I was busy and I needed a productivity hack that would help me progress.
Do you put you needs last?
Me? I used to say “I’ll do that when I’ve finished XYZ” or “I’ll do all my calls first thing that way they’re done and dusted”.
This method held me back and didn’t work.
The problem is that when I’ve spent a huge chunk of the day focusing on other peoples businesses I get swamped by their details, their progress and by the time it comes to doing it for me, I have no energy and it’s always last minute. What did I do?
Altering my productivity strategy had a really positive effect.
Work starts at 10am. I don’t take any calls until at least 11am and I don’t do any client work until after lunch.
I’m better in my business when I get to spend time with it first thing in the day. Concerned it would be detrimental to my client work it’s actually the opposite. Not worrying about mine means I’m great at theirs.
Why was this damaging?
Making elaborate time blocked plans but filled my day with my client work, none of mine.
Treated them as if they were more important than me and when it comes to mindset that creates a whole other mess!
Great clients but little consistency for my business. 100% focused on existing clients and hadn’t expanded my audience.
Spending the day ‘over delivering’ for my clients but reactive in my own and mentally drained.
Not anymore though.
My current schedule
5-6:00: Get up, have a cup of tea and do 20-30 minutes of exercises which vary from day to day
7:00: Have breakfast and just mentally plan my day and allow my mind to wander – give myself space to think and be creative
7:30: Housework and social media engagement with others
9:00: When possible I take the dog for a walk then shower and get myself ready for the day ahead
10:00: Emails, diary check and prepare social media. Make sure Josh is organised for his ‘school work’
11:00: Client call (Tues/Weds/Thurs). If no call booked I work on research, proposals and pitching.
13:00: Client work
15:00: Coffee and quick housework (get washing off line etc)
16:00: Complete works, follow ups and client related project work. Also, this is the time I start getting harassed by my son and dog about what’s for dinner and wanting my time
17:30: Finish up for the night and go make dinner, finish chores and read or watch TV with Ryan and Josh.
Rarely do I do any client work on a Monday or Friday either. These days are solely for content creation and driving my own business forward. It works for me.
Perhaps you feel you can’t do it. I’m not perfect at it either. Maybe you think you just can’t ‘productivity hack’ your way to a different schedule or you already use some productivity hacks and find them helpful, I still ‘time block’ but it’s different.
If things aren’t working for you right now then I encourage you to take a look at your schedule. Map out what you do every day for a week and make a note of what you’re not getting done that is ESSENTIAL.
Finding time to prioritise your own businesses is the best thing you can do, that’s not a productivity hack but a better use of your time.
In lock-down it is harder to maintain but I urge you to try anyway. Working in a way that prioritises your business, whether it’s a ‘productivity hack’ or not, the quality you provide your clients will increase because you’ve got the mental space to allow it to. It’s your schedule.
Remind yourself of this. Doing exceptional work for your clients means nothing if you have to hustle for business because you haven’t nurtured your potentials.
What do you think?
Join my mailing list and I’ll email every Monday to help you set yourself up for the week – the right way!
I wanted to share with you 5 things that can easily help improve your business right now because it’s important to still do the things you can right?
It’s been a minute since all this pandemic stuff really started to hit home and there’s still so much noise about what to expect in these ‘unprecedented times’. Lots of should, clouds and woulds and it can be overwhelming.
I got you!
That’s right, the most important thing you can be doing for your business right now is actually the most important thing you could be doing for yourself on a personal level too. This is a great time to look after your physical and mental health in ways that you feel are too difficult when you’re running around all over the place. So make sure you are getting good sleep, good nutrition (with some treats in there too of course) and staying well hydrated.
If you can get away with not setting an alarm don’t
Linger in the bath or shower longer than normal
Switch off your electronics a good 30 minutes to an hour before bed to give your brain a chance to rest
Make sure you breathe. We actually only use a small amount of lung capacity when we breath and deep breathing (even just in for 4 out for 4, 4 or 5 times) will really make a difference. It’s good for anxiety, headaches, tension and energy
If your business is still functioning and you’ve not been furloughed then you will need this more than ever. Put YOU first and this will have a ripple effect and improve your business. It WILL thank you for it.
#2 Get Creative!
This is a great way to support yourself and your business right now. We all know consistency and visibility rely on content so change up your routine a bit and batch create a shed load of content in your preferred format. Today this blog post is one of at least 8-10 that I intend to write. I will also then check through for snippets I can use on instagram posts and my intention is to also record a version of this too so that I have an audio I can send to my email list. Not on the list? Then Subscribe!
When you do this you can take some of the pressure off you by not being on the content creation wheel every week, it enables you to find more time and it also means that the people who are interested in what you do can see you consistently showing up for free for them. Staying in the forefront of peoples minds will serve you well.
#3 Fill your mind with things for pleasure and it will Improve Your Business
Yes I advocate learning, training etc (see point 4!), but I also think it’s important to spend time taking in other interesting things. It’s so easy to unintentionally repeat the message of your mentors, peers and ‘competition’ when you’re creating your own content because all of us spend so much time watching what they’re doing. It’s great to learn and be inspired but sometimes it hampers our vision and that then gets spread in the messages we are sharing in our content.
So read fiction or books written that don’t delve into your business or business at all. Watch movies that make you laugh or think but aren’t about building a business and follow some people on social media that have zero to do with your business but have inspiring accounts.
You’ll find this awakens your imagination and helps boost your own business creativity.
#4 Get better at what you do
Hone your expertise, learn that little extra that will help you and your business out and really use it in your business. Build on your existing skills, learn that new one that will take something in your business to the next level and really double down on becoming an expert in it.
None of us know everything there is to know, so learn and improve your business!
#5 Improve Your Business by spending time with the people that have invested in you.
I wholeheartedly believe that if people give you their email address, their follow and their comments then they are having a transactional experience with you. These guys and your paying clients are already miles ahead in the ‘know, like and trust’ mentality and that deserves your time. So,
Talk to your email list, answer their questions, share tools and information that they will find useful
Like, comment and share posts of your followers that resonate with you – engage, engage, engage – get to know them!
Offer thoughtful insights to your existing clients and make sure you’re supporting them to the best of your ability. Make sure they feel valued.
This last point is one of my favourites, if you’ve been here for any length of time you’ll know that I encourage exceptional customer service and how it will improve your business. Exceptional service can take many forms. In fact, I wrote a blog post about it that you may find useful.
Achieving any goal requires some effort on your part and if you want to get methodical about it then I highly recommend a bit of a goal setting session (Ahhh, I remember when back in the day a session involved far too much snakebite and lots and lots of dancing)
It all starts with figuring out:-
1) What you REALLY want and why?
2) What has to happen for you to get it/there?
After that it’s about working backwards.
Some coaches I know refer to this as the desire, drive and do method which I think is pretty cool, I have a little love for calling it the Spice Girl method (tell me what you want, what you really really want).
First is my favourite step because you can go alllll out and it can also reignite your inner child a little – remember those days when you would play games with your friends and/or siblings and would be pretending to be grown ups and the time would fly by and you would sleep hard dreaming of what might be.
Anyway, this step requires that you get comfortable and start daydreaming. Keep your computer screen open or if you’re like me – a pen and paper to hand in case you need to note anything down and get to thinking about what you really, really want.
I know this imagination part can be tough, you might feel silly or unworthy but honestly, this is setting the foundations for your success in goal setting and it’s so important.
I remember the first time I chose to do this. I was alone and I felt embarrassed – can you believe that, embarrassed because I was giving voice to something I’d long ago buried.
My circumstances weren’t that great and I needed to change but I had no idea what to do to make that happen. This exercise was something I just learned to do for myself but over my years of study into self development it turned out that it was an actual method for building a life and business you love!
Let me be clear, it’s ok to be embarrassed or feel awkward but don’t let that put you off. If I hadn’t started that exercise 10 years ago, I would not be self employed with my own business, living in my own home in a town I love and feeling more content than I have ever felt.
I digress, give yourself time to daydream – not ages – but a healthy amount of time for this. I like to spend some quality time alone in the house with a vat of tea and my favourite biscuits. When I set myself some big goals back in September I was on holiday so at 5am I was on the balcony, daydreaming with a hot coffee and the sun on my face – it was bliss.
Whatever environment makes you feel relaxed and happy is the one you want to be in for this exercise.
I’m going to assume that you’re here because you want to set big goals for your business and find a way to make them achievable. So, I want you to use this daydreaming time to imagine where you see yourself and your business/career in 5-10 years. I’m an old hand at this so generally I start with imagining myself waking up in the morning. Where am I, how do I feel, what do I look like, what’s in my diary for the day etc. I imagine who I’m talking to and why, I imagine the day my family are having because of my level of business success and I imagine myself discussing or planning the week ahead too.
If you’re doing this now give yourself a good 30 minutes to imagine and then come back to me afterwards, you don’t need to jump ahead – this part of the process is invaluable.
Now another of my favourite things to do – brainstorming!
That’s right, write down everything you can think of that made you feel successful in your business. It can be big or small. Here are a couple of examples if you’re feeling weird again:
Checked my email and have had a booking confirmed for speaking at Youpreneur Live for next year, I am fully booked with speaking gigs a year in advance
I went to the office and discussed our next big ‘launch’ with my team
I had a gallery wall of all the magazine features I had been in
I have been asked to be an expert on XYZ show
My husband/wife/son/daughter/mum work with me in the business full time
I got a text off of XYZ to confirm our lunch date
I had a meeting with XYZ and we confirmed that I have been hired to XYZ for their…
You get the picture right?
This will look different for you depending on what your business is. For me, my vision often sees me retiring my family from their jobs (if they want to) and with them then working freelance with me in my business as it’s financially capable of supporting them.
I want you to write literally everything you can remember that made you feel like a success in your daydreaming session. I’ve even written down what I was wearing and what I could see out of my window. This level of detail is useful because it creates more form for your dreams and more form makes you feel like you can set them as goals.
If you’re a stationery lover like me, grab yourself a highlighter and highlight anything that will most likely need a year to come to pass. For me I assess long term goals as exceeding 12 months so here is where we start drawing our focus to the long term goals.
It’s probably a pretty busy list right now. Focus on the highlighted ones and take a good look (these are technically all of your long term goals) and take a moment to group items that are similar. When there are several similar items it can be more sensible to have them as 1 significant long term goal.
For instance several of the goals I mentioned above as examples relate to being recognised as an authority figure in the chosen industry – speaking gigs/guest expert/hired by a well known brand or person etc. I would therefore group them together at this stage and create 1 larger goal.
It’s time to choose and prioritise.
Now your list should be a fair bit smaller. I want you to number them consecutively – 1 being your highest priority and 2 the next highest and so on and so forth.
Let’s crack open your top priority now. This is the long term goal to go on your board and to actively work towards. (Keep all the others somewhere safe and remind yourself to take a look in a month or so – I like to take a look at them regularly as it helps me stay on track)
We need to really take a look at this top priority in depth because this next step is to identify 2 things that need to happen this year in order to move us closer to that goal.
Lets see, becoming an authority in my industry.
Here is an example of two things I can do that will take the duration of this next year and will make the biggest impact on that goal
Get featured in a popular and genre appropriate magazines/newspapers/podcasts – PR
Build a highly engaged following on Social Media – Visibility
Here we have it. These are my two long term goals for this year for my business. Of course there are tonnes more that I *want* to achieve but these are the two linked to my highest priority goal.
Breakdown the goals into lots of actions you can take – these then allow you to do something towards that goal every single day – these smaller actions are the real needle movers.
Some will be one offs, some will be regular but the key is to making them manageable. (if they’re not manageable, they’re not actionable)
For example a bad action point would be ‘Earn 100k on one launch’ – that’s because it’s not actually an action but is in fact the consequence of other actions.
An example of a good action would be – reach out to the ‘podcasts/magazines/newspapers’ and ask what they require from me in order to be featured.
A recurring action would be – do a weekly live to share and showcase my experience etc.
As you take these small actions you’re going to progress along the path to your long term goal. That means that you’ll learn more, understand more and you will need to add more or reevaluate old actions. So review regularly, I like to do this once a month – personally it just helps me get excited for the month ahead and appreciate the changes in the month just gone.
This method of breaking down your major goals will help to keep you inspired and it will also give you something that you refer back to when you’re struggling, confused or simply reviewing.
Okay I admit it, I’m definitely a ‘blossoms under positive reinforcement’ kind of a girl. This means that if I find it hard to see the needle move I can get easily discouraged (FYI this apparent slow progress is normal when you set long term goals because the needle moves behind the scenes way more than it does up front to start with)
So I use these ‘actionable steps’ to set milestones and I celebrate when I hit them, they are my way of reminding myself that what I’m doing may be small but it is also mighty.
Dinner out at fave quality restaurant when I reach 50(100/1000/10000) email subscribers
A spa day when you hit a certain number of words written in your book
A bottle of favourite wine when you hear back from the newspaper/podcast/magazine with the information you need
A midweek day off when you have 50 people in your Facebook group
Etc. etc. Milestone celebrations are uniquely personal to you. Mine would mostly consist of eating out.
If you’re struggling with figuring this all out by yourself I have a great mentorship package. Register (with no obligation) for information on the next availability by clicking SIGN UP TODAY.
One of the things you have taught me is that this freelance/small business/start up journey is one of many pathways and options.
It’s a bit like building a house and in that respect it’s really important to start with really solid foundations. There is a whole process to starting, building or expanding an existing business or freelance career but the first step really is all about creation.
Anyone that dreams of building a business is a creator but sometimes the creative mind can be so full of fizz and energy with lots of ideas that it’s hard to focus and really get momentum.
Taking a look at these ideas and beginning the process of turning them into actual things really is what this first ‘foundation’ building step is all about. It’s a skill you can learn and a tool you can use no matter what stage you’re at it’s all about taking your idea out of your head and making it concrete – giving it an existence.
Giving it an existence means that it begins to have form. It’s out of your head and written down on paper. It is what will ultimately enable you to get incredible clarity on what you need to do in order to make it happen.
I think one of the goals of all this is to make sure you’re enjoying the process as much as its success – treat it like something fun and it makes the methodology, the work so much more vibrant, achievable and doable.
It’s all about having fun, creating clarity and finding out what tools you’re going to need.
Creation – taking your idea and making it concrete.
Why is this so important?
Frankly, we all have a gazillion million pound ideas but having a great idea in your head is just a fantasy. If you don’t give it an existence and support that with actionable steps you don’t have the million pounds, you just have a great idea.
Personally I believe it’s one of the most significant steps and because it’s so basic you’ll notice that a lot of people skip it entirely.
The instinct is to say you have an idea then run with it and it’s messy and hard and like climbing up a hill backwards in tar or you don’t really do anything with it at all.
It is a teachable skill (you’ve probably already been taught it). We all know you can’t be an Olympic gymnast without learning the basics and working them hard! It’s the same with your idea – you need to do the basics and work them hard too.
It will help to stop you feeling like you’re being reactive instead of proactive, it will make you feel like you are more together with it and understand and retain the intrinsic value of your idea.
Implementing a habit of fleshing out your ideas will give you a better understanding of the business side of what you’re planning to do which means that you are creating space to focus on your zone of genius.
It helps you waste less time, helps you maintain your energy and really does reduce the tasks that really aren’t going to get you anywhere.
Even better, you will absolutely learn from your own process and it’s associated success.
There are 6 basic steps to this process and you’ll already know some of them
I call it the springboard method:
Step 1: HAVE THE IDEAS
Step 2: BRAINSTORM All OF THEM – SELECT 1
Step 3:-RESEARCH YOUR IDEA
Step 4: CREATE ACTIONABLE STEP(S)
Step 6: MONITOR AND ANALYSE
Step 7: RINSE AND REPEAT
Basically put this set of steps is going to be how you know what you need to do.
Simple right? Basic even? So, why don’t more people do it? Because we like to over-complicate it. We think the key to our success is rooted in the algorithm but it’s rooted in nailing the basics.
It’s easier to nail them when you have someone to do them with. If you’re interested, I’m hold FREE masterclasses and webinars. If you want to register for more information click below on SIGN UP TODAY.
Growing up the phrase ‘I need to find myself’ made me think of backpacking to Nepal, finding religion or giving away all my worldly possessions and whilst I admire anyone that does those things, I’ve definitely never been that girl.
But what happens when you’re in your mid (ok late) 30s and realise that you have no bloody clue about your life, your business or your money? Did I suddenly find myself selling my crockery on a Facebook for sale page to get the plane ticket money together? Was Nepal looming big and bright like a monk on top of a mountain in the golden sunshine during a glorious morning chant?
Eurgh, how could I be so sure about other peoples businesses but not truly understand my own self and how that self should be the foundation for my own freelancing career?
When I was a child I used to write down my biggest dreams, fold them up and place them behind a beloved picture. I was just a child but I’d read about it somewhere and, eager to meet a 6ft 5 dark haired, blue eyed, academic engineer (I was very particular about that – I even think his name was Michael) I diligently began the practice of writing down my dreams.
I would go to school all awkward in my silver puffer jacket all curly hair and long legs, wearing my jodhpurs or mens black nike jogging bottoms (I have been over 6ft since I was 11 – it was not easy to find uniform) desperately doing anything I could to be forgettable and blend into the background, being best mates with all the boys whilst secretly wishing that either of the Jasons would fall head over heels in love with me.
At school I was this awkward girl who was friends with everyone and was kind and nice and mostly forgettable. At home, I wrote all my deepest desires and said all of the things I had left unspoken during the day on those pieces of paper. I would clip them behind the pictures in my bedroom, hoping and wishing that their awesomeness would somehow seep off the page and into my body as I slept.
You are shaped from birth but there comes a time when it’s a choice
As I became an adult it was like having an angel and a devil on my shoulder. Part of me longed to explore life, relationships, careers and would go barrelling headfirst into all those experiences (at weekends these were mostly fuelled by snakebite and Jack Daniels with the occasional aftershock and sambuca thrown in for good measure) with the power of booze flowing through my body I would be confident and fun and refused to be kept in the shadows.
I even spent one of those nights sucking face with one of the Jasons. It was teenage Amys biggest wish and though it was lovely it was also pretty average – the earth did not move, the fireworks did not go off and I most definitely did not have anything more than surface level attraction for a time gone by.
Why couldn’t I figure out who I was?
The problem I had in figuring out who I was, was that when I was sober for the working week I was incredibly shy, bored most of the time and I had awfully low self confidence. I lived in such a way that I separated my week into three very separate areas – exhausted necessity (work), family and home and unadulterated fun (pub/clubs). Oh and the key to this – those lives never met.
I guess the problem I found was that whilst I was masking myself in one area and being brazen in another in order to present to that world the Amy who I thought people wanted, I was fracturing my spirit a little and it was becoming ever harder for me to figure out whether I was one or the other, let alone a complicated mix of the three.
Over the years to follow I found that I wasn’t sure about myself in a lot of ways.
What genre of music did I like?
What career suited me best?
What did I want to do with my free time?
What kind of food did I like?
What did I want to contribute to my community?
What made me happy?
What did I do just for fun?
Honestly, I had no bloody idea and frankly the fear I felt when I found myself asking these questions made me shove them firmly in a box and lock it shut.
What happened next
As I got older, built a career and created a family based on this fractured, boxed off self image and its fractured, boxed off dreams I began to unravel.
Long story short I cycled through everything, homes, relationships, money, friendships and jobs. I could never truly understand why but I used it as another opportunity to label myself as a failure.
Unlovable, incapable and just a poor version of what I thought people would consider an acceptable Amy.
As luck would have it I came to a weird crossroads later in my life (not that many years ago) where I was slapped in the face with my own self. I wouldn’t have called it luck at the time, I would have called it burnout and heartbreak then but now I can see it for what it was.
It was time to meet the real Amy and figure out what I wanted in this life.
I started exploring doing different things, going to different places as well as being different things.
I learned I like all music genres depending on my mood.
I learned that I wanted a career in which I supported women building their businesses but I wanted to do that on my terms, with flexibility and the ability to work from home (or anywhere with an internet connection). I also wanted the ability to pivot, change, learn and evolve as I would no doubt do in my life.
I learned I am for the most part a homebody.
Me and my waistline learned that I love most food but that Greek, a Sunday roast or something Mexican will nearly always win me over if it’s on the menu.
I learned that I wanted to be of service to my local community though I had and still have no idea how I want to do that.
I learned that an inviting home, eating with my loved ones and working for myself makes me feel happy.
I also learned I love to listen to podcasts, read books, drive my car, laugh with a handful of friends, be touristy wherever I go as well as just sitting quietly alone and enjoying the peace are some of the things I enjoy just for fun.
What I also found was that in starting my business without really understanding the kind of person I am I floundered a little longer than I needed to. Oh it was all in the learning curve and my first year was pretty successful in my opinion but the way with which I had structured it had been through fear, exactly in the same way I had split into 3 different people.
This meant that I had little to no flexibility, had ended up working predominantly with men and had little time dedicated to my freelancing/business/professional growth. It was not quite the right fit and I felt sectioned off again into little boxes.
Figuring out who I am has been fundamental to being able to implement processes and share my business and skills with my clients. It does it in such a way that it maximises the benefit of my business to both parties and as I begin this next chapter, I am working it in alignment with who I am. More so than ever before.
I don’t have all the answers but I know that when you figure out what, who and why you light up and what, who and why you feel drained (I believe these are the simplest yet most powerful questions) you can mould your business model to make the most of it and we all know that time flies and joy expands when you are living and working in an environment designed for your own growth and happiness.
The most interesting thing about all this is that who you are is not a static thing but in fact is a gently flowing river that constantly ebbs and flows. The joy should be taken not in getting to the other side of the river but in fact by enjoying the nuances of the flowing water and embracing them.
I’ve invested in coaching and it has really been fundamental to changing my mindset. If you want a more cost efficient way of doing this have you thought about a mentor? I offer a great Mentorship package. If you register for more details you get updated on the info and availability. You’re under no obligation – just click below and SIGN UP TODAY.