In this episode, I’m talking about how I’ve reduced my work hours again in the last 2-3 months in my business (in other words – my productivity hacks). This is something that’s important to me. It’s very near-and-dear to my heart.

I started a business because I wanted to have a beautiful, big, adventurous life outside of my business and integrated with my business, and one of the things that are really important to me about that is that I do not work 40+ hours per week. My goal for the last 2 years has been to work less than 20 hours a week in my business, and I’m pleased to let you know that in the last month I was working less than 18 hours a week.

I want to tell you how I have been able to achieve this because I think this is a really important conversation for us to have.

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As I said earlier, it’s really important to me that I do not work myself for hours and hours every day of the week in my business.

I did not start a business to:

  • Be the world’s worst boss to myself
  • Work more hours than I did in the corporate world
  • Burn myself out and not look after my health and well-being

I bet that part of the reason you started a business was also related to being in control of how many hours you work, the time and energy you put into your business, and what you get to do outside of that as part of your life.

I 100% believe that there’s no such thing as work/life balance and that they’re separate entities – I like to think of it more as having a great integration between my work and my life, and between the work and life world that I have created.

Half my best friends have come out of the ladyposse so I don’t think that it’s possible, nor do I want to have a complete separation between work and life, but I do have a separation between working hours and non-working hours in my business.

As I said at the start of this episode, I have now been able to reduce my working hours to 18 hours a week, and I want to talk about some of the ways that I’ve been able to do that this time around because they’re quite different from the ways that I did them last time.

Just to quickly let you know how I reduced my work hours previously…

The first thing was that I just made the decision.

I realised that I was burning myself out. When I first started my business I was working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week and I was like “I didn’t start my business for this, I’m not going to do this anymore.”

If I’m teaching my business that it needs me this many hours a week, then I don’t want to be in this business, so I had to make it work another way. A lot of this came down to the Pareto Principle (20% of my work was getting 80% of my results) so I just needed to focus down on what that 20% was and really make sure that I nailed that.

There was also Parkinson’s law – a task or project will expand to take up the time that you give it.

If you give yourself a short deadline, guess what? You get things done really quickly.

It’s 100% true. I think profit first is a great example of that in money terms as well – we’ll eat up all the money available to us.

If you take your profit first, all of a sudden your business expenses reduce or you are forced to make your business expenses reduce.

Pareto and Parkinson were both geniuses and we want to make sure that we are capitalising on those two issues and being conscious and aware of them.

The next thing was increasing the hours of my assistant, the fabulous Jasmin, and forced myself to delegate more effectively and not just delegate tasks, but delegate responsibilities as well.

It’s been really interesting for me in the last 9 months to a year since the Heart-Centred Business Conference in September 2017.

I’ve had this huge focus on simplifying my business.

For example, instead of recording a podcast and a video blog each week, I record a video podcast and then the audio is available on iTunes and my blog where it is also transcribed. This means that one piece of content is available as a video, an audio file, and a written blog.

It might seem really simple to you, but honestly, for me, I was running myself ragged trying to create all these pieces of content. Ultimately, I wasn’t able to be particularly consistent with my delivery of those.

I would have a burst of 4-5 months where it worked perfectly, then the next 3 months would be crickets because the wheels fell off.

I was working myself way too hard and to be honest with you, one of the biggest reasons I was able to let that model go was because a lot of people at the conference said “I can’t keep up with everything you’re creating, Tash!”.

Turns out that it would take me 10 hours a week just to absorb all the information and content that I share, and my audience couldn’t do that.

It made me realise that not only was I working too hard in my content creation, but I was also making my audience work really hard in actually absorbing and listening to that content.

It was a win-win to simplify some of those things down.

I’ve also closed down a lot of service offerings and courses over the last year. The Lean Startup School has been finished, Get with the Program has been finished up, Courses with Heart has been finished up so that I can really focus down and intensify my effort in the areas where it’s most effective.

Those behaviours and strategies have been amazing and have really helped me, but something that I noticed around August this year (2018) was that I was feeling like I was working a lot more hours than I was previously, and that I needed to find out what was going on.

My first port of call was to actually check in with my hours in my business. Was I working more hours, or was it just my perception? I actually noticed two things:

1. I was doing a lot more live support calls than I had previously done, and that was because I had increased to:

  • Three calls per month for the Heart-Centred Business Academy
  • Two calls per month for Courses with Heart
  • Two calls per month for Take Off
  • One 2-hour live group training for Get Profesh Sesh once a month
  • Running a webinar each month
  • Doing extra Facebook lives
  • Running a few rounds of the 7 Day Fast Money Challenge

I was actually spending a lot of time talking to the camera – whether that be in live support calls or VIP 1-on-1 support calls.

I also split my mastermind into Rising Stars and Shooting Stars and had also taken on the Q3 Mastermind.

It was really interesting for me to see how much my camera time had increased.

2. I’d also increased the amount of time I was spending tidying things up in my business.

Jumping onto Facebook, Teamwork with my team, checking in on Slack, and I had actually started these kinds of downtime hours in my business.

Instead of doing just my Mighty 90 minutes in the morning and an hour in the afternoon behind the scenes in my business, I was spending 2-3 hours in the before and after my calls.

Now when you do the math on this, it kind of adds up to a 40 hour per week, right? There were 2 things leading to these increased hours.

1. I had recently changed my business model (without really considering it and thinking through the implications of that) to incorporate a lot more client-facing and camera time.

2. My time purpose outside of my business had changed. I was kind of wasting my days away just in my business.

One of the big things that happened in August 2018 was that we moved to Bali.

Instead of closing my work down at 5 pm and going for a walk on the beach in the mornings, or spending the evenings with Davey and going out to see friends, we found ourselves just chilling at home in our villa (which we love) and I would just grab my laptop or phone and do a little bit more work.

What I recognised was that Honest Dave and I didn’t really have a purpose to our time outside of my business. The purpose had disappeared.

In Coolum, I was in this beautiful habit of going for a walk on the beach every morning. Living in Ubud it’s like 30 degrees before 7 am. I ain’t going out for a giant walk in the middle of the rice paddies, it just doesn’t appeal to me. The swimming pool didn’t open until 9 and shut at 3, so I was putting my swim in the middle of the day and my work hours were expanding outside of that.

As you can see, there were a few things going on that meant my hours of work were increasing.

Here’s what I did about it:

1. Reviewed my business model

Those parts of my business where I expanded the time that it took me to deliver weren’t serving me and were actually contributing to me starting to feel like my business was hard work again.

I had a look at all of the courses and programs that were still remaining in my business, and which ones I felt were really serving me and my beautiful clients, and being really honest with myself about which ones I wasn’t loving.

One of the big ones for me was Courses with Heart program.

I found half of my time in my Academy calls was talking about courses, but most of the people in the Academy weren’t in Courses with Heart, and when I did my Courses with Heart live support calls there weren’t a lot of people showing up and 90% of their questions weren’t about courses and launching.

A lot of the people that joined Courses with Heart wanted to be ready for courses and launching, but actually, they realised they needed to do some more to the foundations of their business.

I saw that there was this overlap of the target market and the audience I was serving with the Academy and Courses with Heart. I also saw that people were skipping various stages of business.

For me the order is:

  1. Startup
  2. Scale and systemise
  3. Courses and launches
  4. Process orientation

What I was seeing is whilst I saw that as the best stages of business and the correct order to progress through business, a lot of people would go:

  1. Startup
  2. Courses and launches
  3. “Oh bugger, I need to scale and systemise! I better go back and do it”

Those two stages of business were causing trouble for a lot of people who were struggling to self-identify which stage they were at and the right order to progress in.

There was a lot more blur between those two different target markets.

What I decided to do was to close down Courses with Heart program, but incorporate it within the Academy, move all of the Courses with Heart people into the Academy (so they still had access to me and the same content as the Courses with Heart program, as well as the Academy content), but also add an additional call each month to the Academy that focused purely on courses and launching.

Voilà! Just like that I’ve actually reduced my number of support calls each month by 1, but I’ve also made sure that the calls I do are going to be way more focused and a lot of the questions I get asked in the Academy won’t come up anymore, or I can direct people to the Courses with Heart module.

It was a really cool decision for me to make and it felt great when I made it.

I had the right business strategy to deal with making everything fit together and feel abundant and awesome for both me and my audience.

Once this had been addressed I had also reduced the number of courses I have on offer again, which felt beautiful.

I also made the decision to not run the Q3 Mastermind again for Q4 and not extend it to another round.

It was a really fun, awesome opportunity to provide a low-cost mastermind option to some of my audience, but, I recognised again that it was actually me trying to change my business to fit people who didn’t quite fit, or me trying to create a new service offering when I didn’t need one.

What I needed to do was to really own the Rising Stars/Shooting Stars mastermind and their price points, which if I’m being 100% honest is the reason for the Q3 mastermind existing.

The Q3 Mastermind had been amazing.

Out of the four masterminds that were formed in Rising Stars mastermind, three of them were phenomenal and absolutely took off. One of them was slow to get started, but they have actually decided to be a self-driven mastermind for another quarter and it’s been really amazing to see them find their stride at the end of Q3, and now they’ve moved into a really beautiful mastermind arrangement together.

It’s been really cool for me to see that. Plus, some of the people from Q3 ended up coming into Rising Stars/Shooting Stars which means that I’m able to be more present for those masterminds, and again reduce my working hours quite significantly – particularly that time facing the camera.

2. Reviewed the “faffing” part of my time

I got really clear with my team about what my job is in my business and what isn’t.

We’ve really started to nail the dynamic between all of us working together in my business. I’m also much quicker to divert to my team in instances when I should be because I’m protecting my time and work hours.

I’ve also hired an online business manager in early September, and having an online business manager has allowed me to blurt out all of the things I’m feeling and where I’m spending time, which lets me hear her advice on where we can start to make great changes and significantly impact on the time on my business.

Here are some of the other things I did that I think helped even more:

First up, Honest Dave and I got really clear on what we’re here to do, and whether we want to be spending 40 hours each per week on my business. The answer was no.

We needed to come up with other things to spend our time on, so we’re doing more day trips around Bali, spending more time exploring our local area and enjoying our time. The things that we’re doing are getting more massages, facials, going for more swims in fancy resorts and spending more time with Munchkin in Singapore, because that’s what we want our life to be.

We’ve booked our holiday to be a little bit earlier, so we can spend some more time in Europe.

These big long live conversations, managing personal finances, and just hanging out have allowed us to connect better. We’ve mapped out our personal goals and where we’re going over the next few years, and it has been absolutely amazing.

I’ve been suggesting these planning sessions for months, but we never got around to it because I “didn’t have enough time” when actually I did, I just didn’t commit to that time. I’ve been scheduling things to do in our downtime because if I just leave it as “downtime” I end up working on my business.

You guys are addictive – I just want to hang out with the ladyposse!

Instead of downtime in my diary, it has things like “white water rafting” or “day trips” to various places. We’re living in Bali, let’s make the most of it!

The last thing I wanted to talk to you about – particularly with those of you struggling to nail down what you’re working on in your business – is to look at the productivity of the time you do spend in your business. I’ve been really honest with myself about what is effective and productive time, and what isn’t.

One of the habits that crept in for me came up in a journaling session.

Pool in Bali productivity hacks behind the scenes

Productivity hacks by the pool in Bali.

I was constantly craving working from a cafe or a different workspace, and I couldn’t understand why this was happening. Why did I constantly feel like I can’t work unless I’m out of the house?

We have a beautiful villa here with plenty of space and places to work. I can work by the pool, in the kitchen, at my desk, or on the bed. We have great internet, so why do I feel like I need to go to a cafe?

One of the reasons was because my time that I was working was these long extended stretches of 4 hours with no breaks again. Why was I doing this to myself? For that 4 hour stretch to feel like it was fun, I was going and doing that stretch at a cafe, but if I was honest with myself I wasn’t particularly productive during those times, and really the most productive things I did during those stretches were Facebook lives.

What I decided to do instead was to tighten my timeframes.

I’d sit down for an hour and do 2 Pomodoros of 25 minutes, and in that 25 minutes I’d get A, B, and C done.

I would sit down and get that done.

When I got those tasks done, I would reward myself by going to a cafe and having a delicious herbal tea, or going and getting a pedicure.

Guess what? I didn’t need as much time. I didn’t need to sit and work for 4 hours at a time, I was just faffing and it took a lovely journalling session for me to work that out.

If this has resonated with you (I hope that it has) and if you are finding yourself working way too many hours on your business and want to reduce them down, hopefully, some of those strategies will help you identify the problems and work on them.

Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.

Tash Corbin Business Mentor and Strategist