What to Do Before You Automate Processes | The Efficient/Creative

What to Do Before You Automate Processes | The Efficient/Creative

Do THIS Before You Automate Workflows in Dubsado

I’m going to let you in on one of the biggest mistakes I see when people try to automate their business processes. Are you ready?

Don’t automate processes that don’t exist yet! 

What do I mean? Well, automating your process isn’t going to fix what’s wrong with your business. It’s not going to create a streamlined customer experience if you have no customer experience process! Instead, you’re going to spend time reworking your Dubsado automations and workflows (or other tools’ automations) because your process wasn’t ready for it yet.

If that’s what you’ve been dealing with, don’t feel bad! This mistake often happens with business owners who are either new to the industry or have a brand-new offer structure. They haven’t test-driven their strategy in the real world, so they don’t know what roadblocks will come up. So when they automate their processes, they find themselves editing and rebuilding their Dubsado automations more often than not.

Of course, I’m not just going to tell you to stop creating automations before you’re ready Instead, I’m going to show you how to create a process that makes it easy to automate down the road, whether you use Dubsado or another tool!

Do This Before You Automate Processes in Your Business

How to create an automation-ready process

1. Build your roadmap

Start sketching your ideal process. Ask questions like: How does a lead contact you? What happens when turning a lead into a client? What needs to happen for onboarding? Offboarding? Take the time to ask these questions and build your process path — it will absolutely help in the end.

2. Create your templates

Once you know the process you want to follow, you can start collecting the tools you need to get there. For example, start building your forms, contracts, invoices, emails, etc. Alternatively, you can also create as you go for your first few leads, then save those items so you can update and edit them as you refine your process.

3. Stick with a manual process

Until you’ve refined your workflow, don’t worry about automating your workflow. You haven’t put your process to the test yet, so you don’t know what kinks or snags may come up. Instead, you’ll save time and energy by using the templated materials you’ve already prepared and simply editing them as you adjust your process.

4. Find the weak links

As you go along, you’re naturally going to find the places where the process breaks down or needs fine-tuning. For example, you may need to combine a few emails into one email or send out your questionnaires sooner. Take notes of these snags, make adjustments, and smooth out the process as you go along.

Don’t be afraid to make BIG adjustments if need be (it happens way more than you think!). The more time you spend refining your process to better suit your needs and your customers, the better it will be.

5. Don’t automate until your process is consistent

It’s only time to automate your workflow when your process is (mostly) standardized. Once you’ve stuck with the same process a few times with success, you’ll know it’s ready.

Giving yourself the freedom to explore the correct process BEFORE automating takes time but it will save you so much time and energy. You’ll have the freedom to experiment with what works and what doesn’t, and ultimately, it will make your workflow better than you thought it could be.

Call for help when it’s time to automate

Finding the right processes for your business can be messy at best — but sorting through those processes to make them more concrete and automated is a key to long-term success. 

If you’re ready to get help setting up the processes and workflows you’ve established, I want to help! Working together, we can automate and streamline your operations through my Dubsado setup services — in about 1 day! If that sounds like the kind of support you want to help you create workflows, you can apply for my Custom Dubsado Setup. 

All you have to do is: 

  1. Give me a snapshot of your current business setup
  2. Choose your Dubsado Setup Day on the calendar
  3. Send me your current client assets
  4. Sit back and relax! 

Once I’m done creating your Dubsado workflows, you’ll get a step-by-step walkthrough of your shiny new Dubsado workflow (plus all your forms, emails, schedulers, questionnaires, etc.) We smooth any rough edges together and train you on every step to make sure you’re ready to fly on your own!

The best part? You’ll have your refined process set up as a Dubsado workflow with all your assets in place by a Certified Dubsado Expert who knows all the “secret handshakes” and is on-call for your follow-up questions! If you’re ready to finally automate those workflows and processes you’ve been working on for a while, my Custom Dubsado Setup Services are the perfect solution.

Why I’m Giving Up on Time Blocking to Set Priorities at Work  [+ Video]

Why I’m Giving Up on Time Blocking to Set Priorities at Work [+ Video]

I’m giving up on block scheduling to set priorities at work

I’m giving up on block scheduling—despite many years of effort!—when it comes to how I set priorities at work.

If you’re not familiar with block scheduling—or time blocking—it’s a method of calendar and task management where you literally “block” time on your schedule for certain types of work. It’s a method that I’ve even taught before!

Time-blocking: good in theory, difficult in reality

With time-blocking, you might say, “I need 2 hours a day for admin work, half an hour to respond to emails every day, and 3 hours of actual client work time.” And that may be true… at least, those numbers may be the correct averages for the time you need.

But what I’ve found is that life just never really goes the way that I think it’s going to go. Every day is just a little bit different.

There are sudden fires that need to be put out.

Or my energy is SUPER low.

Or my restlessness is really high and I can’t focus on the work I’m “supposed” to be doing.

Or I have an unexpected client meeting (or a new lead books a discovery call!)

So the time I thought I had set aside for certain work gets pushed aside for one reason or another. (And, yes, sometimes this can be related to boundary-maintenance issues, but that’s a nuanced discussion for another day).

The point is: life happens. It happens a LOT. And I’ve found that I was spending lots of time and energy every week just deciding how to use my time.

Using Motion to set priorities at work

I didn’t even realize how much time and energy I was spending every day to set priorities at work until I stopped doing it.

Enter Motion, a task management/calendar/scheduling productivity app I had been seeing pop up in my social media ads for years.

I had some time over the holidays to use however I wanted, so I decided to finally download the app and give them a try (with their 5-day trial).

The basic idea is that it integrates with your calendar, you add your tasks, and it will schedule your tasks for you around the parameters that you set so that you can focus on the right tasks in the right priority without actually having to make any of those decisions.

So for me, it has freed my brain from spending energy worrying about “how should I use my time?” Or “do I have too much work and not enough time?” I didn’t realize how much energy I was spending on answering those questions every day.

Video Walkthrough of Using Motion App to Automatically Schedule Tasks & Set Priorities

Click to See Video Timestamps

00:32: My problem with block scheduling

01:41: How Motion App is different & why it works better for my brain than block scheduling

03:05: Integrate Motion App with your selected calendars

04:21: Add your work hours (or multiple types of schedules)

05:40: How to add a task to Motion App & have it prioritize your work automatically

09:17: How Motion App automatically adjusts your schedule when things change

10:54: How to set a recurring task in Motion App

12:52: Other prioritization options when creating tasks

13:49: The Focus Time option in Motion App (& the alternative method I prefer)

15:18: Meeting Scheduler

16:08: Using meeting scheduler options in Motion App for less energy drain

16:49: Limitations of the meeting scheduler

18:19: Cons of using Motion App

22:27: The overall benefits of Motion App (& Why the pros outweighed the cons for me)

23:58: Get a referral code for a 2-week free trial (no credit card required) & $100 off if you purchase

Motion App answers the question: What are my task priorities?

After you choose which calendars you want integrated into the app, you set your basic work schedule (or you can have multiple types of schedules for different types of work).

Then, as you add each task, you set the parameters of when it needs to be done, how long it’s going to take, etc.

Motion Task Manager Options 1

What sets this apart from other tools that I’ve seen, though, is how it works like my own brain—it asks many of the same questions I would ask when choosing priorities for work—to set priorities for me based on how I prefer to work.

It’s like an app that knows our best intentions to manage tasks don’t always line up with reality.

Hard deadlines vs Soft Deadlines

For example, deadlines. I love that Motion lets you distinguish between hard deadlines and “soft” deadlines. In a way, this is kind of an Eisenhower Matrix that will differentiate urgent tasks from important-but-not-urgent ones. (Aside: since I haven’t used this with a team, I’d be curious to know whether you can re-assign those non-important but urgent tasks within the app. Comment if you know!)

Being able to choose in advance whether the deadline has any flexibility means that the app can re-prioritize for me when my schedule gets changed for any reason (without me having to think about it!) I don’t have to look at my lists of tasks every time my “ideal schedule” gets interrupted and decide how to fit everything into my available time.

“No deadline” is another nice option for those “someday” tasks you want to work on but don’t really have a set deadline. Motion App lets you choose a general timeline for the task (like, “within a few weeks” or “within 1-2 months”).

Split long tasks into chunks—or not

This is one of my favorite features.

In the past year or two, I’ve experienced how important it is for me to have BIG OL’ chunks of time available for certain kinds of work. But how much time I need really depends on the type of work I’m doing.

Here’s an example. If I need to spend 8 hours adding client assets to Dubsado, I can add that as a single 8-hour task, but tell Motion, “It’s fine to break that up into chunks, as long as each chunk of time is at least 45 minutes.” It’s not necessarily a task that requires a ton of focus, I can knock out a good bit of work in 45 minutes.

But writing is a different beast entirely. I probably need that same 8 hours to develop and write a good blog post (I’m thorough, y’all), but 45 minutes barely is enough time for me to make sense of the commotion in my brain when I sit down. I can’t get anything of worth done on a blog in 45 minutes.

So if I’m setting up an 8-hour task to write a blog post, I can still break it into chunks (but I don’t want any chunk to be less than 2 hours). Boom.

Motion will develop my schedule around all of these types of details—broken record alert—but I don’t have to think about it.

Recurring task options in Motion

Similarly, with recurring tasks, Motion gives you intuitive options. You have the same duration options as one-time tasks. You have similar priority options of either “Must finish” or “Try to finish”. And like one-time tasks, you can select which work schedule the task applies to.

But there are also frequency options. Is this a task you do multiple times per week? Or is it a task you do once a week (but when you do it is flexible?)

Recurring tasks also have a nice “ideal start time” feature, which Motion will use when it’s not overridden by higher priorities.

Motion Recurring Task Options 1

Motion App answers the question: Do I have too much work and not enough time?

Motion Tasks Scheduled

As you add your tasks to Motion, it schedules them for you on your calendar. And if there’s simply too much work to do within you parameters, it will let you know (and give you options for how you want to handle it).

Once I’ve added my tasks for the next few weeks, I love being able to scan forward in the calendar and see what my days look like. When I used it during the trial, I was shocked to see how much time I actually had left over after everything was scheduled. I knew some more work was coming that was going to take up a lot of that time, but since I could see exactly how much I had available, I didn’t stress about how it was all going to fit.

Visualization is key when it comes to managing tasks and priorities—we tend to forget what we don’t see

view of my motion app calendar with tasks and meetings scheduled

Motion App does more than schedule tasks (see details in my video)

While I am primarily using Motion to manage tasks and visualize my work priorities, it does have more functionality.

I go into some of these in some more detail in my walkthrough video, so check out the video (start at 15:18 to start with the meeting scheduler). I’ll just pop some quick highlights below from my limited experience.

Seamless external meeting scheduler

I have used the meeting scheduler for rescheduling some of my client meetings and it’s got some great features that, again, stay with the theme of the making it easy to prioritize your schedule around your preferred methods of staying focused.

Features I like in the Motion meeting scheduler:

  • Generate a canned meeting request that will automatically include scheduling options for the recipient. They can even book the time just by clicking on the link that appears in their email.
  • You can choose whether you’d prefer to group meetings together or spread them apart, depending on how they impact your time and energy
  • “Preferred” time slots: based on your preference above, you can have “preferred” time slots labelled so the recipient knows your preference. OR you can even opt to only display your preferred times to recipients.

Automatic flexible internal meeting scheduler

With Flexible Meetings, each person on your team adds their calendar or schedule (though you can keep the information private) and Motion will automatically book your internal meetings around everyone’s schedule. No more sending out Doodle polls or long email chains to choose a team meeting time!

Folks, do I ever wish I had started using Motion about 4 months earlier when I was trying to coordinate the single best meeting time for 6 independent business owners over 3 times zones.

I would love to try this feature out but I haven’t needed it since I started using Motion. If you try it out, please report back to me with your thoughts!

Pros and Cons of Using Motion App to Set Priorities at Work

There’s a lot to love about Motion, but it’s certainly not perfect. If you know me then you know that–while I love a good app and I love reviewing them so you can find useful ways to make your work feel easier—I’m not going to sugarcoat the downsides. There’s no perfect tool and not every tool is ideal for every person or situation.

Here is a quick rundown of both the limitations I’ve noticed and the benefits of using Motion.

Cons: Downsides of using Motion app to manage tasks and meetings

  • Not a robust task manager. I can’t replace my current task/project management software—ClickUp—for this. But if you don’t need a lot of features in a task manager, you might be able to. For instance, you can add tasks to “projects” and add notes to a task, but you can’t add attachments or subtasks. From what I can tell, collaboration is limited.
  • Doesn’t integrate with existing task managers. So I can’t enter a new task in ClickUp and have it automatically populate in Motion. I haven’t looked into integrations through third-party options like Zapier. Honestly, this is the reason I didn’t try this app out sooner.
  • Only schedules your tasks two weeks in the future. This is a pretty big one for me. Having the ability to see everything for the month would be HUGE. I’ve already requested this feature.
  • Doesn’t keep track of the “chunks” you’ve completed. If you have a big task broken up into chunks and you complete a chunk, it doesn’t update the task to show how many chunks you’ve completed or what percentage of the work you have remaining.
  • Meeting scheduler is limited to a 2-hour timeframe (for example, I couldn’t use it to schedule a VIP Day, which is 4 hours)

Pros: Benefits of using Motion app to manage tasks and meetings

  • Visualize how your upcoming work fits into your schedule
  • Know at a glance if you have too much work and not enough time. Knowing this in advance can help you delegate earlier (and help keep you from the “I can’t delegate because I don’t have enough time to tell someone else how to do this” conundrum).
  • Automatically prioritize your tasks for the day & week. This saves me significant time and energy every day.
  • When your schedule changes, you have new work, or “life happens”, automatically adjust your schedule and tasks with the push of a button (very little thinking and energy required).
  • Flexible settings to accommodate a variety of working styles and preferences. Works like my own brain when it comes to setting priorities for work.

Final thoughts on Motion + how you can get an extended free trial and save $100

While I haven’t actually totally given up on time-blocking for my schedule, I’ve found a way to integrate it into my calendar in a way that actually makes sense for real life.

After using the 5-day trial, I decided that I saved enough time and energy from using Motion that it was worth the expense. Even with the downsides! Motion app has definitely become my go-to tool for my daily schedule (some days I even forget to open ClickUp).

To get a more in-depth walkthrough and see how Motion works, watch my walkthrough video at the top of this blog post. 

Then, if you want to try out Motion for yourself, you can actually get an extended 2-week trial (no credit card required) and save $100 (if you decide you love it and want to keep it).

If you’re interested in the extended trial or saving $100, just send me a message at support(at)theefficientcreative(dot)com and let me know you want a Motion referral code.

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

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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

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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.