I sat down to write the article for my newsletter. I wasn’t feeling it. No words would come and the blank document in front of me seemed to taunt me. The curser blinked. My mind wandered. Then the voices came: “Snap to it! You have a deadline! People are counting on you!” I sighed, closed my computer, slunk back on my bed, grabbed the remote, and chose to close my eyes instead.
For creatives, if we don’t pay attention to the cycles of our energy, we will not be able to do the tasks in front of us. We’ll crash and then beat ourselves up for “procrastinating” and being “lazy.”
I’d like to propose that maybe we aren’t lazy at all, but we simply have cycles of energy that we need to pay attention to. If you are burned out, tired, or have been pushing through too long, you won’t be able to write that newsletter article. You’ll choose sleep instead.
But what if we really dialed into our energy levels? What if we asked ourselves, “What do you need right now?”
When I ask this question, and pay attention to the answer, sometimes I go for a walk, music blaring in my ears. Sometimes I do mindless activities, like laundry or washing the kitchen counters, just to reset my brain and take a break from the computer. Sometimes I have to jump in the car, clear my head, or call a friend. Other times, I feel motivated and excited and sit down and write Facebook ads, teacher advertisements, newsletter articles, and check off a bunch of overdue tasks.
I am going to let you in on a little secret: I set deadlines for my tasks a little in advance so I can give myself some margin. When the tasks pop up, I actually have 1 week to complete them. When they say “overdue,” I am not behind (yet). I have one whole week to fit them in, when my energy allows. I’ve gamed the system and given myself permission to work on things in my business when I have the energy to tackle them.
I use www.todoist.com and have programmed in recurring tasks, so I don’t have to remember what I’m supposed to be doing. (Who has time to keep thinking "What am I supposed to be doing??") Every day, I get an email of the tasks for the day, as well as the overdue ones. Every day, I sit down for at least 30 minutes of “desk time” to look over my tasks, and tackle the ones that feel easy that day. Is this lazy? No, I think it’s strategic.
Sometimes I am in a high-idea generating mood and can get a lot of creating done. Sometimes I am feeling tired or drained from kids or staff issues and I need to do something more mindless. Sometimes I have energy to go networking or thinking of new, creative marketing ideas. Sometimes I need to just take a break and get back to work later.
Don’t let the voices on the internet convince you that you are lazy and unmotivated and that you just need to PUSH and GRIND and HUSTLE. You will be more productive if you go with your natural flow of energy.
And if you find yourself continually drained and unmotivated, ask yourself what is missing in your life. What dream have you shoved down and ignored? What have you convinced yourself is “impossible”? Who has told you that you “can’t” do the thing you really want to do? If you have absolutely no motivation, you could have a vitamin or hormone deficiency. Or, you could be living a version of your life that is too stressful, too boring, or not the life you are meant to live. Have the courage to ask the tough questions and listen to the answers. And if you need a sounding board, you know I’m always here. Let’s book a call and discuss. I’m cheering you on.
Watch today’s video. Then write me back and let me know your thoughts. My suspicion is that most people need to pay attention to the flow of their energy, but I know creative people really need to.
Or we simply can’t create the next thing.
We can't keep going.
We will burn out.
We will want to quit or give up.
You can’t force your creativity. It needs to flow.
Do you pay attention to your flow of energy?
Chris and I created the Never Alone Inner Circle for creative business owners who are selling services and appointments. We know what it's like to juggle work, family, marriage, and even homeschooling. We've been in business for 20 years. 6 years ago, Chris quit his job to work in the business with me. Life has been one big roller coaster, but we know we are called to inspire, empower and encourage business owners.
If you need focus, strategy, and support, let's talk. The Never Alone Inner Circle could be right for you.
“Rest nurtures creativity, which nurtures activity.
Activity nurtures rest, which sustains creativity.
Each draws from and contributes to the other.”
Kim John Payne
I bet you started your business because you're good at something.
Teaching music. Teaching theatre. Tutoring kids. Designing. Decorating. Organizing.
But who taught you about running a business?
Sadly, even business majors have no idea what it takes to manage or grow a small business.
Marketing majors haven't been taught how to close the sale or get a steady stream of new clients.
It seems like growing a small business requires a whole new set of skills. Because it does!
It's a challenging (and thrilling!) ride and one you simply can't afford to figure out on your own.
The wise business owners seek a coach and get help. (I have paid a multitude of coaches to get my business to 7 figures consistently.)
Wise business owners also learn how to identify their strengths and build their business around them.
This week's video is a little longer (and a little more entertaining)! I'm sharing my heart and why I believe it's so important to focus on your strengths as you shape and form your business and as you decide who to hire for your team.
At our Inner Circle Retreat this week, we will be delving deeper into the hiring process and how to set goals for your business and how to reach them.
I'm so excited for our Members who are flying in and driving from other states to join us! (Be sure to watch Instagram and Facebook for live pictures and updates!)
Watch the video here:
Are you ready to be strategic with your strengths?
Let's schedule a call. I'll share with you options for coaching and consulting. I have opened up private, one-on-one coaching sessions and if we are a good fit, I'd love to help you discover how you're wired so you can grow your business more easily and efficiently.
(Also--if you're a bigger business that has many team members, one of my specialties is hosting online consulting with your entire team. We'll assess the strengths of every team member and make sure everyone is in the right role!)
You don't have to keep banging your head against the wall. You just have to discover the areas of strength so you can delegate and automate the rest.
There's hope. Let's talk.
Growing a business is full of ups and downs. One moment you're flying high, the next you're in the depths of despair. And when you're serious about paying off that debt, getting to the next level, or finding a way to pay for the new space you just leased, you may feel like you need some systems or organization to get you there. It might feel like it's time to get serious. Get organized. Even grow up a little.
But what if you're the free-spirited type of person?
What if the thought of boring checklists and structured work days makes you throw up in your mouth a little bit?
Maybe you quit your corporate job because you wanted more freedom. Now you're supposed to impose structure upon yourself?!?
Maybe you have even stopped your own business growth because of the overwhelming silent scream inside of you, demanding, "DON'T BOX ME IN?"
So how do you grow a company and get to the next level when your natural wiring demands flexibility, creativity, and freedom?
After working with hundreds of creative business owners over the last 6 years, here are some tips for you:
3 Productivity Tips for the Creative Business Owner
1. Plan time, not content.
Instead of planning on doing specific tasks on a specific day, just block off "desk time" or "marketing time." Then, on that day, look at your list for the month, and start with the tasks that feel easy or fun. You can go in any order. Do what feels easy. Mix it up. Turn on some music (or even a movie in the background) for the super boring stuff.
As long as you are blocking off time each week for your marketing or admin stuff, you don't have to relegate which tasks you do each minute of each hour. Change it up. You're creatively wired for a reason--use that superpower!
2. Use checklists with freedom
I use an online To Do list that allows me to see what I need to do, without the task disappearing if I didn't get to it right away. In the past, when I put tasks on my calendar or in the Reminders app on my phone, the notification would disappear when the day is over. No bueno. Instead, use a system that allows for flexibility within your week or month. Yes, I have "overdue" tasks. But at least I can see them! Then I do them in whatever order I feel like. I give myself a full WEEK to get some of them done. You don't have to push through or forget it (that's an all-or-nothing mentality). You just need some freedom. I also give my staff permission to bug me when I'm super late ("Hey Jen, do you have that newsletter article?"). The accountability and pressure-prompting appeals to my personality and I actually get the task done when I know my team needs the article so they can put it on the website and get it published for our clients.
3. Go WITH your natural moods, not against them.
Not feeling it? Don't push it. Instead, go for a walk. Dance it out with some fun music. Jump in the car, clear your head with a drive to Starbucks, get your favorite coffee, and allow yourself some friendly small-talk with the barista. When you come back to your desk, you'll be refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle your newsletter, website edits, bookkeeping, or Facebook ads. Don't push through. You'll end up banging your head against the wall. (Nobody has time for a concussion!)
After chatting with a free-spirited, fun, "don't box me in" client of mine this week, I recorded this quick video for you. Please excuse the neighbor kids having fun in the background and try to ignore my slight rocking. I was on my deck, sitting on a rocking chair. I wasn't trying to make you dizzy, I swear!
Listen. You were made with your free-spirit for a reason. You are creatively, uniquely YOU. Go WITH your strengths (not against them) and your company will flourish.
Here's an idea for setting up systems, even when you're a free spirit.
The Never Alone Inner Circle Retreat is coming up quickly! At the end of September, our coaching clients will gather for a time of renewal, clarity, and planning. We'll take two full days to take a look at your business, identify what's working, what's not, and what your next steps should be.
With a focus on business, faith, and family, you'll leave renewed, refreshed, encouraged, and motivated to grow your business in the right direction (and yes, we'll talk about systems that still allow freedom and creativity)! We'll take some time to ask GOD where He wants to lead and guide your business. He wants to give us wisdom. We just have to ask.
(The deadline for the Retreat was yesterday, but I'm extending it 24 hours. If your heart is pulling you to attend, just shoot me an email and I'll see what I can do!)
I bet you are a brave person. You started your company. You made hard decisions. You took that leap. You signed that lease. You hired that team. You created your logo and you started selling stuff.
But sometimes we get a little complacent, don't we?
Maybe we've been burned.
We've been hurt.
We question if we've made the right decisions.
So we want to hide.
Hide behind the computer or the desk and keep everything the same.
Maybe even scale back and keep things small.
But let me tell you--if you are called to this business, then every day you have to continue to show up brave.
You have to move through the fear and make hard decisions. You have to pray for wisdom and when you get clarity, move your feet.
Make that call.
Let that person go.
Change your hours.
Drop that service.
Resign that lease.
Let that space go.
Face that difficult client.
Step out and hire.
You can't run a business afraid. Every day requires courage.
This month, in the Never Alone Inner Circle, we are talking about being the leader and CEO of your company. I wanted to share a little bit of that training with you in today's email.
1. Step OUT
I created a quick video (seriously, it's short) for you. Check it out below.
If you're not on Facebook a lot, subscribing on YouTube is a great way to stay connected to me with encouraging and inspiring content. Just log in with your Google account and click "Subscribe." You'll get notifications when I post new content.
The Doors are Open
We have opened the doors to the Never Alone Inner Circle!
Our members are learning to step up and be brave. As a result, their schedules are filling up with clients. They are reaching their goals. They are making hard decisions with confidence because they have a tribe that believes in them. We cheer each other on. It's a place of love and support, not competition and comparison.
If you're ready to move to the next level in your business and get results like never before, it's time for a change.
All athletes and musicians have more than one coach in their lifetime. And they certainly do not ever train alone. We all need someone encouraging and pushing us.
If you're wondering if the Inner Circle is right for you, let's talk. Book a call with me here:
And watch Joy's story below. She says the Inner Circle helped her feel less afraid.
That's what it's all about. Bravery. Bravery to live out your calling and your life's purpose.
I'm cheering you on!
(It's been brought to my attention that some of you were not receiving these weekly emails! I apologize! That was an admin error and I'm so glad that you are back on this list! You can see what you missed here on my blog:
September is here!
Time for new beginnings! Maybe you're making big changes in your business. Maybe you're in a season of growth. Maybe you're wondering how long you can keep up this pace or maybe you're really looking forward to a steady schedule this fall.
For me, I'm being super intentional about my time and I'm ready for an exciting quarter ahead.
One thing I've really been thinking about lately is faithfulness. I created a super short (encouraging) video for you. Watch it and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!
We have been trying to enjoy every last moment of summer and have been hosting lots of bonfires with friends, too. (Do you follow me on Instagram? Follow our family adventures over there! https://www.instagram.com/jenhickle/
Last night we had an impromptu bonfire with just our family and roasted hotdogs, brats, and a creative version of a s'more. I was out of regular graham crackers, so we used gluten free graham crackers (they tasted like gingersnaps!), added a little chunk of gluten free brownie to each one, and WOW they were wonderful! I just love conversation around a fire.
As we head into the fall, I wanted to challenge you to think of ONE new habit that you can begin. Don't overthink this and don't make it unattainable. What is ONE habit that you can do every day during the month of September?
For me, Chris and I are going to be very intentional about meeting weekly to get on the same page. To be able to lead our team effectively, we have to ensure that our vision is united and that we know where we are headed.
What can you begin?
I'd love to hear--just reply to this email!
About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!