People often say they don’t have enough time to spend with family and friends or to get more things done. They actually do and, surprisingly, the time is relatively easy to find, according to business coach Sherry Lowry.
The key is knowing where to look.
Several years ago, Lowry uncovered a unique way of looking at the calendar. She now advises clients and colleagues—solopreneurs, consultants and small business owners—to “leverage time to your advantage.”
In our interview, Lowry outlines the steps that can help freelancers manage tasks and duties without letting client work spill into the free time they so desperately crave.
Sound good? Here’s the best part: as a freelancer, you can get a nice handful of extra days a year just for you and yours, separate from your staff, clients or employer.
As Lowry breaks the year down, she notes that most months include four weekends. However, some include five. Three in 2016—January, July and October—contain a full fifth weekend. (In 2017, look for extra days hiding in April, July, and December.)
Lowry encourages her clients to claim these “extra” days and take a breather. Schedule getaway weekends, dedicate blocks of time to a special project or simply take a break from work. You can do this, too. By finishing your workday at 1 p.m. on Fridays and beginning your week on Mondays at noon, you gain that valuable extra time.
One client who took Lowry’s advice was Mary Anne Connolly of MACMedia. “Sherry first introduced the concept to me way back in 2010. I did a series of training workshops with her called “Breaking Trail” at Conjunctured Coworking in an exclusive group—all going through massive career and life transitions. Frankly, I plugged it into my iCal immediately, and it comes up every month with reminder alerts.”
Lowry pushes those who are ready to consider going one step further: why not create a three-day workweek every week? “It guarantees more effectiveness on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday based on the universal principle that work will expand according to the time and space provided. Sticking to it will rigorously will transform your experience.”
Connolly, who works a 40-hour week, agrees. “I don’t schedule meetings on Mondays or Fridays unless absolutely necessary. I use Mondays for list making, goal setting, reorganizing, meditation, journaling and me-time. I work 10-hour days Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Fridays can include actual client work, workouts or yoga, errands, mani/pedis, rest. Basically, I treat half days on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons as ‘off’ and only work a total of five billable hours each of those days if at all possible.”
Connolly devotes one Friday a month to professional development, health or renewal. Recently, following Lowry’s advice, she did a one-day personal renewal retreat with WCA member and coach Renée Trudeau. “We are the principal breadwinners, so the buck stops with us. If we lose our energy or edge to stress…due to working too many hours or under stressful conditions—including weekends—we stop earning and our income goes away. So it’s about conserving and respecting energy and flow as well as the creative process.”
How many fifth weekends or three-day workweeks will you claim for yourself this year? How many will you reserve for a special purpose or project? Which ones are you willing to book now for renewal, celebration or creative play?
Lowry’s fifth-weekend formula is simple:
- Take out your calendar.
- Identify all months with a fifth weekend.
- Plan how you want to spend your extra days.
She offers this sage advice to overworked freelancers and solopreneurs: “Let life hang on a hook for two to three days. Hold those weekends by not scheduling anything into the Fridays and Mondays of those particular weekends of the month. Nothing gets scheduled beyond the priority in your life. Understand that ‘no’ can be a complete sentence.”
About Sherry Lowry:
Seven times entrepreneur, Sherry is a strategist and specialist in identifying career next steps and a business coach serving freelance and entrepreneur founders. Sherry’s core expertise is catalyzing others to put their best self and capability forward.
Credentials include the International Coach Federation’s highest certification, that of Master Certified Coach. She has earned two mainstream Master’s degrees and created three coach-specific training programs, plus helped train over 3,700 business mentors and coaches.
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