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Goal-Setting & Planning to Grow Your Standout Business

Lesson 15 of 16

Manage Your Time for Maximum Effectiveness


Goal-Setting & Planning to Grow Your Standout Business

Lesson 15 of 16

Manage Your Time for Maximum Effectiveness


Lesson Info

Manage Your Time for Maximum Effectiveness

Managing your time for maximum effectiveness, not just efficiency, but effectiveness. Getting things done well, not just getting them done fast or getting them done, but getting them done well. I love this quote from Jack Dorsey, who was one of the founders of Twitter, but currently he's the founder and CEO of Square, and he says, "There are a thousand things "we could be doing. "But there are only one or two that are important." Right? BJ and I had that conversation a little bit earlier. There's a thousand things he could be doing, but there's really only one that's key to hitting his goal. Everything else can either be gotten rid of, or delegated to someone else. And this is kind of the-- this is the crux of the problem of being in the weeds, is that we think all of those weeds are for us to mow down, (audience member laughs) but they're not. Some of them are not even really relevant, in fact I would say the vast majority of them are not even really relevant to the plans that we have...

, the projects that we want to complete, the targets that we want to hit. And so instead of trying to mow them down, we just need to get out of there. So look at your project plan as you've created it so far. And I know we're working fast here, so maybe you don't have it quite completed yet. But as you have it so far, what actions or projects will have the greatest impact on you reaching your target? Look at those projects, Megan, who said she had like 20 projects in her plan. No, I don't- maybe not 20, maybe 18. (laughs) Which of those projects, which two, three, four of those projects are gonna have the greatest impact on you reaching your goal? That question that I asked you earlier's really effective here as well. If you had to take this 12 week plan and turn it into a two week plan, for instance, what would you have to get rid of? What would you get rid of, and still feel confident about reaching your goal? Not asking you to do that, (laughs) not asking you to complete that quarterly target in two weeks, but if you had to, what if? What if you only had two weeks to do it? What would you get rid of? What's the most important piece? What's the most important two or three pieces of that project plan, and what's the fluff? What's the "shoulds"? What are the "I'm supposed to"s? Which if those actions or projects will have the greatest impact on you reaching your target? Now here's the real kicker, where are you-- you, most needed in your plan? Of those projects or actions that are gonna have the greatest impact on you reaching your target, there might only be one or two that actually need you. Now I realize not all of us have the resources, not all of us are prepared to, maybe one of your projects is growing your teams so you don't have to do so much stuff, but looking at your plan, where are you most needed? What are the things that you need to prioritize to be as effective as possible? To have the best chance of reaching your project? If you had to reorganize that project plan by these are the things where I can have the greatest impact, where I am filling the greatest need, and then what are the things that, while important, are not where I should be spending my time? If you were to reorganize it in that way, what would that look like? Where I was most necessary, was obviously, I needed to do the vast majority of that first project. I could bring in my COO, Rosie, that we promoted on March 1st (laughs), to help out with that process 'cause she was already an existing team member and she could sit in and we could, you know, trade ideas, but ultimately, with where we were team-wise, I had to make the decisions. I had to do the interviews. I had to do the prospecting. I was responsible for that project. And so on my calender, that became one of the main things in that month of February that I needed to be working on. That was where I was gonna be most effective, it's where I was most needed. Then in the rebrand, the main place that I needed to impact that plan was through copywriting, 'cause I'm still the main copywriter for our business. But some of the other pieces of that puzzle were actually able to be taken on by our new and incoming team members. So as we hired our marketing director, Bridgett, and as we hired our community advocate, Deidre, there were small pieces of that rebrand project that we were actually able to pass off to them. "Hey, can you communicate this for us? "Can you post about that? "Can you send this email? "Can you create this part of the plan?" And so even though they were brand new, because we had this mapped out, and because we were hiring people with existing skills, we could insert them into that piece. So I needed to come up with the overall direction, but someone else could execute it. On that last piece, other than saying, "Hey, you know what we should do? "We should get t-shirts made.", other people did almost everything else on the designing and executing piece. Yeah, I sent some emails. Yes, I showed up and I did the webinars, but the vast majority of that was done by other people. And as we progress into the second quarter, we're seeing more, and more, and more of that as well. So of these things there were only a few places where my time and energy were really important, and knowing what those things were kept me on track. And if I'm on track, as the CEO, then other people can be on track. But if you're not on track, as your CEO, your team can't be on track. And so that's why understanding how you manage your time for maximum effectiveness is so important. All right, so this is how my week has started to break down. Monday, breaking the day into three parts, not three hours, but three parts, morning, middle, and evening, or late afternoon, I'll spend most of Mondays writing, then I have a mastermind in the afternoons. That's how my Mondays shake down. Tuesdays, it's a lot of marketing, typically, and I have mastermind in the middle. Wednesdays, calls. All calls, all day. (laughs) Thursdays, we have an executive meeting in the morning, more calls. And then finally on Fridays, writing, writing, writing, catching up on anything from the week that I've let go or maybe something has popped up that I need to handle. But what we decided to do, Brianne Dick, who's a great thinker in terms of operations and just efficiency, helped us create this, but what we realized is I don't mind being on the phone, I don't mind interacting with our community, in fact I love it. I love doing-- I love doing this, I love doing that. Like I love interacting with people. I don't mind the calls. What I minded was how my days were always broken up. Right? We all hate that, don't we? (laughs) Like task switching is awful! But we don't do anything about it. And so what we were able to do was compress all of my live time to two days a week, which gives me three full days of time where I'm going to be at maximum effectiveness. Okay? So that I can focus on the pieces of the projects where I'm most needed. And I think this is something any of you can do. Maybe your days aren't Wednesdays, Thursdays, maybe you need three days instead of two. Maybe you need one instead of two. But we set this up really simply, I shouldn't say we, Rosie set this up really simply. By simply making on our acuity scheduling system the only two days I'm available for calls are Wednesdays and Thursdays. Because if I am left to my own devices and scheduling things, I'll schedule them whenever. I can't follow the rules. I am not a rule follower. I am an entrepreneur. Thank you. So we had to impose this boundary on me so that I could manage my time for maximum effectiveness. Make sense? Where do you guys see opportunities, 'cause I'm hoping some light bulb is going off here. Where are there opportunities to reorganize your time so that you can focus on the things that are most important? Anybody know how they're gonna reorganize their time when they go home? Your gonna block schedule like this, your gonna do something else? I'm seeing some nodding. You're nodding. I'm gonna make myself a schedule. Yeah! I love coming home from a day, I work part time with my own business as a photographer, and then part time for another high end photographer as an associate. Oh, great! So I work for her two days a week, and I find myself coming home from traffic and not resting, and then answering my own emails from my own business. So I'm juggling my own business, and hers in the same day. Yes! And so we actually, she and I just set up a schedule now that I'm only there Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And so now I get to have Mondays, possibly during wedding season, to have a weekend. Mm-hmm. And then, you know, Thursday, Fridays can be my day with my own business, and I'm not gonna be juggling the morning before I go to work for her answering all these emails. So two days are for her, three days are for me. Excellent. Can I give you another suggestion too? Yes! So you said Tuesday, Mm-hmm. Wednesday is when you're gonna work for her? Yeah. So what if on Mondays, you set an out of office responder on your email that said, "Here's what my schedule is. "I'm not gonna be checking my email "for the next two days, so you will get "a response from me on Thursday" Mm-hmm. "When I'm working on my business" Yeah. "again." Don't say it like that, (laughter) but tell them what the expectation is-- Yeah. My office hours are -- And then give them a way to get in touch with you about emergency situations, 'cause I know photographers have emergencies sometimes. Yeah. And then also set the expectation of what an emergency is. Ooh, fantastic. Right? Because we all have-- Boundaries. Yes, boundaries are good, and we all have different understandings of what emergencies are. Like to me, emergencies never happen, and to some people, emergencies are happening all the time. So give people like, "If this happens, text me. "If this happens, text me. "Otherwise, I'll get back to you on Wednesday." Fantastic. "Or Thursday." I love that. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. You're welcome. And guys, that's how you get crap done. I keep wanting to say bad words. I'm so sorry. Yes? (audience laughs) Christine, I know you have a big team, so maybe you don't run into this, but where does checking your email fall in that? (laughing) 'Cause I get in the trap of like I have a plan for my week, and then I open my email on my first day of the week, and it's just all these other priorities. Yes! So I will say, I am not perfect. Okay? And I am not only doing these things when I say that I'm doing those things. But that's the time when I will work through on a project, and then I'll check my email, or and then I'll do some social media. That all said, when I'm doing my daily planner, what I end up doing is the very first, what you're not seeing in this schedule, the first half an hour, 45 minutes, of every day, I check email, I check social, and I check in with our community. So I look to see are there any questions that came in last night that haven't been answered? Is there anybody that needs something? Do I have something to say? And so I check in there during that time, and that's sort of my dedicated time every morning. What happens is there's always a partial hour between working out and drinking coffee and actually needing to get started on things, so I generally have a 9:00 start time, so when I sit down at 8:15 I'm like, "Oh, great, it's only 8:15." then I take that 45 minutes, check email, check the community, check social. And my team is bigger than a lot of people's but it's not big. I mean, mostly, we're five to six people, there's only one full timer, so it's not that big. The other thing is email doesn't come to me. So while I have an email address, it's not public anywhere. I have to give it. I think that's what I meant. Yeah. As a one person business you get everything. Yeah, exactly. And so, you know, triage is really important, Knowing how you're gonna triage. And then also, just don't leave your gmail open, or your whatever it is open all day. And again, I'm not perfect, I leave my gmail open all day most days. I'm sorry, it's true. But also I don't get scores and scores of email. I don't get customer service emails. That all goes to that part of the team. That's handled. It's better that way. You don't want me answering customer service emails, 'cause I just won't. Not because I don't care, but because there's other things. So, yeah, so that's-- have those kind of expectations. Know what the triage situation is. So again, you know what's an emergency, what's not. Yeah, so that's how I would approach that, for sure. Other questions? Yeah? So before, when it was just you-- Yes? How did you manage this sort of schedule with any lack of discipline that you may have had? So what was kind of like a self check-- Look at me, I am a lack of discipline. (laughter) So this schedule is new for me. Okay. Within the last, I think it's been four or five months now-- Mm-hmm. I will never go back to having a different kind of schedule. It is the most magical thing that has ever happened, Mm-hmm. Maybe not quite (laughs), but it's pretty magical. I also have not only been me for at least seven years. Oh. So one of the very first things I did was offload customer service to somebody else. Because the thing is, so I really care about my customers, which is why they shouldn't be emailing me. (laughs) Right? 'Cause I think some people think, "Oh, but I care so much about my customers, "and so I can't block that off, "I have to be the one that answers it." No. If you really care about your customers, you will give that job to somebody else as soon as you can because they will take better care of them than you. You have other things to spend your time on. The things that your customers pay you for is the things that you should be spending your time on, not answering customer service emails. So that is, I mean, that was one of my top priorities Okay. Was getting that off of my plate. Okay. And so it's been like that for a long time. Okay. Thank you. Yeah. (laughs) Two internet questions, excellent. (laughs) Ah! Great question from Leah. She says, "Any advice for mentally "regrouping when you don't achieve your goal?" So much advice on this. (laughter) First of all, get used to not achieving your goals. That's gonna sound really strange in a goal setting class, right? But did we talk about setting realistic goals at any point today? No. In fact I told you if you weren't scared of your goal it probably wasn't big enough. In fact I think I said it definitely wasn't big enough. And the reason for that is because I think setting realistic goals, goals that are enough, goals that help you get by, is a recipe for failure, Not just not reaching your goal. When you set a realistic goal, when you set a goal of just enough, any amount that you fall short is debilitating. It literally limits your ability to move forward. But when you set a big enough goal that you radically change your action, that you're doing whatever it takes to get those clients on board, or to get that product out the door, the falling short is so much better than you would have otherwise achieved, you don't have to be disappointed that you didn't hit your goal. The point isn't to hit your goal, strangely enough, the point is to change your behavior. The point is to move forward in your business. So that's the first piece of advice is recasting what it means to hit or not hit your goal. Your goal isn't the point, the action is the point. The changes are the points. Structuring your business in a smart way is the point. So that's the first piece of the puzzle. Yeah, and then really, to kind of come back to where I started, better understanding what not hitting your goal means also means that when you don't hit your goal, you have more information. And again, information is always the goal. If you hit your goal, and especially if you hit a really easy goal. Like if you're making it easy so that you know you're gonna hit that goal, you don't actually gather as much information. And part of what we do, part of what entrepreneurship is, is it's a learning process. Eric Ries talks about this in "The Lean Startup", about how the actual process of starting up a business is a feedback loop of experimentation, learning, and feedback. That might not actually be the actual three things, but it is this cycle of constantly learning. And so if you're always hitting your goals because you're not pushing yourself very hard, you're not learning all of the information that you could be, which means that you're not able to direct your business the way you could be. Make sense? (audience agrees) The last piece of advice that I will give is not really advice, but something to remember. And my friend, Tanya Geisler, who is an expert in the imposter complex, and in helping people, you know, excel past those gremlins that are in your head. We were talking about this last night at the meet up that we hosted here. You know, when we don't reach our goals, we have a habit, or we have a-- the possibility of saying, "Well, "if I didn't reach this goal, "then what's the point of choosing a new one?" And Tanya is very quick to remind everyone that just because you haven't met your goals in the past, doesn't mean you're not worthy of new goals. You are always worthy of a new goal. And in fact, I would challenge you if you've had a history of struggling to reach your goals, if you've had a history of not reaching goals, that the answer to that is not to contract, and set smaller goals, the answer is actually to reach further and set bigger goals, so that you are radically changing your action. So that you are forced to create creative plans. And so that you're forced to change the way your organization, whether it's you, or whether it's a team, is actually made up. So you're forced to change your business. So hopefully Leah, that's helpful. I'd love to hear-- How about you guys? What do you guys do when you don't hit your goals? How do you deal with that? Megan? Something I do that, and you kind of alluded to it earlier, and I probably just learned it from you years ago. (laughs) But every time it's like, what worked? What didn't work? And what did I learn that I want to apply next time? That's my go-to. Yeah. One of the things that I realized I couldn't fit in to this class was pre-morteming. Yeah. But what you're talking about is post-morteming. Every time-- whether you hit the goal or not, you should be analyzing what worked and what didn't work. What did you learn? And using, realizing again, that the goal here is learning. The goal isn't actually to hit your goal. That's what entrepreneurship is all about. Yeah? So along with that, I try to ask for help. Yes. So I actually do try to reach out to someone to go through it with me. Yeah! So that I can kind of get that feedback. Because there's always something beneficial that I won't see in that place. Yes, absolutely. How many of you guys are in mastermind groups? Yeah, oh! I love this group! That was most of you! Okay, awesome, yes! Whether it's a business bestie, as my friends Kathleen and Emily, from Being Boss would say, or whether it's a mastermind group, or whether it's just, you know, a good friend who you trust to think creatively, and analytically about what did work and what didn't work, I completely agree, talk to other people. 'Cause especially when you don't hit your goal, it's really easy to isolate yourself. It's really easy to feel ashamed that you did the work, and it still didn't happen, but that's not the time to isolate yourself, it's really the time to reach out. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for that. So helpful. Do we have a second question? How can one have days dedicated to work and days dedicated to a young family? Yeah. So this again comes down to choice, right? Maybe your week isn't divided by calls and writing time the way mine is, maybe yours is divided into family time, and business time. I also think, you know, setting up a real schedule. I predominately work nine to five, Monday through Friday. I'm not gonna say that sometimes I don't get the computer out in the evenings. And certainly on weekends where it's just me ans Shawn, yeah, there will be times when, you know, he wakes up really late and so I'll bang out a couple emails in the morning, or I'll get started on a project on a Saturday morning, but mostly I work a schedule. And so I think often, when you're building a business, and balancing that with having a young family, the tendency is to let them all bleed together. And I really do believe that setting a schedule for yourself, knowing when you're working, and when you're being a mom, or a dad, or whatever your role is in the family, that having that schedule is really important. I think again, it helps with that effectiveness. You know, we talk about being multi-taskers, and especially as moms, you know, moms have this real reputation for being multi-taskers, and I think that harms us both in terms of family and business. We're actually not that great at multi-tasking. We've learned how to do it because we have to, but the more we can create dedicated time, and that might mean that in terms of your resources, you need to think about child care, or that you need to think about asking a friend for help. You know, maybe if you've got another entrepreneur friend in the neighborhood, if you're very lucky, you can swap days, right? Because I think two days of dedicated work is better than five of non-dedicated work. And I think that if you do that you will very quickly agree with me. All right. So that's how I would tackle that.

Class Description

So you launched a business and made the leap. 

Congratulations! But now you are a year or longer into being a business owner and you are HUNGRY for more. 

You have put in the hard work to build your business to where it is today but big decisions about what to focus on and what opportunities to pursue, threaten to slow your progress. 

You want to make the right decisions for your business and your customers so you can feel confident, focused, and accomplished as a small business owner. 

Goal-setting & Planning To Grow Your Standout Business helps you make the right decisions about your ideas, opportunities, and plans so you can earn more money and save time on the path to your dream. 

Whether you’re offering a service, selling online programs, or designing a product, Tara guides you step-by-step through setting the goals and creating the plans that will grow your business. 

By the end of the class, you’ll have a framework for knowing: 

  • What to focus on to grow your business without working harder 
  • How to know which project comes first so you’re never backtracking 
  • How to know you’re making the right decisions for your business so you can achieve your vision 
  • How to set goals you can actually achieve with the resources you currently have 

Tara is a bestselling CreativeLive instructor, with a wide variety of business classes including the first step for entrepreneurs, Build a Standout Business. She is the founder of CoCommercial, the business association for digital small business owners and the author of the book Quiet Power Strategy. Tara’s work has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., and Design*Sponge. Her podcast, “Profit. Power. Pursuit.” was named one of the top women-hosted podcasts for entrepreneurs by Entrepreneur magazine. 

By the end of this class, you will have a clear vision of what you are building, a clear path to build it, and a project plan to take you closer to turning your vision into reality.  


Donna Herbster

Packed with truly helpful info and lots of actionable steps, Tara delivers an amazing amount of value in this class! I'm in the early stages of business development and what I have learned here has shifted my focus, brought me greater clarity and a list of things to consider as I plan what, when and how I will deliver an exceptional experience to my clients. I have followed Tara's work from the beginning and she continues to outdo herself time and time again...she is a powerhouse of wisdom and experience, as well as a fun and easy to follow speaker! I highly recommend this class.

Winn Clark

Excellent class and maybe the best online class I've ever taken. It's a great combination of practical and dream big and Tara's credible and funny. I can't wait to go back, listen again and dive deeper into the assignments. I'd recommend this class to anyone who wants to grow their business!

Deb Fels

To Tara and CreativeLIVE: Thanks for your commitment to small business owners. You offer empowering mentorship with smarts, heart, and power - I'm grateful. Tara, I've sought the matching resources for my business as I've evolved, this AMAZING course truly rang my bell. Thanks for the traction, your willingness to keep growing forward, and not settling for less!