How to be more productive

How do you get stuff done when your schedule is jam-packed? Does it seem like there's never enough time to do the things you WANT to do? Newsflash: everyone is busy! Click to see 3 ways that you can be more productive and save time even when you're a busy holistic health business owner. This is perfect for holistic nutritionists, health coaches, essential oil business owners, or yoga teachers.

By now, you probably know how much I love a great self development book. Books that are full of life hacks, how to get your mind out of the abundance gutter, and to overall just get better.

For me, one of my major mindset hurdles that is complete BS is the following belief:

I have to be busy & stressed to make money.

100%, complete bullshit.

For me, this mindset comes from a combination of society and media (think about how many movies or online articles feature high powered executives who work 80 hours a week and try to play the big business game but it ultimately destroys their life), books like "I don't know how she does it", and my mother (sorry, Mom, I love you!). My mom kicks ass, and worked 40+ hours a week while balancing two very active kids who were in multiple sports while trying to keep her house spotless with a not overly domestic husband (sorry, Dad, I love you!). Now that I'm a mom, I have no idea how she did it without going crazy. It's easy to see where this deeply held belief of mine came from.

So when I saw the book "I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women make the Most of Their Time" by Laura Vanderkam at the bookstore, it was calling my name so damn loud that I couldn't not buy it.

Plus, after getting outside of my comfort zone (aka hiding behind my computer) and travelling across the country to meet some of my essential oil team members plus other holistic health practitioners in person, I'm developing a bigger picture view of how other people get shit done (or don't).

If you're anything like me, when someone asks me how I am, my default answer is "busy". Everyone is busy. Your kids are busy. Your parents are busy. Your damn dog is busy.

It's almost like a badge of honour. Like if you're not busy, you're lazy, and no kick-ass, take-charge woman wants to be perceived as lazy. Over your dead body, which is probably dead because you were so busy, but at least it socially acceptable right?

But guess what, here's a #truthbomb for you that's just one of the gems I've taken from Laura's book:

In business and in life, it's not about being busy or just doing all. the. things for the sake of doing them. The key to turning your schedule from a death march to life-giving is feeling productive.

Productive is defined as yielding results, benefits, or profits. For the sake of your happiness, if it isn't yielding results, it doesn't matter.

In life, if something isn't making you feel good, then stop doing it (unless that means washing your underwear. Still do that, because dirty underwear doesn't feel good after the second day).

In business, if something isn't making you profits and making you happythen stop doing it.

Step #1 in figuring out if something in your business is productive for you is to measure the results. If profits are the primary result that you're worried about because you're not making enough money, then before you do anything on your schedule ask yourself "is this going to make me money right now?".

If the answer is no, then you know what you have to do. If the answer is yes, then make that activity a priority. And if the answer is eventually? Make sure to do those activities, but don't devote as much time as you do to the money-making ones. An example of this is blogging, where you might not make money right now, but you're growing your list so that you can make more money in the future. Blogging takes up 20% of my weekly schedule (1 out of the 5 working days I have).

But how do you actually BE more productive? Check out the 3 ways that I get a shit-load of stuff done each week:

1. Practice time blocking

This has by far made the biggest difference in feeling productive and happy in my business AND personal life. As a busy (natch) entrepreneur and a mom, I had gotten used to doing things when I had even the smallest amount of time to get them done. Author Brigid Schulte calls this "time confetti". But who can get anything meaningful done in 5 minutes? I usually can't, other than maybe taking some deep breaths, making a mug of tea or filling up my essential oil diffuser.

When I want to get into the flow, which is where I always feel the most productive, I need to have a good amount of time to get into it. I need stretches of time to get into my head and write, where I can let the words form and flow from me. It just feels more luxurious, which for me is such a feeling of abundance that it puts me in the attraction vibe instead of desperation. For things that I don't overly like doing, like answering e-mail, it can feel more productive if I schedule a half hour or hour to answer a whole bunch at one time, instead of answering one here and there throughout the day.

I recommend batching common activities together and getting them all done on a certain day each week. As a holistic nutritionist, it could be that you do your one-on-one client sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays (especially if you have to commute or have travel time to get to your office), prepare your client plans on Mondays, blog on Wednesdays, and allow yourself Friday as a catch-up day or to work on an online program or downloadable meal plan that you can sell again and again.

I set recurring weekly activities like this up as a tentative calendar in my online software. My week looks like this from here until the foreseeable future (click to enlarge):

My blogging calendar is in pink, and my tentative calendar is in turquoise (even my calendar fits my brand colours!). I write my blog posts on Mondays (and get everything else done that I need to do for them, like make the shareable pics and schedule them on social media - click here for details), do business opportunity sessions for new people who are considering joining my essential oils team from the business side on Tuesday mornings, welcome all new members who are using essential oils to my team on Wednesdays (this involves helping them make a daily schedule of using the oils and/or supplements they've purchased and showing them how to re-order), and on Thursday I do Biz Strategy Sessions.

Right now, while I'm preparing for my upcoming new online course called Brand, Build, Blog (a branding & blogging course for holistic biz owners who are tech-shabby), I've stopped doing Biz Strategy Sessions on Thursdays and am spending the entire day creating content for the course.

I leave Fridays open for miscellaneous things like fun projects, networking, mentoring that didn't fit in other times during the week, napping (très important), and, right now, creating the content for my new course.

Then, as I book appointments in with people, these get added to my schedule in green. This is the signal to myself that it's a fixed commitment and can't be moved. If it's at night, on weekends, or is an event during the day that my husband should be aware of (so that he knows he needs to pick our son up from daycare or I'm going to be out of town), it gets added in orange which automatically updates on his calendar, too. This has helped in cutting down regular arguments that were were having about double-booking events at night. This is then how my schedule looks:

The last thing that gets added is my husbands' schedule, which he updates on his iCal and gets automatically updated on mine in yellow. For example, during this particular week he's heading up to another city to practice with a band that he's doing a show with later in the month. I also have the best times to post on my Instagram account in little purple appointments so I can schedule them in. Now my calendar looks like this:

Having recurring blocks of time like this also makes it easier to use the online scheduling software that I use. I can make a new type of appointment, put multiple start times during that particular day, and have it automatically remove available times if I already have something scheduled.

2. Forget having a zero inbox

Ah, the elusive zero inbox. How much wasted time goes into getting that puppy from 20, 50, or 100+ down to zero ... only to have 5 new e-mails within 20 minutes. Now that my essential oil team is hopping, I'm doing more webinars and networking with lots people, my inbox can get out of control. Lump Facebook notifications and messages in there, and it's a recipe for outright overwhelm. Who else has 50 new Facebook notifications after a half day of no social media? I know I'm not alone.

Even before I read Laura's book, I subscribed to this thought:

I try to work from this premise: you will never reach the bottom of your inbox. Better to realize that anything you haven’t gotten to after a week or so will have either gone away or been thrust back upon you by follow-up messages or calls. You can probably stop thinking about it. Earth will not crash into the sun.
— Laura Vanderkam

So when should e-mail be your priority? When it's someone who wants to pay you money for something. If a potential client wants a call to see if you can help them, if they're calling to book an appointment, if they have questions before buying something of yours online, or if they're e-mailing you to purchase essential oils, you e-mail them back pronto. Everything else can wait.

3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

You're not a computer, you can't simultaneously do 25 different things. You can maybe do 3 properly, so what are your top 3 priorities?

Note, if you're not making enough money in your business, these 3 priorities should be directly making you money (finding new clients, webinars with a pitch for your new online program at the end, enrolling new essential oil users, etc) or indirectly making you money in a specific time frame (working on your new online program to launch next month, doing a webinar to grow your e-mail list, etc).

It's all well and good to be on social media all day posting pretty pictures of lattés from your favourite neighbourhood café, but if it's not growing your business it shouldn't be in your top 3 priorities. If you're not sure if social media is sending you paying customers, click here to figure it out.

Right now, I only have 2 priorities:

1. Supporting my essential oils team for the next 2 months while the company is partly reimbursing me for the travel costs; and

2. Getting Brand, Build, Blog done and launched for the end of April.

If something doesn't help me with those 2 priorities, it's a no until the end of May.

So what have you been saying yes to that's wasting your energy, focus, and time? What should you be saying yes to that you haven't had enough time to do?

Once you figure out what your priorities are, go back to your calendar and block off time during the week to get it done. If it's not scheduled, it doesn't exist. The only way that you're going to grow your business is to DO IT instead of sitting around thinking about what you should be doing.

You're never going to have enough time. There's always going to be e-mails, new social media platforms to be on (Snapchat anyone?), and new online programs to launch. If you keep using the excuse that you're too busy and you don't have enough time, save everyone else's time by realizing that it's your choice to not do it and stop complaining already.

Either that or just do it.

We act like we're maxed out all the time, but if something unusual happens, like your car breaks down or your basement floods, you can bet your ass that you'll find the time to tend to those issues. So if you can find 2, 5, or even 10 hours to deal with a spontaneous problem, why can't you come up with that same amount of time to do the things that you actually want to do? You can, you just have to decide to do it.

You have all the power, now go out and show everyone else that you do.

I wanna know: what are your top 3 priorities right now? Does your schedule reflect those priorities? What changes are you going to make to align yourself with your priorities? Leave a comment below!