In today’s episode, I’m going to be sharing with you feminine time management strategies that boost your productivity.
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Let’s dive on in…
Traditionally, when we think of things productivity and time management strategies, we can associate them with jamming more things in and really hustling. Getting up at 4am, getting stuff done before the kids wake up and the sun wakes up and even while the early birds are still sleeping. Do more!
I even used to say when I worked in corporate, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”
Productivity was about jamming in as much as possible. It was about making sure that you extracted every possible inch out of every possible second.
Time management strategies were not about how to make things easier or more effective, time management was all about how to make sure you can do 100,000 things in four minutes a day, and jamming as many of those four minute increments in as you could.
What I have discovered, and something that I’ve had to detox myself from, is just how masculine dominated those productivity and time management strategies are, and how much they can really drain my energy and end up being really ineffective for me.
Over the course of running my business, I have discovered how to really get the best results from myself.
It is by embracing a more feminine energy orientation towards time management, productivity, and getting results in my business.
I believe that we are a balance of masculine and feminine energy, and I 100% believe that we want to keep those things in balance.
I’m not saying it’s all just the feminine energy or it’s all just the masculine energy, but for myself, I know that with the corporate background that I have, my experience of my education – being in high school and particularly in university – I have been really focused on those masculine dominated time management strategies.
I do need to detox from some of that programming that says that the masculine orientation is the best way to do it because I know for myself that that just isn’t the case.
My question to you is: What if you could achieve more and have better outcomes, but do it in less time and with less work?
One of the big things I want to say before I even jump into my time management strategies with you, is to just notice how you feel when I say a word like ‘easy‘. How much have we been told that easy equals wrong? That easy is the cheat’s way?
What about how you feel when I say the word ‘lazy‘?
I am on a mission to fall in love with lazy.
What about the word ‘fun‘? Can growing a business, being productive, getting work done and getting results be fun?
They are the three words that I focus on whenever I’m going for a big goal.
Easy, lazy, fun.
ELF is my little acronym for it.
With ELF, I’m able to pay attention to my thoughts and feelings about those words and look for ways where I’m making things hard, where I feel like I need to look like I’m really diligent, and where I’m sucking the joy out of the thing that I’m doing.
I’ve got five tips for you on how to really embrace more feminine time management strategies and boost your productivity.
1. Make your to-do list smaller
I don’t know how many times I was told this and how many times I brushed it aside because I believed that I was a really productive person so I could have a longer list.
I know from experience that having a longer list overwhelms.
Having a longer list makes you less productive.
Think about it: If you are looking at your to-do list and there are 100 things on it, and you get 6 done for the day, do you feel like you’ve totally smashed it and nailed it for the day? Or do you feel like you’ve only done 6% of your tasks and that’s not very good?
On the other hand, if you had a list of three things to get done for the day and you get them all done, how do you feel at the end of the day? How does that translate into your energy the next day?
Often we have a very short term focus when it comes to our to-do lists, and we overestimate what we can achieve in the short term, and underestimate what we can achieve in the long term.
This is because we have giant to-do lists in front of us and we only ever make tiny, incremental progress in those giant lists, comparative to the number of tasks that we’ve given ourselves.
Give yourself a smaller list.
Go through that list of things that you have been transcribing from page to page to page in your to-do planner, and start crossing some of those things out.
Which of those things are just not a priority right now?
Some of those things might need to be put somewhere else. You can outsource them to someone else, or you can put them in your toy box to play with later because it’s not a priority for you right now.
Some things you might need to have on your urgent to-do list and get them done.
But I challenge you to get really honest with yourself about how critical it is for that thing to get done today.
Be honest with yourself, are you capable of achieving that entire list today?
What are the chances you are going to have a successful day and tick it all off? What are the chances that there’s still going to be something left at the end of the day?
Every day when I write down my to-do list for the day, I write a to-do list that I have 100% confidence that I will absolutely smash. Usually it’s three or four things.
If I finish it early and I want to go and play with some other things, I’ve got plenty of options lurking away in my toy box and in other spaces. I can also take things from the next day or from future plans and get some things done early.
But when I keep my to-do list small, I absolutely nail the productivity thing because I am in momentum. I feel successful and that feeling creates a snowball effect of its own.
If I’m not experiencing that feeling that I nailed it today at least four days a week, then I end up feeling like I’m behind and like there’s so much to do.
That feeling creates more of it, and it snowballs its own feeling.
Make your to-do list smaller and start saying no to things.
Sure it might be nice for you to jump on and do that free interview, but it’s not a priority for you right now. Yeah, it would be great for you to create a new freebie and a welcome sequence and an upsell, but right now your focus is on getting sales conversations and having connected conversations with people.
Focus on the important things.
The other thing that I see when people have their to-do list far too big, is that they choose the things that aren’t actually going to move them forward.
When I challenge you to get to the four most important things you need to focus on, then you are going to have to focus on the things that are going to move you forward.
You can’t get distracted by those one percenters. You have a very small number of things that you’re able to write onto your to-do list, so you have to pick the ones that are going to have the biggest impact. You’re also less likely to avoid those things by distracting yourself with the other less important things that are on that ginormous list.
Make a smaller list and say no to things.
2. Give yourself space
Give yourself space to:
- Dial-up your creativity
One of my experiences in the corporate world that I had, was when I was in a consulting role and one of the things I had to do for each project was an end of project report.
In most cases, we would be allocated two days of time (16 hours) to do that end of project report. I actually ended up getting in the habit of taking those two days as work from home days when I knew I had that report to work on, and I would get that report done in two or three hours.
But it was two or three hours at the end of each day.
I’d do my work from home day, and I would batch cook up some beautiful food, get my laundry done, tidy the house and do some painting, and then I’d sit down for a couple of hours at the end of the day and really smash out that report.
With that space of playfulness, tidying and moving my body, I was actually getting that report clear in my mind.
I am a very spatial bodily thinker and processor. By doing that, I was able to craft an end of project report that would normally take two days of sitting at my desk staring at my screen, in two or three hours.
I needed that rest, spaciousness and creativity in the time before I sat down to write that report.
The reason why I started doing this at home was because when I was in the office and I was on my two days of report writing, I would get in so much trouble because I would be distracting people, and I’d be staring out the window telling people to look at something outside because I wasn’t actually in the right space and I hadn’t done my processing to write out the report.
If I sat there and forced myself to stare at the computer screen, I couldn’t do it.
I’d get in trouble sitting at my desk distracting everyone – helping someone with something, going and tidying the kitchen and coming up with ideas for a social event for the workplace – so my boss would have to tell me that I had to stop talking to other people. She actually moved my desk so that I would sit and I wouldn’t talk to anyone else. (Even though talking to other people was mostly helping them… well sometimes I was distracting them). I would sit staring at the computer screen with this blinking cursor, and I’d just be looking at a white page. I would be staring and I could not get it clear.
When I decided that I’d work from home instead and I gave myself that freedom and that space, rest and creativity, then the two hours that I did put into report writing were effortless.
It just flowed.
I know that I’m the same with my business.
For three hours before I sat down to record this podcast and a couple of others that I’ve recorded before this one, I was out walking in town, having lunch, and just giving myself some spaciousness. I knew which podcast episodes I was going to be recording, and the spaciousness allowed me to remember of the story of being at my desk in my consulting role, and that’s how I decided I’d share that in my podcast today.
I know for myself that if I give myself spaciousness before a big task, I get that task done more efficiently and more effectively.
These days, I record my podcasts in a single take mostly off the cuff with a couple of points that I have on my screen. But I can only do that if I’ve had space.
If I force myself to try and record podcasts between busy, busy, busy, busy, I stumble over my words, I can’t process it properly, and I can’t string my two sentences together without making lots of mistakes.
Give yourself space.
Give yourself rest, playfulness and creativity.
I have another cool story for you on this one, and this came out of a conversation I had with an amazing lady called Aesha Kennedy. If you don’t follow Aesha, please do go and follow her, she’s brilliant.
I was talking to her about creative outlets because in 2017 when I did a big review of my business, I had 37 different products and services that people could buy.
Through a conversation I had with Aesha about this, I recognised and realised that what I was doing was funnelling all of my creative energy straight into my business, and in doing so, I actually broke my business.
I slowed down my growth, I slowed down the income that I was earning, I overwhelmed myself and spread myself too thin.
If I had given myself a creative outlet outside of my business during the two years before 2017, I have no doubt that I wouldn’t have tried to get that creative energy from my business, and I wouldn’t have tried to use my business as my only creative outlet, thus feeling like I’m constantly in this space of needing to create things for my business.
The reason why this was something that happened for me was because at the time in 2016 and 2017 in particular, I had huge goals for my business, and I wanted to be the most productive that I could be.
If I was to decide that I’d spend three hours playing with some paints and mucking around, I couldn’t justify that time.
It felt like I was wasting time by playing with the art and having a creative outlet.
But it’s easy to justify creative time in your business because it could make you money, it could get you followers, and it could grow your business.
There’s using your business as a creative outlet, and then there is using your business as your only creative outlet.
By giving yourself space, having rest, and especially by having creative outlets and social outlets other than your business, the time that you spend on your business can be focused, much more effective and more likely to get you results.
I speak to so many creative entrepreneurs and so many women who talk about the fact that they need to create six different programs because they need to express their creativity. They need to write a book, they have to have events, they have to do this and that, and they label themselves as multi-passionate.
I honestly believe if you want your business to grow exponentially, quickly, easily and effortlessly, you need to be really specific, narrow and hyper-focused.
For many people, the best gift you can give your business is getting your creative outlet in other spaces, so that your focus in your business can be refined.
3. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings
Many of the behaviours and habits that we get into in our business come from programming.
I know that if I work on my business and do some social media stuff sitting on the couch, I feel like it’s not as productive as when I’m doing it at my desk. But sometimes I do just need to go and sit on the couch.
When I am working on web pages, design or those sorts of things, my favourite way to do that is in the recliner, legs up, with my little lap table and just playing with things in that position. That is actually a really productive time for me to be doing creative things.
I love getting down on the floor and working as well. Sometimes I’ll feel guilty for sitting on the floor and working, and it’s because of this programming telling me that I need to be sitting at my desk and working in a certain way for it to be productive time.
I also want you to pay attention to your thoughts about what it looks like.
If you’ve got someone else in your home or someone else who’s witnessing you, and you are doing something that doesn’t look like you’re being productive, sometimes we can do productive things to keep up appearances.
Something that I like to do every single day is to step outside, get my feet in the grass and play with Munchkin, and I noticed – especially at first – my thoughts about worrying that someone would see and think I’m bunking off and not being productive in my business.
It was so fascinating to just pay attention to those thoughts, concerns and worries that I had about productivity, time management and what I should achieve in a day.
I’d tell myself that I couldn’t take time off because I was launching, or I couldn’t go to the movies during the day because I needed to be really focused on a certain income goal. But in fact, the opposite is true for me. If I go to the movies during the day, I have a really productive morning and a really productive afternoon because I know I’m going to the movies in the middle of the day.
It’s the whole Parkinson’s law and Pareto principle combined.
A project will expand to take up the time that you give it, and 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.
When you have limited time to work on your business, and you have a four dot point to-do list, that means you’re going to focus on the 20% of things that get you 80% of your results, and you’re going to get them done really quickly because your project can only expand to the time that you give it.
For me, I know that if I’m out walking every day, looking after my body, taking time to go to the movies, and finishing early three days a week to spend time with my partner, I’m actually more productive. I’m more effective.
The measure that I have for my business success is not focused on how many things I can get done and tick off my to-do list, the measure of success in my business ultimately is: How much money does my business generate, and how many people can I serve?
That’s the measure of success in my business.
If I can do that in an hour a day, why not do it in an hour day?
Why is it more worthwhile if I’ve worked hard for it?
That is all programming and we need to pay attention to those thoughts and feelings.
4. Nourish yourself
This is probably the big one for me with productivity.
When I had big projects to achieve in corporate and when I had big deadlines coming up, I would eat terrible food, work long hours, give up my exercise, sleep less, drink less water and drink more coffee and alcohol.
At the time, it was very short term focused – I just had to get the thing done and smash it out. But I have no doubt upon reflection, that if I’d kept my boundaries about my work time, if I had looked after my health and wellbeing, if I drank lots of water, not resorted to coffee and alcohol, and not skipped the exercise, I would have actually still been able to meet those deadlines.
I would have still been able to achieve those goals.
Again, it’s this programming of ‘If something requires my effort, energy and attention, I need to stop looking after myself. I need to sacrifice some things.’
For me, the things that I cannot sacrifice anymore and I refuse to sacrifice because I know that if I do, it actually makes me less productive are:
- Great quality food
- Moving my body consistently
- Time off
Those things are just non-negotiable for me now because I know that when I get those things and when I really look after myself, that’s when I get the best out of myself anyway.
When I’m launching, I go for two walks a day instead of just the one. I ramp up the nourishment, the timeout and the fun, because that gets me better results.
5. Get clear on the outcome you’re going for
The outcome that you’re striving for is not working 16 hour days – that’s not why you started a business.
You did not sign up for this so that you could work really long hours and burn yourself out.
Why did you decide to start this business? Why are you going for the goals that are going for right now? What is the outcome that you are chasing?
The fastest, most effective and productive way for you to achieve that outcome is not burning yourself out, it is by really making sure that your time management and productivity strategies are a balance of the masculine and the feminine.
For 90% of the people I talk to, the thing that they need to work on is bringing up the feminine and reducing some of the masculine. Whipping yourself into shape doesn’t create sustainable long term productivity outcomes.
Your outcome is more important than how you got there.
I was talking to someone a couple of days ago, and she had set herself a goal of a $10,000 month. When she’d set that goal, she’d mapped it all out specifically with what clients she was going to get, how she was going to sell her course for $150 and do this launch, and on the second last day of the month, she had someone getting in touch with her who was interested in getting her services with some consulting and doing a VIP package with her. They wanted to get her doing two months of some very specific work absolutely in her zone of genius, and their budget was $10,000.
We were having a conversation about it because she said for two days, she was ummming and ahhing about whether to take on the project or not, not because she wasn’t really sure if she wanted to do the project, but because she already had a plan of where that money should have come from. She didn’t realise that what she was doing was trying to stick to the process, instead of just being clear on the outcome.
In the end, she was so excited to take it on, but initially she was resisting it because it wasn’t the hard work that she had thought she was going to be putting into place.
If your goal is to bring in $10,000 and someone decides that they want to gift you $10,000, do you brush it aside and say that it doesn’t count because you want it to come from a certain thing?
Your outcome is the thing that we’re focused on here.
For most people, when it comes to productivity and time management, they’re not focused on the outcomes they want to achieve, they’re focused on the hours that they want to work. They’re focused how many hours they want to work and what they want to get done in a certian amount of time.
They’re focused on the inputs and the outputs, and they’re not actually focused on the outcome itself.
Get clear on the outcome because at the end of the day, if you can get to that outcome the easy, lazy and fun way, then why wouldn’t you?
To recap, my time management strategies and tips are:
1. Create a smaller to-do list and say no to some things
2. Give yourself lots of space for rest, creativity and processing
3. Pay attention to those thoughts and feelings, and notice where your programming is telling you that you need to work harder
4. Nourish yourself
5. Get clear on the outcome that you are aiming for
This is going to be a really juicy conversation for us, so I’d love for you to come over to the Heart-Centred, Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs Facebook group, use #podcastaha, let me know you’ve been reading episode number 230 and share with me any lightbulb moments or questions that you have about feminine time management strategies and boosting your productivity.
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Heart-Centred Business Podcast.
Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.