Feel Guilty When You Say No? Say This, Instead

Feel Guilty When You Say No? Say This, Instead

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.

3 Myths (and One Truth) About Hiring a Virtual Assistant

3 Myths (and One Truth) About Hiring a Virtual Assistant

I talk with women who own creative online businesses literally every day, so let me tell you—if you’ve said to yourself, “I know I need to hire a Virtual Assistant, but…” believe me. You are NOT alone. There’s no shortage of ways you could finish that sentence. That is, there are a lot of reasons why you may feel like you can’t hire help in your business. And some of those reasons are valid. But many of them aren’t. Feel like you need to hire a Virtual Assistant, but you’re not convinced yet? Here are 3 of the most common myths about hiring a Virtual Assistant (and one big truth).

Show of hands: how many of you online entrepreneurs—when you started creating your online business—couldn’t wait to get bogged down in administrative tasks? OK, so that’s a ridiculous question, obviously. When you dreamt up your business, you were thinking of the ways you wanted to share your mission with the world. You wanted to help people solve a problem, create a beautiful space, or create meaningful results in their lives.

You started your business to help change lives, NOT to spend time on admin, right?

When you’re in your “honeymoon” phase of business development, you’re not envisioning the late nights responding to client emails, the “just let me finish this one newsletter before I start dinner” frenzy, the hours and energy that you’ll spend on business support work that really isn’t the reason you started this business in the first place.

But before long, that honeymoon phase is over and you ARE bogged down in management and administration. 

Where do you even start with finding great online business support? Fellow online entrepreneurs and Facebook groups can be a wealth of knowledge on the subject—for better or worse! Hiring a virtual assistant or other business support services (like a project manager or online business manager) can be daunting. So let me help make it easier.

I’m here to debunk 3 common myths you’ve probably heard about hiring a virtual assistant for your online business.

MYTH #1: “I’M SAVING TIME JUST DOING THE WORK MYSELF.”

AKA: “It’s easier for me just to keep doing this work because I know how I want it done.” 

AKA: “Delegating to a virtual assistant just takes too much energy.”

AKA: “It would be a waste to hire someone else to do this when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself.”

YOU GUYS. Just… no. Believe me, I get it. When you first think of delegating, you can feel overwhelmed. Where do you even start? Fortunately, I have a lot to say on the subject of how to go about hiring a virtual assistant (and I can help you hire a VA without feeling totally overwhelmed.) 

The truth is, yes, there’s a little bit of extra time and energy that goes into onboarding a virtual assistant (or an online business manager). But when you find the right VA for your online business, you get that time back in spades. 

Which leads us to…

MYTH #2: DIYING SAVES ME MONEY.

This is closely related to Myth #1 (and they’re both equally false—as long as you’re hiring the right person for business support services.) I wrote a whole post on this recently that breaks down how much more money you can bring in every quarter when you have the right online business help based on real-life examples.

MYTH # 3: I NEED TO SCALE MY BUSINESS FIRST. THEN I’LL BE READY TO HIRE.

If you’re an online entrepreneur who is struggling to get your first clients, then sure. It may benefit you to get to a place where you’ve got some revenue consistency. But if you have fairly consistent clients and you want to *grow* your business? I’ve gotta tell you: you’re ready.

THE TRUTH? IF YOU WANT TO SCALE YOUR BUSINESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL, YOU HAVE TO STOP WASTING TIME ON ADMINISTRATIVE WORK.

Stop:

  • Scheduling clients

  • Fidgeting with your client onboarding system

  • Scheduling your social media posts

  • Setting up your own lead pages

  • Formatting and scheduling your newsletters

  • Tracking down missed payments

  • Proofreading your own content

  • Tracking your own analytics

…just to name a few!

Are you ready to up-level your business? Then you need to be spending your work hours on client-attracting, high-value work. Are you still doing most of those jobs I listed above? If so, you’re going to find it harder to grow your business because you’re not spending your time where it counts. If that’s the case, I’d love for you to check out my Set Up to Scale Up program, where I help creative women with online businesses (just like you!) scale their businesses and increase revenue while doing what they love.

How to Prep Your Business for the Post-Pandemic World

How to Prep Your Business for the Post-Pandemic World

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.

How to Get Your Creativity Back When Work-Life Balance Seems Impossible

How to Get Your Creativity Back When Work-Life Balance Seems Impossible

HERE’S A FUN EXERCISE: I WANT YOU TO THINK ABOUT TWO DIFFERENT TIMES IN YOUR LIFE.

First, think about a time in your life when you felt WAY too busy. Maybe you had toddlers running around. Maybe your business was starting to take off and you couldn’t quite keep up with your clients’ needs. Maybe you just said “yes” to too many things. Remember how that felt. Were you tense? Was your sleep interrupted? Were you more on-edge than usual? How creative were you during this period?

Now, think back to a period of your life when you felt like your time was balanced. How was your outlook then? Do you remember feeling more hopeful? More creative?

What happens when you go from being overworked to finding balance? You regain the mental energy and emotional capacity to be creative again. To dig deep in your work. To think about something beyond just surviving the week. That sounds so nice, right?

And apparently (if you’re me), you also find yourself with a block of time over a holiday weekend that you use to plan out the next year-and-a-half of your business. Because you suddenly want to. Because you have the energy to. And because you happen to be the kind of person who enjoys planning (or maybe that’s just me.)

A little more than a year ago, I was working 3 jobs (alongside all my other parenting and volunteering responsibilities). I was drained. I was stressed. And I had NO energy for creativity, for planning, or for any of those big projects that require a lot of mental energy. If that is the space you’re in right now, I understand because I’ve been there.

Now I’m working ONE job on my terms. I have a roster of clients who I LOVE. And I have space in my brain again for something beyond just surviving the week.

Believe me when I say that doing what you need to do in order to get back to a sustainable work load is SO WORTH IT.

Maybe that “thing” you need to do to regain your creative spark right now is to get help in your business. If you’re overwhelmed and you have a million thoughts all competing for space in your brain, how much better would it feel to work with a professional project planner who can take all of those thoughts and organize them into a clear, actionable plan? Someone who can look at your actual available work time and help you craft a schedule that allows you to get everything done in a way that feels freeing and full of ease? If that’s the thing you need right now to get that creative sparkle back in your life, I’ve got you covered. Just contact me here and let’s get started.

4 Ways to Shift Your Work Mindset From Avoidance to Ease

4 Ways to Shift Your Work Mindset From Avoidance to Ease

If there’s one thing that unites every client I’ve ever worked with (no exaggeration), it’s the fact that we all come to a point in our plans when we hit A WALL. There’s some task that has to get done, but you just… don’t. Maybe you feel like you CAN’T or you JUST DON’T WANNA. I’m talking about avoiding work you don’t want to do, and procrastinating that work.

There are always reasons (or excuses) for not doing The Thing, but when we start playing The Avoiding Game, it brings up a lot of guilt. I’ve seen this with clients. I know they’ve hit a wall AND they feel guilty about it when they start avoiding me. They stop returning emails and letting me know their progress. It’s because they’re not as far along as they like and it can be hard to own up to that to someone else.

BUT. Just like we can give ourselves all the reasons to keep avoiding a task, there are JUST as many paths to actually finish those tasks in a way that feels authentic and ease-y. Sometimes it just takes another person to help you see what those different paths are. That’s one of my favorite things to do with clients—to take that big roadblock that feels overwhelming and figure out the way around or through it. You know that incredible feeling of relief you have when you FINALLY get the Big Thing done that you’ve been avoiding? Like you just want to celebrate? Yeah, that’s what we’re going for.

When you hit that wall and start procrastinating on a task, there’s one question I want you to ask yourself. “Do I have to do this thing now?”

 

OK, I know, that sounds overly simplistic. Let’s break it down.

We’re going to ask that same question in 4 different ways.

 

1. Do I HAVE to do this thing now?

Is this task actually necessary? It may sound dumb on the surface, but think about it. Sometimes we can get so in the weeds with a project, that if we were to step back and look at the bigger picture, we’d realize we don’t ACTUALLY have to do The Thing. It’s a “can’t see the forest for the trees” scenario. Try stepping back and looking at the big picture. This is a great time to enlist a friend, accountability partner, business coach, or colleague (especially if they’re already familiar with your big picture project). Someone on the outside can often see the big picture more easily and can help reevaluate how the task fits in.

If the answer to “Do I have to do this thing now” is “No”, then GREAT. You can mark that thing off your list, Buddy, and feel so much better for it. But if the answer is “Yes”, move on to question number two.

2. DO I HAVE TO DO THIS THING NOW?

Do you have to be the one to do it, or can someone else do it? If, yes, someone else can do it, then hire help. Especially if it’s a task that you have to do repeatedly. If you’re always going to be avoiding it, then that feels pretty miserable to have it always on your plate. (And if you’re not sure if there’s someone else who can do that kind of thing, check out my free download, “83 Tasks You Can Hand Off to a VA.” Even if your specific task isn’t on the list, it can be a great idea generator.)

If you still feel like you have to be the one to do it, then ask yourself: Are you putting it off because you don’t know how to do it? Or because you hate it? And if the answer to either of those questions is “yes”, then circle back to the idea of hiring help. Hiring help doesn’t *have* to mean outsourcing. If it’s something you don’t know HOW to do, maybe you can just bring on someone briefly for a tutorial, or someone who can write up a quick instruction document for you, for future quick reference. And if it’s something you HATE doing, then maybe bringing on help looks like doing a one-time strategy session to problem solve the task and other ways through it.

3. DO I HAVE TO DO THIS THING NOW?

How urgent is it? Can it be rescheduled for a better time? Are there other things that need to be done first? Be careful here. If you’re rescheduling because deep down you want to dodge the task altogether, then you won’t feel any differently about the task the next time it comes around on your calendar. Then, when it does come up again, if you start this avoidance cycle again, your project is going to get pretty far behind (which feels crappy). So be honest with yourself about your reasons for rescheduling the task. 

Are you waiting for a more convenient time? One of the most common reasons I see clients have roadblocks is that the task feels big, overwhelming, or unmanageable. And when that’s the case, your best bet is to break that task down into smaller steps. What are all the different *little* steps involved with getting The Thing done? You can keep breaking each task into smaller and smaller steps until you hit that moment of, “wait a minute. I can do that.”

Let’s say the task you’re avoiding is to make a workbook for your e-course. What are the steps involved with that? Let’s see, you’ve got to write content, create graphics, and decide how to deliver the course. But that may still feel too big, so let’s break down the first of those. To write content, maybe first you need to decide the steps you’re taking your clients through, then come up with an outline of bullet points for each section, then write a section at a time. Does that feel more do-able?

4. DO I HAVE TO DO THIS THING NOW?

Or, put another way, Do I have to do this thing in this way? Is there a way you could reach the same objective with a method that feels ease-ier? Using our example above, maybe it’s the writing part that you avoid. Can you record a video instead? Make an infographic? Use that creative, multipassionate brain to try to think of a way you can use doing something you love to get to the same end point.

Finally, how else could you make it more appealing? Consider making the task feel more luxurious. Take yourself out on a little work date. Go to your favorite cafe to work and order that honey lavender latte and scone that you save for special occasions, then get down to work. Take yourself out for a pedicure as soon as it’s done. Give yourself something to look forward to make The Thing feel more like a joy and less like a slog.

Let me know what you think! Do you have any favorite ideas above? Is there one you’re going to try now to finally get The Thing done? Comment below and let me know OR join the conversation in the Efficient/Creative Entrepreneurs Facebook group! There is a live video about this very thing posted in the group, so click the link, join the group, and put your thoughts in the comments!

3 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done

3 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done

If getting organized was easy then yes, of course, we’d all do it. Learning how to prioritize tasks and carry out a plan is as valuable of a skillset as any other business-building skill — right up there with the Copy & Paste command on a keyboard. 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 is in identifying your biggest motivators, calling out your sneaky potential roadblocks, and addressing your pesky time-sucks

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: 

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!) 

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. 

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 time-sucks. These are the worst. These items are often small, simple things that make a person think, “Oh, I’ll just handle that tomorrow morning,” “Oh, that will only take me 5 minutes,” “Oh, I can do that on my lunch break/before bed/on my commute.” While they might seem small, they are detrimental to productivity. When enough time-sucks pile up, you find yourself way-way behind, or worse — unable to move forward at all until they’re addressed. Make a big ol’ checklist of your time-sucks and set aside as much time as you think you realistically need to handle them. (Then, once you’ve allotted a set amount of time, add a lil’ more.) When you’re able to treat time-sucks as priority items, you’ll be amazed at how efficiently you can blow through other, larger tasks! 

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 time-sucks I have a dream solution for you: Let me do it. My custom Love Your Launch Masterplan 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 admin with grace and agility. Spots are super limited thanks to the specific attention to detail and care that goes into each masterplan. Click over here to get on my calendar!