When I launched my first business (a wedding blog in 2010), I fell into the same BUSY and HUSTLE mentality that SO MANY female entrepreneurs fall into when they become their own boss. I thought that hours and hours behind the computer was “the life of a female entrepreneur” and so I adopted the same crazy schedule and hustle mentality.
But that turned out to be a pretty bad life choice because I burnt out… fast!!
I knew I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing if I was just going to keep feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and just plain over everything.
I needed to change my ways and fast… so I did.
I actually changed A LOT of things over the last 10 years that MASSIVELY improved and upleveled my life AND business at 👏🏻 the 👏🏻 same 👏🏻 time!!
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THE 10 BEST THINGS I DID TO UPLEVEL MY LIFE AND BUSINESS
And while I’ve talked about some of these things here and there, I realized the other day that I’ve never really given a FULL and DETAILED account of what I did. Mostly because the things that I did are simple, basic, somewhat cliché things like getting up early, turning off notifications, setting boundaries, and taking better care of myself.
But then I listened to an episode of Jessica Stansberry’s GRIT Podcast (The Top 7 Things I’ve Done to Improve My Business and Life) and was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t talk about things like creating sales funnels, getting on YouTube, starting a podcast, hiring a coach, or joining a membership. No, she talked about really simple, basic, somewhat cliché things like getting up early, turning off notifications, setting boundaries, and taking better care of herself.
And that’s when I realized I’ve been MASSIVELY holding out on you guys!! 🙈 To make up for this, I’m giving you an INSIDE LOOK at the 10 things I did that have had a major impact on my life and business over the last 10 years!!
1 | I BECAME HYPER AWARE OF MY ANXIETY, ENERGY, PRODUCTIVITY, AND STRESS LEVELS
I’ve always been a pretty intuitive person. I have a good head on my shoulders and my gut instinct has never done me wrong or led me astray (although there are times I wish I had listened to it sooner). Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at listening to my body and actually paying attention to the physical, mental, and emotional signs that signal something is wrong or not quite right.
For example, I know that when I’m really stressed or anxious, my work and focus TANK. It’s like I can’t see the forest for the trees. And instead of struggling with or fighting against it, I take a step back and do something else, something different, something that calms me all the way down. (Like listening to Harry Potter on Audible.)
I’ve also come to know my energy and productivity levels really, really well. For example, I love getting up early and working when everything is calm and quiet. I get so much done during those early morning work sessions that I actively look forward to them and actually schedule some of my favorite things to work on during them. I also know that I tend to crash energy-wise between 1pm and 3pm so I intentionally schedule something lighter or easier to work on during that time or simply rest. (Cat naps are the best!! 😻)
2 | I TURNED OFF NOTIFICATIONS
I don’t remember the exact date I turned off notifications, but I do know that I have never once missed them. It actually takes a great deal of restraint not to ask people WHY they still have notifications turned on when I see or hear them out in public. Like, don’t they know those likes, follows, comments, and emails will still be there when they open the app during intentional (scheduled) check-ins?! #crazynonotificationlady
The ONLY notifications I allow are calendar reminders (because my Simplified Planner does not let me know when I’m 30 minutes out from a scheduled meeting or appointment) and text messages (but I almost always put my phone on do not disturb or airplane mode during the workday so that they don’t distract me).
Related Posts: How to Effectively Cut Back on Screen Time + What Happened When I Took Work Email Off My Phone
3 | I SET BUSINESS (AND LIFE) BOUNDARIES
When I first started working from home and working for myself, I didn’t have boundaries. I worked all the time, said yes to everything, and answered emails when I should have been sleeping. I experienced several different levels of burn out before I began setting boundaries in my life and business.
Now, I have boundaries around my time, my schedule, my clients, my students, my phone, my inbox, and even my friends and family. My only regret is that I didn’t set them sooner.
Related Post: Have You Set Business Boundaries? Why You Need to Be!!
4 | I LEARNED TO SAY NO
I’ve really come to LOVE the word NO. In fact, I say NO more than I say yes. I even say it to MYSELF. Because saying NO means I’m not wasting time on things I don’t really want to be doing. It means I’m not overcommitting my schedule or overwhelming myself. It means I’m not committing myself to things that really aren’t the best fit for me or my business or that don’t give me that jumpy, excited feeling in my stomach.
Pro Tip: NO is a full sentence. You don’t have to give a reason or an explanation. Just say no.
5 | I CUT NEGATIVITY OUT
I’ve cut A LOT of negativity out of my life and business over the years. Honestly, the older I get, the lower my tolerance for negative people, negative situations, and even negative talk seems to get. I try really hard to focus only on positive things because I just don’t want ANYTHING dragging me down when I’m trying to focus on staying UP.
Don’t get me wrong, choosing to see the glass as half full and finding something good in every day is WORK and it’s HARD… but it’s WORTH it!!
Pro Tip: Remove negativity from your social media feeds. If you can’t unfriend or unfollow someone for fear of hurting their feelings or getting called out, at least mute or hide their posts so you don’t see them. I promise it’ll make a world of difference!!
6 | I STARTED TAKING BETTER CARE OF MYSELF
Thanks to severe food allergies, a semi-crappy immune system, stage 4 endometriosis, and a uterine fibroid that caused massive internal hemorrhaging in July 2017, my body has been through hell in a relatively short timeframe.
The silver lining for all of these things is that I’ve become very aware of my body’s wants, needs, hurts, likes, and dislikes. I cut out all soft drinks except for ginger ale (which I only drink for medicinal purposes). I’ve cut way back on coffee. I never needed it for energy or to help me wake up, I just really, really liked it. But because it can anger the endometriosis and cause inflammation, I now only drink it as a treat once or twice a week.
I am also very protective of my sleep. Because my body is dealing with A LOT, sleep is my number one priority. No matter what is going on personally or what season of business I’m in, I always make sure I get the 7 to 8 hours of sleep my body needs. I’m an all-around happier human being and a better business owner when I’m fully and completely rested, so I do everything in my power to make sure I get it.
7 | I DITCHED MY NIGHT OWL WAYS AND BECAME A MORNING PERSON
Thanks to working retail in my early 20s, I was a serious night owl for many years. Even when I left retail to work full-time on my wedding blog, I stayed stuck in this awful pattern of going to bed late and getting up late that I couldn’t seem to break.
When I finally realized being a night owl was putting a serious crimp in my productivity style… I ditched my night owl ways and became a morning person!! These days, I am in bed and reading no later than 11pm so I can get up in the morning and get stuff done (because mornings are the best for this)!! And even though getting up early is still a struggle sometimes, I know that it serves me in the long run. It’s also the best way to get a little time back in your day!!
(This might be my favorite of all the things I did for a better life and business. Don’t tell the others, ok?!)
Related Posts: How to Become a Morning Person (And Why You Should) + How to Jumpstart Your Productivity in the Morning
8 | I CREATED SYSTEMS, PROCESSES, ROUTINES, AND WORKFLOWS FOR JUST ABOUT EVERY AREA OF MY LIFE AND BUSINESS
I am NOT kidding or fibbing.
I have a system, a process, a routine, and/or a workflow for just about every area of my life and business including keeping my house clean, getting my laundry done, how I start the day, how I end the day, how I write and publish a blog post, how I set myself up for success each day, week, month, quarter, and year, how I create content for Instagram, and more!!
Figuring out ways to make life and business better, easier, or funner by creating and implementing systems, processes, routines, and/or workflows is kinda my thing!!
9 | I STARTED PLANNING AND SCHEDULING ALL THE THINGS
#nobutreally. I started planning and scheduling all the things so I knew I would have TIME for everything. Overwhelming my day, my time, and myself is no longer an option for me (because it only leads to stress and burn out). I plan out my weeks on Sundays and I plan my days the night before. I schedule in time for my morning and evening routines, when I do laundry, when I clean, when I work, rest, and even play.
I’m not kidding when I say I’m a stress-free business owner and happier human being because I schedule EVERYTHING!!
Related Posts: How to Use a Digital Calendar and Simplified Planner Together + How to Use the Simplified Planner for Life and Business
10 | I EMBRACED A HEALTHIER FORM OF HUSTLE
I believe it was Mary Marantz that said, “You didn’t quit a 9-5 just to work a 24/7.” I definitely did NOT quit my retail job to hustle all the time… but as you read at the beginning of this post, that’s exactly what I did. Because I believed that hustling 24/7/365 was what I HAD to do to be successful. I experienced so many different levels of stress, overwhelm, and burnout before I decided enough was enough. I didn’t want to keep feeling that way, but I DID want to keep working for myself.
So I stopped believing in the hustle hype, I took off my busy badge, and kicked overwhelm to the curb. I created systems, processes, routines, and workflows to make my life and business better, easier, and funner. I started working smarter instead of harder. I opened myself up to new ways of doing things (because the old ways just weren’t cutting it anymore). I took back control of my day, my time, and my schedule, and in the process, created a life AND a business I LOVE at the same time!!
And that, my friends, is what the TRUE female entrepreneur lifestyle is all about.
I’d love for you to tell me what you’re doing (or have done) for a better life and business!! Better yet, take a screenshot of this blog post and tag me (@theproductivityzone) on Instagram Stories so I can cheer you on!! 🎉
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