AMY PORTERFIELD: “You can look at theme days as a sort of batching. I do this to avoid context switching. So when you're constantly switching from one thing to the next, you're not being your most productive self. Your mind is going in a million different directions. So go ahead and give yourself some daily themes to try to keep things more organized.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the 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 a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: If you know me, then you know that the Goal Digger Podcast, hosted by my friend Jenna Kutcher, who is also part of the HubSpot Network, is one of my favorite podcasts. What I love about Jenna's podcast is that she shares life and business tips, from productivity hacks and business strategies and mindset shifts to daily inspiration, and so much more. Episode 528. It's called “Surprise! I Wrote a Book!” It gave me all the feels because she shared the real raw story of what inspired her to write her very first book, and she shared her process. So good. Listen to the Goal Digger Podcast wherever you get your podcasts. And now, back to the show.
Well, hey, there, friend. Thanks for joining me on this lovely day, wherever you are in the world, and just know I'm grateful for you, and as always, I create every episode of Online Marketing Made Easy with you in mind. Like this one, for example. If I would have created an ideal week early on and stuck to it, and that's the kicker, oh, jeez, my life would have run a whole lot smoother.
Now, there might be some of you out there getting ready to change the podcast episode. Like, I'm moving on, feeling like you're too green to create an ideal week for yourself. You're just trying to barely hold on to get to the end of the week, which is totally normal when you're just starting out in your business. But I want to stop you right there, before you say, “Yeah. But Amy, I'm still working a nine-to-five job. What good would an ideal week do for me?” Trust me, the earlier you start organizing and setting up your week to align with your goals, both personally and professionally, the quicker you'll achieve them, the happier you'll be, and the more focused you'll stay. Plus, this will only set you up for the days, in the not-too-far future, where you're running a six-figure online business. That's right. That's coming for you. I can feel it.
But let me also take a moment to talk to those of you who have been an entrepreneur for a bit. If you don't have an ideal week and if you're not taking the time to set it up and commit to it, that's the part that's most important, well, follow these steps and your life is going to get a whole lot easier. But, also, I get it. Honestly, I didn't truly, truly, truly commit to my ideal week until about two years ago. And for reference, that's about eleven years into my business. I definitely didn't do myself any favors waiting that long.
So, in this episode, let me help you create your ideal week. I'm going to share some hacks I've used to really hone in and stick to mine, and you can use these whether you have a virtual assistant or not, but we'll get into how I feel about that, too. So prepare to walk away with a huge weight off your shoulders because here's my goal for you. I want you to step into a week where you feel focused and clear on what you need to do and when, and you're sticking to boundaries. You feel only the good stress—there's a difference—and you feel in control. But most of all, I want you to have fun working toward your goals and still had the free time to spend with the ones you love.
Now, before we dive in, let me give you a fantastic quote I'd like you to think about, and it comes from my mentor and my friend, Michael Hyatt. It goes like this: “You have a choice in life. You can either live on purpose, according to a plan you've set; or you can live by accident, reacting to the demands of others. The first approach is proactive. The second is reactive.” Cheers to being proactive. Let's dive in.
Before we get going, I want to tell you that I learned about the ideal week in Michael Hyatt's book Free to Focus. Highly recommend it. Get your hands on it if you don't yet have it. There are so many gems in that book, and this is one of them.
So, where do we begin with all great things? At the beginning. And that, my friend, is writing out your ideal week, putting pen to paper or mapping it out in a graph or table, which is actually what I do with my executive assistant, Christine. So, Christine, I don't know what I'd do without you. Everyone, please send Christine a little love. She is truly the best.
So, for example, I have a Google Doc that has a table with my workweek. So in the table, you've got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, because, as most of you know, I only work a four-day workweek. If that's something you're interested in implementing in your business—I wish I did it years and years and years ago—go check out episode 378, which is called “Could a 4-Day Workweek Fit Your Business?” I'll link to it in the show notes, but it's amyporterfield.com/378.
So, I've got this table in a Google Doc, and within the table, I fill out two things that are usually recurring. So one, any meetings that I have, such as specific meetings with team members. And I keep these the same each week, same time, same day, each week, each month, always. And then the other thing, which is kind of fun and I want you to do this, is that I set themes for each day. And this is actually something that Michael Hyatt talks about for setting up your ideal week. When I talk about theme days, which I mean is days or blocks of time that you dedicate to one thing, like content creation or podcast recording or live video or meetings. For me, what that looks like is that Tuesday is my video day. So I'm booking any video that needs to happen on that day. Does it always fall on Tuesday? No, but I try, for the most part, to always get it on the Tuesday. And Facebook Lives, training videos, podcasts, video recordings, stuff like that. And then Monday and Thursday are no-meeting days.
So some other ideas that you might want to do is you might do writing on a certain day. If you're writing a book, that's the day you do your writing. Or if you're creating a course, you might have recording days or content-creation days for the course. Until that course is done, that's what your ideal week would look like.
Here's an example. I'm writing a book right now, so my ideal week includes book-writing sessions, especially Mondays and Thursdays. But once that book is written, we will update the ideal week because those times or those themes on specific days will no longer be needed.
You can look at theme days as a sort of batching. I do this to avoid context switching. So when you're constantly switching from one thing to the next, you're not being your most productive self. Your mind is going in a million different directions. So go ahead and give yourself some daily themes to try to keep things more organized.
So this whole daily theme thing leads me right into the next important thing we need to talk about when it comes to creating your ideal week, and that is setting boundaries according to the week you've mapped out. So, for example, if someone is trying to get you to come on their podcast and it requires video, instead of offering a time on Mondays or Thursdays, you have some parameters and boundaries, and in my case, I'm going to offer a time on a Tuesday. So if it’s video podcasts, then it's going to happen on a Tuesday, if I can help it. So there's just less to think about on that part.
If you're anything like me, video takes a little extra effort than I'd like to admit. So I just want to be in the zone. Like, today is video day. Whatever comes up, there's a lot of video, I'm in it. My attitude’s great about it. Let's go. It's that kind of thing. And as I mentioned earlier, you're not going to be perfect at this. Things are going to pop up.
Like, I recently was on an Influencer Summit, organized by Brendon Burchard, and that was on a Wednesday. Brendon texted me, said, “Hey, do you want to be a part of this Summit?” I was like, “Hell, yeah. I'd love to.” And then he said, “It's on Wednesday,” and I wasn't going to be like, “Oh. Well, Tuesdays are my video days, so I'm out.” No. I really wanted to do it, so we make it work. So you got to have some flexibility as well.
But the point is that you must set boundaries, and you'll find that you can stick to them 90 percent of the time. But sometimes you have to make some exceptions. For me, because I only work Monday through Thursday and take Fridays off, I don't make appointments during my workdays. That means I don’t get my nails done. I don't go to doctor's appointments or run errands Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. I do it all on Friday or Saturday.
Now, I'm fully aware that I have the luxury of a flexible schedule. I don't have young kids at home anymore, and so my schedule will look and allow for very different things than a lot of you who are listening that have kids at home, have bigger families than I do, taking care of family members. I respect that, and I have compassion for that. I can only speak to what I'm doing, but I can also say this is going to look so very different for you, and the flexibility might be at a whole other level for what you're looking at in your life. But at the same time, I still want you to try to play around with this idea of an ideal week. I know many busy parents who do it, and they have to have that flexibility.
I remember like it was yesterday, running Cade from wrestling to football, back to some buddy’s house for some study session, and then back to wrestling. I remember those days, and they were not easy. So you have to take into account the season of life that you're in right now. Cade being at college makes for a very different world that I live in now.
So just be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, but don't think that you can't have some boundaries and you can't create an ideal week. And when you have boundaries, even if you have to break them sometimes, it does help you pause a bit to say, do I want to say yes to this, or do I want to say no to this? So I think that's important.
Now, speaking of saying yes, let's talk about how you can say no to things that maybe don't serve you, or maybe a better way to say it is that they just aren't quite in alignment with where you are now and what your goals are for the time being. When it comes to saying no, I've gotten much better in recent years, so I hope that maybe something I'll share here can help you to feel confident and say no in your personal and professional life.
So for me, I'm very clear on my quarterly and yearly goals, personally and professionally, and they are definitely the drivers of everything I do. If you haven't taken the time to set some for yourself this year, we're still in quarter one and you've got time, so go ahead and set those goals.
Now, especially because I am a people pleaser, I like to say I'm a former people pleaser, but sometimes I think once a people pleaser, always a people pleaser. It just kind of rears its ugly head. But I need my goals to guide me.
So here's what I mean. When I feel like I want to say no to something, but that people-pleasing feeling is coming up, I ask myself, “Will saying yes to this bring me joy or bring me closer to my goals?” Will saying yes to this bring me joy or bring me closer to my goals? And to be honest, I have a feeling you'll find this, too, the answer is often no.
Now, there is a caveat here, and it's that sometimes I just need to be there for a friend, and that's enough joy for me just to say yes to it. And sometimes this includes having to move things around, and that's where you make exceptions. But just be careful that you're saying yes or you're saying no for the right reasons.
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Next, I'm going to take you behind the scenes and share how I work with my executive assistant, my EA. But before I do, like I mentioned, I was going to tell you how I feel about having an EA or a virtual assistant, a VA, even if you're just starting out. So here it is. After thirteen years as an entrepreneur and having thousands of entrepreneurial students, I can say without a doubt that I think everyone, as you're building your business, should hire a virtual assistant.
Now, before you exclude yourself, just hear me out. You can hire a VA for just five hours per week and not spend an arm and a leg. Oh, my gosh. I sound like my mother. But once you hire that VA, one of the first tasks you should assign to them is to manage your calendar. This is honestly one of the biggest things you can do for yourself and your business and your peace of mind.
So here's what Christine and I do. For starters, I do not—I repeat, do not—touch my calendar. Do you know how long it took me to learn this lesson? Years. If Trivinia is listening, she was my second virtual assistant that I've ever had. And I got into my calendar all the time, and I think she wanted to slap my hand because the second I got in there, it literally took away her power as my VA because she didn't know what the heck's going on, why is this meeting here, why did you move that? And a really good virtual assistant knows how to manage a calendar like a boss. I feel like it's a game of Tetris, where you have to make all those pieces fall together the right way, and I think a really good VA does this well.
So, I do not touch my calendar, and I completely, finally, pass that torch over to Christine. Christine's the first assistant I've ever had that fully manages my calendar. I did an episode where it's, like, nine things I wish I would have done differently when starting from scratch. I wish I learned to let go of this earlier. So that's been a big thing for me.
It's certainly a discipline, and it takes a little extra time in the beginning because your ego will probably tell you, “It's just easier for me just to throw in this, or do that.” I was literally, before I did this podcast, I was on the phone with somebody about a project we're working on, and she's like, “Let's set our next meeting,” and I open my calendar, and I looked at all the different color boxes that Christine set up, and I was like, “I can't. I need you to email Christine. She will get on it right away.” And she's like, “Oh, no problem. Got it.” And I can promise you she'll be in much better hands with Christine than me with my calendar. So it's just it's a discipline. So don't take away your VA’s ability to do great things. Let them manage your calendar.
Now, if you have a VA or an EA, again, virtual assistant, executive assistant, because I run the business, Christine's executive assistant, where she is at a really high level of the job she works on and a lot of confidentiality as well. So this is what I like to do, so feel free to steal this. Christine and I meet once a week for about thirty to forty-five minutes, every single week. She manages when that meeting happens, usually same time, the same place, every single week. And in that time, we go over the last week and then the week ahead, and then she asks me any questions she has for me. So she's got the discipline of keeping most of her questions that are not absolutely timely, like if she doesn't have to have an answer right away, she'll keep those questions for our meeting. So again, we look at the week we just had; if I have any questions; if something didn't go well, I'll talk about it. Then, we look at the week ahead. So I look at my whole calendar for the next week. Then, she asks me any questions she has. And then if I have anything for her that I might have just been holding on to, I'll talk to her about it then as well.
Now, if you're not ready to hire someone to support you quite yet, one thing you can do is use the Full Focus Planner. And I've said it once and I'll say it a million times: I really can't live without it. But on Sunday nights, you take out that Full Focus Planner and you plan for your week and you recap the last week. So what I do with Christine, you can do it on your own. And this allows you to get clear on your schedule and what's coming down the pipeline. That way, if you need to go in and schedule something, you already have your ideal week in your planner, and it will simplify things for you so much. It just helps you make better decisions when you have your ideal week in mind with everything you do.
Okay. So, before we wrap up the episode, I wanted to give you a few more time-saving strategies that will help you stay focused, avoid distractions, and stick to your ideal week. These are easy for you to set up or give them to your virtual assistant. For starters, I know a lot of people actually set up an online calendar, where if somebody wants a meeting with you, you can send them a link and say, “Hey, you'll see all my open time slots, and grab one that works for you.” So if you're doing a lot of appointments and meetings with people really outside of your company, that might be the best way to do it. There's so many scheduling apps that you can use for that. I don't use that, but I know a lot of my peers do.
Another strategy, and this one is a game changer, create email templates, or as I like to call them, guided responses. So these are responses to things you get asked all the time. And you can do this in any email platform you use, and it will save you a ton of time searching through your email for the last time you sent a similar response that you can copy and paste and then edit to make it personal.
And then, also, another little time hack is to set up an email auto responder. Maybe you only check your inbox Monday and Wednesdays. So you set up an auto responder that says, “Hey, so glad to hear from you. I only check emails on Monday and Wednesday, so I'll get back when I jump back in. But in the meantime, here's some resources that might help you get the answer you're looking for.” So I’ve seen this done a lot, and I think it’s really cool.
So, those are just a few quick hacks that you can try out.
Okay. So, are you ready for your action steps, or should I say, are you ready to create your ideal week? I hope you just let out a big, “Oh, yeah!” Maybe the guy on the treadmill next to you is kind of looking funny if you're at the gym, but I don't care, because I want you to be excited about this. I want you to take it seriously. So I went over a lot here, but just at the end of the day, the concept is, what do you want your week to look like? How do you want to schedule things? How do you want the flow of your days to go? One of the most beautiful things about being an entrepreneur, especially if you're building your own business, even if you're still in a nine-to-five job but you're moving toward that, is that you are ultimately the boss of you and of your time. One of the reasons, like, one of the top reasons I left my nine-to-five job is I didn't want to be on someone else's schedule. So if I didn't want to be on someone else's schedule and I finally started my own business and now I'm on my own schedule, I better own it like a boss. Like, don't waste that. So for those of you who have left the nine to five or some kind of job where you had a boss, and you're doing your own thing, don't waste that, because there's a lot of people who would love to be in the position you are in right now. Don’t take it for granted is what I really mean. Be intentional about how you spend your time, and if you're still in a nine to five, still give this a shot in terms of what is appropriate for you right now, in this season of life you're in. It's going to look dramatically different than maybe even what mine looks like, but I still believe you can do this, with giving yourself some grace along the way.
So with that, maybe you're putting it into a Google Doc like I did. Maybe you're just handwriting it. If you've got the Full Focus Planner, there's a space in the Full Focus Planner for this, but I like it digital. So wherever you want to put it, I like it digital because you can change it and play around with it till you get it just right. But once you create it, if you do have a virtual assistant or a small team or a partner or a spouse, share it with the people that need to understand it, because they can support you along the way.
And hey, if you are a week or two into this new ideal week and you need to make a tweak, by all means, do so. You can adjust it until it's just right. And it will change how you run your business. It will change how you show up for your business, for yourself, for your team, for your students, for your clients. It's that powerful.
I can't wait for you to start experiencing ideal-week bliss. So reach out to me on Instagram. I'm just @amyporterfield. Let me know how it's going.
All right, my sweet friends. I cannot wait to be here with you again. This was a longer episode, so that means on Tuesday, it will be a Shorty episode. I’ll see you there.