I sighed. I stare at the task on my to do list. Again. It wasn’t going away, and yet I couldn’t seem to get the project done. Every time I worked on it, I got frustrated. Things weren’t working out the way I envisioned. This just wasn’t my strong suit. Sigh. Push it out to next week. Again.
I love using Todoist.com for all my tasks, but it’s frustrating when Chris keeps bragging about all the “points” he earns for completing all my tasks and I have OVERDUE glaring at me. I click the handy-dandy button that delays the due date another week. I rhythmically tap my pen on my desk. Maybe it’s time to get help with this design project.
<Fast forward 2 weeks.>
A new email comes in and the friendly message reads: “Jen, I have the proofs for you. Let me know what you think!” I open the PDF and grin like a fool. It looks so GOOD! And I didn’t have to do it! We hired a graphic designer and WOW this guy knows what he is doing! I write back: “I love it! Approved! Send it to the printer.”
Jumping over to Todoist, I gleefully check off the huge project that had been weighing on my shoulders for months. I grin.
These are the huge benefits of hiring a team:
When I build a team in my company, it’s imperative that everyone knows their role and what they should work on. My favorite tool is www.todoist.com. I can use hashtags to keep projects organized. I can assign tasks to myself or a team member and then set the date for a deadline. Every day, I get an email reminding me of upcoming and overdue tasks. I can even earn points for completing my tasks! Todoist works on my Apple Watch, there’s an app on my phone, and it’s beautiful on my computer. It synchronizes automatically, so I can stay on top of tasks wherever I am. Best part? The basic version is FREE! The upgraded version is only $29 per year. Totally worth it! If you’re building a team or collaborating on projects, check it out.
I know you’re already a Rock Star business owner. But you don’t have to do this all alone.
Build a team--and gain your sanity back!
This morning I was up early, enjoying my quiet solitude (halleljuah!), my coffee, and my book.
For the umpteenth time, I looked up and out of my picture window and thought to myself, "I hate this view. I miss the country. I miss all the trees." I sighed and went back to my book. My thoughts started wandering and I even started thinking about moving houses again. Then I reprimanded myself: "You just moved, silly girl. It's just one view out of one window and you only spend one hour here every day!" I pushed down my thoughts and changed course. Started looking at it from another angle. "My morning time matters. This is where I gather my thoughts and assess where my life is going. This view matters! If it's distracting to see 5 other houses, and I would prefer to see trees, doggonit, I should make a change!"
I stood up, grabbed my overstuffed recliner, and started shoving it to the other side of the room.
I took action and changed my view. On the other side of the room, I can see three trees, a lovely bench, and my kids' swing. Much better. So why didn't I move the chair sooner?
Here were my excuses:
1. I am always changing things. (I should just be content.)
2. My family will roll their eyes and maybe even complain that they liked it the old way. (People will think I'm crazy.)
3. People who visit my house will think the room was more balanced with the chair in the other corner. (I'll feel judged by their opinions.)
I have to tell you, I have a history of moving furniture. Often. When we were first married, Chris would walk in the door and I would say, "Don't be mad. I moved the furniture again." He likes things steady and predictable while I'm happiest when I'm creating, inventing, and coming up with new ideas.
Even as a little girl, I would rearrange the furniture in my bedroom. My dad would come home and say "You should have waited for me!" Nope. When I get an idea, I need to take action. Now.
I've been accused of loving to move furniture because I have control issues. And while I admit that shoving a huge piece of furniture across hardwood floors is quite satisfying, it's not about control as much as having a functional space. If something isn't working, I'd rather change it than complain about it. My parents were in networking marketing when I was a little girl, and I grew up hearing "Be positive!" I love being optimistic and looking on the bright side of things. If I find myself frustrated with a situation or a scenario, I would much rather brainstorm a solution and just CHANGE it than complain about it.
My problem is that I love people, too. And when the people in my life jokingly (or seriously) start nagging me because I'm "always" changing things or "always" moving furniture or always moving houses, I start to slink down. I better sit still. I better try to be more calm and steady. I should stop the stream of ideas in my head and just be grateful where I am.
Yes, being content is so important! But if you have the power to make a change and you can make things better in your house, your business, or your family, DO IT! Who cares if people think you are crazy?! YOU were made exactly the way you are because God made you this way! You are wired for innovation and ideas and positive change. People like you and me were sent to the planet to look at things in a different way and say, "Huh. If I move this chair, my view will be so much better! I'll enjoy my mornings so much more! I'm going to do it!" So what if people grumble a bit? They will get over it quickly. And YOUR view will be better forever.
My 9 year old saw me shoving the heavy armoire a few inches to make room for my chair, and said, "Shouldn't you wait for one of the boys to move that?" Oh honey. If you only knew how many times I've moved heavy furniture. I'm fine. I'm just fine.
I plopped down in my chair and got a huge grin on my face. THAT view is much better! Fewer houses, more trees. I can't wait until the leaves pop out in the spring! Green grass, we need you!
I grabbed my book and my coffee and sighed contentedly. Who knew such a small change could make such a huge difference?
(What do you need to change? What do you need to move around, both literally and figuratively? Make that change. Ignore the nay-sayers. Listen to your intuition. Make the change. I'm cheering you on.)
I was getting a haircut this week and my dear friend (and hair stylist) described a crazy day last week when she was running all over town to get to the bank, and then run to Target for groceries and batteries and dog food. I stared at her in disbelief. "Sweetheart," I said in love. "Why on earth are you wasting all that time?!"
"What do you mean?" she asked in exasperation.
"Honey, I NEVER go to Target for groceries or batteries. You need to order that stuff ONLINE!"
My dear friend is a busy business owner and mom of 4, just like me. She was running all over town getting ready to travel that week. I gave her some huge time-saving tips and I want to share those with you, too.
1. Whenever possible, do NOT go to the bank.
Get your checks automatically deposited into your accounts. You can even take a picture of your checks to be deposited and upload them to your bank. (If your bank doesn't provide this, maybe you need a different bank.) Avoid the bank like the plague and it will save you so much time!! (In fact, as much as humanly possible, get rid of ALL checks! You should be using Square to take payments on site, have clients on auto pay. Use anything except checks that need to be deposited or can be lost or put through the wash. Not that I know anything about that, wink wink.)
2. Order your groceries online.
You do not have time that be subjected to the marketing powers of Target or Walmart or Cub. It's so easy to be sucked into their deals and their shiny displays. Get what YOU need and stick to your list! Every Sunday night, I place an order at www.cobornsdelivers.com. I found a day that matches their delivery schedule and I get my groceries delivered to my door before noon on Monday morning. Some of my friends place an order at Walmart and go drive to the location and they'll load up your car! It doesn't cost anything extra, but it can save you SO much time and stress and effort.
HUGE tip: Go into your previous orders and re-order items that you buy every week. Honestly? This is probably 75% of your weekly order anyway! Don't reinvent the wheel. Just get those basics again.
Also-- do NOT scroll through everything they offer. Use the search bar to find your favorite items and then add them to your cart!
3. Get Amazon Prime.
My friend told me that she had been meaning to get Prime from Amazon (free two day shipping). "What is stopping you?!?" I asked. It's only $99 per year!! (And sometimes you can find a deal on that price!) Amazon Prime means never searching Target for batteries or light bulbs again. Just order them. Amazon Prime means getting the gray sweatpants delivered to your HOUSE and saves you hours of searching, when school or activities send you an email informing you that little Sally needs gray pants for the school play. I even have toilet paper and paper towels on autoship. I'll always need those items so they might as well show up on my doorstep every 90 days without me having to think about it.
You do NOT need to waste your time running errands! You have important things to do!
Here's what you have to get right so you can eliminate the crazy:
1. Get organized.
Are you jumping in the car every time you run out of something (like cat food)? I love to keep lists in my phone and when I'm almost out of something, I add it to my list. I also set reminders so I remember to check my stock of frequently used items (lightbulbs, batteries, napkins, shampoo, etc.). I like to place one order per month for these types of non-perishable things.
2. Plan ahead.
Know the delivery schedule for your online grocery service and place the order on the same day every week. Set reminders in your phone to prompt you to place your grocery order. I know you have a million things to think about--so don't rely on memory to ensure you get this done. Once a month, have a reminder to order the miscellaneous items from Amazon. Take inventory in your house (like you would in a brick and mortar store) so you kknow what you need to order!
3. Find apps to keep you organized.
I store all my Christmas and birthday gift lists in Evernote. I can access my lists from my phone or computer and search lists from past years so I remember what I gave and what names I had. When I shop on Amazon, I write down what I ordered and how much I spent so I don't have to add it to the list after it arrives. My hubby and I love to use MyGroceries, an app for tracking the groceries we need. We can both add items as we run out of items and then we both know what we need.
Is technology holding you back?
We talk to so many people who just hate technology. I get it. Things are constantly changing, and if it's just not your cup of tea, it can be intimidating and frustrating. However, just like learning anything new, you CAN keep trying. Don't let your limiting belief hold you back. Are you hearing a voice in your head that is saying, "I'll never learn this stuff. I'm just not good at technology."?
Turn those statements around and say, "I can learn this. I can try one thing at a time. I won't give up."
Attitude is truly everything. If you believe you can achieve it, you will!
Technology has the ability to make your life simpler so you can get back to what you LOVE to do. Driving around, getting distracted, and wasting time is not improving your business or your family life. If you could free up time to have an evening with your familiy, wouldn't that be worth learning a new skill?
You don't have to do everything at once. What is one change that could you make to free up some time (especially during the busy holiday season)?
How can you take one tiny baby step and make a huge difference in your life? Try ordering groceries. Or picking them up curbside. Or using Amazon Prime. I think you'll be delighted with the results when you just stop, breathe, and readjust your steps. You don't have to overhaul your life-- you just have to make one small change! And it could make a huge difference in your stress levels! Get your peace back this Christmas season.
I'm cheering you on.
Dear busy business owner,
You deserve the highest level of support possible.
Hiring that new team member, hiring a house cleaner, or hiring a nanny is not a luxury. It's not something that other people can afford, but you can't. No, if you are building a succesful company, it's not a luxury--it's a necessity.
You didn't start your own company to work non-stop and never take a vacation! Imagine working for a boss that never gave you breaks and never allowed you to have time off. Ludicrious.
When you are your own boss, you need to be kind to yourself. And the only way to ease your burden is to hire the highest level of support around you. Imagine having amazing team members that understand your vision and who are invested in helping build your company. Wouldn't that be amazing?! You have to actually visualize that person and what it would feel like to have them on your team before you can hire them.
Now imagine if you were able to soley focus on income-generating activities. Could you do more marketing? Get new clients? If other team members were managing the day-to-day operations, would it free you up to bring new income into the business? Hiring the right team means their efforts, plus your freed up time will pay for their salary! Make a list of the tasks you could delegate or train someone to do. Make a list of things you wish you could do--but never get to becuase there's just not enough time. Keep the list very specific and on your desk. Now make a list of the qualities and personality traits of the people that you want to work for you. Be as detailed as possible!
This last summer, we moved into a new house. Before we fully decided to move, I wavered on the decision. Should we stay? Should we move? I wrote pros and cons lists and prayed (a lot) and finally Chris and I came to the unanimous decision that it was time to leave. I made a list of all the things I wanted in our new house. I had about 20 items listed. Then, I ruthlessly and relentlessly scoured the MLS, looking for homes. When I found one that I liked, I jumped in the car and drove by it. I attended open houses. I talked to realtors. I searched high and low for the right house. It seemed nothing was right for us. And then, out of the blue, a house became available. When I drove by it, I was stunned. It was exactly everything that was on our list! Down to the exact neighborhood! I jumped on the opportunity and within days, it was done. The house was ours.
Everyone around us (including our kids) exclaimed, "Woah--that happened FAST!" But they didn't see the agony and searching that had occurred for the previous 6 months. And the reason it could happen so fast is that I knew exactly what we were looking for.
You can't find what you're looking for if you don't KNOW what you are looking for! If you wander around aimlessly, you'll continue to waste time, waste energy, and probably end up lost. But if you STOP and define exactly what your goals are, make a list, and keep that list close, then when you find it, you'll know it's right!
If you know you need to hire more help to lighten your load, make a list today of exactly what you are looking for. If people have failed you in the past, use that experience to know what you do and don't want this next time. Please don't give up on people just because you've been burned. Decide to learn from the experience. Make your list. Get very specific. Then go hunting for that person! Don't stop looking until you find the exact fit.
When I look around our house, every day I am amazed that we live here. It's exactly right for our family. I'm so glad I had the faith to believe I would find what I was looking for. It was worth the journey!
I love organizing. And I love finding tools that will make running my life and business easier. I know every business has very specific, unique needs and it really depends on what you need, but here are a few that I just had to share!
I love Formstack for building forms. I place the HTML directly into my website so it looks like a seamless part of my site. I use it to build forms for Request Info forms, employee and contractor applications, and front desk communication. Formstack will email you the data (you just tell it which email addresses to send the data to) and the info is also stored online in a database. Super helpful for my business!
I use this alllll the time. Literally every single day. Because I am always interviewing and hiring contractors to work for me, I have to keep track of a million resumes, interview notes, availability notes, etc. In Formstack, I can keep notes and easily search for what I am looking for in the search bar. (And even though I'm a pretty organized person, I don't have to be organzied in Evernote! I just throw my notes in there and I can easily search for what I need to find later!)
Evernote is synchronized with my computer and my phone, so I can get to those notes from where ever I am. I can also share specific notebooks with my staff, so they can access the notes of mine that I need them to. My front desk staff has a notebook to track client notes, waiting lists, cleaning lists, etc. We literally use it for a million things.
For my home life, I store recipes in Evernote, homeschool notes about my kids, Christmas gift lists, and so much more.
My paper calendar goes everywhere with me. It's not too fancy, but I love that the hours in the day are listed, so I can easily put in appointments. The To Do list on the bottom of every day keeps me on track so I know what I should be prioritizing and doing for that day.
My Google calendar is essential for keeping my whole family on track. I prefer paper, but my husband is a digital-only guy. Every Sunday night, I make sure our calendars are the same (adding appointments onto my paper calendar or vice versa). When someone emails me a date, I can click and BOOM it's added to my Google Calendar. I especially love the reminders on my Google calendar. My phone will buzz or beep telling me I have a phone call or that I have to leave to take my kids somewhere (you can build in travel time for driving--AWESOME).
I know everyone has favorite tools for running their business and their life. And I love discovering new ones! If you have more to add to this list, please do tell!
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!