Have you ever struggled to figure out how to organize your day, or week? Has it ever felt like what you were doing, and how, was *almost* right, but still not there yet? Do you wish that those occasional moments of “flow” — when you were so engaged in what you were doing that time flew by — were way more than occasional? Read on!
A few weeks ago, I had a chat with a fellow consultant and speaker, Erin Weed. She and I do similar work, and so we were curious to compare notes on what we do, and how we decide to do it. She was kind enough to write up those notes for us. Since I thought they might be useful for you, too, here they are:
STEP ONE: Manage Your Energy
What Erin captured: As leaders, our number one priority is to manage our energy. Know what gives you energy, and what takes it away. This should guide all decisions about offerings. Do not jeopardize your own energy and health, EVER.
There may be times we need to say no, or turn down a lucrative offer because it doesn’t give you energy. It’s OK! Trust that energy can also be a guidance system, leading us to the right opportunities.
The link between energy and physical health is undeniable. Therefore, the first step in managing energy is to sleep well, eat well and exercise. Without the physical base, it’s impossible to show up to any work with a strong, clear, creative mind.
Sometimes all this self-care may feel selfish. But it’s really non-negotiable.
What I’ll add: I love how this #swipefile find supports this point, and specifically cites sleep as important to entrepreneur’s abilities to spot good ideas. Since I’m an entrepreneur, and my job is literally to spot good ideas (and the good in ideas that aren’t quite there yet) I’m just this side of fanatical about getting enough good-quality sleep.
If you’re interested in learning more about the energy aspect of what we talked about, I like the “Zone of Genius” framework from Gay Hendricks. Even though the language leans towards woo-woo, understanding the difference between activities that give you energy versus activities that take it away (even if you’re really good at them) can be key in making your work more productive and more enjoyable.
STEP TWO: Know your Capacity
What Erin captured: Get real about how you want your days, weeks and months to flow. Be honest with yourself about the commitments you’ve made, and the people you are responsible to. Write them down. Now look at your calendar. How does all this fit into your day? Your week? Your month? Your year? Does it all fit? Do you need to make cuts? Is there space for when things don’t go as planned?
Be intentional about when you want to do what kind of work. Know your energy capacity levels at different parts of the day or week. Schedule activities accordingly. For example: How much time do you need in the morning before meeting with people? How do you best create? What time of day do you feel done with work?
Also know your numbers capacity — how much money do you want to make, doing what kinds of things? What kind of money will set you free, and what will constrict you?
Try to schedule one day per week with no outside calls. Just a day to think, to create and to catch up. The more you know your limits, the more you can design offerings and a life that feeds your soul.
What I’ll add: If you’ve ever emailed me on a Monday (now Fridays — more on that in a minute), you know that I usually have an autoresponder on that says that I’ll be off of email most of the day doing creative or deep work. I’ve learned over the years that I need a dedicated day for that, usually in addition to time reserved on the other days.
Knowing that I’ve got a day on the calendar every week when I can write (like these posts… or my book!), work on new talks or other content, or even just to bang out a complicated Scope of Work for a corporate client helps reduce some stress from the rest of the week.
While I originally chose Mondays for this, I recently switched the day to Friday, for purely practical reasons: I am often with my kids on Monday holidays. Since I want to be with them… and still want to get the creative work of the week done, too… I moved from “Monday Mind-days” to “Full-brain Fridays.”
I also don’t usually do any kind of client-facing work before 11 am ET Mondays – Thursdays, because that’s when my brain is freshest for new thinking. I also usually reserve the last hour of my day for administrative catchup. After reading Dan Pink’s newest book, When, I experimented with putting this admin block around the time of day he says most people have a dip — between 2 and 4. Turns out, though, that my afternoon dip is a little later, so I put it back at 4.
Part of this process of energy and time management is continuing to observe what’s working, and what isn’t, and making adjustments. Sometimes it takes a while for your calendar to catch up — it took over a month to move my creative days from Mondays to Fridays, given prior client commitments — but it’s been worth it.
And yes, by deciding to block and focus so much time on “on the business” work (that usually doesn’t touch clients directly), it means I need to be very thoughtful about my offers and pricing for the “in the business” work (client-facing, whether consulting or speaking). I’m regularly reviewing my strategies with my amazing coach Pamela Slim to make sure I can still make the numbers I want and need while running my days (and my life) the way I want and need to, too!
STEP THREE: Do what you Love (not what you hate)
What Erin captured: If your energy is managed and you know your capacity, your offerings are already starting to formulate. Now it’s time for the more emotional introspection: what do you LOVE (and hate) to do?
Start with what you hate. For example, if you’ve ever muttered, “I hate prep work. I hate writing reports. I hate working on retainer. I hate managing people.” Pay attention — this is work you do not enjoy, and therefore is not sustainable. Some things you can delegate that you don’t enjoy. But the rest is up to you, so only put things on your plate you actually like doing.
Next, [if you’re an entrepreneur] sit with this question: Am I starting a company or a practice? A company is a bigger operation where multiple people are executing the work. A practice is largely just you, with support as needed. Knowing your answer will dictate your offerings.
Then [no matter who you are!] decide the following:
- Who you want to work with?
- What type of work you want to do? Now, give it structure!
- Turn it into 3 options, at 3 different price points (most will pick the middle).
- Name your price and stick to it
- Write templates for emails and contracts, solidifying the structure
- Give people a next step once they’ve completed one of your offerings (introduce to other people, another of your offerings, etc)
- Make it simple, easy and clear to engage with you.
- Set good boundaries, to allow for a long, sustainable, enjoyable work life.
What I’ll add: Some of figuring out what you do and don’t love to do simply comes with time, so if you’re trying to figure out offerings for the first time… just pick some and set a point at which you’ll take a look and decide if they’re still working for you. I realized early on, for instance, that starting people with a retainer-like option (where clients have regular meetings with me over, say, six months, but the deliverable was unstructured) REALLY didn’t work for me, or for them. So, a retainer option is only something I offer to current clients, since we both know how each other works, and that it works for us.
Also, don’t you just love that “company vs. practice” distinction? My friend (and amazing Idea Shaper) Neen James was the first person to introduce me to it. She learned it from her friend and mentor, Matt Church, whose books are super helpful to entrepreneurs and idea-makers of all types.
And finally, “Name your price,” is a phrase I use that has a meaning much deeper than the price you put on your products and services. It’s the price you’re NOT willing to pay to achieve or do something, and its source may be somewhat unexpected: an amazing interview with comedian Dave Chappelle on James Lipton’s Inside the Actor’s Studio. The whole thing is fantastic, but if you want to skip right to the “Name Your Price” part, start around 25:55. It only lasts a couple of minutes. Watch it. You’ll be glad you did.As leaders, our number one priority is to manage our energy. Know what gives you energy, and what takes it away. This should guide all decisions about offerings. Click To Tweet
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