It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting on my porch writing this to you as I reflect on my past week and soak up the post-rainy-morning scent of spring. Cliché much? But literally, birds are chirping and my daffodils are the cutest!
Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve felt this free to relax for a minute. To stop and not feel guilty that I’m not doing something more productive. Even writing this doesn’t feel like I’m working because I just feel like I want to share this feeling with everyone in the freaking world!
Our lives as entrepreneurs and moms often looks like this: Early mornings, late nights, answering emails while in line at Chick Fil-A, loading and unloading gear, cleaning the studio, meetings, driving— LOTS of driving. Editing, invoicing, bookkeeping, tax season, returning the unused wardrobe from the last photoshoot, planning wardrobe for the next one, design proofs, project estimates, and social media marketing. Add in all the kid stuff, and the big one right now- create and film an online course for a launch that is scheduled within the next 30 days! Oh… and Nichole is 36 weeks pregnant.🤪
I hope it doesn’t sound like complaining, because we’re always so grateful for every second of it, and I wouldn’t trade it for any job in the world! We LOVE the process– just sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re chasing your tail!
Now, if you’re not running a business and a household, chances are you have something on your mind that you can’t stop thinking about. A grand idea… but if only you had more TIME. I have recently had a mindset breakthrough and I really want to share it with you guys. This is a compilation of things I’ve gathered from some of my mentors, business books, and podcasts with my own little spin- and I hope it helps someone else. Because here’s the thing… I have heard these things 99 times, but it was the 100th time that it was like someone hitting me over the head with a bat and I finally took action. And I’m obsessed with this feeling I have right now. I finally feel like things aren’t spiraling out of control, and the feeling of overwhelm has subsided.
I’ve put together my 4 seriously tangible, action-steps to be your most productive badass self, and I can’t wait to share them with you! And I’d love to hear your thoughts. Go try them out, and come out of next week feeling like a new person.
Here we go:
Friend, I know this is a hard one. 10 years into this business, and I think this is the first time EVER that we’ve actually not said “yes” to every single project, client, referral, and ask that we’ve gotten. I’ve gotten a little taste of this, and I’m totally addicted! Hear me out.
If you have a project on your mind, and it’s literally all you can think about, (🙋🏼♀️ I know I do!) but you just can’t seem to find the time to make it a priority because the time you spend doing it doesn’t bring in direct revenue- and you have paying clients that have more urgent, pressing needs… you’re NEVER going to make it happen if you think about it that way. Believe me, I lived in this space for YEARS. Taking time to work on my business when I had a shoot to edit was not an option to me. I need to take care of my clients first, and there were too many to keep up with. I was stretching myself way too thin, and pushing off my passions into the unforeseen future abyss.
When a new email pops into your inbox with an inquiry for something that needs to be done immediately, it’s okay to respectfully decline. Saying yes to everything, and then pushing it to the top of your list and shuffling everything else down a line or 2 is detrimental if there are big plans on your “some day” to-do list. Try this line, “Thank you so much for your inquiry, I would absolutely love to work with you! Unfortunately I’m all booked up until x date. If that’s not soon enough for you, I totally understand and would be happy to refer you to someone who I know will take excellent care of you” Sure, you just let go of a potential paying client, but you are that much closer to making your dream a reality. And it feels so much more liberating than if you said YES, then had to shift your focus from all of the other things you’re working on and rush a job that you probably won’t be able to deliver your best work anyway. One more negative to taking on too much, and for agreeing to rush jobs is that you actually train your customers to expect this type of turn around from you. So believe me- there WILL be a next time, and it’ll be even harder to say NO if you’ve pulled out all the stops for them in the past. Plus, it’s not fair to all of your loyal and patient clients who get put on the back burner.
Get out your calendar and actually put in everything that you need to accomplish for your client projects on the date that they’re due… or a few days prior if you want to over-deliver by a few days. You wouldn’t pay your mortgage 3 weeks early would you? (I’m sure some of you would, but just go with me on this one.) After that, pick up that pen and write down everything that you wish you could get done for yourself or your business. You know those things you keep putting off! Write them down, and then make a pledge to not be flaky on yourself! This practice and mind game really works if you put some effort into it, so you might as well schedule in your workouts, calling your grandma, and anything else that you want to hold yourself accountable for.
Think about your self as being your best friend. You wouldn’t cancel on them, right? You wouldn’t say you would do something for them and then totally neglect it would you? Be true to your word, and show up for yourself. One of my favorite quotes from Tony Robbins is, “If you talk about it, it’s a dream. If you envision it, it’s possible. But if you schedule it, it’s real.”
It’s true. Chances are you’ve heard this advice a million times, hopefully this time it resonates like it did for me this past week. I’ve always joked, “I’m not a procrastinator, I’m deadline driven!” And ain’t it the truth? I know I’m not alone on this one.
This modus operandi is what I was actually known for in college. I would spend weeks thinking about my class project. Sketching, brainstorming, overthinking til the sun went down. I would slowly work on it a little bit at a time. And then, the NIGHT BEFORE the critique, I would throw it away, totally start over, pull an all-nighter, and show up with an amazing new final project to share. All of my classmates would laugh and roll their eyes at me, “What happened to the thing you’ve been working on for 2 months?” So I have always known that my best work happens in the 11th hour. The problem here is all the wasted time, and it was created by having way too long of a deadline. If I were a professor I’d say, “Here’s the project. It’s due tomorrow!” Because seriously, it doesn’t 2 months to do anything! That’s the biggest excuse ever to draw something out.
Don’t give yourself all day to do one task. Give yourself 1 hour. And be okay with slightly less than perfect work. Don’t freak out- I did say “slightly” because the perfectionist in me cringes a little at the thought of anything less than perfect. But even my most ‘perfect’ work could always be a little better if I am hard enough on myself.
So, pick 3 tasks at a time. Think in your head, “If I were paying someone else $500 an hour to do this FOR me, how many hours would I allow them to work on it? How long should it actually take if you were to buckle down, put your phone on do not disturb, and not stop til it’s done. How long? You’d be amazed at what can get done in an hour of real solid focus.
Try it. Write down the tasks, then how long they should take. Then even write down what time you should be done with it. Imagine you have to turn it in to your boss at that time- your job depends on it! Sometimes I even send my client an email saying, “I’ll have this to you by 1pm today” then the clock starts, and often times I’m racing the clock and hitting send at 12:59- followed by a touchdown dance, and a crazy “$%&@ YEAH!” when I beat the clock with seconds to spare! and then an energetic, “NEXT!”
If you’re a parent, you probably think you’re already great at the art of the multi-task. Making your kid’s cold lunch in the morning while simultaneously quizzing him on spelling words, all while doing calf raises at the kitchen counter might work well for you. But if you try to apply that mentality to work, it’s most likely back-firing leaving you with lots of half-done projects.
Think of your brain like a computer. Now, open 15 applications, 23 browser tabs, stream some music on spotify, now try to send a simple email. It’s just a matter of time before that spinning wheel turns into an error message. “scratch disk full,” force quit everything, lose the work you don’t even remember if you started, there’s not even enough memory to delete your full trash bin, all ultimately resulting in a 3 hour trip to the genius bar. (This may have happened to a friend. 😒) Stop multitasking, and get things done one at a time.
I recommend starting with the one that stresses you out the most. The one you least want to do! You know that thing that you keep putting off. My bet is that thinking about doing it is actually way worse than actually doing it, and you’ll probably end up spending a lot less time on the latter. Don’t start with the things that are the easiest and fastest just because you think you can clear more line items if you do. Trust me- do one big daunting thing, followed by 2 or 3 easy tasks every day. If you’re like me, you’ll feel like such a badass that you are inspired to just keep going and all the sudden you’ve conquered the mountain that ascended so far above the clouds you thought you’d never even see the peak. And it’s a beautiful view from way up there!
I’m going to leave you with this thought from one of my favorite mentors, Brooke Castillo from The Lifecoach School. Productivity means that you actually PRODUCED something. If you spend 3 hours on something for your business, but didn’t actually PRODUCE anything, you’ll continue to feel defeated. It’s not to say that those things aren’t valuable, but make sure that you are actually PRODUCING something every day. Example: If I had sat down and written notes about what I wanted to go in this blog post, or talked about it with my husband… that would be great, but there would be no blog post at the end. Do the dang thing!
Well, the amount of time that I dedicated to writing this is almost up! So, until next time- please keep on keepin on, and just DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY to work toward your big fat goals. Don’t focus too much on the big picture- just think “what can I do next” and eventually you’ll make it to the finish line. Promise.