The year so far hasn't gone the way any of us planned. But it’s not too late to get things back on track. Today, I’m going to share five things you can do right now to restart your year off right.
When I decided to start this the intention was to start small biz mama in January and this was supposed to be a start to your year off the right post. However, I think a lot of us got derailed with the pandemic. It feels to me like we're starting the year over. I know a lot of you are either gearing up to restart your businesses, you've just reopened your businesses, or maybe you've just hit a lull because of the pandemic, and some of us have been so busy, we didn't have time to take a breather. I want you to think of this period as a restart.
I was doing a training session recently with Brendon Burchard. I'm in his HPX training and instead of using quarters, he uses seasons. For me, that makes a lot of sense. Not only because I'm a college professor, but also because of tax season. Doing Q2 planning has always been really rough for me because Q2 is the end of tax season, and the beginning of new things, but I never really had time to sit down and do that planning because March is so busy.
I really love that he does his planning based on seasons. The summer season would be June, July, and August, and then fall would be September, October, November, winter would be December, January, February, and then spring would be March, April, May. I really like that because that works better with the cycle of our business than trying to actually do the “typical” year quarters.
I'm thinking of this as a new season. We’re coming up on June. We're coming up on the summer season. What is that going to look like for your business? What is that going to look like for your life and for your family? I'm really thinking about this as a restart to the rest of the year, and I want to talk about five things that you can do to help restart your year to get your business going again.
These are things that I typically start to think about at the beginning of every year. But I think that this is a really good time to do some of these things. If you haven't gone full swing to reopen your business yet, these are some things that you can do in the interim while you're waiting. They are going to put your business in a really good place for when you get started.
Get a computer backup subscription
The first thing that I want you to do if you don't already have one is to get a computer backup subscription. We've been putting a lot of pressure on our computers and the rest of our devices during the pandemic. I know a lot of people are sharing their computers with their kids for classes. Hopefully, you didn't have any computer issues as we were going through this, but I know a lot of families that did. One thing that I'd recommend is that you have some sort of computer backup subscription. We use Carbonite.
Carbonite has saved my butt a number of times, it’s saved my client's butts a number of times. It just happens in the background. It just runs, it backs up everything on your computer. The other thing that you can do if you have reliable internet, is use Google Drive, or you can use Microsoft Onedrive. You can also use Dropbox, and save all of your important files there, instead of putting them on your computer. For us, the bigger thing is file storage. It's not so much programs because those are easy to get and a lot of the programs we use are in the cloud now anyway, so it's really file storage.
The other thing that I like about having digital file storage is that, as we talk about item number four, it will be really useful to make sure that your documents are shareable. So number one, make sure you have a computer backup subscription or some sort of online document storage.
Create digital and paper 2020 receipts folders
The second thing that you want to do, if you haven't done this yet, is to create digital and paper 2020 receipt folders. If you do this now, instead of waiting until January of 2021 to do it, it's going to help you keep your receipts organized. People ask me, how many folders do I need to have? How complicated does this need to be? I have one digital folder and I have one paper folder… two folders, a digital and a paper. That's it.
I have the paper one for stuff that's waiting to be scanned into the digital folder. Once I scan those receipts I get rid of them and then everything is digital. If you think you have to categorize everything between office and equipment, you really don't. There's a couple of reasons for this. (This is me putting my CPA hat on.)
If everything is digital, it's searchable. And even if it's not, let's say that you put everything in a paper folder and you keep it, the likelihood that you're going to be audited by the IRS is very, very low. If you do get audited, then you can take some time and sort out all your receipts, but there's no point in doing it in advance. Even if you need to find a receipt because you need to return something or you want to dispute something, you're typically going to do that within 30 days of the purchase.
If you do that, it's going to be right on top of the folder. If you put things in the folder every time you file something and you put it on top of whatever was in there before, then everything's in chronological order.
Sometimes we create busy work for ourselves because we don't want to do the important things in our business. Think about that for a second. Sometimes we create busy work for ourselves so we don't have to do the important things in our business.
I don't want you to do that with filing. This is not something that should be taking up a lot of time. I have this little thing on my desk. It has a couple of shelves on it with room for just a few file folders. (And that's still too much room for me).
I have a 2020 receipts folder. I have one for business and one for personal. The personal one, everything comes in digitally, so there really isn't anything that goes in there. But my digital one, I put all my home office stuff, I put in any major purchases for the house, and that's it. It doesn't have to be complicated. If you haven't done that already, make sure that you create those folders and then just start putting stuff in. Don't even worry about going backward. Just start putting stuff in as of today.
If I'm doing searches and I find my old electric bills, then I'll put those in there. If you come across something that should go in there, put it in there, but don't create yourself more work. Just create the folders and start using them going forward.
Determine what is really important to you and surround yourself with it
Number three. I want you to kind of sit and focus in on this. Don't brush it off and go, “ya, ya, okay.” Determine what is really important to you and surround yourself with it.
What is really important to you? I think a lot of us during the pandemic have reevaluated what is important to us. I know Jeff and I have done this. What is really important to you and surround yourself with it?
For instance, Jeff and I want to move. Jeff looks at real estate every day, and when he “favorites” a house, I get it … it comes to me. And I've been printing out the features that I like, I'm actually printing them out. I'm starting to put them up in the office because this is inspiring me to get all the pieces in order that we need to get in order to be able to move.
Do you love beautiful flowers? Do you love beautiful art? Do you love beautiful books? What is your thing, right? Is it the people that you love? What is the thing that is important to you? Surround yourself with it.
We spend so much time going through our lives and being unhappy with the way our houses look, being unhappy with how we look, being unhappy with just everything around us and I'm tired of it. What is important to you? Just figure it out.
I know for some of us it's kind of hard. I love flowers and I love plants so we're starting to put plants in the house. We've never had plants in the house because we've had cats. So we're starting to find plants that are cat safe and Erik safe, and I'm getting plants. We're growing a garden this year and for me, one of the things that is important, I figured out during the season… it is important for me to slow down. And so, I'm slowing down cause that's important to me.
Think about what that is for you. Determine what is really important and surround yourself with it.
Hire more help
Number four. Hire more help. I know some of you are thinking I can't possibly hire more help because money's really tight. You can't afford NOT to hire more help.
The book Your World-Class Assistant by Michael Hyatt is all about hiring an executive assistant in your business. I'm reading this book. I'm so excited about getting an executive assistant.
If you want to be our executive assistant, go to Ingramdigitalmedia.com, the application is up on the website. We're going to be taking applications, probably through June 15, 2020, until we've filled the position.
I'm going to be hiring an executive assistant to start off about 10 hours a week and this person is going to help me run my schedule, and basically this person is going to manage me. That's basically the gist of the position. It's going to be the person that manages my schedule, manages my email, manages my communications, helps me say no more often, helps me get more organized with the multiple brands that I'm running, and makes my life easier.
There's a whole job description, even if you just want to see what we're hiring, and a lot of the job description is based on what's in a Michael Hyatt's book. The thing that's wonderful about this book is if you do want to hire someone, he has all of these templates and resources.
When you buy the book, you're really getting a pack of assets, job description, onboarding, there's this great spreadsheet that has all of that. You put all of your info in so that your executive assistant has it. Getting into the book unlocks all of that stuff for you. It’s fantastic.
A lot of times as entrepreneurs, we feel that we need to do it alone until we have the money to bring somebody on full-time. There's even an agency that they list in the book that can help you find an EA part-time.
Michael Hyatt started off at 10 hours a week, and that's what we're going to start off with. And then, we're going to increase the hours as needed. As I was reading through the book about the things that an EA can do for you. I got super excited. Let's say you need a new printer for your business. It's not just ordering the printer, it's doing all the research, and reading the reviews and finding the best prices. Your EA could do that for you.
If you're looking at pieces of software and you need to evaluate them, your EA can do that for you. Your EA can do a first pass on your email, manage your schedule, help put your to-do list together. It's absolutely wonderful.
I'm really excited about hiring for this position, but we're doing it slowly. We're being deliberate, I'm really excited about that. So, number four, hire more help. And, you know, typically what we do is we hire out, we get people to do our social, or build websites for, that kind of thing.
But, we leave all those little menial tasks on our schedule. And so, I'm really in favor of hiring yourself a personal assistant or an executive assistant or a virtual assistant to help you directly before you start farming out some of this other stuff. They can take some of those tasks off your plate for you.
Ambition sucks without a calendar
The last thing, and I know… I've seen things on social media where people say things like, “I don't know why I bought a 2020 planner. It was useless.” You need to get your planners back out. Whatever planner you're using, you need to put some schedule in your day.
One of the training I did with Brendon Burchard earlier this year, this was when the pandemic started, he said, “ambition sucks without a calendar.” And I absolutely, I love that. I absolutely agree. I know when my productivity starts to wane, the first thing I do is I go look at my planner to see how active I've been using it. I could tell there are days that I don't go in it at all.
The days that I go into my planner, I sketch out what I think my day is going to look like. What I'm doing now is go in and create my blocks. I have a work block in the morning and my work block starts at 8:30 and goes to 11:30. Then I've got another work block from 1:00 to 2:30. And then I write down the things that I want to get done during those blocks. One block is my work block and one block is my admin block.
I do taxes during my work block. I do school stuff during my work block if it’s curriculum development. Then I've got my admin block, which is for things like email, internal bookkeeping, setting up systems, things that don't require as much creativity or brainpower, I do in the afternoon. I typically do grading in the afternoon. I typically do internal Ingram Digital Media stuff or internal KLI CPA stuff. But I have these two distinct blocks.
The nice thing is because I have these two distinct blocks, I do not spend a lot of time doing admin stuff during my work block because I know I've got a work block coming up. That also means I usually don't check my email until one o'clock in the afternoon, which is pretty nice. I like that. Make sure that you are least sketching out your day. I know some of you are very resistant to scheduling, but you have to have some sort of plan for what you're going to do every day.
The things that I plan in the morning are the things that I want to do today and that I have to do today. So for example, like my walk is one of the things that's on my to-do list for today.
What am I going to pick up around the house? Make sure I meditate, make sure I read, make sure that I fill in everything in my Noom app today. I'm going to go live on Facebook later today. I'm doing this post. I've got some client work I want to do. I have some IDM, administrative stuff I need to do. I need to do some grading tonight because when I'm recording this, it's finals. And then I kind of sketch out what it's going to look like.
I put my blocks in my day. I look at it again and say, is it realistic? I figure out what we're going to do for dinner because that's really important too. I don't want to be up at four o'clock and go, Oh crap, what are we going to do for dinner? I want to have a plan, especially if I need to take something out of the freezer. If I need to put something in the crockpot I want to be thinking about that now.
That's what I'm doing with my calendar. It's a plan for your day. And it's really hard to get a lot done if you don't know what you need to do. Just doing that little bit every day.
Another thing that I found to be super effective is Brendon has a Friday finish list. And basically what that is, when you do your weekly planning, you figure out what is everything you need to get done by Friday. And then you pull things off that list every day to put into your daily schedule. So that really helps too.
I hope that you will use this as a checklist, as a guide to help you restart your year. I know it's almost midyear, but I think that these things are really helpful to getting yourself in the right frame of mind and getting yourself in the right place to make sure that the rest of 2020 is awesome for you.