“Don’t ever lie to yourself.”
I’ve always found this phrase mysterious and scary. It would caution me against something I had no control over or would not have been able to spot on my own:
I mean, how are you supposed to know that you’re lying to yourself? When you’re lying to others, at least you have a point of comparison, a truth that you’re hiding or twisting in order to “help” someone else (that’s what we tell ourselves anyway).
But when you’re on your own, there’s nobody but you listening to your “lies” how can you hide anything from yourself or soothe yourself into believing that something isn’t true? How can we catch ourselves doing it and never do it again?
We can go down the rabbit hole for a while, but I would like to explore one indicator of lying to ourselves.
Lying to ourselves means telling ourselves a convenient story.
“I don’t have the time” is one such convenient story.
I hear it a lot from myself and other online business owners like myself.
When I was more busy and less mindful, I’d believe this story and go on with my life, not having enough time for anything seemed a helpful mantra. These days I stop every time I tell myself this and explore it.
Last week I shared about bringing the zest into your business, the brave job of becoming authentic, creative and memorable.
You’ve got the plan, the community and the reasons to flex your creative muscles, but now you gotta find the time to do it. Because who has time for a community when you have a business to run? Who can take another course when you have to sell your own? Who has fun these days?
“We’ve got so much to do and so little time that the idea of spending time doing anything unrelated to the to-do list actually creates stress. … We even convince ourselves that sleep is a terrible use of our time.” Brené Brown.
Here’re my 3 tips to keep it simple and doable.
Tip 1: Just 15 minutes a day…
Teachers who leave the security of their classroom and become teacherpreneurs are my audience. I’ve lived their story, I’ve walked in their shoes. I continue listening to their stories every day, and one trend is fleshing out in their work.
“Learn XYZ in just 15 minutes a day.”
More teachers realize that their clients have no time to learn what they want to teach them, so they resort to packaging their services in attractive time capsules.
The irony of this is some of these are the teachers who can’t find 15 minutes a day to be creative, to do what they love, like learn a new language, read a book/blog, write a few paragraphs or listen to music.
From the standpoint of marketing, any message that isn’t authentic doesn’t sell. It’s mechanical and rigid, and while it may work for those who rarely read sales pages or buy online, it doesn’t work for the savvy online audience we’re serving.
Whether you teach a language or Pilates, the moment you offer bite-size chunks of information and sell the message of “you can do it in 15 minutes a day,” you need to show empathy.
You need to assure your audience that you know what it’s like to find that time and do that one thing you’ve always been meaning to do.
So find that time. Maybe it’s 15 minutes before you sit down to answer your emails. Maybe it’s 15 minutes before everyone in your home wakes up. Maybe it’s 15 minutes when your kid is sitting on the potty (my realities here).
Become the captain, not captive of your time. Reap the empowering feeling of control and the delicious fruit of your creativity.
Become the captain, not the captive of your time ~ Click To Tweet
“It all starts with those 15 minutes in a day. Let your dream become a reality in your life by carving out of your busy, busy day, those 15 minutes that are yours and yours alone. Schedule it with the same urgency you would a business meeting or a doctor’s appointment.” Elfin Waters, written for our Virtual Blogging Retreat.
Task 1: What is 1 exercise that boosts your creativity? What have you said you have no time to do yet you enjoy? Find 15 minutes every day to do it. It can be writing, coloring, drawing, playing a musical instrument.
Tip 2: Reward yourself
That was the main principle I taught to College students years ago. If you want to manage your time successfully, but struggle with getting stuff done, create your own rewards system.
Here’re some ideas:
- Listen to your favorite piece of music after you complete a time-consuming task.
- Take a walk/a ride to a place you like.
- Go to a coffee shop and write
- Color a page or sketch
- Play a music instrument
- Read a chapter from a book you like
- Do nothing that’s on your to-do list
You may not “have the time” to do any of the above, but you can choose to make them creativity boosting rewards for “doing your duties.” Try it, and you’ll add color to your life!
Task 2: Pick 2 rewards for this week. Spend a few minutes doing something creative after you’re done with exhausting tasks.
This week I will find 15 minutes a day to be #creative. Join the challenge! Click To Tweet
Tip 3: Redesign your business to free up time.
You know what it’s like. You’re so busy you can’t answer an email, let alone be creative. Your tasks and duties are piling up, and soon you ask yourself why you started this business in the first place if you’re always busy.
At some point I realized that the core of the problem was also the schedule I had. I mean, we all want to be “booked up,” but how helpful is it if it keeps you from being prompt with email inquiries, consistent with content, social media engagement, etc.?
This is where you need to re-design your business to work smarter. It’s not a one-day process, and it’s not something you do once and enjoy for the rest of your life. From time to time, I find myself in a time crunch, so I stop everything and ask myself why I’m so busy and what I should do.
Here’re my typical solutions:
Set up and respect your time boundaries.
- You don’t have to work over the weekends or holidays.
- You don’t have to be on all social media channels.
- You don’t have to meet with people to “discuss collaboration ideas” if they can’t send you a written proposal.
- You don’t have to engage in “social media” wars.
- You don’t have to explain yourself in an email chain (if people question you, they’re not your clients).
- You don’t have to win everyone’s love. Some will love you, some – not so much. Focus on how to serve the first group.
In the environment where some industry leaders post their 6-figure reports and boast on doing everything on their own, delegation isn’t popular.
“It only takes a few minutes!” Have you told yourself this?
I know I have, but since I began building a team, I’ve noticed an important change in the way my business runs. Here’s what I’ve learned.
There’re 2 elements of an online business we need to know of (it’s really basic, sorry if you’re a marketing expert):
- The tasks that bring in money (client work is the fastest).
- Everything else – support (visibility through social media, client support, web development, product design, etc.)*
*If you’ve never worked online you also worry about the how to aspect, so you spend a lot of time on basic things like learning Google docs or Slack, which slows you down considerably.
Most of us when we become “entrepreneurs” get stuck in 2. We are on social media all the time, we talk logistics, we build our websites, make our products from start to finish, try to sell them, etc. And it’s OK in the first year or so, but it can’t go on forever.
If we get stuck in the “I’ll-do-it-myself” rut, we don’t spend the time bringing in the money to support any of the above.
I know this sounds scary, but think about it: what if you focused just on bringing your clients, while your team would do the majority of the support work?
What if all you did was look for opportunities to engage with prospects, create programs, enroll people, while someone else did the back-end like sales pages, campaign scheduling, etc.
I can tell you from experience: you gain time and you begin making more money. You focus only on the things that nobody else can do for you, while your Virtual assistant makes sure other things are working properly.
Which projects are you struggling with that aren’t directly bringing you money? Are you forgetting your appointments? Your social media is neglected? Your 5-year-old website needs a face-lift? Write down all the projects and pick one. Then find a person to help you.
- Quit lying to yourself. If you don’t have 15 minutes a day, you don’t have a life. Change your schedule so you have 15 minutes a day to practice creativity.
- Learn to incorporate creativity into your business consistently and see where it leads you.
- Hang out with creative people. No, you don’t have to be a Picasso to be creative! You know what’s better than creativity? Collective creativity. Some projects can only happen in communities. Join our Smart Teacher’s Library, pick one topic, and learn. Spend 15 minutes a day watching/writing, then share in the forum, and see where you are in 30 days.
Who’s in? ~ Let me know!
Sign your name below if you accept the challenge to find your 15 creative minutes every day for 1 week. ~ Elena