Productivity

Time is Money. Let's Track It.

As an entrepreneur (and human being), your time is VALUABLE, and is the only resource that you can never get back!  One of the big obstacles and excuses that I hear from my clients and fellow female founders is "I don't have TIME!"  Well, my friend, if you have the dream, then I'm here to help you MAKE the time to follow through on those brilliant ideas I know you have.  

This week, we'll take an honest look at how you are ACTUALLY spending your time in regards to working ON and working IN the business can give us insight into how you can make changes to be more productive so you can do what’s most important to you.  This will also help lay the groundwork to give you data if you'd like to invest in online tools, or even hire team members.  

1. First, let's start with doing a time audit.  

You know how whenever you want to start keeping a budget, you first start with tracking your finances?  Or how my nutritionist wanted me to track everything I ate for a week to see just how much sugar I was consuming?  You can do the same thing with your time.  

By tracking how you spend your time, you’ll get a baseline look on your habits and workflow, so you can honestly evaluate what’s working and not working.  No judgment here, just simple reporting!  You can do it in a paper planner, in an excel spreadsheet, or an online tool like Toggl.  

** Your action step is to jot down the time blocks on everything you do for a whole week, INCLUDING your life activities (because it’s hard to separate).  ** 

2. Categorize them into types of activities:

Did you know that there are different types of activities?  Meaning, there are some tasks that only you can do as a CEO/service provider that are worth more than other tasks that you could outsource or even delete.  

Here's where you can start to categorize your tasks according to how much this activity is worth your time.  For example, "CEO time" spent creating your unique brand position will ultimately help you bring in more money than changing the font on your web site.  

So, here's a general category list that I like to use to break down the type of tasks I do.  Since I'm nerdy, I like to color code them as well.  
Money-Making (green), Customer Service/Client Calls (blue), Planning & Strategy (purple), Admin (red), Personal (pink).  

Then, assign each category a $$ amount, generally in terms of what you get paid v. what you can pay someone to do. 

For example, Money Making ($1000), Planning & Strategy ($500), Customer Service ($100), and Admin ($15)
 

3. After a week of time tracking, reflect on how you're spending your time. 

There are a few things to notice here:  

What are my priorities, and are they scheduled FIRST into my calendar?  Your values are important to taking the TIME to express them will make a difference in your fulfillment.  

What are activities that you don't enjoy and you're not good at?  If it's business related and NOT necessary, then say good-bye!  If it's business related and necessary, then this could be a task you automate with a tool, or a team member you hire.  For example, let's say you don't enjoy scheduling your social media, but using a tool like Hootsuite will save you time, or hiring a social media manager who helps you to create, post, and engage may be an option for you.  

What activities can I batch together?  
Sometimes a great time saver is to do "like" activities all together so you don't have to interrupt your brain flow (which can really hurt your productivity and efficiency!)   Even things like meal plan and prep for the week or batching your content for the month can all be done in one sitting.  

4. If you have team members or support people, delegate those lower-income tasks, or streamline your process to make it a simple process.  

After tracking and reflection, you can then begin to implement small changes to your schedule to see it's a more effective use of your time.  Of course, don't forget to block off PERSONAL TIME and make it a non-negotiable so you have work/life balance and boundaries in place as well. 

Your Action Step:

Track how you currently spend your time by creating a "time audit."  What are some insights you have from this?  What would you like to change?  Join the Authentic Brand Leaders Facebook group, and let us know all about it! 

If you found this letter helpful, then please share it with your friends!  Or, you can subscribe to the "Letters For Leaders" emails for more tips, strategies, and coaching exercises delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up below! 

With joy,

4 Ways to Tame the To-Do List

Dear Leader Who Has a Mile Long To - Do List, 

When you’re growing your business, it’s easy to feel like you need to do more in order to get more results.  Your list of to-dos are piling up, you start things and don’t finish them, and it’s hard to feel accomplished at the end of the day.  

My commitment is to help you stress less as a leader, so today’s letter is full of tips to help you tame your to-do list.  

But first, let’s “start with why” and keep you vision and top priority goal for the week in mind.  By using that as a filter, it helps to filter your decision on how to make the most of your time spent on tasks.    

DELETE the tasks that don’t matter.  

Sometimes we’re doing so much that we forget to stop and ask, “Do I really have to do this?”  Deleting tasks that don’t matter and saying no to things that don’t support us and our goals can be a very freeing feeling.  

With your top priority goal in mind, what’s something(s) you can DELETE from your list?  

What’s something that you can put on your NOT TO DO list?  

 Some of my favorite things to DELETE are: canceling appointments or events that don’t have a purpose, and things just to keep me busy or distract me from the work.  

AUTOMATE repetitive and on-going tasks.  

There are some things that don’t actually require a human to do, but still need to be done.  These are some things you can automate so you can save your thinking and your energy on more valuable things.  

For example, I automate some of my bill paying, social media posting, and client scheduling.  I can always check in to keep an eye on it, but it doesn’t require extra energy to do it.   

DELEGATE things that are outside your zone of genius.  

You can’t do it all, or at least, you can’t do it all well.  You can take some things off of your plate by delegating tasks to a partner, team member, intern, or friend.  It does require letting go of control, but trusting someone else enough to do the thing even better than you could allows them to step up and serve you, and free up your time and energy to operate in your zone of genius.  

Ask yourself: As the CEO, what are the things that only I can do?  

Stick to doing those well, and looking for people to train and trust to be able to delegate those tasks to.  

DO the things that matter.  

Once you’ve whittled down your list, you can DO the tasks that you know will move you forward towards your goals.  You can do them one at a time to stay focus on the task at hand.  Then, crossing them off will help you feel accomplished.  

Once you work these 4 strategies to your weekly (or daily) to do list, you will build more intentional thinking muscles so you can learn to steward your time and talent well.  The less busy work you can do, and the more simple and focused you can be, you’ll find that you can be even more productive and impactful.

With joy, 

Plan Your Projects With Prayer And Play

Dear Shi,

       It feels like I have a million of brilliant business ideas, but I’m not sure which one to pursue, and what to do next.  I’m really creative but get overwhelmed with all of the thoughts because I want to do them all.  I get stuck trying to figure out what to focus on, so I start a lot of projects, but I just end up not gaining traction on anything.  What are some ways I can be creative and get things done?  

Sincerely,

Diana


Dear Diana,

The beauty of creativity is the ability to pursue ideas and to make something out of nothing.  That’s what I love about being an entrepreneur, a leader, and a creative -- the freedom to be able to get inspired and then be able to execute it.   

Now the thing is: value doesn’t come from ideas that are stuck in your head but completed projects and products that you put out into the world so that it can actually serve people.  

So how do you bridge the gap between just dreaming up some ideas and strategically planning out the process so you can execute on those ideas?

First, I think it’s important to start with prayer -- to put the focus on God as the ultimate Creator and you being His vessel to do good work, and His messenger to share His message.  

 

“God, thank you for the opportunity to use creativity, wisdom, and obedience to

use the gifts, resources, and relationships you’ve given me to share the message

of the Good News by doing great work. I pray for inspiration for brilliant ideas,

clarity for specific strategies, and courage to take action on being the steward who

brings what you’ve put on my heart into reality.”  

 

Next, I wanted to share with you a simple yet powerful tool to help you to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper.  Introducing….the Mind Map!  It’s also known as the brain dump.  

A brain dump or a mind map is a great way to get your creative ideas out of your head and onto paper so you can visually see what’s important, and possible action steps to take to complete a project.  Most of all, it’s fun!  

 

Guidelines for doing a brain dump/mind map:

1. Do this exercise around a specific goal or project idea.

2. Give yourself permission to jot down any ideas that come to mind. No judgment!

3. Set a time limit for at the most 15 minutes to get all your ideas down on paper.

4. Once you’ve completed it, eliminate the bad ideas, and prioritize the important ones,

    according to the resources you have available to you.

Ask yourself some filtering questions, like:


What stands out to you as most important?

 What do I need in order to make this happen?  

What makes sense given the resources available to me?  

What can I really commit to creating?

5. Break down the project into action steps so it’s easy to schedule in your calendar and put into your to-do list.  

This way, you can create awareness of all the steps of the projects as well as create an action plan that sets you up for better success to actually doing it!  

If you’d like a reusable guide to mind-mapping like a pro, then download the “Prayerful & Playful | Project Planning Guide”! 

You’ll save yourself time and sanity by considering the cost of the project you’re pursuing AND have no more excuses of feeling overwhelmed with ideas stuck in your head.  

With joy,

[Featured: The Well Studio] 5 Steps To Managing a Productive Project

A show I'm digging lately is Celebrity Apprentice with Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know, the one where there's B-List celebrities who are split into two teams and tasked with creating a marketing campaign for a famous brand, and need to face the challenges of leading a team of people with brazen personalities and manage a large, creative and technical project in a very short amount of time. All for charity.  It's fascinating. 

I've noticed that what separate the winners and the losers (those whose who get "terminated") is the ability to play to their strengths, create a strong vision of the outcome of the project, and delegate specific roles and responsibilities to the people on the team. All while communicating and checking on their progress as they take many moving parts and bring it together. If Housewives, Reality Stars, and Ex-athletes can do it, so can you.

So I wanted to share with you two resources about Project Management. Because as the CEO of your business, I know you have to toy the tension between leading people (and yourself well), and the planning, delegating, doing the work well.

1. "5 Steps to Managing a Productive Project" | Guest Post on The Well Studio

All projects have a simple framework that helps it move from "I have an idea" to "I implemented the idea". I break down this process to help you you focus on what matters (and maybe help you to see some parts you're NOT doing) to help you be more productive with your projects.  It’s featured as a guest post over with my friends at The Well Studio.  

 

2. "Prayerful & Playful Project Planning Guide" | Free Mind-Mapping Guide

I wanted to create a guide that features one of my go-to project planning tools that helps me to get all of my ideas out of my head and onto paper so I can visually see all of the moving parts to any project. This is great for anyone who’s creative, has way too many ideas floating around in their heads, and responsible for many projects.  The best part is: we start with prayer to intentionally focus on what matters, and then have fun brain dumping the possibilities to come up with the best solution for our projects.  

 

As always, leave a comment below letting me know what fun projects you’re up to!  

With joy,

[Video Training] Using Trello as a Project Management & Task List Tool

If you're anything like me, productivity meant using a notebook to capture ideas, a journal to process those ideas, Lara Casey's PowerSheets to turn those ideas into goals, and then a paper planner turn those goals into my to-do list.  With all of those different sources and purposes for different things, I was actually LOSING time and momentum because I didn't have a streamlined system to capture all of my ideas, process, and tasks into one place. 

And then I discovered Trello. 

Trello is a free, flexible, and visual online tool that acts like an online bulletin board.  It's really simple to use: you can create a board, a list, and cards that can be tweaked and fleshed out to be a truly comprehensive way to use as a Project Management Tool & Weekly Task-Do List.  No more scribbling on sticky notes, and wondering what I need to do tomorrow...or the next week. 

Today's training is a behind-the-scenes look on how I use Trello.  I can use it in a LOT of ways, like a content calendar, CRM system, but today I wanted to focus on how I use it to be productive.  I also share how I incorporate a few of Todd Herman's "90 Day Year Principles" to get focused, productive, and create routines so you can get things done. 

What's your favorite online productivity tool?  After watching the video, what's one tip or trick you'd like to incorporate to be more productive? Leave your comments below!

With joy,