How to setup a way for productivity and success?
We are always looking for that magic trick that will make things less overwhelming, make us more efficient, more productive, and all that good stuff.
So you start your day or your week with like a super long to-do list; you have the best of intentions; you think you got all this time. And then…before along you get wrapped up and other people’s emergencies either at home or at the studio possibly. Maybe other people’s responsibilities get passed along to you (which I have a good book for that, by the way). Or maybe like the things that are urgent but not important kind of take over, the busy work, the things that need to get done. But really at the end of the day you’re busy but you maybe haven’t accomplished much. Things like emails; creating graphics; proofing things; returning phone calls; ordering merchandise, things like that, that obviously has to happen. But, it can take up your whole day, it can suck up your entire day and then you haven’t really done anything to move your business forward, you just more like maintain things. Tell me if that happens to you, guys.
We end up pushing off those costumes ordering right now. It’s like a huge monstrosity of a project between the measurements; and the picking the costumes; and the looking at the budget; and the ordering; and the making sure they’re going to get here on time and everything like that. And then they come in and you going to make sure they fit and fix anything that didn’t come in or things that were wrong. It’s like a giant project!
End up pushing off important projects or things that would help us achieve our goals
What happens when we get wrapped into other people’s emergencies or this busy work or things get pass back to us? We end up pushing off those important projects or things that really would help us achieve our goals. Whether your goal is growing your studio; or growing your team; making more money; or finding more time to spend at home instead of at the studio, streamlining things. All of that, gets put on the back burner day after day after day after day after and week after week after week and month after. And then by the end of the year you’re like, “What happened? What did I do this year? I know I was busy…I know I was surely busy all year, like wanted to pull my hair out but I’m still just barely where I was last year.” Or maybe, “I’ve lost ground because I haven’t had time to implement anything new. I haven’t had time to try those things that I’ve been wanting to try because I’ve been just barely keeping my head above water.” as far as your to-do list goes.
Overestimate how much we can get done in a day and then get frustrated and beat ourselves up
The other thing that can happen is we can overestimate how much we can do in a day. And then get frustrated when you don’t complete it all and beat yourself up over it. And then you’re like, “Oh, how can I think I could get all that done in one day, or even in the week because those are all huge big projects.” We think that we can get like five huge things in a month and that’s not just the case, that’s just not going to happen. I think we need to look at that too, are we over planning because we are not being realistic about how long everything takes or we’re not being realistic about these extra things that creep into your day.
What can we do?
1. Set up only top 2-3 goals for the month (beginning of the month)
So here’s what I’m trying to do myself…So at the beginning of the month I’m going to try to (and maybe you can try this with me) setup only my top two or three goals for the month. I was using a planner which I really liked, it was called the phoenix journal and it’s supposed to be like a 90-day journal. It’s got list for every day, notes like your schedule and then it’s got things for like the week. But, a lot of my goals are really big for every week and I was not getting to it, I was not getting them all done and I was feeling like I wasn’t productive; I was feeling like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. But yet, what I probably needed to do after that happens once was maybe I don’t need to have four goals every week. I need to have maybe like two goals a week or one goal a week so that I can actually completely focus on it rather than feeling like I need to be killing myself and hassling and working really hard.
2. Break them down into weekly mini-goals - (recognize that there will be things that creep in)
I’m going to setup only two or three goals a month now and then I want to break them down into weekly like mini goals. Here’s this might look like for example, if one of your goals for the month is to get the fall schedule done. That’s one of my goals for the next few weeks; get the fall schedule done. Maybe to break it down week by week, it would be like week one would be maybe setup your school year calendar.
(Week 1) The date you’re going to start; the date you’re going to end; any closures; any holidays. Maybe you want to get your show dates on there, maybe you want to get some competition dates on there, maybe you want to get special events or mini-sessions. Or…if you’re going to have like a fund raiser or something like that, try to get those all figured out that’s a process in itself because you got to do all the research, you got to follow up with the venues, we got to do all that, and look at school calendars even, too. So maybe that would be week 1.
(Week 2) Week 2, would maybe be looking at the class schedule. There’s lots involved with that: what classes do we need to add; what classes do we need to switch around; what classes do we need to maybe split (that’s one thing that I’m looking is maybe splitting one class into two different levels this year); where are those kids going to go? Where is that going to fit in? Am I going to completely change our schedule? Or, am I going to try to fit it in somehow? Also, do we need more levels of a certain class? If there are certain classes that were all full very early in the year, do we need more sections of that class and where are those going to fit in? So that’s a big process, that would take a week, probably. So that’s week two.
(Week 3) Week 3 would be looking at tuition fees and any changes; any changes to registration fees; any changes to costume fees; any changes to discounts; any changes to team fees. Things like that, that’s all step that has to be figured out before you send out your schedule. Included in that would be looking out our revenue goals for the year; looking at our anticipated expenses and how are we going to make it better than it was this year. Do we want to factor in raises for our staff; do we want to factor in raises that are going to be coming up on our lease or on our electricity or on our insurance or anything like that, think about that. You got to factor all of that in when you’re thinking about tuition. You can’t just say, “$2 a month is going to be enough”, you have to look at, just take that extra minute and look at those other things before you decide. So that’s week 3.
(Week 4) Week 4 would maybe be finalizing everything. Maybe run it by your office staff, have them proofread times, have them look at teacher’s schedules possibly, and then publish. Putting it in jack rabbit or your studio management software; update the links on your website; maybe printout a nice pretty copy. However you’re going to publish it, that would be week 4.
See, it’s a big big project but if you can break it down week by week, it’s still a lot but it’s not quite as overwhelming. I think sometimes when we look at the big projects like that and we know how much work is involved and then we tend to put it off. We’re like, “there’s all these little projects I could get done and I’ll feel really accomplished and I feel like I really was a rock star that day” but really the schedule is important, these big projects are the important things. Without the schedule nothing is going to happen, it’s a matter of prioritizing it.
3. Organize your Google Calendar into time blocks (learned from Stacy Tuschl)
One thing that my coach, Stacy Tuschl, recommends is setting up your Google Calendar into time blocks. What she would do is she would say, “Take your Google Calendar and organize it into time blocks.” like from 10 to noon you’re working on your big project for the week. And then maybe at noon to 1 you’re returning emails. And then from 1 to 2 you’re doing other admin tasks that maybe aren’t as important. And then after that you’re doing teaching. And then you block in family time or you block in maybe personal errands or personal time for haircuts or dance appointments or errands or anything like that. One thing that it does for me when I do this is when I’m looking at my calendar I know if I schedule something in the middle of my big project time, I’m giving up some time to work on that or I’m going to have to move my big project somewhere else so that I don’t completely lose it. Rather than having all that white space in my calendar, she recommends putting in the blocks so that you know it’s already planned out…I’m going to work on this, I’m not going to be checking my email, I’m not going to be responding to phone calls. I’m going to be working on my fall schedule, or my costume orders or my completion schedule, whatever from 10 to noon every morning or from 10 to noon on Monday and Wednesday and Friday, whatever…and maybe have your kids with you during the day so your time blocks have to be different. Maybe your family time is during the day and so you have to figure out where you’re going to fit in that dedicated focused time for working on those things. Because you’re not going to be doing your most effective work unfortunately at like 10 o’clock at night. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, maybe you have to get up extra early and do it, which is not my favorite I’ll admit it I’m not really an early riser morning person. But maybe for a few weeks you might have to get up extra early before the kids to do that sort of thing.
4. Batch things together
With that time block system, it makes it easier to batch things together.
You can batch in:
Make a block for social media posting;
Make a block for returning emails;
Make a block for ordering merchandise or ordering supplies;
Make a block for paying bills or bookkeeping, or;
Communicating with your team.
Rather than doing daily check-ins, could you do a couple like quick 15-minute check-ins with your staff or with your teachers throughout the week. Rather than having to check in with them every day. So that’s a little bit of a communication system that you’re going to have to work on developing what’s best for you and your particular situation.
5. Delegate/Outsource or Hold Off or Eliminate - not urgent, not important things
Maybe you could set it up so that there’s certain things that are delegated. Maybe once you realize how much time you’re spending on these urgent but not important things. Maybe you’ll find more things that you could be delegating or could be outsourcing or maybe even completely eliminating; maybe there are some things that you can completely eliminate or put on the back burner for later.
6. Could set this up in Trello - lists for monthly goals, card for each week, checklists inside for any tasks
I have a Trello board that’s always all like ideas. Like ideas for later, do that! Make a Trello board or make Basecamp list or something like that. These are the ideas for later, things that I want to implement that are good ideas that I maybe saw on a Facebook group or saw on a webinar or saw on something; a blog post or something that I want to do but I just don’t have the bandwidth right now. I just don’t know who’s going to take that right now, but I don’t want to forget about it, I have a lot of those things.
Basically, trying to block out during your day at some point that big project. You know, plan that big project. Plan the big goals at the beginning of the month. Break them down into weekly and then allocate time every day to hopefully work on them. I know it’s difficult, and I’m not saying that I’m perfect at this either. There’s always something that comes up especially like recital weeks. Sometimes I just have kind of put those things on the back burner. And maybe that’s something when you’re doing your monthly goals, you could say, “OK this month is recital”; or “this month I have pictures. So I know I’m not going to have as much time to do these projects so everything needs to be split into these other weeks.”
Now one thing you could do, kind of going back to your goals would be – I was just talking about Trello – you could set this up in Trello where you could do like a list for your monthly goals (Trello is free by the way. If you don’t know or aren’t familiar with it) and then you can do cards which are the little squares for each week. And then inside each card you could do a little checklist for the tasks. I was talking about like week 3 would be analyze tuition and fees and then it changes, so maybe your week 3 card would be like, look at when are list rates go up; project a whatever 5% increase for electricity or insurance; figure out what new payroll might cost for starting in August. Things like that, like analyze how much of a difference income a $3/month increase is going to be. Our unlimited students are not going to be paying when we eliminate some of this…or when we raise their limit, or whatever. You know what whatever it is, whatever changes you’re thinking about making, you can make a little checklist for it inside that card and that way it will kind of help you keep focused.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.