Three things to do when your work schedule goes off track

So this week did not go as expected!

I expected to be working all week at one of the clinics where I have a part time presence, but that didn’t happen. And the way I work, no presence equals no income…or at least not the income I expected.

Because I wasn’t scheduled anywhere else, I found myself with a free week on my hands, and nothing lined up to fill in. When you only have a part time income flow in the first place, every week’s income is important.

My goal is always to keep income and expenses in sync. In other words, I don’t want to find that I’m dipping into savings for my day-to-day needs. I want to fund myself with the income I make from my “day job” and on the side, I create…books, websites, courses…with the goal that eventually, my digital work will replace the day job. But until then, I still need the clinic work. However, just because I’m not working for immediate income doesn’t mean I don’t work.

It just means I’m working this week for my future, and the income that will eventually come, because of what I’ve done this week.

Don’t let your time go to waste! Just because no one is paying you for your time today doesn’t mean you won’t be paid for it. But you have to be disciplined and on-task to make that happen! Here’s what you do.

With unexpected “free” time on my hands, I split my week into three parts, and this is my recommendation for anyone who’s making a transition, whether you’re trying to grow a business on the side, like me, or you’re literally between jobs.

ONE: Set productivity goals!

What do you do with an unexpected windfall of time? If you have an appointment that cancels, you may find yourself with an extra 30 minutes to use. Sometimes those small windows of “found” time can be a perfect opportunity to take a mental break, take walk to clear your thoughts, or even run a quick errand to free time later in your week.

But when a whole week opens up? That’s too much time to fritter away! But it would be oh, so easy to do just that! I knew I had to have a plan, or I would find myself on Friday afternoon with a week’s less income, and nothing much to show for it. However much I enjoy hanging out on Pinterest or Facebook, that’s not going to grow my business or give me any substantive return. I made a plan for my time so I would feel good at the end of my week instead of frustrated.

I looked at the personal projects I wanted to work on and set some goals for what I would complete this week. I made a promise to myself that I would finish the pre-work for a new course, complete two blog posts, and research some technical issues. By setting goals I achieved:

  • finished work I can plug into my site immediately
  • I had time to work on a program that will be coming out soon
  • I had time to connect with people during business hours

TWO: Look to the future!

I have some training sessions I’ve been meaning to get to. These are in the form of online classes that I could access anytime, anywhere. I decided to power through the material, since I had time to focus and absorb the lessons. It was one of the best things I’ve done in a long time…really re-set my attention on the direction I want to go, and gave me a lot of new information to work with. So this week I’ve achieved:

  • Exposure to new tools and knowledge
  • Time to experiment and work with the tools I’ve been introduced to
  • Re-energized myself by acquiring new skills and enthusiasm for work I love

THREE: Review the plan!

When I find myself derailed…not working a week I expected to, or a significant glitch occurs, it’s an opportunity for me to review my plan, my strategy, and decide if I need to make an adjustment of some sort. To be honest, this week’s gap in income wasn’t too stressful. I have plenty of work lined up, so in more ways than one it was a greater gift of time than a loss of income.

But I think it’s always good, when something like this happens, to do a review of where I am, with my overall sense of what’s happening. I don’t have to take a lot of time to do this, but going through a check can both reassure me, and alert me to something I might want to do differently. I look at three things with these reviews:

  • Where am I with my short-term and long-term goals? Am I tracking according to the time lines I set for myself with the projects I’ve committed to?
  • How am I doing financially? The little hits and big misses can add up fast, and I need to be sure I’m not getting off track without realizing it. When I know my financial picture inside and out, I can adjust discretionary commitments, and I consider if I need to add work or look at changing my financial strategy to meet my goals.
  • What’s my overall sense of contentment? I don’t expect life to be perfect, certainly not with regard to work and money…there are good surprises and bad surprises, and I’m wise enough to know that. But I want to be sure I’m still feeling good about my overall direction, my big plan. If I am, all is well. If I begin to have a recurring sense that I’ve gotten off-track, it may be time to seriously consider what I want to change to get back to a good place.

So that’s it…make a plan for what you can accomplish now, put some time and preparation toward the future, and take stock of today’s status.

You’ll feel good about what you’ve done in the moment, you’ll know you’re building your future, and you’ll either feel reassured, or recognize a need to re-set, when you self-assess.

Not a bad way to spend a week!




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