UPDATE: “3 Productivity Mindset Shifts That Grew My Business Quickly” was originally posted in 2017. Being several years old annnddd before I built out my team, it was due for an update 🙂
A few years ago, with Alabama accents flying, three biz friends and I were talking stationer woes, online courses worth the cash, and Emily shot the question I knew was coming.
“You grew fast this past year … how’d you do it?”
That question gives me pause. Chiefly because I’m an ENFJ who always wonders where the “E” came from … I answer questions best with words and paper, where I can delight and revel in my head.
Aaaaaaaand I’m also the first to say that year one of owning a small business was great … but it took me 10 years to get there, working in corporate communications.
Let’s jump in!
- The 3 things that I bird-dog after in my life and business — besides the obvious Fs, faith/fam/friends.
- The 4 Ps I adhere to
- The exact Trello board I have that keeps me organized.
1. Track your time
Amy Porterfield calls it “tiger time,” Nancy Ray has her “#emailninja” time … and I’m a big believer in Parkinson’s Law, which states:
3 Productivity Mindset Shifts that grew my business quickly — here’s what I learned.
Just ask me how I can stretch out a Netflix date with random British documentaries about castles if I don’t cap it.
Similarly, economist Pareto found that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The first time I heard this was back in my sorority days: It was a night of stress-out as Chapter Pres, and my Chapter Advisor patted me on the back. “You know, 20% of the chapter will do 80% of the work to keep it running … and that’s ok.”
It’s just how it goes!
In your biz, you see the same: 20% of what you get comes from 80% of the effort. 80% of your subscribers probs come from 20% of your freebies. 80% of your income comes from 20% of your products.
There are a couple of easy techniques to hack these first 2 P’s:
- Learn how much your time is worth. Give yourself an entrepreneurial scorecard of sorts: the most basic way is to write a long list of all the tasks you do, and put $, $$, $$$, or $$$$ beside each task based off how much value it has. The $ can either be automated, cut, or outsourced.
For example, I don’t spend as much time on Instagram as a lot of people in my industry. I spend enough time on it to make an impact, and move on … it’s about 30-60 minutes a day. (Not sure how much time you spend on what? Click here to download my Personal Time Tracker and see where your time is going!)
I say “no” a lot ... I try to say no to 80% of things that come across my desk as a rule of thumb.
I only take meetings 1 day a week, which my studio manager mother thought was so bizarre, but truth be told, it’s pretty normal in entrepreneur world. More on that below, but go ahead and grab your freebie Trello board to see how I do that here!
Here’s the thing: We lose 20% of our time just by adding ONE other task to whatever we’re doing … so, if you’re multitasking or switching gears, you’re only 40% focused at either of them. So, I try really, really hard to do one thing at a time.
- Guard your time. Do the tasks that are most high value. Pair down the rest. I talk all about productivity apps that I ~loove~ in this post: 8 Productivity Apps So You Can Make the Most of Your Time.
2. I sink money into things to gamify it.
I tell a lot of entrepreneurs sometimes you gotta pay to be in front of who you want to work for. But you also need to pay money if you want to see results on anything.
Let me tell you how many free things I downloaded my first year of business: 387502.
I made that up, but it’s close.
However, when I started purchasing online courses or attending conferences AND taking them as seriously as I would a college class …
I saw the needle move in my business.
If you want to see change in your business, find a paid offering from a creative entrepreneur you really want to learn from. Course creators pour their hearts into their courses, and many of them don’t offer one-on-one coaching or consulting … this is the next best way to sit at their feet and learn!
Recognize that to grow you’re going to need to put skin in the game, and gamify it: see how fast you can make back the investment.
3. I batch my days and run Pomodoro sprints.
Lemme break down those shennigans; I know that’s weird.
You’ve heard me say this over and over, but, I am a HUGE believer of batching my days.
- Marketing Mondays
- Client Work Tuesdays
- Product Development Wednesdays
- Calls & Client Work Thursdays
- Finance Fridays (with a side of Systems, because the alliteration is too good to mess with)
To stay on track during the day, I run Pomodoro sprints: 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off. Basically, just sprint out 25 minutes of grinding (no snack time, no IG!) before a 5 minute break! It works, I promise!
Run 4, and then you get a longer break! 🙂
Here’s your last P … the Prada Protocol.
Basically, Tom Ford, right? Black shirt, sunglasses. Every day. Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Ann Mashburn, and a ton of other leaders wear the same thing every day.
Lots of people argue about how even eating the same thing each day helps them have one less decision to make.
Prada Protocol makes me think about how I can cut down on decision fatigue and just lump things together, whether it’s avocado toast every day for breakfast, keeping my wardrobe to 6-10 colors, or just batching days.
Here’s a quick behind the scenes of how I batch those theme days on Trello:
Okay, your turn!
Get started on some of this today, either by getting your freebie My Week Trello board template, or downloading the Focus Keeper app and give Pomodoro work sprints a whirl.
How do you stay disciplined in your business? What systems do you use?