Work Life Balance – When Your Personal Life Throws Up Roadblocks

Stay Calm and Reframe

Most women entrepreneurs are workaholics, type A personalities, or passion driven to an extreme. I think that is built into our DNA and part of why we become business owners in the first place. But every now and again life throws us curve balls and we need to be able to adjust to our new reality to be able to continue in our biz – and life.

If you are a new mom, a mom again, have an aging or ailing relative that needs your attention or the kids are out on summer vacation, your old schedule may be a thing of the past. Give yourself some grace. You don’t have to be superwoman all the time. Life will go on. Your business will go on (if you want it to) but perhaps at a different pace.

This might be too much information, but since some of you may be in a similar situation, I thought it was OK to share on such a personal level.

I’m the full-time caregiver for my very sick husband. He has had two strokes and suffers from advanced diabetes. As a result, he can no longer walk, has had some cognitive decline, and needs help in almost every aspect of his life.

I love my husband dearly and am happy and grateful to be able to care for him. But this was never what I thought this chapter of my life would look like.

If you are in the midst of one of these roadblocks, or adjustment periods, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Take care of yourself.

I did a post earlier on The importance of Self-Care. People kept telling me this and I’d say, “OK, I will.” But you know what? It’s crucial.

The first 3 months or so after his last stroke, I could not leave his side, let alone the house. But as he began to get stronger I could lift my head and look around. I was starting to feel trapped and exhausted, which did neither of us any good.

I started to plan lunches out with friends, a daily walk (Egad – did I need exercise!), and other excursions to keep my sense-of-self intact. I’m still struggling with this, but getting better at it as time goes on.

Adjust your personal expectations.

This may be specific to me, but I’m used to being a multi-tasking, hard-charging gal, with a lengthy to-do list and lofty goals. This has been the hardest adjustment for me, by far.

I’ve had to re-frame what I can and want to get done in a day since our reality is always changing. I may have several things planned, but if my husband is having a not-so-great day, all plans go out the window. I’m running my business from home and there are days when even my most important business tasks have to be put aside. Learning to “go with the flow” has been my most difficult challenge.

Adjust to your new reality.

If your new reality has some predictability (like kids on vacation from school, as an example), create a new schedule for this time that includes playtime with the kids and enjoying summer with them and scale back your business tasks. Take a fresh look at your calendar.

A good friend who was in the early stages of her 2nd pregnancy and her business admitted that the way she dealt with her reality was total denial. She hadn’t given a thought to how her business activities needed to change once the baby arrived – it was too overwhelming to think about.

We were in a Mastermind together and she was able to get support and ideas on how to move forward in a very positive way from the group. We created a plan for months 1-3 after the baby’s arrival and then 4-6 to help her ease into her new life and still maintain her business, with only a small blip in her business momentum.

Reframing: A key to work-life balance.

Work-Life balance isn’t a “thing”, it’s in a constant state of reframing. As our lives change, so will that balance. The key is to allow ourselves the flexibility to embrace the lows (not very productive, if at all) and the highs (when we are conquering worlds on all cylinders) with equanimity.

Get Out of Your Own Way – Obstacles to Biz Growth

8 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Part 1 of 2

Every business goes through stages, from the seed of an idea to startup, to increasing levels of maturity and growth. Each stage has its challenges, and none are easier than the last.

In those transition periods, things can feel out of control. Many of your carefully crafted processes are no longer working, and you and your business just feel like you are bursting at the seams.

These are growing pains, as my mom used to call it. Businesses, at all stages, have them.

After working with hundreds of small business owners in the past 7 years, here are the most common obstacles I’ve heard about time and time again, and what you can do about them. Do you hear yourself in any or all of these complaints?

1.“Everyone is starting a podcast (or virtual summit, or YouTube channel). I should too!”

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome can strike at any time, and at any and all stages of your business. When you look around you at your competitors or others that you feel are in your league, they seem to be doing more, accomplishing more, are more famous, earning more, doing more than you are.

Just stop. If you are still in business after a year or two, you are doing just fine. And you are enough!

Create a thoughtful, just-right-for-you strategic plan for your business and stick to it. Earmark new projects, platforms or courses for the next time you are in planning mode. This is your business. Design it for yourself, not everyone else.

2. “The only one who can do it is ME ME ME!”

You built this business by yourself and know every inch of it. You know what needs to be done and can do it faster and more accurately than anyone else. But if most of the tactical work is being done, or closely supervised by you, you are severely hampering your own growth. At some point, you will need to let go and train others to fill in for the majority of your functions, so that you can act as a true CEO.

What does that look like? It means building CEO time into your schedule. Block off a half-day each week, a full day each month, and perhaps a weekend each quarter for planning your future next steps. These are strategic planning blocks, not doing blocks. In fact a CEO doesn’t do much day-to-day doing. A CEO is creating content, finding and nurturing high level partnerships, planning and strategizing the future.

3. “I am EXHAUSTED”

Owning and running a business is not easy. We all know that. Especially in times of transition, it’s easy to run on all cylinders, work more than a normal workweek, and not pay attention to anything but your rapidly growing business. You will burn out, and your family and your business will suffer.

Before you get to that stage, build self-care into your schedule.   Decide what replenishes you. Is it time with your family, incorporating exercise into your life, a walk, reading a book, going to a movie? Schedule repeating blocks of time on your calendar and make this non-negotiable.

4. “My to-do list just grows and grows”

The common thread I see with female entrepreneurs at all levels of business is that they have forgotten the KISS principle (Keep it Simple, Sweetie). In the rush to find new revenue streams, build new packages and courses, new formats for their content, streamlining what’s already in place goes right out the window.

Have a strategic plan and stick with it. You will have built your next 6 months or year during your CEO time. Once that is in place, don’t deviate. Find the top 3 tasks (or one task!) that you, as the true CEO need to accomplish each day. Don’t build out another activity until the ones already in place are smooth as silk, with processes in place and the correct team members making it happen.

If you find your own to-dos are getting out of hand, stop and re-evaluate. Are you doing more than you initially planned for in your strategy? Do you have the right or enough support staff underneath you? Are they getting the job done? Do they know what they should be doing and what your expectations are? Consider outsourcing some of the tasks if you are not ready to expand your team.

Stay tuned for 4 more common mistakes in next week’s blog!

Has Content Creation Become a Chore? You Need a System.

Content Creation Made Easy: 4 Simple Steps

My biz is content heavy. In January of 2018, I made a commitment to doing a weekly blog post.  Talk about a stretch goal!

This seemed absolutely impossible, as the most I had been able to do previously was a post every 3-4 weeks.  But I knew that consistency builds visibility, fans, and engagement.

I was on a mission to make it happen.  But I had to find a process or structure that was going work for me so that I was not tearing my hair out.  Been there? Read on!

This is a game changer, my friends: Weekly content creation doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore!

Want a free sample of the Content Calendar Template? Just click the button below

How many times have you wandered into the kitchen to start dinner for your family and thought, “There’s nothing in the fridge – what am I going to make for dinner?”   Another panic moment I’ve experienced far too often.

The solution?  Create menus before building a grocery list and go on a  grocery run once or twice a week. Doing the pre-planning is the hard part, and the pre-dinner time is just execution (and joy, if you like to cook!).

Using the same principle, I created a content calendar for myself in the very beginning and this has saved my bacon and my sanity many times.  I plan 3-4 months in advance, plenty of time to continuously add detail to content as it comes to me, and have found that the rhythm of weekly content creation is now totally manageable.  

Here is the process in a nutshell:

Nail the broad strokes FIRST.

Create 8-10 categories that will capture all of your content goals. If you are a Google keyword master, you might start there. I did some research on Amazon and checked out other blogs on entrepreneurship to see what topics came up repeatedly and made my choices.  The research took less than an hour.

By taking the time to make sure you have the breadth of coverage on issues that matter to your service or product in advance, you can let go of the fear that you might miss something important.

Choose ENGAGING topics.

Come up with 4-5 ideas for posts within each category, each covering a vital topic in a fun and engaging way. Sitting down once and doing 4 to 6 months worth of ideas will take a big weight off of your shoulders. The hard thinking is behind you. “OMG, what am I going to write about THIS week?!!” The panic part of the process is completely eliminated.

Now that you have your ideas on paper, you have a place to add details to your content as it comes to you, well in advance of your publishing deadlines.

Now your thinking like a true CEO! This is the kind of strategic planning that makes the difference between long-term success and a flash-in-the-pan.

Repurpose in multiple formats.  

Map out how you will re-purpose the same content to get the most visibility. Don’t be afraid to post the same content in multiple formats. Your audience will want to engage with you in the format that they prefer.  Some people are visual learners (hence the video and FB Lives), while others prefer to read.  

Share your blog post in your newsletter.  Create a variety of posts and graphics so you can post on social media over the next week. Do a Facebook Live or record a video of the content of your blog post.  Upload to Facebook and YouTube. If you do a podcast, you can just read the blog post for some quick content.

Remember, your email newsletter probably has about a 20% open rate, so 80% of your audience didn’t read your email. But they may see the post on your blog, or your FB page, or on other social media platforms. The more ways that you can share a single piece of content, the more likely your target audience will find you and engage.

Thoroughly think through your new content once, and publish it in several formats. Now that is Bang-for-the-Buck right there!

While you’re at it…

I also use the same content calendar spreadsheet for even more content using the same helpful categories. I jot down ideas for new presentations, webinars and training sessions.  I create content upgrades (lead magnets) that I can use to get more email sign-ups. I shoot for one per month and a topic that is related to an upcoming blog post. By the end of the year, I’ll have 12 new lead magnets to use throughout the year! That’s golden.

By dedicating some time to the pre-planning, the creation of weekly content doesn’t have to make you crazy!  

Wanting more?

Want to see my system in more detail? I have a sample content calendar that I’d like you to have. It includes a detailed look at just how my system works and some additional tips to make it work for you. Click here to subscribe

Outsourcing: Cure for the Burnout Blues

Don’t Wait Until Burnout to Get Help

One of the symptoms of being in a growth spurt is that things can feel out of control. Many of your carefully crafted processes are no longer working, and your company just feels like it is bursting at the seams. You probably feel overwhelmed and stretched beyond your limits.

The goal of a true CEO should be to do only the things that are going to have the biggest revenue impact.

This can include long-range planning, developing and nurturing key relationships, and creating visibility for your brand and your company. As the pace of business escalates, it is tempting to get buried in the weeds, tending to the details because there is so much going on.

Learn to let go.

Letting go of the “no one can do it as well as I can” thoughts is one of those stages of personal growth that all entrepreneurs need to pass through. Remember, just because you CAN do something does not mean that you SHOULD be doing it.

I know how to sew, but I’m definitely not making my own clothes. (Tried that in high school – what a disaster!) You probably did everything in the early stages of your biz, but that’s not where you are now as you dive into the second or third levels of maturity as a business.

Get busy getting un-busy!

Think about the functions and duties it takes to run your business and assign an hourly rate to each. (Guessing is fine here; you just want to establish the relative worth of each.) Also, think about the tasks that ONLY you can do, and should do.

Make a list of the tasks that you could easily outsource. And by outsourcing, I don’t mean hiring a whole new person to your team. Think of contracting even for only 5 hours a week, or by project, to get you started with getting the task off of your desk. Here is a tiny sample of thing you might consider outsourcing.

Bookkeeping
Calendar management
Cold calling
Copy editing
Copywritingcustomer support
Invoicing
Prospect screening and vetting
Report creation
Research
Social media posting and management
Video or podcast editing

My biggest “aha” moment in January of this year was when I realized that while content creation was going to be a big part of my business, copywriting and editing were not my strengths. I did some research and discovered a world of copy editors who could take my rough copy and polish it to be far better than the original.

Where are there opportunities like that for you? The added benefit is that I’m far more confident in my copy now and have gotten over the fear of creation. That’s a world of pressure off of my mind, and it has opened me up for more of the things that I can and should be doing.

A VA (virtual assistant) can be hired on an hourly rate for even a small block of time: 5-10 hours a week. You can try them out before making any kind of commitment. You can have multiple VA’s with a variety of skill sets.

Check out Upwork, or Fiverr for ideas on the kinds of tasks that you can outsource and their relative prices. Most of these sites will provide user reviews and ranking of the performance of the contractors. You can also ask for samples. Give them one task to do (pay for it) to make sure they are a good fit.

If you have a team and you are facing burnout, then your team is not big enough, or they are not doing the right things, or you are not delegating enough. If you don’t yet have a team, then start building a small support staff. Every dollar you spend for help will come back triple in revenue based on YOUR activities.

 

Go ahead and take the leap to the next level!

Lack of motivation is the symptom. Accountability is the cure

Accountability – Who Does the Entrepreneur Answer To?

I was recently listening to a podcast when the owner of a pretty happening biz said that she stopped doing her podcast because it took a lot of work. She didn’t feel the urge to continue and no one was pushing her to do so. It got me thinking…

If you are the alpha dog, who do you need to answer to? You don’t have a boss, although you probably have clients or customers. But there is no one truly setting the bar, except for you. Are you letting the bar slip?

Here are a few things that may keep you from being the most productive and profitable business owner you can be:

You’ve lost your sense of urgency or momentum. If your business is in the black, and you have been achieving your goals (yay you!), it’s easy to become complacent. The sense of urgency you once knew is no longer there and may dilute your “get it done” attitude. Not a good thing to lose!

Confusion, or “dithering” as my mother used to say. Spending lots of time doing not much. This is what happens to me when I have too much on my plate. I hop from one project to the other, not getting anywhere but frustrated and tired. This is a complete waste of time and I know it even when I’m in it!

Procrastination. A close cousin to dithering. There are important projects or tasks that have been on your to-do list that keep getting moved to the next day or week, or just (intentionally) forgotten about.

Flagging motivation. There are mornings for all of us when getting out of bed is a debate – Why bother? Are you stuck and unmotivated?

Loneliness at the top. This can be an unexpected problem, especially for entrepreneurs with a big team or those who work from home. Have you started to feel isolated with your work?

Solutions: Build in Accountability and Motivation

Stay accountable to yourself by checking your numbers weekly or at least monthly. I like crunching numbers, so this is fun for me, but it’s not fun for everyone. But getting a reality check, which is what measurement is all about, is a great way to look for ways to improve your business. ( I’ll talk all about this in a later post), but think of it as a chance to improve (hurrah!), rather than a judgemental report card (boo!)

Be accountable to yourself with a tool. I use Asana for my projects, both personal and biz. I use it for my team, of course, so we are all on track. But I use this for personal accountability as well. Whether it’s defining a project like setting up a new membership site (big) or clearing out my garage (small and personal), Asana helps me not only define the tasks under each project but more importantly, set a deadline for each. THAT is what keeps me achieving those goals!

Define each project then break it down into manageable tasks. If you are not making the progress that you hope for, the tasks may be too big and daunting. Break the tasks down into smaller bites and chew them one by one rather than trying to eat the whole meal in one swallow.

Re-examine your daily and weekly planning. It may very well be that you are dithering or stuck and unmotivated because what is on your plate is unexciting. Can you delegate the things that don’t need a CEO’s attention? (Remember the 4 D’s of productivity: Do, Delegate, Delay, or Delete.) Remind yourself of which pieces of your work that excite you the most. Weave those into your job description. Save a little bit of dessert for yourself!

Download The 4 D’s of Productivity for more tips on how to use this powerful tool

 

Mastermind. I would say the biggest game changer in my entrepreneurial career and the best antidote to loneliness has been participating in Masterminds. If you want accountability, challenges, and fresh ideas on how to grow your business, my Mastermind program is for you!

A Mastermind is designed to utilize the perspective and experience of other entrepreneurs to take your business to the next level.

In my experience, working in a Mastermind format will speed up your business growth exponentially. You will have a group of like-minded women who will challenge you and hold you accountable to achieve your goals. No more hiding!

We will work in small groups of 6-8 so that we can truly help each other. I will carefully select entrepreneurs with an eye towards mixing up the industries and business types, as well as looking for entrepreneurs at different levels of growth to provide the ultimate resources for everyone.

Candidates for this program should have at least 2 years of ongoing revenue generation with their business to be eligible. If you are a new startup, this is not the program for you.

Interested? Sign up here for the waiting list.  I’ll send out more information, as we get closer to the launch date.

CEO Time – Is it on Your Calendar?

Plan CEO time to think about your business.

Ah – time to plan…when is there ever enough time to stand back and just think? I may sound like a broken record, but putting a non-negotiable block of time on your calendar for CEO time is the only way this is going to happen.

As entrepreneurs, especially during growth surges, it is easy to get sucked back into working IN your business (“ I just need to get this DONE!”), rather than ON your business (“What is happening in the big picture?”). Your best bet for getting out of the weeds is to plan some think-time.

I’m sure you have a strategic plan for your business or you wouldn’t have made it to year two or beyond. So, let’s assume that’s a given. You also need the discipline of doing a weekly check-in. Pick a time in your schedule when you are at your clear-headed best. For me, that’s early morning, and Friday’s are the day when I’m winding things up. So, Friday morning is my weekly CEO time block on my calendar. I don’t’ take calls, check email, schedule meetings. I’m booked for a solid two hours, sometimes three.

What do you do during your CEO time? Pick a few of these ideas or rotate through them throughout the month so you hit them all:

  • Update your KPIs. Establish what your key performance indicators are and update these at least monthly. This is not just for revenue, but any measure of progress that you deem important. How many strategy sessions did you have? How many client meetings, new email contacts, web visits, and new social media followers did you have? Did you attend any networking events?

 

  • Monthly – Take a look at your profit and loss statement. How are you doing? Are you making a profit? Here is where it comes back to the bottom line!

 

  • Plan – Long and short range. If your 3 to 6-month plan is nailed down, then revisit and make adjustments as necessary. Start making notes about the next 6 months – the first stage before actually setting things in motion. You may have set aside some ideas and projects for later. Start building one or two of those into the next planning phase.

 

  • Set your specific goals for the next month. Can you contact five potential partners for a collaboration, schedule at least one speaking gig, attend one new networking event?

 

  • Build organizational culture. If you have a team, this would be the time to plan team-meeting agendas, team events, and think about the areas where your organizational culture needs to improve.”

 

  • Plan for scaling – Next stage of business. Think about it now as you are growing. Keep on eye on that org chart (fledgling as it may be). Will you need additional team members? What additional professional services will you need add – legal counsel, CPA, salesperson or manager? Are there areas of your biz that are ripe for outsourcing

 

  • Build Playbooks – Processes for scaling. For anything you do more than three times, write down your process in detail or film a training video. Create templates, email copy, or scripts that you can just cut and paste or reuse repeatedly to save time.

 

  • Check in with yourself on your own performance. How am I doing? Am I delegating enough and doing it well? Am I aware of customer needs? Am I on top of team needs and performance? Are you truly spending 80% of your time on things that will move the needle in your business, or are you spending too much time on busywork? Re-visit your top priorities – do they still hold?

 

Pixar studios did a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the film “Finding Nemo.” A few of the lead animators and story creators attribute the success of the movie to “story think time”-cut to a picture of them asleep at their desks. Don’t sleep! But do plan your own story think time, or what I call CEO time, into your schedule today!

Ditch the Distraction – Insert Focus

Staying focused is a learned skill

Growing a business is a roller coaster. Good days, bad days, good months, bad months. As you grow, the balance can tilt to the bad side if you are not careful to protect your strategy, your direction and your “why.” Nothing kills the desire to get out of bed on a workday than if you have lost track of why you are doing all this in the first place.

Keeping focused is a skill that needs to be worked on to improve. It’s similar to meditating – you get better at it as you do it. Here are a few focus killers that you want to be aware of:

Looking over your shoulder at your competition – You are where you are in your business. Hopefully, you have mapped out a strategy for the next 3-6 months that will provide a guide for you. (If not, please email me asap and let’s set up a time to chat!) There will always be competitors, and there will always be other formats, techniques, tricks that others are doing that you are not. Should I be starting to podcast? Why aren’t I doing a weekly Facebook Live? Should I start a YouTube channel? What are they doing that I should be/could be doing? The list can be endless.

As my fabulous son, Sam says. “You be you, mom.” So often this is a lack of confidence in the road that you have chosen for your business. Or you have not clarified what makes your business stand out from the others.

If you are haunted by your competition, I highly recommend the book Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth by Kim and Mauborgne. The authors walk you thru the process of defining who you are and how you are different from all the others in your field. It’s a great read – not a distraction, I promise!

It’s not a bad idea to be aware of new ideas, formats, and channels. But save this for “info gathering or self-education” blocks on your calendar. And it’s just that. Not a signal to question what you are doing. Stay strong in your current strategic direction, but set aside possible tests for the NEXT planning cycle.

What are the latest trends? What’s newest that I could be incorporating into my biz model? This is a productivity killer, and I won’t spend too much time on this. Being on the bleeding edge is rarely good for revenue generation. It’s good for PR buzz, media attention, and distraction. Don’t be diverted by what is the newest and greatest. Even the newest iPhone has bugs and needs time to be tested out. Stay open, but not consumed by the latest trends.

Too much input – I find this is a BIG one for the entrepreneurs I work with. We are all inundated with too many emails, podcasts, YouTube videos, and ADVICE. My advice: Cut down the clutter to preserve your clarity. Be ruthless! Pick an hour to go thru your inbox and unsubscribe from any email newsletter that does not provide REAL value to you. Same with YouTube channels and Social Media connections. Pick a guru or two to follow, ignore the rest. Make a short list of e-newsletters, blogs, podcasts or YouTube channels that are really worth following. Unsub from the rest. Cut deep. You will be so happy not to have all those voices coming at you. (Coming soon, my list of favorite podcasts and books.)

As you get more traction in your focus, you will start to notice when you are getting distracted and it will get easier to pull yourself back on track.

I have blocks in my calendar to check email and social media 2x a day. But I notice that I slip back into checking more frequently if I’m doing something that is hard, or I don’t want to do, or I’m just plain bored with what’s on my desk. I find if I take a small break, even a short walk around the block, I can get back on track pretty quickly without the distraction of more thoughts coming into my brain.

Bottom Line: Cut back on all sources of distraction that you can control to maintain your focus on your business and the goals you have established. It’s not always easy, but with practice, we all get better.

Freedom! Map Out Your Week According to You

Create your own work life!

Last week we started with non-negotiables in our life and business. This week, let’s take that a step farther. Establishing a weekly schedule to fit you and your life is a very freeing experience.

I can just hear the screams now:

“But I have so many clients to tend to!”

“But I have so much work to do!”

“But things crop up – there is NO WAY.”

Yes, there is a way – and you are in charge. Keep your calendar for personal and biz in one spot. Really. If you separate them, as I did for years, you will double book, forgetting personal commitments while you are working with your biz calendar as you do most of the day. Put them together – trust me on this!

Weekly: Here is where the magic happens. Plug in blocks for the way you want you’re your week to go. You may have more categories, but at a minimum, include blocks for:

  • Client work (work done by you for your client)
  • Client meetings
  • Team meetings
  • Content creation (blog, podcasts, social media posts, course creation, team meeting agendas, etc.)
  • Email, calendar, and social media management
  • Prospecting
  • CEO time – strategic planning, updating KPIs,
  • NOTHING– blank space for chilling out, breathing. Here’s the spot where other things MIGHT creep in – and that’s ok.

A few key tips:

  • Batch anything that can be batched. Create a month’s worth of blog posts at a time. Only check your email 2x a day and clear the inbox each time. Put your phone on do-not-disturb and only return phone calls 2x a day.
  • Set boundaries with your clients and prospects and stick to them. For example, only take client meetings on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. If you work with an online calendar where clients/patients can schedule themselves, then open up only those times in the scheduler that YOU want to work with clients.
  • Create a template out of anything and everything. Save major time by not having to reinvent the wheel. Is there an email that you are sending out more than once (a pitch, an answer to a question, a thank you)? Create it once so that all you need to do is copy and paste. I’ve created dozens of emails that I keep on file. This saves SO much time. Is there a launch that requires a ton of prep (and what launch doesn’t)? Create a “work-back” schedule in excel detailing each step and the number of days before the launch that it has to occur and save it for the next time. All you should need to do is plug in the launch date, and the rest of the dates should auto-populate. Ta da!
  • Start with your personal energy levels in mind. As I mentioned last week, I’m the most creative in the morning. I schedule all of my content creation blocks before 11 am. If you are not quite at your best until you’ve been up for awhile, schedule client meetings after 1 on a few days.
  • Look at the week as a whole. Let’s be honest –getting back into work mode after a weekend can be slow going. Plan for that on Mondays. Fridays are for winding things up and crossing things off your list. This may not be the day to initiate new things – for yourself or your clients. Go with your own flow.

Two strategies that have completely changed my business:

Scheduling blocks of time for content creation on a consistent basis. I have a lot of content creation time built into my calendar since I create a lot. I’m no longer panicking about “OMG, when am I going to get that weekly blog post done, when am I going to prepare that presentation I’m giving next month?” I’ve scheduled consistent time for it and it all gets done. Wow – what a concept!

CEO time – Being a true CEO (strategic, having the long vision, planning) takes an unencumbered mind and a free schedule. It’s a critical part of your business. Make sure you have blocked out time weekly or risk getting lost in all the details of day-to-day operations.

Run your business, don’t let it run you. By mapping out a weekly schedule, you will be in charge.

Put your own oxygen mask on first

Non-Negotiables in your day and week

Public Service Announcement: It’s your business and it’s your life. The best place to start is by designing your business to fit you personally.

If you’ve come out of a corporate or a traditional business model, you are probably accustomed to a 9-5 (or maybe 7-7?) workday. When I jumped into my entrepreneurial career, I kept to that schedule like a madwoman, and never questioned it. Keeping to a hard-charging schedule was the essence of productivity, wasn’t it? My fear was that if I wasn’t logging the hours, I was not going to get to where I wanted to go.

With age comes wisdom, and after multiple rounds of burn out, and quite a few grey hairs, I’ve changed my perspective.

Work/life balance (a myth right there) is an ongoing negotiation, but you need to begin somewhere. Start by putting a few stakes in the ground for the aspects of your life and biz that are the most important to you, and make them non-negotiable.

For me, it’s 3 things:

Working out. I started working with a personal trainer in the last few months. It felt self-indulgent, vain, and it cost a pretty penny But here’s the thing: I’m in it for the long haul. I hope to live a very long time and I’m the full-time caregiver for my husband. I want to be as healthy and fit as I can well into my 90’s. I had to make a commitment to that long view. I know I work best when I have some accountability and a mentor. I’ve done that in my business life, and I saw that I needed it in my personal life as well. So I’m plunking down hundreds of dollars a month and showing up. Not just for my training sessions, but working out or at least walking almost every day on my own as well.

Honoring my energy cycles. I am an early, early bird. I am at my best, most creative and clear thinking at 7 am. I’m fairly spent after about 3 pm. I’ve mapped out my daily and weekly calendar (more on that next week) to fit that cycle. I start my day at 7. I take a lunch break at noon. I quit at around 3. I don’t work on Friday afternoons because I’m already in “relax mode. I don’t work nights – ever. That’s when I magically turn into a wife and mother and can barely remember what’s going on in my business. But I do work some weekend mornings if I feel like it. That’s my design!

Family time. This will differ for all of us, but unless you build it into your schedule, it’s going to slip away or be given a lower priority. Every year I block out planned family vacation time. When my kids were smaller, I blocked out every event that I knew about – school plays, field trips, days off, birthday parties, etc. These became un-moveable blocks of time in my schedule (for the most part…there are always exceptions). Evenings, (for me that’s after 3 pm,) are for family. I plan and cook dinners, spend time just hanging out with them without thoughts of business creeping in. It’s cherished time and I don’t take it lightly! Down time – being completely away from biz refreshes me for the next day.

These 3 changes have been game changers for me. I had to give myself permission to make my work life fit into my personal life. Not the other way around.

Next week I’m going to go into more detail on this principle: How to map out your week and month to fit your business and life for the most efficient, productive and powerful results. Plus a happy life. Stay tuned!