We all have the same number of hours in a day. The difference between us is how we use them. And while Jennie & Alyson aren’t productivity experts… they HAVE been in business for a while and have figured some things out. (Things you won’t find on those “get more stuff done” lists on Google.)
Listen to them discuss the 4 different buckets of things to consider when it comes to productivity, efficiency, and getting stuff done in your business.
Upcoming Episode – Intentional Strategy with Alex Brueckmann. Subscribe on your favorite podcast platform to get notified when it goes live.
Alyson Lex 0:02
The one thing that we cannot ever, ever, ever get any more of his time, there literally is not an option to get more of it in a day, because everyone gets the same 24 hours, the same 86,400 seconds in every single day. But what we can do is be more intentional and make the most of what time we do have. And I've done this and I know Jenny's done this googled planning for efficiency. And what you get is a laundry list of things like delegate, don't multitask, right? Cut out the excess, incentivize your employees or telecommute to reduce your time, but that's not going to work for me, because frankly, my commute is 12 steps down the hallway and stepping over a cat or two. It's just not going to fit my life, right. So we need to figure out our own way. And frankly, there is not one system that's going to work for every single person on this planet. We're all different. We're all unique. We all have our own challenges. We all have our own opportunities. And we all have our own strengths. So what we're going to talk about today are really the four buckets of things to consider. And what we do, we're not experts. But Jenny, how long have we been in business together like a combined
Jennie Wright 1:24
22 and a half years
Alyson Lex 1:27
there abouts something like that, I'd have been a long time. So we've, we're doing all right with this. So we're going to share what we've learned, and hope that some of that will help you.
Jennie Wright 1:39
Your environment, this is the first bucket that we're going to talk about is your environment, where you work matters for the first three or even, I think it was, um, yeah, it was the first three years of this business for myself, I worked from the kitchen table. And then I would move to the couch. And I would work from the couch, I did client calls from my kitchen table, and I did client calls from my couch. But that was very much in the beginning. And carving out a space for yourself is essential for being efficient. I was very lucky that during the day, my space was quiet, my spouse was at work and the place was empty. So it was just me and being able to do my stuff. But that changes with people, you might have kids and dogs and things and your environment is going to be different. So carving out a space for efficient work is really, really important. So take a look at where you're able to make a space. Is it in the corner of a bedroom? I've seen clients do that. Is it in the basement, or an extra room that can be turned into an office? Or do you need to do some workshop space outside and I know that Kay Brinkley is somebody that we're friends with who does social media, she goes to a work share space, and she loves it, it gets her out of the house, it's different environment. She's around other entrepreneurs. But she's got a beautiful space and beautiful opportunities to create a wonderful environment. And the cost of that is low enough that it makes sense for her to be able to be incredibly efficient in what she does.
Alyson Lex 3:07
It's funny that you mentioned that because I considered a work share space. And what I actually did for a period of time was I tried to do some out of the office work I This was pre pandemic, but I would reserve those private rooms at the library where I could be off site and quiet. I tried coffee shops I tried ever and it did not work for me saying so during the pandemic, I was like, my husband's home, he's still home, he's gonna be home for the foreseeable. And that threw me into a little bit of a tailspin because it drastically changed my environment. I can't leave my door open. I can't. It's not quiet in the house. There's somebody else it's distracting. It's all of this. And that plays into one of the challenges that I have, which is of course my my ADHD and things like that. So I had to modify how I use my space. I had to say, Okay, you know what I'm used to being able to leave the door open. Now I have to modify it to get used to having my door closed. Little things like that really matter to your environment. So really be detailed and intentional. I cannot work as well from a desk that is not my big desk with my big screen my multi, multi monitor world. If I have to I can. But if I want my best work, I need to be at my desk.
Jennie Wright 4:44
I hurried. And when I first met you, you were sharing the space that you're in right now with your spouse. There was another desk in there and I knew that he was in and out of there at some points but he worked out of the out of the house during the day so it was a little bit quieter. But now that he's home He's had to find and this is the same for him, he said to find a separate place to, you know, within the house to be able to work right? And to mount the office and then repainted the walls was great. I did. Yep. Which is awesome. So this is a good lead in to talking about people and processes, people and processes are a really big deal in your business, this is going to be probably the biggest bucket that we're going to talk about. Because there's so much in here, and take and cherry pick what you need from this, and molded into how you need to work. Right? What Allison and I are sharing are things that we know that worked for us, and also things that have worked for, you know, we've been around the block a few times. So what we think works, sometimes does most of the time does, so we want to share some stuff that is going to be helpful for you. The first thing to do is to look at your core skills. What are you currently improving? And what should you not be touching? In the beginning, when you're an entrepreneur, it feels like you wear every single hat, and that you're doing all of the things and in all honesty, you probably are. But as you grow, see what you should be doing versus what you should not be touching is very, very important. In the beginning, fun fact about Jennie, I decided I was going to build websites. By the way, I had no business building websites like zero, okay, I can't code for my life. And you do need to do some CSS, and other different little like, you know, things, okay? I can't do them. I could copy and paste if I found them. But it isn't me. So I had to abandon the fact that Jennie was going to be a website builder. That was like the first six months of the business, figuring out that websites were not going to be my thing. So my core skill was not website building. But what should you be looking at what you can do and what you shouldn't be doing? So as an example, should you be editing those videos for YouTube? If you have an aptitude for video editing, and you just need to get better at it? Sure, why not? But if it's taking you six hours to edit six minutes of video, probably not the thing you should be doing that YouTube video is something only you can do? Will it make you money? Is it feasible? Can you outsource it? Are there some tests involved with it that you can send out? Is it something you can pay somebody else a couple hours a week to help do so that you're freed up to do the bigger and the better things in the business.
Alyson Lex 7:22
I also want to make a distinction here. When you were looking at becoming a website builder, website designer, you were learning up, you were seeing, hey, I might be able to make this my business and you can make money at this. And so if that's where you are, you're like, you know what, I want to add this to my list of services, spend the time to learn it, that's fine. But I'm a copywriter. I do not have business playing in Canva as much as I do. I'm gonna just put it out there. Jenny's shaking her head at me. I love playing in Canva. I love it. But I don't have any business being in there. So, yeah, I need to outsource it. Because that's something that I'm able to do. I also want to talk about understanding your own personal rhythms and cycles and schedules, and that sort of thing. Okay, so a lot of advice out there is Oh, get up really super early before the house is awake. So you have quiet time to work. Well, that is awesome advice for someone like me, who I routinely wake up around 430 to five o'clock in the morning with no alarm. But for someone like Jenny. Yeah,
Jennie Wright 8:39
that doesn't work. For me.
Alyson Lex 8:40
That does not work for Jenny. But you know, what does work for Jenny is working later. Yeah. So planning tends to work late. I tend to start work early and stop earlier. So we know those personal rhythms and schedules and she'll wake up in the morning and have a bajillion messages for me starting at around 430 to five o'clock when I've started to work. Hey, this is what I've This is what I'm thinking this is what I've gotten done. Check this out all those things. And when I wake up in the morning, I tend to have messages from her the night before. Wait, works well for us. Exactly. Think about things like do you do better when you're on four hours of back to back calls and then you have the rest of the day to do solo tasks. I am Jenny's not. So I try not to schedule calls willy nilly throughout the day. I try to set myself up pretty back to back I'd like to have a little break in between like 15 minutes, but Jenny prefers to space her calls out so that she has time to reset and accomplish something in between each one. That's just how we operate. Those are our personal rhythms.
Jennie Wright 9:53
And we only figure them out by trial and error.
Alyson Lex 9:56
Jennie Wright 9:57
I've done the back to backs. I've done the four hours of bags. And by the end, I've done
Alyson Lex 10:00
the willy nilly, right.
Jennie Wright 10:02
By the end of it, I'm like, no cheese, no talkies. None of it, this is gone, I don't know, I just I just need to be, you know, I need to recharge my batteries. I'm an introvert. And I need to recharge my batteries. And I recharge my batteries by being quiet and being solo. And having gregarious, you know, conversations or being out bound, is very challenging for me.
Alyson Lex 10:28
I think too, it also leads to and I just want to dive into this, because this is another way that we're different. You will also break up your day, as far as work and non work. So you'll work for a couple hours, and then you'll go for a walk. And then you'll work for a couple hours. And then you'll take a break and, and spend time with your partner. And then you'll work for a couple hours and do this. I can't do that. I am a work my solid and then be done. Again, it's our own personal rhythm. But as you can see, we're completely different on this. That doesn't mean that we try to do what the other does. It doesn't fit we know ours, right? It doesn't fit we know ourselves. Also, consider your schedule. Do you know that the first week of the month is always crazy for you or maybe the last week you have a ton of back office stuff. Don't book calls during those times, put yourself as a no go on the calendar. When I have copied deadlines. Like when I send a proposal I put the the deadline that I've given them on my calendar, block it off, right then if they don't accept it, which rarely happens, but if they don't accept it, I take that off, and they open the day back up. But block it off when it happens. Understand how you work or not how others think you should work or how you wish you would work and kind of create your business around that.
Jennie Wright 11:54
Absolutely. And investing in people and systems that are going to make your business run better helps you sort of play into these rhythms as well. Right. So making sure that you're spending the money in the business where it's necessary to run better. You can't run a business, a profitable business on free software forever. It limits your ability to scale, it limits your ability to do things that are at a really good level, eventually, you will have to start spending some money in your business, if you want to scale things up. And if you want to be more successful, right? So taking a look at those YouTube videos that you're editing or graphics that you're working on, as Alyson was mentioning earlier with Canva, do you really need to be doing that, you know, I have had to pull Alison out of Canva, kicking and screaming. And I will continue to do so because she needs to focus on other things. She's brilliant at other things. And that's where she needs to put her time and energy. Take a look at what you can outsource and how that makes sense in your business. It's not that you need to go and hire six people to be on your team and OBM and a project manager and this and that. And all these different kinds of people and spend more than half your income on outsourcing. outsource in the beginning if you want to on little things that you should not be touching, like hiring if you're like alson hiring a graphic designer to help with the graphics. And then moving your way up. Should you be doing that video editing, maybe you can get a video editor, are you recording a podcast and the podcast editing. Look at that next, and making sure that you're using the right software to make what you do easier. Allison pulled me out of AWeber back in the day because I was using AWeber for my business under somebody else's recommendation I used it for for four or five years. And it wasn't working for me it wasn't efficient. And Allison's like you got to try Active Campaign tried Active Campaign. It's incredibly efficient. And now I recommend it from like almost everybody because of its efficiency. And it makes it easier to do business. And that's the kind of things that you need to look at doing.
Alyson Lex 13:50
I want to touch on that outsourcing thing, because I do have a couple of different people that I work with in my business to help me accomplish some things. And one of them is my VA. And she's amazing. And what I've realized is I can give her a task. And then I'm still a bottleneck, because I need to prepare something or give her a special document or whatever. Well, why am I doing that? Right? So I empower the people that I work with, to take those processes over completely. And we'll talk about this in a little bit when it comes to mindset. But it's not just I still need to do this. So I have control. It's I need this done. I'm not the person to do it. Take it from me, please. And that that's a mindset thing, like I said we're going to talk about in a little bit. But freeing up my time from being involved in the process at all, is a process. We've created this process where it's done. They check they check it right so my VA We'll post our show notes for me. And she knows go in and check this spreadsheet and grab the transcript from here and do this. And all she knows where all the information is. And she posts it, she checks to see when a new one is ready. She does it. It's done. I don't have any involvement. It's wonderful. It's amazing. It frees up so much energy. Yes, they might only take you five minutes to do. But it frees up the energy of thinking about it. So think what kind of processes you can put in place for the people that you hire as well. Choose the right activities. So our next bucket is priorities. And I want you to choose the right activities for your business that make sense. What makes sense for what you want to achieve, what do you want to accomplish? If you just throw everything at the wall, and trust me, this has taken a long time of Jenny bugging me for everyday for years, wanting to wring my neck and shake me like a rag doll. You have to figure out the direction that you're going if you're ever going to get there. And actually we have an upcoming episode with Alex Brookman. Did I say his last name? Right? I know he's got that amazing. He did really well. Yeah, you did really well, really well. And I think it's Episode 99, where we're gonna dive into this even more, but really look at what you want to accomplish, and what you need to do to get there.
Jennie Wright 16:37
Planning is key. Y'all know, I love planning. If you've been listening to this podcast for any more than 30 seconds, you'll know that planning is definitely on my list of planning things I like to do. So planning is definitely what you're going to need to do here planning your day, if you want to get stuff done, you're going to have to kind of plan it out. If you want to do the willy nilly thing and hope that you know look in a prayer and hope that it gets done. Good luck to you wish you all the best, you're not going to be my people. I like the planners. And I have been slowly, slowly slowly carving Allison away at getting into more of the planning thing. And that's great. She's She's doing it more. And she's worked on me in other ways as well. But planning so you can get stuff done, however you prefer to do it. If you're a poster note person or a list person. Or if you need to use a project management software, find a system that works. And then once you figured it out, and it works for you stick to it, Alyson and I over time have tried various project management software's and we are trying to use them and then we kind of fall off the wagon with it because it doesn't really fit our process. So don't try and fit yourselves into a system that doesn't work for you. Allison uses paper and pen and post it notes. I use paper and pen as well. on you know, to write my my lists. I've tried using Asana Monday, click up Trello, things like that. Now I do use Trello. I do use Trello for certain things because it is great. But it's more long term tasks, versus the short term everyday stuff short term every day. I'm still pen and paper and I use a highlighter. That's what works for me.
Alyson Lex 18:19
I love that you said to us what works for you. Because I always say I'm really good at setting up project management systems, I'm not good at using them. And it's not a good use of my time. So yeah, you cannot fit yourself into somebody else's mold. When it comes to the tasks that you prioritize, and if you are a pen and paper list person like me, you can make them different colors, you can number them. priority number one generates revenue. Now, these are proposals, lead magnet or paid product, promotions, sales calls, that kind of stuff connecting dming with leads those sorts of things. priority number two, generates revenue. Soon, you're going to notice a theme here. projects that are 123 months out like a webinar that's going to launch a course or push people to a sales call things like that. priority number three, generates revenue eventually. This is stuff like content, which can be batched and repurposed. And I know we did a couple episodes or an episode on that. We'll link it in the show notes. Networking is a generates revenue eventually. Alright, now I, Jenny and I are probably going to do an episode on this in the future but do not discount the power of your network. I have made a lot of money from my network. But if it's a choice between a networking event, or a sales call, pick the sales call that is a revenue now generator. priority number four are things that do not generate revenue at all. These are the things that you feel like should be done for whatever reason reorganizing your Dropbox folders. Okay, I am just as guilty of this as everyone else on the planet, I will fall down a rabbit hole and decide something needs to happen. For whatever reason, I will go on appsumo and buy software that I have no use for just because I've got shiny object syndrome, or,
Jennie Wright 20:29
or I wake up in the morning and you've reorganized our entire Google Drive.
Alyson Lex 20:33
I've done that. Why am I doing that? I'll tell you why. And again, this is going to really play into bucket number four. I am procrastinating and distracting myself from work that should be done. Okay, priority number four items are actually not priority items at all, they should be outsourced. If they are necessary, or more likely completely struck from here to list, stop it
Jennie Wright 21:05
says this is a great lead in to mindset, which is our fourth bucket. Because those priority number four tasks that we were just talking about. Those are things that satisfy something in your brain, the organizational or the procrastination, or the something the I've got to fill space time. And those are not intentional activities. And again, we want to reference this episode that we did Episode 99. That's coming up shortly as if you're listening to this, where we talk about intentional, you know, intentional work and intentional strategy in your business. It's the work that you do just to feel busy. It's the work that you do just to feel space, and feel like you did something for a couple hours. Congrats. But did it really move your your business forward? Probably not. Will you eventually need to organize those folders? Mm hmm. Absolutely. So let's talk a little bit more about the mindset piece. And being an entrepreneur is incredibly difficult. It's really, really hard. If everybody could do it, they would as people say, but most online or online businesses tend to fail in the first year. And then the next biggest dip is also around year three or year five, you know, depending on who you listen to, and sources, but you must have a stick it out, make it happen mindset. And you also have to embrace the suck. I say this a lot. You know, suck it up, Buttercup, like poop is going to be there and it is going to be uncomfortable. And you're going to have days where you're just like, hands up, I'm done. I want out, I am done with this. This is insane. I don't know why I thought I could do this, I would rather go bag groceries. And that's going to happen. But then you're going to realize that you're doing this for a reason. And you have a purpose. So drill down in your mindset, to the reason the purpose that you're doing this. Is it to be closer to your family? Is it to help add some wealth and some some money into your family, some generational wealth? Is it to stay away from working in a corporate environment? Is it? What is it? What's your WHY? and understand that and use that as a driver?
Alyson Lex 23:07
No, I think that's really important is what Jenny and I like to call the CEO mindset. Because if you want to have a successful business, and create the wealth and the change in the world, and all of the things that we dream of as entrepreneurs and business owners, then you can't be the mom and pop popsicle. We call a snowball stands here. But you know, like can't be a little snowball stand sitting on a busy street corner that's just a little shed with one person in it. That's not doable. It's not sustainable. You have to look that at this like a business. Alright, now, we're not talking corporate, right? You might be like, no corporate, I don't want that. The CEO mindset is really? Is this something that I should be doing? And can I empower others to do it instead? There are a lot of people that will hire or outsource or create processes or something, and then still keep their hands in it. Because they don't want to let go of stuff. And I used to be this person and I'll tell you where that came from. It was this idea that nobody could do it as well as I can. And if if we want to talk like my therapist is probably rooted in fear that I'm easily replaced and not actually that valuable and all of those things. And I share that with you because you might be feeling the same thing. Well, if if this person can create my graphics, let's go to this Canva thing. If this person can create my graphics then what do I do? Well, you have your lane, I'm a copywriter. Why am I worried about creating graphics? That's not what I do. Okay, so let go of things, you also have to think about being done is being done is better than perfect. If I wanted to do all the things because I need them to be, quote unquote perfect in Alyson world, they wouldn't get done. And so which one, I rather have a perfect thing that's not finished and never gets out in the world, or something that might not be exactly as I would have done it, but is still great. And is out in the world now. Right. So that's my little mini counseling session. But it's really important that you have this mindset that you are the top, you're the visionary, you're the decision maker, you're the face of your business. That does not mean you need to be editing YouTube videos, or scheduling social posts, or creating images in Canva. Or organizing your expenses or posting blog posts, there are people that you can pay to do that. And even if it's just a few hours a week, it drastically changes the amount of energy that you're spending, worrying about those things. Alright, the last thing that I want to talk about, and this is something that actually Jennie introduced me to, is the hall pass. And I used to give myself so many of these, there is this wave, if you will of work life balance, self care. And this, the real big wave kind of pass through the online business community, maybe what, like two, three years ago, and it was empowering you to take back your life. And I was all in on that. I was like, if I don't feel like working today, I'm going to just go in the flow, right. And what that meant was, I gave myself permission not to work all the time, I gave myself a hall pass. I didn't get things done. Now, I was never late on a client thing that was always I'm really, really a stickler for that but everything else fell to pieces. And I can't do that. Sometimes, you're not super duper motivated, but you have like four things that need to get done today. Do them. Embrace the suck. That's I say that Jenny says suck it up Buttercup. But sometimes you just have to say, Man, I'm not feeling it today. I am just not.
Jennie Wright 27:44
But if you start doing the thing, you actually sometimes sometimes sometimes start getting into the mode. Exactly.
Alyson Lex 27:53
You start and if at the end of doing your four or five things, you're still over it. Okay, at least you got those done. Now go.
Jennie Wright 28:01
specific example. Sometimes I am not in the mood to record a podcast. I'm not, I'm not in the mood. Allison's not in the mood. And in the beginning, we know this podcast is almost at the time of recording this as almost a year old. And we would say I don't feel like recording today, do you then Okay, forget it. And we will cancel it, we'll give ourselves a hall pass. But then we won't have to scramble, because now we're on a deadline. And the next episode was coming out tomorrow, which means we had to write the outline because Jenny's an outline stickler, we would have to record it. And then I'd have to edit it. And Allison would have to do the show notes and all the things and it would become this like high pressured thing. So if you do give yourself a whole pass, take a look at the time that you have available. And be like, okay, is this going to make the rest of my life crazy, like am I going to miss time with my family because now I have to work at night to fix the thing because I gave myself the thing. So looking for that work-life balance is important. Occasionally a hall pass is okay. But preferably Try not to do that. And Austin's already covered and talked about doing, which you know, done is better than perfect, which is a really big thing. And that's something that I struggled with because I like perfection on things. So I have no problem taking extra time. But at the same time, I really want things to be moving forward, we're going to briefly wrap this episode up by talking about some of these things that we really think are a good idea, we're actually going to put them in the show notes. These are resources that we think are going to help you with your being efficient. So take a look at the show notes for this episode, on System to thrive.com to see these different resources that Alex and I have used over the years and how we use them to effectively run our businesses. So go and check those out.
Alyson Lex 29:47
Yeah, we're gonna have just different places to find workers, some project management tools, things like that. We'll just list it all out and why we use each one. Alright, I want to go ahead and start The takeaways today, because Jenny always starts them and I feel like doing it. So how about that? Talk about winging it right now. Alright. So really one of the big takeaways that I want to just call out is the environment, creating the right environment for you to get work done. Personally, I cannot write, unless it's quiet, or it's like classical music at a low volume. If I have anything else, I am easily distracted, and I'm gone. I can't listen to a podcast, I can't watch a movie. I can't have words with lyrics. I can't have other people in the room, I need very quiet. That's part of my environment. Alright, so do you need to have a coffee pot on your desk? If so, do it. Where in your space is the best place to work really, really critically look at your environment and see if it's creating the best work atmosphere for you.
Jennie Wright 31:02
The takeaway that I have for today is talking about intentionality. So one of the big ways of being productive and effective in your business is having an intention. And not just doing anything for the sake of doing anything and filling busy time. You can do all you want to fill busy time, but it's not going to move the business forward. So take a look at the priorities in the business and being intentional about the things that you're doing. And at the right time that you're doing them. Do you really, really, really, really, really need to be doing this one thing at this particular time, or should you be focusing on this other thing, which might be a little bit harder, and a little bit out of your skillset, but you're trying to figure it out? Probably. So look at those priorities, be intentional with your time and get the most out of yourself and create that movement forward in the business. We're always trying to take a step forward versus a step back. So what are the things that you can do that will take even if it's an inch, okay, even if it's just a centimeter? What can we move you forward?
Alyson Lex 31:57
And as we mentioned a couple of different times On this episode, we have an amazing episode coming up. It's going to be episode number 99. And in it Alex is really going to break down an amazing strategy and plan for being super intentional with your plan and your business and what you're doing. So if you're not already, subscribe or follow on whatever podcast platform you're listening to this on so that you can listen to that episode. And all of the other one great ones that are coming up. Also, check out System to thrive.com we have a very cool resource there that I don't know that you know about its 128 content topics that you can easily customize for your business. It's a totally free download, go to System to thrive.com slash content or just System to thrive.com. Go ahead and pick yours up. And we will be back answering another big question next time.