“A plan is what, a schedule is when. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done.” – Peter Turla, Time Management Expert and Former NASA Rocket Designer
Welcome to Episode 25: How To “Untangle” Your Business
Everything we do here at Virtually Untangled is guided by our manifesto. Alongside a few simple “rules” to keep ourselves -- and those of our client’s -- “untangled” on a regular basis. These “rules” we live by are more than just the business-related daily tasks or things on our to-do lists. . They are things we are mindful of on an everyday basis to keep our sanity in check because happiness Is decluttering … and not always the physical kind.
Here's what we will be untangling in this episode ...
Are you ready?
Pop in your awesome earbuds and let's dive in!
Everything we do here at Virtually Untangled is guided by our manifesto. It’s about being a part of something larger than just the basics in business. Which is why we wanted to talk about this first; during this “untangling” episode about how to untangle your business …
Creating a manifesto for your business can help you in more ways than you may imagine and is a worthwhile exercise in itself; it will help you clarify your thinking and give you the confidence boost you may need -- especially in the beginning stages.
You may be wondering what I mean by that, or even possibly what a manifesto is.
So, let me explain …
A manifesto documents what your business believes. It shines a light on your perspective, your mission, and your values. Having a manifesto is shorthand for good business and content marketing practice. But, having an utterly amazing one makes people think “this is a business with true meaning”.
The truly best manifestos are created with the customers in mind, but they are more than just a promise. As an example, here’s ours …
To INSPIRE and CONNECT with entrepreneurs to put their best selves forward every single day. To SUPPORT the ultimate highest standards of EXCELLENCE in everything we set out to do. To remain AGILE in our thinking, RESPONSIVE to current and emerging technologies, opportunities, challenges, and trends. To ACCOMPLISH every client’s goals with PASSION and INTEGRITY, organizational continuity and STABILITY and growth through the highest level of ETHICAL responsibility. To foster a VIRTUAL world conducive to CREATIVITY, all the while inspiring moments of optimism, creating VALUE, and making a long-lasting DIFFERENCE.
Great manifestos think big. They document the change you want to bring to the world. And as you may have noticed, the power words we chose not only reflect who we are as a business and who we are as unique individuals, but they’re all about the right people … THE CLIENTS!
Let me recap those for you …
So, when you’re ready and if you haven’t created a manifesto already, here are some questions to consider before you get started…
Manifestos are all about belief, inspiration, and passion.
Second on our list of “untangling” business “rules” is stress.
Running a business comes with many stressors; from finding clients, to generating leads and making sales, or even managing a team (virtual or in-house). And it can sometimes feel like that list just goes on … and on … and on!
But there are always ways to make your business less stressful. And you’re in luck because today I have some pointers for you!
One of the most important things I have learned to do is choose one day per week that’s all about my business. And for me, that’s Fridays. I know what you’re thinking, time is money so why choose a billable workday?
You need digital rest time. So, it’s best to not work 6 days a week and save your weekends for yourself. This way you can reboot from the virtual world and come in Monday, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
I chose Friday because it allows me to reflect on all the amazing work completed during the week for my clients, prep for the week to come, AND allow me and my team a client-free day to catch up on team-related things, and internal VU business stuff. This way, I’m not stuck thinking about work all weekend, and not wasting any time Monday morning trying to sort my week out. I can get right to the good stuff!
I also like to do a mini version of this each evening before I wrap up each day, creating a task-specific to-do list for the following day. And by doing this, I can stay on top of things more efficiently but most importantly, it helps keep me focused on the tasks at hand.
Writing lists and planning out your week is a proven way to feel like you are in control and to know what is coming next -- both of which help to reduce the stress that comes with unorganized tasks and deadlines.
In the bigger scheme of things, and especially to remain motivated, I suggest reading your goals every single day. In fact, I recommend you print out a list of your goals and have it somewhere where you can look over it every morning. Keeping a digital version of this is just fine too -- If you can’t already tell, I am an organizational tech nerd and use Asana like it’s a virtual bible of sorts -- but having a printed copy right in front of you is a simpler affirmation through the tiny action of a glance!
Often it is going to be your morning routine that sets the tone for the rest of your day. And something that has worked for me is using my mornings to sit with myself and my thoughts by stretching, then journaling, then organizing my thoughts into my project management tools. These are not only business-related stress alleviators but ones that can transfer to a healthier lifestyle overall. The healthier you feel, the less stressed your work will feel -- the two go hand in hand.
Now, let’s dive into the specifics of all that …
#1. CREATE A STRATEGIC SCHEDULE.
And what a better way to dive into this category than a perfectly worded quote from Peter Turla, Time Management Expert and Former NASA Rocket Designer …
“A plan is what, a schedule is when. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done.”
Running a business can be chaotic and that is why having some sort of structure is especially important. Creating a structure for your day will help you focus and get things checked off on your to-do list in no time! I highly recommend you batch your tasks by time blocking. This means, blocking off chunks of time and assigning one task to that specific timeframe.
If you have meetings or calls you can block off certain days for those, too. And then begin by tackling your hardest (or most difficult) task first. This way you get it out of the way and stop procrastinating it.
This is an effective way to feel a sense of accomplishment but also to give the most time to what needs to be done most pressingly.
Or abide by the rule of creating first and consuming after. This means, reserving the first portion of the day for doing your work that includes creative output such as writing, designing, or client work. Then moving onto doing more strategic learning or activities that require little creative output.
Having a set amount of time that is dedicated to your task at hand helps you stay focused and in the long run, you will get more accomplishment from your day. Also, creating your own schedule will allow you to build your days around the optimal times you feel you are usually more productive. This helps with creating boundaries for when you don’t want to be “plugged in”.
#2. DELEGATE SO YOU CAN SAY YES.
In order to have a business that is stress-free, you need to learn to delegate more often than you’re probably doing right now!
Trying to do everything on your own is going to lead to a build-up of pressure and undesirable stress. Delegating tasks or projects will also free up time for you to do what you do best and really focus on your business -- as well as those of your clients and customers. This way you’re not feeling overwhelmed by menial tasks.
So, hire the experts to do what they are best at and save yourself time from trying to learn everything -- because, let’s face it, it is simply not efficient!
Having too much on your plate is a given way to start feeling overwhelmed. In the same vein, learning to say “NO” is an especially important skill to have. As a result, you will see your stress levels go down and the time you have for tasks you said yes to go up!
Which brings us to a particularly important item that I noticed a client pattern with that doesn’t happen nearly often enough …
#3. AUTOMATE EVERYTHING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
And YES! I’m going to say it again because I cannot emphasize this enough … automate as much as possible!
It will not only make your business run more efficiently; it will let things flow smoothly. Automation could include things like email sequences, scheduling your social posts, recurring payments, auto-signed contracts, automated opt-ins, and oh so much more. Streamlining these kinds of processes in your business, by putting systems in place will not only save you time -- and probably some money too! -- but it will also save you the headache of having to reinvent the wheel every time. No more rinse n’ repeat! Just automate once and it will repeat itself for you.
And last but not least on this becoming stress-free list …
#4. CHECK-IN WITH YOURSELF.
It’s always a great idea to end your day by checking in with YOU! So, take a few minutes to look over what tasks you completed as well as which ones you need to move onto the next day’s list.
This will make you feel less stressed as you will be able to see all you have managed to get done. And that not only boosts your confidence of how great you truly are at what you do, but the powerful feeling of crossing things you’ve done off your list is priceless!
It’s also EXTREMELY important to check in with your team, and often -- once a day at least -- to see how they’re managing their workload, if they need clarification or help with anything, and to get feedback to make sure that as a group, you are all working together in ways that are not stressful but efficient, productive, organized and creative.
Going back to checking in with yourself … This also requires you to prioritize some “you” time. Taking care of yourself mentally and physically will help maintain your stress levels. This will also better prepare you when you are faced with stressful situations or clients. Having a stress-free business requires work and effort on all parts … you need to be constantly adjusting, adapting, learning, and trying new things. So, don’t be afraid to not only step out of that box occasionally but rid of it completely.
In the end, with these main 4 tips to living a stress-free business life (and yes, it is possible -- maybe not every day because that’s just life -- but most days!), it is of utmost importance that you do what works best for YOU!
Third and fourth on today’s list of business “untangling” rules tie hand-in-hand AND will also help reduce the levels of what we just talked about … sticky-icky gosh darn ugly stress.
So, let’s not waste any more time and just dive right on into the next topic … business minimalism.
Minimalism is a true lifestyle characterized by the pursuit of simplicity ... As humans, our hindsight is 20/20 and we tend to narrate our lives in reverse. We also tend to think that this lifestyle doesn't jive with an entrepreneurial one. But not everything has to be about ambition and cutthroat ladder climbing. Being the best of the best no matter the cost!
So, today I want you to think of your mess as your message ... Less is more!
And lord only knows I’ve said that like a trillion bazillion times over our digital glue adventures together! (LOL!)
So, through what I’m about to tell you … it’s TIME to truly figure out how to rid yourself of life's excess in true favor of focusing on what's really important for you and your business ... Simplicity, automation, fulfilment, freedom, and of course happiness.
Because happiness is decluttering.
In today’s world, minimalism is mainly thought of as people who live out of a backpack or cram their life into a tiny house. But that’s not the only minimalist lifestyle that’s all the rage … Minimalism can be easily applied to business as well. In all instances, it’s a mindset rather than an outrageously blind purge. It is all about creating freedom through simplicity -- by removing what doesn’t serve you well or at all -- in pursuit of enjoyment.
The reason you became an entrepreneur in the first place probably landed with the idea of having some of that glorious life of freedom. And if you do it right with automation and simplicity, you will achieve greater freedom in your business. A true win-win!
So, now you’re probably now wondering how you can achieve minimalism?
Let’s be honest here …
Lately, the word automation has ignited fear in everyone. It suggests the loss of jobs for humans and the world being taken over by artificial intelligence (A.I.). Shaking that narrative and focusing on how technology can help your business grow is the best way for you to move forward. In the end, whether you accept it or not, it is something that is already happening!
However, I am not going to be focusing on A.I. and robots, but more so on other technological systems and automations you can put into play in your business.
It's time to give automation some serious consideration. And this is what it could look like in your business …
… And so much more! Just like I mentioned in tip # 3 of the stress reducers.
Okay, so now that you’ve investigated simplifying your business through automation … Don’t you feel so much better? Perhaps even already less stressed?
As Rachel Gadiel, writer, and content strategist of RG.com puts it best,
“Starve distraction. Feed your focus.”
And when it comes to focusing, I hope you understand that “new” or “more” doesn’t always mean better. And to try to see past all the hype. Which I’m actually going to be talking about very shortly …
Every single minute of every single day there are new “shiny objects” in our virtual worlds. New platforms, new social trends, new products and services, new algorithms, new ideas, new marketing tips, new start-ups … So, please oh’ please … do your very best to not follow the mob mentality; where you feel the need to jump ship and follow the herd. Just do what works for you and your team -- if you have one.
And with that being said, let’s roll right on into our last business “untangling” tip of the day … how to avoid “Shiny Object Syndrome” (also known as S.O.S. – and not by coincidence) and stay happy decluttering your business, ask yourself …
Many entrepreneurs (including myself once in a blue moon) are far too unfamiliar with shiny object syndrome. So, I thought what better time than now to dig into WHAT it is, WHY it happens and HOW one can use it as a benefit rather than a distraction. So, let’s get started with tackling today, while keeping an eye on tomorrow ...
At its core, shiny object syndrome has most often been referred to as a disease of distraction. It affects everyone around the globe but especially entrepreneurs due to what makes us so unique in the good ‘ol virtual land of technology. We constantly crave new technology, new platform developments, and upgrades. And due to us being highly motivated, we are certainly not afraid to create new things, try out shiny new platforms or programs, and start new projects all on a whim!
But when S.O.S. creeps up and sets in, it forces one to chase virtual platform after platform, project after project, new idea after new ideas, and change after change. Sadly, this means one may never settle on just ONE option. This then leads to a great deal of daily inefficiencies, lack of productivity then leading us to lack of time and a whole heck of a lot of stress!
It’s called shiny object syndrome because it’s the entrepreneurial equivalent of a small child chasing after shiny objects. I like to think of it as an animal -- a cat with a laser pointer that it can never seem to grab with its cute little paws no matter how hard it tries.
For entrepreneurs, rather than literal shiny objects, it’s usually the newest cat’s meow of a platform (you know, the one “everyone” says is the “next best thing”), social trends, marketing strategies, clients, or perhaps even other business ventures.
Technology sometimes has some powerful downsides that go along with its benefits -- and S.O.S. just happens to be one of them! At the true entrepreneurial heart of the issue, when you are constantly distracted, a few things tend to happen …
In most situations, it’s best to play the “wait and see” game. To take some time to differentiate if it is a real opportunity or just another shiny object. Be ruthless in saying “no” so you can make room for the real opportunities that will make a true impact on your business.
It doesn’t take exceptional effort to live with intention. On the contrary, you exert more energy when focusing on the inconsequential.
Okay … So, there's actually a real reason I wanted to bring this up today as a special “untangling rule” as it happens more often than you think ...
And it just happened to one of our favourite "untangling" clients who burnt their business deep down into the ground. They wanted everything shiny and new the second it came out. They were constantly switching gears and not able to focus -- or allows us to -- on the goals and projects at hand. Everything needed to be newer and "bigger and better" according to the virtual "gurus" of the world. And no matter what we tried, we just couldn't help them focus and see their bigger picture. Which is sad and breaks our hearts ... So, we feel the more people who know about this, the better!
So, to be brief and boil this S.O.S. down to it’s main sources:
Now I know taking care of your business in an “untangling” lifestyle involves WAY more than the things I mentioned here today. But my team and I truly do feel that these are the “main guts” that are going to get you through every single day … no matter your niche, no matter what you’re working on, whether you’re a solo-preneur, have a team, or are on one … no matter your goals, your dreams, or even how many Instagram followers you want.
It’s all about doing the things that may seem small now (but aren’t really small at all) which will allow you the time you NEED to focus on the bigger picture, be more productive, and less stressed.
So, from us to you … HAPPY “untangling”!