We are officially halfway done with the year! Today’s episode and post is somewhat of a continuation of last week but with a few more actionable tips.
I’m wondering how you’re feeling about things opening back up? Are you ready to go back to work, go out shopping, dining out? Were you able to get as much done at home as you had expected? As we’re gearing up to get back to old routines, there is no better time to take a look at where you were at before COVID-19, where you’re at today, and where you want to be in the next six months.
Just Say NO
Let’s go over a few tips to help you get better results in the second half of the year, discuss how to revise your vision for 2020 and the importance of developing new habits. Particularly the one of saying NO. So let’s dive into how we can reshape the second half of the year!
I started out the year with a big vision. I dubbed this year the roaring 20’s, and I had seriously big plans! I wanted to launch this podcast, travel to Italy, and at least 5 US states, read the bible daily along with 20 new books, double my reach with Willow and Bee, purge & donate at least two boxes per month, workout daily, improve my photo skills, and learn Italian. It’s funny how life decided to throw a wrench in my business and travel plans, but that’s okay, what choice do I have but to grow and learn from this experience…am I right?
How to Optimize Your Time
I’m going to share a little tip that has helped my productivity in so many ways. Just about everyone has mentioned this easy to remember suggestion…I love that it rhymes, so hopefully, you’ll be able to remember it. To change your progress and daily routines, you must delegate, eliminate, or automate. For something that has been said over and over, each time I hear it, I’m reminded of another thing that I need to plug into one of these three categories. You really could apply it to all of life, not just business.
By far, the hardest for me was to delegate. I felt like it was irresponsible to pay someone to do a job that I could either do or learn how to do myself. I repeatedly tried to learn how to fix things on my website, on my Shopify store, and, last but not least, my clickable links on my email signature. I felt like every hurdle could be jumped if only I put a little bit of time into the solution.
After much wasted time, I finally decided to hire a VA or virtual assistant. I searched high and low for the right person. In the past, I felt like I had gotten burned with hiring, but the truth is that I hired the first person that responded and had a good rating. Oddly enough, that’s not the best formula. Take your time to find the person that fits your needs and has the patience for your skill level. I believe I have found the most incredible assistant. I’ll add his info in the show notes, but I’ll say that Sohag has been a dream come true. He’s been able to get my WordPress site functioning just like I wanted, my email lists are all organized, and in one place, he corrected some SEO issues, and he even fixed a few problems on my Shopify store. I know I could have tried to fix all of these things on my own, but the problem is that I cannot stay productive and continue to work on the goals that I set out to achieve if I’m spending my time trying to fix issues by learning to code. I am so grateful to have someone that I can trust just a click away.
A New Approach
My new approach goes like this. If I need to teach myself a new skill, that I will not be using to run my business, I will hire Sohag instead. If you need to teach yourself how to code, how to understand a messy platform, or need help with a new logo or design, just hire! There is a person out there that is already skilled enough to take your idea and make it into reality within hours. Imagine the amount of time that you could apply towards being productive if you just hired someone to do the things that you struggle with. I have tried both Fiverr and Upwork for hiring VA’s, and I have found that both have an incredible amount of experts that are capable of zipping through your requests.
How about those chores? Just before the pandemic hit, I looked into care.com for some relief from some of the tasks at home. I found out that they have people willing to run errands! I was super excited to give this a try. I could already see it, you know that area where the returns go to die by the back door or in the trunk of the car? Those areas would be void of bags. My daily orders would magically make it to the post office, and the groceries would be washed, cut, and put away! I had picked out the person I wanted to hire…then I discussed it with Justen. Suddenly the bags disappeared, and so did my need to hire a home assistant. Then along came COVID to seal the deal.
I know it’s only a matter of time before we get overly busy, and I’ll once again crave that additional help. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away at the things that don’t distract me from my bigger goals. Once the scales start to tip in the other direction, you can be sure I’ll look for that perfect assistant, much like my favorite virtual assistant. They’re both time-savers that allow me to work diligently on my goals.
The second hardest habit for me to adopt was to eliminate. The idea to eliminate can be used in everything that surrounds you, to the tasks you allow to enter into your schedule. Let’s start with your schedule. If you’re finding that you’re continually doing something that is not serving your higher goal, consider removing it from your timeline. Sometimes it’s hard for us to know where we need to eliminate.
Track and Adjust
If you take the time to track your daily activities for one week, I think you’ll be both surprised and most certainly be made aware of your pitfalls. Once you know where your biggest time suckers are, try to mainstream your activities. I would start by deciding when you need to answer emails when you need to post on social media, and when you need to reply to comments. If you block out times to do these tasks and set a timer, you’ll keep the time spent in each platform to a minimum. I like to do a quick 5-minute zip through my emails, and if I have time, I’ll go through each platform to see if I need to reply to anyone. If I think it will take more time, I will wait until I’m on the elliptical or sitting in the sauna. If I do it in reverse order, I will most likely never get to my workout. The idea is to try to work on productivity before you spend time on your phone, in your emails, or heaven forbid Pinterest.
If you find yourself working on projects that are not paying you well or at all, consider putting your pro bono work on hold. Sometimes a project can seem tempting, but I have found that doing work for less than what you’re worth will almost always result in bitter feelings. Either you’ll be disappointed in the amount of time it takes to create or find that the demands are not worth the possible reward. The worst in this scenario, of course, is when you take a job or project that doesn’t pay well, and because of your commitment, you have to pass on a better opportunity. It seems like the free/cheap jobs always line up with those you should have held out for. I think that’s what they call Murphys Law! Believe in the power of saying NO and if you can’t say no easily, consider saying “thank you for the opportunity, let me get back to you.” There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to consider if you should commit to an offer or not.
Eliminate at Home
Let’s talk about eliminating in our environment…As I mentioned earlier, my goal this year was to fill up two boxes a month to donate, sell, or giveaway to a good home. I can assure you that I’m not swimming in a sea of unwanted items, but I found that hidden within each cabinet, drawer, closet, and cupboard are items that I don’t use. I’m sure you’ve heard of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. After reading this book, I realized that there were so many things that I could eliminate from my life.
The Art of Purging
From clothes that I thought I would wear again, to craft supplies that I never used, I have slowly started to purge. By going through and only keeping the useful things, I have found more space and a defined way of shopping. I’m more purposeful when I buy new stuff. I know this will continue to be a process. An unexpected result has been the feeling of not being tied to “someday.” It’s easy to slip into the pattern of thinking someday I’ll wear that, eventually I’ll make that, someday I’ll read that. To be honest, once those someday items are gone, it opened up my mind to not feel guilty about the things that I had not done, and I was able to focus on what is currently on my plate. I know there’s still a mountain of things to get rid of, but I’m super excited about results so far. They’re not only visible but mentally, they have made a world of difference too.
And now for the last of the three time-savers…automate. I think this is the easiest of the three if you don’t struggle with control. I’m not going to say that it has been easy breezy, but I do think it is the quickest to implement, and the results are instantaneous. When it comes to the daily tasks that you do, look to see which ones you can place on autopilot.
In business, you can integrate your social media sites, so when you post to one, you’ll be posting to all of your pages. There are some great tools like Hootsuite and Buffer. Even linking your Instagram account and your Facebook page will save you time. Creating templates for your common email responses is another way to reduce the amount of time you spend in replying to your emails. You can even create shortcuts on your apple devices so that each time that you type a combination of any letters that you select, an entire phrase pops up. I loove this feature, especially when I’m having to reply the same thing to several customers. I’m sure other types of devices offer this too.
As far as automating in your personal life, I recommend making a habit of automatically depositing a percentage of your income into a savings or investment account. Doing this on autopilot will prevent you from making a spending decision instead of a savings deposit. For those bills that you know are the same each month or that you really have no control over…like utilities, consider having those come out of your account automatically. If you have a loan that you’re paying the same amount on each month, automate that too. In the long run, I think you’ll find that most of the time spent on paying your bills online can be significantly reduced if you automatically deduct them from your checking account. By no means should you take your eye off the ball, but taking a quick glance over your statement once every two weeks should really be all that it takes.
My favorite thing to automate by far is my shopping. I love getting a box of meat from Butcher Box every other month. I never have to worry about going to the store for meats. Another great time-saver is creating reoccurring shipments for things that you buy every month. I have a shipment of items that I get from amazon each month or every two months with things like supplements and home goods. It saves me time from researching the products and buying them, and it helps keep me from seeing more amazing things that I most likely should not be buying anyway.
I think now is as good as time as ever to revise some of the goals that we set at the beginning of the year and maybe even create bigger ones for the months ahead!
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