So many of us entrepreneurs have so many sides to our businesses
There’s the client side, the creative side, the admin side (to name just a few). Whether or not you outsource certain elements in your business, you’re likely still trying to balance the time you spend working on your business, with the time you spend working in your business.
I know I need to talk about the creative/client balancing act because it’s something I’ve struggled with in the past. I used to have this notion that if I was being fully creative, I couldn’t also be fully booked, seeing lovely clients who resonate with what I do, and who get the most results from working with me.
I also know I need to talk about this because I like being real. I like to know the behind-the-scenes of people’s businesses, and I like sharing mine too. The social media world, while so wonderful in how it connects us all, can also sometimes only show the shiny side.
Before we go on, please know this:
1) This is not necessarily a post about how to become fully booked or fully creative
I’m not saying these tips will ensure either of these things – that would be another few posts entirely.
This is a post about how to balance your time, energy and intentions between seeing your clients, and working on creative projects… with the knowledge that doing so will allow you the space to become more fully booked and fully creative.
2) “Fully booked” and “fully creative” will mean different things to each of us, and have a different meaning to each of us at different stages of our businesses and lives
Fully booked might mean seeing 2 clients a week, or 18 clients a week. Fully booked in April might be a different number of clients to fully booked in December. Fully creative might mean you make time to express yourself through pottery or painting or writing, once a week or once a day or all day, everyday. Before you start judging yourself for your definitions of these words, replace it all with kindness and compassion. Be real, but be kind.
Sometimes for me, fully booked might be 4 clients a week. Sometimes it’s 6 clients a week. Sometimes it’s 10 or 12. It depends on how many appointment times I open, and if those spots get booked or not. If I had 2 spots open, and 2 clients booked in… that would be fully booked.
Fully booked does not mean (or, rephrased: we don’t want it to mean) we’re bursting at the seams, burning the candle at both ends, exhausted, wired, depleted and incredibly overly way-too-busy. If that’s fully booked, I want out.
You can feel free, spacious, alive and be fully booked and fully creative. It’s a mindset you adopt, not something that just “happens” to you.
3) There’s nothing inherently wrong with not being fully booked
I used to think that having open appointment times meant I was a failure, and that no one wanted to work with me. How drama! But I also had to balance those thoughts with this belief: I believe we’re given the right number of clients each week or month, depending on what else is going on for us.
In the past, if I’ve had a fully booked client week but can feel my energy wavering, clients have rescheduled (without me saying a word to them). The week I wrote my book proposal, I had been fully booked until the weekend before when most of my clients rescheduled, meaning I had extra precious hours in which to write my proposal. And that turned out pretty well for me!
Sure, there might be a lot of beautiful actions you can take to work towards becoming fully booked, and things you can focus on if you’re having a slow client week, including kinesiology to help you clear any blocks that may be holding you back, but don’t let the idea of not being fully booked hold you back from attracting your ideal clients in your ideal numbers.
Back in early 2014, when I added kinesiology into my practice, my business boomed. I became so wonderfully fully booked that within weeks of adding “Kinesiologist” to my resume, new clients had to wait 6 weeks to see me, and I had a weekly wait list several names long, with current clients waiting for a spot to open, every week.
But I was so new to this amazing experience of adding kinesiology into my business that I wasn’t really managing my time very well. You see, when I had only practiced as a naturopath, I could easily see up to 10 clients a day, back to back. Apart from the initial appointment, the follow-ups were much shorter in length and required less of my energy. I knew this might have to change when I started seeing clients for longer kinesiology sessions (each session is 60mins, sometime 90mins) and it’s a different kind of space I need to hold.
I remember one day I booked 9 clients in for kinesiology sessions. Nine! I was spent by the end of the day and realised then that I couldn’t keep this up long-term. I was still giving each client everything they needed; I was just the one left a bit depleted. From that day on, I started to book only 3-4 clients in each day, and for only 2-4 days per week, depending on my other commitments.
Scheduling my time like that, and shifting my mindset in order to allow me to do so, was empowering. I also made sure to add 30min breaks between clients, which I’d never done as a naturopath. But the energy work I do now is different, and I realised quickly that I needed to limit the amount of clients I saw so I could give my best to each one, without depleting myself in the process.
I also knew I had to manage my time differently if I were to keep up with all the other elements of my business. Especially because it was just after this big boom in my business that I started to get this feeling (or, think this thought) that I couldn’t be fully booked and fully creative, and that being fully booked meant I’d have absolutely no time, energy or brain space to do anything else.
This mindset is, first and foremost, just a mindset. It’s not the truth, unless we make it so. If we hold onto thinking this way, while trying to build a thriving, creative business and life, it doesn’t help us maintain freedom and flexibility in our calendars, stability in our energy and security in our businesses and bank balances.
The first key to living a fully booked and fully creative business life (yep, note how I said business life) is to allow yourself the mental space to know that it’s possible for you to be fully booked and fully creative.
You get to choose how you spend your time.
You get to make space for what you want.
You get to clear your calendar if you need to, and fill it up when you want to.
And if you ever find yourself feeling resentful when looking at appointments in your calendar, it’s a big “hello” from your inner guide: you’re not making enough space and time for yourself.
This kind of mindset goes beyond healthy boundaries (although of course, they’re important). This kind of mindset is about empowering yourself and believing in yourself, and in clearing the blocks that make you feel squished for time, as if you’re chasing something you’ll never really catch.
I also know so many of us who create often feel that we need hours of open time ahead of us in order to create. To this I say: yes… and no. Yes, because I know how much I love this too, and I know I’m often very creative when I know I have the whole morning to myself to write. But, I also wrote most of my book in less than 2 hours a day, while still seeing clients a few afternoons a week, so I also know that while blank space in your calendar is so important for productivity and creativity, you can still create in the cracks in between.
You may not have the luxury of time to get as deep into your work, but you can still make tracks. And making tracks one day means it’s easier to find your path – and keep moving forward – the next day.
Let yourself catch up with yourself by making space for creativity and clients. You can do both, and while this might not at the same level or in perfect balance every week, it’s still very possible for you to achieve your own kind of balance (which might not be that balanced at all):
You need to work out what your own “balance” looks like. Here’s a sneak peek into mine:
Mondays & Tuesdays
The beginning of the week is my time for deep work – for writing and creative projects – and so far it’s been magical and felt so spacious for me. It helps me get on top of my week, make tracks in bigger projects if needed, and I often write a blog post and newsletter on this day too. (I usually send my weekly newsletters on a Tuesday, so creating more time on a Monday has been lovely for this.)
On Wednesdays I see clients for 1:1 kinesiology and business alignment sessions (with a side serving of naturopathy!). I don’t do a lot of other work on a Wednesday as it’s usually quite full with clients and I prefer to keep my days more focused on either client work, or creative work.
I play around with Thursdays. I usually open 1-2 client appointments on a Thursday, early in the day around 9:30am. I also keep the afternoons to catch up on some creative or admin work, and will often go to 4pm yoga.
I think I’ve only ever seen clients on a Friday once, in five years. I use Fridays to catch up on anything I needed to complete in the week, whether it’s writing or creative work, scheduling phone interviews or completing written interviews or guest posts, getting on top of life/biz admin, catching-up with friends, getting a manicure or some other personal appointment, and planing out what I need to do for the next week. Without adding any undue pressure on myself, I also love trying to get to inbox 0 by Friday afternoon too.
Here’s a snapshot of one of my “client” days:
6am – 7am :: yoga / walk / barre / strength class (basically, my day always starts with exercise!)
7am – 9am :: writing in a cafe
9am onwards :: getting ready for my day, some journalling and tuning in, answering emails, preparing my clinic room, doing smaller bits of work that don’t need big chunks of time
12pm – 1pm :: lunch and chill time
2pm – 6:30pm :: client sessions (I’ll sometimes open a few earlier sessions at about 10am or 11am, if I know I need a larger gap in the middle in the day for other commitments)
Here’s a snapshot of one of my “creative” days:
6am – 7am :: yoga / walk / barre / strength class
7am – 9am :: writing in a cafe, or depending on what project I’m working on, maybe coffee or breakfast with a friend. When I was writing my book though, I spent mornings writing and only made breakfast dates on a Friday
9am onwards :: getting ready for my day, some journalling and tuning in, clearing some emails, then sitting down and doing the work…
12 – 2pm-ish :: extended lunch and chill time, maybe lunch with a friend, my mum, sis or hubby
2pm onwards :: I’ll usually keep working but depending on what I’m working on, the pace slows down. I do my best writing/creative work in the morning, so I’ll often leave the afternoons for other things, such as the more techy side, writing guest articles or interviews for something else similar. Sometimes I’ll have a longer break after lunch too, and do something that feels fun and restorative (read on my bed for a bit, go to a cafe, catch up on one of my favourite shows)
This weekly schedule of mine is something I’ve worked out after almost five years in business for myself, and it’s something I’ll still tweak when needed, depending on what’s going on for me.
And yes, there are definitely still moments and days where I feel like I don’t have “enough” time. For me, this is usually a sign I’m pushing myself a little too hard and not giving myself a break. We feel most overwhelmed when we’re tired. It’s such a simple but true fact. It may also mean I’m pushing myself to do a task I don’t really want to do, or enjoy doing. In this case, I’ll take a step back, go for a walk around the block, or send my lovely assistant an email: Send help!
After 5 years of working this out for myself, here are some of my tips and lessons on how to make the space to be fully booked and fully creative:
Remember, having enough time is a mindset, not something that just happens to us
If you feel pinched for time, on some level, you’re doing it to yourself. Breathe that in for a gentle moment. Now, what can you shift, change around or let go of? You probably don’t have to do it all today (or by yourself).
Boundary setting is important but be mindful your boundaries aren’t a brick wall to your growth and potential
In the past, I’ve set clear, firm boundaries to ensure I kept my energy high and protected. This was mostly always a positive thing, but some past experiences of burning out because I was trying to be fully creative and fully booked without the appropriate self-care and time off had left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. It had left me with the mindset that there was no way in helllllls I could do both. This sometimes meant I felt closed off to attracting new clients or attracting a fully booked calendar, because on a subconscious level, this was protecting me from my fear of not having time to be creative.
For me, kinesiology has been imperative in helping me to clear that. Let’s work together if you’d like to shift some blocks too.
Breaks sitting in front of the computer don’t count
Okay friends, I’m still learning this one alongside you, but taking a break at your computer (emails, social media, something else) is not a break. Even if you’re doing a quick spot of online shopping, it’s not a real, true, energetic break. Get up and get away and get out.
Give yourself more time than you think you need
If you think you might need a month to write your next eBook, give yourself twice that amount of time. If you finish it earlier, you’ll feel great, but if you need to extend the first deadline, you might get all McJudgey on yourself. If you have an hour’s break between clients, it’s maybe not the best time to sit down and start writing your next eBook.
You might want to brainstorm some ideas, but make sure you also spend some time recharging between clients. I never really work on big creative projects on the days I see clients, unless I know I have the morning off to do so, with clients booked in for the afternoon. But sitting down to get stuck into writing with a client arriving in 25mins does not a healthy blog post make! Ah, I feel stressed just writing that!
On the flip side, remember you can still write and create in the cracks in between. Just maybe not in every crack in between. Leave some to chill.
Make it really easy for yourself to be creative
This is some simple (tough-ish) love: Male space for your muse to show up, and when she does, sit down and do the work.
Also, when she doesn’t arrive but you’ve made the time to create, sit down and do the work anyway.
Make it really easy for your clients to book in
It’s not 2010 anymore – you don’t need to spend a week going back and forth on emails with clients when booking them in. Set up online bookings and let your clients book in online, at any time. They can also reschedule their own appointments. Simples!
If your booking system doesn’t have online bookings, switch to using one that does. I use Acuity* as my booking system as it’s brilliant for when clients in different time zones need to book in. Bookeo and Sartori are a few other great options.
Let yourself do nothing (or something else) some days
You don’t need to schedule every hour of every working day with work (whether it’s creative or client work). Spend a morning in a cafe. Go to a late morning yoga class. Do some errands in the middle of your day to break it up. Live a rich life outside of your work, even if your work feels like it’s who you are… there are other parts of yourself you need to nurture and honour too.
Look after yourself… properly
If you’re depleted on any level, you can be quite sure you won’t have a fully booked calendar and you won’t feel as freely creative as you may like to. You must look after yourself first – your clients will feel this, and your muse will feel this.
If you’re fully booked and feeling fully burnt out…
This can be a call for you to do several things: take a look at how many client sessions you’re opening each week, and get clear on if those times still feel nurturing. Are you seeing clients until 9pm? Maybe you don’t have to do that. Are you seeing clients every Saturday? Maybe you can switch to every second Saturday… or take weekends off completely.
Your clients will book in when your calendar has availability, so if you’re opening lots of spots that makes it feel as if you’re not honouring yourself, take another look and make sure the times you have open for clients are times that suit your schedule and life too. If you’re getting so incredibly booked and finding it hard to manage, it can also be a call to raise your prices.
You may also need to look at creating a waiting list for clients. This might mean you simply take their name and email and get in touch when you have more availability, or you let them know they can book in with you now, but their first appointment may be in a couple of months due to availability. If this doesn’t feel right to them, be gracious enough to refer them to someone else who you know and recommend.
There are so many layers to creating and loving your fully booked, fully creative business life. This is just a snapshot, and I’ll add to this post as new insights come to me on my own journey with this too.
I’d love to know what you thought of this post, and if you have any ideas and tips of your own.
Please let me know in the comments below.
And if you have any friends who you think might resonate with these insights, please share with them.
Let’s all invest our energy in creative and client work that feels good to us, that nourishes and sustains us, and that helps us all rise, reaching our potential, living on purpose, and knowing we’re on the right path (because, we are).
And lastly, if you’d like some support and guidance as you build, grow and sustain your business, here are some ways we can work together:
* I’m an affiliate for my Acuity system so I may earn a small commission (about… $5) if you sign up through my link.