AMY PORTERFIELD: Hi there, Amy Porterfield here. Welcome to another episode of The Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. Thanks, so much, for tuning in. Today I want to talk about a real breaking point for me and how I changed the way I create content forever.
But first I have to tell you how I got there. Let me set the stage. In October of each year my business partner, Devin Duncan, and I create our entire content creation/ promotion calendar for the coming year. You might have even seen me post it on social media over the past few years. It’s a big calendar and I write it all down.
I write down when we are going to promote, when we’re going to create something new, and all of my affiliate promotions. Everything gets put on the calendar. When we did it in October 2015 for the 2016 calendar year I think I was a bit overzealous and I wanted to share this with you because I think it’s such an easy trap to get into.
It’s easy to get excited about all of the opportunities on the horizon and when you love the work you do it’s also easy to think you can get all of it done faster than humanly possible. Can I get an amen?
I think so many of you can relate to thinking we can do so much in such a short period of time because we’re so excited about everything that’s coming at us. Yes? Maybe it’s just me but hopefully you can relate. Here’s what happened: When Devin and I sat down in October 2015 we decide we were going to launch List Builder’s Lab in January and then I would focus on updating my Facebook Jumpstart program because it was getting outdated and then I would go into the B-School promotion for all of February. It takes up a lot of focus.
While I am working on B-School I decided to also create the content for my brand new program about how to create online courses. I was going to do both at the same time. Then I would move right into only focusing on the program about creating courses.
Even just saying all of that, because that’s just Quarter One, makes my heart beat faster as I’m talking to you about it. I mean, it’s a lot of stuff. The good news is that List Builder’s Lab did launch. We put it into automation right from the get go, which was the plan. So it’s running with an automated webinar.
I did update my Facebook Jumpstart program and we just finished the B-School launch with amazing success. So, a huge shout out to all of my lovely B-School bonus members. I am really, truly loving getting to know all of you. That was a lot of fun.
Now I am deep into the content creation for my course about courses. But one thing that’s important to me is that I don’t rush or force my content creation ever. I was starting to feel rushed for the courses course. I was starting to feel like I was behind the ball and with everything else going on (List Builder’s Lab, updating Jumpstart, and my B-School promotion) and everything else that comes along with running a business (all the stuff we don’t talk about but still gets our attention like social media, email, managing your team) I started to question what I had done.
I created a really chaotic first quarter. I didn’t mean to but that’s what happened. As you can see, the first quarter was a little bit crazy. Specifically, I started to feel really scattered as if it was all just too much. I realized I was jumping from one thing to another and everything but time to create content was dictating how I was spending my day.
That’s when I realized, “Holy cow! We’ve got a problem here and something needs to change.” So, what happened was my time management got messy. This happens when you’re building a business. That’s why I wanted to be transparent with you and share this because I don’t think I’m alone in what happened this first quarter of 2016.
So things are trucking along for you, they’re going really well. You’re feeling good. And then maybe you get a little bit cocky with how well things are going. Or maybe you get a little lackadaisical with your time management habits (they kind of go out the window) and all of the sudden you feel totally scattered and overwhelmed. At least that’s what happened to me.
So, what I needed to do was recorrect. I needed to step back and say, “Okay, this isn’t working.” I’ve been in business for many years now and have created a lot of amazing things with great success. And I still have messy moments in my business where I need to step back and say, “Whoa, that got a little out of hand. I need to correct this issue.” That’s what this episode is all about.
I knew some things needed to change and here’s exactly what I needed to change:
- How I spent my day, the specific hour-by-hour how to change;
- How I communicated with my team;
- When I booked my meetings;
- How I planned out my entire week,
- How I organize my thoughts around what I was going to work on.
All of that needed to change. After realizing this, I called my partner, Devin, and said, “We need to talk about this. I’m feeling super overwhelmed and I need some help because my biggest concern is that I’m not finding enough pockets of time to create content.”
With a big program launching in May I needed to make sure I had those pockets of time and that’s when this became a real red flag for me. I don’t know about you, but with me I get to a point that it’s painful. I see what’s happening and know it is going to get really bad. I’m not going to meet my deadlines and that’s when I kind of come to a screeching halt and ask for help.
I probably should have asked for help a little bit sooner. But that’s what happened. I got on the phone with Devin and he was super supportive. Together we started to move some things around on the calendar and to take some tasks off my plate to lighten the load. We also talked a bit about how to restructure my day so that I really could find those pockets of time.
It was helpful to get on the phone with Devin but one thing that’s important to note is that he is a systems guy. He is a true techy as well. He does not have a lot of experience creating and writing content. The guy can create the most amazing funnel inside of Infusionsoft in minutes, something I can never do, but he never really sits down and creates content for a course.
Although he wanted to help me he didn’t really have the expertise to help me figure out how to get out of the content creation overwhelm or fear that was happening, which really was prohibiting me to find the time to create content. It just felt like a weird vicious cycle I couldn’t get out of.
When I got off the phone with Devin I was grateful for his support but I still felt totally overwhelmed. I just couldn’t put my finger on it but something did not feel right. Even after reworking my calendar and eliminating some tasks. A few minutes later a little message popped up on Skype for me.
The message said, “Do you got five minutes to chat?”
That message was from Melanie Duncan, Devin’s wife. Instantly I thought she must have heard our conversation and hopefully she is calling to help. That’s exactly what she did. You probably already know all about Melanie Duncan. If you follow my podcast, she was in Episode #87 where we talked about creating a dream team inside of your business.
Melanie is really good at systems and processes and managing her time. So when I saw that note pop up on Skype I thought it could be good so we got on a quick chat. She instantly helped me out in terms of how to change the overwhelm into something really productive that I could feel good about.
I wanted to share with you some of the insights and tips she shared with me and then tell you how I applied them into my business. Then I want to give you a framework to create your own content creation time. I’m going to make this really actionable for you.
Melanie has a lot of experience with creating content because we have very similar businesses in that we’ve created online training programs for our students. We’re constantly creating content, mine for my podcast and her for her blog and inside of our programs. We have really similar businesses so she got it. She knew where I was struggling.
She pointed out that it’s important that you free up space in your mind to work on your content. You have to give yourself the time and space to let the content have time to flow out of you. If you’re only finding tiny, usually interrupted bursts of time to create content, you’re never really going to get into that flow to find your groove. You know how that works. You know when you’re in your groove with creating content and it really starts to flow out of you?
When we are trying to squeeze in content creation in little tiny periods of time it tends not to start to flow. That’s one thing she pointed out to me. She says, “As content creators we need breathing room.”
We need to make sure we are not totally stacked in terms of doing this and that and this and that up until 10 o’clock at night and then start it all over again the next morning and think that you’re going to have that creativity and inspiration in you to want to create. You’ve got to create breathing room in your schedule and I’m going to show you how I did that.
She also suggested that to make this really actionable I needed to clear my mornings and declare that time for content creation. By clearing my mornings she said there should be no checking email (not at all – not even for a quick minute before I start creating content). In the morning I am not checking email. She said no talking with your team at all.
That was a little bit tough to hear but she said not to communicate with my team. No social media. I couldn’t jump into my private Facebook groups to answer questions and all of that. She said, “Until noon, you are just creating content.”
When I first heard that I thought, “Lady, you are crazy.” My team can’t function without me and I need to check email. What if there is an emergency? I had all of these excuses right away as she was talking to me.
But I also know that Melanie always seems less stressed than me and I take cues from stuff like that. I thought, “I kind of want what that girl has so I’m going to listen up and I’m going to really take to heart what she is saying.”
You have heard it before, I’m not telling you anything new. Productive people always say you don’t just roll out of bed and check your email. But Melanie is saying not only to not roll out of bed and look at your email, which is what I was doing, but don’t even look at it until noon. That’s kind of crazy, right?
Looking back at my mornings, they have been crazy. They have been dictated by talking to my team and getting some stuff done that my team asked me to do. They have been dictated by checking my email and social media. Holy cow! There’s a rabbit hole you could run down and stay down for hours and hours, right? How I was spending my mornings was a mess, to be quite honest.
They didn’t always look like that. At one point I was spending more time in the morning creating content and then, like I said, things got so busy they just got messy and I lost all of those good habits. So I am kind of coming back to it.
She also suggested that I read for at least ten minutes, maybe a little more, every single morning. She said, “Amy, if you’re creating content, you need to be pulling inspiration in at all times.” That might mean reading a magazine or, for both Melanie and I, it’s usually a business book or listening to a podcast. You have to fuel your mind and you want to get new ideas and inspiration.
It is so funny, sometimes when I’m listening to somebody else’s podcast or reading a business book I get an idea that actually has nothing to do with what I’m reading. Something just comes to me instantly. It’s those quiet moments that you truly need.
I think meditation is another great thing I could probably add to the mix that I haven’t yet. But that’s another thing to kind of get you inspired. Fueling the brain has to become part of your content creation ritual so that you can really feel inspired.
When I got off the phone with Melanie I just felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. First of all, she really got it and it’s really nice to hear from somebody else that understands how difficult it is sometimes to create content, especially when you’re creating online training courses.
I want to create my program to teach you how to create online training courses because I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. One thing I know really well is that it’s not easy to create content. But when you have a strategy and a system behind it, it definitely becomes a whole lot more manageable and enjoyable.
When you’re talking to somebody who gets it, they get that you need that breathing space, they get that you can’t be working 15 hours a day and expect to create amazing content. When you’re overwhelmed, stressed, pulled in a million directions your content is one of the first things that’s going to suffer. I think that’s what I was afraid of. I hadn’t gotten there yet but that’s what I was afraid of.
So, when she told me to clear my mornings because I was going to do things differently I knew I was going to listen because I was in enough pain that something had to change. So let me share with you how I now manage my mornings. It’s kind of been a huge change for me.
It’s only actually been about a month so just know this is new to me. But it was so profound that I know this is exactly how I should be working but I am comfortable sharing it with you because it’s worked so well. Everything seems clear and, quite honestly, more enjoyable in my business. Let me map it out for you.
The first thing, I usually get up around 6 a.m. But from 6 until 8 a.m. I am either working out or spending a little time with my husband, if he is up in the early morning with me; and I’m getting Cade, my son, to school. Between 6 and 8 a.m. that is usually family time. We’re running around the house getting everything done and taking care of Gus, my dog, whatever it might be.
That’s basically what’s happening in the morning. Probably three to four times during the week I’ll get a workout in as well. But then come 8 o’clock that’s when I change gears and become totally focused on content creation. From 8 until noon it’s all about content, nothing more and nothing less.
Then at noon I have a standing meeting with my project manager for 20 minutes and then I have a standing meeting with Trivinia, my assistant. We do a quick chat and then from there, if I have any other meetings, they will come right after that. I do a chunk of meetings because, quite honestly, I hate meetings.
I have noticed that if I do quick check ins Monday through Friday with my team they are so much more productive. They aren’t waiting on me for answers or for me to make decisions or anything like that. These quick little check ins have been amazing for me because I don’t feel overloaded by their questions all at once on a Wednesday or whenever they finally get fed up and need answers from me.
They also feel they can keep moving forward everyday. They are more organized and I don’t feel so overwhelmed with them needing some direction or feedback or whatever it is from me. So we do those daily check ins now.
After that I spend time in my private Facebook groups. That takes up a big chunk of my time, I am in my Webinars That Convert group and my List Builder’s Lab group and my B-School group about two hours a day. There are places I need to be inside private Facebook groups to support people so I spend the afternoon doing that.
I check email, and following up on random things that need my attention until about 5 o’clock. Sometimes that spills over until 6. I want to point out that I’m not perfect at this, nor do you need to be. But having a schedule like this has allowed me to really stay in touch with what matters most in my business. I do my very best with the schedule I’m talking to you about.
When I worked for Tony Robbins he used to say that if there is an area of your life that isn’t working for you, any area of you life, take a good look at the rituals that are supporting that area of your life because it’s very likely there are actions you are taking consistently that are holding you back. It’s not necessarily the good stuff you’re doing but there are also bad habits that we are doing that could be holding us back.
If you’re struggling with finding time to create content, look at how you’re managing your day. That is likely going to be a big light bulb moment for you. At least it was for me.
To make this really actionable for you, I want to take you behind the scenes and kind of give you a really good understanding of what this content creation time looks like for me. The first thing I do, on Sunday night I plan out my entire week, especially in terms of what type of content I’m going to work on.
I might have to do a podcast or it might be that I’m creating content for one of my courses or it might be that I’m creating a presentation. I’m speaking at Social Media Marketing World this year so I’ve got to put that presentation together. It might be a mix of all three of those in one week. But let me promise you, there is never a time when I’m working on all three on one day.
I really try to stay away from the context switching and just say, “Today it’s the Social Media Marketing World presentation, tomorrow it’s two podcasts, the next day it’s my courses course.” Whatever it might be, I plan it out on Sunday night.
When I wake up on Monday morning I know what my entire week looks like. I put it in a planner and I’ll talk to you about that in a moment. I put in the planner when I’m going to have meetings and when I need to pick up Cade from lacrosse practice and all of the things that life brings our way. I have it all planned out on Sunday night.
For you, if you don’t love that idea, you can do it Friday before you end your workday on Friday. But there’s got to be either a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or something like that before Monday…I wouldn’t do it Monday morning because then you’re always feeling already behind. Do it before Monday morning hits.
The second thing, I use something called a planner pad. I was a little bit embarrassed to admit this because it is so old school. I used to use it during my Tony Robbins days in corporate. Then I put it aside when I started my own business. Just recently, someone in my B-School group had mentioned it and I thought that I had forgotten all about the planner pad.
I ordered another one and I use it every single day. Without getting into too many details, I like a planner pad because it is broken into three chunks. The top chunk are categories you are working on. For me it might mean content for my courses course, bonuses for my B-School group, an update to the webinars course. Those are different categories inside my business of what I’m working on.
The next chunk in the planner pad is taking all of the different tasks inside the categories and deciding what days you are going to work on them. The third chunk is actually putting them into time slots. It is big picture, categories; when you are going to work on each task; and then, specifically, the time you are going to work on each task. I love chunking content that way. That’s why a planner pad works for me.
You can do whatever works for you but you do need somewhere, whether it be digital or in a notebook, that you are planning out your entire week. Again, what I’m doing is actually chunking out my time based on the different topics I want to work on as it pertains to content creation. Again, from 8 until noon is my content time and I call it Tiger Time.
You can steal that from me if you want because it’s my favorite term right now, Tiger Time. We call it that inside my own business because I have to be fiercely protective of that time. If my team member comes to me and says, “We really need to do an interview with you and so and so, can we put it at 10?”
No! We can’t put it there. I might not even know what I’m working on at 10 a.m. on the date they want to put that interview but that’s not when I do interviews. I need to do it after noon. Or, if something comes up in terms of an opportunity to do something in my business that sounds really fun and I’m excited about it and I want to do it I’m not going to schedule it from 8 until noon.
That’s really, really tough. But I have noticed when I give an inch I take a mile. I am off to the races. If I say, “Okay, I’ll throw an interview in there,” sooner or later I’m also throwing in something else and something else. It becomes snowballed. Instead, I need to just say, “No.” I’m fiercely protective from 8 until noon. Nothing else happens but my time alone creating content…Tiger Time.
During my four hours of Tiger Time, I also make sure I set up the space to be productive. Here is what I do, and you can take and leave what you want: If I am on my computer I have to actually turn off email and I have to turn off Slack.
Slack is my instant messaging with my team. Before I was Slacking all morning and all night. Literally, it could start at 6 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. No joke. We would communicate as a team at all hours of the day. I had to stop that. I told my team 1) I’m not on Slack until noon and 2) I’m getting off Slack at 6 p.m. and I want them to do the same.
What kind of leader am I if I’m Slacking my team at 10 p.m. and they feel like they are tethered to their computer at all times? I made some boundaries around that. But, especially during Tiger Time, there is no Slack whatsoever.
I turn off Wi-Fi. I can’t even have the internet on. If I have to do some research, of course, I put it back on. But if I’m just writing the internet comes off. I also put a notebook next to my computer. I do that because, especially in the beginning when you start to create your own Tiger Time, you are going to have a million things run through your head. You will think, “Shoot, I forgot to call so and so,” or you remember you need to do this and that or you didn’t pick up bread at the store and you have to make sandwiches tonight.
This is the stuff that comes out of my head when I’m trying to focus. So I just write it down. I have a little notebook and I just write it down really quick. That allows me to capture it and get back to what I’m working on. That’s helped a lot and over the last few weeks there has been less inside the notebook. I can quiet my mind just a little bit more during the content creation time.
I also close my door because my husband, and I have talked about this before, is a firefighter. He’s home 24 on and 24 off so he has full days that he is home. He loves to come up and chat and have random conversations. He must get lonely or something, poor guy. He loves to just pop in and chat.
Quite honestly, I love it too. I could talk to that guy all day long. But that totally throws me off so he knows if the door is closed in the morning it is usually Tiger Time and I can’t be interrupted. Of course I’m not sitting at my computer pounding away for four hours. I take little breaks.
I will go downstairs for 15 minutes, talk to Hobie and give him a little snuggle, and make sure I check in. Then I’ll come back up and get back at it. I’m not just saying you have to lock yourself up. But you do need to make sure the people in your house, or wherever you are, know that Tiger Time means you can’t be interrupted and you’ll come out of the cave when the time is right.
I recently saw a video where Marie Forleo was talking about some of these same themes and topics about being really deliberate with your content creation time. She called it going into the “creative cave.” I’m thinking, okay, creative cave, Tiger Time, I think we’re onto some kind of theme. You get it, right?
All of this is incredibly powerful and it’s one thing for me to share it with you and tell you what my Tiger Time looks like and what I do to make sure it happens then tell you why I’m so fiercely protective of it – because it’s literally changed how I do my work every single day; but, I want you to experience it as well. So, I created a freebie called The Tiger Time Ritual Worksheet.
The Tiger Time Ritual Worksheet is for you to figure out what you need to create in terms of your unique situation and your time constraints to create something that is all yours that you will feel fiercely protective of and really excited in terms of having your own little chunk of time to create content.
I want you to grab this freebie at http://www.amyporterfield.com/102download or text the phrase 102download to 33444 and you can grab the worksheet and create your own Tiger Time. I’m telling you, it’s life changing so I hope you’ll do this.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to share with you three layers of what’s happening inside your Tiger Time so that when you get this worksheet and start to apply it to your own experiences I want you to think of three different layers inside one Tiger Time chunk.
The first layer is content absorption. What I mean by that, I already mentioned that I want you to spend a little time reading or listening to a podcast. It could be a business book, it could be some magazines, it could be whatever it is that’s going to fuel your brain. But you do need to be really bringing in some new ideas and new inspiration; even if it’s just for ten minutes, if you can make it 20 minutes it is even better. That’s one layer of your Tiger time.
The second layer, for me, is content brainstorm. This might work well for you. Let me give you an example: For my podcast, how I start these out is to open a Google.doc and riff on an idea. I’m basically dumping every thought I have around one specific idea into a Google.doc. It might not have a good flow yet and it might not be really well rounded yet. But I want to get the ideas out on paper.
Then I can have my team help me smooth it out and come up with new ideas and fill in some of the holes. But I’ve got to get it started. That’s what I do in terms of content brainstorm inside my Tiger Time.
The third thing is content creation. This is where I might switch into actually creating the slide decks for my new course on creating courses. I actually get into the slide decks. I’m building them out. I’m putting the flow together. I do all of the content creation myself for my courses so it takes me a long time. I need chunks of time every single day to reach my deadlines to get this course created. So that’s another time I would spend time inside of Tiger Time.
I just like to say, Tiger Time so I might just say it ten more times for you because it’s so dang fun, right? I hope you agree.
I tell you all of this to really inspire you to create your own time to create content. But I want to remind you one more time that I am not perfect at all of this. Sometimes I get started a little later than planned. Sometimes it’s really hard to stay focused on the content I’m working on because my mind is racing with a bunch of things. Sometimes I have to hold myself back from checking email as if it’s a drug or something; I’m on crack and it’s called email.
With that, there are moments I just have to take a deep breath or walk outside to clear my head because staying focused for four hours is really, really tough for me. Even when I take little breaks it’s still tough because I think I should be calling my team or I wonder what they are doing. What if they have a question for me? Like I’m all that important, right? I know I’m not but my head sometimes tells me I am.
I feel I am needed in other places where I really have to tell myself, “Nope! Right now this is exactly where you need to be.” Just know that if you do this it could be really tough in the beginning but it definitely gets easier. It has gotten easier over the last month, for sure.
I’m going to give you five quick takeaways to make this your own, to make it really actionable, and then, of course, you’re going to download the worksheet so you can go through a few key decisions you need to make to create your own Tiger Time:
Be Clear on Your Outcome
For me it’s time to create content for my courses and for my podcast and possibly sometimes for presentations I’m going to do. I’m pretty clear as to what kind of content I want to create and Sunday night I get really, really clear for the coming week. I want you to get clear on your outcomes before you get started for the week.
Make the Commitment
Here it helps to remember your “why”. Think about the purpose behind this time. It’s for you. It’s to clear your mind. It’s to give you the space to create content that could change the lives of your students. It’s important stuff. I know not every business is like mine but if you business is similar to mine, content is the backbone of what you do.
If I didn’t create content I wouldn’t have my courses. If I didn’t create courses I wouldn’t have these amazing students that I have that are reliant on me to help them build their businesses. I have to remember the why and that helps me stay really fiercely protective of the time I’ve created.
Set The Time
Here’s the point where I am going to tell you, you might not have four hours. This whole time you might be thinking, “Oh lucky you Amy, you’ve got four hours every day to create content.” I am very lucky. I do know that. I’ve created this business to allow me that time. My team has supported me so much lately that I have that time.
A year ago or two years ago I never would have had four hours to create content. It might just be one hour a day. But imagine if that’s where you’re starting, with one hour a day, imagine what you can get done in terms of content creation if you had a full one hour with totally no interruptions all focused on getting the content done. Most of us aren’t even doing that right now. It might be 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there.
You choose the time that works for you and then get in your calendar and block it off. That’s where you become fiercely protective of those time blocks.
Decide on Your Rituals
That’s what the Tiger Time Ritual Worksheet is going to help you do. You are going to make some decisions like when you are going to have this time. But you are also going to decide what it’s going to look like in terms of whether you need a notebook standing by, do you need to shut off Wi-Fi, do you need to put a note on the door, do you need to talk to your team?
I’m going to help you make some of those decisions so you can just check them off and make sure you are set up to win every time.
Keep it Sacred
Nothing should change this time. Honor this time you have set for yourself with no interruptions. That’s probably the toughest but I also look at it as if I am honoring myself in terms of what I need right now. I don’t want to feel scattered and pulled in a million directions. I also want to create something pretty amazing for you when I put out my next course.
I’ve got to keep that time sacred with me and everything that’s going on around me. It just basically has to be no matter what. Do your best at that. I know you’re not going to be perfect. Just do your best.
Remember, I created a freebie. Again, it’s called Tiger Time Ritual Worksheet. I’m going to help you make some quick decisions so that you can find the time and different rituals you need in order to make this all work for you.
Go to http://www.amyporterfield.com/102download to grab it right away. Or, you can text the phrase 102download to 33444 and you can grab the worksheet.
Thank you so very much for being with me here today. I know it was a lot but I also think this could really change things for you. You deserve it. You deserve not to be overwhelmed and scattered and your audience deserves some amazing content. The way you get there is to plan the time and not let anything take you away from that special time that you are creating some amazing content.
I want to hear from you so jump on social media, let me know if you’ve created your Tiger Time, get in your calendar, make it work for you, and I cannot wait to hear about all of your big ah-ha moments when you start to put it into place. Good luck in all you do and thank you so very much for being with me.
I can’t wait to connect with you again next week. Bye for now.