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: Work @ Life, hosted by Sanja Licina and Maddie Grant, is a new podcast to my weekly roundup, and I can't recommend it enough. Hosts Sanja and Maddie explore the gray areas between work and life as they share data on relevant workplace engagement and culture topics: topics like new ideas on how to impact diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging today, and vulnerability in the workplace. I love those topics so much, so be sure to download Work @ Life wherever you get your podcasts.
Hey, there. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy. I hope you are having an amazing day.
One of the things that I get so many questions about from my audience is how I go about intentionally blocking my time to commit to tasks. So it sounds like such a simple thing, right? But let me tell you, there's definitely an art and a science behind how I block my time. And it's taken me a few years to really nail down, but I’m happy to report that I have a very specific formula for time blocking that helps me be very productive and stay on track.
Now, when I say time blocking, I mean if I need to record a podcast, if I need to write some content for a PDF, if I need to review a marketing strategy, all of that is different tasks that I time block. So it's just everything I do in the day.
So since this is a hot topic, I thought I would record a really quick, a Shorty episode for you and share how I set myself up to be productive and successful when I time block.
Okay. So first, let's talk about why time blocking is important. For me, time blocking is crucial to my business because it helps me get really clear about the action items I'm going to be doing that day. I wake up knowing exactly what my outcomes are and what to expect. It also helps me to cruise through tasks without context switching. And especially now, since we work a four-day workweek, minimal context switching is more important than ever. So that's why I do it in the first place.
Now, it all starts through my Google calendar and my project-management tool, Asana. So if you've been listening for a while, you know that Asana has helped my team and I immensely. I'm an ultimate fan. I wish they had an affiliate program; they don't. And listen, Asana’s a great tool to keep on track even if you don't have a big team, meaning you can use it as a one-woman or a one-man show. I think it's a great idea. And even when I just had a few people on the team, we were using it. Now, with twenty-plus employees, everyone uses it.
So each week or month, my executive assistant, Christine, and I know there are certain tasks coming my way that can be done in chunks of time. So we plan these chunks of time out in advance, even if I don't have the specifics of the tasks just yet.
Like, for example, my podcast manager will always have me recording podcast episodes about every six weeks. So before we even know the topics of the episodes or before we even have our Zencastr recording links created, we've put in time in my schedule, like, a big block of time for me to commit to recording those.
So, Christine and I generally know how long it takes for me to complete something because we've been doing it for a while. But if she isn't sure how long to schedule something for, she just shoots me a quick Slack and she'll say, “How long do you think it would take for you to record these five videos?” And I'll give her an estimate of time. I usually am more conservative versus aggressive, meaning giving myself more time.
A few more examples of things I time block include recording videos for my courses, recording Instagram videos, meetings, the list goes on.
Now, before we move on, I just want to say that what I love most about time blocking in my calendar is that I can quickly look at it and see what I have coming up and where I have extra wiggle room in my schedule. When you're setting up your schedule, I recommend putting in non-negotiables. So those may be things like doctor's appointments, dinner with your family, some personal care, things like a massage or workouts in the morning, and time with your loved ones. So you want to actually put that in your calendar and as much in advance as you can. Then, I'd go and add your time blocks in. So once you have those in, it's so much easier to look at your schedule and add in other small tasks and appointments.
So at this point you have your calendar set up with non-negotiables and your big time blocks, those things that you're going to do. Even though you might not have all the details yet, you know what needs to happen.
So here's what happens next: my team assigns action items for me to complete in Asana. And again, these action items that I'm talking about are specific tasks that I can batch into chunks of time.
So the task gets assigned to Christine. So this is very specific. My team assigns a task to my executive assistant, Christine. And she'll pop over to my Google calendar to see where this fits into my time blocks. Then, she goes ahead and schedules it for the corresponding date in Asana, and she updates my Google calendar with more specifics about the task, because we have more details about what I'm going to be batching.
Now, there are two things that I recommend you do in this process. The first is to schedule buffer time. And if you're not sure how long something's going to take, always schedule longer than you think, just in case. So Christine always builds in a buffer for me, and they're helpful. I know, I know. You're probably like, “Where the heck am I going to find twenty spare minutes?” But let me tell you, once things really start to stack up, you're going to want time for a quick breather. Especially when you've been recording audio or video, like, for an hour straight, you need to take a break. So a little bit of padding goes a long way.
And in that buffer time, like, after I record, let's say, two or three episodes of this podcast, and I see that I've got some buffer time, I usually go downstairs and talk to Hobie. I give him a kiss. We have a little time to just, like, chat and check in with him. Maybe grab a snack, and I come back up. So I really do take the downtime. But if something goes over, then, of course, it becomes a cushion for that. But usually, I get the buffer time.
Trust me on this one. Buffers are important. You'll see three or four on my calendar a day, twenty-minute little chunks of time. So that's the first thing.
And here's the second thing I recommend. If you're using Asana or something similar, sync it to your calendar. Here's the part of the episode that if you're multitasking, you got to come back to me. You do not want to miss this.
And I stumbled upon this. I didn't realize I needed it until I was, like, something's missing here. And then a couple of years ago, Christine and I figured it out, and it was, like, boom. This is what it was.
So again, I'm going to repeat it. Asana, or your project-management tool, let's say you wake up on a Monday morning, and you have ten tasks in Asana that are due that day. Christine, she's already taken those tasks and she's actually put them into my Google calendar in terms of how much time we think things are going to take, so I know in what order I'm doing things, but more importantly, I know that everything in Asana has been given a time chunk on my calendar, so it's doable, for the most part. I don’t always knock everything out. Sometimes I just lose time, and I can't get it done. But if there's a task in Asana for today, let's say record this exact episode, you can bet that there is a time slot on my calendar to record this episode. So my calendar matches my Asana tasks. And if you're a one-man or a one-woman show, you can still do this, whether it be on Sunday night for the whole week or the night before for the next day.
And what's cool is that I'll go over to my calendar—and this is a little extra. You don't have to do this, but I have an executive assistant to help me—I'll go to my calendar, and let's say there is a task to review a script that was written for a video. If it says “Review DCA Script,” that's what it will say on my calendar, if I click on it in the calendar, it will actually link to the Asana task. So then I just go to the Asana task. There's all the details I need, and you know, once I review it, where to put my notes, and all of that. So my calendar, individual tasks are on there, and they link to my Asana.
Now, you might think this is overkill. It is incredibly valuable. It changed everything for me in terms of how I manage my day. I highly recommend it.
All right. So that's what I do to actually block out time on my calendar. But I also use my Full Focus Planner to help me get the most use of my time blocks. So if you know me, then you know I love, love, love my Full Focus Planner. And the way I use the Full Focus Planner is to identify my top three priorities for the day. So the night before, I take a look at my calendar, and I look at anything in Asana, if I need some more information. And then I decide, okay, there might be ten things I need to do tomorrow, but what are my top three priorities? Come rain or shine, these three things are getting done. And the Full Focus Planner prompts you to do this, so I'm always deciding the night before.
And what this does is it helps me prioritize. If I lose time, if things are getting kind of crazy, and I'm like, oh, my gosh, these are going over. Or I had an unexpected phone call I needed to take. Someone on the team was struggling, and I needed to get on a phone call. It happens a lot. Then I know, okay, I'm not going to get this done, and I'm not going to get that done, but I am going to get these three things done no matter what.
And for the most part, it's pretty foolproof. Of course, I'm human, and there are times that I get totally off track. And here's what I do when I get off track. I actually reach out to Christine via Slack or in an Asana task, depending on what I'm working on. And I'll say, “Okay, I was able to get this, this, and this done, but I did not get these three things done. Can you please find a new time in the coming week or weeks that I can do them instead?” I didn't always do that, and then I tried to figure it out the next day, and I'd have, like, three tasks that were overdue that I didn't get done. I’d try to fit them in the next day, and I thought, no, no, no. Let's have the pro, my executive assistant—she's, like, a calendar queen—let's have her figure it out. So I will let her know what I did not get done. And the easiest way to do that is if you didn't complete an Asana task, I assign it back to her, with a note that I didn't get to this. Can you help me find a new time to put it in my calendar? That way, it's not all on me to figure it out, because I've just ran out of time, so I sure as heck don't have extra time to figure that out. But she does.
So I want to take a minute—and first of all, Full Focus Planner, having something physical at my desk to flip through is really valuable. I know that might seem overkill. Again, if I've got a Full Focus Planner, I've got my calendar, and Asana, it works for me. So if you like something tangible, amyporterfield.com/fullfocus. Amyporterfield.com/fullfocus. It will take you right to the planners that I love. You can check it out.
Okay. So to recap. Christine and I schedule out time blocks in my schedule along with the non-negotiables. Tasks are then assigned to me in Asana, with more specifics. And Christine, then, syncs up my Google cal with the Asana task. I, then, take a look at my schedule for the next day. So the night before, when I'm doing a shut down, you know, shutting down the day, I'll look at the next day before I go to bed, and I write down my three priorities in my Full Focus Planner for the next day. Then, I check things off as I complete them. And if for some reason I can't get things done, and it happens, I communicate with my EA. She finds a new time. We're moving on.
So, there you go. I hope you enjoyed this Shorty episode. I know that's a lot. I am a planner by nature. That is one of my most favorite things to do is plan out projects, plan out my day, check things off. That's just my personality, so this works for me. This might not work for you, but I bet you can take one or two things that I just shared and make them work into your existing plan to get a little bit better, to up level things. So consider Asana, consider using your Google calendar to sync with your project-plan tool, and consider a Full Focus Planner.
All right, my friends. Thanks so much for hanging out with me. And if you'd be so kind, will you please share this episode with a friend? If you know you've got a friend who loves to plan things out, is looking to get more organized and streamlined, maybe they'll love this episode.
And real quick, if you love my podcast, would you consider leaving me a review? I would so appreciate it. It helps immensely for other people to find this podcast. And we work so hard on delivering episodes we think you're going to love. So if we can spread the word, we would appreciate it. Leaving a review would help us do that. So if you have two minutes to leave me a review on any platform that you listen to, I'd greatly appreciate it.
All right. Thanks so very much. And I'll see you Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness, same time, same place. Can’t wait.
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