Alicia Grace Co

Automation: A Super Tool for Woman Entrepreneurs With Anxiety

Productivity, Time Management, Organisation, EntrepreneurshipMarissa PaneComment
Automation is a super tool for entrepreneurs to combat anxiety with. Learn the best ways to make the most of it.

As a woman entrepreneur with anxiety, I often get asked how I’m able to do #allthethings so effortlessly. After I get a good laugh in, because let’s be honest, nothing is effortless, I usually follow-up with one small but mighty word: AUTOMATION!

The process of automating as much of my business as possible is a lifesaver, especially during those bad mental health days. If I sense that I’m going to be under a tremendous amount of stress soon or if I notice that I’ve been becoming more anxious, I can prepare for the storm that’s about to hit by simply getting as much done as possible today, as opposed to tomorrow.

I’m sure you’re wondering how to do that or you think my ‘strategy’ is common sense. Read on to learn some of the many ways you can automate your business.

Trust me when I say that you will regret not automating these things sooner the next time you’re falling into a depressive rut...

Top ways you can automate your business

  • Schedule your social media posts ahead of time (!!)
  • Plan out your entire to-do list for the week on Sunday
  • Set up IFTTT to post a native photo to Twitter instead of just a link when you post to Instagram
  • Set up IFTTT to post your Instagram photos to a specific Pinterest board
  • Schedule a plethora of pins to go out each day via Tailwind
  • Write your email sequences BEFORE the day you want to send them out and schedule them to go out automatically (!!!)
  • Turn on an auto-response to your Facebook Page messages that redirects inquiries to your email
  • Schedule your blog posts ahead of time (!!)
  • Use your email marketing system to automatically send freebies to your subscribers
  • Use your email marketing system to tag or separate your subscribers based on their interests
  • Install Grammarly into your web browser to avoid silly grammar mistakes
  • Link your scheduling software to your Google Calendar so you never miss an appointment AND you’ll avoid becoming double booked when all your systems are aligned.

Shall I go on?

Basically, automation is the bomb diggity and I actually had to pause and think really hard about all the things I have automated because I’m so used to the systems running that I truly forgot about the many ways I use it!

Automation is the ultimate goal-crusher

Now, I know I said that these automation strategies are a tremendous help to entrepreneurs with anxiety, but these strategies can still be a lifesaver if you don't have anxiety.

Perhaps you’re a busy momma who is trying to tackle a side biz while raising a toddler and slaying it at her corporate office. Or maybe you’re a dog daddy and all you want when 5pm hits is to cuddle up next to Rex and binge-watch your favorite Netflix show.



It doesn’t matter what situation you’re in - automation will save you time, energy, and money!

Yes, it saves you money too! Most of the automation services out there are free, so why pay a VA to do the nitty gritty work when you can set up a month’s worth of social media posts in an hour, simply hit PUBLISH, and watch the magic happen?

Now that you’ve got all these ideas buzzing around your head, I’m sure you’re looking for an action item. Where do you start? What do you do? Ahhhhh!

Below is the step-by-step plan to start automating your Twitter posts:

  1. Create a Hootsuite account (It’s free, yo!)
  2. Link your Twitter account to your Hootsuite account
  3. Add a “Scheduled” Stream
  4. Add a “My Tweets” Stream
  5. Compose your first tweet in the text box on the top of the screen
  6. Click the calendar icon under the text box
  7. Choose your desired date and time
  8. Click Schedule CONGRATS! YOU’VE SCHEDULED YOUR FIRST SOCIAL MEDIA POST!

It may seem like the tiniest step ever, but once you start blocking off time to schedule days, weeks, or months of content, you start to see the amazing time-saving effects automation has on your business.

I recommend scheduling some time out of your day to brainstorm social media posts. Think about overarching content ideas - not word-for-word posts. Then, once you’ve compiled your ideas head over to Hootsuite and let those ideas inspire dozens of tweets!

If you want even more bang for your buck, reposition those ideas into Instagram captions and start scheduling your Instagram posts as well. It can all be done in Hootsuite, so utilize your time wisely and do all you can while in that platform!

I can’t wait to hear what part of your business you began to automate, today! Yes, I said today! Start implementing these ideas now and report back with your results!


About the Author
About the author: Marissa Pane

Marissa Pane is a life coach for entrepreneurial women with anxiety who are ready to implement smart marketing strategies into their business so they can gain the freedom to take care of themselves again while their business continues to thrive. Her passion for mental health began in 2012 when she started her recovery from anorexia, major depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. You can find more about Marissa and her mission on SPIESFitToFight.com and inside her Facebook community, Decaf Doers: A Collective of Ambitious Women With Anxiety.

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Set actionable goals

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Assessing What Matters Most To You

GoalsAlicia GraceComment

We build our lives around what we value most, and whilst some things shouldn’t change too much, like our values and principles, our priorities do.

In order to centre your life around what’s most important to you, it’s important to take time out every now and then to do a self-check and evaluate whether your life is in line with this.

 
A comprehensive guide on how to assess what matters most to you, from your values to life goals.
 

What are your values?

You may already have an idea of what your values are, but it can be eye-opening to actually sit down and properly go through them to see whether you are living your life in line with them.

To do this, think about a few achievements you are really proud of, and things you have done that made you feel happy. What values were you putting into action then? Were you being creative, practical, or super disciplined?

Some values that you may have include:

  • Accountability
  • Balance
  • Boldness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Determination
  • Equality
  • Expressiveness
  • Faith
  • Grace
  • Independence
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Positivity
  • Thoughtfulness

As you note each value, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are they in line with how I want to live my life?
  2. Would I be proud to tell people that these are my values?
  3. Even if some are not popular, do I still support them?

Once you have a list of your values, it’s time to put them in order. To begin, pick your two most important values and compare them so you know which you value most. Think about situations where you may have to pick one over the other. For example, loyalty to a friend may mean making a commitment to driving them to work for a week when their car breaks down. Are you willing to sacrifice some independence for that? Ask yourself such questions as you work your way down the list until you have a list of your values in order of their importance to you.

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Do the things in your life matter to you?

First things first: write down the major things going on in your life. A helpful way to do this is to sort them into categories like Personal, Family, Health, and Work/Career.

Now, go through everything on this list and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does this improve my life?
  2. Is this really important to me?
  3. Does this have a positive impact on my life?
  4. Does this make me happy or is it helping someone I love?
  5. Would I still do this if I only had a month to live?

If you answer ‘yes’ to four or all of these, then you’re on the right track, but if you’ve said ‘no’ to two or more of these questions, then it’s time to seriously ask yourself whether you should continue doing this thing.

Your next steps

If you have gone through all of these steps, you should understand what actually matters to you now. But you can take this one step further.

For those things in your life that you’ve now realised don’t actually matter to you, think about how you can reorient them. If it is something that you absolutely have to do - like holding down a job that doesn’t make full use of your skill set to pay the bills - then think about how you can make changes. Could you learn more skills, try something different like asking for different work responsibilities, or make other adjustments in your life so that you could do less of this thing?

And now, for the last and really important bit. Look at your values, and see which ones you’re not actively incorporating into your life.

Perhaps creativity is important to you, but you’re not actively engaging in a creative activity often. Could you set aside an hour each week to hone your craft? Or maybe you could find like-minded people you could share your creativity with? If faith is important to you, you could join a Bible study, or even just spend a few minutes each day working on your faith.

Here’s the gist

Your life should be centred around what matters most to you, not things you think you should be doing. The first step is to actually think about your values and what brings you joy. Once you have worked that out, look at what’s in your life right now, and think about whether they are in line with your values. Lastly - and this is the crucial bit - evaluate how you can change your life so that you spend less time on the things that you don’t value, and more time on the things that do matter.


How To Stay Focused While Working on the Computer

ProductivityAlicia GraceComment
 
Learn how to stay focused when you work on your computer.
 

Have you ever noticed just how many distractions there are at your desk? Take a look around you and think about it. Is your phone sitting there? Do you have music or the television on? Do Facebook/Instagram/Twitter demand your attention? It seems like we are always connected, and therefore easily distracted. So much so, that when it comes time to sit down and get some work done, it’s very difficult to focus.

Maybe you haven’t really noticed the distractions because it has just become part of your routine. Maybe you don’t have an option with some of these distractions. Maybe you want to minimize the distractions, but feel like it just isn’t possible.

Recognize your distractions

Start by taking stock of the distractions. Grab a piece of paper and start writing down your minute-by-minute schedule. Note what you are doing, what time you start, and what time you stop.

My typical workday

8:00 am: Start working (you can get more specific if needed)

8:45 am: Check social media

9:05 am: Start working

9:20 am: Mom called

9:45 am: Work

10:00 am: Email pops up on phone - check and reply

Learn how to stay focus when you're working on the computer.

10:10 am: Work

10:30 am: Eat a snack

10:45 am: Work

11:45 am: Lunch

12:15 pm: Check social media/email

12:45 pm: Work

12:55 pm: Text from spouse

1:00 pm: Work

1:30 pm: Browse internet

2:00 pm: Work

3:30 pm: Social media notifications on phone

4:00 pm: Work

4:45 pm: Clean up desk area

5:00 pm: Finish working for the day

Results

Work: 4.5 hours

Distractions: 3.5 hours

Lunch: 1 hour

I know not everyone’s schedule will look the same, maybe you will have more distractions, maybe less. But either way, do this. Write down what you do and when you do it. Note how much time you spent actually working and how much time you spent on distractions.

Now, analyze what is distracting you. Was it really necessary to check your social media 3 times throughout the day? Because you know that just checking that one notification leads to browsing through Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, so it isn’t a quick break. It’s easy to lose 10-15 minutes if you pick up your phone to check that one thing. Same with browsing through the internet.

And I love my mom, but was that phone call vital at that time, or was she just calling to chit-chat? I find that, especially working from home, it’s hard to make others understand and respect that you are "at your job” since you are sitting at home rather than at an office with a strict phone policy. Same with that text from your spouse.

So what can be done?

Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb”

On the iPhone, there is a setting called “Do Not Disturb” or DND (and I’m sure there are equivalents on the other major smartphones). The setting for DND can be found in the settings app, and you have a few options for setting it. The first is turning on the scheduled toggle, and input your work time. As of right now, you can only enter one start and one finish time, so in the previous example I would set it from 8 am to 5 pm. If you don’t want to schedule this, you can also manually turn it on and off by swiping up for the dock, and pressing the crescent moon icon.

If you are worried about missing a call that could possibly be an emergency, then set it to “Allow Calls From” your favorite contacts list. This lets their calls come through immediately. Although if mom is in your favorites list, it won’t block her chit-chat morning calls. Another option is to only use the “Repeated Calls” function to only allow the second call from the same person to come through within three minutes. My husband and I always have a rule: If I call you once and you can’t answer, that’s okay but if I call you again right away, you need to answer. The repeated calls allows that second call to go through.

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Turn off your computer’s internet

Depending on what you do, you may be able to turn the internet off on the computer. If you are working on a word document, a powerpoint, or any other project that does not require the internet, turn it off. You can’t get distracted browsing the internet if you can’t connect.

Personally, I can’t do this for my part-time job because it is a web-based program that I log in to. What I will do, though, is set up a new Google Chrome user just for work and I don’t bookmark any of my social media or other websites. The only bookmarks on there are work related.

You can do this even if you are a blogger. Write the bulk of your post in a word document, then copy and paste it to your blog to finish adding your images and any other formatting. This lets you focus on just your writing, and not everything else at the same time.

Block out your time

As a blogger, I know that social media is an essential part of running my blog. I also know that it can get very distracting and I end up wasting time on there some days. Start blocking out your time so you give yourself the chance to do what you need on social media, but limit yourself to as little time as possible.

For example, here’s a glimpse of my daily schedule:

8-9 am: Social Media, check emails, etc.

9 am-12 pm: Part-time job

12-1 pm: Lunch with my kids

1pm-4:30 pm: Blogging, social Media, check emails, etc.

My mornings are more structured than my afternoons because my husband and I both work from home. In the mornings, he watches the boys and lets me sit down and focus completely on my part-time job. The afternoons are his turn to focus, so I work on some of my blogging and social media posts as I can while also taking care of the boys.

I used to try to do it all here and there, but I was getting too distracted. So I blocked out that first hour every morning to get my social media in line for the day, check and respond to any emails, take care of bills, all of that type of thing. Then I focus solely on my job. I turn my phone to DND, put on some headphones to block out the noise in the house, and focus.

Choose your music wisely

Have you ever noticed yourself getting distracted by the noises around you? Especially when working from home, it’s very easy to hear the washing machine stop so you get up to switch it, or hear the kids arguing over a toy, or the garbage truck just came so the cans can come in, etc. Unless you do a job that requires answering the phone, get some good headphones. Preferably noise-canceling if you can.

But it’s not only blocking out ambient noise, the music you listen to can create noise as well. If you are trying to write, such as blogging or responding to emails or a business proposal, music with words can often become distracting. How many times have you typed what you hear? It happens to me all the time.

I started listening to soundtrack music, and it makes such a difference. I enjoy music from all my favorite movies and tv shows. There are no words, it’s just instrumental. If you are looking for some good ones, I suggest John Williams, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, and Howard Shore.

Power Snacks

A rumbling stomach can cause a big distraction. Get yourself some power snacks that you can keep at your desk for when you hit those in-between times and need a quick fix. But choose your snacks purposefully. You don’t want to fill up on candy and end up with a sugar crash later, or chips and end up hungry again in half an hour.

Keep protein snacks at your desk. Things such as granola bars, mixed nuts, a banana with some peanut butter, etc. Usually, the snacks with protein are the ones that will keep you full longer, and give you that boost you may need to make it through the afternoon.

PS: Don’t forget to make sure you drink enough water throughout the day as well.


About the Author: Stephanie Lynch
Author: Stephanie Lynch

Stephanie is a native Floridian living in Texas with her husband and two young boys. She blogs at www.youaremysonshine.com about all things kitchen related such as recipes, organizing, cooking tips, and everything in between. If it happens in the kitchen, Stephanie covers it. Also known as: boy-mom, wife, daughter, sister, photographer, nerd, adventure-seeker, beach-lover.


How To Seize Control of Digital Distractions

ProductivityAlicia GraceComment
Learn how to seize control of digital distractions and take back your life in this blog post. [aliciagraceco.com/blog]

The hardest part about being your own boss is staying focused. When you have to manage your social media, conversations, and emails all at the same time, that can get real messy real fast. Digital distractions are especially tricky as they’re there ALL. THE. TIME. and so often, you don’t even realise it until it’s too late.

Part of the problem is thinking that you’re multitasking when you do things like writing content while on the phone. But the truth is, you’re damaging your own productivity, and you’re not delivering the high quality that you really have the ability to produce. Multitasking only works when one of your tasks is automatic and doesn’t require brain power. You can, for example, clean your glasses while you’re on the phone. Replying Facebook comments while writing your next big blog post? Not so much.

Why do digital distractions take over?

Most of the time, we use them to procrastinate from work and pressure. Have you ever found that the more work you have to do, the more tempting it becomes to check Facebook? This, I must admit, rings so true for me, and I used to find myself scrolling through social media even when I knew that I wouldn’t find anything interesting.

The good news is that now that you understand that this is the real reason why things like social media are so distracting, you can step up and put yourself in control.

How you can take charge of your digital distractions

Start small

Quitting cold turkey may work for some people, but for most of us, it’s better to cut down on your digital distractions one at a time.

Start by checking your emails at specific times throughout the day, then start signing out from Facebook and Instagram when you’re working. The key is to give yourself some time to properly get used to it, rather than giving yourself a shock to the system. Once you’ve made this into a habit, it will be smooth sailing.

Set aside time for focused work

The best way to get work done efficiently is to block out time for it. Make an appointment with yourself for content creation, and turn off all of your digital distractions. Mute your phone, close your email tabs, and sign out from Facebook. The one thing you can leave turned on is your favourite Spotify playlist.

Use this time to do your most important work first that requires the most brain power, and make sure you minimise all distractions.

Decide on when you’re going to check social media

On the flip side, you should also set aside time for social media. Studies show that we take an average of three minutes to adjust when we switch between tasks, and if you’re periodically checking in on Instagram every other hour, that can add up to a lot of time wasted.

The thing is that for a lot of us, especially those with businesses, checking social media and email is actually really important. Instead of doing this throughout the day, pick specific times and commit to them.

You could, for example, decide to stay away from social media when you wake up, and dedicate 30 minutes to engaging with your community (and, let’s face it, scroll through Buzzfeed) later in the morning, and another 30 minutes in the afternoon. This is a much more effective method, and also ensures that your engagement remains authentic and focused, rather than sporadic throughout the day.

Turn off at the end of the day

This last tip is so so important. As #bossbabes, we feel like we’re connected to our businesses 24/7, but this means that we have to turn off at the end of the day even more. Tune out from social media at night, at least an hour before you go to sleep. This will help you set boundaries between your online and offline lives, and also help you get quality sleep. Technology should really stay outside of your bedroom.



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How To Make the Best Use of Your Planners

PlanningCorrine Lin4 Comments
 
how-to-make-best-use-planners-post.jpg
 

We are almost stepping into the last quarter of the year and it's almost time to shop for new planners again. Almost. 

But wait, how many planners have you used to the end? Or rather, how many have you changed before the year reaches June? 

It's all about planning your planner with a goal in mind. 

Have you ever written stuffs down on your planner but forget to look at them or even forget that they existed? 

Here, we'll share a few tips on how to make the best use of the planner you have in hand, or to prepare for your next planner. 

Before Getting Your New Planner

Decide what type of planners work best for you

Do you prefer bullet journals? Do you like to write a lot on your daily planner? What size of planners are you comfortable with, in terms of space and portability? 

Be vigilant about using the right type of planner that works for you, for instance, refrain from using bullet planners if they confuses you and if they don't relate to you. You might not enjoy jotting down in point form. 

Once You Have Got Your Planner

Decide how you want to use your planner

Do you want to include everything in your planner including your life goals, bucket list, future goals, etc? Do you want to include other areas of your life in your planner such as your business list, or your inspirational quotes in the same planner? Or do you want to just focus on your activities for one year?

If you have a bullet planner, a monthly overview, a weekly planner and a daily planner, it will make your life difficult when you have to update all the different sections with the same activities. It will only add more tasks to your day and frustrations if you have to take more time to arrange and rearrange them.

Map out your planner content on a draft first

Set aside some time to plan how you want your planner to be arranged.

Otherwise your planner will look messy and dirty, which will prompt you to change a new one perhaps even before the new year starts. 

Sort your planner according to your preference

There are several ways you can sort your planner out to achieve the best efficiency when you use them. 

For instance, you could sort by your favourite colour and add stickers or tags to mark important pages, or sort by importance or functionality.

Use and record only what you need 

It's tempting to want to include everything we want in our planner, especially when we try to make it all-in-one with our life, career, health goals, motivational quotes, pictures, etc in there. However, it may make your planner bulky and heavy.

Decide what you want to keep in your planner and see if you could keep the rest in a separate booklet or file that you can refer to occasionally. 

So there you have it, planning your planner with a plan in mind. 

Planners are great with they are beautiful and new. Beautiful planners motivate us to write nicer and jot down more great memories. However, it is also about being effective and efficient when we can get the best out of our planners as they are meant to make our live easier as well.


About the Author: Corrine Lin

Corrine writes and coaches at L3 Hub, where she inspires and motivates girls and women to live true to themselves with self-confidence and self-leadership. She is also passionate about achieving success through goal setting and proper planning with the maximum effectiveness and efficiency. She can be reached at corrine@l3hub.org or at the L3 Hub Facebook Page.


GoalGetterPlannerPack-horizontal-banner-01.jpg

Learn How To Set Achievable Goals

GoalsAlicia Grace3 Comments
learn-how-to-set-achievable-goals-post.jpg

The key to achieving your goals is making them achievable in the first place - set yourself up for success. I don’t mean setting easy goals. I mean setting goals that are challenging but real. ‘Get 5,000 Instagram followers in 2 months’ is challenging but achievable. ‘Make a viral blog post’ is not, because it’s not measurable, and you can’t create an action plan for it.

But what exactly makes a goal achievable? Read on to learn my best tips and techniques.

Think about whether it is realistic

A realistic goal is something that you can create an action plan for, and have the necessary resources to accomplish them. If these are resources that ones that you don’t have yet but can acquire, then put this into your action plan. This leads me to my next tip:

Get the right resources

This includes the knowledge you need for your goal. Create an action plan of how you’re going to get those resources. If you need money to fund your creative business, how do you plan to raise this? Perhaps you could try to cut back on some spending, or even sell some things. If it’s knowledge that you need, who do you know that you could reach out to for help, or are there resources online that could give you the knowledge that you need?

Set your milestones

Decide on what your milestones are going to be. If you have a number-related goal, like saving £5,000, break them down into smaller £1,000 chunks. This will make your goal seem much less intimidating, and easier to achieve than a big final figure.

Decide on how you’re going to track your progress

Once you’ve decided on what your milestones are, you need to set up a system to track them. This could be as simple as writing down the dates you hit your milestones on a piece of paper, or a full-on progress tracker (like this one from my Goal-Getter Planner!).

Schedule time to work on your goal

Your goal is important, and deserves your time. If this is something you’re short on, then adjust the timeline for achieving your goal accordingly, and give yourself a longer period to achieve it.

Make sure you actually care about your goal

This is the last but most important tip. The only way you’re going to actually achieve your goal is if you care about it, and you’re truly motivated to achieve it. A goal is something that is important to you, and it should make you feel fulfilled to work on it.


Are you ready to set achievable goals? I have put together a wonderful workbook for you that will walk you through discovering and setting goals that you will actually get done. Click here to start your journey now.

Prioritising Your Life, One Task at a Time

Life Hacks, Productivity, Time ManagementOlivia Sánchez8 Comments

My first semester of college was rough. Not because I was missing my family or the level of academic study was difficult. The reason my first semester was so difficult was because I didn’t know how to prioritize my day. I would get up whenever, go to be whenever, and while I was serious about my education and its importance, I did miss a few assignments. You see up until that point, other people had prioritized all of my tasks and activities for me: my parents, my teachers, my coaches all told me what to do, when to do it and gave me plenty of reminders along the way. As a result, my transition into making these decisions on my own was a little bit (read: a lot) more rocky than expected. But the good news is that I learned from it and have passed that knowledge on to others, including first time college students. Here are the Top 5 Lessons I learned and that anyone can utilize to make their Adulting just a tiny bit easier. 

Lesson #1: Write it all down

Prioritizing your life, one task at a time. [Blog post.]

This is by far the biggest mistake people make! They rely on their brain to keep all their important items in order and what gets me is that they are surprised when items get forget. Sometimes it’s a simple as forgetting to buy milk and having to go back to the store. Annoying sure, but not really critical. But what happens when you forget an important meeting with your boss, miss your child’s school performance, or worse, forget your spouse’s birthday and don’t have a present for them? Yikes!

Now a lot of people think “I don’t want to have to get a planner to write all these things in. I hate planners. It’s just another thing to carry… Blah blah blah.” Okay then, if you don’t like planners, then don’t get one. Get a little notebook you like and make yourself a daily to do list. Or be like my husband, write one big list, cross things off as you go, and add new items at the bottom. It’s more about getting that To Do list out of your head and in the real world, where you can see it. 

Lesson #2: The Biggies

The Biggies are the really large categories you use to classify things. For example, a student’s Biggies might be School, Family, Work. My Biggies are currently School, Work, Family/Friends, and Home. And essentially everything that I have on my To Do list Falls into one of those 4 categories. By breaking things down into these categories, I can clump things together. Not only does it make it easier to write these items down, I can more easily focus on one area a time. 
So how do you utilize The Biggies to prioritize? Personally, I assign days to each area of my life. Sunday and Wednesday are Home days, so on those days, anything I have in that category gets priority over say the Family/Friends category. By breaking it up this way, I’m able to give my uninterrupted focus to items I need to get done in a single Biggie. I’ve also seen people assign certain Biggies to certain parts of the day, like doing their Home items at certain times of the day. It’s really about what works best for you!

Lesson #3: The 4 Ds

Now that you’ve got your Biggies laid out, how do you know what to do first? The method that I employ, and that I feel is the simplest, is inspired by the Eisenhower Box. Basically, I assign, and write, each of my Biggie Tasks into one of 4 categories; called the 4 Ds: Do, Decide, Delegate, & Delete.

Do items are High Priority because they going to happen that day, and must be completed. 
Decide items are Medium Priority, meaning they are important, but you’ve got some time to complete. Schedule time for these another day.

Delegate items are also Medium Priority. The way to think these items as “I’m waiting for something to happen or someone is going to do it for me. I’ll need to follow up later.”
Delete items are Low Priority. Whether they get done or not, it won’t affect your end goals. 

Here’s what mine looks like for my School Biggies:

Do – High priority items!

  • Read chapter 15 and take quiz (due tonight)
  • Discussion Board Post (due tonight)
  • Homework Assignment (due tonight)

Decide

  • Read chapter 19 (due Friday; Assigned to Thursday)
  • Group Project #1 (due next month; group meeting Friday)

Delegate 

  • Group Project #2 (due next week; completed contribution & waiting on other members)
  • Group Discussion Board (due next week; ask partner to write final copy)

Delete

  • Group email (no response needed)
  • Campus email (glance but no response needed)

You’ll notice that I put some notes to the right of my items. This helps me keep track of where I am on a task. While this is meant to be done everyday, I realize that’s unrealistic; you’ve got to have a life too. Once a week works well for this method as well. 

Lesson #4: Do the Hardest Thing First

This is my favorite lesson, even though it is by far the hardest one and took me the longest to learn. We naturally avoid things we don’t want to do and that is the root of procrastination. By doing the one or two items you’re dreading first each day, you don’t waste energy on the dread. For me, cleaning the bathroom is my most dreaded task, but of course, it can’t be avoided. On Sundays, I get up, clean the bathroom first, and then move on with the rest of my Biggie items for the day.

This works well for items that are Difficult or Time Consuming projects. Even if you don’t dread doing the item, energy is still wasted by putting it off, because you have to put in more energy later to get it done. 

Lesson #5: Flexibility is Key

In a perfect world, you’ll be able to accomplish every item in each and every day. But of course, it’s not a perfect world, and stuff comes up to derail your whole plan for the day. Flexibility is key!

This was another tough lesson for me to learn because I’m a Type A overachiever and perfectionist. It is really, really hard for me to leave a task undone and/or less than perfect; and I’m sure there are many other people out there just like me! But with some practice, you can learn to pivot your day as things change.

Now these lessons won’t solve all your problems and it will take time for you to get accustomed to thinking this way. For me, it took a few weeks to get the hang of it. But it is so worth it and had made my life so much more manageable. We all know that adulting is hard. Sometimes there is so much to do and it feels completely overwhelming! This is understandable and hopefully, these tips will make managing it all a little bit easier.


About the Author
Olivia Sánchez

Olivia Sánchez lives in DFW, Texas with her husband and their two cats, Serenity and Midnight. Currently, she is an MBA student, works full time for a staffing agency, and assists her husband in managing his business, 8Bit Education. She love learning something new, writing, and education. She is passionate about education and her community.

 

Morning Routines: The Secret to Achieving Your Goals

Goals, ProductivityAlicia Grace1 Comment
Morning routines are the little big secret to achieving your goals. Learn why.

Mornings set the pace for the whole day, at least for the first part of it, and starting your day right can set you up for success.

Roy F. Baumeister says in his book that our willpower is strongest in the morning, making it the most important time of your day. The first hour of your day determines the rest of it, and you should build a strong foundation for it. The key to this is your morning routine.

Yeah, I know - brushing your teeth and chomping down toast doesn’t seem like a goal-getting technique. It’s not.

But the kind of morning routine that energises you and helps put you in a positive mindset is.

Having an intentional morning routine places control of your life directly in your hands, and by starting this the moment you wake up, you will be empowered to conquer your goals throughout the day.

Why is this?

A morning routine lets your brain breathe

Your brain has been resting for 8 hours, and it needs some time to warm up properly before you can put it to good use. Morning routines create a sense of normalcy and stability, which is very important for your cognitive health. Every decision that you make takes up a little bit of your energy and glucose, and you really don’t want to tire your brain out so early in the morning! Yes, deciding whether you should wear your hair up or down uses precious energy. It’s called decision fatigue, and it’s why people like former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes (the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire - yes, with a B), and Mark Zuckerberg choose to wear the same thing every day.

productive-life-planner.jpg

Many things are going to need your mental energy today, and it’s good to let your brain work on autopilot for some things while you are still waking up, so that you can save your energy for the more important stuff.

It prepares you for success

Taking a few minutes in the morning to plan for the day will do wonders. It helps you focus on your goals for the day, and gets your mind ready to achieve your goals. Knowing what you are doing each day is very important as you will have a mission, rather than starting your day not quite sure what you have on your plate.

Remember what Roy Baumeister said? Your willpower is strongest in the morning. Use that.


Convinced that morning routines are important?

Good news, you can create your perfect goal-getting morning today.

To help you get started, I have a few tips:

  1. Incorporate something for your body, like having a healthy breakfast.
  2. Do something that makes you happy. I like browsing Instagram, hehe.
  3. Try not to rush. Waking up 5 minutes earlier can mean enjoying your cup of coffee in the morning, and not rushing out the door while chewing breakfast.

And as for my top tip?

Write down your current routine so you know exactly what you are doing, then plan out your ideal morning routine. You can write this down anywhere you like, but I’m a paper planner-lovin’ girl, and designed a Daily Routine planner in my Productive Life Kit for you.


9 Reasons Why You're Not Achieving Your Goals and How To Overcome Them

GoalsAlicia Grace6 Comments

You set goals, but for some reason, you fail to accomplish them each time. I know how frustrating this can be. In this post, I’ll share with you the exact reasons why, and actionable steps you can take to combat them.

Learn the 9 reasons why your goals fail, and the actionable steps you can take to overcome them.

Problem #1: You don’t have a specific goal

‘Become my own boss’ or even ‘lose 10 lbs’ are not specific goals. The trouble with such a broad goal is that it’s hard to see it as something real. It becomes an ideal, not a goal per se.

Solution:

Your goals have to be SMART, ie. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Your goal to become your own boss should look something like this:

‘Build a business bringing in £5,000 in income each month within the next two years’.

This goal may not look pretty, but you can see the goal suddenly becoming more real. It’s Specific, Measurable (£5,000), Achievable, Relevant (the life goal being to be your own boss), and Time-Bound (two years).

You can (and should!) also break this down into smaller goals: ‘Brainstorm and come up with 5 business ideas this week’; ‘set up Instagram account, make first 5 posts, and get 100 followers in 2 weeks’.

Problem #2: You aren’t motivated enough

Motivation is a funny thing. Chances are you started your goal with a great deal of motivation, but somewhere along the way, the motivation faded away, as did your goal.

Solution:

Research shows that what successful people have in common is grit. If you want to achieve your goals, you have to stay motivated. This doesn’t come automatically: you have to work at it.

So, how do you keep your motivation high?

Constantly remind yourself of your goal. Write it down where you can see it daily. Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all face setbacks at times, and one roadblock is no reason to give up on your goal. Remember to get up and keep going.

Problem #3: You don’t know where you are

Imagine wanting to save £1,000 but never knowing how much you have already saved. At some stage, you’re probably going to forget about your goal simply because you can’t see your progress.

Solution:

Find a way to keep track of your progress. Remember the SMART method? This is the Measurable part. If you’re trying to gain 10,000 Instagram followers, for example, break that down into smaller 1,000 chunks, and write down how many followers you have each day or each week. This will also help you notice trends so that, for example, you know which days you’re most effective.

Set actionable goals

Set Actionable Goals - Workbook Cover

Get an 11-page workbook on how to set actionable goals in 4 effective steps, designed just for you.

You will also join my newsletter, which will be full of productivity and time management tips.

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Problem #4: You waste free time

This is one of the biggest mistakes people make. Proper time to relax is a good thing, but don’t mistake important relaxation time for extra time you can put towards your goals. Each minute is an opportunity to work towards your goal, and doing this means that you are missing out.

Solution:

Unless your goal is ‘go on a walk at 6am on Tuesday mornings’, you don’t have to keep it to any specific time. Definitely set aside time to specifically work on your goals, but if more opportunities come up during the week, seize them. Dinner cancelled? Maybe you can hit the gym, or brainstorm on new products.

Problem #5: You don’t write your goals down

Failing to write down your goals means that you have just missed out on one of the best and easiest ways to hold yourself accountable to your goals. I can’t say enough how important this is.

Solution:

WRITE IT DOWN. It has to be somewhere you see often, preferably daily.

goal-getter-planner-pack.jpg

Problem #6: You aren’t committed to your goals

This one’s a biggie guys. Remember what we said about motivation earlier? Well, commitment is even more important. It’s what keeps you going on days when you’re running low on motivation, because you’ve committed yourself to it. When you aren’t committed, it’s easy to let your goals slip.

Solution:

Take responsibilities of your goals. If you have failed in the past, own up to them, and think about what went wrong, and how you can overcome those same obstacles if they come up again.

Problem #7: You try to achieve too many goals

It’s good to have goals, but too many of them means that your focus is spread out too much, and you end up struggling to achieve a single one.

Solution:

Take stock of what’s on your plate already before you take on more. Try to focus on one big goal at a time.

Problem #8: You hang out with the wrong people

According to Tim Ferris, you are the sum of the five people you spend most time with. Choosing who you surround with is crucial to achieving your goals. If the people you hang out with discourage you from your dreams, or if they themselves don’t do anything about their own goals, you won’t be motivated to achieve your own either.

Solution:

Spend less time with negative people, and don’t let them get in your head.

Problem #9: You burn yourself out

The trouble with New Year’s Resolutions is that you tend to put all your effort into those first few days and weeks, then get burned out.

Solution:

Pace yourself. It’s just like training to run a marathon: you start out taking short runs, and stretch yourself slowly until eventually you hit that 10km.

There you have it,

the 8 reasons why you find it so hard to achieve your goals, and solutions to every single one of these problems.

Did you find this post useful? Send it to a friend to help them achieve their goals too.


The Science of Creating A New Habit

Habits, ProductivityAlicia GraceComment

Habits affect so much of our lives. A good habit can help you be more productive achieve your goals. There are some habits that many of us want to start, like going to the gym more. My personal habit goal is to drink 8 cups of water each day. But creating a new habit can seem a little tough. I’ve tried it so many times: you start out strong for a few days, then you miss one day, and suddenly you’re back at square one.

Starting a new habit shouldn’t be that difficult. Starting (and sticking to!) a new habit can be boiled down to a science that’s really easy to understand.

Learn how to create a new habit and actually stick to it! Good habits are so important if you want to achieve your goals.

First, you have to understand that we’re creatures of habit, and everything in your routine now is a habit. That’s why it’s so hard to change your behaviour. When you want to start a new habit, you’re not just introducing something new into your life, but you’re also taking something away. Let’s say you want to go to the gym for an hour twice a week. You have to figure out what you need to reduce from your life to make that possible. Maybe it’s time you would have otherwise spent watching Netflix, or relaxing in the bath. Think about what you’re giving up, and decide whether the new habit that you want to create is worth it. What will you gain from it, and what benefits will you get? Know your WHY, and don’t just do something because you know you should. Go to the gym twice a week because you want to work on your health or lose some weight, not just because it’s a good thing to do.

Once you’ve decided to create a new habit, it’s time to get down to business.

Set actionable goals

Set Actionable Goals - Workbook Cover

Get an 11-page workbook on how to set actionable goals in 4 effective steps, designed just for you.

You will also join my newsletter, which will be full of productivity and time management tips.

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When you’re starting a new habit, it can seem a little daunting, especially when it’s something completely new. Research shows that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Commit yourself to your new habit for just 21 days to start with - that will be much less scary, and easier to think about. Once you’ve actually done it for 21 days, you’ll find that the habit has already stuck, and it’s just a matter of continuing.

Building on this theme, I know it’s really tempting to start a few new habits at the same time, but the key is to focus on just one! Starting a new habit requires quite a bit of effort, and it’s really important to get a new habit properly into your life before trying to start a new one. Just like you’d only really focus on one big project at a time, you should only work on creating one new habit at a time.

good-habits-planner.jpg

If you struggle to keep on track with your new habit, the best thing that you can do is to automate it. Schedule that gym session into your calendar. Set a reminder every few hours to drink that glass of water. Pack a yummy lunch so that you’re not tempted to skip it.

Think about what exactly you need to do in order to create your new habit. If you want to wake up earlier, you have to sleep earlier. Is there something that is stopping you from actually doing your new habit? Make sure you address it first. Similarly, think ahead about what obstacles you may face. What if you need to stay late in the office on gym day, or you need to go to a friend’s birthday party? Things like these can interfere with your habit-forming goal, especially during those early 21 days, but they don’t have to be your pitfall. Try to think of solutions so that you’re not stressed when interferences come up. Could you go to the gym on another day, or work out longer during your next session?

Something else that is so important that people often forget is to track your habits. Make sure you know if you are actually keeping up with it, and on the days that you miss out, try to note down why. That will help you to address it in the future and stay on track. You can do it however you like, but my favourite way is with pen and paper. That’s why I created this Habit Tracker.

Lastly, and importantly, set a reward for yourself so that you have an incentive to go through with your plan. It can be something simple, even colouring in a square on your habit tracker, but your brain will find it so much easier to start something new.