tools

5 Steps To A Majorly Productive Year

In case you missed the memo: The Weekly Wine Downs have gone LIVE! Last Wednesday I went live on my Facebook page, and now you can watch that video on YouTube (or below). I'll summarize the points in the blog post below, in case you prefer to read!

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!


WORK BACKWARDS

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.


MEASURE ROI

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!


4 Steps I'm Taking Right Now To Make 2018 My Best Business (+ Life!) Year

It's 2018 and I am back on the content-makin' train in a (new!) big way. Here's the plan, as quickly as I can announce it: The Weekly Wine Downs are going LIVE and that's where I'm developing blog posts from. So, last week I went live on my Facebook page, and now you can watch that video on YouTube (or below). I'll summarize the points in the blog post below, in case you prefer to read!

2018 being the BEST YEAR EVER?! That’s a pretty bold claim. I know I can get a little over-excited sometimes, but I generally don’t make claims like THE BEST. But I really, really, really know it in my BONES - this year is going to be the bomb.com. And I’m doing everything in my power to ensure it.


GETTING ORGANIZED

No more of this half-assed, to do lists on every platform, including scrap paper bologna. I have a 90-day plan, one paper planner, and Asana. And that’s it. I’m not letting myself use anything other than these resources. Well, okay I do have a magnetic sticky pad on the fridge for grocery lists, but that’s different (and Will needs to be able to have access to that, haha).

The problem with a lot of us creative types is our minds go a mile a minute and we constantly have ideas just flowing and random thoughts of things we need to do or should do just pop into our head and we jot it down on a post it or on our hand or in our phone notes app and then what? Nothing happens.

No more, I say. I declare 2018 the year of no more random note scribbles.

Instead - I spent a few hours over December building out Asana to fit my way of thinking and needs exactly. All my weekly content has a schedule and due dates and it’s going to email me and say ‘hey do this dang thing today.’

I made a task that re-occurs daily in Asana for “random tasks” when those silly little things (you know, the ones that end up on scraps of paper all over the place) pop up. I’ll get that email once daily, in the morning, to make sure I accomplished any random tasks that came up the day prior, or give me time to work that into my schedule for the day. I understand that for many of us, the goal is to be LESS in our inbox, but I don’t mind morning reminders as I am going through it in the morning and planning my day.

If Asana isn’t your thing, that’s cool. Use Trello. Use Basecamp. Use Slack (seriously, you can set reminders for yourself.) But stop letting yourself get overwhelmed. The point is to take some serious CEO time NOW and get your ish organized before we are too far into 2018. I spent a a few hours total in December focusing on this and if you feel like you’re already behind schedule - you’re not - make January your month of organizing.


TAKE TIME FOR GROWTH

This year I invested in a group program/mastermind/coaching hybrid thing. That’s not my advice here, but rather that in whatever way you need and can do, make time for your business this year.

The program is the first thing I’ve invested in this way for my business and y’all, I’ll be real with you. I spend a lot of time on a pendulum, swinging back and forth between THIS WAS TOO MUCH MONEY and THIS IS GOING TO BE SO DOPE. But, I’ve decided this… It will be amazing, because I will have it no other way. I set that intention!

So, again, I am not saying to go spend a ton of money. For me, I was at a point in my business where I couldn’t do anything more than what I currently was. I needed/still need help to figure out the NEXT phase and that’s why it felt like the right time to make this step. I’ve been in business for over 2 years. Some people advise jumping right into coaching and programs but for me, I needed to figure  a loooot of stuff out about myself and how I operate first.

So instead, here’s my advice to you. No matter where you are in your business or how long you’ve been cracking away at it - take some serious CEO time for yourself and really look at the big picture of what you day dream life can be like. What does your business look like in that dream life? Now, is it something you can do and figure out all on your own? I don’t know for you, but for me it wasn’t. So I did research, I read a lot of people’s content and did their free programs, and I found a good fit for me both financially and just in the way I think and operate.

But if you’re not there yet, maybe it just looks like setting up a group of peers and having a chat (for free) once a month to trade secrets and tips and learnings. Maybe you spend time journaling and reflecting each week to see what patterns and solutions your own brain can find and offer you. Whatever it might be, taking time for your  business and your success is just as vital as doing client work and the #hustle. Which brings me to the next step...


MAKE A SCHEDULE + START MAKING SMALL TWEAKS

Y’all, in highschool (and before) I was disciplined. Like, student body president, varsity cheerleader, volunteered every week, and had a part time job disciplined. I did a lot of stuff. I had routines and schedules and habits - but it wasn’t, like, intentional. It was sort of default - because all of that stuff is already scheduled and I just had to adapt to it, right?

As an adult? Y’all. Left to my own devices I will sleep in every freaking day till 11am. This, and a few other habits that I want to be better, are something I’ve been working on (I started this one a little early actually) and plan on continuing into 2018.

What it boiled down to was making some key decisions of the person I want to be and the person that I view as successful - and creating a schedule around those habits and ideas. So that includes waking up by a certain time, taking time for yoga and self-care, hitting the gym, etc.

If you also have some habits you know you want to form this year I recommend creating schedules around those habits, and actually writing it in your planner (or wherever). For me, that looks like hitting the gym or yoga in the morning, taking a short mid-day meditation/mindset break, practicing Intermittent Fasting, and dedicated CEO time Monday morning and Friday afternoon.

I have reminders in my calendar that go to my phone for these habits and schedules. And I remind myself every single time I have an alert or a reminder for something that I want to be a habit, that I WANT THIS and that in doing it this time I am one step closer to it being my natural instinct. I don’t let myself whine and feel bad that I have to do XYZ, I just flip that script in my head that this habit I am forming is the habit of a successful person and I want to be a successful person, therefore, do the dang thing.


GROWING MY TEAM

I am notoriously stingy in my business. I am one of those I-can-do-it-better-anyway type people. It’s really not panned out well for me, and it’s super ironic, being that my service is a service I want other people to add into their business expenses. I took on the mindset of a CEO and decided to delegate some tasks that I basically suck at this year.

I brought on help for social media. Along with abandoning newsletters and blogs, I also just gave up on social media last year. Part of my goal is to be more visible this year and that boils down to is actually logging into Pinterest and Instagram sometimes...

So, I have help to get Pinterest back up and circulating and that makes me feel very excited because I know with creating new content I need to put energy into making it spread and be visible to others. I know ultimately this will help my business and my specific Q1 goal, so I did research and trained someone and now I officially have a team.

Maybe for your business that’s too big of a step right now, but in the spirit of Essentialism, I don’t think you should be wasting time doing things that you don’t love, or that aren’t immediately beneficial to what you need right now. (i.e. don’t spend 2 hours a day on Pinterest if you don’t have a service figured out that you can offer clients yet…). Maybe there’s a peer you can work some sort of trade system with, or maybe it’s something you can remove from your to do list for this quarter, to revisit in the future (that’s what I did).

I hope this has you jazzed for 2018 and all the ways you can move forward in making this year amazing. Again, I’ll be hopping on Live every Wednesday and I’d love to have you come hang out and chat with us! Sign up below!



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!