(pssst: this is a podcast episode too! If you're not in the mood to read it or want to dive deeper, click below to listen on iTunes or Spotify)
I'm answering a question I get a lot today WITH a bonus. The question I get most often is "how do you think you'll grow a million dollar business without even putting in full time hours?" so I'm putting my money where my mouth is & I'm sharing not only my secrets, but WHY I'm doing it this way.
First off, you should know that I'm incredibly ambitious. Not only in what I can provide for myself, but what I can do to empower other women to reach similar success. I think that women in general are taught to doubt ourselves more often, can be less assertive & struggle a little bit in a world that has grown to devalue feminine energy & the value it brings and I think it's unfair AF, and I desperately want to change not just how women are viewed by society, but how women view themselves. My ambition exists none-the-less, but what really fuels me is the desire to add successful women to the world, into politics as well as in business & economy, in the hopes of not only creating change that represents & protects my womanhood, but also in the hopes to add to the representation of successful women that will empower future generations to question what's possible & what they can achieve.
I draw endless inspiration from previous feminist icons & hope to provide that empowerment to future generations, not necessarily to follow my footsteps into business, but to know that they are equally capable & entitled to any form of personal success, regardless of what that is for them.
For me, I feel called to represent financial success & independence by leading by example: Growing a million dollar business that employs women & gives back to charities, finding success not by stifling my feminine energy, but embracing it.
In all honesty, I'd truly love to throw myself into my business, work 20 hours/day, and hustle, but I can't. I have chronic pain, residual symptoms from a brain surgery a year ago, and as a highly sensitive person, I can easily get overstimulated by screens & need a lot of recovery time - more than average. So, in the hopes of creating a long-term legacy, I have to treat my business as a marathon, not a sprint.
I can't allow myself to fall into the "hustle" mentality of grinding hard for quick results - For me, the hustle is like a crash diet. You might lose 10 pounds in ten days, but can you sustain that long term? Or are you going to gain the weight all back & be super discouraged about failing? Yeah, like crash diets, the "hustle" is not for lifers - it's just not sustainable (nor is it healthy).
So, what's a girl to do? I have million dollar dreams & 25 hours a week for my business, which, yeah, does make growth hard. And giving anything less than my best effort is not an option - I am making this dream happen, and I'm not making myself sick while I do it, and I'm not losing my relationship, home or happiness either.
Discipline is the name of my game. Since I have less time than I'd like to grow my business, when I sit down to work, I WORK. I am focused, I set a timer, I use my daily routines to energize me & set me up for what's next AND I still crush my goals. It might be a little slower than usual, but really, who decides what is & isn't valid when looking at the time of your business? You do. And I refuse to look at my slow but steady progress as anything less than valid because I'm choosing to prioritize my health as I grow.
HERE'S THE JIST
Time for some details. If you'd like a time-table of what my work weeks look like (back to school style for all my Virgo babes out there), then grab a PDF of what my work week looks like. It changes a little everyday, I'm not going to lie, but in general, this is how I’m growing a million dollar business, and I'm going to break down the key components below.
So, I start working most days between 10 & 11, and no, that's not to make time for a huge breakfast or a crazy workout. My mornings are pretty simple, with a minimal morning routine (as your daily routines should be restful, not rigorous) and then an hour or two of free time that I might allocate to journaling, working out, meditating, cleaning, relaxing with a podcast or even (gasp) TV. I really do whatever I'd like with this time, because I know that regular rest & fun is crucial to recharge the brain, and I want to be bringing my freshest self to the table.
One thing I do before work, however, is check in on social media. I'm incredibly fueled & passionate about my followers, so most mornings from bed, I check in on Facebook & Instagram, and I'll usually do a post right from between the sheets at around 6am, when my boyfriend wakes me up with his morning routine. I definitely don't recommend this for everyone, but I'm really careful to curate my social feeds to be motivating & uplifting - if I find myself comparing or feeling bad when I look at someone else's feed, it's an immediate unfollow. I want every part of my business + life to be as nurturing and uplifting as possible, so if something isn't working for me, it gets a hard pass. It's one of the ways I protect my energy.
First, I plan my day: I use a product called The Productivity Planner to plan my days one day at a time. I know some people really like to plan their days in advance, but I plan my weekly priorities on Monday & decide daily priorities on a day-to-day basis: My only deadlines center around the podcast I release on Tuesdays & Thursdays, so luckily I have the benefits of a pretty flexible schedule and I can often pursue whatever seems most interesting to me, which helps me stay inspired & motivated. With The Productivity Planner, you pick 5 daily tasks & prioritize them based on importance, but I also set aside an extra 30 minutes at the beginning of the day to check my email & make sure I'm progressing towards long-term goals in my project management software.
Then, I work for about 2-3 hours in focused chunks of 25 minutes each called pomodoros, which goes hand-in-hand with the productivity planner. You can find great pomodoro timer apps to use on your phone or desktop that makes it super easy to use this system. With this system, I work in 25 minute chunks with 5 minute breaks and then every 6 hours, I get an hour long break. I don't stick to this system perfectly & sometimes take an earlier break, but for the most part, I'm really strict about the 25 minute time chunks. I'm very focused during this time & can pretty much only be interrupted by an emergency or a cat jumping on my lap, so I know that my work-time involves bringing my best self to the table.
So, usually I continue with that for five or six hours up in my office, with breaks where I see fit. Most days, I'm finished what I have to do for the day by 3 or 4 pm. Which is perfect because my boyfriend usually gets home around 4:30 and I do not work well with other distractions in the house. BUT, not every day is perfectly productive, and that's totally okay. Productivity ebbs & flows, and if I'd struggled during the day to get stuff done, I'll take a little time after dinner to finish things up while Chris hobbies. This isn't ideal, but it's not the end of the world - I'm a work-at-home solopreneur, so when Chris gets home, I'm ready to talk & snuggle all night, but he doesn't have the benefit of lots of alone time like I do, so he doesn't mind if I have to work for a few hours in the evening.
THE POWER OF FOCUS + DISCIPLINE
As you can see from my timetable, I get a lot done in a pretty short amount of time - but it wasn't always like that. I used to really struggle when it came to sitting down & getting work done (I even dropped out of college… TWICE) and when I started my business, I was used to failing & knew that I specifically needed to grow my discipline + focus if I wanted results.
I knew that the hours I put into my business needed to be focused & high impact. If I wanted to reach my goals, I couldn't waste my time, so growing my discipline & focus was the first major personal growth effort I put forward.
I've used a couple of tools to help me out with this: Asana, which is a project management tool that I mainly use to track & hold myself accountable to long-term goals, The Productivity Planner, a bare-bones, essentials only physical planner that makes it easy to focus on high-impact activities and, with that, the Pomodoro system which breaks big tasks into manageable, 30 minute chunks with built in breaks, and that works really well for me.
Another huge tip that I've learned is that I do my best to group like tasks together. I do this in a couple of ways - I try to focus my weekly content by theme, so when I'm creating podcast episodes, blog posts & social media posts, I'm already focused & knowledgeable about what I’m sharing. I don't have to research something new every time I post and on top of that, every week I can make sure that what I'm teaching is really sinking in and getting it's moment. I also do my best to focus similar tasks together - I record more than one podcast episode at once, I respond to emails in batches, and if I’m getting made up to record a video, you'd best believe that I'm making the most of that face & getting a few videos, a selfie & a good instagram story in there.
These tools & tips help a lot, but I've also made some lifestyle changes to help keep me ready to slay my goals in way less time - mainly, working out & not eating like crap. If your body is in good physical shape, you're sharper & more energized, but not only that, it's also one of the best & simplest things you can do for your brain power. Like, ever. It floods your brain with excellent hormones, it increases your blood flow to your whole body (brain included) and it's been shown to significantly reduce stress & mental health issues while increasing your overall well-being. As someone who's trying to stay in tip-top form for my business, I recognize that I expect big things from my mind & body, and I train like an athlete to make these things happen.
When you're growing your discipline, the most important thing to remember is that it takes time & it needs to be worked like a muscle. And, just like with any workout, you'll probably struggle a little at first, and your improvement will probably come in short bursts. It's really frustrating at the time, wondering where your newfound productivity has gone, but over time your improvement will be more & more consistent. This type of work isn't the easiest to take on, but your improvement will mean more clarity & impact on every aspect of your life that requires attention or problem solving, so I think it's safe to say that growing your discipline is a huge life upgrade.
If you're wanting to see how all of this comes together into my weekly schedule, grab my one-page PDF where I break down my work week into a time-table, school style. This way, you can see where I spend my time, how I spend it & exactly how much I'm actually getting done (& spoiler alert, it's a lot and for now, I'm leading a team of one) so click the link below to join my email list & grab the free download!
If you'd like to hear me share even more about my high-impact, discipline-based work schedule, this blog post goes hand in hand with a podcast episode all about it! You can listen on itunes & spotify, or on the player attached to this post.
I hope this filled your sails & watered your roots. Until next time,