november 2015

How To Stay Focused & Get Things Done in 6 Easy Steps

Productivity Tips for staying focused and gettings thing crossed off your to do list are not what I’d consider a heavily changing subject. However, when I originally wrote this post in November of 2015 I was relatively new to business and a little...dare I say, green, about how things actually end up working out. A few years, business evolutions, and life changes later, I’d like to present you with a new perspective on getting things done that better aligns with the ideas I’d like to promote and share on this platform. So, if you’ve read this post before, know that the content has updated and there are some new concepts to take away and see if it fits your life and business.


Determine What’s Necessary

A big lesson that I’ve learned over the years in business (and more specifically after devouring this book), is that you really don’t need to do #allthethings. I’ll tell you, personally, I’ve struggled with this concept. Up until this very moment, actually.

See, everything on Pinterest or in those blog-share-circles talks about how you need to be running Facebook Ads, and you need to be answering questions on Reddit, and you need to be speaking on Podcasts, etc., etc., etc. When I got started I wanted to do all of that too, and I definitely tried. I’m going to let you in on a secret: you literally cannot do #allthethings. I’m not saying ‘literally’ as in like “I literally couldn’t stop believe he said that” or “I literally died”. I mean it literally. You actually can’t. 100%. Unless you know a way to like pause time and give yourself an extra 5-10 hours/day over everyone else, or you got a lot of money to spend on outsourcing everything…

The good news is you don’t actually need to do all those things. In fact, you probably only really need to do like 3 things. So step 1 is to determine what is necessary. See what your top traffic sources are, ask clients or customers how they found you, and weigh that against what you enjoy the most. Then do the top 2-3 things really, really well. For example, if you love Pinterest and you seem to get a decent amount of traffic from it, then cool, freaking CRUSH Pinterest. Devote more time to really blowing that ish up and skyrocketing your traffic and stop wasting time posting on Twitter and throwing money at Facebook ads.

"Spoiler Alert: You don’t actually need to do #allthethings in your business." (tweet that!)

Now, I know the feeling of like, “oh that makes sense” but then not actually acting on it. I totally struggle here too. Over the past two years I have blogged a lot and really well, then completely fell off and disappeared for months at a time because I had too much other client work. I struggled with wanting to create more content, because the internet tells you to, but that conflicted with the tangible results of - blogging or not, I was still getting paying clients. In fact, no paying client has EVER said they found me through a blog post specifically. They have, occasionally, found me on Pinterest but it was my site design and my services page that inspired them to reach out - not my witty banter in blog posts. At the start of 2018 I felt this super strong pull that I have had since starting my business, I said, “okay THIS year I am going to blog so consistently. A new post every week. Gonna crush it.” and I’ve done well… but at the end of the day, I still can’t shake the feeling… is it worth it? It it necessary? To what end?

So with all of that said, here I am updating a well-performing past post instead of writing new content. This is a bit of an experiment, actually, but a) the content needed to be updated and b) for ME and MY business, I’m not sure blogging is essential. This may well differ for you, but I guess the point here is to determine a balance between what your business needs and what you like doing and eliminate all the other time-wasters. (i.e. we should probably all just throw in the towel on Twitter, ya? JK. Kind of.)


Automate + Outsource

Speaking of Twitter…! Okay, next step, automate and outsource everything that isn’t absolutely necessary for YOU to be doing (that you haven’t already just straight up eliminated). A big one here is social media. Now, I do agree, keep social media social is an important idea, but I think you should limit that to your favorite channel where you’re actually going to enjoy the time spent doing that (for almost all of us that is Instagram).

Otherwise, automate the ess-aich-eye-tee out of it. I like SmarterQueue because I literally (LITERALLY) log in once a month to add a few more interesting articles to my schedule and then I don’t think about it again. I’m going to be #transparent with y’all, I have free credits on SmarterQueue because I’m an affiliate and that pays for me to post to Twitter and my Facebook page without even thinking about it. Once those credits run out, I will be doing some major stat-tracking and seeing if it’s actually worth it to continue on because at this point, I’m not sure how essential Twitter or Facebook Page Updates are to my business.

But, if you’re dead set on being all over social media, then you’re going to need to add some automation to the mix or you will never have time to do actual work for clients or anything. SmarterQueue is really great for that, I do think it’s an awesome program if Twitter or Facebook (they do other social media channels, I just use them for those two specifically) are necessary in your marketing.

Other things you can and should automate: Pinterest. FOR SURE. As a blanket statement, all of us trying to do this #onlinebiz thing need Pinterest, it’s so incredibly useful and as far as I know it’s a huge traffic driver for, like, all of us. BUT, Pinterest is a dangerous, scary, time-sucking black hole that as you’re typing into your browser you secretly know in the back of your mind ‘here goes the next 2 hours’ as you start reading about email marketing and then somehow you’re knee deep in a recipe for chocolate ganache and you don’t even know what ganache is but you’re planning a trip to the grocery....

So yeah, automate Pinterest to save yourself the hours lost and the #ganachefail. It’s not worth it. Buy ganache. 100% easier. (Okay, I really am not sure what ganache is, it might be super easy to make and worth it, but I was enjoying saying it in my head).

I use Tailwind, it’s dope and inexpensive and works well. My Pinterest grows basically on its own, I rarely login. I outsource and have someone go on and pin for a few hours a week and that seems to help. It’s super basic, you could probably talk your like mom or friend into helping you do it while they watch Wheel of Fortune or The Bachelor and promise to pay them back in ganache or something. Now, I should clarify, Pinterest is a magical unicorn and worth spending time figuring-out. Back at step 1 when I was like “find the thing and crussssh it” I was thinking about Pinterest and/or Instagram. Pinterest is worth crushing, if that’s going to be *~your thing~* but I still 100% think it should be automated and your thing.

As far as outsourcing - get rid of anything and everything that a) doesn’t actually need YOU to do it and b) sucks so much that you’re never going to do it anyway. Things like bookkeeping - SUCKS, I avoided it for the whole first year in my business and that really wasn’t a smart move. I then outsourced it to Bench.co because they are really awesome and for the first few months when I didn’t have a separate business account they never made fun of me when they saw that I went to Chipotle 3x a week. #yolo

Other things to outsource: inbox management (also sucks), scheduling blog posts, graphic design (doesn’t suck, outsource that to me!), writing blog posts, writing newsletters, and so on. You could even outsource portions of your client work that don’t need you specifically. If whatever you offer requires a research phase - pay someone else to do that, and you take their research and create the strategy or whatever it is  you offer.


Make a Master Weekly List

Okay, now we are getting into the more specific ideas of actually doing things. Here’s what I recommend and do. Sunday (or Monday), sit down and write out everything that you have to do the upcoming week. I do this on Sunday in a very like low-key, mindful, journal-y type of way. I write out business related things (client and my own), personal things, and other random obligations. I don’t necessarily specify which day things are going to happen (unless it’s like a scheduled appointment), but I just see everything holistically.

Then I go through and mark which are absolute MUSTS (no ifs, ands, or buts about it) with a little filled circle next to it. I made up my own symbol system, feel free to make up your own too. I pull out my paper planner (and I have my google cal up), and input the scheduled must haves (if they’re not already there), and I reflect on how long I think some of these tasks may take me and put a small number after them. Then I totally switch gears and take some time to set intentions for the week (for example, if that list is hella long, I set the intention to treat myself well and give myself time to relax and meditate daily, etc.). To me this is a great way to know what’s coming up, prepare myself for the week mentally, and then I can like relax Sunday night (eat Chipotle??), and go to bed early.


Prioritize The Essentials

The next step in that process starts Monday morning, when I am ready to start work. I look at that list and I schedule the 3 essential things I am going to get done that day. I tend to pick 2 tasks that are shorter on the hourly estimate and 1 task that is longer (I talk about it in this post, but I do short/quick tasks in the morning and usually 1-2 BIG tasks in my peak working time in the afternoon). I write them in the ‘to do’ column of my planner, because I like to see the tasks and I really like to cross them off.

And that’s it. Truly. If I get those things done, I can look back to the master list and take something else off of it to work on, but I don’t feel required to do so. Sometimes other smaller tasks (like <15m) pop up from clients, and I can add those to the list but I usually knock those out in my morning sprint of getting through a bunch of quick work.

I keep the master list on my desk and along with crossing off the task in my planner, I love crossing it off of the weekly master list because it’s just like “BYE FELICIA” (is that still a thing?) and I feel really accomplished. I think the big key here is to not let myself get overwhelmed and to assess each day with how I feel and pick tasks that I feel capable of. You know how it is, some days you’re just like a grumpy-gills-mcgee and can’t focus and some days you’re like a laser beam who forgets to drink water or stand up for 5 hours. I pick tasks that correlate to my mood and what I feel capable of. Sometimes by the end of the week there’s like the one task I’ve been putting off the most, and I usually give myself some sort of reward for finally doing it because, like a child, I need rewards. My reward lately is pistachios, because I’m doing a ketogenic diet and pistachios, though absolutely delightful in their salty perfection, are a little carb-y but #treatyoself.


Repurpose + Recycle

This is another more specific idea, but one worth including because it will totally save you time (and it was in the original article). Repurpose and recycle everything in your biz. This is mostly about content, but you could probably figure out a way to apply it to a different area of your biz too.

But, content-wise, don’t waste your time writing 10 different things every week. Instead write 1 thing and spread it all out everywhere. Seriously. One post contains like what 800-1000 words if you’re doing what all those articles on Pinterest tell you to do. Somewhere in there is a great caption for Instagram posts, a wonderful newsletter or two, and some ish you could record for a podcast episode or a YouTube video or whatever it is you’re into. There’s definitely a free download opt-in somewhere in that content, and honestly, you could probably create a workbook or two off of it as well. Basically, what I’m saying is, give yourself more credit the content you’re producing needs to be everywhere, doing everything for you.

This is another one I struggle with personally, but hey, we can hold each other accountable. Do you know I have over 100 blog posts on this site and they barely do anything for me?! Don’t be like me. Learn from my mistakes. (In 2018 I am making better use of the posts, you’re literally in the journey of me doing that right now #meta).

Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. And recycle! Do you have a lot of wasted content, like me? Go back and update it and re-share (what I’m doing), or record a video/audio version of it, or throw it into your newsletter! Recycle it. It’s good stuff. It deserves to be seen and read.

This post that my friend Brittany shared with me from Buffer was a huge motivation behind this idea, so be sure to check that out and save yourself some time my friend!


Schedule Non-Business Things

Okay, last tip. Make sure you schedule in non-business things - like getting to the gym, eating a good meal, drinking water, whatever. If you’re anything like me, you get so in the zone while working that you forget to take a stretch break and hydrate - so put those on your schedule or somewhere you can see them. The number one way to NOT stay focused and NOT get things done is when you burn yourself out from overwhelm… so we definitely want to avoid that at all costs.

I take this idea very seriously. My phone buzzes with a reminder at 5pm that it’s quitting-time. And even if I want to keep working (I sometimes save really fun/creative work for nighttime when I am my most creative #nightowl), I still stop at 5pm and like… move a little bit. Do a yoga flow. Go to the gym. Eat? Drink water? Talk to other humans? Be a real person?! You know, those things. It’s super, super, super important to put emphasis on life outside of business. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating in every blog post - you need more than your business. If business = life, then one mean client or nasty email will destroy you. You need the kickball league, or Monday wine-nights, or something else that is 100% not about your business so that you can totally unwind and relax and get out of your biz. That’s when the best ideas and solutions come anyway, so walk away sometimes!


Okay. With that all said and done you are a total boss babe and I would love to connect. What did you take away from this? Are you going to take action on these ideas and concepts? Are you currently in a Pinterest-wormhole?! If so, be done, this article is your last for the day girlfriend!



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!


4 Ways To Improve Your Branding & Amplify Your Business

I wanted to talk about 4 things your branding needs, and I am not even going to talk about a logo, y’all. Except for just then. There is so much more to branding than people realize, so I wanted to get into what you really need to be successful. If you are unsure of what branding is, go read this first. But then come back!


A WHY STATEMENT & A MEASURABLE GOAL

Let’s start here – why are you in business? Why are you willing to put in the hustle? Why did you think this was a good idea in the first place? The thing I’ve come to realized with why statements, that is if I just keep asking “why” eventually we get to the very root of the whole business. Conversations tend to go like this:

“Why are you starting this business?”

“I love photography!”

“Why?”

“Because it’s fun to capture people’s favorite moments.”

“Why?”

“Because everything in life moves so fast and we forget to celebrate milestones.”

“WHY?”

“Because I want my clients to remember the best moments of their lives and have a source for joy, so that no matter what life throws at them, they’ve got beautiful and amazing memories to access and cherish. I want them to feel joy when they view their lives! I want them to remember each smile and glance and funny face that their kids made. I can see and capture the things that they don’t even realize are important right now.”

See what I mean? On first glance people always tend to think really logically about why they are going into business. For money. Because they like doing whatever it is on a purely surface level reason. For freedom. To be their own boss. Whatever. But what I’ve come to find in working with clients, is that usually there is a more meaningful response buried beneath there. There’s some small line that represents a mix of what they love to do, and why they love to do it, and what benefit their clients would get. That’s the why statement I want to know.

I hear you; you’re like “Okay… but what does that have to do with branding?” Well, let me tell you! Your branding is an overall attempt to build your brand and affect what people think about you. If I don’t know why you are in business in the first place, how can we ensure that other people understand that? And we want people to understand it! That is what will make them choose you over the next business to work with. This is what will make you stand out and connect with people.

Along with your why statement, we also need to have a concrete goal. I have a whole post about goals because that’s how vital they are to your branding success. Let’s just be real here: what’s the point? If you aren’t trying to accomplish something with your business, then why did you even start it in the first place? This correlates heavily with your why statement, but instead of just figuring out your purpose – I want you to also have a goal that you are trying to accomplish.

Having this goal is the only way to hold yourself accountable, build consistency, and grow your brand. Your branding will fall apart if it’s all meaningless and purposeless and based solely on ‘looking good.’ So figure out why you are doing this, and make a goal to get it done.


A DEFINED TARGET

There is no shortage of blog posts on The Crown Fox that tells you – define your target. NOW! GO! DO IT. And even when you think it’s defined enough – niche down more! 

Your branding will be easier to create, more effective, and more successful if you know who the heck you want it to reach. “Everyone” is the wrong answer. “Women” is the wrong answer. I want specifics people. I’m not even perfect at this, but I know the value of it and am implementing ways to make myself have a more defined target client everyday. You should be too! When I reach out to photographers specifically, you know what kind of clients I get? Photographers. Guess what? I want photographer clients! I am going to figure out ways to reach them more specifically, and then I’ll get more clients that I actually WANT to work with. You can do this, too! You need to do this, too.

Once you have an idealized client – your absolute dream-best-case-scenario client, get in their head. What appeals to them? What do they like? What colors appeal to them, what styles appeal to them, what marketing strategies appeal to them? Then – DO those things. I don’t care if you hate being on Pinterest. I honestly don’t. If your target audience is on Pinterest – then you need to be there. You needed to be there yesterday. I feel kind of mean saying this – your business should definitely be things you love – but you wont be successful unless you find people to buy what you are putting out there! 


AN AUTHENTIC VOICE & UNIQUE TRAIT

Here’s a really tricky thing to balance: how do you maintain professionalism with clients and also build authentic, transparent relationships with peers? Yikes! For me, there’s a line of professionalism that means I would never cuss in front of a client, I would never tell them about all the ~*DRAMA*~ in my life or in my business, and I would never show a sign of weakness when it comes to getting things done. My brand, as far as a client is concerned, is a well-oiled, I can do it all with a smile, and you will be happy machine. That being said – I’m still me. I still make jokes and try to become friends with my clients. I still ask them how their weekend was, and if their dog learned any new tricks, or if they had fun having house guests, or whatever it is that I have learned about them. Part of my brand is that I am friendly and approachable and down to be best friends basically upon meeting. No matter if it’s a client or a peer. 

The thing is, if you are being really authentic to yourself – the line between client and peer is easy to navigate. You know how to talk to your teacher versus your friend, your boss versus your coworker, the guy who makes you coffee every morning versus the guy you never met and are sharing an elevator with. You do it everyday in “real” life, so doing it in your business should feel natural. You are being yourself no matter what, just only releasing what’s appropriate, when it is appropriate. 

Being authentic means not putting on airs, not mimicking someone else’s style or voice or content, and being true to who you are. If you are a really blunt person who speaks truth bombs all day everyday and makes witty commentary, then fine, roll with it. Trying to suddenly embody some perky, over-exclamation-mark-using person will come across so fake and make people less interested in you. 

In being yourself, you will also begin to see what makes you unique and stand out to others. For example, when I started my business, I had no intention of being the exact same Kaitlyn you would meet in real life. I planned to be the slightly better version of her that doesn’t joke about the fact that she could finish off an entire cake and bottle of wine in the matter of a few hours. BUT, I started to realize that people like these special, unique traits that you have. People like that I am funny in a kind of self-deprecating but sweet way. So consider that – you have something that is unique and draws people to you. Maybe it’s your delivery, your niceness, the fact that you remember every single person’s name and story, maybe it’s the way your dog is always part of your periscopes… whatever. Have something that makes you unique and memorable and incorporate that into your branding. People value authenticity, especially in this era of over consuming and overloading, so much. People would rather buy from and interact with REAL people rather than something that just seems mechanical and salesy all the time.


A COHESIVE APPROACH & A SET OF GUIDELINES

I’m not trying to say one tip is more important than the others, or whatever, buuuuut I really think being cohesive is important. Like mandatory. What am I talking about? Okay, so you got your why statement, your goals, your target client, your authentic voice, your unique trait – but what do you do with all that stuff? You set up some parameters and you follow them.

Being cohesive means that every thing you are putting out into the world about your brand is serving a purpose – the same purpose – and building on each other. Working together. Towards a common purpose. So get your goal out, write it down, and then make sure everything you are doing leads to that goal.

And I mean everything. EVERY SINGLE PIECE of information you put out. Here’s what I don’t mean: I don’t mean that every piece of information needs to be selling something. Not at all! Really, seriously, do not do that. But every piece should serve a purpose. Even a tweet that is “random” and “funny” from top people in the game – is not so random or funny. It’s serving a purpose – it’s humanizing their brand, or building a relationship, or answering a question that showcases their authority.

So set up some guidelines for how you interact and appear. Visual guidelines: like what colors your branding uses, what fonts, when and how you use your logos, etc. Set up social media guidelines: how often do you post, what type of content do you post, etc. Set up blog content guidelines: what days do you post, where do you promote the posts, etc. Having a defined and repeatable path is so valuable and efficient. Also, it will help you build a more cohesive experience for anyone following your business.

You want a cohesive experience. Let’s talk about companies that are hella successful. Apple? You know what Apple does? It’s really, really cohesive. How they tweet matches how they announce new items matches how the items look matches everything else. Starbucks? How the inside of their shops look matches their packaging design matches their advertisements which matches their social media presence. Cohesive experiences are what make people LIKE you. Because they know what you are all about, what to expect, and that you are going to follow through every time.  Your branding needs to be cohesive. I’m not going to say above all things, because all of these tips are important but I am going to say – YOUR BRANDING NEEDS TO BE COHESIVE in a really loud voice so you understand. 


So, now that I’ve officially yelled at you (JK!), I hope these tips clear up some vital things you should be fleshing out when it comes to your branding. Where do you struggle with branding? In understanding or in actual creating things? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to help in any way I can.



How Do I Brand My Online Business?

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!