Achieving Work-Life Balance: Delegation

My own coach once told me that the best use of his time was to be coaching or making efforts to get into conversation with people he could potentially coach. For him, that meant delegating and outsourcing other aspects of his business which pulled him away from being in conversation with and serving others. He also admitted he simply was not very good at some of the more traditional business roles like marketing and administrative work. Truth be told, I am in the same boat. While I am competent at marketing, social media, bookkeeping and administrative work, it is not my strong suit and, as such, takes me much longer than it would someone with more skills in those areas.

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The reality is we simply cannot do all of the things on our own. We are not good at all things and if we are being honest, we simply do not enjoy all things. Yes, there are some things that must get done when you own your own business, but that does not mean you need to be the person actually doing them. Give yourself permission to build a tribe and begin delegating. If this is something you already do I encourage you to find new ways to delegate. Trim the fat and streamline those processes as much as possible. It might mean giving up some control but there is a lot of freedom in that. We touched on delegation in the productivity post in this series, but today we’re going a little deeper.

So far you have envisioned the life you want and established what your personal work-life balance could look like. Now it’s time to delegate. You know you can’t do it all, or at least you can’t do it all well — how do you decide what to delegate?

Start by creating a few lists:

  • What tasks must get done to keep your business (or life) running properly?
  • What personal skills do you bring to the table?
  • Which of the tasks in the above list do you actually like doing?
  • What tasks could easily be delegated?
  • What tasks simply cannot be delegated?

Then begin delegating!

  • Identify who could do the work required
  • Research virtual assistants, contract workers and other professionals who could meet your needs. You can even consider working a trade or barter with other professionals if you both offer something the other desires.

Ready to delegate? Here are a few last tips.

1. Have a clear understanding of where you want your business to go and who you are as a brand and a company.

2. Hire people who are able to speak in your voice and represent you and the company the way you, the owner, want.

3. Have clear expectations and communication systems with your new team members. In business, ambiguity leads to chaos.

Once you do these things, you will suddenly have time to do the things you are most passionate about. It will create a sense of freedom and you will be in a position to do your best work and you will make more money in the process.

 

Achieving Work-Life Balance: Productivity

I remember the day it all came crashing down. Clients were lined up out the door (this is a good problem, of course, but I was at max capacity and something had to give) and all I could do was scroll through Facebook. I was working hard but I was not working smart. I was in desperate need of some systems that would help me mobilize my productivity.

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Time spent in an unproductive manner just causes frustration and a backlog of work and responsibilities. I cannot tell you the countless days I spent feeling so far in the weeds that I had no idea when I would ever get out. There is always so much work to do! During those times it was all I could do to get client needs met, never mind working on my business - - I was drowning working in it! This is no way to live and it is certainly no way to run a successful business.

Productivity. Sometimes this feels like a buzzword in the entrepreneurial community but it makes all the difference in the number of hours spent working on and in your business. How you spend your time is the deciding factor in how long it takes you to complete the tasks at hand. In the Vickery & Co Entrepreneur Survey we discovered that 58% of those surveyed say they spend all of their time working in their business rather than on their business.

Now you have identified your needs and what you want your balance to look like. You’ve also defined and created boundaries to help you achieve the balance you desire. Now it is time to put productivity systems in place to get further into action and begin your journey to balance!

At this point I want to remind you that you do not need to do anything in your life or business. Remember to always find the want behind the need. If you start from the want, these new systems you are building will be much easier to implement and manage.

Here are my best systems for productivity:            

  • Set aside time in the morning for meditation and self-reflection. If you do this at the start of your day, your head will be more firmly in the game.
  • Eat the frog! Do the things you need to do, but may not really want to do, first. This frees your energy fields up and stops you from avoiding things. It also means everything else feels like a total win for the day.
  • STOP multitasking and START batch tasking. This does not mean you cannot have multiple projects going on at once. It simply means you only focus on one thing at a time. No more checking email while on a phone call or scrolling through Facebook when you are working on a specific project or writing next week’s blog post. In fact, I would venture to say if you tracked your time for a week you would be shocked at how much time you spend not staying focused!
  • Pick up the phone. Sometimes having a five minute phone call can get the answers that you or a client needs right away without a day’s worth of email back and forth.
  • Schedule out your day. Trust me, just do it. In most cases, it does not matter what task is first but having a schedule to tell you where to begin means you are spending less time in overwhelm and chaos.
  • Keep your to-do list to no more than 6 items. When we have a list that is three pages long it feels so heavy and unachievable. Pick the most important six things for each day and get them done! If you have time leftover, start on a new six. The idea here is to take action, be productive and feel accomplished at the end of the day.
  • Know when you don’t know something and outsource! Your time is best spent not spinning your wheels. Know when you should bring in an expert.
  • Utilize the amazing productivity apps and plugins available. What you use doesn’t matter tremendously so long as you are utilizing some. We all work in different ways, and that is why there are so many apps which work better for different people!
  • Utilize the rewards system. If I complete an hour’s worth of writing I will take a walk and grab a fancy coffee. Or upon completion of a major project I will treat myself to a day at the spa. The rewards can be small or large as long as they motivate you!

These are just a small sampling of tools to manage your time. Implement these systems or design your own -- but I promise that doing so will allow you to discover there are simply more hours in the day. Another amazing side effect will be happier clients because when you are focused, your clients get the best of what you have to offer!

Have some productivity methods that you love? I’d love to hear about them. Shoot me an email or leave a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The more we know and share, the better off we all are. I love hearing from you!

 

Achieving Work-Life Balance: Define and Create Boundaries

When I first started my business, I thought I needed to be available 24/7 in order to be successful. That led clients to think I was always available and caused frustration and exhaustion on my part. I knew I couldn’t continue like that so I took a serious look at what I wanted and identified what needed to shift so I could meet my client’s needs and regain my life!

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Last week we talked about identifying your needs. Now let’s talk about my favorite step: defining and creating boundaries. Boundaries are limits that define acceptable behavior. They are your limits. You decide what’s acceptable for you, your life and your business. Boundaries give you permission to say “yes” and “no” at the appropriate times. They are the key to guilt-free freedom.

Guilt-free freedom?! Yes. An example I have is around my work hours. I am clear with all clients what my work hours are and I communicate this in my outgoing voicemail message that states “If your call is after 5pm or on a weekend, please note that I will get back to you on the next business day.”

Boundaries solve problems. I cannot tell you how many people compliment me on that message, how clearly I state this boundary and how empowering that is for them. Honestly, most people are willing to give you want you want if they know what it is! Communication is the key to allowing others to meet our needs.

Boundaries are empowering, instilling confidence and allowing you to control your interactions with others. Boundaries manage expectations, making for smoother relationships with everyone, even with yourself. They even lead to happier clients!

So how do you create boundaries? You set up systems that give you a desired result. I don’t want clients to expect a return phone call from me after work hours so I let them know this in advance.

Need some ideas to get started?

  • Set and maintain concrete work hours
  • Send new clients a “welcome” letter explaining your hours, communication policies and preferred modes of communication
  • Create the next day's to do list (keep that list short and achievable!)
  • Stick to your to-do list with minimal distraction
  • Batch-task instead of multitasking (stay tuned for more on this!)
  • Commit to self-care

A new client wanted to take a weekday off as she works weekends and her partner has Wednesdays off. She worried her clients would think poorly of her for not working in the middle of the week, that they wouldn’t respect her boundary and she’d have to say “no” when they asked for something. I challenged her to simply let them know she wouldn’t be available on Wednesdays. This wasn’t about asking for permission, but rather about making a statement. Want to know what happened? They said “Thanks for letting us know!” That’s it. She set a boundary, communicated it and now she has Wednesdays off.

In the Vickery and Co Entrepreneur Survey, 55% of respondents said they have a hard time saying no. By saying no you are setting a boundary on what you will or won’t do. Once you have identified what’s acceptable to you and you communicate clearly, in most cases, your boundaries will be respected and the fear begins to diminish.

ACTION STEPS:

List your Current Boundaries

Examine your personal and professional lives. What boundaries are already in place? List these boundaries.

Identify what Should Stay, Change or Go
You’ve listed your established boundaries; now examine them. Which ones are really working for you? Keep these. Next, identify which are good but could be tweaked, then those that no longer serve you. Create space to make room for new boundaries that better fit the work-life balance you are designing.

Create a New List
Consider your ideal work-life balance and identify at least 5 new boundaries that would help push you towards your goal.

Setting boundaries is one of the most important things you can do in life and in business. Identifying where you need to establish or modify boundaries changes things. Without them, you’re likely to burn out more quickly and are not able to give your best to your work or your family.

Observe
Once you have done this work, observe the changes they created. Do you feel more in control? Are you more empowered? Does it seem like there is more balance in your life?  Let me know! We are in this together.

You Don't Need to do Anything!

I recently had a conversation with my 7 year old daughter, Tessa. I was running around getting the kids ready for school and said “We NEED to leave the house by 8:30!” to which she replied, “We don’t ever need to do anything. You want to do it because you don’t want us to be late.”

Such a simple concept, right? She and I spent some time talking through things that I felt might be needs and she was able to find the want in each and every one:

Me: I need to feed you and your sisters.
Tessa: You want to feed us because you love us and don’t want us to die.

Me: I need to work.
Tessa: You want to work because you want to be able to afford our house and the things that help us survive.

It went on and on and, of course, she is 100% right!

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The truth of the matter is you don’t need to do anything. You do things because you want to, or at least because you want the desired result of having done the thing.

Motivation can be a tricky thing. What motivates us (and when it does so) can shift, sometimes moment by moment. I often have conversations with clients about their lack of motivation and my key to supporting them is to find the “want” behind the perceived need. While this seems like a fairly easy concept, it’s often difficult to put into action because the “stories” we tell ourselves get in the way.

I often find myself working with clients that are in a rut, struggling to run their business effectively because they lack motivation. Everything feels like a “need to do” rather than a “want to do.” If this is where you are, you are not alone. Vickery and Co conducted a survey of over 300 entrepreneurs and found that 83% of respondents struggle with a lack of motivation at least some of the time!

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The word motivation actually has two definitions. “the desire and willingness to perform a task” is the standard definition most people think of but the other definition of motivation comes into play as well and has a lot more power behind it. “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way” -- basically this is finding the want in any situation.  

While people often spend time working on the block that is stopping them from taking action and being motivated, I am suggesting that simply finding the want behind the need might be enough to propel you forward.

I regularly work with clients to help uncover what is blocking them from having the life and business they desire. This is an important part of the process. Identifying the background noise helps clients find clarity about why they are feeling unmotivated and helps them work past limiting beliefs. But this is not enough on it’s own! The next time you feel unmotivated, ask yourself why you feel that way and what is the desired result of having done the thing you feel unmotivated to do. Essentially, how badly do you want the desired result?

Each and every one of us lacks motivation at some point -- what matters is what you do with the emotions surrounding it. Do you let them take over and keep you from doing the work you were created to do, or do you take steps to uncover why you’re feeling unmotivated, what you really want, and push through to the other side?

Each time you hear yourself say, “I need to do this,” I challenge you to stop, take a moment and identify why you might want to do it instead. Words matter, they really do. More on that soon, so stay tuned!

Living Inside of a Snow Globe

I have always loved snow globes. I think they’re magical. I collected them when I was younger. I would stare inside, at the pristine little world covered in “snow drops” and would imagine what it would be like to live inside one. As I got older, instead of feeling like I was on the outside of the snow globe looking in, I began to feel like I was on the inside, looking out. I was stuck in the pristine little world, surrounded by glass and unable to get to reality. I imagined that everyone on the outside was looking in and thinking what a pretty little picture it was, but there I was, not really living life. Now that I’m further away from that, I realize that I was trapped by fear and living an inauthentic life. I felt like I was supposed to be happy because I was in this pretty little world and to everyone else things appeared perfect.  

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I felt stuck but I didn’t know why and I didn’t know how to change anything.

Do you feel this way? Have you ever? You’re not alone. The question is, how will you get out? What changes and choices are you willing to make today that will get you out of the bubble? How will you get to the other side of the glass? How will you live an authentic life?

I suggest starting by simply writing your ideal future. Imagine this future is your current reality, happening right here, today. Take a moment to close your eyes and envision the future you want and write it down. You don’t need a ready-made road map, you can create your own. You’re not forging someone else’s path. This is your path. No one can decide what it looks like except you. As you begin to build your map, you will become one step closer, every day, to being who and where you want to be.

At the beginning of her coaching, a client once shared with me that she wanted to become the CEO of her company.  That’s a bold move. It’s a gutsy vision. The problem was, she didn’t have a road map.  She didn’t know how in the world she was going to get to CEO.  I assured her that we had all the tools and resources we needed to create one for her. We started with her big picture vision and come up with a plan. Plan after plan and goal after goal, things started into motion. Just last week, about six months after that initial call, she shared with me a number of different opportunities that had magically presented themselves. You see, she had asked for what she wanted. When you put your desires out there with intention, you should be prepared to get them! I asked her what would happen after she participated in these magical things and stepped into the roles presented her. I asked “where is that going to take you?”  She was quiet for a moment and said, “They’ll take me to CEO.”

I am here to tell you, you can invent your future, you can create it.  You don’t need a road map, you can design your own.  It’s all there for you. You just have to want it, and you just have to start today, right now. You can get on the outside of the snow globe.  Just like I did.

 

Transforming Reality

I have long said “our perception creates our reality, therefore, we have the power to change the future”. So many elements in our daily life affect our perception.

Last Sunday morning, I decided to shake up my routine. My kids were with their other parent so I had the luxury of deciding how I would spend my morning. If walking through your neighborhood early on a Sunday morning is new to you, it’s like a whole new world. I decided to get up and to get out, and I walked around the neighborhood listening to a podcast. I listened to Invisibilia on NPR, episode Reality: Part 2. I had no idea how related it would be to that morning’s experiences.

I had explicit desire and intent to look at the things and the people around me in a different light.  The houses I’ve walked past hundreds of times but never really looked at. The people milling about doing their Sunday morning things. I walked past lots of smiles and friendly people. One guy stopped me and said “are you my neighbor?”. He shook my hand smiled and we wished each other a good day.

This was similar to an experience I’d had days before. We have a little free library in our front yard. My daughters and I have long wanted one and it is such a joy to have. While working on the front porch (perks of being an entrepreneur who works from home), I had the pleasure of seeing our mail carrier looking, slightly confused, at our library. She finally spoke up and asked if the books were really free and if they needed to be returned. I explained that, yes, they were free and, no, they did not need to be returned. She went on to share that her four-year-old granddaughter was visiting for the summer and she wanted to take some books to her. I helped her pick out several books and she went on with her job but it made my day!  

This led me to wonder; what happens if you step out of your bubble? If you step out of your routine and the things that you always do and look at things from a different perspective. What happens if you shake it up? What if you wake at a completely different hour? Go for a walk or sit in a random coffee shop or talk to a stranger. Your perception creates your reality. So you have the opportunity to change the future, but what if your reality creates your perception? If you can change your reality can your perception change?  

Are you stuck in a creative rut? Are you feeling down? Are you not sure what’s next? Let me suggest shaking it up a bit. Do something different. This isn’t a new concept, Tony Robbins goes into a cold plunge pool when he’s lost his creative mojo. Lots of people try something different, get up from their desk, or go for a walk. But all of that is somewhat within the confines of your routine. What I’m suggesting is something that is completely out of your normal wheelhouse. Maybe you’ll find something you’d like to add into your routine. Maybe you will be struck with your next great idea… you never know. How about you give it a try?

Share with us how you’re going to shake it up. Why might you want to try something different? Are you stuck and looking to create change or transform into the next great thing? If so, the best way to do that is by trying something new.

5 Steps to Happier, Less-Stressed Clients: Part 2

Professional experts are in the unique position to ease stress and tension for clients, making their lives easier, happier and a lot more enjoyable. Revisit part one of this post to learn about the first two steps for happier, less-stressed clients: knowing what you are talking about and setting and maintaining clear boundaries. Now, on to the next three tips. 

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Communication: Ok, so we have talked about the importance of setting boundaries — but they mean nothing if you do not clearly communicate them with your clients!

People cannot give you want you want if they don’t know what it is. Nor can you give clients what they want and need if you don’t know what it is. Communication is the problem solver here. Have solid office hours and list them in a welcome email that clearly states them. Have a proprietary process when on-boarding new clients and communicate that to them in the beginning stages of your planning.

Manage expectations: This goes a step beyond communication. Let clients know when they can expect something from you. Vagueness is your enemy. Owe them a deliverable? Tell them “I will have this to you within a week” or whatever your timing dictates. Do not leave things to the imagination. If you do, their imagination will tell them to expect something from you instantly. We live in a world where instant gratification is expected and this is not a healthy way to operate your business or your life.

If you will be out of pocket for a day or are heading on vacation, send a personal email letting clients know and remind them with your out of office responder. But don’t just stop there! Be sure to communicate when they can expect a response from you. Are you checking email once a day, once a week or not at all until you return? What should they do in case of an emergency (which, let’s face it, shouldn’t happen unless your job is literally saving lives)?

Every step of the client experience should be managed by you, the expert. Your clients will look to you for action plans, advice and follow through. Arming them with knowledge and managing their expectations keeps everyone calm, cool and collected.

Always follow through: This one is simple and it applies to everything mentioned above. Do what you say you are going to do. Always. No matter what. If for any reason, you are unable to follow through, then quickly and articulately let the clients know that you need to shift your commitment. Do not make excuses and do not cast blame. State the facts as they are and re-commit with a new plan. It is not the thinking of things that matters, it is in the doing of things. Do what you say you are going to do.

Break it down and get it done!

I was talking with a new client the other day and she was really struggling with ways to get a new product off the ground. This came as no surprise to me because having clear goals and setting up the systems to achieve those goals is one of the most important things that any entrepreneur needs to do and many of them struggle with it. Vickery & Co recently conducted a survey of over 300 entrepreneurs and small business owners and found out what the entrepreneurial landscape looks like when it comes to setting and achieving goals.

Of those surveyed, over 93% stated they have clear business goals. But, as we all know, the magic is not in the thinking of things, it is in the doing of things. 52% of those surveyed struggle with knowing how to get from where they are to where they want to be and 33% have no idea where to start. Without a clear path to success, they simply do not start at all.

The discrepancy shows a clear disconnect between clearly identifying goals and knowing how to achieve them. This is an area where many entrepreneurs struggle. They are confident in setting goals and are willing to work hard to attain them but they get bogged down with the “how.” Aaron Anastasi, the author of The Voice of Your Dreams, once told me that there is no such thing as not knowing how to do something. It simply means your want to is not cranked up enough to figure out how to get there!

If this is a pain point for you, you are not alone! One of the things I work with every single client on is breaking big, seemingly unmanageable tasks down into tiny portions. The goal is to create small, manageable tasks that, once completed, have you achieving your big picture goal and don’t feel like a herculean task along the way. 

Fear is something that stops 46% of respondents from taking action. Whether it is fear of failure or fear of success, learning how to take that fear and use it as a motivator, rather than a deterrent, is the difference between getting what you want and making your vision a reality — or sitting on the sidelines. 

I cannot stress how important it is to set yourself up for success. When you are able to cross several small tasks off your list, you feel accomplished and successful. When you feel accomplished and successful, you have energy and motivation to push forward with more intention and faster results. This feeling is contagious and helps to propel you forward, ever closer to reaching that big end goal!

Getting to the empowering side of fear and testing out systems, strategies and boundaries until you find the ones that work best for you are the keys to success. This is exactly what we work on with our clients. 

Do you have any goals you are struggling to achieve? We love to hear your stories so please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Don't underestimate your impact

When I first started my business, I reached out to several creative thought leaders and business owners and asked them to join me for a workshop. I gathered some of the coolest, most progressive, badass business people I know. To my delight, and slight surprise, each and every one of them said they would be delighted to join me for a test run workshop. This was not only an opportunity for me to show off what I knew and fine tune my workshop and coaching skills, but it was an excellent opportunity to learn from each of them -- giants in their fields.

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Do you know who you are?

As the mother of a newly minted four-year-old, I have been over exposed to the new Disney princess, Moana. I will admit, this does not really trouble me because the movie is smart, female-centered and empowering for young women everywhere and the music was written by my favorite musical genius, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Each morning, after we have dropped her sisters off at school and are on our way to daycare, Scarlett requests the Moana soundtrack. I get to listen to Lin rap and that makes me happy, so I say yes. But inevitably my favorite moment is when the song “I am Moana” comes on. The song opens with Moana’s grandmother singing and encouraging her to step into who she truly is. The lyrics move me to tears nearly every day. I am moved to share these lyrics with you today and ask … Do you know who you are?

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I have listened to these lyrics over and over. I have written them down and said them out loud. They connect deeply with me because there is always the potential for our journeys to leave a scar and we cannot know the future in front of us -- yet we must still soldier on.

I am reminded of my personal transformation. The journey was terrifying. I was unsure who would support me or if I was making the right decisions. I knew it would be difficult and painful, not just for me but for those I loved. Throughout it all, however, I truly and deeply believed that what was on the other side was worth it. I chose the empowering side of fear. It’s true that everything we really want is just on the other side of uncomfortable and, let's face it, fear is extremely uncomfortable. So I embraced the fear and pushed forward. And yes, the journey left scars.

Over time those scars have begun to heal and now I reveal them to you all a tiny bit each day, one by one. They are my personal map. They mark my life experiences, the lessons I've learned, the things that did not go well and those things that were brave and exciting. When I speak to you, it is from a place of total truth and honesty. The journey has not always been easy -- it often still isn’t -- but is has been so very worth it!

“The things you have learned will guide you and nothing on earth can silence the quiet voice still inside you.” Listen to that voice. Let it take you to places unknown. How can you ever truly know your limitations if you never try new things? Fear not what the scars will look like; they are just a byproduct of a fulfilling life. 

What new journey are you hoping to take? Share in the comments below and let's support one another. Everything is more achievable when you have a cheering section behind you. I see you. I see your scars and I admire you for them.