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Productivity, goal setting, and planning out your schedule are some of the top searches on my website and correlate to my most popular blog posts. I don’t find that surprising, honestly. Those are some of my favorite topics to research, experiment with, and improve. On the Weekly Wine Down last week we talked about some steps to ensure 2018 was the best business year ever, and today we are focusing on making ourselves our most productive.
You may have noticed that both last week and this week I am putting an emphasis on just this quarter. That’s not to say I am not thinking about the whole year, or my business in 2, 5, or 10 years. I just know that I am notoriously good at planning but have some issues in the whole implementing part of it… I get all excited about plans, which quickly turns into a lot of fear and apprehension around the amount of work, balancing it with client work, success, etc. Ultimately, for me, that usually results in NO ACTION. In reflecting on how I operate, I decided not to get overwhelmed by this year and approach it just a quarter at a time - maybe this is a good idea for you too, if you feel like you get stuck at that whole STARTING thing.
In December, when I sat down to think about objectives and goals for my business, I wrote out a long, long list. It felt scary. I pumped the brakes, hard, and decided to create a system out of how I would create, plan, and accomplish goals this year. These are the 5 steps I’ve come up with and am using, and I thought maybe someone out there could benefit from this too!
DECIDE ON Q1 OBJECTIVE(S)
First, I decided on my main Q1 objective - which became three objectives. I had a lot of big whole-year goals, but I pulled back and looked at the first three months realistically. January - March. Something I notice a lot of productivity experts sort of gloss over is creating goals that actually work with your life and your needs… there seems to be a focus primarily on your business, but not what else is going on outside of your business (which obviously will impact your business).
For example, in Q1 I will be taking a week off to travel to Florida and a few days off to travel to see Will’s family. Will and I will be also be quickly approaching when our lease is up, so we’ll have to figure out where we want to live next (we aren’t staying in this current house) - which for me, takes a lot of time (real estate in Charleston is crazy). Also a lot of adult things will be happening - all of my 6mo/yearly doctors appointments fall into these few months, I have to spend a day at the DMV because that happens within these months, and I’m considering traveling to a conference.
So… it’s going to be a little busy around these parts. And I wanted to keep that in mind when it came to planning out Q1 - I didn’t want a huge launch, or something big and scary and hectic to happen because I was going to be busy with life, too.
Where I landed wasn’t exactly big or glamorous goals. I realized I needed to spend some time on the whole admin-systems-consistently-doing-things part of my business. So, my goals circulate around getting organized, creating systems, and training a new assistant. For me to accomplish some of the bigger, more exciting plans later this year, I needed to ‘get right’ first.
Your goals may be different, but don’t disregard the functional for the fabulous. We want sustainability here, folks!
Once you have those main objective(s) you can work backwards to create stepping stones or milestones to getting the objective accomplished. For example, if I want a fully trained VA by the end of March, that means I need to first decide what tasks I am delegating, make sure they are pass-off-able and organized enough that I can train someone how to do whatever the task may be. I’ll also need need to ask for referrals, interview someone, and make sure we are a good fit. I need to talk to my accountant about actually paying this person, etc. There are plenty of tasks that come with having a VA so I can start to set those up and set due dates on them over the next three months, rather than wait until mid-March and just try and hire someone quickly with no idea what I’m looking for or how to give them assignments.
Working backwards helps you not miss any small steps along the way. I am using Asana to stay organized and love that I can add new tasks as things come up. And trust me, things come up. For example, I want a VA to help with Pinterest, but in going through and setting that up, I realized I have about 20 old blog posts that push to irrelevant offers, so now I need to go back and clean those up so that I’m not driving traffic to nowhere…
Which that little aside does bring me back to point 1 with the objectives. Cap it at 2-3 big goals for Q1, because those will expand SO quickly.
CREATE ROUTINES + SCHEDULES
Once I was organized with what my main objectives were and I had a overview of what needed to be done between now and the end of March, I created a schedule with associated times within a week.
For example, part of my tasks now include updating old blog posts. I set aside 30 minutes a week to get that accomplished in January (as part of my steps towards having a VA that will handle social media and Pinterest for me). The key here is actually putting that in your calendar, whether it be a paper one or your Google calendar - set time aside to make your objectives actually possible. I know, know, know how easy it is to get caught up in client work and totally abandon your business (hello, me last fall!) so I’ve committed actual blocks in my calendar each week that are for MY business.
Something that I look forward to is being in the habit of dedicated CEO time, because even throughout the year as my goals change - that time will already be there in my schedule to focus on whatever Q2 or Q3 goals may be.
MAKE TIME FOR MAKIN’ MONEY
The other side of that coin is, make time for making money. This is a business after all! Now this step really depends on where you are in your business. For me, right now, I put 95% of my attention on client work - which means the money-making tasks are getting done. But, I definitely remember how it was when I was getting started - I’d LOVE to spend time on social media, or designing my own graphics, or writing blog posts… not on the things that directly brought me clients and money.
You may have to do a little research (which is the next step, ha) about what are your money making tasks, because they may be different for everybody, but make sure those are in your schedule as well. This will look different for everyone. For me, it looks like coffee chats primarily and making time for networking.. For you it may be getting people into a funnel through your blog content, or sending 5 cold emails a week. Maybe it’s getting on a podcast for more visibility and to highlight your new program, or getting that new product into your Etsy shop. Whatever it is - put time to do that in your schedule - and make it non-negotiable.
This is a new thing for me. I’ve spent most of my business not caring about the numbers, at all, as long as I could pay my bills, etc. I don’t really recommend doing that - the numbers matter. I don’t mean obsessing over your social media stats and like tracking your unfollows, but I do mean taking note of where clients come from. If no clients come from Twitter, is Twitter necessary? If 85% of your sales come from one funnel, should you be creating lead-in content to that funnel all the time/everywhere?
This can be as simple as starting to ask clients/customers how they found you, and keeping track of that information for a few weeks or months. Maybe you can put different opt-ins for different social profiles and see which one performs best to gauge which channel is your most popular. I’ve come to realize that after 2.5 years in business I have only a slight idea of what social channel is the best for me, but I’ve not documented it with any hard proof. WOOPS. Learn from my mistake, and measure ROI.
With trying to be more visible in Q1 I am focusing on which social platform is the best for me. I’m focusing on Pinterest, now, and seeing if anything changes from the last few months (of doing basically nothing). If I don’t see an improvement, I’ll really start pushing Instagram, etc.
I’ve noticed over the past few years that the most successful online entrepreneurs do not waste time doing things that don’t work. They find a flow that works for them and they use and abuse and work the heck out of it - they know what works for their business models and their customers or clients, and they focus their energy there. So I’m gauging my ROI on everything I do in my business now to find what is best for TheCrownFox, so that by the end of this year I have a working, efficient, amazing system for growing my business easily.
What about you? What steps are you taking towards a majorly productive year?
I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!