February 4, 2020

Episode #222 // Productivity Hacks

Being productive can be a challenge for entrepreneurs. In fact, a majority of Being Boss subscribers admit that time management is their biggest struggle. Emily and Kathleen team up in this episode to share the tips, resources, and hacks they use to better manage their workload, which includes how they handle distractions, how they deal with emails and tasks, and why they track their time. They even break down their day-to-day routines to show how they structure their work and life to maximize their efficiency.

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"The biggest thing that is standing in your way is yourself."
- Emily

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Facts about why bosses struggle with time management
  • How to be productive enough to only work 25 hours a week
  • A detailed look into the daily routines of both Emily and Kathleen
  • Tips, resources, and hacks for being productive:
    • Minimizing distractions (i.e. turning off notification)
    • Using effective background noise
    • Email boundaries
    • Changes of scenery
    • Having processes for your work
    • Delegating tasks
    • Tracking your time

RESOURCES DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE

MORE FROM KATHLEEN

Braid Creative

MORE FROM EMILY

Almanac Supply Co.

Episode Transcript

Intro:
I'm Emily Thompson and I'm Kathleen Shannon and this is Being boss.

Emily:

In this episode of being boss, Kathleen and I are sharing our best productivity hacks and time management tactics. Listen in to hear us dive into some insights into the biggest struggles of bosses like you, including where the struggle stems from, a look into the day of the life of Kathleen and me as highly productive creative business owners, moms and ladies interested in books, self care, and just generally living a full life and a big rundown of our favorite tips, tricks and resources to get it all done. As always, you can find all the tools, books, and links we reference on the show notes at www.beingboss.club.

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Emily:

So Kathleen and I are jamming about my teas. So I created a line of teas at Almanac Supply Co and guys there. So Kathleen is addicted.

Kathleen:

I'm your official brand ambassador for the teas. I mean I guess unofficial, well I just keep talking about it on the.

Emily:

Now you're official. I think we could call it official. I think if you're saying it with me in the same space, it's probably pretty official.

Kathleen:

You've got to ask for what you want. And here I am asking to be the official Almanac Supply Co tea ambassador.

Emily:

Kathleen. It is my pleasure to grant you your wish.

Kathleen:

I never thought that I would be a tea influencer.

Emily:

There you go. You can be. You must be drinking tea all the time, which you're totally doing. Um, right. These herbal teas are my favorite things that I have ever greeted period. Maybe aside the being, the Being Boss podcast is like, it turned into a whole other thing for sure. So like I feel like they're not in the same league, but in terms of like a product that I have created, I love these teas so much. I'm glad you're drinking them. That makes me happy. Makes me happy. Um, we're not here to talk about teas today though. Thank you for bringing that up though. Yeah, look at you and already know.

Kathleen:

I'm just trying to get some free tea. It's really what's happening.

Emily:

You're so slick. I love it. Today we're actually here to talk about time management and productivity and for a couple of really good reasons. First and foremost, um, we did a poll last fall. We do a poll every year of our listeners and subscribers. Um, and this year our poll showed us that just shy of 60% of you have claimed that one of the biggest struggles that you are facing is managing your own time. And that is pretty much the same year after year. Time management is the biggest issue. Um, also I did a sort of followup poll in our community wondering maybe our closest bosses are a little bit different. Nope, not really. Ask them what they thought their biggest obstacle was coming in 20, 20, and almost 40% of them said themselves followed by cells and then marketing. And in the comments below they were all saying things like they were struggling with delegating or struggling with planning their time or struggling with adjusting their schedules or workflows whenever they are changing their careers or things are happening in their business, which basically means the biggest thing that's standing in all of your way is yourself. What?

Kathleen:

No, know the struggle isn't yourself. The struggle is the time. It's in your own ability to manage your own dime. That's true. And you know, I can get real weird about time. I've been reading this book called Einstein's dreams and it's convinced me more than ever that you can kind of stretch time, you can slow time down, you can kind of manipulate time. And I think that we've all experienced this whenever we've been in a flow state, whenever we've been incredibly focused, whenever we've been in States of emergency, like a car wreck, you know how everything slows down and you can see every little thing. I mean it just is something that we can actually manipulate to work for us. Yes. But also we all have the same 24 hours in our day as Beyonce. So there's no, she's a magician. She's really stretching time, right? She's hydrating is what she's doing. She's very well hydrated.

Emily:

Right? So what we do know for sure is that bosses hardcore struggle with time. Um, and we don't want your time to be the biggest struggle that we have that you have. We would much rather your biggest struggle be managing your own money or something really juicy like closing awesome deals or something. So Kathleen and I have decided that we want to spend a good amount of time, um, focusing on helping you manage your own time better. It's something we're going to talk about today. We have made that one of the themes of our conference, um, and have some fun things going on in that space too. Um, so let's take it and talk about it. And what we're talking about specifically today is we're going to be sharing some of our own tactics and things that we do to stay productive and manage our time.

Emily:

But we're doing this really for creatives. I think creatives have this sort of special set of struggles where our brains are wired a little bit differently. We've worked with them for so long. I think we can really speak to, um, with things that we've seen with creatives and how it is they can adjust some mindsets and habits to help them manage their time better. So Kathleen, with all of that and all the work that you've done, both as a creative and working with creatives, um, where have you seen big problems with our creative business owner folks in terms of time management? I think that the biggest problem I've seen is people not knowing what to do next or where to begin. So I see the biggest struggle with time coming down to really analysis paralysis and sitting around and thinking about what to do next or even jumping ship too soon and trying something new and all of the decisions that come with launching something new, rebranding, trying something new.

Kathleen:

So there are a lot of decisions to be made. There is a lot going on and I think that it can just kind of stand someone's still in their tracks. What about you Emily? What do you think? I think you're totally right and I think a lot of that feeds into sort of the next level of it, which is insane overwhelm, which leads to questioning lots of fraudy feelings, not knowing like you said what to do next. It just, it snowballs into sort of this larger problem. And then you end up at the end of the day or week or month or a quarter or a year and you've done nothing but waffle in your own indecision or, um, sort of analysis paralysis is happening a lot. Um, so yeah, I'm right there with you. It starts there not knowing what to do next and snowballs into so many other big problems.

Emily:

And I also think another, I'm also gonna throw this one out there too. I think creatives tend to be so great at so many different things. It's not only knowing what to do next, it's like choosing from all of the options as to what to do next. Yeah. And the other thing I think is that time moves fast. And as creatives, a lot of us are really good at manifesting opportunities and things falling on our laps, right? But then that's not always how things get done. Sometimes things get done through a lot of planning. And then the actual doing, I'm guilty of this myself. I've had lots of ideas. I mean, you all have been, if you've been listening for a while, you might remember that. I thought I was going to start a blog last year. I thought there's a lot of things that I always think that I kind of want to do, but it really does take figuring out one, why you're doing what you're doing and to what it is that you want to create an offer and then three, the steps that you need to take to get there.

Kathleen:

Right. So it's really just breaking it down and then figuring out how to structure your time around your goals. For sure. One of the things that really prompted this specific episode was a recently had a listener ask us, um, she's called not only call this out, but she was like, you guys often say that we are capable of doing 40 hours worth of work and 25 hours a week, which is, we've said that a couple of times. It's, I think that when we say that we're capable of that we are, did I say that clearly enough? I thought that you were saying that we tell other people that they can do, Oh no, we tell people that we can. That's what we do because we do, we do that. We do our 25 hours a week is ridiculously productive. And she asked specifically share the secrets, what are you guys doing that makes you capable of getting so much done?

Emily:

And so little time. Kathleen and I are highly productive people. We've been working for ourselves for years, a decade at this point. Have you hit the 10 year Mark yet?

Kathleen:

So I quit my day job in 2010 but I've been doing the same kind of work even whenever I worked for someone else for, I mean 15 years. So right. So do, and that's my thing is I'm truly an expert at what it is that I do. And there's a lot of confidence and swiftness that comes in that it's just like putting in your hours is a big part of it.

Emily:

Yes. And putting in those hours not only makes you an expert doing the thing, it helps you form amazing habits that facilitate and you really being able to do the thing. Yep. So we get a lot of stuff done. We run businesses, we take care of our families. We take care of ourselves. Um, so we're going to dive into sort of the practicalities of how it is that we show up and get 25 no how we get 40 hours a week done in a 25 hour week

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Emily:

All right, I want to start this out by sharing some day in the life. So let's both lay out what a normal day and maybe even some weekly stuff cause high weeks are a little bit different or beginning of the week is different from end of the week. Um, let's lay that stuff out to show people what this looks like. Yeah. How about you go first? I feel like people are going to learn how uninteresting my day to day is. Um, same. That's the point. This is the point. Okay. You go first. Okay. So these days, um, actually these days, this is what my schedule looks like. My schedule does change seasonally a lot. So these days is what it looks like. I do consistently wake up at six 30 in the morning with no alarm clock. Wake up naturally. I am quite in touch with my circadian rhythm. I will read in bed until seven.

Emily:

I totally read from my phone like on my Kindle app and I have no apologies about it. None. Just so everyone knows. So I'm doing some reading first thing in the morning. I'm over here looking very skeptical. I feel like this is so bad for you to be reading from your phone. It's fine. Okay. I'm not looking at my phone at night before I go to bed. There you go. Right. So we'll have that trade off. So I will get up and I'll do some reading first thing in the morning, whatever kind of books. Sometimes to business books. Sometimes it's a fiction book sometimes like it's just sometimes I'm just Googling weird shit and seeing what it says. I'm reading in bed until seven and then I get up and I will go for a walk. I'll take my dog for a walk. Um, come home, make breakfast, get ready, sorta hang out.

Emily:

Like we're not really rushed people in the morning, which is one of my favorite things. That's like one of those gifts of working for myself that I do not take for granted is that we get to have very chill non rushed morning and having a homeschool child and having homeschool child for sure. Also we'll throw that in there. I'm also homeschooling my child and all of this as well. Um, I'll go to work and these days I have an office, which is some that working. It's crazy. I haven't worked out of the house in almost five years. So for me to get up and put on real pants every day was quite an adjustment though not as difficult as I anticipated it being, which I'm grateful for. Um, but I think it's really helped my productivity. That's a thing. Changing scenery. We'll get to that soon. So, um, I'll get up, we'd go to work, nine o'clock, we'll be at the office.

Emily:

It's literally five, not even a five minute drive from our house. It's a mile. Sometimes I'll even walk to work. It's about a 20 minute walk as well. Um, I'll work till noon. Take a good lunch break.

Kathleen:

Are you packing your lunch? Are you going back home to eat lunch? What are you doing there?

Emily:

All of the above. Plus some, so some days we'll take lunch and just eat there. Sometimes we will come home and eat lunch. Sometimes I'll walk home and eat lunch and then walk back. Then that's all like a little bit longer of a lunch break. Sometimes I'll go have lunch with friends. Literally the world is my oyster. Your lunch, are you packing a lunch for David and Lily? Are they on their own? No, it's if we're packing lunches for everyone cause we're all there. You're packing a lunch for everyone. Someone is packing a lunch for everyone.

Emily:

Not necessarily me, David sometimes. Yes. Okay. Yeah, it's just we are like the Queens and Kings I suppose of leftovers. I love being very strategic with my meals so that I can cook once and eat for days. Yeah. This is, I mean we're going to get into this later, but definitely utilizing leftovers and meal prep is huge for me. For productivity. Absolutely. Um, so lunch break, go back to work, work until anywhere between three and six. Some days I'm quitting kind of early. Some days, some days, like yesterday I was actually there until six 30. David could not pull me away from the computer. I was doing something creative and I could not leave. I was not in the mood, so I stayed there a little later and then we'll come home, usually take another walk. Um, have dinner, hang out, go to bed. I do not watch, actually this is one of my productivity Tufts for later probably, but I'm gonna share it now.

Emily:

I do not watch television. We know. Don't do it right. I just, I, I can't. And, and, and I've really found that I can't, I do not have the like ability to sit still and watch a movie for an hour and 45 minutes drives me nuts. Absolutely nuts. Um, and that's what my day looks like. I'm usually in bed by nine, nine 30 asleep by 10. And sometimes I'll read with a w Oh, actual book with the light on and bed for awhile and go to bed. I have been, now that it's winter, I've been going to bed really early, like eight sometimes so early. In fact that I've had to start purposefully going to bed later because I'm not sleeping all night, but comes, I'm going to bed so early. Are you waking up earlier like three o'clock in the morning ready to go? It's a little bit of a mess.

Emily:

So I'm, so I'm making myself go to bed a little bit later. Nine, nine 30 10 is the goal. Um, but that's pretty basic. I will also say I usually, there's usually a day or two a week that I'm only working about half a day. Um, it's usually Thursday and or Friday because I'm spending a half day homeschooling Lily or because I have errands to run on Friday or whatever it may be. Um, that's not quite my schedule every single day or the nine to five isn't every single day. But when I'm working I, it's usually pretty traditional nine to five. And even when I was working at home, pretty traditional nine to five um, hours. And it's basic. It's a real basic. So Kathleen, tell us how wonderfully thrilling your day to day life is. So unlike you, Emily, where I typically wake up around six 15 or six 30 with no alarm clock, I just naturally wake up at that time probably because it's winter and I'm going to bed pretty early.

Kathleen:

Um, if I've had insomnia, I might use an alarm just in case, but I wake up around six 15, six 30. A new habit I've incorporated is I am putting on my Apple watch immediately and breathing for five minutes. I use the breathe app. So one of the reasons why I do this is because I'm trying to test my heart rate variability to see how prepped I am to work out, like how hard I can go in my workout. So that is a whole other topic. We won't get into it, but I breathe and then after I breathe I kind of meditate a little bit about my intention for the day or how I want things to go. I'll even mix in some visualization to help me solidify or kind of rehearse some of the habits that I want to incorporate in my day. Or let's say I have an interview coming up.

Kathleen:

I might kind of visualize that going really well. And then after that I'm kind of get up and go. So we've talked about our morning routines before on another episode. We'll be sure to include it if we can find it, but I know that we've talked about that before. Um, but a bulk of my morning is spent getting Fox ready for his day. So I'm packing his lunch, I'm packing his bag, getting his clothes. I set his clothes out by the fire to warm them up. Oh my God. That's, I know. See, I'm a good mom. That's real sweet. I know. That's next level. So I'm getting Fox ready for his day and then after everyone is, you know, gone for the day. Jeremy's gone to work foxes on the bus. I like to go work out. So I'll walk to the gym, I'll workout. And this isn't every day.

Kathleen:

There are some days where sometimes I work out in the evening and I'll get to that. So from there I'm either working or I'm working out and then um, if I'm working out, I'll come home, I'll get ready, I'm usually ready to hit the ground running. Like I've eaten, I've taken a shower, all the things I'm usually ready to hit the ground running by 10:30 AM like if I have to schedule a meeting, I won't do it until 10 30 and then I'm going pretty hard from 10 30 to five 30 these days. And that includes little breaks for, you know, maybe getting some lunch or making no, I've broken my chocolate habit. Actually, this is, I haven't really talked about this, but I was getting into this routine where I was fasting until noon or so. I've stopped doing that. I'm eating much earlier in the day and then I'm having a proper lunch.

Kathleen:

So I'm really into these crackers that I get from trader Joe's and putting some kite Hill almond cheese on it and either topping it with eggs or salmon and like some chives, I'm really committed to making my food look pretty this year. So I'll top it with chives and capers, which you taught me don't come from the Sierra, they're not sea animals. That was a whole conversation and even Instagram and a lot of people were truly also shocked that keepers don't come from the sea. I'm not the only person who thought this. And if you're listening to this right now and you're like, what? Capers don't come from the sea, they come from a Bush in the Mediterranean. They're quite pickled, but salt preserved. But before I was bingeing on like half a bar of chocolate every afternoon because I was so hungry but didn't want to eat like a proper meal.

Kathleen:

So now I'm just having a couple of small meals in the day, like a normal person and it's working out really well for me. That chocolate habit was real. And I will say too, if you're playing with fasting or not, that you're playing with fasting or whatever. Um, I told you about this book reasonably, but I'm gonna share it here. I'd read a book over the winter break that was change your schedule, change your life. And one of the things he talks about in that book is this cycle of fasting. And what most people do wrong is they fast in the morning when you should really be fast in the evening. So getting up and having a proper breakfast, breaking your fast at the right time, your lunch being your biggest meal of the day. And if you want to fast having your dinner, be the mill that you're skipping because it should be your lightest middle of the day because you're going to bed and your digestion system is going to sleep.

Emily:

So that one should be the smallest one. And then your fasting from lunch to breakfast the next morning. Just throwing it out there. I've been playing with adjusting my own schedule again, tapping into the next level of my circadian rhythm. And, um, I actually did this the other day and I was fine until the next day, which usually when I'm fasting I'm like, eat a whole bar of chocolate ravenous by whatever time to, um, anyway, just throwing that out there.

Kathleen:

Yeah, I'm so fascinated by all of it. I'm fascinated by all of the biohacking stuff. I'm, I basically use fitness and nutrition as a hobby, so I'm always playing around with things, but you cannot deny the social aspect of your life whenever it comes to how you interact with other people. And so for me, fasting in the morning was easy as because my family's not around. Whereas in the evening I like to have dinner, so I kind of had to just weigh the pros and cons of when I might fast.

Kathleen:

Now I'm seeing for me having my dinner just a little bit earlier, I'm probably still having the same fasting window. I'm just having my dinner a little bit earlier if possible, like at six versus eight. And then, um, that really helps me. I don't know, I just feel a lot more balanced lately with that schedule. And then it's, it's all about experimenting on yourself and really your whole schedule, your daily schedule is about experimenting and seeing what works. So for example, my, one of my most creative times of day is whenever I first wake up in the morning, but I don't want to hit the ground running on my computer necessarily. So I'm working out and I've played around like I've also been playing around with a lot with working out in the evening and really getting to work sooner rather than later. And that's been really helpful to you.

Kathleen:

So I like, I'm playing around with it a little bit, which is weird for me. I'm such a Taurus set in my ways with my habits, which is another tangent I've been changing. You know how I always eat paleo? It's every day for lunch. Yes. I've changed that up. I'm not eating the same thing everyday. I've been tackling this new person, everyone. I mean I've been eating the same thing every day for the past four or five years and I've changed in a bar. Chocolate? Yeah, paleo. It's in a bar. Chocolate. Okay. So maybe if, if people are interested, maybe I can go into it on my Instagram or we can talk about it in another episode, but I'm back to my schedule. So I'm just working what feels like a nine to five right. But it's usually 10 30 to five 30 then I pick up Fox from school.

Kathleen:

So he goes to a school and goes to aftercare. And then if I didn't work out in the morning, I take him directly to the gym, we go to the gym together, I get a workout in whenever I get home, I get dinner going. So I'm like you where I'm strategically prepping my meals so that if I cook a dinner, it's going to last us two more nights or leftovers. And then I usually make a tea before, after dinner, like an after dinner tea and I'll practice the piano while I'm drinking my tea and everyone's kind of chilling. And then by 8:00 PM we're starting our bedtime routine and getting in bed. And then, and then I start over and every day is pretty much the same. But whenever you said that you usually take sometimes a half day. I bet I do that once a week as well.

Kathleen:

Like even today, right before we were recording, I popped over to the grocery store real quick and it wasn't a half day, but I also volunteer at Fox school once a week. So I was volunteering and then I popped home and I was like, Oh, you know what? I still have my coat and shoes on. I'm just going to run out to the grocery store real quick. It's two a two minute drive and get that done. So there is some flex in my schedule for things that come up. Ooh, yes, that flexibility but also basic. Thank you for sharing your amazingly basic. And then there's a lot of nuances in there too, like routines within routine. So in my work day, I have certain days that I'm scheduling things. I'm always really cognizant and we'll get into this more in our next section about like art tricks. But I'm conscious about not overbooking things and considering how long it takes to do something whenever I'm figuring out my work schedule.

Kathleen:

So there's a lot of like little and again morning routine. There's the lemon water, there's coffee, there's all the things within all of this. Right? Right. But what, what we really wanted to illustrate here was that our daily routine is not like we're not waking up at four and getting started or not. Um, I don't know, working late at night or I don't just, we're not doing anything crazy. Like we're just basic people with a basic schedule, but we get shit done and the way we get shit done is with some really important little tips and habits and tactics that we're going to be sharing. Um, and the next section about how we take our normal lives and just sort of put them into overdrive when it comes to getting the work done.

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Emily:

All right, let's get down to the good stuff. Now we've made you wait long enough for some of our favorite tactics. I don't like the word hacks. I don't like the word hacks. That feels like slightly like seems negative. Like you're like you're cheating the system. This isn't cheating. This, this is just using. This is having a system, but this is,

Kathleen:

I know it is funny when people like 10 life hacks to be more productive, it's your water and it's like, no, that's not a life hack. That's just being a human being.

Emily:

That's just a good habit. So I don't want to call them hacks. I'm not going to call it though. You know what I might do, guys, I might call this Productivity Hacks and it gives them, you know, sometimes you gotta just for the SEO. So you know what, click bait all day. Oh man, I'm going to call it productivity may be, you will see, you guys can go back.

Kathleen:

I like it. I feel like you're saying that you don't like the word hacks because you actually do like it. I feel like we're having a full circle moment. So let's spend this next segment talking about our favorite productivity hacks.

Emily:

I love it. Let's do it. Okay. My biggest one, my biggest hack is to turn off your notifications. Dang it. Um, whenever I'm working, whenever I'm sitting down nine to five, whatever that may be, I am notorious and by notorious, I mean people get annoyed at me and I don't care because I'm turning off notifications on my computer screen cause there's little Apple slide and notifications will kill your productivity. Um, and my ringer is literally never on my cell phone ever. Like it's not buzzing, is not dinging, is not doing anything. So I turn off my notifications, I turn off the ringer on my cell phone, I will shut down Slack and I will shut down my email whenever I have something to do because the only thing that those things do is distract you and you can't multitask.

Emily:

Your brain cannot be writing an email and checking that notification that just flashed through and be able to really process either of those things effectively and efficiently. Your brain will, even though you think you may be multitasking, you're actually switching from one thing to the next and there's a buffer time that happened that is required between switching between those things where you're not productive. So the more you're switching from one to the other, you are losing productivity. So hack number one is remove all of those little digital distractions. Turn off your notifications and the way you do that, literally, if you're on a Mac, go up to the top right hand corner. There's these three little dots with three little lines. You can click on it. You scroll up, what you don't think you can scroll up but you can and there's a little button that says do not disturb and you can turn it on and it'll reset tomorrow.

Emily:

Your notifications will be back on if you want them. You can also come manually turn it on or off I guess if you want. Um, but it will stop notifying you of everything.

Kathleen:

You just changed my life. I didn't know the scroll up thing. I've been trying to figure out how to turn off that bar for long.

Kathleen:

There you go. It does it for I think just until the end of the day. So tomorrow morning or like you should title this episode, how to turn off your notifications and hack number two here. If you have problems sleeping, Ivan struggling with how bright my monitors are and I have two of them right next to the do not disturb button is night shift. So I just turned that on and my eyeballs feel so much better and I'm not designing anything so I don't need to be able to see in full color.

Kathleen:

Yeah. Oh my God, you're welcome. Well, my hack is quite the opposite of what you just said. Actually, I'm all for turning off distractions, but one of the things I've been doing lately to get into designing, so my most creative self, the part of me that has to sit down for let's say three hour chunks and design out a brand platform, it takes longer than three hours, but three hours is like my max of being able to sit at my computer. I will turn on some Hulu, I will watch, here's what I watch. Keeping up with the Kardashians. Love it. And it's become like a Pavlo Pavlovian response. So if Pavlov's dog, he would ring a bell and then the dog would know that he gets a treat or something like that. So then once Pavlov even just started ringing the bell, the dog would start salivating like it's going to get a tree, even if it wasn't getting a treat.

Kathleen:

So I found creating these little routines for, okay, keeping up with the Kardashians is on. I'm sitting down and designing and it's just on in the background. I will say it is kind of a distraction. In fact yesterday I watched all of the keeping up with the Kardashians, so I started watching Roadhouse instead and um, I did the entire thing. Yeah, I Instagram story and I'm not done. So be sure to follow me on Instagram if you want my a movie recaps. Love it. I did this too whenever I was developing websites back in the day, I would always turn on dr who that was my, that was my shad, turn it on, put it up in the little corner of my, of my computer and just develop a way, write code for hours gets you in the zone. And actually I have one other that's kind of related to that as far as like sitting down and doing the work.

Kathleen:

Have you ever heard the term me's in place? Yes. It's used for cooking where if you're cooking a recipe, get all of your ingredients chopped and together and in little dishes and it might seem like a waste of time, but you don't spend any time while you're cooking looking for that thing or measuring things out while something is burning. Everything is there and ready to go. It also feels really fancy. Like it feels just really nice to have everything there. You feel like your Rachel Ray on a cooking show, but um, you can do the same thing whenever it comes to the materials that you'll be working with. So for example, right now I'm working, I'm on the beginning stages of a brand platform and what I did is I went and bought all the fonts I needed to buy. I collected all of the photos I knew that I wanted to use in one place.

Kathleen:

I opened the file, even just a blank InDesign file and I named it and I saved it and then I closed it while I was like gathering all of my materials. So that's another thing that I highly recommend from productivity is gathering all of your materials in advance. That's a good one. Look at you go. You must get shit done. Um, all right. One of mine is a little bit of a follow up from my last one and it is creating healthy and productive email boundaries. So many bosses I know are always talking about how interruptive or time consuming and their inboxes and it's only because you allow it to be on some level. Please don't send me snarky emails. Um, one of the best things I did a couple of years ago, I started tracking my time, which I'll get to in a second and I was specifically wanting to see how much time I spent in my inbox and I was spending a stupid amount of time, my inbox, because every time an email would come in, I would go answer it.

Emily:

I was distracting myself going and doing it. You know, inbox zero was like how I measured a productive day. All of those things. Once I realized how much time I was wasting in my inbox scratched it. Now I answer emails like once a week maybe and I will not answer a large majority of emails that landed in my inbox. Not because I'm an awful communicator, it's more like I only have 24 hours in my day. And so I've developed what I think is a much more healthy relationship with my inbox where I don't feel like I need to respond to everything. I have very clear boundaries around when I'm in my inbox and it's not my top priority. My top priority is my work. My email only helps facilitate some of that. So creating some healthy and productive email boundaries is a great way to better manage your time.

Kathleen:

Mine ties into the last one, which is having everything in its place and ready to go. One thing I really like doing in order to stay productive is to stop whenever I have something to come back to. So for example, yesterday I was on a roll with designing a logo and I knew what I wanted to do next and I'm like you where I could have kept going until six 30 or 7:00 PM but I decided to stop so that I would have that momentum whenever I come back to my desk and I wasn't having to start over fresh with like, okay, well now which part of this do I want to work on? And same as true for whenever we were writing a book or even writing blog posts or newsletters. Sometimes I will outline it the night before and then come back and flush it out the next day.

Kathleen:

So yeah, always have something to come back to.

Emily:

Love it. My next one, change it up. And whether that's your scenery or the time of day you're doing things. Um, I often feel I'm especially most creatively productive when I do something out of the box of my normal work day or environment. So, and this can even mean working on the weekend sometimes. Sometimes my best creative work and I'm talking, let's say I'm designing a new website for something, wink, wink or I am, um, even sometimes working on like...I always see organizing things like a hugely creative undertaking. Like if I'm planning out a whole new project that's got lots of like delegatable tasks and all of these things, uh, I get really excited. Sorry guys. Um, sometimes I can do my best, like really intense work on like a Sunday afternoon when I don't ever work. But sometimes removing myself from my usual work day and allowing myself a good solid block of time to just focus on that thing elsewhere can be really productive.

Emily:

Um, or in a different place sometimes to write a solid something, I need to go to the coffee shop, uh, remove myself from, you know, dirty laundry or your inbox or whatever it may be. Um, removing yourself sometimes in space can also be a great way to tap into some productivity. My number one be all and end all productivity tip is to have a process. So here at braid creative we have the braid method and it's the same process. It's had iterations for sure that have evolved along the way. But we have a process called the braid method and it's how we take clients through the beginning to the end of their brand platform. So if you can have a process around the way that you work, whether you offer a service or a product, have a process and then work the process. And then create systems to support the process.

Kathleen:

The more you can rely on your process, the more you can start to automate it or hire for it and you just know what you're doing. Coming back to that, having to make decisions thing, I know exactly the next steps I can S I can tell people, here's what you're going to expect next. Here's the email I'm going to send you. Then that email is a canned response that I tailor to fit their project. Um, I know what deliverables I'm offering every single time and for me that has just been huge whenever it comes to being able to get so much, especially creative work done in such a small amount of time, right? When you can automate in terms of processes, those sort of mundane tasks of everything that even though like me zone play stuff, like what does it take for you to gather all of your materials.

Emily:

If you can have hardcore systems around that, you can do your work so much more efficiently and effective. And this goes right back to what we were saying was the problem that we see with creatives being they don't know what to do next. A system will tell you what needs to happen next. Once you have a new client, you're like, what do I do next? How do I deliver this thing? Or once you're in the middle of a creative project, what is it that I'm supposed to do next? A system that you've created will tell you what to do next so that you never are sitting there wasting time wondering what happens next. And all of those things can go on so much more efficiently and productively and it helps you close the deal with your clients. Whenever you can tell a potential client what to expect and here's how you work and here's how you've taken hundreds of people through this exact same process with wildly different results because it's like input versus output.

Kathleen:

At least that's how it works with me. Um, it can really reassure someone who's on the fence and it can really make them trust you and feel good and like you know what you're doing. And then you have to deliver on the process. And what that does is it gives you more confidence. You're never left guessing, who am I going to get the information that I need? Am I going to, um, am I going to be able to do this? You just trust the process because you have it and it's worked before. Yeah, because that's been my biggest challenge as a creative is there have been moments where before we had a process at the old agency that I worked at my day job, you would just get any given one off job and you didn't have maybe all the information that you needed or you thought, how am I ever going to design this?

Kathleen:

Like I don't even know what it is that I'm doing. So whenever you have a process, you know what you're doing, you know what's next and it just gives you so much reassurance and confidence. And you know, even coming back to our conversation about the buyout, one of my biggest challenges in being boss is that we were always innovating and like coming up with new things. And that was really hard for my brain to wrap itself around. I really liked that process. And Emily, I think that you're really good at innovating and thinking of new things and then immediately creating a system around it. That's something that I've really learned from you is creating a system around it and figuring out what support you need ASAP in order to make it do right. That's where I was leading into next with this is once you have these systems and processes, you can delegate, you can bring on someone to help you do things so that you can go do other things.

Emily:

Um, you can also do actual automation. So we've talked about like quote unquote automating a process where you know, you simply know what happens next, but you can also use technological automations to help you do a lot of that work too. Um, if you guys are unaware, I do. Um, I do emails every Sunday to our email list called weekend edition. In a couple of weeks ago. I did one where I talk about the automations that I do in my business and how I recently did a little bit of math and found that I'm literally saving myself thousands of like very rudimentary, at least $4,000 a year though. That was like, to have like 40 tasks that I have automated across my online businesses. Um, several thousand dollars just by using automations to do things like help me schedule meetings. Thank you. Acuity scheduling.com/being boss. Um, allowing me to do things like, like automating, telling my team when things happen.

Emily:

Like there's not someone sitting there going, okay, this happened over here. You guys need to go do this thing or sending tasks from, you know, Slack to Asana, whatever it may be. There is a lot of actual technological automations that you can do to save you a boat load of time and money. Um, and you can use systems like acuity. Our pals at FreshBooks, um, you, I use Zapier is E a P I. E. R for a lot of automations. They are not official friends of ours though. I would love for you guys to be, just so you know, um, there's lots of tools out there that you can use to have a lot of your online business, especially automated though I also use a lot of those automations for like in-person retail stuff at Almanac as well.

Kathleen:

Are you measuring those automations against how much time it would take you or someone else to actually do that task?

Emily:

Yes, I took, I took like three or four tasks that y'all have to go back. No, I'm not going to go back. There was this email that I wrote, um, where I took a couple of tasks and I equated, okay, if this is happening once a week and it takes an hour for a human being to do it, um, or even 15 minutes a couple times a week for a human being to do it. And I were to do that. I think it was like $15 an hour, so pretty minimal pay. Um, it was, I think it ended up being about $3,400 a year just on like literally like scheduling meetings and telling my team something like a handful of tasks out of dozens that I use. Now I will say with a process and automating things, you have to know what you're doing before you can start automating and delegating.

Kathleen:

So you really do, there is a lot of front end work whenever it comes to automating, but it is totally worth it. It will save you time and money in the long run and you can start small. You can start small with things that you know, need to happen and build as it goes. So automations is one of mine. Um, I will also tout out here, we've had Mike Michalowicz on the podcast before. Super awesome guy. He wrote Profit First, which you know, many bosses are a fan of. His newer work is called Clockwork. And one of the things that this book does, I read it, I loved it, um, is it does a really wonderful, easy to implement breakdown of where your time should be going in your business. So if you're like, I don't know how much time I should be doing planning versus delegating versus actually like putting my head down and do the work.

Emily:

Mike has done tons of research and implementing with his clients and in his own business to figure out what the sort of optimal use of time is. Um, similar to how his profit first model works and it's amazing. Really amazing. So if you want to wait...

Kathleen:

Can you tell us how much time should creative spend actually creating like on their core genius? So let's say I'm a designer. How much time? Well, I'm a designer and an owner. How much time should I spend designing versus like business development, you know, we need to have, well let's have him on the podcast cause I want to ask him, right.

Emily:

We will have him on the podcast and I don't have the book with me at the moment. I made David read it. I was like, I read this book, you have to go read this book now I'm so I don't have it on me, but um, there is, there is an optimal amount of time and it's sort of, it's for your whole business too.

Emily:

So if you are the only person in your business, then you need to be doing this. But if you have multiple people, you can spread those percentages out of between multiple people. So let's say you're just doing the blending and everyone else is doing the work or whatever it may be. Um, anyway, it's amazing. We'll have Mike somewhere soon for sure. Um, so clockwork, go check out. It's a great resource. All right. Speaking of clockwork, can you talk a little bit about time tracking? How has time-tracking helped you whenever it comes to being more efficient? Time tracking keeps me super on point. Um, there's something about me physically hitting the button that says go, that makes me focus and go until I hit the button to stop and then I'm released to pick up my phone and look at Instagram or whatever it may be.

Emily:

Um, so time tracking has really helped me stay very focused and helps me retroactively look at where I've been spending my time so that I can better optimize. Like I did that time whenever I checked to see how much time I was spending in my email inboxes. And you can do a little planning. I don't do much planning. I mostly use it retroactively and just like keeping me focus. It's like, it's like me, it's like personal accountability is what time tracking is for me. And I do like to use timely. They have previously been um, been sponsors of the podcast. Feel free to send them an email and tell them that you'd wished they'd come back. That would be awesome. But, um, I love timely, love them a lot. I think with time tracking also, what I want to say whenever it comes to being productive is don't underestimate what you can do in just 10 minutes, man.

Kathleen:

I do think that a lot of people underestimate how much they, how much like a whole project might take or maybe they, you know, they think that they can get something done in an hour. But it's really gonna take them three and then you can get in trouble with over-committing or overbooking yourself and thinking that you can do too much in too little time. And then the inverse of that is knowing you can do a lot in 10 minutes in 10 minutes yesterday, I mood boarded out the look and feel for a client's brand platform in 10 minutes. Today I wrote down all of my notes for all of the things that I do for productivity to prep for this episode. There is so much stuff that you can get done, so don't hesitate. I mean, how much of our book did we probably write in 10 minute chunks, right?

Kathleen:

Just little outlines here and there and then filling it in later. So if you have 10 minutes to spare, and I do watch TV. So that's another thing I am, I'm also watching shows amongst all of this stuff. Hack, watch a 20 minute show. I highly recommend Schits Creek. It's so good or stop whenever you still have more. If you watch an hour long show, stop at 30 minutes and then start the second half the next day. Okay. Anyway, what I really wanted to say about that though is that you can get a lot done in 10 minutes. So the next time you do have a small little or a break, try and hop right into something. And again, that means if you're, if you've got your me's in place, if you've stopped whenever, you still have more to do, you will always have something to pick back up.

Kathleen:

If you have your tasks, they'll negate it out and you know what it is that you even need to accomplish this week. You're going to be able to knock some stuff out. I love it. I'm gonna say something really quickly about this TV piece. And this is not about TV necessarily. This is about literally anything a couple of months ago. So, well actually before I even say that I, what am I, I am a reader. I've always been a hard, like even as a kid, there was one summer when I was like in middle school where I encountered them read like 70 bucks like book nerd guys. I'm not a crazy fast reader by any means. I just have a really great attention span. I think whenever things are interesting cause there are definitely books that I don't finish, so don't think I'm not that person. A couple of months ago I realized that I wasn't reading as much as I like to read.

Emily:

There was my pile of books that I want to read was getting really, really tall. And I remember thinking like, I want to be the person who has read every book that I want to read. And so I made a conscious decision that instead of watching television, because I don't care to be the person who's watched every season of survivor or whatever it may be. And I'm not picking on you if you love survivor by any means, I'm just giving an example. Um, I wanted to be the kind of person who had read all the books that I wanted to read. So now, literally every single morning whenever I wake up and every single night before I go to bed, I'm reading, I've chosen to use that little bit of time, which is like 30 45 minutes on each end is spent reading books instead of anything else.

Emily:

So know that like a lot of time management is time prioritizing, of knowing what's most important and dedicating yourself to spending that time doing the thing that is important to you as opposed to literally the infinite list of other things that you could be doing 100% also back to the 10 minutes thing, there are some nights where I, because I also love reading, I read a lot, probably about a book a week at this point and I get that done in also just 10 minutes a day. And sometimes it's longer. Sometimes I'll spend an hour reading and I'm learning how to play piano. And so same thing with that. Like if I can just sit down for 10 minutes a day, it really does start to add up. Yeah. So this a place to work at a place to anything that is that you want to do or learn or be or whatever.

Emily:

Okay. Last thing I'm going to throw out here is some boss support because after I did that poll in the community where I found out that still 40% of people, like it's themselves standing in the way of feeling awesome about the coming year. I prompted our boss members and the community to share their best tactics for finding focus whenever they feel overwhelmed and unproductive. And here's a couple of things that they said. First a to do list, brain dump. I love doing this personally. I high-fived this one putting on your headphones and this was more of those like Pavlov's dog scenario where you feel unproductive, put on your headphones focus, which I totally loved. Okay, wait. But as music playing or just headphones on. So she actually said that even though it's music too, but like even if like she's playing music, it's putting the music in the headphones, but even the headphones on like there's some about and so it's those little triggers, whatever you need to do to get yourself in the zone.

Emily:

The Pomodoro method, which is setting a timer for 45 minutes and focusing on one task for 45 minutes. Bosses I knew loved this. I hear about this in a lot. I like this one going for a short walk. Yes, all about this. Again, you know with what you can do in 10 minutes, you can get in 10,000 steps a day, 10 minutes at a time and it just clears out your brain and I would even say, and I'm in, I love listening to podcasts. I listened to them all day every day, but try not listening to a podcast and going for a quick walk and it will just clear your brain out. So quick walk was actually paired with multiple people saying general get out in nature. I will say too sometimes whenever I need a quick little break to do a reset so I can come back and focus, I'll just go like pull some weeds in the garden, like just half a bed, pull some weeds done and then your bed is D weeded, right?

Emily:

And, and I was productive while I was resetting. Look at that. Um, also stopping for a chat with another boss to boost inspiration. Sometimes overwhelm and unproductivity can STEM from being very uninspired to do the work. Talking to a boss friend, whether that be just accountability or general inspiration can be great for giving you that boost. This might be my favorite one. Pick just one thing to do right now, even if it's small and easy to give you that boost of productivity to keep going. This is something that you said last week, Emily was or a few weeks ago, was that it. The more energy you produce, the more energy you get and I think that there is something to being productive and really collecting that momentum to keep going. Right? There was some chatter in there about the snowball effect that happens whenever you do one and then you do two and then you did 18 and you're like done, which is really great.

Emily:

So just start checking it off for sure. So those are the most, some of the tactics that came from the Being Boss community, they were having that. They loved this little prompt, they all got excited and we're cheering each other on with. They're really awesome. Their really awesome tips. And I told them that if they ever have any issues with being unproductive or unfocused to come back and use some of these tactics and you guys can also use this episode. Did you just say, all right and there you go. So those are some of our best tips, tactics and dare I say hacks to help us be very productive and yes, very truthfully often get 40 hours of work done in a 25 hour week. We do all the things, all the things we need to do and we sleep and eat and work out and take walks and all the things so you can do it. To me.

Kathleen:

Granted, I had to quit my job this year at being boss, but.

Emily:

I didn't. I didn't do it. You're practicing piano. I'm not practicing piano. I'm not learning anything new. Just running two businesses. We all choose. We all choose our price, our choices. Right?

Kathleen:

Working on my six pack and those piano keys.

Emily:

Yeah, I'm doing neither of those things. I promise you. Promise you.

Outro:

Thanks for listening and Hey, if you want more resources, we're talking worksheets, free trainings in person meetups and vacations, and more. Go to our website at www.beingboss.club. Do the work. Be boss.

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