Are you overwhelmed by the demands of running your Early Childhood Education business? In this three-part series on the Honest Buck Accounting blog, we feature practical guidance for creating more margin in your life as a childcare professional and business owner. In the following guide, learn five actionable ways you can create more margin in your work schedule, beginning today. Read on to find out more.
What Is Margin?
In his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard Swenson, M.D. describes margin like this:
Margin is the space between our loads and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.
Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded, we have no margin.
Michael Hyatt, esteemed entrepreneur, author, podcaster, blogger, and speaker, adds:
Margin is not something that just happens. You have to fight for it.
If your work schedule has you feeling frazzled and overwhelmed on the regular, you need to create more margin in your schedule. Following are five practical ways to do just that.
1 – Track Your Time
How much time do you spend on various tasks throughout your workday? You can find out by using a time tracker app or time tracker browser extension. These tools will help you log the minutes and hours you devote to different responsibilities, like answering emails, ordering supplies, filing paperwork, updating your social media pages, and many other administrative tasks.
Spend a week tracking your time. Then set aside time at the end of the week to review where all your time went. What do you observe? Where are you spending too much time? Where are you spending too little time? Let your observations help you re-evaluate what you spend your time on during the work week and where you can cut back to free up more time and create more margin.
2 – Choose Your Top Priorities
Does it feel like there is never enough time in the workday to complete all the tasks you have set out to accomplish? The truth is, in business as well as in life, there will always be more things for us to do, more things to accomplish, work on, check off the list, etc. You can’t possibly do it all and do it all well. You need to prioritize.
Choose your top three to five items that need to get done today or this week. Then make those items your primary focus for the day and the week. When other tasks or disruptions in your work schedule crop up, evaluate them against your top priorities. Saying “yes” to other things in your work schedule is essentially saying “no” to your priorities. Reserve time especially for what’s most important to you.
3 – Delegate and Outsource
When you consider how your time is spent throughout a typical workday or work week, think about whether you can free up your schedule by delegating responsibilities to your childcare team or outsourcing services to professionals. The more items you can take off your daily or weekly schedule and leave in others’ capable hands, the more margin you will create for yourself. Remember to focus your time and energy on running your childcare business, not on various tasks that cause you to get lost inside of its day-to-day operations. Delegating and outsourcing can free you up to invest your focus where it most needs to be.
4 – Keep the Outcome in Mind
Look ahead to the end of the business day, week, or month. What do you hope to accomplish? What is most important to you? What does a successful workday, week, or month look like to you? Picture it in your mind and ask yourself what it’s going to take to get there. For example, if you decide your most important objectives this week are to meet with your CPA, write a job ad for a new employee, and research curricula for your new preschool program, create a plan for getting these things done. Schedule the meeting. Set apart quiet time for research. Decide when the best time is for you to focus on creating a stand-out job ad. Then, follow through.
5 – Know and Protect Your Limits
Finally, in order to create more margin in your schedule, you need to know and protect your limits. At what point do you become overwhelmed? How much is “too much” when it comes to what you can accomplish in any given day? How much mental, physical, and emotional capacity can you give to your responsibilities today, or this week, or in this season of your life? Only you can answer these questions. When you do, you will better understand and know your limits.
As a business owner, as with any healthy adult, you have a responsibility to protect the limits of your time, energy, and focus as they relate to your childcare work schedule. Your team, the families and children you serve, and the realities of owning and operating an Early Childhood Education business will undoubtedly make many demands of you. Protecting your limits by knowing what to say no to and what to say yes to will help you create and keep the margin you need in your schedule in order to flourish.
We hope these five practical ideas will help you make and maintain margin in your schedule so you can ultimately reduce overwhelm and set yourself up to thrive in business and life. Next time, we’ll take a look at five ways you can create more margin in your childcare business budget.
The experts at Honest Buck Accounting offer professional accounting services especially designed for Early Childhood Education business owners. When you entrust the financial side of your business to us, you gain clarity, peace of mind, and an opportunity to grow a more profitable company with less stress. Schedule a call with us to find out more about our services.