AMY PORTERFIELD: “I always have buffers because I don't want it to be so tight that one meeting that runs over or one podcast that takes me longer than planned screws up my entire day, and it's like a domino effect and everything falls apart. So if you can start to get into the practice of adding a little buffer to your calendar, I promise you, you will not feel so depleted and so tired at the end of the day.”
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: My latest podcast obsession is My First Million, hosted by Sam Parr and Shaan Puri. They discuss how companies made their first million and brainstorm new business ideas based on the hottest trends. They recently released an episode with my friend Nathan Barry from ConvertKit. It was called “How to Become a Billion-Dollar Creator.” And I loved when Nathan talked about some of his biggest failures and what he'd do if he had to start over. You know I'm a sucker for conversations like that. You can check out My First Million wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Well, hey, there, friend. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy, and thanks so much for joining me here today. Today we're talking about three things that you should avoid doing to stay on top of your game, because let's be honest: it's that time of year when some of those goals that you set for quarter one or in the new year may be starting to slip. Or maybe you were just a bit ambitious in setting your goals and you're feeling a bit overwhelmed and even disorganized. I can't even tell you how many years I've set goals that were so audacious and so overwhelming that by the time I got to quarter two, I was like, I'm not even looking at them. They scare me. They’re too much. I piled on way too much in quarter one, and I'm working like a dog to get it all done. And by quarter two, I'm like, I need a break. And then I stop looking at the goals, and then I don't look at them all year long.
This has happened in my past. I am not proud of it. But no more because one thing I did—I did a whole episode on some of the goals that I've set. You can go back and listen to that episode. I'll link to it in the show notes as well. But I did this episode on some of the goals I've set—and one of the things that I did, and I learned this from Michael Hyatt through his Full Focus planner and his goal-setting workshop, is that you don't want to set a bunch of goals where they all are in quarter one or quarter two. You've got to spread them out through the year so that you don't have that quarter-one overwhelm. So I learned that the hard way, but I learned it. So anyway, that's one thing that's helped me.
But there's a few other things that have helped me along the way so that I stay top of my game. And you know as an entrepreneur we got to stay top of our game. We got to stay in it, focused, head down, doing the work, and, hopefully, enjoying the journey as we go. So with that, I wanted to share a few things with you that I actually avoid doing to stay on top of my game, especially when I start to feel a little burnout. So sure, this episode could be the three things I do to stay on top of my game. But this, with a little twist, is things I actually don't do so that I can stay on top of my game. So these things help me stay organized, on task, and also give me a little bit of time and space to just breathe. What a concept, right? I call it the white space.
So, quick question before we get started. Have you shared this podcast with a friend? And if not, could you please do me a favor? Grab the link to this episode or grab a link to the show and share it with a friend that's also on their entrepreneurial journey. My mission is to use my podcast to help as many entrepreneurs as possible, so I'd be so grateful if you could help me out with that.
All right. So, let's dive in.
The first thing that I avoid doing to stay on top of my game is ending the workday without a plan for the next day. And here's the thing: that plan has got to be on your calendar. So I'm going to repeat this one. To stay on top of my game, I end the workday with a plan for the next day, and it's actually in my calendar. So what that means is that if I am going to plan for five tasks tomorrow, five things that I'm going to get done tomorrow, like record a podcast, get on a call with my PR team, edit a chapter of my book, whatever it might be, then I actually have time slots on my calendar for each of those tasks.
So together, my executive assistant, Christine, and I will work on this, and she'll say, “Okay. Tomorrow you are going to edit a chapter of your book. How long do you think that's going to take you?” And through Slack or through Asana, real quickly, I'll respond back to her and say, “Okay. Give me an hour for that.” And then she knows to find an hour in my calendar to give me that task.
Now, over time, we've worked together for years now, so she knows how long things usually take me. If I'm doing a podcast episode, she'll give me an hour per podcast episode. But new things, she's just going to ask me, “How long do you think this is going to take you?” and then she plans accordingly.
So let's say if I have three videos to record as one task, but I've got an hour to do it, then that would just be in one-hour chunk, record these three videos. But it has to be on my calendar. So if there's an Asana task assigned to me on Thursday, then there's a specific time slot in my calendar for Thursday with that task.
I know this might seem like overkill to some, but it changed my life. And I'm actually not even being dramatic: this changed my life, knowing that every task I’m committing to today actually is on my calendar.
And the reason I started to do that is, have you ever sat down and wrote down a list of all the things you're going to get done that day, and then you get done half of them? And if you really looked at that list, you'd realize, “I never had the time to do all of these. There weren't enough hours in the day to get all of this stuff done.” And I was sick of feeling defeated every day, that I had a list of ten things, and only five of them got done, and I felt like a loser at the end of the day.
Now, using my Full Focus Planner—shout out to Hyatt & Co. You guys all know how much I love my Full Focus Planner—that helped immensely. But this idea of planning my tasks and then putting them into my calendar in time slots, ooh, chef's kiss. I mean, it was just perfect. So I highly recommend you do that.
And a little side note. Every week I meet with my executive assistant for about forty-five minutes, and that is a great time for her to come to me and say, “Okay. I’m looking at some of the things you need to do next week. Let's talk about how long you think, roughly, things are going to take you,” so she can knock out a bunch of that on our call as well.
Okay. And one more side note. I did an episode—it was episode 433, and it's called “How to Create an Ideal Week for Optimal Focus, Productivity, and Well-Being.” So if you go to amyporterfield.com/433, that's an episode that might help you create your ideal week, and then it lends itself well to knowing the tasks you want to work on each day throughout the week. So, just a side note, an extra episode that might help you.
So, let’s get back to it.
Once I have my daily tasks on my calendar and everything is set for the week, I always make sure to look at my calendar the day before. I'm never surprised in the morning about what's to come. So when I'm shutting things down at, let's say, five or six p.m., I take time to look at tomorrow's calendar and make sure that I'm very clear about how the day is going to go. And if I have any questions, I'll ask Christine. If anything kind of isn't sitting well, I'll figure it out in advance, because I love to hit the ground running in the morning. And so taking a little time before I shut it down helps me immensely.
So, the biggest takeaway here is when you fiercely manage your calendar or have someone to help you manage your calendar for you, you win the day. And when I'm done, at the end of the day, I feel very accomplished, and that hasn't always been the case. So if you're ending your workday feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, overworked, just mad that you didn't get the stuff done, try what I just laid out for you here. You have to be really diligent and intentional, but you will win the day. I promise you that.
Next step, number two, avoid a complex morning routine. So I've talked about morning routines on the podcast before, and I think they're really, really important. Where I got off my game is when I tried to make my morning routine, like, ten different things. And although I am a morning person, I don't like waking up and having a checklist of ten things I have to do every morning, and then, boom, I’m right into work. So I've realized for me—and you have to kind of understand what works best for you—I do like easing into the morning, because once around 8:30 hits, I'm game on until six. And so it is, because I work a four-day workweek, those days are packed. So I love the idea of a slow morning.
So here's what I do. I wake up at 5:30 every morning, and one of the best habits I have been able to break, or one of the habits I've been able to break—not the best habit—one of the habits I've been able to break is hitting the Snooze button. I learned that from Mel Robbins, and she teaches this in her book, but also, I'm in this really fun group challenge she's doing right now, and one of the things you can't do for sixty-three days is hit that Snooze button. And that has been life-changing for me because I feel really good that I just get up and I get at it.
So, 5:30 rolls around, I jump out of bed, I say a little prayer, and then I go out into the living room—Hobie’s still sleeping—and I make a cup of coffee. These days it's mud water because I have given up coffee because of my anxiety. So if you've heard of mud water, it's, like, one-seventh of the caffeine, and it tastes pretty good, although the name doesn't sound so great, right? And so I have my mud water, I sit on the couch with Scout, and I do some journaling. And then although people say you shouldn't do this, I scroll through social media for ten minutes max. I don't let myself stay there too long. I like to look at the news. I like to look at Instagram, just kind of see what’s going on. Again, I am just easing into my morning.
And then from there, I work out. So I do at least thirty minutes of moving my body every day, whether it be weights or on my Peloton Tread or if it's not too cold outside, taking Scouty for a walk. But these days, I'm not doing that; Hobie does it little later in the afternoon. So I get my workout in, and then I come back, I have a little time with Hobie in the morning because by then he's up. We have one more cup of coffee together, and then from there I get in the shower, I get ready, I eat my breakfast, I take my supplements, and boom, I'm ready for work.
Now, that might sound like a lot to you—I doubt it—but some other people have, like, ten other things that they do, and I just noticed that I just wasn't doing them, and then I just screw up my whole morning. And can you imagine, if you can't get to your morning-routine list of things you want to do, if every morning you're not hitting all the things you want to do, by 8:30, you've already feeling like you're failing, and I just want nothing to do with that. So I like this idea of an easy morning because I know come 8:30, I am head down, full force, working on all the things until usually around six p.m. I mean, I always take a lunch break, but you know what I mean. I'm just in it. So that feeling of just easing into my morning helps immensely.
One thing I'll tell you is I used to, because I am such a morning person, I used to get up and work for the first hour. From 5:30 to 7:00, an hour and a half, I’d do some kind of work, usually what I didn’t get done the day before. And I’d try to make up for it, and then I’d start my morning. And it was just a yucky way to start your morning.
Now, I wrote my book in the morning very early, but I'm not writing my book right now. We're in editing, so I don't need to wake up and do that. So that was the only thing that that did work for me, writing it in the morning. But other than that, I don't want to do other work in the morning. I'd like to just say I start work around 8:30. I'm good to go.
So, a little morning routine allows me to have a great day; an intense morning routine does not. And so I avoid an intense morning routine. I don't want to feel rushed. I don't want to feel forced. I don't want to feel like I have to work before it's even 8:30. So that's helped me immensely.
All right. Number three, don't pack your day so tight that you literally can't breathe. Now, I mentioned that I have a full day, like head down, 8:30 to six p.m. I do have a lunch break in there. But what I didn't tell you yet is I also have buffers in my calendar. You'll see thirty-minute or one-hour chunks of time with literally the name Buffer on them. That means that in between meetings, in between Facebook Lives, in between trainings I do, in between recording podcasts, my EA will give me a thirty-minute buffer where I have a minute to breathe, go cuddle with Scout, go take a pee, go take a quick walk, talk to Hobie, whatever it might be. Because I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience, but when you work from home and there’s other people in your house that are home while you’re working, and they’ll come in, and they’ll want to talk to you. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve had moments where you’re like, “I can’t talk right now. I’ll come down later. I can’t do this right now. I’m trying to record a podcast.” Or this is my famous one with Hobie, “I got to go live in ten minutes. What is it? Then, talk fast.” I mean, that’s not the best experience, right?
So, when I have these buffers, I can always, in a calm voice, say to Hobie if he happened to come upstairs, “Hey, babe. I have a break in one hour, so I'll come down and find you, and then we can chat.” And that feels good. But if I'm rushing him to say something to me because I got to get back to my work, that annoys him, which I get it. It would annoy me, too.
So the buffers help me be present for my family at home when I need to be, but also just give me a little bit of breather, because you know what it feels like to go into a meeting, then record a podcast, and then start editing something, and then go rushing to another meeting, and you're like, “Oh, my gosh. I haven't gone pee for five hours, and I'm starving.”
And so I always have on my calendar a lunch break, at least for thirty minutes. And I always have buffers because I don't want it to be so tight that one meeting that runs over or one podcast that takes me longer than planned screws up my entire day, and it's like a domino effect and everything falls apart. So if you can start to get into the practice of adding a little buffer to your calendar, I promise you, you will not feel so depleted and so tired at the end of the day.
All right. So, that’s my Shorty episode for you today, three ways that I stay in the game. And just to give you a quick, really quick, refresher, the first one is that I always end my day by planning the next day, and all of my tasks are in my calendar in time chunks. I also avoid a complex morning routine, and I ease into my morning because I know my day is going to be pretty solid. And I don't pack my day so tight that I literally cannot breathe. And those are three things that help me stay in my game and get a lot done throughout the day, throughout the months, throughout the quarters, and throughout the year.
So, thanks so much for hanging out with me today. And if you loved any of these or have any of your own that you want to share with me, jump on Instagram, send me a DM, or post about it. Tag me. I'd love to know some of the things that you avoid or some of the things you do to stay top of your game. I genuinely would love to hear from you. And also, if you know someone who would enjoy this podcast episode, please grab the link and share it with them. I'd be so forever grateful.
All right, I've got more entrepreneurial goodness coming your way, same time, same place on Thursday, so I'll see you then.
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