In case you missed it, yesterday I posted my latest Work Week Vlog to my YouTube Channel! This vlog is another week in my life episode that shows you the behind the scenes of my life and business from Monday to Friday. In this episode, I am focused on the successful completion of my launch for the upgrade of Empire Building, I unbox and haul a few different fashion and beauty related purchases, share the birthday presents I’ve purchased myself and meal prep!
As you may already know, I work for myself full time as an online entrepreneur. I create and sell digital productivity tools, including digital courses, info products, printable productivity inserts, and ebooks. The best part about my business, to me, is that my income is mostly passive- meaning, when I make sales, I don’t necessarily need to do anything in order to process orders. I have intentionally built my shop as a self-serve area where orders are automatically processed and customers have immediate access to their purchases. Of course, this type of business means I have a very flexible schedule, however, I do tend to keep pretty regular business hours, as I do usually have a steady stream of work associated with the content creation and digital marketing I do to keep my business growing.
These vlogs are my attempt to share a deeper look into my business and the way I live so that any aspiring entrepreneurs or business owners can see how I spend my time, how I plan out my work, and how productive I really am! Of course, I do like to share fun lifestyle goodies as well. As they say “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”
3 Life Saving Productivity Tips You Can Learn from SCRUM
As some of you may already know, I recently read the book SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland and JJ Sutherland! Now, this is a productivity book that has been suggested to me many many times, and I’m glad I was finally able to fit it in because it really is quite a gem of a book. In my mind, SCRUM picks up where my perennial favorite Getting Things Done by David Allen leaves off. Where GTD is all about organizing tasks and being efficient, SCRUM focuses on teamwork and project management. Now, while not everyone works as part of a team (myself included) their are a few strategies found in SCRUM that I think should be used by EVERYONE who is trying to move projects and goals forward- no matter what type of work you do. Let’s review:
Concept #1: Inspect & Adapt
In scrum, the concept of Inspect & Adapt is used almost like a mantra for checking your work. In the book, the author describes previous methods of project management used within the technology sector that essentially ignored the concept and led to project management disaster. When you check your work as you go, insuring that what you are working on it is functioning and still part of the goals of your project plan, you know you are moving forward and have little to tweak or go back to once you reach the end of the project. No matter what work you do, this concept applies because we should always make sure that what we are working on is actually functional and still necessary so we don’t waste our time on tasks that don’t matter or don’t work! Every time you complete a task, make sure the next item on your list is still relevant as well and you will avoid doing more work than necessary.
Concept #2: 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule is a concept that I’ve relied on for a long time and it’s an essential rule for various businesses and situations. The 80/20 rule means that 20% of your effort will end up producing 80% of your real results. It’s interesting to think about, isn’t it and almost unbelievable but true! When I worked in sales and marketing we learned that 20% of our products drove 80% of our sales, and 20% of our customers did 80% of our total business. So it makes sense that most of what we do to achieve a project or goal really doesn’t have a heavy weight on the outcome. Instead, it’s the essential 20% of tasks that really achieve our ends for us. Now, this is something that fascinates me personally because I am always striving to understand what exactly the 20% is in my business so I can cut out the excess fat of the other 80% of my work that is really either a waste of time OR just minimally moving the needle. In order to evaluate this for yourself, when you start off with a project plan, I suggest identifying the key tasks that need to be completed in order for your project to come to a minimal form of completion that fulfills the basic goals of your project. Then make a weighted list of other tasks that would be nice to complete if you have time once the minimal work is complete. That way you focus your time and energy on the essential parts of your project and set aside tasks that you would like to do if time permits!
Concept #3: Impediment Removal
The final concept of SCRUM that I think is essential for anyone to use in their own work is impediment removal. Meaning that as soon as you see or experience a roadblock to your work, an issue, a setback, that you deal with it as soon as possible. In the SCRUM framework, the manager has the responsibility to remove this impediments, so if you do work for someone else, make them aware of issues immediately. But, if you work for yourself, you are going to have to get your hands dirty and deal with the problem. That doesn’t always mean that you will have a perfect solution for it- I think it’s reasonable to evaluate your situation and decide to sidestep the issue completely if it doesn’t have any bearing on your project (sometimes issues come to us as distractions, not actual problems), but taking action immediately means you can move quickly through your tasks without having this issue hanging over your head or having to make accommodations for it.
Tonight at midnight eastern, my sale on the new and improved Empire Building eCourse comes to a close. So, I thought it might be helpful for any of you still on the fence about joining the program, if I did a little Q&A covering some of the most frequently asked questions I receive about the program.
Q: How long do I have access to EMPIRE BUILDING?
A: You have lifetime access to the program. This means that for as long as the course is available you can access it and you will get course updates, like the major upgrade I just completed, as well as the forthcoming additional master classes and educational webinars I have planned for 2017 and beyond!
Q: Can I buy now and get in on the sale price but then start when I’m ready?
A: Yes! Empire Building is intended to be completed at your own pace. You get all the information and materials upfront and can follow along with the courses as structured or you can jump around to the workbooks and modules that you need the most.
Q: If I have a question about the course materials or applying different aspects of it to my business, who do I go to for support?
A: Me, of course! As a member of Empire Building you get direct support from me via email and inside the community on Facebook. Remember, part of Empire Building is that I am your personal mentor here to guide you, answer your questions and provide additional resources as needed- so you aren’t alone on this journey.
Q: What types of businesses are already inside the program?
A: I am very pleased and honored to work with a variety of different businesses within my program and have students from a variety of online business fields and backgrounds. Students and businesses inside the online community include:
Business Services (Coaches, VA’s, Editors); Health & Wellness (Health Coaches, Nutritionists, Trainers, NPO, Women’s Wellness);
Finance (Accounting, Investment, Bookkeeping); IT/Web (Designers, Bloggers, YouTubers, Social Media Pros); Spiritual (Reiki, Tarot, Astrology, Ministry); Arts/Crafts (Writers/Novelists, Hand Crafters, Musicians, Actors, Fine Artists, Makeup Artists, Photographers)
Q: Do I need an existing business or idea to get started?
A: You don’t need an existing business BUT, I do think you’d get more out of the program if you have an idea of what you’d like to do getting started. Going through the program will certainly present you with different business opportunities online and different ways to make money. I do encourage you to consider different options to add to an existing business or idea in order to maximize your revenue online but I always think having your own idea first is best. I’ve had many students join Empire Building with an initial idea and then working through the course they figured out what they really wanted to do and were able to become successful at it in a short period of time. I’ve also had students come in with a general idea of want to start a blog or youtube channel and then come up with a complete business plan to execute with multiple streams of income. It’s all up to you and how diligently you work to apply the lessons of the program to your situation.
Q: Will this course teach me how to set up my website and/or online shop?
A: Yes, within the course I provide resources including step by step video tutorials for how to set up your website, blog or online shop.
Q: I need a community where I can get feedback, is that available?
A: Yes! That is included in Empire Building. You will get access to the private Facebook community for Empire Building where you can connect with my other students as well as me for additional support and feedback. But, the community is not available separately.
Q: My business (or idea) includes lots of different income sources and elements, will I have to streamline down or apply your program to each of those individual elements?
A: No, you do not have to cut out elements of your business unless you choose to do that on your own, but you may find that you’d like to apply the program to certain elements separately. I am a firm believer that a multifaceted business is the best type of online business because you are maximizing revenue with different streams of income, and within my program I teach that as long as the different streams fall under the same overall brand, there is no need to treat them like separate entities. However, sometimes the streams do fall under distinct brands and it’s best to keep them separate so they are more effective. If you have questions, this is definitely something I can help you address.
Q: Do I have to sell my own products or services to make money online with your program?
A: Nope! I’m going to teach you how you can make money without having to start a product line or building services. I know it sounds a little too good to be true but it’s not!
Q: Does the program apply if I’m planing to create a YouTube channel to make money?
A: Yes! It applies to starting a YouTube channel to earn money, a blog, or any social media platform really!
Q: Do you offer a payment plan?
A: Yes! I Do! However, it is ONLY available during this sale period, so click here to access the first installment of the 3 Payment Plan before the offer expires at midnight tonight! Payment plan is 3 payments of $100, each paid once per month over a 3 month period and your content is dripped to you within the course website.
Q: What is your refund policy?
A: Due to the digital nature of my programs and course materials, I do not offer refunds. So, it’s important to read through my program descriptions and ask me any questions you have before you purchase. I am committed to ensuring complete satisfaction from my students and if you do experience any unforeseen issues with the program, let me know immediately and I will address it with you quickly and find a solution we are both happy with!
I hope this Q&A has been helpful to you if you are still on the fence about joining Empire Building! Remember, the sale ends tonight at midnight eastern, so let me know if you have questions- you can email me here!
Mastering Project Management | 3 Tools & Tips to take an Idea from Concept to Completion
Yesterday on my YouTube Channel I shared a fresh installment of my 3’s a Charm series that I think you are going to love! In case you don’t recall, 3’s a Charm is my new series where I will take a specific productivity concept or situation and provide three different tools, tips or resources to help you work smarter, not harder! In this installment, I am talking about Mastering Project Management and sharing three tools and tips on how to complete your projects, even big time consuming ones. Definitely check the video out when you have a moment and let me know what you think!
I hope you enjoy this video and I’d love for you to share your personal insight into some tools, tips and resources you use for project management in the comments below! Of course, if you have any questions or need additional insight, leave me a question and I’ll see how I can help!
How to Complete Personal Tasks and Goals if You Struggle with Competing Priorities
This week on my YouTube Channel, I started a new Q&A series to address the productivity issues experienced by my community. This is not a traditional Q&A series where I might take questions from a variety of individuals and answer them in one video, instead I’m taking one reader submitted email and breaking down their situation and how I would approach fixing the problem via a video response.
I am struggling with finding time to do PERSONAL tasks during the week. I work from home as part of a team, I have goals and productivity standards to meet, and also a baby! So, I tend to accumulate personal tasks to do for myself on the weekend, but most of the time I end up accomplishing only a few of them. I would also like to blog more during the week, and not only on the weekend when I just want to switch off and spend time with my family. I noticed that in the past months I focused my attention on being productive at work, but I have to be productive with myself too. An example of my focus on work only: I call the baby sitter only to dedicate myself to work. Not for doing something personal. I feel like I am wasting money and time when I do not use for work the hours when the baby is not with me. This is not good, not only for self care but also for being productive at work as well.
Thank you so much for your work and help.
The Issues at Hand
Lack of Prioritization
Lack of Focus
Too Many Tasks
Now if this situation ressonates with you and you find yourself constantly pushing off personal tasks because of competing priorities, definitely check out my response in the Q&A video!
I would also highly suggest checking out my Planning for Success Master Class. The video master class is info packed and walks you through my process for setting priorities, goal setting, managing tasks and creating routines to support your time management. It also includes many other productivity tools and strategies to ensure your life is running smoothly and successfully. If you’re interested in the class, I’ll go ahead and leave a link down below in the description box for where you can find it on the charmed shop.com.
Thanks so much to Cle for submitting this great question to me as part of the video Q&A! If you have a productivity related question or issue that you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A video, feel free to email me and it may be featured in an upcoming video!
If you recall from reading last month’s installment of my entrepreneurial series, you know that I got something of a slow start to the year. Thankfully, however, February was a much more productive month for me in many ways. I would say possibly transformative, but it’s honestly too soon to say. What I can say for sure, however, is that I spent much of February laying a solid foundation for the future of my life and business. I was recently talking to a member of my community about Empire Building and entrepreneurship and how I really believe that what makes an entrepreneur successful is their devotion to the idea that they need to live their life in a particular way so their routines and days set them up for success. In many ways, I feel like I took a step up on my execution of this idea and it certainly had positive affects on my success this month. So let’s get into what I did this month to make it all happen.
What I Didn’t Do
1. Overwork: Perhaps it was a left over from January, but I made sure I didn’t overwork myself this month. Did I get everything done? Of course! But I didn’t push myself to work just for works sake, and I made a lot of time for myself, rest and self care.
2. Switch my focus between multiple priorities: I had a pretty single focus this month, which was the upgrade launch of Empire Building. Nearly everything I worked on in February was related to the launch or supported it. I really liked this approach because I feel like everything I did was moving that project forward and I was able to dive deeper into the topics of my launch because I had spent so much time thinking about it and working on it without switching to a different priority or focus.
3. Pressure myself to execute new habits: I know building my magnificent seven habits was a goal for myself this year, but I didn’t worry about those too much this month. Some items, like self care, where done daily, but others like journaling were pushed to the side. I’m okay with this because I know that had I forced myself to check a box
What I Did do
1. Hosted a webinar: It’s been a few months since my last webinar and I have to admit, I was a little nervous about how it would all turn out. Luckily, everything ran smoothly the day of the event and because I was keeping a single focus on the launch this month, I was able to spend a good amount of time creating key marketing materials around the replay!
2. Launched an upgrade: Like I already mentioned, my Empire Building Upgrade Launch was my primary focus this month. This was the biggest upgrade to Empire Building so far and transformed the program from a workbook based course to a video module based course. With the addition of a new 6th module on Business Administration, I know Empire Building is now an even stronger and info packed program!
3. Talked one to one with my community and customers: Again, having that single focus this month gave me a lot of time to get creative with marketing and promotion. One of the things I was happy I had a chance to do this month was actually schedule some one-on-one chats with potential Empire Building students in order to help them decide if the program was right for them. It’s very important to me that I get the right people into the course
What I Learned
1. Single focus is a magical state: Because I was able to keep a single focus on an important project this month, I was really able to find success with my new launch and lay the ground work for long term business success through different marketing collateral and assets I built up. Purposely making sure you have less items or priorities on your plate so you can spend dedicated time on a key priority really makes a difference in quality of output!
2. To keep it simple: In order to ensure I had the time to dedicate to my single priority this month, I also made sure to keep everything else about my life and days as simple as possible. I meal planned all month, making bulk meals for lunch and dinner to make sure I had my food situation in order, and I kept my other obligations to a minimum.
3. A well laid plan is the key to success: As much as I am all about planning as a time management and success tool, I often get into ruts or states of mind where I don’t believe the plan will work. It’s like, because I can’t see the outcome, I begin to fear failure. This happened to me once again this month with the launch of my upgrade. I began to worry that things weren’t going to work out, but instead of panicking and changing the plan mid-stream, I told myself that I had to stick it out and if I failed, I failed and it would be a lesson. Of course, I was proven wrong in the end. The plan did pan out, and by sticking to it, even in those tough moments, I was able to ensure I stayed on the path I had so intentionally laid out before my journey began.
Again, I hope you have found this post insightful and if anything in particular stood out to you, feel free to tell me about it in the comments. I’d so love to know how your month has progressed, so feel free to share some details as well!
Of course, I love to see pictures of your planner inserts and wallpapers at home on your planners and tech gadgets! If you share a picture, please use #CharmedGTD so the whole community can see your setups and of course tag me @MissTrenchcoat as well in your pictures on Twitter & Instagram!
If you haven’t heard the excellent news yet, EMPIRE BUILDING HAS REOPENED and I’m currently welcoming new students to the program as we speak! This year is a major year for Empire Building, because I spent the last few months completely upgrading the program from a workbook based course, to a video module course. Yes, that means it is even easier for you to enjoy every bit of information contained in Empire Building and get yourself up and running with your online brand or business even quicker. But the new format is not all that’s new with the program this year, I’ve also built out a dedicated membership site for the program so finally everything for the course in terms of materials and bonus content is under one virtual roof! My favorite part of the upgrade, however, is the completely NEW Business Administration Module I’ve added to the program! Yes, you read that right, Business Administration! This means my best tips for helping you with your business planning, systems and finances. This module is information I have never shared before that gives you insight into how I plan and execute for my business goals and bring multiple projects and products to fruition each year for additional income and growth! Of course, Empire Building is loaded with extra workbooks, dedicated single topic master classes and of course our awesome Facebook community where you can chat and network with other like-minded online business owners in the process of building their empires as well. So, are you ready to get started building your Empire with Empire Building? I’ll leave that to you to decide!
How to determine if you are ready to BUILD YOUR EMPIRE:
This questionnaire is designed to help identify whether or not Empire Building is right for your business. Check off each statement that applies to you. If you check off all statements, the Online Business Bundle is a fit for you and your business!
I am interested in generating income via online platforms (check if any apply).
I want to start a product or service based business that sells or promotes online.
I have an existing business that operates off-line but I would like to use the internet and social media to promote or sell via online platforms.
I have or would like to start a blog and earn income from it.
I have or would like to start a YouTube channel and earn income from it.
I would like to become a social media influencer on ________________ and earn income from it.
I would like to add new online income streams to my existing business.
I am interested in creating and selling physical OR digital products.
I have or would like to start a non-profit organization that promotes online.
I have the temperament for an online business program (check if all apply).
I have a Do It Yourself spirit (I’m willing to do things myself to save money).
I am not looking for an easy button solution (I know this doesn’t exist).
I am open to business advice, and am willing to try new strategies and ideas.
I am willing to accept constructive critical feedback from others.
I have realistic expectations for my business growth/revenue (check if all apply).
I do not expect to be an overnight success.
I prefer steady growth through consistent effort as opposed to using questionable marketing ploys to gain a temporary advantage.
I understand that the actions I take (or fail to take) directly impact my success.
I know not every strategy will work, but I am willing to test different ones to find what works for me.
I believe that I will get as much as I am willing to take from any program or course.
I plan to use the information I learn for my own personal business (check if all apply).
I am not creating a product or service, digital or otherwise, that competes with the Online Business Bundle or either of the programs contained within.
I plan to use the information and resources shared within the bundle programs for my own personal businesses now and in the future and will only share them with mutual business partners on a need-to-know basis.
I will not knowingly or willingly distribute the copyrighted information or resources shared within the bundle programs.
It’s no secret, we all LOVE free stuff! Especially if that free stuff is information in the form of a free webinar filled with information on helping us build a better business! I join my fair share of business webinars, they are one of my favorite ways to consume information online, and of course, I host quite a few myself as well, like my new webinar ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK that opens today! So, with hundreds of hours of webinars under my belt over the past several years, I thought I would share my best tips with you for how to make the most of a webinar. After all, a free webinar isn’t like a free t-shirt or pen, it doesn’t have an intrinsic use and it does take us a dedicated period of time to absorb the lessons and information. So it’s up to us to make sure we are paying attention to the content, applying the information to our own situation and acting on what we learn.
Here are my BEST tips for making the most of a FREE Business Webinar:
• Show up LIVE: When I sign up for a webinar, I always put the date and time into my planner. I know most, if not all webinars provide a replay for at least a limited time, but for one reason or another I rarely watch the replay. I always get the most out of a webinar when I have time blocked off to watch it and show up live to make the most of the experience like I’m taking a live class.
• Remove distractions: As much as we have been mislead to believe we can multi-task, the truth is that humans cannot do to things at once successfully. So, I make sure that I remove distractions when I am actively trying to learn via a webinar. I’ll mute my phone, turn off notifications on my computer and put away other work. If I’m at home, I make myself comfortable at my desk, and if I’m out of the house for some reason, I wear headphones to keep myself immersed in the experience. I find that if I get distracted during a webinar, I end up loosing my place and don’t end up learning as much as I’d like, or worse, end up having to watch the replay just to catch the bits I missed and that ends up wasting a lot of time. It’s easier to just watch a webinar once and pay attention to learn what I need to know!
• Take notes: Most webinar hosts provide a download or worksheet to help you follow along with their information, but I think there is no substitute for taking your own notes as well. Note taking will not only give you information to refer back to, but taking notes also helps you to retain information better. Again, I don’t want to waste my time rewatching a webinar I’ve already blocked out time for, so I always take notes to make sure I am capturing all the key information I need.
• Watch actively: Along with taking notes, I also make sure I am watching actively. That means I am thinking about the ideas and information presented in real time. Although a webinar is a virtual experience, I approach the situation like I am watching a speaking live in front of me, sitting up straight, pen in hand, and fully emerged in the content.
• Keep track of ideas and inspiration: It’s not just notes on the content that I will track as I’m watching a webinar, but more importantly, the inspiration and ideas that emerge from the new information I am receiving. When watching a webinar, it’s not uncommon for me to think of great ideas that apply to my business or to learn specific steps I need to take moving forward. All off this is crucial information for how I can apply what I’m learning to my business immediately!
• Put actions on your to-do list: Once the webinar has ended, I review my notes and make sure to put any specific actions onto my to-do list or on a project plan. I want to make sure those activities actually get done and that I act on those great ideas that came from the content I learned in the webinar!
I hope you found these tips helpful to you for the next time you find yourself signing up for a free webinar! If you haven’t already, make sure to sign yourself up for ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK, my new FREE business webinar that opens today. You can consider it practice for this post and pick up some excellent tips and strategies to use for your own brand or business online. Win-win situation if I say so myself!
How to Use Functional Planning for a Busy Work Week
For the last few weeks, I have been prepping for the upgrade launch of my new webinar ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK, so naturally, I’ve had quite a bit to handle and very little room to waste time. So, of course, I’ve been using my functional planning method inside my Charmed Life Planner to ensure I have a game plan for each day. Yesterday on my YouTube channel, I shared a video walking you through how I functionally plan during busy work weeks. The video gives you a birds eye view of my planning process and thought process for how I will lay out my tasks for a full week. Now, if you are familiar with my functional planning process, you know I don’t normally lay out all my plans for a full week at one time, I prefer to take it day by day, but during busy weeks I find it necessary to lay everything out so there is no room for error. That doesn’t mean that I don’t allow for wiggle room in my schedule, just in case, but it means that I’d prefer to walk into my week with it set up for me to just knock out tasks and projects without having to plan and replan on the daily.
If you haven’t watched the video yet, I recommend checking it out! The following are some major points that the video covers if you want a summary of what you will see:
• Functionally Planning for a whole week begins with setting my Top 5. These are the 5 projects I need to complete or make progress on during the week because they are priority items.
• Next comes the Secondary or “Other” to do list. Of course, there are always tasks outside of my Top 5 that need my attention during the week and listing these out keeps me on track so I don’t forget anything else that may be important. Although these tasks may not be part of my highest priority projects, I do make an effort to complete as many as possible.
• Daily Top 3. In order to functionally plan and create mental focus for my workday, I set a daily top 3. These are 3 individual tasks that are the highest priority for the day. Generally these are project based tasks that must be completed in order for me to move on to future tasks in a project, but they can sometimes be tasks from my secondary to do list as well.
• Organize special information in open boxes. The Charmed Life Planner layout that I use for A5/Half Letter includes a blank open space at the bottom of each daily list. I use this space to break down special information, lists or project details that belong together. I find this is the best way to ensure I keep relevant information in the same place for tracking and completion.
• Build in white space. You will notice in the video that I do not fill up every inch of my planner before the week begins, I like to leave white space for me to add other information that may pop up during the week. I also make sure to balance my top 3 list so that I am mixing more time consuming tasks with some easier “lay-ups” as we can call them. This ensures I don’t over do it with my top 3 and end up with too much on my plate.
• Other weekly prep. In the video I also explain another weekly prep ritual I’ve been using, especially during busy weeks and that is meal prep. I will prep my lunches and dinners for the week ahead so I don’t need to think about them during the work week when I may be too busy to bother with cooking. It’s too easy for us to just autopilot to take out or skipping meals when we are busy and a bit of meal planning and prep before the week begins is the perfect solution.
I hope you enjoy the Plan with Me and my functional planning process. I’d love to know what you thought of the video and what points stood out to you. Let me know in the comments below!