6 Signs You Need Better Project Planning

6 Signs You Need Better Project Planning

6 Signs You Need Better Project Planning for Your Business

Are you a big idea person who struggles to make your vision a reality? Do you find yourself scrambling to put together launches, presentations, and sales pitches right up to the last minute? Is your to-do list a pile of sticky notes sprinkled throughout your house? If you feel stuck, overwhelmed, or confused when it comes to project planning, raise your hand because you’re not alone. 

As a Project Manager, I’ve worked with many clients who have fantastic ideas and businesses and the talent to pull it off, but they are still struggling to hit their goals. When that’s happening, usually it’s because there isn’t much focus on planning — or their current planning strategy isn’t working. 

If this all sounds too familiar, here are a few signs that it’s time to take a new approach to planning projects within your business — and how you can make changes.

The Symptom: You’re rushing into big projects

If you always feel like you’re scrambling right up to the last second with big projects like launches, you’ve got a problem managing your time. You may need help with better scheduling or aren’t giving yourself enough time for each task. Do you even know how long certain tasks take to complete? If the answer is no, that’s a hint that you’ve got an issue.

The Treatment: Working backward

Open up your calendar, set a date for when you want to accomplish your next project, and then list out all the tasks. How long will each of those tasks take individually? Once you’ve got the list of everything you need, you’ll likely realize it takes more time than you think! For example, if you need to have a sales page up at least one week before launch, you have to have the design ready for review at least a few days before that and copy a few days before that. That’s going to change your timeline! 

When you break down projects into action steps like this, you will realistically see when you need to start working on everything, so it launches on time (and without chaos). If you do this exercise and realize you should’ve started weeks ago, it’s a good sign you need to move the date out — or put in some extra hours to get it done.

The Symptom: You’re missing deadlines

Missed deadlines often can feel like big, red “F” marks (even when we’re long out of school). If you or your team keep missing deadlines, it’s easy to let frustration, shame, or guilt overrule your reaction. That’s why it’s especially important to dig into the “why” behind the missed deadlines with open communication—even if you’re only talking to yourself.

Treatment 1: Talk it out

Check in with a team meeting about what’s going on behind the scenes. Set and help keep a tone of open engagement and curiosity to steer away from potential finger-pointing or playing any blame game. 

It’s often better to adjust the project plan than it is to force an otherwise trustworthy individual into a process that can’t work for them. Start by giving each member of your team my free Skills and Strengths Assessment to take stock of the gaps on your team, as well as their preferred communication methods (and how they prefer to be incentivized!)

Treatment 2: Hack your task management

If you’re using a task management system like ClickUp (full disclosure: that’s my affiliate link), Asana, or Teamwork, use their built-in features to keep things humming.

  • Play tag! Build the habit for team members to “tag” the person affected when they’ve completed their task. Most systems allow you to tag team members by using the “@” symbol.
  • Alternatively, if you’re a little more tech-inclined, set up task relationships (or “dependencies”) so that when one task gets completed, the next one in line becomes available.
  • Use date ranges and time estimates. The way many of us use our task management apps means that we may only see a task appear on the day it’s marked “due”. And if a task takes a lot of time, that’s a missed-deadline guarantee. When assigning tasks, try to include a rough idea of how long it should take and, when possible, include a start date in addition to the due date.
6 Signs You Need better Project Planning

The Symptom: You lack follow-through

A lack of follow-through can often more accurately be diagnosed as a lack of clarity. When I work with a client who struggles to stay motivated or doesn’t know what to do next, they usually have a few unanswered questions hiding in their plan. They can see their end goal but there are a few muddy areas when it comes to specifics.

Treatment 1: Move information out of your head with a brain dump

When you have no idea where to start, sometimes the easiest (and most helpful) action is taking all that stuff in your head and just getting it out. A simple brain dump is straightforward and so helpful! All you do is set a timer and start writing. 

Don’t worry about formatting, ideas, or making it perfect. Put whatever words, phrases, diagrams, or thoughts you have floating in your head on the page. When the timer goes off, put it aside for a bit and then return to it. 

When you come back to it, you’ll likely be able to take the ideas from your brain dump and organize them into a clearer plan for moving forward.

Treatment 2: Ask yourself two magic questions

Think about the place in your plan where you feel stuck and ask yourself:

If I were going to sit down right now to complete this task, could I? If not, why not?

Is there another job that actually needs to be done first? A decision that needs to be made or research that needs to be done? 

With these new discoveries, ask the question again. Is that new task one you could do right now? If not, why not?

I envision this process as starting with a boulder (this big, unwieldy, heavy thing) and breaking it up into smaller pieces you can sort and handle easily. Make the pieces (tasks) as small as you need to make them until they feel doable.

The Symptom: Your team is stuck

If you feel like your team is spinning their wheels or constantly asking you what to do next, it’s time to get detail-oriented. Delegating tasks to your team isn’t as simple as saying, “Do this,” or “Do that.” You have to be specific about what you want, why you need it, and how it should be done. Otherwise, your team may not have enough to get the work done, or the work they turn in wouldn’t hit the mark.

The Treatment: Use Standard Processes (SOPs) and encourage questions

If you want your team to do the work as well as you would, you’ve got to give them the tools they need. A library of SOPs (aka Instruction Manuals, Team Processes, Operational Guides, How-Tos) comes in handy at times like this! Then, if your team needs to know how to do something, they can just look up the SOP. Also, encourage a collaborative, open environment so team members feel like they can ask questions when they need help!

The Symptom: Your work isn’t moving you closer to your goals

The whole point of owning your own business is to meet your goals. It’s why you set them in the first place. But if you find you’re spending hours and hours working, but you still aren’t closer to your overall goal, something’s not adding up. It’s either that your goals aren’t aligned with what you do or that your work doesn’t align with your goals.

The treatment: Track your time

Usually, when we aren’t seeing progress, we’re spending too much time on tasks that aren’t making an impact. For example, you will not reach revenue goals if you’re constantly sending emails to clients but not doing client work. So do a time study — track your time for an entire week and see where you spend your time. 

If you realize you’re spending your time on things that can be outsourced, that may be your next step. On the other hand, if you realize that you’re spending time where you need to be, it might be time to evaluate your goals. Are they a bit of a stretch? Is it aligned with what you want to do? If the answer is no, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and set some new goals.

The Symptom: You’re doing work that you thought you “should” do

If you spend hours checking off tasks on a to-do list just because other businesses or your competitors are doing it – stop. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this? Does this help my business?’’ Stop wasting your time and energy on what you think you need to do, and focus instead on what you know you need to do.

The Treatment: Kill your darlings

When you do your time study, this will help you see where you’re spending time that isn’t helping. Remember, your time is an investment, and you need to get a good return on how you spend it. For example, you might realize that you don’t need to spend so much time making TikToks because they aren’t bringing in leads. Instead, you may realize that you need to spend MORE time creating LinkedIn content because that’s where your leads are coming in.

A final note on improving your project planning: Customize it!

Your business is unique, so why are you using the same old plans and processes as everyone else? There is no one-size-fits-all way to run. Instead, find what works best for your business and focus your time and energy there. Develop planning techniques and strategies that work for your needs. Otherwise, you’ll find that you’re running into these problems repeatedly without ever finding a solution. 

If you aren’t sure what works best for you, let me help. My UNSTUCK program helps business owners find the support to develop planning strategies and processes that WORK for them. Together, we will find strategies to help you stay motivated and get work done, so you’ll feel less overwhelmed and stressed!

Didn’t Hit Your Quarterly Goals? Read This | Efficient/Creative

Didn’t Hit Your Quarterly Goals? Read This | Efficient/Creative

Didn’t Hit Your Quarterly Goals? Let’s Talk About It

The end of the quarter is here and I have some exciting news for you: I didn’t hit all of my quarterly goals. Before you clutch your pearls, let me tell you something else: There is NO shame in not finishing your goals. 

It took me some time to feel OKAY about not completing my goals. The hustle shame is real and, as entrepreneurs, we’re constantly told to do more. But I learned a long time ago that I’m not always a completionist. Sometimes, the best thing is to walk away from something that’s not bringing me joy or helping me anymore. 

But if you’re reviewing your quarterly progress or looking at your metrics and feeling like you didn’t do enough, let’s talk about shame as business owners — and how learning to let go and say “No” can help us overcome it.

Do you have to be a ‘completionist’?

You don’t have to finish everything you start, contrary to what your parents, grandparents, or guardians may have said. 

After graduating high school, I decided I would read all of the Lord of The Rings trilogy. Well, I got through all but the last 100 pages (yup, RIGHT up to the very end), and that was it for me. I wasn’t feeling any joy and realized I was just forcing myself to read. So I shut the book and never picked it up again. This story HORRIFIES my completionist husband, so if you’re similarly appalled, you’re not alone.

Now, before you come for me, Tolkien-heads, I’ve seen all the movies. The books were just not my cup of tea. 

no shame if you missed your quarterly goals

What does this have to do with you and your business? I hope it demonstrates that you DON’T need to be a completionist (or obliger) as a business owner. You’re not in grade school anymore. There’s no one waiting to give you a shiny perfect reading award for finishing every page.

You started your business to be in control. 

If you get to choose where your time and energy goes, why waste it? 

Of course, I’m not telling you to throw your goals out the window or to give up striving toward your big vision for your business. I believe that you need to honor your commitments to your clients, customers, and partners. However, it is up to you to decide the direction of your business, and sometimes it’s okay to pivot or say no to future or current projects.

Watch out for shiny object syndrome

Many of us–especially those of us with ADHD–set many goals because it can be hard to nail down your focus to one thing. Sometimes, the new thing we want to try seems more appealing.

‘Shiny object syndrome’ pulls us away from what we know we need to do and makes us feel like we’re making progress when really we’re not. Before you know it, you forget about goal #1 while you work on goal #2 until you see something else–and so the cycle goes. 

While ‘shiny object syndrome’ can be an issue all in itself (hello, overcommitment), it can also lead to a lack of motivation.

When you’ve figured out how to do something well, it can start to feel boring after a while. Then you find yourself pushing through to the end, just to finish something. But when your motivation is just checking a box to say “You did it!” what’s the point?

What to do when you feel stuck

Are you feeling stuck right now, despite all the projects you started and quarterly goals you set for yourself 3 months ago? I’ve been there and so have many of my clients.

When my clients get stuck, I try to get to the bottom of the feeling. Maybe it is a lack of motivation or a strong case of shiny object syndrome. Sometimes they just need to set aside the project and take a break before coming back to it. And sometimes, they just need to step away entirely or say “No.”

Before I decide (for myself or my clients) that it’s okay to step away and not complete a goal, I go through a checklist. This checklist helps me decide if this is one of those times where I grit my teeth and get it done or if I should step away.

The “Feeling Stuck” Checklist

Question #1: Have I sat with the ‘stuckness’?

Sometimes, you have to sit with the feeling of being stumped and unmotivated, and you’ve got to identify the emotion behind it. Do you just feel ill-equipped and need more resources to help you finish? Or are you feeling resistance because it’s something that doesn’t align with your values? 

When you reflect on WHY you feel stuck, you’ll often find that you’re not sure what the next step is. Instead of quitting, get more clarity on your next steps instead of stepping away entirely.

Question #2: Am I still (truly) motivated by this goal?

Your priorities are going to shift over time, and that’s okay. Let it go if your goal doesn’t fit your values or priorities now.

Question #3: Do I need support?

Is this something you can do on your own, or is this something you need to delegate to someone else with more training?

There is NO shame in asking for help when you don’t have the resources or if your project doesn’t mesh well with your real life. Sometimes we don’t realize how taxing a project can be until we take it on.

Even if you want to do it yourself, some gentle accountability support can help you develop your consistency muscle! (I can help with this, but even partnering with a trusted colleague for some extra accountability can be a helpful boost.)

Question #4: Do I need to sleep on it?

Sometimes, the mind is willing, but the body is weak.

When you’re tired and overwhelmed, you might think it’s time to give up this goal. You can only do so much. But before you press the detonator, de-prioritize your to-do list and take a nap (literally or figuratively).

There’s nothing wrong with saying “not right now” and putting yourself first. After a little rest—or some time with a favorite hobby, you might even find that you have the energy to tackle your goal or a clearer mind to decide if it’s worth completing.

The best way to end shame? Normalize saying no.

I hope my mental checklist can help you decide if your Q1 (or any other) goals are worth carrying into Q2 and beyond. It works for me and my clients who are feeling overwhelmed by their lack of progress or shifting priorities.

But there’s one more element to ending the shame around not meeting our goals: Saying no.

“No” is empowering. Saying no is important if you want to overcome the shame around not finishing goals or finishing projects because, as Greg McKeown (and maybe others before him) put it, “if it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”

Remember, my friend; working hard doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Don’t be afraid to kon-mari your business projects. If it’s not bringing you joy, it’s time to go. 

You can take a step back and say, “Thank you, I’ve learned what I need to from this, but now I’m done.” That’s powerful!

3 Ways to Stop Procrastinating at Work and Get More Done

3 Ways to Stop Procrastinating at Work and Get More Done

TimeSucks1

Learning how to prioritize tasks is as valuable of a skillset as any other business-building skill — right up there with the Copy & Paste command on a keyboard. And I don’t know about you, but learning to stop procrastinating at work isn’t something I was taught in school—like many people, I had to learn the hard way. Trial and error, my friends.

Organizing your work and implementing systems so that you get more done with less effort is a skill that can take years to learn and usually involves a lot of bumps in the road and mistakes, too.

In my experience and expertise as someone who has a passion for prioritizing, a knack for organization, and a real-life job as a project manager for creative women business owners, I’ve identified the three biggest players in the Prioritization & Execution Business Game, and I’m going to share them with you.

The key to help stop procrastinating at work is in identifying your biggest motivators, calling out your potential roadblocks, and addressing those sneaky avoidance tasks.

Once you can clearly establish these three components you can start to get strategic about your work! Learning your motivators will effectively pad you with positive launch ammo, like passion, drive, and energy.

Having a leg up on your roadblocks ensures smooth troubleshooting and effective execution, and getting clear on your time-sucks gives you the opportunity to power through tricky tasks that threaten to sabotage your big-picture plan. And not doing this pre-work planning? Well, in that case, you’d better work really well under pressure because your work will take longer, require extra work, and load you up with extra stress.

I encourage you to pour yourself a cup of your favorite coffee, set up by a nice big window with your favorite pen and notepad, and give the following a go:

Step 1 to Stop Procrastinating at Work: What Is Really Motivating You?

Begin by reflecting on what pieces of your project are the most exciting to you. These are your motivators.

These tasks will most likely be the pieces of your job that made you start this business in the first place. For a lot of creatives, it might be the end-goal, the final deliverable, or the “big picture.” If this is the case for you, write it down somewhere meaningful and visible so you can use it as a reminder when the going gets tough.

If you feel bogged down with the technicalities of a job or project, refer to this shiny motivator — let it energize your drive and boost your momentum! You can also sprinkle small pieces of your motivator throughout your work week to operate as a small dose of drive when you need it. (For example, if you love the feeling of a happy client, work in time to review previous happy testimonials and see how you can apply the feedback to your new or upcoming launch!)

Step 2 to Stop Procrastinating at Work: Write Down Potential Obstacles

Next, acknowledge the pieces of your project or launch you’re worried about. These are your potential roadblocks. These items require nurturing, attention, time and space. Do not jam pack the tasks that you know are going to trip you up at the end of your schedule when you will be crunched for time no matter what. Set up a game plan in advance to methodically address these buggers with the care and thought they (and you!) need. The sooner these are addressed, the smoother the launch-waters will be!

***Note: It might not be possible to address/tackle all roadblocks at the top of the launch, simply because they may not appear until other pieces of your project have been completed! That’s OK! Just knowing they’re on the horizon will give you the chance to plan for them when they inevitably arrive.

Step 3 to Stop Procrastinating at Work: What Keeps Going to the Back Burner? (aka What Are You Avoiding?)

Lastly, identify which specific tasks keep getting knocked down to the bottom of your To-Do list or keep being moved to the next day/week/month. These are your avoidance tasks.

On the surface, these tasks can seem small and simple, yet you keep pushing them to the bottom of your to-do list. With avoidance tasks, you need to identify what’s holding you back from just checking that task off the list. Usually it’s one of these:

The 3 Main Reasons for Task Avoidance:

  1. You have a decision to make before you can move forward
  2. You’re lacking clarity about some detail steps within your larger tasks
  3. Your goals or internal motivations have changed (sometimes before you’re even conscious of it)

Often, the simple act of identifying the reason you keep avoiding certain work makes it easier to address it and move forward!

Approaching your business in this thoughtful and careful way will help set you up for major success without the major paint points of confusion and burn out.

There is no shame in saying “Hey, this piece is going to be hard for me,” just like you should not shy away from the parts that make you go, “I am so good at this!” Organizing your business admin in a way that capitalizes on the good and works with (not against) the “bad” makes you one hell of a smart business-woman, and I hope this system gives you major peace of mind.

Also, also – there’s more relief where this comes from.

If all of this still feels overwhelming or you’re struggling with identifying which things are motivators, challenges, and how to move past avoidance, I have a dream solution for you: Let me help. UNSTUCK offers 1:1 support and accountability throughout the life of your project. I will pad you up with all the tools you need (including this strategy!) to help you plow through your business projects with grace and agility. Spots are super limited thanks to the specific attention to detail and care that goes into each offer. Click over here to get on my calendar!

Struggle to Manage Tasks? 7 Ways to Build a More Organized Business

Struggle to Manage Tasks? 7 Ways to Build a More Organized Business

5 Habits to Break for better task management

Most of us want a more organized business, but it can be tough to manage tasks (especially if you’re managing with limited resources). There are a lot of moving pieces in running the day-to-day of your business (and even more when it’s time to launch). It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the admin and feel like your creative business is running off the rails. But it truly is possible to feel confident managing the details of your daily business processes and projects (like launches!) Here are 5 reasons small business owners struggle to manage tasks (plus some simple ways to organize, plan, and prioritize your work.)

Storing information in too many places makes it hard to manage tasks.

Good habit to manage tasks #1: Consolidate where you store your ideas, projects, and tasks

In the Age of the App, there’s no shortage of tech promising to be the “perfect tool” to help you manage your business. And those of us who know we need to be more organized can be huge suckers for the promise of an out-of-the-box tech fix. Spoiler alert: there’s no one perfect tool for organizing in business (but that doesn’t keep us from trying many of them out.)

Many of us online entrepreneurs wind up with information stored across multiple apps and services. When you’re trying to manage a lot of tasks, having multiple “storage locations” for information adds unnecessary mental load and can make you feel less in control in your business.

The obvious answer is to use fewer apps as storage locations. Consolidate or eliminate apps, software, and platforms so you have fewer places where details can wind up. Of course, the next obvious question is…

Which apps should I choose to manage tasks?

Start by looking at what you already use. Where are you currently storing information (ideas, plans, articles you intended to go back to, to-do items, business tasks, personal lists)? Do you use different tools on different devices (phone, computer, tablet)? For now, just keep it to what you actively have used in the last few months (this isn’t time to dig through the archives). Make a list so you can see them in front of you!

From this list, narrow down your apps by thinking through these questions:

  • Which ones already tend to be your go-to tools?
  • Which feel less limited in their application & can be used for a variety of purposes?
  • Which do you have the easiest access to (for instance, they have a phone app that’s pretty easy to navigate?)

Make it easy to stay organized by making it a habit

For the storage places you choose to keep, make it as easy as possible to access them when you need them. Move that app to the first screen of your phone so you see it first. Add a shortcut of that site to your desktop.

And similarly, if there’s a storage spot you’ve decided to eliminate, make it harder to access so you’re less tempted to grab it in the moment. Move the app to a subfolder that you have to scroll to access.

Avoiding team meetings makes it hard to manage tasks.

Many business owners, especially when they have just one or two contractors, consider team meetings an “only when necessary” event. Unfortunately, this means too many solopreneurs only meet with their team when there’s a big project—or a problem.

However, if you’re not having regular conversations with your team, you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways to keep your finger on the pulse of your business.

“Another meeting that could have been an email”

I know it’s popular to hate on meetings. The idea of having a whole day of meetings but very little implementation time can remind many of us of our previous days “in corporate.” And if you’re a creative business owner who is also introverted, the freedom to have as few meetings as possible can be awfully tempting.

BUT.

Often, having a meeting is hands-down the fastest and easiest way to stay up to date, come to a decision, or move a project forward.

Good habit to manage tasks #2: Regular meetings make managing tasks and teams easier

You really don’t have to go back to a corporate model of “all hands” meetings every day if you don’t want to. But you should make them regular. Depending on the size & experience of your team, the status and complexity of any projects you’re working on, and the amount of work you’re outsourcing, you may decide to meet more or less frequently.

Start with one or two team meetings per month and see how it helps you stay on track with managing the moving pieces. You may decide that’s enough or that you need to meet more often. You may also choose to meet with different team members at different frequencies. For instance, I meet with my right-hand gal once a week, but the full team only once a month right now and that works for us. I don’t recommend meeting less than once a month, though.

Putting off your business admin makes it hard to manage tasks.

If thinking about your managing your business admin makes you just want to take a nap, then there’s no secret why managing those tasks feels like a huge drain on your energy. But, as you already know, it doesn’t matter what kind of business you run, there is always going to be admin. If your CEO personality is more of the, “Don’t bore me with the details,” variety, then you might want to consider outsourcing this aspect of your business.

Good habit to manage tasks #3: Outsource admin or management if you can…

Without getting into the details of the different types of online business administration job roles (that’s coming in another post), I want to mention some important rules-of-thumb when it comes to outsourcing business management.

…but know what you’re hiring for

The first hire many of us make in our online businesses is a Virtual Assistant contractor. You can find a great VA to take on pretty much any type of admin (or even some creative work) in your business. However, Virtual Assistants are not managers.

If you’re in early stages, look for a VA who can work somewhat independently. Be aware, you’ll still need to give them tasks, make sure they have specific requirements & procedures, and do some amount of follow-up and management. But if you can, give them the info they need and allow them to work and report back to you on progress so you don’t need to chase them for info.

Online Business Managers, Directors of Operations, Project Managers can help you manage tasks

Online Business Managers do manage your team & keep track of all the details, but that training and experience comes at a cost. OBMs and DOOs generally start at around $3000 per month to manage the day-to-day business and team. Project manager costs vary based on the size and scope of the project, but the key difference there is that a Project Manager isn’t your day-to-day operations manager.

If you know that dealing with the daily details of running your business is a huge struggle for you, OBMs and DOOs are a fantastic resource. If your revenue won’t yet support this hire, then keeping that goal in mind can be a motivating addition to your vision board!

Knowing your goal (but not how you’ll get there) makes it hard to manage tasks.

I am SO thankful for Visionaries. Y’all give us those dream destinations so clearly, it’s like we’re almost there. You really are in the driver’s seat—but every driver needs a good navigator to show them how to get where they’re going.

If you’ve ever driven in an unfamiliar town with no map and unreliable GPS, then you know that you can wind up where you meant to go… but you probably had to take some wrong turns to get there.

It’s the same with your business. Wherever the path to your goal is a little hazy, you’ll struggle more to manage moving the team forward. And just like driving in a new area without GPS, it’ll take longer to get there, you’ll use more gas, and you’ll get pretty stressed out about it.

Good habit to manage tasks #4: Break down the tasks and get them out of your head

If you feel like you’ve got a general path (i.e. a task list) but you’re dropping the ball, start by getting more specific on the “how”. Is there anything that you need to have, do, or know before you can get to that next task?

Don’t just answer that question in your head. Get it out of your head and into a method where you can see it. Make a task in your task management system (and assign it to yourself or your team.) Add it to your checklist, to-do list, what have you. Put that proverbial pin in the roadmap so you can track your incremental progress.

Being TOO focused on details makes it hard to manage tasks.

Good habit to manage tasks #5: Strive for a balance when you plan projects

This is the other side of the coin. Just as a the lack of a detail view can make it impossible to keep track of all the moving pieces in your business, the same is true for getting too granular. If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking, “Wait, why am I doing this? Does it really matter if I order the blue pens instead of the green pens?” then you know what I’m talking about.

Good habit to manage tasks #6: Remind yourself of your Big Goal (again and again)

Keep the big goal front and center—literally. As you work, especially if you notice you might be veering off, literally read your goal again and think about your current task. Is it genuinely supporting the big goal? Is it disconnected or a distraction? Is it required or can you reach your goal without it (and maybe set this extra detail aside for a later version?) I’m definitely a gal who gets “lost in the details” pretty easily, and it often helps me to literally write the main goal on a post-it near my workspace and stick it where I can glance over to it easily to keep that end goal top-of-mind as I work.

Good habit to manage tasks #7: Keep an outside perspective close by

When your natural tendency is to veer off into the weeds, one of the easiest ways to stay focused on the main path is having another person nearby who can help redirect you when needed.

Some of us truly perform better when we have a colleague, friend, or partner who can say, “Woman, you are amazing and I love your brain, but you need to set that distraction to the side and get back on track with me. Let’s go.”

If you know that you struggle to maintain the big picture, then reach out to someone who can help hold you accountable. Preferably, this would be someone who understands your business and goals: for example, a colleague in your co-working group would be more beneficial than your best gal pal or your significant other.

If you’re finding it difficult to organize, plan, and prioritize your work and your team, you’re not alone. Take a moment to appreciate the amount you’re already overseeing! Managing all of the operations of a business—plus a life—is hard work. Businesses are complex systems and we are not meant to run them all by ourselves.

I love helping business owners with accountability, planning, business systems, or team communication. To see how I can help you keep a more organized business and manage tasks, tell me about what’s feeling difficult, then book a free call.

Feel Guilty When You Say No? Say This, Instead

Feel Guilty When You Say No? Say This, Instead

SayNo1

One of the greatest aspects of owning an online business has to be the ability to set your own schedule. For me, time freedom—setting my own hours—was the big dream, and I know plenty of other online business owners who want the same thing. But if your dream got a little tarnished with the harsh reality that being an entrepreneur is time-consuming work, you’re not alone. And if you have a hard time saying no, then managing your time becomes even more challenging. Which is why I want to teach you an easy way to say no (even if you’re a people pleaser).

“But,”—your IRL friends say—”You work for yourself! Can’t you come out to lunch with us? Can’t you volunteer for EVERY SINGLE ONE of your kids’ field trips? You have all the time in the world! Right?”

Well, yes… and no.

The fact is, you have all the time in the world regardless of what your job looks like. Whether you’re a corporate 9-5-er, Queen of the Side Gig, or you’re a full-time online entrepreneur, you have the same 24 hours available every day. And while your available weekly 168 hours will look different from someone else’s depending on your work and life responsibilities, it’s still 168 hours.

No matter your work situation, if you want control over your time, you have to prioritize and set boundaries. 

If you’re trying to regain a healthy work life balance, one where you aren’t overwhelmed with obligations, then setting boundaries starts with knowing the danger of the word “yes.” I’m talking to you, people pleasers.

If you find yourself thinking, “When I say no, I feel guilty” or “I’m just not good at setting boundaries,” or “I can’t stand to disappoint people!,” hear me out.

I’m a real people pleaser. It’s a huge (I mean HUGE) part of why I’ve chosen my line of work. If I hear the words, “Can you help me with…” my ears perk up like a dog hearing his kibble hit the bowl. There’s not much that gets me more ramped up than my clients saying, “I’m hoping you can help me figure this out.” I love helping people solve problems.

But I’ve also learned that saying “Yes” automatically to most requests leads directly to a seriously crappy work-life balance. I’ve learned it the hard way. And it sucks.

Here’s the part that might surprise you, though:

“Yes” and “No” are not your only two options.

Contrary to what some business leaders might tell you, you don’t have to eliminate the word “yes” from your vocabulary. Even if you’re a people pleaser. But if you’re looking for an easier way to say no—one that feels more attainable or more polite—build the habit of saying, “Let me think about that.”

Give yourself the gift of time to consider requests. If you were to take on the request, where would it fit in your schedule? What would you have to move or remove? Would it make you feel overwhelmed? And does the new request serve you and your goals better than something else that you’ve already planned for?

Going through this process of evaluating new requests teaches you to consider your time and prioritize. And once you decide where it falls on the priority list, then you can choose whether to say “yes,” “no,” or even something else like “yes, but with these limitations…”

How does this sit with you? Does “let me think about that” feel more reasonable than assuming that “yes” and “no” are your only options? What are some of your other favorite ways to set boundaries with your time? Hit up my DMs and let me hear about them!

Want even more help with time management? Pick up my free time-audit tool so you have a super-clear picture of how much time you ACTUALLY have available.

How to Prep Your Business for the Post-Pandemic World

How to Prep Your Business for the Post-Pandemic World

ImprovePandemicBusiness3

Does the coronavirus pandemic have you afraid to make new offers online? Does selling your services as an online entrepreneur suddenly feel different? Scarier? I’ve heard a few variations of this fear in the past few weeks. Maybe you’re telling yourself: “Nobody is buying,” “I can’t raise my prices NOW,” “I’ll make my offer again when things go back to normal.”

Are these familiar?

Here’s the truth as I see it: Yes, some people are watching their budgets more closely right now because of economic instability.

But it’s NOT true that no one is spending any extra money right now.

In the last month, I bought two fitness programs, a social media content scheduler, and a course on Instagram.

I had 3 new potential clients reach out to me last week.

Things are happening right now in online business. Are things normal? Obviously not. But has all life (and online business) ground to a halt? Also no.

If business is slower than usual for you right now, let me offer a few suggestions so you can have some inspiring wins, even if you’re feeling sluggish.

Tip #1: Prep your business to return better than ever

This is a great time to concentrate your energy on your internal systems. How can your business run better when life goes back to a (little more) normal? What systems can you set up now so that when your workload increases, your work feels better and easier than before?

Take 2 or 3 of your routine business tasks. For each one, write down:

  1. One to two sentences about the purpose of this task. (For example, “Combine all of my business receipts into a folder so I can easily send them to my bookkeeper at the end of the month.”)

  2. The materials you need in order to complete the task (Dropbox, links to a specific website, etc.)

  3. The step-by-step process to finish the task. There’s a couple of ways to do this. The most straightforward is to go through the process and write down the steps as you work.

And guess what? Now you have a documented process.

Benefit #1:

As you write down steps, you’ll be forcing yourself to think through your process. Are there unnecessary steps in it? Are there steps you do out of habit or because they used to be required, but they’re not anymore?

Benefit #2:

Congratulations, you’ve just written a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that you can hand off to a Virtual Assistant.

Tip #2: Acknowledge your wins and address the future

Write down a few recent wins. Even if it’s “I buttoned my jeans and they still (mostly) fit!”

Then, identify one thing that’s working well for you in your life or business (that’s a “Keep Doing”), one thing that’s not working (Stop Doing), and one thing you’d like to try (Start Doing). And honestly, right now? Maybe you can even make that “Start Doing” one optional.

Tip #3: Do some market research

This is the PERFECT time to massage your messaging. Get a sounding board (or a group of them who fall into your “ideal client” category.) Show them a piece of your messaging that isn’t getting results. Maybe it’s your FB ad copy or a sales page. Get their feedback. What resonates? What gets them excited?

Bonus points for setting up a call with a small group and giving each other feedback on one piece of marketing.

Which one of these are you excited to try? Leave a comment below and let me know.