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Last week I shared five success principles for introverted entrepreneurs. Principle five is: give yourself space and time. You want to feel like you have luxurious amounts of time to create a business that feels good to you.
On this week’s podcast I share a practical tool that will ensure you always have enough time for your business. I call this tool “your essential tasks”.
This is so important, especially if you’re an introvert. As an introvert, you need space – not just to manage your energy but also to access your full creative powers.
So, listen in to this week’s episode and start creating more space in your life.
What you’ll learn on today’s episode:
- Why introverts need luxurious amounts of space and time.
- My three essential business tasks… that take just three hours a week.
- How to determine your essential tasks and free up a lot more space in your calendar.
- What to do when you feel the urge to do more in your business.
Featured on this episode:
Doors to Business Growth Lab are open NOW! Doors close Thursday, May 19th. Get more information at https://www.sallyannmiller.com/thelab/
Welcome to Introverts Thriving in Business, the podcast for introverts who enjoy the comfort of her, hate the idea of selling, and want to create a thriving business on their terms. If you’re ready to go from overwhelmed and anxious, to feeling calm and accomplished in your business, then keep listening. I’m your host, Sally Miller.
Welcome back to the podcast. So, on this week’s episode, I’m going to share a very practical tool with you today that’s going to help you create space in your life. Now, this tool relates back to last week’s episode. So last week, I shared five success principles for introverted entrepreneurs. And principle number five was “Give Yourself the Luxury of Space and Time.” This is so important for introverts, we need that space, we need that time to recharge our batteries, to tap into our most creative selves, our most powerful selves, and to build businesses that feel right for you.
So today, I’m just going to focus in on the how; how you can do that. If you want to know what all five principles are, go back and listen to last week’s episode. And also, before I jump in, I do have a quick announcement for you. If you’re listening to this episode the week it goes live, then Business Growth Lab is open. The lab is my group program where I help you build a business all the way from zero to $100,000. Doors do close at midnight on Thursday of this week. That’s May, 2022. Now, if you’re listening to this later, don’t worry, I opened doors several times a year anyway. You can get all the details on my website, www.sallyanmiller.com/thelab.
Okay, let’s create some space in your life! Now, why is this important? This is so critical. Because like I just said, as an introvert, you need to take care of your energy, you need to take care of yourself. So first of all, this kind of helps you avoid burnout. But that is not the only reason, the tool I’m going to teach you I call it “your essential tasks.” And another reason to do that is something that is so important to me. And it’s been really one of the ideas that has helped me build my business with very few hours, and it’s the 80/20 Rule.
Now I’m sure the 80/20 Rule isn’t new to you. The idea behind this rule when you apply it to tasks in your business is do the 20% of activities that create 80% of your results. Or to put it very simply: identify the small number of tasks, the minority of tasks that have the biggest impact. This is what leverage is all about. Very successful business people, by which I mean multimillion billion-dollar business people and billionaires, they use leverage to make money and to make them money make more money. Leverage is such an important business principle. But you can just think about it in terms of the 80/20 rule and today’s episode, which is doing just those few tasks that create the biggest results, that have the biggest desirable impact. So that is another reason why this tool I’m going to share with you today is important.
The other thing why essential tasks in particular—and this tool I’m going to talk about is critical—is when times get challenging…And let’s face it, times always get challenging, not just if you’ve been through 2020 and 2021 because of things like a pandemic, but other things happen in your life: babies, children, illnesses, unexpected, any, you know, an elderly relative who needs taking care of, whatever it is, when something disrupts your life, and that’s going to happen throughout your life, then knowing your essential tasks is going to give you flexibility, it’s going to give you room to dial back how much of you you’re pouring into your business without allowing your business to die.
So, when times get challenging, I want you to know exactly what is the minimum I can do in my business to keep my business going, but also to free up time and energy for something else. Does that make sense? So, this is a really powerful and important tool and it’s not that complex. So essential tasks are just the minimum tasks, the absolute minimum. So, it’s actually less than the 20% that I talked about earlier with the 80/20 Rule. It’s the minimum you need to do to keep things in motion in your business, no matter how slowly; you just want things to keep moving forward and not grind to a halt.
I’m going to tell you what my essential tasks are. Because when I first teach this to people, they tend to think that essential tasks are more than they actually are. They want to put a lot more activities on their essential task list, and I have to convince them to take ones off. So, here are my essential tasks at this point in my business, and this changes for all of us all the time, but at the moment, my essential tasks are each week, I must record one podcast episode, write my weekly newsletter, and host my group coaching call. That’s it. Three things that are my central tasks that must happen each week.
And like I say, this has changed throughout my business through different phases of my business, and this will be different again in the future. But right now, those are my three essential tasks that I have decided as long as I do those three things on any given week—and some of them can be batched. In fact, I’m doing that right now. I am out of town next week, and so I’m recording two podcast episodes in one week, so I can get ahead. But each week, I want one podcast episode to go live, I want one weekly newsletter to go out, and I also want to host my group coaching call. Together, these tasks take me about three hours, did you hear that? Three hours, that’s it!
Now I honestly truly do run my business, and 15 hours or less a week, a lot of people don’t believe me, it is the truth. And I always say often is much less. And it is, often is just three hours. If I am having a challenging time, if life just feels overwhelming to me, or if an unforeseen obstacle come up, if my kids are unexpectedly home from school, which happened a lot during COVID, then I just do three hours of work. That’s all. And here’s what else: I let that be okay. I don’t judge myself, I don’t layer on any shame, I don’t tell myself I should be doing more, I recognize that sometimes it’s okay to slow down in my business. And this is what I want you to give to yourself, the gift of space and time in your life when you need it.
So, I’m going to help you, I’m going to walk through how to do this, just so it’s crystal clear to you. First of all, I want you to define what your essential tasks are. So, the way to do that is grab a pen and paper, and then first of all, just write down everything you do in a typical week. Now don’t include project work into this list. So, for example, what I mean by project work is if I’m writing a book and I’m about to publish a new book, or maybe you’re creating a program or creating a new product in your business, something like that, I call that project work. It’s something that’s a one-off, you’re going to do it once, it’s going to be quite intense, it’s going to be additional effort, but you don’t do it every single week. I just want you to write down everything you do in a typical week.
So, for you, it could include things like on my list, creating content, but it could also include answering emails, it could include doing administration tasks. The reason I don’t have admin tasks any more—I used to—on my essential task list, is most of my admin is now outsourced to virtual assistants. I have a couple of virtual assistants who are amazing. They helped me run the admin side of my business, but you may have some admin tasks that you have to do each week.
First, you start out by writing everything you do in a typical week, then you’re going to decide which ones are non-negotiable. So, you might have written down 10/12 things, like post on Facebook, post on Instagram, write my weekly newsletter, make six offers in person, attend this event, do my bookkeeping. I don’t know, I’m making this up. But you might have a really long list. Now I want you to decide which ones, and you get to decide this. Remember, your business, your rules. That was a previous podcast episode, you get to decide which ones are non-negotiable.
And here’s a hint: it’s going to be a very short list. There shouldn’t be many of those are non-negotiable. Do you know you can not answer your emails for a week if you want? Now, it might be really important to you that you always answer your emails within 24 hours. Perhaps it’s a commitment you’ve made to yourself, or maybe you’ve made that commitment to your paying customers. But if that’s the case, then you should have on your list your essential tasks, “I always answer emails to my paying customers within 24 hours.” But that doesn’t mean you have to have an empty inbox. So be really strict with yourself, check in with yourself, you do want to be in integrity with yourself here, but decide which ones are non-negotiable for you. But be willing to let go of things you think you should do, just because someone else has said that or planted the idea in your head, okay?
For example, here’s another example of a non-essential task, most marketing and sales. Now, listen, I do teach it, you want to be always marketing in your business, you want to be always selling. But by always, I don’t necessarily mean every single week, of course, if you want your business to keep going, and if you’re building a business growth machine, something else I teach, I introduced that right at the beginning in the first four episodes of this podcast. And yet, you do want to have marketing tasks, you do want to have sales tasks, so that you’re always bringing new people into your business. But it doesn’t mean they’re essential, it doesn’t mean that if you’re in a challenging week, you have to do marketing, you have to be posting on social media, for example. So be really honest with yourself, be really strict with yourself and decide which of those regular tasks are non-negotiable for you.
Usually, non-negotiables are going to be things like, client work, so filling obligations to people who pay you, and possibly filling obligations to subscribers, if you have obligations. I consider my weekly podcast episode of my weekly newsletter as an obligation anda commitment I’ve made to my audience, not just my paying audience, but my email subscribers, my followers as well. That’s something I decided for myself.
So, when you have your essential tasks, there’s something else you want to do. And that is to learn to manage the urge when you have the desire to do more. Listen carefully. If you’re having a bad week, if you’re in overwhelm, if you’re in burnout, if something really critical has come up, if one of your parents is sick and you need to take care of them, if your kids are home from school and you just can’t handle everything, then I want you to give yourself permission to just do your essential tasks that week.
But what’s going to happen for most people, because I’ve seen this over and over again, is throughout the week, you’re going to be judging yourself, you’re going to be laying on shame, and you’re actually going to feel an urge to do more, it literally can feel like an urge, this drive, you might feel like there’s this itch inside you that I’ve just got to go do something in my business or I can’t relax. I want you to have a skill set where you can allow that urge and not react to it, not go into busy mode, because that’s just not going to create the results you want in your business.
And this is how you’re going to do it: you’re going to allow the urge, you’re going to allow the feeling to come up. But instead of reacting, which normally looks like either going and doing busy work in your business and sort of forcing yourself to try and post on social media and your posts aren’t even going to be very engaging. Or it can also like buffering, like eating over the feeling or at the end of the day, after a stressful day, opening a bottle of wine and drinking a bottle of wine or scrolling through social media or something. I don’t want you to do any of those things, I want you to allow the feeling and then get curious. That’s it.
How you do that is get curious about the thoughts that are driving the urge to do more. That way I like to do that is through journaling. I grab my journal, I grab a pen, I go to a quiet corner and I write out all the thoughts I’m having that are behind that urge to do more. And they’re typically things like my business is going to grind to a halt. The fear-based thoughts are I have to do this, or I won’t hit my goals this month, or trying to think what else. There tend to be fear-based thoughts. I want you to write out all the thoughts you’re having that are creating that urge to do more.
And then I want you to ask yourself, how do these thoughts feel? Like, how do they feel in my body? How do they influence the way I’m showing up in my business and life? And what you’re going to discover by asking these questions is when you act on that urge, either by buffering or even by doing more busy work in your business, you actually don’t create desirable results, even doing the work in your business, when it’s coming from this urge, this push, it’s going to create undesirable results. You aren’t going to create client you aren’t going to create more money, you aren’t going to create what you want when you’re acting on this urge in this drive, when it’s coming from a place of fear or scarcity.
Some more questions you can ask yourself to begin to let go of the thoughts and let go of the urge—this is one of my favorite— is who would you be without this thought? So whatever thought is driving this urge, who would you be if you didn’t have that thought? How would it be different for you? Here’s another one. What’s the worst that could happen? What are you afraid of? Because like I said, the thoughts behind the urge are usually fear-based or scarcity-based. So I want you to really look hard about that. What really is the truth here? What is true? Is that worst really likely to happen?
Another question you can ask yourself: what are you trying to prove by working more in your business? This is really important, guys. I don’t want you to overlook this. I see so many people driving themselves into burnout, overwhelmed, especially introverts, we need the luxury of time and space in our business if we’re going to perform to our highest potential. Please don’t overlook principle five if you’re an introverted entrepreneur, it’s so important. Use this tool, identify your essential tasks, and then have compassion for yourself, and give yourself the grace and the permission to only do those tasks when life gets challenging. All right, that brings us to the end of this week’s podcast. I’ll see you next week. Bye, guys
If you’re ready to thrive in business, I want to invite you to join Business Growth Lab. This is my group program where I teach you the exact process I and my students have used to grow profitable businesses we love. When you join the lab, you get lifetime access to everything you need to grow a six-figure business: the training, expert coaching, accountability, and community. The approach we take is scientific. We don’t dabble in business, and we don’t waste time. You’ll create your business on a solid foundation, using proven methods. To join, go to www.sallyannmiller.com/thelab. We’ll see you inside.