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RACHEL HOLLIS: “I will be honest that my biggest concern right now is working out of the house. When will I stop? Now I'm up. I'm usually up at 5:00 a.m., and so I'm like, ‘Oh, I'll just jump in and start working,’ and it’s, like, six o'clock. I'm like, ‘No. We have a routine that we do. We need to stick to the routine.’ And it would be very easy for me to work too much because at least, then, I feel like I'm doing something, and I'm in control. So my suggestion would be have set hours that you were going to work, and leave it in the workspace when it's time to leave, because your life is not work. Your life, even if you don't have a family that's waiting for you to wrap up, you are not just this thing. And I think it's a really bad mindset, just because you're working out of your house, to kind of fall into the void of, ‘I'm just going to work a hundred hours a week now.’ That's not a healthy answer.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-million-dollar business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, money, and time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and helps you create a life you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started.
AMY PORTERFIELD: Have you ever been standing in line at the grocery store and realized you're fully engaged—a.k.a. eavesdropping—on the conversation of the couple in front of you? Yeah, I think we've all been there. Eavesdropping is kind of fun sometimes. And so today, if you want to eavesdrop on my conversation with my friend Rachel Hollis, well, you're in luck because Rachel had this great idea to jump on a call and just talk about what is going on in the world today and what we're thinking and what we're feeling.
And although we did record this conversation as a podcast episode, it really just feels like two friends jumping on a call, having a chat about the world and how it's gone crazy. And specifically, we talk about what it's like to work remotely and the things you need to think about as a business owner when you take your team remote, or maybe you work for a business, you've never worked remotely, and now here you are at home, feeling a little bit shaky about the whole experience. So we talk about working virtually—the good, bad, and ugly.
But at the beginning of the conversation, where it really feels like you might be eavesdropping, before we even got started, I said, “Okay, Rachel. How are you feeling? What's going on in your head?” And she just went for it, and I loved it. And she had this episode idea for the RISE podcast, and I said, “Let's put it on the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast as well,” because I want it to get out to as many people as possible who need to hear this. If you are working remotely and you want to be more productive and more focused and more connected with your team, this is the episode for you. So, happy listening.
RACHEL: It's such a crazy time because normally you would say, “Oh, I'm going through this crazy thing at work, but in ten days it'll be done,” and that's what's tripping me out is I'm like, I have no idea when this is done.
AMY: It’s scary. That part’s scary.
RACHEL: Yeah, for sure.
AMY: I want to keep telling my audience, like, of course I'm scared, of course I'm nervous, and if I'm not in action, I literally will go to a dark place for a moment. Right?
RACHEL: Oh, girl. Yeah, 100 percent. Like yesterday, you know because I was texting you, I was having a not-great day, and it just felt like, I just hit a point where I was like, I have made ten thousand decisions a day for the last ten days, and I feel like I'm going to have a breakdown. And so I thought, I'm going to go—I literally just want to zone out and scroll social media, which is what I would normally do to just, like, oh, let me go look at pretty pictures and watch stupid videos. The problem is that in this season, with every pretty picture and stupid video, you're also going to see stuff about the world. The answer I can say for sure was not what I did yesterday. That was not the answer. So I won't do that again. I won't go like, oh, I'm going to chill out in my bed and scroll. Nope. That, for sure, is not the right choice right now.
AMY: But I love that you're like—and of course, this is you. You're being honest, and you always are open with your whole audience about everything—but I love that you're like, “And I did that. I did that, and that's not the answer.”
RACHEL: It’s not the answer. I literally put myself to bed early, like a toddler. I was just like, all right. You ever have those times you're PMSing, and you’re just like, “You know what I need? I'm going to go to bed early, and I need to sleep a lot. I’ll wake up tomorrow, and I'll be better.” And I got up this morning, back on routine, 5:00 a.m., did my typical morning routine, did a really hard work out, just to get my mind right, because I think we're going to have to, all of us, cling to the certainty of the habits that we know work and that we can do inside the walls of our home.
AMY: Okay, so, let me ask you something really quick since we're on this topic. The fact that we don't know how long this is going to last for, like how do you wrap your head around that?
RACHEL: I don't even try.
AMY: Yeah. Good point.
RACHEL: I don't think it's helpful for any of us to go when and how and whatever. I think, especially from a business perspective, I am just planning for a worst-case scenario in every situation. And I think that my team, honestly, I think my team might think I'm a little crazy right now because they know—so my thing is cash reserves. I've talked about this a ton, and I'm super conservative with cash, and I always have it on hand. And so I keep saying, “We're safe, but I want us to act like we're not, because if we don't act like we're not, what happens is, six months from now, we're not safe anymore.” I really think as business owners, the worst thing you can do right now is wait and see.
AMY: I totally agree.
RACHEL: Yep. I think you got to do something, you got to make moves, you got to figure it out, because I am already—I don't know if you're seeing this—but I am already seeing business owners I know who are like, “This is going to ruin me.” Have you seen that?
AMY: Yes. Oh, 100 percent. And they're all doom and gloom. And this is a little controversial for some people, but I also see people that think they just need to give everything they have away for free. I’m like, that is not going to help our economy.
RACHEL: Yeah. No, no, no. I think that you have to like, how, how, how, how. And look, I really take it very seriously that I have a staff of people. When you hire someone, you're giving them your word that you are going to do everything that you can as the owner to have a company that will be there so that they have a job. And so, I mean, I don't know. The whole thing is crazy. So it's like, immediately my brain went into the mode of, how do I just make it as safe as possible, because there are people counting on me to be able to pay their rent. I've always said that. Like, oh, they're paying their rent or their car payment. But more than ever, I maybe sound, I don't know. This maybe sounds like doom and gloom, but this, to me, is a reality: this is going to eviscerate the economy. It will. It just will.
AMY: We’re already seeing it.
RACHEL: There's no way that it can't. We’re already seeing it. There's no way that it can’t. There’s no way that it—like, it doesn't mean we can't come back. It doesn't mean there aren’t silver linings. It doesn't mean that there aren't—because there are companies right now who are doing the best they've ever done because they happen to be in the right industry. But people will lose, so many jobs will be lost, so many companies will close down. That's not me being a fear monger; that just is.
AMY: Okay, but here’s a twist I have to that. With so many companies shutting down and people losing their jobs, I believe—and you know I teach people how to build businesses online—so I believe if we continue to find new ways to put offers out there that resonate and relate to people, and we're very compassionate about where people are right now, we can sustain during this time so that we can eventually hire the people that need jobs.
RACHEL: Oh, I am in 1 million percent agreement. I feel like we are so freaking lucky that we have companies that can happen virtually, because what I'm hearing from my community, all over the place, is like, “I'm an optometrist. What do I do? I own a coffee shop. What do I do? I own a salon. What do I do?” And I am like, “Oh, my gosh.” It's so hard because it's not to say that there aren't ways to navigate. But if the bulk of your business requires you to literally be in physical proximity to someone else, or if you have a luxury business, meaning you sell things that every single person doesn't need, and the economy tanks, well, suddenly people will cling harder than ever to their funds. So the fact that you and I are so freaking lucky that we have a business that can be virtual. And I think that now more than ever, how do you figure out—I mean, the joke is like this and not even what our podcast is about today, but if you're listening to this right now, really, truly ask yourself, how can I make my business virtual? And don't say like, oh, well, it's not possible. Like, freaking figure out a way, because I think that if you can't figure out how to make some part of your revenue stream digital right now and something that people can access online, I'm nervous. I'm nervous for you.
AMY: I agree. And I think that it's really tough to say this and where I think you and I would both agree, we're not sugarcoating any of this. You may need to make a total pivot. And that sucks. Like, what a bummer. And what’s your alternative? You might need to make a total pivot.
RACHEL: I mean, I will tell you, we immediate—like, already, we are not pivoting out of what we do, but we fully pivoted out of how we structured our company, which is why I wanted to talk to you today. We started out this conversation, we’re two friends who are entrepreneurs, who are sort of talking about the realities, but I asked Amy to come on the podcast today because Amy has always had a team that's virtual. So first of all, will you explain what that means?
AMY: Yes. So I have always had my team in other parts of the world, usually just the U.S., but all over the U.S.. And the only way that we work together is online, through video conferencing and through different channels to do instant messaging and to get on a cell phone. But there are people on my team that for over a year or two, I work with them and never met them in person. And so that's how we do business.
RACHEL: So amazing. That is so amazing. And the thing is, I made the decision last week—it feels like it’s been ten months—but I made the decision last week that we would go to a virtual office. We felt like that was in the safest interest of our team, for everyone to not be in a space together. So about sixty employees gathered up their laptops and cleaned up their desks and went home. And I fully cried my eyeballs out. One, I—
AMY: You did. It broke my heart.
RACHEL: I did. Oh, I was so upset because I think that the God-honest truth is I knew what I think a lot of people don’t realize, which is, I don't know when we're all going to be in the same space again. And that made me really sad because being in the same building and getting to come into work each day with these employees is literally my favorite part of the job. My favorite part is them and the community and the culture that we have together. And man, we're killing it on Slack, and we’re having Zoom dance parties, and we're doing themed outfits. Today's theme was bright colors. They're already jumping in on the culture, but it made me sad.
And then the other reason, honestly, was it freaked me out. I know as a leader, I know how to lead people by having our meetings and stopping by someone's desk. And so after I stopped crying, I was like, “Amy, I need you to walk me through everything you know about how to be productive working from home and also how to lead a team virtually.” And then I was like, “Well, shoot, can we put it on the podcast? because I'm, for sure, not the only leader who's wondering about this right now.” So what can you tell us that you've learned over the last however many years, a long time, of doing it this way?
AMY: Okay, so, I'm so glad we're talking about this, so needed right now. But when Rachel first asked me about this, one of the things I said was, well, there's two perspectives here. One is a business owner, which we're going to talk about right now, but also one just as somebody who's never worked virtual and was just asked to go home and work. And that's a whole different ballgame. So I know we're going to touch on both.
But as a business owner, I think one of the biggest things for me was to make sure that I set expectations, not to be the person who is laying down the law and having tons of rules, but people need to be led right now, and they're going home and not really sure what you expect of them or how much they should be showing up or how to show up. And so we have always had tools in place to help us with expectations. And you already mentioned a few, but I think we need to start kind of at the top, with a little structure here. And as a business owner, I subscribe to three tools I could not live without. Number one would be Zoom. Zoom, Skype, whatever you want to use. But you guys have to be showing your face. It's not enough just for them to hear you; they need to see you, and you need to see them, as a business owner, as well. And so you guys are killing it with that game, because not only are you doing all your meetings on Zoom, you're having fun on Zoom as well, which we could talk about the culture, too. But you got to get some kind of video conferencing in place and make sure everyone knows how to use it, know how to log in, how to do it, because it's important.
Number two, we use Asana. So you and I have talked about this before, but it's A-S-A-N-A. It's a project-management tool. It's not the only one. There's tons, like Trello and Basecamp and monday. There's other ones, and they're not very expensive, so you can look into them. But it's a project-management tool where all the projects have to go online and they have to be managed. Who's doing them? What are the deadlines? What's going on with all of that? because where you could walk up to somebody’s desk and be like, “What are you doing with this campaign right now? Where is it?” those conversations no longer happen organically. We need to be tracking them somewhere.
So, what do you think about this whole online management of all the action items and stuff like that?
RACHEL: Well, so, I will be honest. My team loves Asana. I am not super well versed with it, but I was like, I am going to become an Asana champion.
AMY: We called it an Asana ninja.
RACHEL: Okay, an Asana ninja, I would really like to be that. And by the way, you guys, this is not a sponsored podcast, and we’ll mention a lot of brands. We’re literally just telling you what we like to use.
So I went on, the very first day that I was here, working out of the house, and I made our key objectives and our milestones so that all of my leaders would know these are the five things that we work on, because my biggest fear with everybody being at home is that I would have sixty people rowing in thirty different directions. So if I can say, these are the five objectives, and I don't care what you did before, if you are not working on one of these five things, you are doing something wrong. So that was a huge shift for us. And we have a weekly—we've always had a weekly—we call it HoCo combo. So we have a weekly team meeting, and at weekly team meeting, which happened on Zoom, I presented them with the five objectives, and I presented them with the new task forces, so basically the new groups that we're working against each of those objectives.
And the crazy thing was people are working on something they've never worked before, they're in teams they've never been on before, all of a sudden, they are reporting to a leader they've never—everything changed. And it has to. It has to. It has to. Because we needed—I basically took like, okay, who are the leaders? Who's the creative? Who's the project manager? Put them together and now give them a group. It was almost like I'm a teacher and I was trying to make even teams for kickball, where nobody could have—you know what I mean? Like, everybody could have fair representation on the team that they're on.
AMY: But, okay. I love that you said that you put out those initiatives and said, this is what we're doing, because it just made me think of something. I also have started to do something, especially in this climate, where I am making short videos for my team, saying, “Okay, guys. Here's where we're at. Here's what I'm thinking.” Or “Hey, guys. We're making a lot of pivots. I bet that stresses you out. Here's how I want you to think about this.” I think we have to manage our team’s mindset through videos like that or through meetings like that as well. So I've been showing up more on video right now for my team because, like you just did, they need to hear from you. They need direction right now.
RACHEL: Totally. And I'm also going to say, for those of you who are listening at home, real talk. I am working at home with a toddler, so there’s a toddler outside my door, crying, that we’re all just going to pretend is not there. Daddy will help her, and I will not be the one—this is real life. This is real life right now in our real world.
So, I’ll be honest. How I said it to them was, I was super serious, and I feel like it's important for leaders to be honest and candid with our teams. They're responsible and mature enough to understand. So I just said, “Look, this is where we're at. Also, this is how much it costs to run this company every single month. So it doesn't matter how many millions of dollars I have set aside in cash, we can burn through it if we are not intentional. And so you need to understand that we are fighting for something here. We are fighting to come through this and still be resilient and strong and still have everybody on this team together” because—I think you did the same thing. I’m not sure. But did you have a business in 2008, 2009?
AMY: I had just started in 2009, so I wasn’t affected by this.
RACHEL: Okay. So, my thing is, I had a high-end event-planning company in 2008, 2009. And if you're like, “Whoa, I didn't know people were planning high-end events in ’08,” they weren't. That's the point. I have navigated a company through a recession before, and so I know what it is like to have to lay people off. I know what it's like to not have enough money. This is serious.
And so I basically just said that, not in a way to freak them out. I said it from a “Let's get pumped up. Let’s get fired up. Let's take this challenge. We are smart, and we are strong. And if we work together, we can do anything.” But I was really serious with them about how important this was. And they've been great. They've been so great. People immediately jumped into their new teams, started sharing their Enneagram numbers, how are we going to do the thing?
AMY: I love it. I think that's—I think everybody listening that has a team, if you haven't addressed them with, “This is how we're going to pivot,” it's time. You need a State of the Union kind of address for your team.
RACHEL: Well, I think as leaders, they want to know that we have a plan. I don't know if you’ll agree with this, but one of my favorite books ever—I’ve talked about it a million times, and it's never been more relevant than it is right now—is a book called The Hard Thing About Hard Things.
AMY: Okay, I did not know about this book. How do I not know this? The Hard Thing About Hard Things.
RACHEL: Oh, my gosh. It’s one of my favorites ever. It’s a business book by Ben Horowitz. I read it years ago, probably about the time that I was going through this before. And it’s basically him telling the story of his company keeps almost going bankrupt, almost going bankrupt, almost going bankrupt, and then he finally gets it going, and then 9/11 happens. And it's just like he is trying with everything in him to keep this company alive. And he ends up building it back up and selling it for $1.6 billion. It is an incredible story of just underdogs, scrappy, fighting for it.
But one of the things he talks about in the book that I am obsessed with is this idea of a wartime general versus a peacetime general, meaning you can be a certain kind of leader when life is great and money's coming in and everything's going the way that it's supposed to. When you are a wartime general, meaning when our back’s up against the wall; we don't know what's coming next; the market is shifting by the day, sometimes by the hour, you are a wartime general. You have to decide that this is what we're doing, and people—this is going to sound so terrible—this is not the time, I think, to go poll the team and see what the team thinks. This is a time for you to step up as a leader. And I'm not saying you can't brainstorm with your team. I didn't give my team a choice about what our five objectives are. I absolutely am letting them sort of lead the path on how we achieve those objectives. If I had sort of opened it up, it would have turned into this big debate, and everyone has an opinion. Does that make sense?
AMY: 100 percent. And I think that is the best gift you could have given them.
RACHEL: Is just like, this is what we’re doing. Because, honestly, I think that’s what people want right now. And not in a rude way, but just in a, “I know the way. I am the leader. This is where I see us going. Help me figure out how to get us there. But this is not the time for debate.” Also, read that book because I think you’ll love it.
AMY: Okay. I literally will read it this weekend.
But I think that doing the State of the Union address, telling your team, “This is what’s happening,” and get ready to lead, encourage all of them to move it forward like you're doing, I think is 100 percent needed.
And with that, getting back to these tools, Asana or any tool like that, you've got to manage your way through it. And so all the action items jumping around right now, everything that's happening, we need a structure. And so that's why we use Asana. Every campaign is in Asana, every action item, every owner, every due date, it’s just in there. So, highly recommend that if you haven't done that already, get into an online management tool for all of the tasks.
The other two tools, Zoom, of course. So you've got to be on video, showing your face, like we already said. And then the third one is Slack. And so you and I both use Slack. We love it. I call it more of like an instant messaging kind of tool, but with organization. So basically, you can jump into Slack, and you have different channels. Let's say you have a live-event channel, and you have the Start Today channel for Rachel, and then you have a leadership channel, and it's just different channels of how you operate the business. And you can get into the different channels and have quick conversations.
Now, where I think most people mess up with Slack is they use it to actually assign action items and tell people what to do. We try to stay away from that because the action items are in Asana, and it's a way-better system in Asana than Slack. Everything will get lost in Slack when things start going really fast. So we use it for quick conversations of, “Hey, just make sure you saw, x, y, z just happened.” “Oh, yeah, I'm on it,” that kind of thing. Or “A quick, quick question for you about this campaign. What do you think?” those kind of conversations when you're virtual are really important. They're walking up to someone's desk and asking them a question.
But here's the cool thing. Because we are moving remotely right now, when someone walks up to your desk and interrupts you, that context switching, like, “I was working on something, now I'm not,” slows you down incredibly. But now that we're working remotely, I think people are more productive, because you don't need to be in Slack every minute. I think people should stay out of Slack, and then they go into Slack maybe three or four times a day to check in. But you get more work done when you're uninterrupted. And so there's something great about that.
So, have you seen yourself yet—I think it's a little early because we're all frazzled—but have you seen yourself be able to focus a little bit more?
RACHEL: Not yet, to be honest with you.
AMY: Yeah, I know. I agree.
RACHEL: I feel like the last ten days have been like, it feels a bit like triage. And maybe you're listening to this at home and that sounds very dramatic to you, but you have to understand that a huge portion of my company's business is in the live-event space. And just like anybody who is in a live-event space, whether you throw concerts or conferences, anything, we're trying to scramble to figure out, what does this mean, and should we postpone, and when do we postpone to? And nobody has the answers. So it's been a lot of, how do we continue to serve our community really well and also plan for a future that we're very unsure about? So honestly, the last ten, eleven days have felt a bit like triage. But I am hopeful that as this truly becomes the new normal that we can really focus in and get those big projects done, because we aren't interrupted all day.
I would say, too, for those of you guys who haven't used Slack yet, even before we were virtual, we were in three different buildings. So we bought an office, and then we quickly outgrew it, and then we had to add a little building next door, and then we outgrew that, and then we had to rent a place across the street. So we’ve been in three different buildings for about nine months. And so our Slack channel, beyond this great place to kind of interacting, ask people questions, our general Slack has always been kind of like the hub of our culture. There are serious things in there, but it is mostly just like memes, funny things, pumping people up, wishing people happy birthday. Our general Slack is so freaking fun. And so if you're worried about how to keep the culture alive, there is something beautiful about allowing that to kind of be the place.
I remember when Dave first started working with me, he would see our general Slack and be like, “What is this? Someone just shared a music video, and someone else is talking about their favorite recipe for dip.” He’s coming from Disney, so this was just like, what are people using their work time to— But it's just these little moments of joy throughout the day, and that is my favorite part about our culture. So I was like, “No, no. This is who we are. We're going to let it ride because there's something beautiful about the fact that we can do these big, amazing needle-moving things, but also, we're the team who does neon shirt day and puts pictures of it in Slack,” which is more important now than ever.
AMY: It does. And so I was going to say we use Slack for fun a lot, and we have different channels of fun, even. So we have one channel that is just love notes from our customers, and we share all the love that we get. We have another one that's wins, and any time someone has a little or big win, we put it in there. But we also have one just for memes and all the fun stuff. And we have another one just for a monthly challenge, and we've been doing this for a few months now. One monthly challenge was you had to drink half your weight in water every day. And there were so many videos of people chugging the water, so you'd be so proud. And then getting enough sleep or just fun challenges or healthy challenges or whatever. But because we don't see each other every day and we don't talk on the phone every day, you’ve got to have fun. And Slack is the best place to do it.
RACHEL: Yeah. So I divided the teams, and then I allowed—when I shifted things around, each team has a project manager. The head person is basically a project-manager mindset, and then every team has a lead creative. So those two people are collabing. But the head person's first mission was to get the Asana masterpiece together so that I could, as their leader, see how they plan to navigate the objectives that I have just given them.
Have you ever shared your Asana, like even a screen—maybe it would be too much information, but I am so curious at, what does a really good Asana thing look like? Because I’m looking at—I saw what they put together so far, and I’m like, this is beautiful.
AMY: It is. It's a work of art.
RACHEL: It is. I don't know enough about Asana to know, is this the right way it's supposed to look, or [unclear 30:51]? Okay.
AMY: Well, I don't know what's right. But shout out to Chloe, on my team, because she puts all—most all—Asana project plans together. But they’re works of art. She wants to be buried with them, she tells me, and she just, like, frickin’ loves them.
But a really good Asana project—so let's say it was to do a special campaign for the Start Today journals. A really good Asana project plan would have many categories, and then under the categories, action items. So if it doesn't have a lot of categories, it's not stellar yet.
RACHEL: I’m going to screenshot this and send it to you.
AMY: I can’t wait.
RACHEL: And then you’re going to be like, yes, that’s good, or no, that’s—
AMY: Send it over. So good.
RACHEL: So, what are some of the things that you do personally, beyond just leading the team? What are some of the things that you do personally to stay productive when you're working at home? You just heard Dave come in here and ask me a question, and there's kids in the background. And so there is some—I don't, at all, have the separation that I normally do, and I can't go to a coffee shop right now. So what do you [unclear 31:58]?
AMY: Okay, so, one thing that I've done from the get-go, and I know you just recently did this, is I set up my workspace. So I have a designated—I have an office, but you might not even get the luxury of having an office just yet because you weren't planning on going home. But I have a workspace put together exactly how I want it. So, one, aesthetically, I need to feel creative. So I can't have a bunch of clutter around me or not like what I'm looking at while I'm sitting there working. So I do my very best to have the office set up how I want it.
And I also make sure that everyone knows that is my workspace. So I have a husband who's a firefighter, and he's home every other day for twenty-four hours, meaning when he's not working, he thinks that we can sit and chat all day long. And you know Hobie, he's a talker. And so I have this workspace, and I let him know, “Hey, babes, for the next two hours, I'm going to be on this video,” or “I'm going to go work for a few hours. I'll come down and say hi a little bit later.” I have to check in with him. But for you guys, you might have to check in with your family or your kids or you have way different situations than me. But I try to have some times, work chunks, times of just working. It doesn't always work out as planned. Sometimes he thinks he can come in and just chat. But I try to be intentional about that.
And then another thing is I have, to the best of my ability, morning rituals and work shutdown rituals. And so I know you have really great morning rituals. And for me—
RACHEL: Yeah, but I don’t have any shutdown rituals. Please share.
AMY: So the shutdown rituals are very business minded in the sense of I look at what I had planned to get done that day. Every day I put together—I’m a big fan of Michael Hyatt, and he taught me this—but I put together three big action items that, come hell or high water, I'm getting them done. And I don't always, but that's my mindset. And so at the end of the day, I get a million things done, but did I get these three most-important things done? So I check in with myself, did I get the three things done? So my morning ritual is to identify three big three—we call them the big three—for that day. So did I get those done?
Number two is I go quickly through Slack to close any open loops in conversations. I go into Asana. Whatever I didn't get done, am I going to move it to the next day or forward, or I'm going to not do it at all? So I don't like—in Asana you'll see, if you don't get a bunch of stuff done, you got a lot of red. And so I don't want to start the morning off with a bunch of red from the day before of things that didn't get done. So I move some stuff around. So I check in Asana real quick, I check into Slack, I look at my daily big three, and then I check email really quickly—email’s like my nemesis—but just to make sure I got to important conversations, and I shut it down. So these are just quick things. You could do this in ten, twenty minutes if you want, but I do have a system for how to shut down the day.
RACHEL: So, you just said something that I am very interested in. When you said that you look at your Asana tasks, are those things that Chloe or the team have assigned to you, or are you creating your own special Asana whatever yourself, for you?
AMY: Great question.
RACHEL: This feels like level twelve. I don’t even know how to do that.
AMY: Yes. So, 99 percent of the time, these are tasks that have been assigned to me, but I have a gatekeeper. And my gatekeeper is my assistant. So she will make sure that if they get assigned to me, I've got the time to do them, and I can move around due dates. But my team is putting the tasks in there, that we've discussed, so I don't have to go in and create all the stuff for me.
So right now, is your team putting them in for you, or are you having to put them in?
RACHEL: You're going to laugh. So this whole time we've been talking, I've been in Asana, picking around, because I want to understand. And I literally was like, where does one even go to see said tasks? And I just clicked on My Tasks. So I do have one task as of right now. I'm glad we had this conversation because I didn’t know I was supposed to do this thing, so great.
AMY: I love this conversation. Yeah. So, if I look—
RACHEL: And it’s red.
AMY: It’s red. Okay, so—
RACHEL: So I’m behind?
AMY: You’re behind. You’re behind. So if you go into Asana for me right now, I might have, like, ten things assigned to me today. Some might take two minutes, some might take way longer. But I can see actually—today's Thursday, so I can see Friday and then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, all next week. Things are assigned way in advance. And so mine’s full. But I didn't do that. My team did. And they're going to pull you in where needed.
And if you're a one-woman show right now, you're setting up all your Asana tasks. I used to do all of them on my own, and that's cool, too. But if you don't know what's coming down the pipeline, you're going to lose your mind over the next few months.
But you make a really great point that I want to just really hit on this, and that is that if you are leading a team in any which way or if you're just leading yourself, one thing that's so important is you've got to be an example. And so with Rachel saying, “I want to be an Asana ninja,” I frickin’ love that, because when I started Asana many, many, many years ago, I never got in it, and I expected my team to do all of it. And they’re looking at me like, “Well, you're a hypocrite. You're asking us to manage everything, and you're not getting in there?” And I literally would have Chloe take out my tasks that people put in Asana and put it a Google Doc for me because I didn't want to get into Asana. And so—
RACHEL: I understand that.
AMY: Yeah. Right? So you kind of have to look at it, if you're going to start adding some tools because you're working remotely, you got to show up for them, and you got to show your team like, “Look, this is how I'm going to use them. I'm in this with you.”
RACHEL: That’s so good. Okay, so Asana, it sounds like it's sort of the cream of the land. We all need to learn how to use it better. And I would say, too, I'm sure that there are ten bajillion videos on YouTube right now that people could watch for free that would show them all the ways to—I'm sure Asana itself has like a “here's how to use this,” right?
AMY: Yes, a million percent. Asana has great how-to tools, so don't let it be an excuse like, “This is a new technology. I don't know how to use it.” The greatest thing about the world we live in right now is every tool we need, they go above and beyond, usually, to teach you how to use it. So that part's easy.
But let's get back, if you're cool with it, to talk about a few more things that you can do to be more productive when you're working from home, because I know you have a lot of them as well, and I want to hear some yours because for me—this is going to be a silly one—but you know how they say you shouldn't put a TV in your bedroom because it ruins the romance? So when we talked about a workspace, I most days do not think you should eat at your desk. Kind of like the same thing, right?
AMY: So when you bring the food in to eat lunch at your desk, and you're working through lunch, you never get a break, you're distracted anyway, and it's just a bad, bad habit. So I really do think you should go down into the kitchen; make a healthy lunch, whatever that looks like for you; if you can, go outside; take a moment to eat your lunch. I think that—it sounds so silly, but it's a big deal.
RACHEL: No, it's a super big deal, and in fact, it’s actually a rule when we are in our office is that you’re not allowed to eat at your desk, ever. We have a really beautiful lounge you can go sit in, go take a walk, go visit a friend. I do not want you—because I just think it’s a terrible habit for people. It’s not good. Wellness culture, and so it’s something we’re hyper aware of.
I also think that that is usually the sign—like, I ate at the desk yesterday because it was such an insane day. And also, remember that I ended up in my bed watching Mask of Zorro, in the fetal position. So clearly that didn't work. So I totally agree with you. Do not, do not, do not eat at your desk, as you just said.
I would also say, so, we have an office. We haven't use it a ton. We basically only use it to do our live show each morning and sometimes right here on the weekends. But I'm going to get it set up in a way that feels fun and beautiful. Haven't gotten there yet. But I do think that there's something really important about whatever the workspace is, leave the work in the workspace. So don’t do the “Oh, and I'll just take my laptop back to the bedroom,” or “I'll go sit with the kids,” because I will be honest that my biggest concern right now is working out of the house. When will I stop? Now I'm up. I'm usually up at 5:00 a.m., and so I'm like, “Oh, I'll just jump in and start working,” and it’s, like, six o'clock. I'm like, “No. We have a routine that we do. We need to stick to the routine.” And it would be very easy for me to work too much because at least, then, I feel like I'm doing something, and I'm in control. So my suggestion would be have set hours that you were going to work, and leave it in the workspace when it's time to leave, because your life is not work. Your life, even if you don't have a family that's waiting for you to wrap up, you are not just this thing. And I think it's a really bad mindset, just because you're working out of your house, to kind of fall into the void of, “I'm just going to work a hundred hours a week now.” That's not a healthy answer.
AMY: Okay. This is a good one, and probably I didn't bring it up because I'm more guilty of just working through into the night, especially with Hobie not being home every night. And I have a son who's almost eighteen years old, the stepson, so I don't have the kids and stuff, but that doesn't matter. You could get so burned out if you're working every hour. And that's so interesting, Rach, because when sometimes when I call you or we talk or I see you even on social and it's at nighttime and I'm still working and you're not, I’m like, wow, that’s so great that she’s sitting with her family, eating, or composting now. I know that’s your new thing. And so now I get it that you would leave an office, and you're like, “No, I left that at the office.”
RACHEL: I had to, because I didn’t—
AMY: Okay. This is big, guys, because—
RACHEL: Yeah. —I didn’t used to be that way, and it really affected my health, and I had to make the decision.
And honestly, it's like this. I always say, like, so you know when you're going on vacation and the day before you go, you hustle and you get everything done because you want to be able to rest on vacation?
AMY: 100 percent.
RACHEL: I think it's the same thing, when you give yourself set hours that you will work from home. So if you said to yourself, “At five o’clock or six o’clock, I am done. I'm not picking up this phone again,” then you will use the last hour of the day to make sure that you're set until tomorrow. We talked about this before, this idea of working on the weekend.
AMY: Yes. And you don’t, really.
RACHEL: I don't, I don't, because I just feel like I get burnt out, and I start to feel bitter. And I don't want to feel bitter. I want to be joyful about this work that I'm doing. And the only way that that is possible is if I rest.
AMY: Okay. I totally agree with that one, 100 percent. And I think that you are a great example. And here's what I love. You're sharing your weekends that are not work weekends online. I think that's encouraging so many of us to be like, okay, let's have a normal life right now, and then when we get to work, we get to work.
RACHEL: I feel like it's super important especially because I don't know how joyful work is going to be for all of us for a hot minute. And if you're just sitting there, staring at your screen, obsessing, you're going to be creatively depleted. You're not going to be coming up with great ideas. You're not going to see solutions. You're just going to see all of the problems. And so it's more important than ever to, like, that's why I took up composting. That's why I planted tomatoes. Well, you know, also, if the world ends, I will be able to grow my own food.
AMY: And you'll have pasta sauce. Thank God. So that’s a big deal.
RACHEL: Exactly. I will have pasta sauce.
AMY: Tell me what you think about this. One of the things, when you and I started talking about working from home, that I was thinking just, like, the little tactical things, what do you think about doing a load of laundry in between calls, and cleaning out a drawer here or there? These are the things that if someone hasn't work from home, their daily chores in their house are going to pull them into them. They're going to be screaming at them.
RACHEL: I never thought about that before. My gut is like, no.
AMY: No, right? Okay.
RACHEL: For me, I have to super in. I really am best when I am focused in my work. So if I'm going to write, then I need to write in a batch. If I'm going to do conference calls, I want a conference call in a batch. So the idea of being on this podcast with you and then running and throwing a load of laundry in actually would be very distracting for me.
AMY: So, for the record, some people might be saying, “Rachel,” or even “Amy, you guys have extra help, and other people can do your laundry,” and dah, dah, dah.
RACHEL: I don’t have extra help right now.
AMY: I just wanted to point that out to everybody. Yes.
RACHEL: Mama is doing it all, doing laundry. We're cleaning out the trash. We’re doing the whole thing. But I also, man, if—we're entrepreneurs. If the business isn't successful, then none of the other stuff, like, we can't have the house, we can't have the groceries, we can't have those things. And so that feels like a huge focus of time and attention for me. And I'm still definitely doing—I'm just doing them in the evening, or in the morning before I sit down to work. It's not to say that I'm not doing those things. I'm just allowing them to kind of rest and pile up.
Now, I also understand that I have two things that maybe not everybody has. I have a spouse who is here as well, so we're able to tag team what's going on with the kids. And I also have older kids were able to entertain the toddler. And I know not everybody has that. I know there are single parents; I know there are people who have toddlers that they’re trying to manage, and work at the same time, which is a whole other beast. And I’ve never done that myself, so the only thing that I could give you is hypothetical, which is, how do you work the work schedule around when the kids are occupied? So I spend a little time on Sunday, pulling some different craft things that I knew the kids could do. We already had these supplies and that it would occupy, okay, I can get an hour chunk of Ford painting these rocks for the new garden. I can have him occupied in these ways. But if you don't have that option and you do need to work from home, does it look like, as much as it sucks, you have to get up early before the kids wake up and get in a few great hours of focused time. And then when the baby goes down for a nap, you try, you know, you're going to have to get creative, and you're going to have to be, if you're working for another company, really communicative with them about what it's going to take for you to pull off this work from home, because you working from home and the preschool being closed, it's going to be hard. It's straight up going to be super hard to do.
AMY: Yes. I love what you just said. I thought that was really important about if you are working from home for somebody else and your kids are home and life does not look anything like you thought it would, you do need to communicate. Like, “Hey, I'm 100 percent on board. I'm doing this work-from-home thing. But I've got two, three kids at home. And so here's what's going on.” I think that, one, employers are very sensitive to that right now. But if you don't say anything and, one, you just get bitter about it, or, two, you just try to do it all and literally kill yourself over it, no one's winning there. So I think we all need to start over communicating right now.
RACHEL: Yeah. And basically, what I said to the team was, we are so keeping regular office hours, so I still want people working and available from 9:00 to 5:00 because I think it's important that we're all there at the same time, with the exception of people who are at home with little kids and don't have the luxury of like, “Oh, I can call my hours.” That’s not something everyone can do. So with those team members, we’re just being super flexible about, hey, they might be up at five o'clock in the morning, and then they might be working later on at night to knock out the stuff.
The truth is that when you have less time, you can accomplish just as much, if not more. You just can. You absolutely can.
AMY: Totally agree. So, I really think we need to hit that one home that you maybe aren't even working eight hours, but you might be getting more done now. One, because I really do think remote working, you can focus at a deeper level if you set up your situation to do that. Two, you're right. You have to get scrappy. And if the kids are home, you're not working the regular hours. And then, three, there really is that less context shifting, which I mentioned earlier, where you're not getting in and out of conversations as much as you would in the office. So there's definitely some perks and some great value to working remotely.
And I've actually had both, because for a short period of time on my team, we rented a co-working space, and so they were going into the co-working space. I am an introvert. I like to work from home. I like to work alone. So I did not go into it. That was another example of as a leader, I was failing in that sense. And so I hated it, and we ended up not continuing to do it. But I see the value in both. But right now, all we've got is remote. And so thinking about ways to continue the culture, I think you guys are literally the perfect example of continuing the culture at your dance parties, wearing certain things on certain days, and having fun in Slack. All of that still has to happen, probably a little bit more, because people are scared. And I love it.
RACHEL: Yeah. And I think we—something, too, I forgot that we do is there’s a lunchbreak Zoom. So if you want to—
AMY: Stop it. Tell me more.
RACHEL: It’s just like, “Hey, we’re all going to eat our lunch at the same time with Zoom on.” Especially for our team members who are single, and so they're literally isolated, by themselves, it gives them a chance to sit and eat their pasta salad while they talk to their coworker, even though they're not in the same room. So that’s a real—
AMY: I love this because at the end of the day, your team is going to thrive if, one, you're over communicating with them; two, they know what the heck they're supposed to be working on; three, they know how to work in a remote setting; and, four, they feel really connected to you and everybody else on the team. And so I think those are the things we have to think about.
RACHEL: Yeah. And I think part of knowing what your core objectives are right now—
AMY: That was big.
RACHEL: —and having the tasks assigned means that I'm really not focused on, like, is my team working eight hours? I have no idea. All I care about is are they getting done the tasks that have been set before them? because if everybody knocks out their tasks, then everyone's rowing in the same direction, and we're accomplishing what we need to accomplish so that we can survive and thrive no matter what happens.
AMY: Okay. I love that so much because it goes back to, if you do have kids at home and you're like, I cannot get eight hours in right now, but if you're crushing it with those objectives, then it shouldn't matter the hours. And when everyone's nickeling and diming hours right now, your team's morale is going to go down.
RACHEL: Yeah, 100 percent.
AMY: So that's the right way to go about it. I love that.
RACHEL: Man, thank you so much for having this conversation and answering ten bajillion questions about what it means.
AMY: Okay. I’m so glad we did because this is my most-favorite thing. When you and I get on a call, like, just for friends, this is the conversations we have. This is what it feels like.
RACHEL: What does the marketing calendar look like? Yeah. So this is very, very real. And I think I would encourage you, too, if you are listening to this right now and you are a small-business owner or a small-business leader, this is not the time to hide away. This is the time—I am calling all my friends in the live-event space. I am calling all my fellow entrepreneurs. I'm like, what are you doing? What's the plan? What resources do you have? This is the time to be in community. If you don't already have that established, then go find a group online. Join different—join your local Chamber of Commerce. Like, man, other people might have the answer that you need or might be a resource that will take you through whatever is about to happen to the economy. But you will not survive this if you try to work in a silo and do everything by yourself. This is the time to raise your hand and ask for help.
AMY: Amen. So well said.
So there you have it. I hope you loved this episode from the RISE podcast, and now the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast, all about working remotely. And if you want to talk about this, if you want to get in conversation about what's going on in the world and how to navigate and pivot in your business, we are definitely having those conversations in the Online Marketing Made Easy Facebook group. So just search “Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield,” and you will find me on Facebook. We've got a free Facebook group. Jump in there, and let's talk about it.
All right, guys. Can’t wait to talk to you again same time, same place. Bye for now.