Too many women entrepreneurs tie their self-worth and sense of achievement to the quantity of things they’re doing, rather than quality.
This gives them the illusion of productivity, the illusion of speed, the illusion of self-worth.
Apply these 7 methods to be the boss of free time!
1. Dream Big
What if you always had three-day weekends?
have Fridays off now, and I never thought I would. It’s only because someone told me it was possible, and I believed it. I started slowly, making my Friday end at 4pm, then 3pm, then 2pm; eventually I developed the skills and talents so that the whole day was cleared.
Give yourself full permission to play and to design your business around your life — whether that means three-day weekends or an entire month free to travel.
2. Have a Selfish Month
For one month, run your business and live your life as if you were the most selfish person in the world — and don’t tell anyone you’re doing this. If a client asks you to drive two hours away for a meeting, write back and say, "Why don't you come to me?" They could say no, right?
In my experience, people always say yes — and if they say no, you’re no worse off. The purpose is realizing that it doesn't have to be so hard all the time. Your life can be much easier — if you let it.
3. Learn to Say No
We want to be everything to everyone. If a friend came along and said, “Let's do coffee,” we'd say, "Yes, of course." Busy women entrepreneurs often forget that the key to success is priorities. I like to borrow a saying from Jack Canfield: “Say no to the good so you can say yes to the great.”
If my choice is to go to coffee with an old friend or launch a new e-product and make $6,000, which is it? Maybe it is coffee — if I’m halfway around the world and haven’t seen that friend in 10 years. Have the courage to say no when necessary and trust that something even better will come along.
Rome, Italy 2014 © Ellany Lea
4. Block Your Time
Give each day of the week a purpose — and stick to it. For me, Mondays are for blog writing, Tuesdays and Thursdays are for clients, and Wednesdays and Fridays are for creating new e-products and for prospective clients.
Before I set this schedule up, I was a slave to my clients. They were picking meeting times, and my schedule looked like a Swiss cheese slice, full of holes. You can never get any creative work or planning done when your schedule is full of short windows of time.
5. Set Up a Routine for Yourself
After taking an inventory, decide what to remove from your schedule and why. This can happen at any speed — some people might remove a task a day, others might have bigger projects that will take longer to wean off and complete.
The important part is setting up a routine. Imagine your year: How do you want your plate to look in 12 months?
6. Take an Inventory of Your Plate
How many tasks have you given yourself? This is a tempting exercise to skip, because people are afraid to see just how much they’ve put on their own plate. They are afraid to acknowledge how inhumane and impossible to digest the plate is.
Time inventory is like going on a diet: You need to know what empty calories you’re consuming so that you can cut back realistically.
7. Redefine Your Measuring Stick
When people are stuck in busy-ness, they're measuring success based on the quantity of tasks performed, rather than income generated, the quality of service provided, or the enjoyment of the work.
Did you really enjoy that networking event, or are you just going because your mentor said so, or everyone around you is doing it blindly too?
Don't always follow the masses. Sometimes, the 'm' is silent.
Pick one profitable and enjoyable measure of success, and base every decision on that for 30 days. Write down what changes; make sure to notice the differences between the frenzied way and this new way. My guess is you’ll find you’re making more money or experiencing more joy.
Ask Yourself the Big Questions
Why are you staying busy? What are you avoiding?
As a coach, I find my clients are almost always avoiding something by filling their lives with busy-ness. Maybe it's the fear of success, maybe you’re dealing with a bad personal relationship, or maybe you don’t think you deserve to make a lot of money.
Figure out what it is, so you can escape the busy-ness cycle.