How To Automate Your Client Onboarding Process

When someone raises their hand and says, “hey, I want to work with you!”… What happens next?

Do you randomly scribble stuff down on a piece of scratch paper, sporadically follow-up when you think of them and throw it all together to hopefully secure the client?

You might be like, “yea but hey, I’m doing the best that I can!”

… but what if I told you that you could spend less time on admin work and more time on finding new business and doing the other things you actually like to do JUST by having a systematic client onboarding process?

Sound good to be true?

Hah, I wish.

It’s totally possible but there’s a huge caveat to that….

You’re actually going to have to set up the system before you get to use it.

The experience that your clients have is customized to YOU, so if there was an “out of the box, done for you” version of this, everyone would be doing it and there’d be absolutely nothing special about you.

By having you create this onboarding experience for your clients, you are literally creating your unique value proposition.

Yes, you’ll need to take the time to do it.

Yes, you’ll need to slow down for a little while so you can speed up down the line.

Yes, you’ll need to write the email templates (ahem, you probably already do this, you just freestyle it every time but you’re probably saying the same stuff over and over again).

The alternative is you can keep going the way you’re going, burnt out, overworked and your business will continue at the plateau it’s at.

It’s totally up to you.

… but you don’t have to do it completely by yourself.

I’m literally walking you through every. single. step. of the process so you can implement this as you go.

While I’ve customized this system for my real estate business and Millennial Empire Builders, this system can work for any industry, so long as you deal with people on a 1:1 basis.

In a few weeks, I’ll write a post about how to use sales funnels for to convert email subscribers to clients, but if you’re in sales, this right here is the system for you.

While you’re at it, you might as well download the free 13-page workbook that goes along with this post… and if you’ve been around here before, you know my posts are notoriously detailed and the workbooks are specifically designed to help you put it into action.

No BS, all implementation.

Otherwise, you know how it goes… Tomorrow turns into later, and later turns into never and in another year, you might find an extra hour or two to work ON your business instead of IN your business… Or you might be so burnt out that you think about throwing in the towel all together.

So let’s do a little work up front to grow faster without burning out.

You with me?

Download the free workbook right here:


Automating Your Client Onboarding Process

This post is called “How To AUTOMATE Your Client Onboarding Process”, not just “How To Give A Great Customer Experience” for a reason…

We’re focused on automating the process in a way that’s personalized to them AND saves you time.

We’re killing two birds with one stone.

Blow their minds and save you time… at the same damn time.

Before I walk you through this process, there are a few things we need to talk about…

If you’re anti-technology…

I think I probably say this in almost every post, but here’s what you have to remember: your brain is a processing machine, NOT a memory machine.

Your brain is a processing machine, NOT a memory machine. Click To Tweet

In other words, your brain should focus on solving problems, not on remembering stuff.

So stop trying to remember stuff and leverage technology to make your life easier.

To make all of the automation magic happen, you’re going to need technology.

Here’s a little quote for you…

Innovate or die.

The world isn’t going to slow down for you.

You don’t need to be a tech genius by any means, but you do need to have a willingness to learn and/or hire someone who can.

If the latter isn’t an option, you better get to learning… because technology is only going to keep advancing and by fighting it, you’re only making yourself more and more obsolete.

Before you bring out the pitchforks, please note…

The personal touch is DEFINITELY still valuable and think about how much MORE you could magnify that personal touch WITH technology.

The personal touch is DEFINITELY still valuable and think about how much MORE you could magnify that personal touch WITH technology. Click To Tweet

With the exception of writing the email templates, setting up the automations only takes a few, annoying minutes so I promise I’m making it easy for you.

It’s annoying to set up because there’s a bunch of little things that go into it but remember, it’s an automation… Once it’s set up, you don’t have to worry about it again.

I even included whether or not it’s ‘set it and forget it’ under each step so you’ll see how much you’re actually automating once you’ve done this.

If you think automation kills the personal touch…

There’s this huge misconception that “automation” means you’re going to lose the personal touch… It’s like people’s brains shut down as soon as you mention systems or automation because they feel like they’re not going to be close to their clients anymore.

First of all, you would’ve been right 10 years ago… but technology has evolved and so have people’s expectations.

If you’re thinking this takes away the personal touch, let me be the one to tell you that making your clients wait while you “check your schedule” or “finish an appointment” to even decide when you can meet is not personal.

They want to connect with you when they want to and that’s what this little system does.

You’re holding their digital hand through the entire client onboarding process… You’re giving them an even DEEPER personal touch because you can build rapport on their time and you’re satisfying their instant gratification.

Plus, once they schedule the appointment, they automatically get confirmation emails and since I add my client onboarding packages (we call them prelisting packages in real estate), I’m giving them a WAY more personal touch.

Simultaneously, the contact is added to my Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), Contactually which leads me to…

You’ll Need To Make An Investment In Your System

The other thing to note is that in order to make this system work, you’re also going to need to invest some money because I’ve yet to find a CRM (customer relationship manager) that offers free automations so if you find one, let me know!

Before you scroll right past this, think about this…

How much is your time and sanity worth?

When you use technology, tools, systems and leverage people to gain time back, you are BUYING your time back… Which is going to require an investment of some sort.

Before you go moaning and groaning, think of it this way…

If you make $100k/year at 50 weeks per year and 40 hours a week (yes, I know, you probably work more than 40, but for the sake of the example, play along!)

Your average hourly rate is $50/hour.

If your CRM saves you an hour a day, that’s 5 hours per week or 20 hours per month.

Contactually, the CRM that I use, love and recommend is $59/month for the level that includes programs (aka automations) and Zapier is the tool that makes all of the automation magic happen is $15/month for their lowest plan. Those are the only two things you’ll HAVE to pay for, so at $74/month, that literally costs 1.5 hours of time compared to the 20 hours per month it saves.

Even if your income is $50k, it is costing you 3 hours of your time in exchange for getting 20 back… and with those 20 new free hours, I ASSURE you that you’ll find enough time to get enough business to cover the cost.

This little client onboarding process system DEFINITELY saves me more than 20 hours per month, so you see why I HAPPILY pay it every month.

You have to decide if the same is important to you.

Now, let’s dive in.


Simplify The Appointment Process

[SET IT AND FORGET IT]

I’ve got to say… you know when you have a stroke of genius and you KNOW that it’s genius?

This was mine.

I realized that my client onboarding process began BEFORE they even agree to start working with me… It started with their first interaction so I systemized and packaged it.

Since my follow-up plan basically teaches them everything they need to know about the home buying and selling process, I could package it as a “home buying/selling guide” that’s delivered in bite sized pieces and literally promote that as an opt-in.

Major Key: That means that your follow-up plan HAS to be systematic and it MUST add value or this won’t work.

My follow-up plans are 10 emails over 10 days, 13 texts over 13 weeks, 4 mailings and 4 phone calls. They’re also added to a property search update or home valuation, too.

It didn’t start that way… I started with just the mailings and phone calls. I was already texting but it wasn’t systematic and then I added in the emails… So this was a process that layered in each of these.

Yes, that sounds like a lot… and it is.

… but when it’s all value, they EAT. IT. UP.

They LOVE it.

However, I repeat… This. Only. Works. If. Your. Content. Is. Original. AND. Valuable.

Don’t try to get it all perfect before you ever start doing it or you’ll always be getting ready to get ready.

Here’s a wholeeee article to walk you through a super simple process to systemize your follow-ups.

… and if you’re ready to take it to the next level and want an insanely detailed breakdown of exactly how I put my whole follow-up system together, there will be an entire bonus workshop in the Empire Builder Academy by the end of the week:

With this little system in place, you’ll get to spend more time talking to “ready” clients and less time talking to “I’m just gathering information” prospects.

Plusssss, I don’t know about you, but even when people do refer me, they’d rather give the person my number than giving me theirs.

I HATE that because I know for cetain that the average person knows 6 realtors, and if they got my name, they’re probably getting other realtor’s names too… and I know that I should be the realtor they should be talking to.

With that in mind, this little system makes me stand out COMPLETELY.

SO, here’s what happens:

Landing Page 1: They express interest in moving

The link for this page is part of a text template for when people ask to refer me and it’s in all of my email marketing. It’s where the automation of my client onboarding process begins.

All of these are built in LeadPages which is awesome because you can build beautiful landing pages with their templates in just a few minutes and it integrates with almost every social media platform. It starts at $25/month if you pay annually and $37/month if you pay monthly and you can get a free trial right here.

If you already have a website or don’t need to use LeadPages, you could send them directly to Calendly instead… I just like having the landing page because it makes it look prettier and makes the process way simpler because there’s no distractions.

Landing Page 2: They Clarify Their Timeframe

Next up, they’re asked how soon they’re looking to move so that we can best serve them.

If they choose “I’m ready to buy now”, they’re taken to the landing page I showed below that directs them to book an appointment.

If they choose “I’m not ready yet”, they’re taken to a landing page that looks almost identical to the “book an appointment” page, except it’s a breakdown of my follow-up campaign and packaged as a home buying guide.

This little system works wonders because it allows you to customize your experience for every single client… I’ve been told that they feel like I’m holding their hand every step of the way.

To all of my “automation kills the personal touch”, that right there is my response.

Landing Page 3: Book An Appointment Page

Here’s what the seller appointment page looks like (excuse my lovely face in the screenshot!) and this is where the magic of the client onboarding process really starts:

Landing Page 4: They Schedule An Appointment In Calendly

When they click the “book an appointment” link on the above page, they’re taken to Calendly which checks availability in my calendar.

I use, love and swear by Calendly because it’s so beautiful and easy to use (this screenshot is the actual Calendly landing page)…

Almost every time I use it, I get compliments from the people who schedule with it.

You don’t actually need the upgraded version, but I use it for the advanced reminders and multiple event types so I have it. If that’s not important to you, the free version will work just fine.

Once they book an appointment, they receive an email confirmation that tells them what to do next.

For my buyers, those next steps are making sure they’re prequalified before we meet and reviewing my prebuying package.

For my sellers, I let them know I’m going to be sending a prelisting package about their home within 48 hours.


Automatically Create A Task In Contactually With Zapier

[SET IT AND FORGET IT]

Contactually and Calendly don’t have a natural integration so to make this work, you’ll need to make a new friend… It’s name is Zapier.

Zapier basically makes you look like a ninja and eliminates 99.9999% of the annoying data entry stuff that you hate to do by integrating your apps for you.

It should be a law that in order to create an app, you need to integrate with Zapier.

I’m totally kidding, but that’s how much I love it.

Contactually and Calendly don’t have a natural integration so to make this work, you’ll need multi-step zaps on their upgraded plan and pricing starts at $15/month for 20 zaps (once you start using Zapier, you magically start finding new zaps to create).

I currently have the $50/month plan and am using 37 zaps because I’m all about working smarter, not harder.

You’re going to use Zapier to remind you to add the person who created the appointment to your pipeline by creating a deal.

Before I show you the screenshot of how to set this up in Zapier, there’s a caveat…

Because I lead both Millennial Empire Builders and sell real estate, AND have about 10 different types of appointments in Calendly, there are a bunch of other steps in here that most people who only have one or two types of clients won’t need to do and I mention below what you’ll need to do and which parts you can skip:

Here’s the breakdown of what you’re seeing above, which parts you’ll need to do and which parts you can skip:

1. Must Have: The trigger event that causes the zap to run is a meeting being scheduled in Calendly (Calendly Invitee Created)

2-3. Must Have: Use Zapier’s text functionality to split text (this is to separate first and last name). Zapier will walk you through how to do it right here. You’ll need to do this for two steps because the first one will pull the first name, the second one will pull the last name.

4. Must Have: Create/Update contact in Contactually for the person who just booked on Calendly.

5. ONLY IF YOU HAVE MULTIPLE EVENT TYPES IN CALENDLY: if you have multiple event types and only want this to continue if it matches a specific event type, use this. If you only have one event type, you can skip it completely.

6-8. Must Have: ‘Create Task’ in Contactually. When you go to add the contact, it will tell you to add a ‘Find Contact’ function. Do not do the ‘Find Contact’ filter first, use the button in the ‘Create Task’ button.

9-11. Don’t worry about them!

I know I know, this all sounds confusing but Zapier makes it super simple and allows you to test it every step of the way to make sure it’s functioning properly.

Try it out… It might take you 5-10 minutes to set up, but I promise once it’s set up, you NEVER have to do it again.

Thank me later, seriously.

If this overwhelms you, go on YouTube or find someone who can help you.

So nowwww, let’s talk about what happens after you add them to your pipeline…


Create Your Pipelines In Contactually

[SET IT AND FORGET IT]

Since we’re in the business of AUTOMATING your client onboarding process, you’re going to track every part of the transaction and have a visual overview of what your business looks like.

Even though Contactually has email templates for almost every industry that you can use, I recommend writing your own so that it works the way you want it to and the emails sound like you.

Here’s what one of my pipelines looks like (I hid most of the deals to protect their privacy and left a few just so you can get an idea of what it looks like):

You’ll notice the different steps of the pipeline…

  • Appointment Scheduled
  • Appointment Rescheduled
  • Need Signatures
  • Listing Signed
  • Copy Approval
  • Live
  • Open House
  • Open House Complete
  • Receiving Offers
  • Under Contract
  • Inspection Passed
  • Clear To Close
  • Closed

Customize those steps to your business or if you’re in real estate, feel free to copy mine.

… or maybe you’re a coach, consultant or freelancer and your pipeline steps are something like: book a call/appointment, they fill out the questionnaire or intake form, complete the call, send agreement and request signature, prepare and send the invoice, book a kickoff call, and so on.

Yours might only be 2-3 steps or it might be 20.

Either way, no matter how you set it up today, I will put money on the fact that you will change, edit and refine at least a few times as you’re implementing this strategy into your business.

Just start with what you can think of now.

Don’t wait until it’s perfect because you will NEVER know if it’s perfect until you start using it.

When you find a hole in your client onboarding process, don’t go “this whole thing doesn’t work!”… That just means you have to upgrade your system and refine it to fill the hole.


Create Programs With Email Templates For Each Step Of Your Pipelines

[SET IT AND FORGET IT]

Feeling overwhelmed yet?

I know it’s a lot to process and set up, but once you do, your business will completely change.

That’s why I created this free workbook for you to download which walks you through this entireeeee client onboarding process from beginning to end, helps you draft your email templates and basically everything else you could possibly want to know.

It’s all yours, right here:

Now, if you just leave the pipeline the way it is, you’ll never use it, forget about it and it’ll just be another annoying task for you to do.

Instead, assign programs to each step of the pipeline in Contactually and your pipelines come to life.

Every single thing that you want your clients to experience should be an action item in one of your programs.

If there are forms you want to send or things they should know, include ALL of it in the email templates you create. You’ll repeat yourself wayyyyy less and you’ll have to think way less.

As people move through the steps in your pipeline, the tasks will show up on your Contactually dashboard on the day they are due.

[NOTE: If you have multiple tasks for one person due on the same day, they won’t all show up on your dashboard at the same time. Once you clear your dashboard, refresh your page and the tasks will come up. I clear my dashboard and refresh until nothing else pops up. It’s kind of annoying that way, but you get used to it.]

The fact that all of your clients are in one place and you no longer have to write reminders to yourself because everything is systemized and you know that you’re giving your clients the BEST experience ever is peace of mind!

Some of the steps in your pipeline might only have one or two actions to complete, some of them might have more… There’s no right answer, just do what works for your business and again, if you find a hole, fill it.

[As a side note: in addition to this whole client onboarding process, I also use a transaction coordinator who stays on top of my dates and deadlines for the inspection, financing, appraisal and so on. Since my client is also getting emails from her, my pipeline is way heavier on the front-end because I still do the marketing of my listings and the showings of my buyers (but not for long muahahahah) and she does most of the follow-ups once we’re under contract.]

Once we go under contract, my focus is on making sure we pass inspection and that my client always knows what happens next so those last few steps in the pipeline are literally just one email with the exception of the “Closed” step because Faith (my transaction coordinator) does everything else.

This is what happens when one of my buyers signs a VIP agreement and I move them to the “Buyer Listing Taken” step in my pipeline:

The program automatically adds them to my “Current Clients” bucket and then it reminds to update their property search. Then it prompts me to send them a “welcome” email with their homework, send an email to the referrer to thank them, mail a handwritten note and then schedule showings.

Those are all the things I always intend to do but used to forget to do when I have a new client, so by having Contactually remind me, I can do them really quickly and not have to worry about it again until one of their tasks comes up on my dashboard again.

You’re probably going to ask if the emails are sent automatically and the answer is you CAN (in my pipelines, some of them are automatic, but most are not).

For example, in the referral email, the template says “Woohoo! Just wanted to let you know that [PERSON] hired me and I’m so excited to get to work for them.”

When I log into my Contactually dashboard in the mornings, there are “approvals” that are the emails with templates, and I just change the bracketed text and hit send… It takes like 30 seconds to approve all of the emails.

Here’s another program that’s attached to my seller closings

After we close, Contactually drafts an email to thank them, an email to send to the referrer, reminds me to update their new mailing address, switches the buckets they belong to, reminds me to tag them and then waits a week to remind me to ask them for a referral. Another week later, I call to check in again and lastly, I remove them from the pipeline all together.

I literally never have to think about giving my clients an incredible experience because it’s all systemized and automated… and I can blow their mind without overwhelming them or myself.

The 13-page workbook that I created for you will help you break down each of the steps in your pipeline and assign action items to it.

It’s totally free and you can get it right here:


Create A Deal In Contactually’s Pipelines

[MANUAL STEP — Estimated Time: 15 Seconds]

Since Zapier is going to create a task for you to remind you to create a deal, you don’t have to think about this until it actually happens as long as you make a habit of clearing your Contactually dashboard on a daily basis, you’ll never forget to do this… and luckily, it takes literally 2 seconds to do.

To create a deal in pipelines, you’ll go into the person’s contact profile in the bottom right corner and create a deal like this:

Deals are how you add people to pipelines and once you add them to your “Appointment Scheduled” step in the pipeline, the programs begin triggering.


Move Them Through The Pipeline On A Daily Basis

[MANUAL STEP — Estimated Time: Depends On # Of Tasks In Your Programs]

I REPEAT: There’s a caveat to making this whole client onboarding process work…

You actually have to do the work. every. single. day.

That means you’ll need to log in each day to update your pipelines (create deals and move people from one step to the next) and make a habit of clearing your dashboard.

My commitment to myself is to clear my Contactually dashboard every. single. day. NO EXCUSES.

That means when I don’t feel like it, I still clear my dashboard and update my pipelines.

When I get busy, I still clear my dashboard and update my pipelines.

Contactually (or whatever other CRM you might decide to use) should be the main course of your business, not a side piece.

The more pieces of your business you can do directly IN the system, the more likely you are to use the system and do it every day.

Whatever you do, log in every day to clear your dashboard and make a habit of updating your pipelines.

The initial setup can be overwhelming, but once you set it up and start making it a habit, you’ll have a new found peace of mind.

If you noticed, under each of the steps here, I mentioned whether it was set it and forget it or if you actually needed to do the steps…

Most of it was set it and forget it… There were only two that required you to actually do the work and this is one of them.

Here’s my daily practice for Contactually:

And here’s how I organize the system to work for both of my businesses:


Before I lose you…

Technology should empower you, not replace you… and that’s exactly what this client onboarding process does.

Technology should empower you, not replace you. Click To Tweet

Whenever I talk about this to people who’ve never dealt with automation before, they’re like “well why doesn’t it make the phone calls for you? Why doesn’t it ___?”

You still have to actually do work or else your clients wouldn’t need you.

The point here is to simplify, systemize and automate as much of your client onboarding process as you can so you can grow without you getting overwhelmed and without sacrificing quality.

In addition, you keep your database organized and updated almost effortlessly because you’re doing it in bite-sized amounts on a daily basis.

You might also be thinking you don’t need to set all of this up because none of these small tasks take that long.

With that in mind, I want to ask you something…

What made you decide to read this post in the first place?

Probably because you’re bogged down in administrative tasks that “don’t take that long” but are still overwhelming you and stressing you out… and most of those annoying tasks probably fall under this client onboarding process.

Think of every admin task that you have to remember to do as a mosquito in your office.

One mosquito is annoying but if you can kill it, you’ll be good… but what do you do when you can’t leave the office and there are a whole bunch of mosquitos?

No, the answer is NOT burn the whole office.

Find a way to catch them and kill them the most efficient way possible.

Automation and systemization is the bug zapper to your administrative mosquitos.

No matter how simple the task might be, if you don’t have to think about it, that’s more stress OFF of your plate that you don’t have to worry about and your clients feel like you’re giving them a rockstar experience.


Recap…

If you’re like “oh man, that’s a lot of work… I don’t see the point of all of that”, here’s what your workflow would like if you decided NOT to automate:

  • Client reaches out to you
  • You go back and forth to coordinate a time that works for both of you (probably 3-5 texts or emails and wasted time)
  • You create the event in your calendar and invite them if you remember
  • If you remember, you send them an email before you meet with any relevant info and onboarding packages
  • You confirm the meeting the morning of
  • If they reschedule, start over
  • If they don’t reschedule, you go on the appointment or have the call
  • They decide to work with you so you have them sign your new client agreement
  • They leave, all excited to get started… and there’s no system in place to KEEP their engagement high
  • You manually follow-up when you can but you feel like you’re drowning because you have soooo much stuff to do. You just touched base with them a few days ago… It’s totally fine if you skip this follow up, right?
  • Your follow-up is sporadic throughout your time together and there’s no real structure to it but you still get to closing of the deal or completion of the project
  • Even if you close the deal, you’re probably not going to get the referrals that you deserve and you go on your merry way to start all over again

Instead, here’s what we basically just did:

  • Automated: Your prospect ended up at your landing page either because of your marketing, because of a referral or because you sent them there
  • Automated: They booked an appointment and received a confirmation with any other instructions you want them to complete before your meeting
  • Automated: Zapier added them to Contactually and bucketed them so you have a “confirm appointment” reminder set for the morning of the meeting
  • Automated: Since your “Appointment” bucket (category) is attached to the “Appointment Created” program (plan), Contactually automatically adds your person to the Appointment program
  • Manual: You add them to your pipeline (which takes precisely 5 seconds) and completed any client specific prep work for your appointment from your follow-up plan, but since you have templates for everything, this is quick too
  • Manual: You go on the appointment and they decide to work with you beause of your professionalism
  • Both: In the mornings, you log into Contactually to update your pipelines and then go to your dashboard to complete any tasks that show up for ALL of your clients, which includes this client
  • Once you close or finish the project, they’ve had such a great experience AND you remember to ask for referrals, so they GLADLY send them and your business continues to grow, almost on autopilot
  • Oh, and because you have a reminder set, you remember to add them to your long term nurture campaign, so you continue your messaging in a systematic way so you’re ALWAYS top of mind and when they’re ready to become a repeat client, they wouldn’t DREAM of working with anyone else because you’re their go-to person.

The second client onboarding process is less stressful, done mostly on autopilot and you really only have to update your pipelines, clear your dashboard and go on your appointments.

Your brain will be so much less cluttered when you eliminate the small stupid stuff that you shouldn’t have to do anyways.

You didn’t get this far in the post to click away and totally forget what you just read.

Learning for the sake of learning will NEVER get you results.

Learning for the sake of doing is where breakthroughs happen.

So if you’re ready to put all of this to work, go ahead and download the free workbook right here:

Grow your business faster by automating and streamlining your client onboarding process and spend less time on customer service and more time on the things you actually like to do.
How much time do you spend on stuff like booking appointments, customer service and onboarding clients? If the answer is "too much", it's time to automate your business so that you can elevate your client's experience AND do it without burning out.

Effortlessly Conquer Your To-Do List Using Two-Week Sprints

Look at your to-do list… How does it make you feel?

Overwhelmed?

Excited?

Exhausted?

The idea of productivity is addicting.

I don’t mean the actual act of getting stuff done (because we would never procrastinate if that were the case), but looking at Pinterest for productivity ideas, googling and reading about HOW to actually get more stuff done…

At some point though, we have to put on our grown up panties, roll up our sleeves and actually get to work.

But sometimes, it’s impossible to figure out where to start because EVERYTHING feels important and instead of doing SOMETHING, you decide to do absolutely. nothing.

But sometimes, it's impossible to figure out where to start because EVERYTHING feels important and instead of doing SOMETHING, you decide to do absolutely. nothing. Click To Tweet

… and then you end up on YouTube watching random videos about aliens (or maybe that’s just me).

In the past few weeks we’ve been talking a whole lot about productivity. The post about prioritizing did so well that I wanted to expand on it and get into the nitty gritty details about how to execute on the things you’ve prioritized so that you’re actually putting all of this into action and not just learning for the sake of learning

What Is Sprint Planning

If you think of a marathon, it’s pacing yourself to go a long distance.

In terms of getting stuff done, being able to go the long run is definitely helpful but looking at it as a marathon makes it infinitely more difficult to get focused.

When you sprint, you’re focused on going a short distance, as quickly as you can.

In terms of productivity, we break our goals into two-week mini projects and focus on getting those done. We don’t worry about the two weeks after the sprint that we’re in, we are solely focused on our current sprint.

Update June 2018: I now only do one week sprints and it actually helps even more.

After all, distraction is the enemy of productivity.

Distraction is the enemy of productivity. Click To Tweet

Know Yourself

Through my journey of trying to figure out how to get through this monster of a to-do list, I’ve learned a few things about myself:

  • If my to-do list gets above 7ish tasks for the day, I get overwhelmed.
  • I like to work based on my level of energy at the moment.
  • I can’t function unless my workspace is organized.
  • Don’t even talk to me about relationship building until my admin stuff is done.
  • The higher the priority, the more I find myself NOT wanting to do it.

Why is all of this important?

If you don’t know what works for you, you’ll never find a system that works… and truthfully, it’s an ongoing journey of polishing and refining so you can ACTUALLY get stuff done.

What works for me may be the complete opposite of what works for you, but you’ll only know that if you are constantly analyzing your systems and tweaking them to make sure they are working for you.

Find Your Tools

I’m obsessed with powerful platforms that are INCREDIBLY easy to use and have a beautiful interface so I use ToDoist to organize my tasks.

In fact, a lot of people complain that there’s TOO MUCH white space in the app.

I like it.

Truthfully, you can do most of the features I’m going to mention here on a few other apps, but ToDoist has become part of my workflow and I’m just totally obsessed because of some of their smaller features that I didn’t even know I needed until I had them (more on that later).

The only caveat is that to get access to all of the features, you’ll need to upgrade to premium which is $30/year.

Honestly, this is my fourth year upgrading and I continue to upgrade because I love ToDoist… I’ll happily pay the $30 if it’s going to save me HOURS of stress and frustration.

In addition to having a to-do list app, you’ll also need to use a calendar.

They don’t work independently of each other, they work in unison like the right and left hand to your productivity machine.

If you need help getting your calendar in order, this post will be helpful for you:

Organizing Your To-Do List

I’m going to get into the nitty gritty detail of how I plan my to-do list and I don’t want you to get overwhelmed… At the end, I’m going to walk you through a few really simple steps that I’ve figured out to maintain this and how to categorize your tasks so your brain always stays organized.

Projects

At it’s very core, you need to group tasks together based on the goal they’re working towards… That, my friend, is a project.

I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how many times I’ve restructured my projects and how I organize them, but I’ve been using this system for awhile and it REALLY seems to be working for me…

My first group of projects is called “Grind”.

These are repetitive tasks that you have to consistently keep doing to grow and sustain your business… They’re annoying but they have to get done. These are things like lead generation, marketing, checking in with the virtual assistants that make this organization run, existing business and networking action items.

Grind projects are important because they keep the wheels of your life and business spinning and are often the first ones you’ll delegate when you’re able to hire help.

The next category I call “growth”. These are mini projects that are going to take a week or two to complete.

I only work on one at a time and I recommend that you do the same — it’ll give you a greater sense of completion once you’ve finished the project.

psst. Remember when I said before that this post gets super detailed and technical?

Don’t scroll along without implementing as you learn or you’re just going to get more overwhelmed.

Brain Dumping and Prioritizing Your Projects

You know when you commit to a new project and you get super excited about it so you start obsessing over it and thinking about all of the possibilities?

Awesome.

Start by making a list of all of those projects that you want to work on and get excited about.

Make sure that each project is small enough that you can complete it within one to two weeks.

If there’s a big project that you want to work on, break it down into smaller steps that can be completed within that one to two week timeframe.

I find that being able to complete something every week or two really does WONDERS for your sense of accomplishment and your motivation.

When you create the project, dump all of the action items into the project. Don’t worry about giving them dates or anything, just make a list of everything you’ll need to do to make it happen. This serves two purposes:

  1. It gets it out of your head so that you’re not obsessing over it.
  2. It gets you into the mindset for action and possibility rather than thinking about all the reasons why it won’t work or can’t be done.

As an added benefit, all that insomnia you’re feeling because your brain won’t stop?

That’ll start to go away too because it’s all out of your head!

Our brains are thinking machines, not memory machines… and when you force your brain to be a memory machine, it gets overwhelmed and stressed.

Just get it out of your head and you’ll feel like you just went through a mental cleanse.

After you’ve made your list, pick the top 3-5 projects you want to focus on and put them in your growth section while the rest can go in the “mid-term growth” section (more on that in a few).

Here is where I highly recommend you go check out our guest post about prioritizing because as you’re going through this activity, you’ll likely face a point where you start feeling like multiple projects are equally important.

Remember you can get everything done, just not all at the same time.

Ask yourself the focusing question, “what is the one thing that I can do right now that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

You can get it all done, just not at the same time. Click To Tweet

Start there.

Growth Projects

Your highest priority and most urgent 3-5 projects are your growth projects.

I like calling them “growth projects” because they are the things that will keep you out of a rut, keep you learning and implementing new things in your life and business.

These are the things that should be top of mind.

Within each project, start listing off all of the things you’d need to do to make it happen… It doesn’t have to be perfect, you’re sort of just brain dumping at this point.

Once you’ve picked the first project you’re going to focus on, give those tasks dates that you’ll do them. Remember, this project should be able to be completed within 2 weeks. If it’ll take longer than that, find a way to break it into two separate projects.

Just to be super, insanely clear… You are ONLY assigning dates for the project that you’re currently working on.

Forget about the other projects right now… Your only focus is to get that one done.

While you’re assigning dates, make sure that it’s in alignment with your calendar. If you know that you’re going to be going to an event or have a big meeting on a specific day, you’ll probably want to lighten your workload for that day.

One of the single best things I’ve implemented into my life is to HALF my workload.

Cut your workload in half if you want to double your productivity. Click To Tweet

That means if you think a project is going to take a week, give yourself two weeks to complete it. By doing this, you allow yourself “white space” to be creative, regain energy and deal with fires as they come up.

That means if you gave yourself 3 tasks for that day, put the most important one for that date and leave the rest for another day.

Will you get less done?

Actually, no.

I know, that sounds counterintuitive but I promise it’s changed my life.

Now, I find myself going ahead of schedule because once I finish that one task, I’m already on a roll and am ready to knock out a few other quick ones.

Whereas before, I always felt like I was behind and was putting so much pressure on myself that I was getting way less done because I was overwhelmed.

Here’s an example of one of my Growth Projects:

In this project, I’m planning a workshop series for our Miami chapter.

Because this will take me two weeks to complete, most of the days only have one task from my growth project assigned to it and the days that have two tasks are because the other task will take less than 10 minutes.

Since I started implementing this, I’ve actually been able to gain some work life balance back and really start enjoying my life again instead of slaving away working 24/7.

Multitasking

Before you raise your pitchforks and start fighting for your right to multitask, think about something for a second…

Let’s say you have a 1 gallon jug to pour from into 10 cups.

If you distribute it evenly, none of the cups will fill. If you’re lucky, each cup will end up 1/2 full.

However, if you fill one to the rim, then go to the next, you probably won’t get to all of them, but you will have successfully filled a few of the cups.

This same concept applies to productivity.

When you’re filling 10 different cups (projects) halfway, you’re never actually finishing anything. Your mind is constantly scattered between each of the projects so your brain has no white space, is constantly fighting to figure out what the priority needs to be, you stop being creative because your brain goes into overload and you’re constantly working but feeling like you’re never actually getting anything done.

On the opposite hand, if you focus on one project at a time, you get into flow and are making significant progress on that one project. Since you’re finishing it before moving onto the next project, your sense of completion is high and you’re constantly experiencing little wins.

Success breeds success, so if you can create more opportunities to be successful, you’re building a habit of being successful.

Because after all, success is a journey, not a destination.

So seriously, raise your right hand and repeat after me…

“I, ___, solemnly swear, affirm and pinky promise that I will focus on ONE growth project at a time and will not move on until it’s done.”

Which now leads me to my next point…

Because you have two weeks to finish each project, it doesn’t give you time to be a perfectionist.

Perfection is the enemy of done.

Perfection is the enemy of done. Click To Tweet

Finish your mini project for the two weeks and then move on to the next.

Mid-Term Growth Projects

Your Mid-Term Projects are all of the projects within the next 3-6 months that you want to work on, just don’t have a clear cut plan for yet.

You’ll want to create individual projects for each of these so when ideas pop into your head, you can add the task to that project.

Our brains are thinking machines, NOT memory machines so if you make a habit of getting stuff out of your head, your level of stress and anxiety will go down DRASTICALLY.

My mid-term projects for the next 3-6 months are all focused on getting our Empire Builder Academy launched.

You’ll notice some of the projects have a bunch of tasks while some of them don’t have any.

Once I finish my current growth projects, these mid-term projects will then start to take the place of those growth projects.

By separating the two (immediate growth vs. mid-term gorwth), it’s made it INCREDIBLY clear what my priorities are and I’m not distracted by every other shiny idea that I might have at the moment.

The key takeaway here is to get it out of your head and into ToDoist so that you can focus on actually being productive instead of all of the things that you want to do.

Self

All of the projects under the self category have to do with my personal life.

For some people, they don’t like to keep their personal and professional lives together… I personally believe it’s impossible to balance your life if you don’t have them together.

The tasks that go into my self project are everything from having a recurring reminder to get my car washed, checking credit karma, picking up my dry cleaning or other things of that nature. We’ll talk more about this in a minute, but I also have a reminder to do my “Sunday ritual” so that I can keep everything together and keep all of the plates spinning without burning out.

Self-Development

One of the most important projects is the one where you focus on self-development.

In fact, studies show that 90% of people lose their growth mindset once they’ve settled into their careers… and yet 10% of the population maintains 90% of the wealth.

That cannot be a coincidence.

At the end of the day, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

This should include courses you want to take, things you want to learn and books you want to read.

Someday Projects

We talked about our growth projects (top 3-5 mini projects) and our mid-term growth projects (mini projects within the next 3-6 months), so what do you do with all of the projects that you want to do but just don’t know when you’ll get around to?

Drum roll pleaseeeee….

Someday projects.

This category of projects will keep you away from shiny object syndrome.

Come on, you know exactly what I’m talking about…

You’re sitting at a restaurant and you get this incredible million-dollar idea and your mind goes off on a tangent about all of the possibilities.

If you know that it’s not realistic for you to do it right now but you don’t want to forget about it, put it in your someday projects.

You’d be surprised how quickly you’ll get around to it when you’re crushing your priorities one step at a time.

Labels

If you noticed in the “growth project” section with our Miami workshop series, there’s little tags under each task like “relationship building” or “content creation”.

Most apps have some sort of ability to do this, they just might call it something different.

As much as I’ve played around with my projects, I think I’ve played around with labels even more.

I find that using them as “contexts” it allows me to batch my tasks so that I’m doing all of the admin work at the same time, all of the phone calls and so on.

Each of these tasks are aligned with how I time block my day.

Projects because projects are a group of tasks that are meant to achieve a specific goal while labels clarify where and when you’ll do that task.

Morning tasks

These are your ritual tasks that you do first thing in the morning and might include reading or checking your calendar.

Admin tasks

Admin tasks are pretty much any task that doesn’t require you to talk to another human.

These are your empire supporting tasks that keep the whole machine running… They’re generally the redundant, annoying tasks but they have to get done.

It’s also good to be clear on these because they’re generally the first ones that you’ll delegate when you’re ready to hire help.

These are things like responding to emails, prepping for appointments, wishing people a happy birthday on Facebook, scheduling social media posts, planning which networking events you want to go to for the week or cleaning up your desktop.

Relationship Building tasks

I’ve changed the name of this label a bunch of times but I find that I stick with relationship building because that’s the end goal and it keep me motivated to continue building connections.

These could be following up with someone you just met, touching base with a client lead, checking in a specific person, lead generating or in my case, reaching out to people who join our Meetup group.

Content Creation

Content Creation is exactly what it sounds like — creating content.

For me, that means writing these blog posts and the weekly newsletter, putting together the social media promotions for all of this and our events, or recording videos for our diamond experience and online courses.

Lunch Tasks

I don’t always have tasks in the lunch tasks section but I keep it as a reminder that if there’s something quick to do, I can just do it over my lunch.

For example, my printer has been acting weird lately so calling HP has been on my to-do list for MONTHS because it was in my admin section and I kept putting it off. I moved it to my lunch section and got it done the next day.

Sometimes we avoid tasks because we don’t know where to start or they don’t fit into our current workflow so just changing how you approach that task will change your entire mindset and actually get it done.

Errands

I know these labels are super creative and out of the box, so can you guess what “errands” is?

Yup, you guessed it. Running errands.

This filter gets used more directly than the others. If I’m out and have some time to kill, I’ll check my errands filter to see if there’s anything I need to do while I’m out because I know once I’m home, there’s no way in hell that I’m going to go back out.

Night Tasks

Night tasks are those that I do when I finish up for the day. I had to add this in because I work from home and if I don’t put them at night, I’ll end up doing them during my working hours.

These are things like checking my mail, ordering stuff off of Amazon (because who doesn’t love Amazon) and resetting my space so that I can work functionally.

Next Closing Tasks

Next Closing is one of my favorites because whenever there’s something that I’ve been looking forward to buying but can’t convince myself to actually purchase yet, I put it into this label.

Most of these tasks don’t have due dates, they’re just there so when I feel like splurging on myself or my business, I’m spending money on stuff that I’ve wanted for awhile, not just impulse buys.

If you want to have something like this, you could also do “next paycheck” or something along those lines.

Waiting On Tasks

Waiting On tasks are for things like waiting on a package to deliver or waiting on a response from someone.

The waiting on tasks are for you to remember that you need to follow-up on something you’re waiting on.

Filters

Labels (as mentioned above) are the “where” you’ll do the task. Regardless of the due date, ToDoist will show you every task that’s within that specific context.

Filters on the opposite hand balance the where, what and when of the task.

There are literally dozens of ways you can use filters.

To give you an idea of how they work, here’s Todoist’s walkthrough of how to use them:

I use my filters VERY similarly to labels.

Again, labels aren’t associated with a date — If I select the “admin” label, it’s going to show me EVERY admin task, regardless of when it’s due.

Filters can be associated with a level of priority, due date or pretty much any other thing you want to.

I like to keep it simple by associating my labels for just that day.

My filters are exactly the same as my labels, except they’re only today’s tasks within that label.

By breaking up my to-do list into time blocks (or chunks), I can batch my tasks and do all of the similar tasks at the same time.

It makes it easier to stay focused, get more done and actually feel a consistent sense of accomplishment.

Time Blocking

What does your typical day look like?

Is it different every day or do you have a routine?

What time do you check your email?

What time do you make your follow-up calls?

What time do you go to lunch?

If your days are scattered, you’re KILLING your productivity.

Focus on doing your similar tasks together and schedule them on your calendar.

I know what you’re thinking…

“I can’t do that, I need to ____ ASAP.”

Listen up.

If you communicate with those you work with and let them know what to expect when they work with you, I guarantee you that they will be totally fine with it.

The problem is that most of us never actually communicate what someone can expect when someone they work with us, so we are at the mercy of their whims.

Give yourself a daily schedule with time blocks and then match your filters to those time blocks.

Planning to make phone calls between 9-11? Awesome. Make a filter.

Planning to write between 1-3? You know what to do.

Filters work well with time blocking because they give you focus.

This slimmed down approach to having mini task lists for your day will make you fall in love with your life again because you’ll work more efficiently, have more balance and be able to switch between tasks faster.

Finding The Time To Complete Your To-Do List

Sunday Ritual

One of the biggest challenges for most people is staying focused enough to actually get the tasks done and not getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks on their to-do lists.

This system, like any system, will definitely require some maintenance to make sure that it KEEPS working for you.

I don’t like when my to-do list gets above 7ish tasks (that’s not a random number, that’s usually how many tasks can fit on my ToDoist dashboard without me scrolling) so I’ve had to edit my system to make sure that my regular day doesn’t get above that.

Pay attention to how you feel about your systems and you’ll figure out where the little tweaks that need to be made are.

You’ll also find that as you grow in your career and as your roles and responsibilities change, so will your approach to productivity.

As you grow in your career and your responsibilities change, so will your approach to productivity. Click To Tweet

As I mentioned before, your “grind” tasks are those that are generally repetitive while your “growth” projects are those mini sprints.

Every Sunday evening, I’ll look at the next 7 days of tasks alongside my calendar to make sure that I don’t have any days that are going to be crazy overwhelming and I’ll assign dates to my growth project for that week.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to NOT assign dates to every single project, no matter how tempting it is…

Because if you fall behind a day or two, you’re going to be stressing out like a crazy person to catch back up.

Self care is INCREDIBLY important and making sure that you take time to get your ACTUAL house in order will save you an insane amount of stress throughout the week.

You know what I’m talking about… Throw a load in the laundry, “reset” your home (clean up so you can actually find stuff in the morning), give yourself a manicure and a face mask.

I know what you’re thinking, “really?”

Maybe manicures and face masks aren’t your thing, but commit to at least an hour or so of pampering on Sunday evenings…

Me time will recharge you enough to deal with all of the stresses that the week will bring. Click To Tweet

That little bit of “me time” will recharge you enough to deal with all of the stresses that the week will bring.

Make a commitment that you’re going to give yourself 2-3 hours on Sundays to get your life back in order, which leads me to…

The Compound Effect

If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you’re VERY familiar with my obsession of human behavior, habit formation and personality styles.

I’m also naturally an “all or nothing” type of person, which means that I burn hot for a little while and then burn out.

Instead, I’ve really embraced the compound effect… Doing the small, seemingly insignificant tasks over and over and over and over and over and over again, even when you don’t think it matters and even when you don’t want to for the pursuit of teeny tiny incremental improvements.

Since adopting that philosophy, I’ve worked out 5x per week for the past six months, had my best year of real estate and have completely changed MEB.

There’s nothing sexy about doing the little things consistently, but it’s the only way to continuously grow without burning out.

Consistency is the only way to grow without burning out. Click To Tweet

If you struggle with this, I highly recommend you read the Compound Effect, the Slight Edge, the Power of Habit, Grit, the Miracle Morning and the 12 Week Year.

I know that sounds like a lot, but if you read those six books back to back, you will come out a different person on the other side.

I’ve written EXTENSIVELY about how important reading five books within a topic is and you can check that out right here:

Tasks Without Dates

Don’t be afraid to leave tasks without a specific due date.

If it’s something that isn’t urgent, create the task and add it to a project with a filter but it doesn’t need to have a date.

That way, you’re not overloading yourself with tasks that aren’t necessarily time sensitive and when you get around to them, you get around to them.

This works especially well for errands that you need to get around to but don’t have a specific deadline, like getting alterations done.

Remember, life happens so you don’t want to book yourself solid with tasks and then you don’t have any room for life to show up.

ToDoist Quick Add

As a quick last note, this feature alone is why I’m in love with ToDoist.

When I’m on my computer and I need to add a new task, I simply hit CMD+Shift+A and a bar pops up so I can quickly add a task.

From there, it reads natural language and I can file it away to it’s rightful place in literally five seconds flat using their “cheat codes”

  • Date: the date accepts natural language so you can type things like “in 2 days”, “every first Monday” or “next week.”
  • Project: as you’re typing, hit the pound key and then start typing the project, so for example #self would file it away in the self project.
  • Filter: what kind of task is it? Admin? Relationship Building? When you start typing, use @ to add it to a filter. It would look like this, “@admin”
  • Priority: I don’t use these often but if something is super important, you can type p1 and it sets it as priority one. There are four priority levels and the fourth is the default so really there are three.

When you’re done typing, here’s what it’ll look like:

Your productivity system will be a never ending work in progress, but you can get it done.

How many times have you looked at your to-do list and instantly felt a little depressed, overwhelmed or frustrated? It's not you, it's your approach. By implementing a little to-do list organization, you can feel empowered to get things done without feeling like your selling your soul just to reach your goals. Click through to learn how to use sprint planning to MASTER your to do list and to download the free 10-page workbook to help you put it into action.

9 Boring Things To Automate That Will Make Your Life Easier

You should probably know, I get claustrophobic…

Like REALLY claustrophic.

… But when it comes to doing things like unsubscribing from HUNDREDS of annoying emails or having to log into a bunch of different accounts to pay bills every month, the idea of being trapped in a small box actually doesn’t sound that bad.

Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.

I’m all about getting a TON of stuff done the easy way…. The secret to that?

Systemizing and automating like a boss.

There’s a huge difference between the two, so let’s chat about that before we get started with HOW to do it.

 

Systemizing

Systemizing is making things easier by going through a pre-designated process… but the process doesn’t actually do the task for you.

For example, let’s say you use a spreadsheet to make sure that all of your bills are paid. Maybe you like to log into each account, pay the bill and mark it off of your spreadsheet.

That’s systemization.

 

Automating

Automation is totally set it and forget it.

Using the example above, having autopay set up so that the money comes out of your account every month is automation.

There’s a time and place for both automation and systemization, and it totally depends on the situation and we’re going to get super into how to do both.

 


1. Managing Your Money

Paying Bills, Tracking Credit + Financial Overview

If you’re anything like me, you like things to look pretty and be super simple so it doesn’t require you to think too hard to make it happen.

Enter: Mint.

I FREAKING LOVE MINT.

You can easily set up and track budgets, see where you’re spending your money, track your credit, get an overview of your finances (and keep track of where you’re spending your money — I spend wayyyyyyyyy too much money on food), you can keep track of your net worth (which factors in everthing from student loans to your home), and even pay your bills quickly in. one. place.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?

(If you pay your bills using one of your connected bank accounts, it’s free but if you pay using a credit card, it’s like $5 per bill).

Heck yea.

A picture speaks a thousand words and a video speaks a million, so here’s a million words for you:

 

Get Cash Back While Shopping Online

If you struggle to save money, say I.

Good, let me make this easy for you.

First things first, do you like shopping online?

Of course you do.

Now what if I told you that you could get cash back everywhere you shopped online?

Amazon? Yup.

The Apple Store? Yup.

All of your favorite stores? Yup.

Oh, and every so often they’ll have extra bonuses… Like right now, Samsung is 8% cash back.

I’m more of an Apple girl, but whatttttt.

I recently bought stuff from one of my favorite stores that was 75% off for a holiday sale PLUS they had double cash back which got me an additional 8% back. I basically paid 17% of actual retail price.

With their browser extensions, every time you go to a site, they’ll tell you how much cash back you’re going to get:

Ready to start saving online? eBates is your new bestie.

 

Automatically Invest Money

There’s so much love AND hate for investing online, but whatever your opinion, I figured I would include the best ones here.

Acorns is awesome because you can set up automatic withdrawals from your accounts to invest OR you can set it up so that your spare change gets invested. For example, let’s say you go grab a drink with a friend and it costs you $10.21, Acorns will round up your purchase and invest the remaining $0.79…. They call it “micro investing” and it’s a super easy way to start being smarter with your money.

When you first register, their super friendly user interface makes it insanely easy to get started:

 

Invoicing + Accounting

If you’re a small business, solopreneur, creativepreneur, infopreneur, mompreneur or whatever other kind of -preneur, Freshbooks is your new best friend.

Accounting software is notorious for being hard to use, confusing and overwhelming… Freshbooks takes a totally different approach to accounting by simplifying the user interface and making sure the stuff you actually need to know is top of mind.

You can handle everything including invoicing, expenses, time tracking, projects, estimates, payments, reports and yes, there’s an app.

 


2. Meal Planning + Meal Prep

We all know that we need to eat better (and more consistently)…

That’s like the worst kept secret in the whole wide world.

What works for me might not work for you so I’ve included a few different ways to simplify your eating…

 

Done For You Prepared Meals

These are the most expensive option but will also save you the most time and money. You won’t need to go to the grocery store, cook or anything else… You just need to reheat and eat.

This is awesome for someone who’s on (or transitioning to) a strict diet or someone who doesn’t have the time to cook or eat, so they’re used to snacking rather than eating actual meals.

Just a tip, they don’t heavily season the food due to taste preference so they advise you to season it on your own. With each of these, you can purchase a meal plan or you can purchase a la carte.

LeanMeals: LeanMeals is the most popular of the group I’ve found. They make it super easy to decide how many portions you want with how many calories and how many days per week. They’re one of the cheaper ones, however they don’t have organic ingredients and they don’t have vegan or vegetarian options.

Fresh n’ Lean: They are known for their high quality ingredients that are natural and organic. They have a regular plant-based menu, a low carb plant-based menu, high protein and paleo menus. You can choose easily choose how many days per week and how many meals per day you want.

Flex Pro Meals: FPM is pretty cool because kids eat free, it gives you the ability to follow their predetermined meal plans, choose lunch and dinner only or build your own with the IIFYM method making this the cheapest option.

 

Ingredient Prep

You’ve probably heard all of the rage about the companies who send you a box with all of the ingredients and then you follow the instructions to cook.

These are awesome if you actually like to cook but hate shopping and prepping or I’d imagine if you’re a couple who’s looking to eat out less but don’t want to have to shop, cook and everything else. There are literally dozens of companies that do this and even Amazon is looking to get into this field, so some of the most popular are HomeChef, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. They all have their little perks, like SunBasket and Green Chef are organic.

Most of them offer a super discounted deal for the first week, so I highly recommend you try a few to see which one you like the most before committing to one.

 


3. Grocery + Toiletry Shopping

Oh man, I’m literally in LOVE with Amazon Prime.

Seriously, I think I’m addicted.

In fact, it’s not surprising…

In The Power of Habit (one of my all time favorite books), they did a study on Amazon and found that Prime subscribers spent almost $1500 more PER YEAR than non-Prime subscribers.

Obviously Prime does wonders for Amazon’s bank account. Between that and one-click checkout, Amazon is dangerous.

Butttt that doesn’t make it any less amazing.

If you don’t know about Amazon Fresh and Amazon Subscribe, it’s about to get THAT much better for you…

You know when you’re running low and deodorant and you’re like “I need to get more”, then you forget to stop at the store and then you wake up one day and your deodorant is gone?

Has that happened to you too or is it just me?

(Please don’t leave me hanging here).

Amazon Subscribe & Save makes it super easy to set up your deliveries so that you get your deodorant, conditioner, paper towels, whatever you need on whatever interval you want it.

Here’s an example:

On a different note, depending on where you live, Amazon Fresh and Instacart can make sure you NEVER have to go grocery shopping again because they’ll have groceries delivered right to your door.

 


4. Make Your Apps Play Nicely Together

I’m probably going to write an entire post about how to make your apps work nicely together, but here’s a quick summary for you.

You know when you have one app that does something REALLY well, but it doesn’t have another feature?

If they integrate, it’s not a big deal… But what happens when they don’t?

For example, my CRM is Contactually (which I’m absolutely in love with).

… But when I’m doing open houses for my real estate business, there isn’t an easy way to have people sign in.

I use an app called Spacio for my open houses and I use Zapier to get them to integrate.

On this site, when someone subscribes to my email list, it adds them to Thrive leads which integrates with ConvertKit but ConvertKit and Contactually don’t integrate, so I use Zapier to get them to integrate.

Zapier integrates over 750 apps that wouldn’t normally integrate… There’s a free plan that allows you to create 5 zaps and you can upgrade to have more if you need it. Here’s a quick snapshot of their most popular zaps.

IFTTT is awesome for setting up automations on your phone… It works with iOS, Android and yes, even Microsoft.

Along the same lines, Apple just bought the Workflow app. My guess is that Apple is going to integrate Workflow into it’s backend operating system, making it easier to get your apps to work together more easily. IFTTT is limited for iOS because Apple is way more strict than Google on what they allow apps to do, so I think Workflow will do a lot of what IFTTT does for Android.

 


5. Posting To Social Media

My absolute favorite social media scheduling tool is SmarterQueue.

I’ve tried Buffer, HootSuite, MeetEdgar and pretty much every other social media scheduling tool and keep coming back to SmarterQueue.

I really don’t like the user interface of HootSuite because it feels like it was made in the 90’s. I love the simplicity of buffer but it doesn’t recycle posts automatically for you. MeetEdgar got me hooked on post recycling, but I

would’ve had to sell my future first child to afford it…

So meet SmarterQueue.

I LOVEEEE SmarterQueue because it’s affordable and since I’m constantly promoting blogs and interaction threads in our Facebook group, I schedule posts once, it goes through the list and once it gets to the end, it starts over and posts them again.

A lot of people get nervous about having their communities seeing the same posts over and over again but with social media algorithms, only about 2-5% of your community is actually seeing your posts. It takes a lot of time up front to set up the posts so that you have enough to keep your feeds interesting, but once it’s set up, you don’t have to touch it again if you don’t want to… THAT is automation.

If you don’t need post recycling and are fine with regularly creating your posts, Buffer is the way to go.

 


6. Handling Your Emails

If you’re ANYTHING like me, email is the BANE of your existence.

Unfortunately though, it’s a necessary evil… So you can’t exactly refuse to participate, but you CAN manage it better.

 

Unsubscribing

First things first, to get to inbox zero, you need to unsubscribe from all of those annoying email lists. If you’re on one of the major email service providers like Google, Yahoo, Outlook or AOL, Unroll.Me is about to be your new best friend.

This is going to take FOREVER to do at first, but I promise it’s SO worth it.

When you register, it’s going to load Unroll.Me with all of your email subscriptions….

You are going to be BLOWN AWAY by how many subscriptions you’re actually on.

They have three different options: keep in inbox, add to rollup or unsubscribe.

If you keep it in your inbox, that means emails from that service is going to continue going to your inbox. If you add it to the rollup, it’ll be sent as a daily digest with all of the other “rolled up” emails. If you unsubscribe, it’ll miss your inbox completely and go straight to junk.

When I started using Unroll.Me, I was getting a few hundred emails a day… Now, I only get the emails that I actually want. It makes email WAY less overwhelming.

For perspective, I’ve used Unroll.Me to unsubscribe from over 2000 email subscriptions. TWO-FREAKING-THOUSAND. I think it took me about an hour or two to sit there and unsubscribe from all of them but you know what? That hour or two it took me to unsubscribe has literally saved me probably 100x that amount of time and frustration.

 

Following-Up and Keeping In Touch

As mentioned earlier, my all time favorite CRM is Contactually.

It’s easy to use, pretty and INSANELY powerful.

Like many of the other apps, it’s going to take you awhile to set up, but once you’re up and running, it makes handling your people a breeze.

Contactually has “buckets” which are groups of contacts that you can decide how frequently you want to follow-up with. Once you’ve set up your buckets, you’ll start to get reminders of who to follow-up with so that you can stay in touch with your people.

Taking that a step further, you can set up templated follow-ups and follow-up programs so that you don’t have to think about what you’ll say to them.

Thinking is the enemy of action, so systems like this make it INFINITELY easier to keep in touch.

Even if you don’t use the same follow-up email every time, having a starting point will make your life easier.

Their follow-up reminders are my favorite part of the system, but they have a bunch of other features that I really like too. For example, they have pipelines that help you visualize your upcoming business, they automatically pull your email history so you can see when you last emailed someone (or they emailed you) and a bunch of other stuff.

On the dashboard, your scheduled tasks will also show up, but I’ve narrowed down based on JUST follow-up reminders so you can see what they look like. I love Contactually because of how simple AND powerful it is:

 

Send and Receive Email On Your Schedule

You know when you send an email and expect a response, but like two weeks later, you’re like “oh crap, I forgot to follow-up about that?”

What if that NEVER happened again?

Enter Boomerang.

This little beast is awesome because you can schedule when to send an email, clean up your inbox by removing an email until you need it and even set a reminder to follow-up on a specific email.

The only drawback is that it only works in gmail.

The same company came out with Inbox Pause and Respondable which are also incredible tools to keep you in control of your inbox.

Here’s a sample of how it works:

 


7. Proofreading + Editing

Of every part of leading MEB, my absolute LEAST favorite is proofreading and editing.

I’d rather listen to a thousand nails on chalkboards than have to sit here and reread every email newsletter or blog post that I write or to have to edit every video for the Empire Builder Academy… and that’s not the slightest exaggeration.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to have someone to edit for me so I don’t have to do it anymore, but when I was still doing it, Grammarly was the only way I could possibly manage it.

Grammarly is awesome because it’s like spellcheck on steroids.

It doesn’t just check spelling, it also checks grammar and makes sure that your text is actually readable.

It’s a free extension for Safari or Chrome.

 


8. Scheduling Appointments

You know when you’re going back and forth with someone in email or text trying to figure out a time to meet?

What if you NEVER had to do that again?

Well, my friend, today is that day.

Calendly is awesome because you literally send the person a link, it syncs with your calendar and they can pick whatever time works for them.

You can even set it up so that it sends them reminders before the event so they don’t end up cancelling or forgetting.

It’s literally the only way that I can network as much as I do.

The interface is super simple… When you send them the link, they get to pick what day and time works best for them, plus you can ask questions or remind them of other stuff to bring to your meeting.

 


9. House Cleaning + Errands

Even if every other area of your life is in order, if your house is still a disaster, you’re not going to feel like your life is in order.

Sometimes, you just need help.

Apps like HANDY and TaskRabbit will make cleaning your house and running errands a total breeze.

They both do a lot of the same things, but their list of services is comprehensive.

They cover everything from organizing your closet to mounting a TV, cleaning your house or picking up your dry cleaning.

Even superheroes have help (if you’ve seen the Flash or Arrow on Netflix, you know exactly what I’m talking about)… Take the help when you need it.

Even if it’s going to cost you, the question is how much is your time worth?

Chances are, it’s cheaper to hire someone to do it for you than to do it for yourself.

In closing, most of these will help you get your life in order, but you’re still going to have to do some maintenance to keep all of your systems running. I highly recommend that you set some time on Sunday evenings (or

whatever evening of the week you prefer) to go through and handle all of this. If you’re still overwhelmed by this concept of keeping everything together, this article might help you:


The best advice is the simplest advice... And here's your super simple advice: if you have to do it more than once, find a way to systemize or automate it. We only grow to the point that we get overwhelmed, so the only way to experience your next breakthrough is to leverage in the form of tools, systems and people. Click through to learn how to systemize and automate your life so you can get more done with less stress.
The best advice is the simplest advice... And here's your super simple advice: if you have to do it more than once, find a way to systemize or automate it. We only grow to the point that we get overwhelmed, so the only way to experience your next breakthrough is to leverage in the form of tools, systems and people. Click through to learn how to systemize and automate your life so you can get more done with less stress.

Why You’re Not Reaching Your Goals + What You Need To Do Instead

Have you ever been SUPER excited about something to the point where you’re like “omg yes! I’m doing that!”

… So you go and set some ridiculous goals.

… Then like 2 weeks later, all of your inspiration dies off and you’re back to your regular self.

HOW FRUSTRATING IS THAT?!

Now here’s the thing…

There are literally THOUSANDS of things that you can do with your day.

You are constantly making hundreds of decisions at any given time… Some of them are on autopilot and some are conscious, like…

What should you wear today?

Will you go to happy hour?

What should you do this weekend?

…. and then some of our decision should are subconscious habits like…

Are you going to start brushing your teeth on the right or left side first?

Do you tie your left or right shoe?

Do you workout in the morning, night or not at all?

Our habits define us.

Our habits define us. Click To Tweet

If you have a habit of smoking, you’re a smoker.

If you have a habit of drinking, you’re a drinker.

If you have a habit of running, you’re a runner.

If you have a habit of procrastinating, you’re a procrastinator.

We ARE our habits.

… and sometimes we don’t even realize how our habits affect us because it’s all we know.

… but if you don’t even recognize your habits, how do you know which ones are sabotaging your success?

You don’t.

… and THAT is why you’re not reaching your goals.

You don’t need to reset your goals or give yourself a crazy pep talk.

You need a growth plan.

You’ve probably heard about having a “why” to keep you motivated, but no matter how much you want it, that doesn’t fix the issue of MAINTAINING your mindset and gaining the new skills and habits to execute on your goals.

 

So, What The Heck Is A Growth Plan?

You have financial plans, fitness plans, health plans, goal plans and business plans… But what about a YOU plan?

You have plans for your finances, fitness, goals and business... What about a YOU plan? Click To Tweet

A MINDSET plan?

A growth plan is designed to help you find the areas of your life that you’re slacking, figure out the habits that you need to create, change to strengthen, and then execute them.

It’s sort of like a doctor’s check-up, except for your mindset and habits.

A growth plan will keep you from “my life is a hot mess” breakdowns or “I need to get my shit together” self-talks because you’ll actively be working on you so that those areas of growth are corrected in small increments,

rather than waiting until your life details before trying to get it back on track.

After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

You can't pour from an empty cup. Click To Tweet

… and if you’re not working on you, your cup is definitely going to empty quickly.

 

How To Make A Growth Plan

Step 1. Audit Your Mindset

We always talk about the things we want to do and if you’re anything like me, you fantasize about what it will feel like when you’re massively successful in every area of your life…

… but putting it into action is a whole different story.

So the first thing you need to do is to do an audit on your mindset:

What are your strengths?

How about those weaknesses?

What do you need to work on?

What’s holding you back from reaching your full potential?

How are you currently spending your time?

How SHOULD you be spending your time?

What limiting beliefs do you still carry?

Where do those limiting beliefs come from?

Digging really deep, especially on the questions you’d prefer not to answer is the only way to begin your breakthrough.

 

Step 2. Audit Your Goals

Going through life without a goal is sort of like getting in the car and driving without a destination, while blindfolded.

Going through life without a goal is like driving a car blindfolded without a destination. Click To Tweet

When you lack a destination, it’s way too easy to have ‘squirrel syndrome’ and to get distracted by every, single, teeny-tiny, itty-bity shiny object that may or may not yield a potential opportunity to possibly succeed.

Creating your growth plan will help you set a direction for each of the 7 ‘S’ words* so that you can start setting yourself on a path to have more balance, be more fulfilled and reach your full potential.

The 7 S words represent the various areas of your life…

They are self, self-development, spirituality, security, service, spouse and security.

 

Step 3. Audit Your Habits

Point A is where you are.

Point Z is where’s you want to go.

(I don’t like using point B as the destination because that insinuates that the journey is just one step and that’s almost never the case.)

Your habits represent every step towards point Z.

If you take a teeny step to the left or right, you won’t detour too much, but if you keep taking detours, you’ll end up wayyyyy off of your goal.

It’s the compound effect at it’s finest.

Identifying the habits that are holding you back is one part of it and the other half is identifying the keystone habits that you can start implementing, which will give you the max return on your effort.

 

Step 4. Audit Your Skills

Most people never reach their goals because they completely skip steps four, five and six.

If you plan to set massive, crazy goals, it only makes sense that you’d have to grow to reach them… THIS is where the growth plan REALLY shines.

You’ll identify the areas that you need to grow, analyze your learning style and decide how you want to immerse yourself into the new habits so that you can start executing and making CRAZY progress on your goals.

That level of immersion will start changing your mindset and get you to start taking action.

Immersion will start changing your mindset and get you to start taking action. Click To Tweet

 

Step 5. Audit Your Schedule

If it’s not in your schedule, it doesn’t exist… It’s as simple as that.

If it's not in your schedule, it doesn't exist... It's as simple as that. Click To Tweet

Once you’ve gotten your mindset in the right place, set some clear goals, worked on your habits and decided what skills you need to work on, it’s time to figure out how to actually implement it all by creating a powerful schedule.

You’ll want to look at what your schedule is like now, prioritize the 7 S words and make sure that your priorities align with your new schedule.

 

Step 6. Actually Do It

Creating a growth plan is one of the most important things you can possibly do for yourself because it covers every area of your life… but because it’s soooo comprehensive, it can be easier to get overwhelmed and decide to do nothing at all.

… However, if you’re absolutely committed to reaching your full potential and being your best self, decide, right now, that you’re not going to be like, “oh this post is awesome, let me bookmark it (or pin it) to come back to”…

Then never come back to it.

Let’s put it into action, together, so you don’t have to do this by yourself.

I have a totally free growth plan course that will walk you through the entire process from beginning to end so that you can start living up to your full potential and stop setting goals that you’re not going to hit.

In the growth plan course, you’ll get 12 videos, a 45-page workbook and a 10 day email challenge to make sure you are executing on your goals… and you can register fo’ free right here:

How frustrating is it when you set all of these goals.... but you never hit them? The problem isn't your goals. The execution part of goals is where most people trip up, and in this article I'm walking you through exactly how to execute them like a ninja. Click through to read the whole article and to take the free growth plan course.
How frustrating is it when you set all of these goals.... but you never hit them? The problem isn't your goals. The execution part of goals is where most people trip up, and in this article I'm walking you through exactly how to execute them like a ninja. Click through to read the whole article and to take the free growth plan course.

How To Execute On Your Ideas When You Feel Overwhelmed

So you know when you have an idea that you’re like “this is going to make me a bajillion dollars”?… and then you go to start putting pen to paper to start brainstorming your idea… but nothing comes out? You’re literally staring at a blank page and all those amazing ideas that were just in your head seemed to die when you picked up that pen.

The problem is the idea is super abstract when you first start thinking about it so your brain doesn’t know how to process and organize the thoughts. In order to accommodate that, you need to give yourself some structure and help your brain put the puzzle pieces in order so that you can see the whole picture.

For each of these steps, give yourself a set amount of time to do them. If you drag it out, you’ll end up in “analysis paralysis” — you know what I’m talking about! When you’re stuck in “research mode” and you never actually pull the trigger.

 

1. Get to Googling (and YouTubing and Pinteresting)

Recommended Timeframe: 3-7 days

YouTube and Google are the two biggest search engines in the world… and Pinterest is right behind them. Contrary to what you might think, Pinterest is a search engine not a social site (when’s the last time you were actually social on Pinterest?)

Google will help you get some basic info on the topic and you’ll learn a lot from blogs. Next, head on over to Pinterest. I freaking LOVE Pinterest…. There’s a ton of info there and you will get even more details on the topic you’re looking for (and no, it’s not just recipes and crafts). There’s content on Pinterest for absolutely everything.

Lastly, head on over to YouTube. You’ll find webinar replays, instructional videos and walkthroughs to help you with your topic. You’ll learn so much by just spending a few hours researching your topic and learning about other people who’ve done it before you.

When there’s a new project that I want to work on, I will literally spend a whole week researching everything that I can about the topic… It’s sort of obsessive to the point that I won’t sleep because I want to know everything I can about it. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. If I had to guess, I probably read and listen to at least 50-100 pieces of content about that one topic before I decide how I want to implement it. If that sounds overwhelming, it’s easier to do than to sit in your brain and try to figure out how to organize your thoughts.

As a side note, just because it’s been done before doesn’t mean you can’t do it, too… and just because it HASN’T been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I love to find things that people have used in different industries and repurpose it into something that I can use to give to you.

Make sure that you bookmark all of the stuff that you like — you may not realize it now, but that one little idea that you didn’t think was that big of a deal will be the one thing that reshapes your whole idea.

 

2. Read Five Books On The Topic

Recommended Timeframe: 30-45 Days

Next, pick out the one major topic that you need to learn to start executing on the idea. Go on Amazon and search for that topic. Find the top rated books and read at least five on the subject. This is my absolute favorite way to learn about a new subject quickly… and if you think you’re not a reader, it’s probably because you’ve been doing it wrong.

You probably haven’t been reading with purpose of applying the information that you’ve learned and you haven’t built the habit of it. It’s sort of like eating healthy or going to the gym… It’s hard at first and then it just becomes who you are.

Related: Reading Is The Cheat Code To Life

Reading just one book isn’t enough… You have to get a few different perspectives and opinions. This will also help you understand common practice, the language and you’ll start developing your own opinions about it.

I suggest you read 10 pages or 1-2 chapters at a time and every time you put the book down, write down the one thing you’re going to implement as a result of what you just read. Doing it this way will help you keep track of your idea and start putting some order in place for it.

 

3. Take An eCourse (or two or three)

Recommended Timeframe: 30-45 Days

This is something I just started doing recently and it’s been awesome. I truly believe in the saying “people have lived before you”. The people who’ve done it before you have been through all of the trial and error that you have yet to go through. During an ecourse, you’ll learn how to apply the information — not just learn the information. You’ll cut your learning curve by 100% because you don’t have to learn the hard way.

Before you hop into an ecourse, make sure that you verify the success of the person teaching it, go through their free content (they’ll usually have a blog or podcast so you can get a feel for their style and you’ll learn a lot there too) and look for reviews and testimonials of the course.

 

4. Structure Your Idea.

Recommended Timeframe: 1-3 days

By now, you’ve learned enough about the topic that you can start structuring your own ideas for how you want to do it. At this point, you’ll start noticing how much easier it is to brainstorm and get the ideas out of your head with some structure to it.

You may even find that your idea has evolved and changed since before you start this journey… That’s a good thing! That means that you’ve learned a ton and you’ll probably skip a bunch of the trial and error that you would’ve gone through without going through this process.

 

5. Start Talking To People.

Recommended Timeframe: 1-2 Weeks

If this is something that you want people to buy, before you go developing the product or service, take the time to talk to your potential clients. Talk to your friends, family and other potential clients.

Share your ideas with them and don’t get defensive if they don’t like it. It’s better to know that they don’t like it NOW than waiting until you’ve already built it to tell you they don’t like it. When you master your audience, you’ll know that you’ll be successful at whatever it is that you’re putting together.

If they disagree with you or don’t like certain elements, ask them why they feel that way. Get them to go deep!

Once you’ve talked to them, go back and tweak your idea again. Your idea should be a living, breathing idea — it’s not carved in stone.

 

6. Ask Yourself The Focusing Question.

By now, you’ve built out your idea and it’s time to start putting it into action.

I find that the absolute best way to go about doing this is to ask yourself the focusing question from The One Thing, “what is the one thing that I can do right now that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

Hint: The honest answer probably won’t be the one that you want to do… but it’ll be necessary.

 

7. Do That Action.

Surprise, surprise! Now that you know what the most important thing is… Go do it. We didn’t go through this whole process just for the sake of the idea. We went through all of this for the sake of taking action.

If you find yourself getting stuck here, it almost always has to do with fear…

Fear of success, fear of failure or fear of rejection. This is when you keep doing the “busy work” because you’re afraid to actually start.

Fear of Success: Massive success would require us to change and we don’t like change. This fear can also come from having succeeded in the past and then losing it all — you’re afraid that success leads to inevitable failure. To fix this, start focusing on why you’re doing what you’re doing rather than focusing on the result of the activity that you’re avoiding. (Related: Why Everything Goes Wrong At The Same Time + How To Fix It)

Fear of Failure: This one goes without saying. The biggest piece of advice I have for you here is to treat everything like an experiment. If you’re doing an experiment and something doesn’t work, what do you do? You find a different way. Again, focus on WHY you’re doing what you’re doing and let go of the focus on the result of the activity.

Fear of Rejection: This was always my biggest thing…. When I was a kid, I never wanted to tell anyone about my goals because I was TERRIFIED that people wouldn’t support me or judge me if I failed. To handle this, I went ahead and surrounded myself with different people. It wasn’t that the people I was around weren’t supportive, they just weren’t visioaires and couldn’t think as big as I liked to.

Related: How To Share Your Goals So That People Support You

Related: Stop Feeling Guilty For Outgrowing Your Friends

 

8. Prepare to Fail… A lot.

This is the one that most of us struggle with the most and as a result, we stop at number six because we’re afraid we’ll fail at number seven.

You’re going to fail… A LOT. That’s ok!

That’s where the growth happens and this is where you earn your brownie points.

The best advice that I can give you is not to be attached to the result. If you know that what you’re doing is the right thing to do, don’t worry so much about what the outcome is going to be. Allow yourself to commit 100% without fear of failure.

Treat it like it’s an experiment.

Related: If You Feel Like You’re Not Good Enough, Read This.

 

9. Repeat steps 7-9 until the project is complete.

Lastly, do 6-8 over and over and over and over again until your idea or project is complete.

When you break down your ideas into smaller steps, they become less overwhelming and easier to put into action. Stop letting your awesome ideas run away from you.

I’ve also created this workbook to take everything you just learned here and put it into action. It will walk you through the entire process of researching your ideas and then starting to execute on them. Here’s to much success!


Execute on your ideas

How To Wake Up Earlier + Design Your Perfect Day (Even If You’re Not A Morning Person)

I recently had a real heart-to-heart with one of my closest friends.

I set big goals for the year and I’m not on track for them…. He knows it and he knows how much I want it so he called me out on my shit because that’s what a great friend does.

If you have a bunch of people around you who never call you out when you’re slacking, those aren’t your friends… and if you get defensive when people call you out when you KNOW that you’ve been slacking, you don’t want to achieve your goals as much as you say you do.

That conversation lit a fire under me.

Not just because I realized I was slacking but because he reminded me how much he counted on me to achieve MY goals so that he could achieve HIS goals.

That’s how accountability works… We all succeed together.

That’s coopertition for you (coopertition is competitive cooperation — we are super supportive of each other and it’s still a competition for who’s going to be the best) or the popular term all over the internet is community over competition.

As I was falling asleep last night, I gave myself a hype talk…

It was sort of like Mufasa talking to Simba from the sky in the Lion King (don’t judge me).

I reminded myself that we don’t adjust our goals, we adjust our activities… That means I needed to 10x everything that I’m doing

The year is flying by… and waiting till Q3 isn’t going to get us to achieve our goals.

During that self hype-talk, I remembered someone telling me sometime, somewhere (yea seriously, I don’t even remember who told me this but it’s great advice)…

 

If you want to do more in a day, wake up earlier.

If you want to do more in a day, wake up earlier. Click To Tweet

How simple is that?!

I find the BEST advice is the simplest advice.

Think about it…

If you stay up till 5 in the morning, you’re probably not going to do anything productive (my mom used to say nothing good happens after midnight and the older I get, the more I realize she was right — even if you’re working, you’re probably not at your full energy)…

… But if you actually get up at 5am and actually get up, you’ll likely be way more productive.

The BEST advice is the simplest advice. Click To Tweet

Back when I was in a relationship, my ex and I committed to getting up at 4:30am every day so that we could workout, read in the morning and get to the gym by 7:30.

If you were to ask him, he’ll tell you how much I hated it and complained every day… But it really was a blessing.

Have you ever stepped outside at 4am?

It’s amazing.

The universe has secrets to tell you that it doesn’t want anyone else to hear and it feels like you’re privileged enough to have a private conversation with whatever spiritual being or metaphysical energy that you believe in.

The universe has secrets to tell you, you just have to wake up early enough to hear them. Click To Tweet

So after my pep talk, I was pumped to get up at 4am this morning.

… And if you’re in our Facebook group, you know about my struggle this morning… I did NOT want to get up.

I literally had to negotiate with my mind… but NOT getting up wasn’t an option, and so I did.

Once I was actually up and washed my face, I was ready for my morning and it was an awesome day.

 

My perfect morning goes like this:

4:00am – Brush my teeth, wash my face and stretch for a few minutes

4:30am – Write (this is my time to write these newsletters, blog for both my real estate business and Millennial Empire Builders, putting together courses for the Empire Builder Academy, scheduling my social media posts, creating email challenges and all of the other content that I annoy you with 😉 )

6:00am – Go to the gym

7:00am – Get ready, eat breakfast and have a dance party (because we all could use more dance parties at 8:30 in the morning)

8:30am – Brain dump before I start my day

We could all use more dance parties in the morning. Click To Tweet

And let’s get this straight… I am NOT a morning person.

Actually, now that I think about it… I’m not a night owl either.

I’m a sleep person.

In order to maintain my energy, I need 8.5-9 hours of sleep, however I have to get it… That’s just how my body works.

So go ahead and ask me how often I do my perfect morning routine….

HAH!

I wish I could say it was every day… But it’s not.

It’s a work in progress but the days that I do stick to that schedule, my days are INFINITELY more productive, I eat better and feel so much more accomplished after.

So here are a few of my favorite ways to get up earlier…

 

STOP TELLING YOURSELF YOU’RE NOT A MORNING PERSON.

Your thoughts become things…

If you keep telling yourself that you’re not a morning person, that thought is so embedded into your brain that your subconscious believes its true.

Being a “morning person” is just a habit that has to be built like going to the gym.

We have 90,000 thoughts in a day and a huge percentage of them are the same thoughts we had yesterday.

The more that you tell yourself that you’re not a morning person, the more you convince yourself that you’re not. Our thought patterns control who we are, the decisions we make and how we feel.

 

WAKING UP EARLIER STARTS THE NIGHT BEFORE

If you wake up in the morning after a night of terrible sleep, can’t find anything and are rushing, there’s a 100% chance that you aren’t going to have a powerful start to your day.

I would even argue that your morning starts the second that you get home.

The perfect morning starts the night before. Click To Tweet

Think about it this way — if you get home, throw your stuff down and plop down in front of the TV… Then it’s 6 hours later, you’ve barely eaten anything, have watched more TV than you planned to and realize it’s past your bedtime but you still have stuff to do…

So you end up staying up later to do whatever it was that you were supposed to do earlier.

Instead of “taking 10 minutes to rest” when you walk in the door, stick it out a little longer and have a ‘come home from work’ routine.

Where do you put your keys?

Make dinner.

Put your stuff away and prepare for tomorrow.

Make sure you give yourself a bed time and 30-60 minutes away from social media and TV to wind down before bed.

Once you’ve done that, you can hang out for a few hours with some peace of mind and don’t have to worry about those lingering annoyances of still having stuff to do before bed.

In the workbook that I put together for this post, you’ll identify your potential distractions, lay out your perfect day and even get your priorities in order… and you can download it right here, for free:

 

WAKE UP EARLIER THAN USUAL — IN 15 MINUTE INCREMENTS

Do not… I repeat, do not go waking up from 7am to then deciding to get up at 4. It’s not going to work.

Do not go waking up from 7am to then deciding to get up at 4. It's not going to work. Click To Tweet

We get super excited about the potential of achieving our goal so we go from waking up at 8am to now waking up at 5am… and then our body is like what the hell are you doing to me?!

As a result, it only sticks for a few days because your body hasn’t had time to adjust.

Instead, actually get up at the time you’re supposed to for a week.

If you keep setting your alarm at 7am because you know that you need to get up at 8am, stop it…. Force yourself to get up the first time.

Your body won’t like it at first but it’ll get easier.
By doing this, you’ll retrain your body to get up at that time and you’ll start to get tired around your bed time which will make falling asleep easier.

This could take a few weeks to get used to.

Once you’re used to hopping out of bed to brush your teeth and wash your face and have done that for a week or two, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier.

Do that for a week… and keep doing that until you get to your desired wakeup time.

That way your body will have time to adjust.

Which leads me to my next point…

 

HAVE A MORNING ROUTINE

First things first, get up, fix your bed (it’s harder to get back into a fixed bed once you’re up) and brush your teeth and wash your face.

You are not ‘you’ when you’re laying in your bed… The inner stubborn, temper tantrum five year old inside of you is in control and usually gets his or her way when it comes to hitting the snooze button.

You are not 'you' when you're laying in your bed in the morning. Click To Tweet

Once you’re up and wash your face, you’re up… So hop out of bed and wash your face.

While you’re doing that go listen to something positive – this is so easy… Go on YouTube and search motivation, go to iTunes and subscribe to a few podcasts or download the TED app.

There’s a million different videos and podcasts to get you ready for your day.

If you’re really in need of a schedule for your mornings, I highly recommend that you pick up the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Here’s my improvised version of the routine outlined in the book:

  • Do a quick meditation (even if it’s just a minute or two to visualize your perfect day and give yourself a little pep talk)
  • Get moving — go do a workout… It’ll make you eat healthier, have more energy throughout your day and you will already have more time to yourself than most people take in a week.
  • Learn something new — whether that’s reading 10 pages (if you do this, you’ll read 18 books in a year), listen to an audiobook or watch a quick video that teaches you something. In order to feel fulfilled, you need to be growing and giving… If you grow first thing in the morning, you’re setting the stage for a great day.
  • Write something — whether you’re writing down your plans for the day, writing your schedule or just writing down a quick thought, get whatever is in your head down on paper. Your brain is a thinking machine, not a memory machine.

 

LISTEN TO SOME HYPE MUSIC

Lastly and what I think is most importantly, get excited for the day… Listen to something that will get you awake and ready for the day.

Whether that’s on the way to work or while you’re making your breakfast, it’ll get your energy up.

Maybe 4am is unnecessary for you but waking up earlier can help pretty much anyone get closer to their goals so long as you use that time productively.

You’ve heard people say that being “busy” isn’t the same as being “productive”, so I created this workbook to help you plan out your perfect day and it even includes an hour by hour breakdown to help you plan the day that will help you build extraordinary habits and an extraordinary life


How to Reach Your Goals When You Have No Willpower

What keeps you accountable to your goals when your motivation fails you?

If you said nothing, you might find that you’re having a hard time reaching your goals.

The good news is that this is an easy fix.

We know that big goals require you to build new habits and we also know that building new habits is uncomfortable as I’ve laid out herehere and here. The quick fix to a lack of willpower is to add accountability around those new goals.

In order to achieve your goals, you’re going to have to get uncomfortable… This is nothing new. It’s easier to stay in bed at 5am than go to the gym, play on Facebook when you’re supposed to be making phone calls or going out when you should be sleeping… and it’s wayyyy easier to say ‘I’ll just start tomorrow’.

Sometimes, your big why just isn’t enough. No matter how many vision boards you make or no matter how much you intend to do it, you just can’t find the willpower to do it.

… But when you have a deadline or someone to report to, you’re a whole lot less likely to slack off.

Introducing… Drum roll please!

Accountability. 

You might have just cringed a little (like I did when I first learned about it)…

… or you might be thinking something along the lines of:

  • I don’t need accountability
  • My bank account keeps me accountable

If you said the first, I mean this in the most humble and compassionate way possible – that’s all ego. If you didn’t need accountability, you would have achieved your goals already. We all need some sort of accountability.

Embrace it my friend, don’t fight it. Our willpower is finite so accountability steps in where willpower fails.

If you said the second, having your bank account as an accountability partner will make sure that your bills are paid but it will keep you in a state of stress, unfulfillment (because you’re only living to pay bills rather than living to reach your goals) and you will likely only do enough to meet your requirements (which means you will continue living paycheck to paycheck).

There’s a lot of negativity around the word ‘accountability’ because so many people go about it the wrong way.

If your way of holding people accountable is harassing them about why they did or didn’t do something (or people are doing that to you), how is that perceived?

Yep, like an attack.

And then what happens?

Yep, you guessed it. They (or you) will become defensive almost every single time. There’s a different way to approach accountability. The key is allowing the person being held accountable to take ownership of their actions or lack thereof and you are just the person helping them see that.

 

What are you going to be held accountable for?

The first thing you’ll need to decide is what you’re going to be held accountable for.

You can choose to be held accountable to a specific activity or to a specific result. I like to be held accountable to consistent activities over the result for a few reasons…

First, setting accountability for the result can put you in a state of “by any means necessary”… and contrary to popular belief, that’s not always a positive place to be in. When you’re willing to do anything, that’s how you get yourself in trouble.

The most effective way to decide on your most important goal right now.

Seriously, what’s your MOST important goal? I know they all seem important so ask yourself which goal will make everything else easier?

Got it?

Awesome. Now, ask yourself what ONE activity that you can do (whether that means doing it once or doing it consistently) that you can do to help you reach your goals. Don’t go crazy making commitments that you aren’t going to keep so start with one thing and leave it at that (trust me, this is coming from a true recovering over-committer).

Maybe your goal is to lose twenty pounds. You might decide that you’re going to workout three times a week and you’re going to send a picture every time you’re at the gym so your accountability partner knows that you’re actually there.

 

What’s the consequence?

Now that you have the activity, you need to decide what happens if you don’t meet your commitments.
Some of the best examples that I’ve seen for accountability (and some of which I’ve participated in) are as follows:

  • Having to send a picture at the gym every morning at 6am and having to write a check to your partner if you don’t make it there five times per week (someone from my office did this with me, he slacked off and I bought a pair of shoes with his money. I rubbed it in his face for a few weeks and he stopped slacking off at the gym)
  • Telling your kids that you will take them to Disney if you hit your specific goal. Kids are great accountability partners because they’ll be on your case to make sure you did what you said you’ll do and you never want to let your kids down.
  • Writing a check to an organization whose values you strongly disagree with and setting a specific goal (say writing a certain amount of pages or talking to a specific number of people). If you don’t hit your numbers, your accountability partner gets to send the check to the organization that you disagree with. This one is awesome because even when you’re not in the mood to hit your commitments, that voice in your head going “I don’t want my money going to ___ organization” is loud enough to get your butt moving.

There’s a million ways to hold someone accountable and it doesn’t always have to be money involved (like the kid example above), but I find that it’s a great motivator. No one wants to have a check cashed for not doing something, especially if it’s for something that you don’t agree with.

 

Who’s going to hold you accountable?

The people that you allow to hold you accountable should be someone who you respect and don’t want to let down, not someone who is going to let you off easy.

If you’re going to use the check example, don’t write it to someone who you wouldn’t mind them spending your money. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out.

If your commitment is to go to the gym three times a week and you write your daughter a check for $100, when it’s time to actually go to the gym, that little voice in the back of your head will go, “it’s your daughter… You’d give her $100 if she needed it anyways.”

Accountability should HURT if you don’t hit your commitments, so make sure it goes to someone you don’t want spending your money.

Make sure it’s someone you trust and who won’t cash your check unless you fail to hit your commitments, just don’t give it to someone who you would give money to anyways.

There’s a guy in my office who wrote me a check and his commitment was to workout 3x/week. I let him off the hook once and the second time that he missed, I went and bought myself a pair of shoes.

The next day, I went into the office wearing the shoes. He didn’t know that I bought shoes with his money and he complimented them…. So I told him he bought them for me and then rubbed it in for like a week. He hasn’t missed accountability since 😉

 

Accountability Questions

Here are the six accountability questions.

Whether you’re working on a team, are an employer or a parent, these come in handy.

By asking these questions, the answerer is forced to self-reflect and answer for themselves.

They won’t feel attacked but will get clarity on their progress and it will help make it clear for them what their next steps need to be.

  • What was your goal?
  • How did you do?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • Based on how you did, what’s your new goal?
  • Is there anything that might keep you from doing that?
  • If you needed training or support to do this, what might it be?

Every time that I use these questions to guide my accountability conversations, they’re massively impactful and we both walk away with a ton of clarity and ready to take on the world.

Ready to put some accountability around your goals? I’ve created this cheatsheet to help you kick those goals into high action so you can start seeing results.


reach your goals when you have no willpower

How To Break Bad Habits + Build Powerful New Habits

If you had to guess how many thoughts we had in a day, how many do you think we have?

If you guessed 60,000 to 90,000, you’re right.

That’s a lot of thoughts!

But here’s where it gets even more interesting…

Almost 95% of those thoughts are the same thoughts you had yesterday. That means you’ve been having the same thoughts every single day for a very, very long time.

So it’s no wonder that most people read a book or attend an event, and no matter how amazing the content is, they fail to implement it.

Imagine for a second that our thoughts to be a river and our brain to be the rock that the river runs through. The river breaks through the rock not because of it’s force, but because of it’s consistency. That’s exactly how our

thoughts work. Every time you have a thought, there’s a ridge that’s created in your brain. When you have the same thoughts consistently over and over and over and over and over again, those ridges continue to get deeper.

To make it worse, when you start trying to change your thoughts, your brain goes into protection mode. Your brain doesn’t want to change so the more you try to change your thoughts, the more your brain will fight back…

Initially.

… No wonder it’s so damn hard to change the way that we think!

In order to change your reality, you have to change your actions. In order to change your actions, you have to change your thoughts… so how do you change your thoughts when you’ve been having the same thoughts consistently?

The first step is to be realistic about how hard it is to change your thoughts and habits. When you’re honest with yourself about that, you can start to mentally prepare for the shift in mindset and start moving forward.

You will need to create new habits, new thought patterns, new ways of talking to yourself and commit to immersing yourself into whatever it is that you’re committing to.

 

How Habits Work

Keystone Habits

When you’re setting new habits, don’t focus on setting 20 different habits. In ‘The Power of Habit, Gary Keller asks us to answer the clarifying question:

“What is the one thing that you can do that by doing it, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?”

That is your keystone habit – one habit that affects multiple aspects of your life. In my personal life, that keystone habit is working out. On the mornings that I work out, I eat better, manage my time better and have more energy.

In my real estate business, that is focusing on lead generation. For you, it could be something completely different. If you’re constantly asking yourself the clarifying question, you’ll know that you’re making effective use of your time.

 

The Habit Loop

In the Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about how our habits work and what causes us to execute on them. Before I explain it, here’s what it looks like:

The example that stuck with me the most was when he talked about how toothpaste first started selling. Apparently, back in the day, we didn’t use toothpaste (ew).

There was a marketing campaign that used people licking their teeth and feeling the ‘film’ (you know, that layer of grime when you wake up in the morning).

That was the cue.

In the campaign, they used people brushing their teeth (routine) and then licking their teeth after and the layer of film being gone (reward). If you think about it, that still applies to our lives now.

When you’re trying to change your habits, keep the cue and the reward the same – just change the routine. Think about your existing habits, good or bad.

Let’s say your bad habit is checking social media non-stop. Your cue might be the notification that pops up, boredom or avoidance of doing something else. The habit is to check your phone and the reward is the instant gratification of having all of those likes and comments.

Keeping the cue and reward the same, maybe you change the routine to standing up to stretch, for example. You might have a hard time making the switch to stretching every time you have the urge to check your phone, but after a week or two, that awkward feeling will go away and standing up to stretch will be your new normal.

Think about your own existing habits. What’s the cue? What’s the reward? What routine can you replace your existing routine with?

This works with creating habits too. Let’s say you want to go to the gym every morning at 5am.

Your trigger might be that you put your clothes next to your bed and your shoes on the floor so as soon as you get out of bed, you are forced to look at them.

To take it a step further, you might even move your alarm across the room so that you’re forced to get up to turn it off and step over your gym stuff.

The routine is the workout and your reward will be that you feel good after your workout.

What habits would you like to create?

How can you use the habit loop to help you?

 

Discipline Is Only Temporary

A lot of times, when someone is experiencing great success, it’s very easy to think that they’re lucky or they’re naturally ‘like that’ or that they have so much discipline.

The reality is that discipline is only necessary until it becomes a habit.

Think about brushing your teeth for a second – how much effort does that take? Not a whole lot.

It’s just what you do.

Once habit kicks in, it will feel weird not to do it.

On the opposite hand, bad habits steal your dreams one ‘I don’t feel like it’ at a time.

Waiting for inspiration to strike is the fastest way to end up 65 years old, wondering why you never pursued your passions. Inspiration is for amateurs.

The compound effect is doing it even when you don’t feel like it, just because you’re supposed to do it.

You may not see results right away and that’s ok.

It didn’t take you seven days to get to where you are in your life, it’s not going to take you seven days to get to where you’re going either.

Here’s another way to look at it: if you had everything you wanted right now and got it easy, you would be bored with life and you would never grow.

The struggle of getting there is going to be what makes you the amazing person that you’ll end up being.

 

How To Change Old Habits + Develop New Ones

Go Back To Your Big Why 

Change is really uncomfortable because our brains don’t like change.

If we’re going to force ourselves to make changes, we’re going to have to have a reason big enough to be more powerful than the ‘I don’t feel like it’ feeling.

We have to make the pain of staying the same greater than the pain of changing… and the only way to do that is to focus on our big why and how much our lives will absolutely suck if we don’t achieve our goals.

Too often, we set goals with the mindset of ‘if I don’t achieve it, it’s not the end of the world.’

Unfortunately, that hurts you more than helps you.

If it’s not the end of the world when you don’t achieve your goals, you’re not going to go through the massive discomfort required to achieve those massive goals of yours.

 

Change The Way You Talk To Yourself

Before you roll your eyes, think about this for a second.

You talk to yourself every day as it is, affirmations are just getting more intentional about it.

I was having lunch with a friend recently who was talking about how she was dating someone who told her that she didn’t love herself because she was always so quick to put herself down, even if it was just in a joking way.

She continued on to say that she realized he was right and that she had been beating herself up over everything.

She would never talk to a friend the way she talked to herself, so she wanted to learn how to start changing that.

Just like anything else, this is habit building.

You might not be able to change your first thought, but you can control your second thought.

Here’s your assignment: take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page.

On the left side, make a list of all of the negative things you normally say to yourself.

No one will see this but you, so be honest.

On the right side, right something positive that you can replace it with. Let’s say you’re unhappy with your weight.

Instead of writing “I am skinny” on the right, start the sentence with “I am committed to getting in shape, eating right and living a healthy life.”

By taking this approach, you won’t feel so ridiculous about lying to yourself.

You’re simply saying what you’re committed to.

When you’re done, put it in your phone and everywhere that you will see it regularly.

Before you go to bed and when you wake up, spend five minutes or so reading those “I am committed to..” sentences out loud and if you catch yourself with those negative thoughts, replace them immediately with the ones you’re retraining your brain with.

 

Make It Visual

Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Keep your big why in front of you along with reminders for your new habits.

If you’re technology-driven, use an app that will remind you to do your new habits.

If you like paper, use a simple tracker that you color in when you complete the new habit.

Either way, this will benefit you because it will become a competition with yourself not to break your streak.

There are dozens of habit apps out there and will be a matter of preference for which you like most as most of them have very similar functionality.

Here’s an awesome habit tracker form by Passion Planner.

The tracker will help you stay on track and keep you accountable to your new habits, but that’s not enough.

Go overboard!

Put pictures of your goal everywhere, obsess over what you’re trying to achieve and focus on taking massive action.

The trick here is to focus on what it will be like once you have it, not the journey to get there.

If you focus on the journey, you just might think yourself out of doing it.

 

FEED YOUR BRAIN EVERY DAY.

In order to stay in this new mindset, you’re going to have to put effort into it.

What you’ve been doing isn’t enough.

Start focusing on your personal growth.

In order to do and have the things you say that you want, you have to be the person you need to be to get it.

That means constantly growing and learning.

If you read 10 pages a day, you’ll read 18 books in a year… That’s 18 books more than most people read in a lifetime.

The trick is to read about specifically what you’re working on. If you’re opening a gym, read everything you can about people who’ve done it before you.

Not only will you cut your learning curve exponentially and you will start applying that information.

What you’ll find starts to happen is every time you face a challenge, the first question you ask yourself is ‘what book can I read that will help me with this?’.

It’s an incredibly freeing feeling when you realize that every challenge that you will ever have has already been solved, you just have to find the answer.

My rule is always 5 books.

Anything that I want to learn, read 5 books about it.

That will give you enough background knowledge to cut down some of the learning curve, help you develop your own thoughts and opinions on the topic, give you some executable actions from reading and will force you to think bigger than your original goals.

When I wanted to get better at building habits, I read The Power of Habit, Miracle Morning, Grit, The Compound Effect, The 12 Week Year and The One Thing.

All of those have shaped who I am as a person today, simply because I read them back to back and started applying what I learned.

It’s not hard, it just takes consistency.

 

Make It Actionable

When you set a goal, break it down to the very basic activities.

If your goal is to lose 20 pounds in 6 months, that means you need to create about a 400 calorie deficit on a daily basis.

Knowing what your specific, daily goal is will keep you on track for your goal and keep you from getting too far off track.