Scheduling for Your Success with Gene Schwartz’s Help

“Anger is the only thing to put off till tomorrow.” Slovakian proverb

Michael Masterson is without a doubt the goal-setting master. And he has covered this very important aspect of business success many times in ETR. But I recently had two experiences that made me want to write about goal setting from my perspective as a coach for the American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) copywriting  program.

The first experience was in going through the Gene  Schwartz Breakthrough Advertising Graduate Program. The second was a communication from one of my coaching proteges. We’ll call her Maggie.

Maggie was having trouble getting work done on an assignment. It wasn’t for lack of skill. She is a very skilled writer. It wasn’t for lack of desire. She truly wants to succeed as a copywriter.

Maggie told me she really wanted to work on her assignment but she couldn’t find the time. She’s helping a group of women in her community make a quilt to raise money for a young cancer patient. And she’s cooking for her sorority’s annual dinner. And her mother-in-law is very ill. And, of course, she’s got her 9-to-5 job …

You get the image. Maggie is a busy woman, committed to helping others. But lost in this scramble is her dream of being a full-time, successful copywriter.

The dilemma many entrepreneurs face: not enough time

And this is where Gene Schwartz comes in. Schwartz was one of the most successful marketers in history. He built Boardroom and Rodale Books into businesses that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars annually. And he helped dozens of other businesses achieve multi-million-dollar success.

With that many notches on his belt, you’d expect Gene Schwartz to be a workaholic. By his own admission, though, he worked less than 27 hours per week.

How did he do it? How did he achieve such enormous success in just 27 hours per week? How did he have so much free time to do other things he wanted to do?

What did he do that Maggie is failing to do?

Maggie is not scheduling for her success.

Your goals are only as good as the specific objectives you establish to reach those broader goals. Those objectives are only as effective as the tasks you establish to accomplish them. And those tasks will not get done if you do not schedule your time to do them.

If you want to reach the success you are planning, you must establish a strict, reasonable, written daily schedule.

Start by looking at all the demands on your time. Some – like your present job – give you no choice as to when you can do them. Block out those times.

Next, look at the hours that are left. Block out at least three of those open hours, five days a week, as “success time.” This is time you’re going to use to build your new business and your new life.

Then, fill in all the other things that you have to – and want to – do. Rotary from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays. Hospice  volunteering from noon to two on Saturdays.

Make sure the “have to” tasks are things that you really have to do. If there’s something that you simply feel obligated to do … stop doing it. (And it won’t be easy.) If, for example, being a member of her community’s quilting bee is nothing more than an obligation for Maggie that she doesn’t especially enjoy, she’s going to have to drop out.

Your biggest enemy in establishing and following a schedule will be you. You have to make a commitment to stick with it. Tell family and friends that the time you’ve scheduled for success is inviolable. (See Word to the Wise, below.) Tell yourself as well. No phone calls, no Internet, no interruptions not directly related to helping you achieve your goals.

Be honest with yourself. Do you really want success? If you do, you will establish a strict, but reasonable, schedule – in writing. And you’ll do it today.

[Ed. Note: Will Newman is the editor of “The Golden Thread,” AWAI’s e-letter for members of its copywriting program.]