is prioritised and scheduled in my CEO zone.
  • Client work is just one chunk of my time, not all my time.

My goal is to set up Future-Belinda for success. 

Then, each Sunday night I spend 30 minutes looking at 

  • Meetings, appointments and other commitments that reduce my work time.
  • How much time remains.
  • The main priorities for the week – the work that must be done (3-5 max). 
  • How much time I will allocate to each priority across the week.

I check in with my capacity and make sure I’ve allowed plenty of time to rest and restore as well as drift time for unexpected delays or changes in the plan.

Is the week already booked up? No more yeses!

Some things to note: 

  • My capacity determines my priorities. This stops me from scheduling a 40-hour work week when I only have 15 hours of available time and forces me to consider what has to get done this week.
  • If I have a lot of meetings, I look at which ones I really need to attend and which ones I can catch up on later or ditch altogether.
  • I set my daily lists from my weekly priorities so I have a plan before I open my inbox/social media.
  • If it feels like a lot, I look at what I can defer, delegate or delete from my list rather than up my working hours.

At the end of the day I spend 15 minutes to

  • Review what I’ve accomplished. Sometimes it’s not what I had planned but I know it’s never “nothing”. 
  • Set a list for the next day, checking in with my priority list first.
  • Shut down my computer so I’m not tempted to do more work later.*

Walk the dog and change my environment to transition out of work mode.*

* Ideally. 

It might feel like a lot. If you’re a free spirit creative, it might feel quite regimented.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about a bro-level-5am-start-more-protein-shakes-please style of working. 

I’m talking about shifting gears from being reactive – to your inbox, social and clients – to becoming proactive – in charge of your time and schedule. 

With that shift comes freedom from chaos and over-working.

This routine of planning time with regular check-ins on my capacity and priorities is how I stop spinning my wheels in minutiae and actually get shit done.

Start small and build up.

And you have my permission to buy as much stationery as you want need.

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