I’ve recently found myself in a completely new environment…literally. I’ve gone from my very regimented schedule with my custom designed workspace and set working hours (well most of the time) to this completely new way of life and business.
My office is my laptop and the location changes monthly and sometimes even sooner depending on what country my family and I are in. With this change of moving our family to a full-time traveling lifestyle for the next year, I’m having to retrain myself to find my productivity and what’s going to work, because let’s just be real… I need to fund this little adventure and that means working. Plus, honestly… I love what I do way too much not to do it.
I’ve been thinking back over the last 8 years in business, and I thought particularly on the most successful years; the ones where I was cranking out content, feeling especially inspired, and exceeding my goals and income projections the most. What was that I was doing especially well then?
I realized that each of these lessons has been HUGE in the growth of my business and in my ability to live the lifestyle I’ve dreamed about (which is really just being able to be incredibly present for my family). Some lessons came from incredible books and others from lessons learned. Here’s what I came up with…
Treat your time like it’s the most precious commodity you have (because it is).
The number one goal killer I know of is distraction. Don’t allow distraction to hold your dreams back. Instead block out time for a specific task (this is called time-blocking), and then close out all distractions – put your phone on air-plane mode, close out your email, close out all open tabs except for what is pertinent to your current project.
Make time to fill up your creative tank.
When we get busy, one of the first things we let go of are those little rituals that fill our creative tanks. This can hurt us though, because we lose the fun, the inspiring, and the creativity that we need to continue to be innovative. Make sure to schedule time frequently to fill your creative tank.
Don’t expect others to validate your dreams.
Not everyone is going to “get” your dream, in fact often those who you are closest with may understand it the least. That’s okay. The entrepreneurial spirit is not for everyone, and your incredible vision may not be viewable by those closest to you. Don’t let that discourage you. In time… as your dreams become reality, they will be able to see what you’ve seen all along.
But having support from others does matter, so look to cultivate relationships that can lift you and encourage you in other social circles. Many of my closest entrepreneurial friends and cheerleaders started as online-friends.
Only check email twice a day.
Some of the most amazing opportunities I’ve been presented with started with a little email in my inbox. So email can (on the rare occasion) be great! For the most part, it’s a distraction, and it’s somebody else’s to-do list being added to your plate.
Make the rule to only check email a maximum of twice a day. If you can check in one hour after getting to your desk in the morning and 2 hours before your done with the day, clients and inquiries will get a prompt enough response, but they will not start taking over your business with their own agendas. After all, you’ve got dreams to fulfill.
Buy time with your money.
It’s this simple… If you want to accomplish more, do more, and be more, and you don’t want to lose your sanity, your family, and your joy, invest your money into hiring people to help you. This will allow you to have more time to do what your best at and to spend time with those you love most.
Don’t stop growing.
Never stop investing in your growth. There are so many incredible virtual courses that will teach you, inspire you, and help you continue to grow. I’m also a huge fan of live conferences and retreats, surrounding yourself with fellow creatives, learning from inspiring top entrepreneurs who have already gotten to where you want to go and share with you what they’ve learned the hard way and how you can get their yourself. It’s an amazing experience that’s worth setting as a goal and a priority.
For Photographers, hands down the best retreat is The Thrive Mastermind Retreat (of course I’m going to say that, it’s my own:), but I do whole-heartedly believe it!).
For Entrepreneural Makers, The Creative Founders Conference
And for Creative Female Entrepreneurs, Inspired the Retreat is amazing. I’ve had the privilege of speaking at it twice.
Schedule for Maximum Productivity.
Listen to your energy and follow where it takes you. This was maybe the hardest for me to learn. I would get these blocks of time, and I would say, “Self, this is your time to get all of that really important, brain busting, solution finding work done. You need to do it right now, because you don’t know when you’ll get more time.” This was especially at its loudest when my kiddos were small and home with me 24/7. I’d sit down and try to get to work, and I’d try, and I’d try…but I just wasn’t producing.
Looking back, I have been at my best when I have listened to myself and honored the space I was in. There are times when I hit that sweet spot. I just get into the zone. Ideas, creativity, and solutions seem to freely flow through me and around me. If I need an answer, I can almost pluck it out of the air in front of me. There are other times when I’m just not in the zone. It’s like that relationship when you knew he was a good guy and all, but it just wasn’t there. Now you can either force it (but you know those sparks are never going to appear), or you let that time be honored in a better form. Maybe that’s walking away and being fully present in your relationships, going and filling your cup through service, or leaning back and taking in something to inspire, educate, and prepare you for your next moment in the zone.
Trying to push yourself to get into the zone will never produced the results you are after. Instead learn to listen to your mind, follow where it takes you, and be fully present and engaged in the space that you are in right now. Be content and trusting (and that may just be the hardest part) that ‘the zone’ will find you again soon.
These are seriously the most incredible lessons that I’ve learned. They’ve made the most dramatic impact throughout the years on my business and I hope they will help you now!