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Well, hey, there. Welcome back to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. I’m your host, Amy Porterfield, and as always, I am thrilled that you’re joining in today.
So, I’ve been noticing a theme going on lately with my own podcast, and that is this idea of less is more. And I typically teach what I know or what I’m going through, and I’ve been paying a lot attention to the amount of time that I’m putting into my work. And truth be told, I typically go in seasons, and I’ve been in a very busy season. Season one, or quarter one, I should say, of 2019 has been a very busy season for me, and when it’s a very busy season, I need to look at everything going on, and I need to reevaluate or recalibrate to make sure that that season doesn’t continue on throughout the entire year. I’m fine with busy seasons but only if there’s also more slower, easygoing seasons in the year as well. So, I look at my business as just different seasons that are happening, and I'm looking forward to one that is slowing down just a bit.
But in my entrepreneurial mind, slowing down, if I'm being really honest, also means making less money, making less of an impact, not being as relevant. I know that's not true, but my primal brain goes right there, like, “Oh, Amy, if you slow down, if you don't work these hours, if you don't do enough, you won't hit your big goals.” And you all know, because I've said in a former episode, my goal is to have a ten-million-dollar year and also put into the universe some really big new projects, one being Digital Course Academy®️—check, got that out into the world—but there's a few others brewing this year. So I've got a lot of things to do. So slowing down sometimes scares me.
So, there you have it. I said it, although I'm not going to let that dictate how I spend my time. I firmly believe deep down in my core that I can do less and make more, make a bigger impact, and make more revenue. I believe that in my core. Now, I just have to show up that way.
And one of the ways that I'm doing that is that I am bringing guests onto the show and reading books and listening to podcasts that teach me how to do this, that show me the way. So, not long ago, we had Michael Hyatt on, talking about his new book, Free to Focus. Absolutely love it. And today, I've invited my very good friend Kate Northrup. She has a brand new book out called Do Less—I'll definitely link it up in the show notes. I highly recommend it—Do Less. And in it, she introduces her revolutionary approach to doing less to create space for what matters most.
If you're just getting started as an entrepreneur, this is a book that you must pick up because it's going to allow you to put really good habits into your life from the get go so that you don't get caught up in that hamster wheel of always going, going, going. If you're like me and you've been at it for a while, we can learn a different way. We can recharge, recalibrate. So this book is for you as well, even if you've been at it for a while but you just know you need a shift, you need to change things.
Now, I will tell you that the tagline of this book will make you think that it's just for moms. Why? Well, because it says so. The tagline is “A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms.” However, you'll hear Kate and I talk about the fact that this book is not just for busy moms, and even you guys will get a lot of value from it. So you'll hear all the details when we get into it.
So, we're going to dive into how to do less but make a bigger impact, make more money, and also, again, create space for the things that truly matter. Sounds like a good plan, right?
Okay, before we get there, my listener spotlight. This week’s shout out goes out to Lovemylife247, who left me a really nice review in iTunes. She said:
“I can’t believe this is free! Amy is the best business coach out there. She gives so many tangible tips and tools to implement into your business. Her podcast is so extremely helpful and highly recommended for anyone building a business! Thanks, Amy!”
Well, thank you, Lovemylife247. Every time I hear anybody that says, “I can’t believe this is free,” I know I’ve done my job. That’s, like, my mission, to give free valuable content that you think in your head, “Holy cow, I can’t believe this is free. I’d pay for it.” Like, my job is done. And so when I read that, I thought, “Ah, that just melts my heart.” Thank you so very much for being a loyal listener and for taking the time to give me a review. And I want to encourage all my listeners, please do jump on iTunes, give me a review if you love the podcast, leave a review if you want me to give you a shout out on the show.
Okay, before we dive in, a quick word about our sponsor for this episode. I've been getting a lot of requests to do an episode about LinkedIn because many of you have realized it's a powerful platform that will help you attract your ideal customers. So that episode is coming in the near future. As a precursor to that episode, let's talk about LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.
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So, here's the deal. If you want to redeem a free $100 LinkedIn ad credit and launch your first campaign on LinkedIn, go to linkedin.com/amy. That's linkedin.com/amy for your free $100 ad credit. Terms and conditions apply. So there you have it. I hope you'll take LinkedIn up on their very special offer, and then let me know what you think.
All right, guys. I won’t make you wait any longer. Let’s go ahead and jump into today’s episode.
Kate, thanks so much for being on the show. I am thrilled to have you here.
KATE NORTHRUP: Thank you for having me, Amy. I’m thrilled to be here.
AMY: It’s so exciting because we have been friends for so long now, and I am just excited to talk about everything we have planned for today. And my audience knows me. They know I’m a planner, so I am ready to dive into some really good topics to cover with you. But before we get there, I want you to tell my listeners a little bit about yourself and your business.
KATE: Awesome. So, I run a digital company with my husband, Mike. We live in Maine. And our primary focus is supporting entrepreneurs to light up the world without burning themselves out. So our philosophy has always been, make a life not just a living. And our focus is on quality of life just as much as quantity of list growth and income. And we have two little kids, and I'm an author. I’ve got two books. I have an online membership of about a thousand women, and various and sundry other things. That’s the basics.
AMY: Okay. I love this. Now, one of the things I love most about you— and I don't know if I've ever told you this—one, I love your laugh, but number two—I have told you that part—but number two, when I’m around you, I know you’re busy. You have two kids. You have a crazy life just like the rest of us. You have a lot going on. But you do have a sense about you that just kind of oozes ease. Like, you don’t make a big deal out of everything. You don’t have a lot of drama, circling around you. And you really do live on purpose and you’re intentional about the things you’re going to teach us. So, just for the record, I personally feel you truly do walk the talk, and that was one of the reasons why I was so excited to talk about this topic with you today.
KATE: Thank you, Amy. That means a lot to me.
AMY: Well, I truly mean it. Okay, so, here’s what we’re going to do. First, I’ve got to ask you, your last book you wrote was all about relationship with money. Now, I want you to tell me, why did you then decide to write this book all about doing less?
KATE: What a great question. So, it turns out—one might ask that—it turns out that whether we are dealing with the resource of money or whether we are dealing with the resource of time, the conversation internally is actually shockingly similar. And this did not become clear to me until after I wrote Do Less, because hindsight is 20/20. And I do feel like I am on this grander purpose, but I do follow my enthusiasm, I follow my curiosity.
And what happened after my money book came out, Money, A Love Story, it sold very well. It continues to sell very well, as does our signature course based on it. And also, I was not at that time feeling lit up to talk further about money, and I trusted that, even though it kind of felt awful, and I felt like I was a failure because I was like, “Well, once you publish a book on something, you're supposed to keep going on that topic.” And it didn't feel right to me. And I'm a big believer in the feeling of alignment and integrity with that. And also, my life was becoming much more internal, like, personal, personal stuff, with, like, getting married and having babies, and it was just like a different season of my life.
And then Do Less came out of my experience. getting pregnant for the first time and having the first experience of not being able to just push harder through exhaustion or a physical thing happening. And I cut my work hours in half, basically, overnight, unintentionally, because of my exhaustion. And then the first year of parenthood, we had a sick baby. She was waking up every 10 minutes sometimes. I had postpartum anxiety, postpartum insomnia. We only had 10 hours of childcare a week. It was quite a year. And then, also, though, we're business owners. I didn't have maternity leaves that someone was paying. Mike didn't have paternity leave. We don't have paid family leave in the United States. And so we needed to get the same results because we had to pay our team and we had to pay our rent and our medical bills. And so we sat one year after Penelope was born. We sat down, and we realized we had made the same amount of money working less than half the amount, with ______(12:27—way limited bandwidth). And so it was like, well, we're not that special; there must be something to this. And so that's where the book came out.
AMY: Ah, I love it. And it was just a natural rhythm with your life and what was going on. And, again, you’re so intentional about how you live your life and how you teach what you do and what you’ve experienced, and I feel like that is precisely what’s in this book.
So, tell me. There’s a tendency, especially in the entrepreneurial world, to wear our busyness as a badge of honor. I personally have to be very mindful of this. So, unfortunately, because of this, because there is that badge of honor, we’re hearing more and more about burnout and major health issues that often come from the stress of keeping really crazy-busy schedules. So, talk to me about what stress is doing to us. I’m even scared to hear it, but just talk to me about this.
KATE: Yes. So, the data is not good, I have to say. It's actually scary. The truth is that doing more is—so I just want to say one thing before I get into the data, to set the record straight. The forty-hour workweek, of which many entrepreneurs exceed—
AMY: Yes. I was going to say, “What is that?”
KATE: Right? —it was arbitrarily set by some guy during the industrial revolution, based on how machinery works. So I just want to say that we have all bought into this system that is not evidence based, and it's not results based. And what the data actually shows is different, which I'll get into in a minute, but that was just a teaser of what's to come.
So, basically, a fifty-five hour work week—so, I don't know how many hours you work and how many your listeners work, but I would imagine some are getting up to close to fifty-five hours or more—leads to a 33 percent increase in stroke, plus a 13 percent risk of coronary heart disease. And working only forty-nine hours a week, which isn't so crazy, is associated with really poor mental health, especially in women. And I know as entrepreneurs, our mental health is so key because the mental game, if it's not strong, things fall apart. And so just working more makes our mental health poorer, and so it's this diminishing rate of return on those hours put in.
AMY: Okay. So, that speaks to me. I'm with you here. And so tell me this: the subtitle of the book was “A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms,” but the principles and exercises in your book are really for everyone. Would you agree with that?
KATE: They are totally for everyone. But you know how marketing goes, right? They want you to be specific.
AMY: I love that we’re honest about that. It’s so true.
KATE: I _____(15:20) honest, like, does this book totally apply—there are a few times when I speak specifically to mothers, but there is nothing in this book that does not apply to everyone.
AMY: Okay, cool. But here's what I love. I want you to break down for us how men and women's productivity cycles differ, and how all of us can use this information to use our time and energy best, because we can't deny men and women are physically different, and there's some things that are going on with the ladies versus the gentlemen, and I just love how you talk about this in the book. So can you break down both for us?
KATE: Absolutely. So, men have a cyclical experience of their energy, based on their hormones, every twenty-four hours. Women have a cyclical experience of energy, based on our hormones, every twenty-eight days.
AMY: That sounds very different.
KATE: Very different. Now, this is why many of the challenges exist in our world, which is maybe a whole other episode.
AMY: Right. We might have to invite you back for that one.
KATE: It was just from a time perspective. Our world is set up for a twenty-four-hour repeated cycle, obviously. And so every time-management system out there, every productivity system, is assuming that our experience of life is the same today as it was yesterday. But for 50 percent of the population, that's not true. And so if you are female—I understand that your audience is both, but this is so helpful for men to know about the women in their lives, whether it's their partners, the women they work with—that our experience of life is not the same as it was yesterday, but it's incredibly predictable. So men cycle in these four different phases that perfectly mimic the four seasons, so we're all familiar with this, every twenty-four hours. Women cycle with these four phases that perfectly mimic the seasons every twenty-eight days. And so we both have the ability to get just as much done but in a slightly different organized way. Does that make sense?
AMY: Yes. Will you tell me these phases?
KATE: Yes. So the phases are—I mean, do you want me to tell you—like, how do you want me to break them down, because I can do this in so many ways. Do you want me to just tell you the season names, or do you want me to actually tell you the phases of a woman’s cycle, or not go into that detail?
AMY: No, do it, girl. I’m ready. Gentlemen, this could be really helpful for your female partners, your wives, your girlfriends, all of it. So, everyone pay attention here.
KATE: Yes, absolutely. So, the four phases of the menstrual cycle for a woman line up perfectly with the energy of the seasons. And I'll tell you what those energetic signatures are. So there is the wintertime of the cycle, which is the menstrual part. We're pretty familiar with that part. It's a lower energy time. But for women—this is so key to know—your brain is the most cross-connected at that time, between the left hemispheres and the right hemispheres. And you will get the best insights and ideas and intuitions during that time. So it's a great time to create space in your calendar for evaluation. Great time.
Then, the next phase is the follicular phase. It's the springtime. That's the week after your period. Your brain is wired for new beginnings, for brainstorming, and for planning and initiating. It's a new beginning, energetic time.
Then, the next phase is ovulation, and we're familiar with ovulation, if we're trying to get pregnant or trying not to get pregnant. But that phase is the time when your pheromones are the strongest, and you are actually the most magnetic. It's like the summertime of your cycle. You are the most verbally lucid, like, verbally fluent. It's a great time for presentations. It's a great time for batching video content, batching podcasts. It's like this feeling of being on fire at that time.
And then, the luteal phase is the ten days or so before your period starts, and that's the autumn of your cycle. So that's the turning-within time. Your brain is most wired for detail orientation at this time— crossing your t's, dotting your i’s. I have a client that I work with. She makes a luteal list of all the little nitty-gritty details that add up throughout the month, and during her luteal phase, she just knocks them out because she actually is energetically poised to do that.
AMY: Whoa. That’s getting pretty organized, when she can plan like that.
KATE: I know. It’s so awesome!
AMY: It really is. Okay, so, when you look at this—now, for the ladies, this happens over twenty-eight days. For the guys, you’re saying this could happen within a day.
KATE: It does. It’s a little bit nuanced, and what I recommend, even for what I just said for the ladies, you have to notice your own energetic levels. And so I recommend just tracking your energy levels over a ninety-day period and also over a twenty-four-hour period, so you can notice—like, we all know this. We know whether we’re a morning person. We know whether we’re a night owl. So that stuff is pretty obvious.
But men, typically, they have their testosterone surge between 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and that’s the time of their day that’s the best for focused activity. It’s the best, actually, for workouts. It’s the best for having sex. So that’s a lot to fit into a small window of time. And, obviously, our world doesn’t work that way, but it’s really good to know. Your highest-leverage activities, you want to schedule it when you feel the best during the day. This is fairly obvious, but how many of us are actually practicing that?
AMY: So very true. Okay, so, I’m glad we talked about this. I don’t know anything about this until I started to read your book, so I feel like it’s completely eye opening. And one thing it did is it kind of justified to me where I might have been struggling a little bit in terms of focus and really getting down to the details and where I feel a little bit messy in my head or I can't focus. And so this was really helpful.
And in your book, you talk about key focus time, and I was hoping that you could give us some data on our brains and the limitations we have on this whole idea of this key focus time.
KATE: Yeah. It’s so interesting. So, in the Harvard Business Review, they talked about that very few people can actually be in a state of high concentration on things that really move the needle forward, so things like creating a webinar slide deck or working on your freebie or doing a video script, for more than four or five hours a day total. So you really have, like, four to five hours a day for the good stuff. And then after that, we don't really have the focus. So it's kind of like you can do little admin tasks or kind of like bitsy-piecey stuff.
This is really interesting, and I have to say somewhat shocking. So David Rock, who wrote Your Brain at Work, found that we're truly focused on our work a mere six hours per week—
KATE: Yeah. —and that the average person focuses the best early in the morning or late at night. Now, of course, our traditional work schedule, that’s totally arbitrary and not based on the data, totally doesn’t support this, because no one’s at work early in the morning or late at night, unless you’re an entrepreneur, and so the good news is you kind of organize your own schedule.
AMY: So true. So very true. I get up at five thirty, and I do my best work from five thirty to probably noon. Any time after noon, I’m not scheduling anything where I have to sit down and write or create something really deep. I can’t do it.
KATE: Me, too. I’m totally the same way. And my hours are a little shortened in there just because I’ve got the kids, but I wish I could actually work five thirty to noon because I would be really rocking it. But later on in life I will.
The other thing—you know, a lot of people just celebrate how great at multitasking they are. So you might be listening to a podcast while writing your sales page. Terrible idea because when we do multiple things at the same time, we drop our IQ, and it makes us miss important information and make way more mistakes. And so, then, you have to go back and do more work, which ends up making the task take longer, even though you thought you were saving time by multitasking.
AMY: Okay, this one, I’m really behind. I mean, I’m really in support of because I was raised in the corporate world to multitask. This was what you were supposed to be doing. And then I came into the entrepreneurial world, and I've started to hear over the years exactly what you said, that multitasking completely slows us down. I've never really been told, but it makes perfect sense that it's also creating mistakes. So right there, that's a big one.
KATE: It’s huge because who wants to go back and have to review things a million more times than necessary? I mean, it’s literally just a colossal waste of time.
AMY: So very true. Okay, so, if you’re saying that really we focus best maybe four hours per day, and I'm assuming you're going to suggest that we figure out when we are at our best. Like, most people—I shouldn’t say most people—a lot of people say, “I’m not getting up at five thirty and ready to do some work.” My team is not morning people, although I am. And so you kind of have to figure out when you're your best. You know when you do your best work, right?
KATE: Yeah. And it may change over time. So just because you did your best work in the middle of the night in college does not mean that now in your thirties or forties you're going to be doing your best work. So I really recommend for people to be flexible with the season of life that they are in and not try to be like they used to be or not try to be like they think they should be. Let's actually be how we are because we'll get the best work done when we're not wasting time and energy trying to be a different way than we are.
AMY: Okay. This is good. I love that you said that. Perfect.
Okay, so, I know my listeners well, and I know many of them are thinking, “Yeah, I'd love to do less and cut back on my work schedule to, let's say, twenty-five, thirty hours per week. But I just don't see how it is even possible with everything that I have going on.” So can you give us some realistic strategies to make that a real possibility?
KATE: Yes. So, first of all, what's super important is to get clear on your goals. What results are you actually after? A lot of entrepreneurs, they get started—and you know your audience better than I do—but it's just sort of vague revenue is the goal, right? But it's so important to be more specific than that and look at a few metrics that you can look at weekly to see, are you moving the needle forward?
Here’s an example from our team. We were doing these social-media graphics that were super beautiful and well designed, and we spent time writing the copy for them, and then our designer spent time, and then I spent time reviewing them, and it was like a whole thing, and then somebody spent time posting. It was, like, a lot of hours went in. And when we really looked at the metrics according to the goals we had set, they were not creating the engagement that they should have for the amount of time and energy that we were putting in.
And here's the deal. We were all raised in a culture that has taught us to believe that if we want more results, we have to put in more hours. But the data doesn't support that. And actually, if we were to look and set a timer—and this is what I recommend you do—set a timer for every hour for the next two weeks or so, and every hour when it goes off, write down in a little spreadsheet or notebook what you were doing for that past hour. And then, at the end of the day or at the end of the two weeks, look at, was that thing, were those tasks that you were doing actually connected to getting the result that you say you're after? Because a lot of the times, we're just throwing spaghetti at the wall and doing all this extra stuff because we think we're supposed to be busy, and we think that busy means worthy, and we think that busy means successful, when, really, if we were to take a step back and look at the metrics, like, “Okay, is posting on social media three times a day actually growing my list and growing my sales, or is it just making me feel busy?”
So that’s the lesson. You have to start with your goals, then you have to pick a few metrics—not too many, three to five to look at maybe each week, depending on how big of a team you have—and then actually decide, “Okay, do those metrics line up with the goals,” and then look at the activities that are related to those metrics and see if the time that you are putting in lines up with the results that you want, because nine times out of ten, we think there’s nothing we can let go of. But if we actually would take a step back and stop being so busy to analyze the way we’re spending our time and the results it’s getting us, we would find that there’s a lot of things that we can let go of.
AMY: Ah, so good. I love that.
Okay, tell me a little bit about boundaries. This is one I struggle with, so I’d love to hear your philosophy around this and any tips you have around setting boundaries.
KATE: I struggle with this as well. Amy, you and I were probably both raised to be people pleasers and make everyone around us happy. And the thing about boundaries is it is choosing ourselves over choosing other people, right? So it’s taking care of ourselves in order to really show up.
And I have to say as a mother, I never learned this so powerfully as when I had our first daughter, and actually our second as well. It really hit home, you know, that thing that people say, “If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of other people.” I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever.”
AMY: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve got to go take care of everyone.
KATE: Yeah, right. Like, okay. But here’s the thing. Now that these two little humans depend on me, literally if I am not taking care of myself, I cannot take care of them, and they don't survive. It's wild. So not everybody are parents, obviously, but I just want to say that that thing that everyone says, it's true.
So, boundaries are just what we will accept and what we will not accept in our lives. And it doesn't have to make you a grouchy, angry, prickly person. Boundaries can be as simple as—here's a great example that just happened to me. Somebody wanted to meet me for an early breakfast tomorrow, and I just checked in with myself, and I was, like, while I technically could do that, I also am staying in a hotel right now where I don't have my children, and I never get to sleep in until I am done sleeping because of the kids. And so my boundary was, you know what, I need that time for myself because I will go home refreshed and so much happier and so much more available for my husband and my children if I sleep. And she was like, “Oh, I totally respect that.”
Here's the thing. I also just asked a high-powered woman for something a couple weeks ago, and she responded with the most gracious email that was—because setting boundaries and saying no are very similar because they intersect a lot. And she said, “Thank you so much for thinking of me. I am not able to do that at this time given x, y, z commitment I have. I wish you the best with your project.” And she took the time to personally respond to me, which was amazing because I had been interacting with her assistant up until that time, but she personally responded to me, and her devotion to her goals and her devotion to her time and her boundary around her time made me simultaneously trust her so deeply, because I was like, “Okay, this is a woman who knows what she needs, and I can trust her because I know where I stand with her, and I know she would never do anything she didn't want to do.” And I love that because how awful does it feel to be with someone when you're not sure if they actually are doing it to be nice or they're doing it because they want to. That interaction—
AMY: It’s so true.
KATE: Right? And we don't see the person that is doing that. And then the other thing is, her boundary and her no gave me such a sense of permission to take my time more seriously. And I have. Ever since that, it was very powerful. So her gift to me was realizing how when we set a boundary in a very clean, loving way, we are serving the people around us, and also saving them time and energy because we all know when we started in on projects, let's say you're doing a collaboration and somebody has said yes from a place of obligation or wanting to please you, the project generally goes south, or it doesn’t end up getting the result that you wanted to. And so, it’s just so important.
But also, boundaries with ourself are really critical. I know, Amy, you talked a lot about your health journey, and I think often we are our own worst culprits around boundaries, whether it’s boundaries with screen time, whether it’s boundaries with getting off the computer to be with your family on the weekends, whatever it is. And so I recommend enlisting other people, saying, “Here are my boundaries, and I give you permission to hold my toes to the fire on this one.”
AMY: Yes. Okay, I love this. And speaking of boundaries and being a people pleaser, I listen to Brooke Castillo's podcast, The Life Coach School, and she always says that a people pleaser is a liar. And she's pretty in-your-face direct like that. But I thought, “Oh, my gosh. In my case it is, because when I am people pleasing and say yes when I don't mean it, I am full-on lying that I want to go to that breakfast and get out of bed when I'd rather sleep in,” or whatever. So, when I started to look at it like that, I thought, “I don't want to be a liar.” So it kind of pushed me to be more honest about what I needed and what I wanted.
KATE: Yeah. And also, to not need to get our love by betraying ourselves.
AMY: Yes. Ooh, that’s so good. It’s so true. There’s a lot to be learned in that area of boundaries and people pleasing and really doing what feels right for your and what’s best for you. So, I’m glad that you brought that up. I’m glad it’s part of the book because I think it’s an area we, as entrepreneurs, a lot of my female entrepreneurs especially, they talk about this topic a lot, and they want to really zero in on it and get better at taking care of themselves.
Okay, so, we’re moving on because as an entrepreneur you know the types of things that my listeners are tasked with on a daily basis, so creating content, creating and editing training videos, email management, engaging with their communities, keeping up with technology. I mean, there's so much. So I want to talk to you about how to map out which task should be done when, to get the most of our time. So this is a question I get asked all the time. In particular, what if you need to be working on some serious planning for a project, let's say. But hormonally you're in the completing-project phase, so, obviously, it would be great to really plan ahead, but that's not always going to be an option. So my audience is always asking me what I should focus on and when. You’re bringing a whole different aspect to the table. Talk to me about that.
KATE: Mm, yeah. We cannot manipulate the world around our cycles, unfortunately. And I also just want to say, cycles, are we regular? I mean, there's, like, a whole other conversation we could add around women's health, which I am not qualified to have, but so, I do recommend—I am not a doctor; I was just raised by them.
So I do recommend, though—here’s what I do every single week, and here’s what we can all do: ask yourself at the beginning of the week when you're planning out your week—now, listen, if you're not planning your week, you are wasting massive amounts of time because the data shows that when you plan out your week or you plan out your days, you can reclaim up to two hours a day of wasted time. So planning your week is so critical—and ask yourself at that time, how is my energy this week? Like, whether you’re a woman, and it’s what phase of my cycle am I in? Or whether you’re a man—like, I just got back from vacation; I’m feeling raring to go. Whatever it is. And then, pepper 5 percent or 10 percent of your activities in alignment with the energy you actually feel that week. And then, get the stuff done you have to get done based on deadlines, because the truth is, that’s the way it is.
But I will say—my mom taught me this. She was in a career delivering babies, up every third night. She was not able, at all, to slow down and pay attention to what her body needed. The medical industry just, especially at that time, did not allow for that one bit. However, she would say when she was having her period and she was heading in to go deliver a baby in the middle of the night, she would let herself walk one minute slower to the door of the hospital. So it's not always what we do, but it's how we are doing it that matters. And that comes down to our focus, because when we are listening to what our body needs, because we've been taught by a system to work as though we don't have a body and that our body is an impediment to our success, but actually your body can be a tool for your success if you would just listen to it just a little bit. And when we do that, things begin to work in alignment. Our stress response decreases, our cortisol decreases, and we actually have more energy because our bodies are actually our source of energy and creativity. So we need to incorporate them into the picture.
And so what that means, though, is to really look at—I'm sure, Amy, you have talked about the 80/20 rule on your podcast before. So, we all love this one. But you really—like, can I give a quick exercise for how to figure out what your list of 20 percent is?
AMY: Please. Okay, first, remind everyone what 80/20 rule is.
KATE: Okay, great. It's called Pareto’s principle, and it says that 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your actions. Also, 80 percent of your sales will come from 20 percent of your customers; 80 percent of your headaches will come from a different 20 percent of your customers. It really applies to so many different areas of our lives, but specifically, tasks.
So, take out a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle of it lengthwise. On the left-hand side, make a list of the activities you do on a daily basis or weekly basis in your business, creating content, editing videos, doing emails, scheduling podcasts, whatever. And then, on the right-hand side, write down your biggest wins, your biggest business wins to date. And if you're just starting out, it could be getting your first sale. It could be getting your first hundred email subscribers. This does not have to be, like, you were on Oprah, right? Scale it to where you actually are in your business, because I give this exercise and people say, “Well, I haven't had any wins,” and I’m like, “Yes, you have.” And then, draw a line from the win on the right-hand side of the paper to the task or tasks that were directly related to resulting in that win. And what you will have leftover is a list of things on the left-hand side—and only the things that have a line drawn from them to the right-hand side are the things that are your 20 percent, and those are the things you need to front load your day with if in fact you are like me and Amy and do your best work in the morning. If you are not, you need to put them at the end of the day. But you need to pay yourself first with your time at your optimal hours with the 20 percent that gets you 80 percent of the results.
AMY: Okay, this makes perfect sense, and this is so good. One of the things I love about your book are the exercises. You know I like a good action plan. So the second half of your book is filled with exercises similar to the one you just took us through. And if you are so inclined, can you walk us through some? I kind of handpicked a few I really loved.
KATE: Of course.
AMY: Okay, good. We're not going to give it all away. You got to get the book to learn more about these exercises, especially to dive deep into them. But we're going to give you kind of a little taste of what you can find in the book because it's one thing to read it; it's another thing to put it into action in your life. So, let's start out with, let's see here, experiment number seven: simplify. Tell me about this one.
KATE: Boy, I love this one. Okay, so, this is the one where you look at your life, you look at your business, and you ask yourself, where do things feel like they're in flow, and where do things feel like there's friction? And wherever there's friction, that's an opportunity to adjust, and that's an opportunity to simplify. There are so many things that we do because that's just what people do. And yet the greatest innovation in business and the greatest ease in life comes from doing things, either just choosing not to do the things that everyone else does or doing them differently, in a way that actually works for you.
So a simple example of this. My friend Ayah is the fashion director for Hearst Media Corp., so she oversees Better Homes and Gardens, and Cosmopolitan, and Seventeen, and all these different magazines. She works at the top of the fashion industry, and yet, she has decided to simplify her life by not wearing makeup and not wearing high heels, because wearing high heels slows her down on the street, and it makes her feet hurt, and that takes up precious time and energy, and wearing makeup just takes time that she doesn't want to spend. And so, like, radical simplification. And she has reclaimed all this time because now she also doesn't have to spend the time taking off her makeup at the end of the day.
AMY: She'll save a lot of money.
KATE: And she saves a lot. So, I hadn't even thought of that. Good point. Now, these are extreme examples, so I just want to say I'm going extreme here, but you can think of the ways that this will apply to you. I still wear makeup, for the record, not every day but most days. Well, that's not true. When I leave the house, I wear makeup.
AMY: Me, too. When I’m home, I never do.
KATE: Okay, great. So, my friend Sarah realized that managing her clothing, her wardrobe, was taking up all this time and energy, and just because women have, like, a million pairs of shoes doesn't mean that she needed to. And so she cut it down. She has one pair of flip-flops, one pair of sneakers, and one pair of flats, and she just only wears the appropriate thing based on the activity. And she has saved so much time and energy simplifying her wardrobe. She also cut down her wardrobe more than in half, and her husband did it, too, so they could fit everything in one dresser in their small Brooklyn apartment. And now there's all this wardrobe maintenance that she just doesn't have to do.
AMY: That would make a big difference.
KATE: Right? Because think about the amount of times you stand in your closet, and you have no idea what to wear, and how much time it takes, especially with the changing-body stuff. I mean, that's a whole other conversation. I mean, having gained and lost, like, ninety pounds in the last several years given the pregnancies, that’s a whole—
But then in our business, in our business, this really comes down to, a lot of it for us, has been communication and systems. So, how can we get the result we are looking for, with the least number of steps? What we found is, as we grew our team, we were adding levels of complexity and levels of communication that it was like a game of telephone, right, so that by the end of the output, it was a totally different message or it got convoluted somehow versus if I had just worked and picked up the phone and told somebody. Those can also be places of friction. So, looking for ways to simplify, and do things the way that it works for you, not based on the way that everyone else does it.
AMY: Yes. Okay, that is a great lesson for business. I recently decided that we were going to start expanding our team, and I was trying to fit everyone in a very specific org chart, and I was actually talking to Marie, who is our mutual friend, Marie Forleo, and she's like, “We don't go by any specific org chart. That's not how we do it.” And it was funny to be reminded that we don't have to do something just because everybody else is.
KATE: Yes. And don’t you think that, Amy, like, some of the reason you’re so successful in business is because you have made choices to do things differently than everyone else does?
AMY: Yes, for sure.
KATE: It’s your secret sauce.
AMY: Yes. I think you’re totally right. And I will say it's never really comfortable for me, because I come from corporate, and I was always a rule follower. So when I do go out of the norm, I get a little bit, like, I feel risk. I feel like ooh, I'm taking a risk here, but I always am so glad I did. So, yeah, I'm with you there. And I know you are totally not a rule follower, I believe. I think you do things your own way all the time. Would you agree?
KATE: I do. It’s funny. I’m this weird combination of being totally afraid of getting in trouble and also totally busting the status quo.
AMY: That’s why you have this really sweet disposition of girl next door, but then, when you get to know you, you're like, “Oh, she's kind of sassy, too.” So, yeah, I could see that mix for sure.
KATE: Mike, my husband, is like, it does not care what anyone thinks of him, and I am constantly afraid that we’re going to get in trouble because he’s just always messing with things.
AMY: Okay, that would make for a very fun, interesting marriage.
KATE: Yes, it’s entertaining.
AMY: Yeah, so, that’s good. And Mike’s entertaining, so shout out to Mike. I love him.
Okay, so, let’s do one more. Let’s do another experiment. I’m going to let you choose, okay? So I’m going to give you three, you pick your favorite one to tell us about. Okay. Do you want to tell us about streamlining your to-do list, letting it be enough, or making sleep a spiritual practice?
KATE: Oh, gosh. They’re all so good.
AMY: I know. I'm kind of teasing a few, because if she doesn't cover it, it's in the book.
KATE: Okay. Let’s go with streamlining your to-do list, only because it’s the most practical.
AMY: I was hoping you’d choose that one. Yes.
KATE: I love how practical your show is.
AMY: Yeah. My audience is going to love that one.
KATE: I also just want to say—I think you know this already—but I’m a huge fan of your show.
AMY: Well, thanks.
KATE: You’re welcome. Okay, because I love practical. So, streamlining your to-do list, here’s the problem with to-do lists. Most people use them as a catchall for everything they could possibly think of that they need to do or could do ever. And then, they look at the to-do list, and it's so overwhelming that they often feel paralyzed and scroll through Instagram instead of getting anything done, because that's what happens with overwhelm is just we just pop out, right? We just opt out. So instead, what I recommend—made a huge difference for me—I started making a weekly to-do list instead of a daily to-do list. Now, this is going to be really helpful for folks who have a bit more of the unexpecteds in their life, if you’re caring for an aging parent, if you have small children, if you have a dog who requires extra care. There’s a lot of unexpecteds that come from caring for other beings. And so a weekly to-do list gave me a lot of wiggle room because as opposed to being locked into what I had to do that day, I gave myself the grace and space of what needed to happen within a week, and it became much more likely that it was going to happen, even if one of my girls was home sick for the day or something. So that’s step one.
Step two is to ask yourself, when you are putting things down on your to-do list, the following three questions. And you have to be ruthless because I will tell you the number-one culprit of overwhelm is not not being able to manage your time well; it's just doing too much. If you want to feel more successful and more accomplished and more spacious and more calm, just do less. So here's how you do that without jeopardizing your results, because, really, if you do those 20 percent of things that we talked about, the 80 percent happens, and you have all this extra time.
Okay, so you ask yourself before any item goes on the list, does this need to be done? Like, for real. Does this actually need to be done? Back to the example of our social-media graphics, like, all these beautifully designed social-media graphics, does this need to be done? Well, based on our metrics and our analytics, no, because they're not performing well. Or does this actually need to be done—like, we overcomplicate things, right?
AMY: All the time.
KATE: And so, is there an easier solution, would be another way of asking that. Could I get to the same result through a shorter or easier solution? So the second question, if the first answer is yes, it does need to be done, second question, does it need to be done by me?
AMY: Ooh, good one.
KATE: It’s a big one because, especially as women, we have a real tendency to overinflate our sense of self-importance and disempower the people around us by thinking we are the only ones who can do it. And so everyone else suffers as a result because we are taking the reins all the time and not letting them step into their own greatness and their own brilliance. So this is the option for delegation. Is this something someone else on your team could do? Could a VA do it? Could your children do it? Could your partner do it? Could a neighbor do it? Think through the list. Who else could do this?
And then, the last one is, does it need to be done right now? So, I do not put anything on my to-do list every week that does not need to get done that week, because if I do, I always end up overextending myself. And if it doesn't need to be done right now, meaning this day or this week, it doesn't belong on your to-do list; it belongs in your project-management software.
AMY: Ooh, I like that. Yes, it does, because I’m always talking about move it over to Asana or whatever you might use. And if it's not in there, it's not going to be happening. So I love that you wrap it up with a bow with that. I wasn't expecting it.
KATE: Yeah, project management.
AMY: I got really excited there. A little too excited, maybe.
This is awesome. I love exercises that will get me to think in a different way and take action and really make those shifts that will allow me to work less, do less, but still enjoy all the things that I want and hit all the goals that I’ve set for myself and my business and my personal life. And I really do believe you've written a book that is not only beautifully written, for the record—you are such a good writer, so it's such a beautifully written book—but also incredibly actionable, incredibly valuable, and I learned a lot about myself that I didn't know. So, first of all, congrats on the new book.
KATE: Thank you.
AMY: Yeah. I’m really excited for you. And also, tell my listeners where they can go to get your book and also to learn more about you and everything you have to offer.
KATE: Yeah. So, over at katenorthrup.com/book, you’ll see that there’s some great gifts that come along with the book. Of course, you can get the book anywhere books are sold. I always like to give a shout out to get it at your local bookseller if you can, but, obviously, it's available on Amazon. And then I'm over at katenorthrup.com, and on Instagram would be the primary place I hang out on social media @katenorthrup.
AMY: Perfect. And spell your last name for everyone.
AMY: Perfect. Because there's different ways to spell it, I wanted you all to get it down right. Okay, perfect.
Kate, thank you so much for being on the show. I just love you dearly, and I am so very fortunate that I can call you a friend and also have you on the show to teach us something new. So thanks for being here.
KATE: Thank you, Amy.
AMY: So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this interview with Kate and I. I know I sure did. I started this episode saying that I have been in a very, very busy season, and I'm dedicated and committed to moving into a less-chaotic season, where I have a little white space, room to breathe, and I'm definitely going to use Kate's valuable tips and action items in this book to help me get there. And if you're feeling the way I've been feeling lately, I hope you do the same. And don't forget to go to katenorthrup.com/book to grab a copy of the book but also her bonuses. One of the bonuses is how to decrease your workload and increase your results by 80 percent. And it's a good one, so you’ll want to get your hands on that bonus and the others as well, so katenorthrup.com/book.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to remind you that LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is our special sponsor for this episode, and they're giving away a $100 LinkedIn ad credit so that you can launch your first campaign. Go to. That’s linkedin.com/amy to get your $100 LinkedIn ad credit and get going with your first campaign.
And I've been getting so many questions about LinkedIn because it is definitely a place where you can laser focus on your perfect, ideal customer Avatar, and you can get down to the job title and the company name and the industry when you're targeting your audience with LinkedIn. You can't do that anywhere else. And remember, people are on LinkedIn, searching for the things that they need to grow professionally. So if you feel that your business is a good fit for LinkedIn, do not skip this opportunity. One more time, linkedin.com/amy.
Okay, thanks again for being here. Next week, in episode 263, we’re going to talk about how to seed the idea of your digital course before you’re ready to launch it. So, how do you talk about it before you’re ready to sell it? I’ve got some very specific strategies to do so. I think you’re going to love them all.
All right. I’ll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.