I’ve heard a lot lately about not wanting to be “booked out.” Influencers and online biz owners have been sharing their thoughts on why they don’t want a full calendar and why they choose not to take on more clients or projects.
Honestly, I’m all for people defining what their business and their days look like. Good on them. But there’s a lot of discourse around the idea that being booked out isn’t the goal — and I want to speak to that a bit.
Because being “booked out” doesn’t have to mean that every spare minute of your days are spent on client work or tasks. It doesn’t mean your cup overfloweth. It doesn’t mean you don’t have time to enjoy yourself or relax.
Being booked up means filling your capacity — and you define your capacity.
Defining your own capacity
Want to know the beautiful thing about being business owners, side hustlers, freelancers, agency owners, or whatever we call ourselves? We have the right and the ability to set our own schedules.
That means that, when we create schedules or boundaries around our work hours and the projects we take on, we automatically redefine being “booked out.” Think of it as capacity — These are the hours I am willing to work/These are the number of projects I can sustain. Once those hours or projects are taken, you get to use that time on work and the rest of your time on internal business projects, reading, LARPing, whatever floats your boat.
The value of energy-centered scheduling
First and foremost: I want to mention that just because you have the hours, doesn’t mean you should fill them. Especially if you’re neurodiverse, disabled, or have any other constraints on your time, booking out your services or projects based on time alone is a recipe for disaster.
Instead, let’s look at energy as a guide for your schedule. That requires:
- Being honest about what you’re capable of
- Finding a rhythm with your calendar
- Creating room for flexibility
Look at the number of hours you usually work or the number of projects you take on. Now, think about your energy during those hours and weeks. Are you sensing that anything is too much? Do you have more capacity for specific work that lights you up?
With that in mind, let’s move to the next step.
Time for some math
Now that we’re working on defining capacity for ourselves, it’s time to do something very un-Megan-like: Math.
Know your income needs
First up, I like to start with what I want to make a month. This includes your basic necessities (like rent, food, gas, Kindle books, new ADHD hobbies, etc.) as well as any additional money you want to bring in. You know, for fancy things like an emergency fund, savings, vacations, and family or house planning.
Take that number — your ideal income number — and set it aside for a minute.
Know your capacity
Now, let’s think about your actual capacity. How much can you work in a day and how much do you want to work in a day? (These are usually very different numbers and they usually depend on the type of work you do.)
For example, if you are a web designer who offers VIP days, you may only want to do 2 projects a week because you know they’ll take you about 6 hours a day to fully complete. That’s 30 hours a week if you follow a traditional M-F model.
If you work as a therapist, though, you might know you can only work Monday and Wednesday mornings while the kids are at school. That means you could book 3 sessions on those two days, for a total of 6 hours a week (not including your session notes, billing, etc.).
Also remember to take into account your energy. If you know that you are just coming back from vacation one week, it might be better to book only 1 project. If you are dealing with health challenges, leave room for “bad days” in your schedule.
Do some more math
Now that you know how much you want to make a month, let’s divide that by your actual capacity. Break down what you need to make per month or year by week — 4 weeks a month or 52 weeks a year. Let’s say you need to make $50,000. That works out to about $961 a week.
If you can take on 2 VIP day projects a week, that means you’ll need to charge $480 a VIP day at least. If you want to take into account all of your other expenses, like healthcare, taxes, etc. you’ll want to bump that number even higher. But I’m not a math teacher, so I’ll leave it at this.
If you’re doing the math and realizing that you won’t make enough money to hit your “ideal income goals” with your current booked projects or clients, you’ll have to decide: Do you want to increase rates, or take on another/more projects? OR can you do anything to cut expenses at home or in your business so you don’t have to sacrifice more of your time.
Look at your offers
There’s something else that happens when we look at our packages and our capacity: We realize that one offer, in particular, drives the most revenue and lets us have the most freedom. For example, the web designer with the VIP day knows they only have to work with a client for 2 days to fully deliver on their needs. That means they 1. Make the money they need to live comfortably 2. Aren’t overwhelmed by projects.
It can also work in the reverse, where someone like the therapist realizes they’re at capacity — they have only 6 hours a week to deliver 1:1 sessions and they’re only making $600 doing so. That means they’re short hundreds of dollars. That therapist might need to find other ways to make money within their capacity (and without exceeding it). This person might decide to offer group sessions, offer virtual therapy sessions on other days, or even create a course for their particular specialty.
It’s not about being over-capacity, it’s about fulfilling work that pays
If you’re doing the math and realizing that you’re overcapacity, underpaid, or just not feeling aligned with the work you’re doing in the time you have dedicated, that’s a lot to process.
This is part of why I wanted to dig into the concept of “being booked out” — because everyone should define this differently. And being booked out might look different based on the type of work or package you offer.
If you need to take a look at your offers and find a new structure that gives you back more of your time (and maybe brings you more money home), I’d love to help.
My Offer Architect VIP Intensive and Renovate Intensives are an exploration + development of the best offer for your business, your people, and your capacity. Together, we will get clear on exactly what your “booked out” offer is, how to build it, and how to integrate into your current offer suite.
During either of these intensives, you’ll bring your vision and the current state of your offer suite to the table — and I’ll translate it all into a sustainable offer that blends service, community, and impact.
Over the course of one (1) 4-hour call, we’ll pinpoint the right offer for your brand, your people, and your bandwidth. Then, you’ll receive a guide and your “Offer Orders,” outlined by yours truly to make sure you bring this new offer to life.
Ready to feel “booked out” with being burnt out? Apply here to see if I can help!