Hello everyone, welcome to the Balanced Business Leaders Podcast hosted by yours truly, Claire Jones, owner of Liminal Clarity. We are a business development agency that helps small business leaders scale and grow without burning out.
This is the next podcast in a series where we will be discussing the various trials and tribulations that lead me to creating my Three Pillars of Business Success, a framework that represents the foundational systems that contribute to sustainable business growth.
If you’re interested in learning more, please join us in our free Balanced Business Leaders Facebook Group at facebook.com/groups/balancedbusinessleaders.
Ready? Alright, let’s dive in.
So I started this podcast as a way to tell my story, particularly when it comes to the many, many different lessons that I have learned over the years when it comes to founding, developing, running, and growing small businesses.
In this particular episode, I’m going to be introducing the first pillar of business success: Sustainable Schedules.
Why do we start here? Because you (and your team members) need to be able to successfully manage yourself, your time, your tasks, and your energy in order to scale your business without burning out in the process.
Creating a Sustainable Schedule for yourself is super important because I know too many small business leaders who are getting in their own way in how they run their businesses and their lives.
This is something that I’m really passionate about because I’ve definitely experienced that myself. I’ve been burnt out too many times, in the last five to six years, and I know how much it sucks especially when you are running your own business.
As I mentioned in the first episode of this series, I started my first business back in 2014 and I was stuck working 60 hours a week in a white box by myself surrounded by inventory I couldn’t sell and it was a really depressing place to be in.
Once I closed down the brick and mortar location and pivoted to online sales exclusively, I even picked up other jobs on top of that and at one point I had six different jobs that I was running at the same time just to keep things rolling, just make sure that I could make my rent every month, and it was a really hard place to be in.
I was completely burnt out, I was exhausted, I didn’t have social support structures at the time – my roommate bailed on me in the middle of all of this and I had to pick up her half of the rent too – and it was just a crazy time in my life.
I wasn’t taking care of myself, I didn’t value myself enough to take care of myself, I didn’t think it was worthwhile, and I didn’t realize how important it was to take care of myself in order to take care of my business.
Because you can’t pour from an empty cup and when you are burned out yourself, you’re not going to be able to bring your best self to your business and give your best energy to your business and that’s really where you need to be putting your energy when you’re a small business leader.
If you’re burning the candle at both ends and if you’re burnt out, you’re not going to get as much done as you can, you’re not going to be as productive, you’re not going to be as efficient or as effective and, if we can make your time more streamlined and make it more intentional, then you’re going to be able to get a lot more done, and you’ll be a happier person, and you’ll be able to be more creative and innovative.
So how can you take care of yourself and how can you structure your time on a day-to-day or weekly basis so that you are in optimal performance for your business?
First comes the Healthy Mind Platter. This is a framework designed by the NeuroLeadership Institute and they have found, after decades of brain research, that there are seven areas of your life that should be balanced for optimal brain functioning.
I introduce this framework first because it’s a great, scientifically-backed way to prioritize and structure your time so that you can show up as your best self in everything you do.
It’s about intentionally designing your life and your schedule, instead of always being in a negative brain space where you’re neglecting your needs and neglecting your brain functioning. You’re just going to be a better worker, you’re going to be a better person, and you’re going to be a happier person if you’re able to prioritize these activities in your life.
These activities are divided into three different categories: Social Needs, Physical Needs, and Cognitive Needs.
Social Needs are Connecting Time and Play Time.
Physical Needs are Physical Time and Sleep Time.
And Cognitive Needs are Down Time, Time In, and Focus Time.
Second, comes Flexible Time Blocking.
This is a way to organize your schedule so that you know what tasks you need to do, how long those tasks are going to take, and when those tasks need to be done, paired with the ability to move those blocks of time around when you need to. That way, the tasks don’t fall off your plate if something else comes up, like a meeting or a more time-sensitive task.
I also prioritize these tasks with color-coding, so different colors are given different priorities. For example, red tasks are the ones related to client work or money making activities (like financial admin and stuff) – so those tasks are at the top of the priority list. But then there are blue tasks, which are more personal errands, personal chores, stuff like that. So they are going to be at the lower end of the priority list.
This way, when I have more time-sensitive tasks come up, I can easily see which tasks I can reschedule and move around and which tasks are too important to move.
This also allows me to maintain my boundaries around my schedule, like if someone asks me to have a networking coffee meeting with them but they propose a time that falls into my client time (which are light pink blocks for me) then I know that I should suggest other times, because I value my client time more so than networking coffees.
Third comes Self Regulation techniques.
These come into play because, in order to maintain the self discipline that it’s going to take to uphold your new prioritized schedule, you’re going to need to know how to manage your own emotions and actions so that you operate with intentional forethought instead of impulsive reaction.
How can you intentionally regulate yourself so that you can stay focused, unfazed, and on track?
According to the NeuroLeadership Institute, there are a variety of emotion regulation strategies you could use:
Each of these strategies affect different stages of the emotion generation process and so there are pros and cons to each approach. We will go over this in depth later in this series.
Fourth, after you’re able to take control of your emotional responses to situations in order to develop the self-discipline to maintain your new prioritized schedule – you need to figure out how to delegate effectively because everyone is human and at some point we’re going to reach our personal limits.
There’s not enough time in the day, and you physically, mentally, and emotionally only have so much that you can contribute before you run out of gas.
So at some point, you’re going to have to start delegating tasks. And when I’m talking about delegating, it doesn’t necessarily have to only apply to people that you are actively managing, like employees, but it can also include anyone that you’re working with – like contractors, photographers, lawyers, bookkeepers, networking colleagues, even family members.
Whether this means enlisting your kids to help with cleaning the house, hiring a professional to help with your financial bookkeeping tasks, or asking your cousin to take care of the mashed potatoes for your family’s Thanksgiving dinner – it is worth the time and energy to develop better delegation skills to make sure that each of these projects run smoothly with minimal involvement from you.
And, fifth, comes Coaching Habits.
Coaching the people you are working with is an important aspect of Sustainable Schedules because, again, we all have our personal limits. BUT we also all have our personal geniuses.
And when you coach people, instead of just telling them what to do, you get the chance to tap into the inner brilliance of the people around you.
If you can surround yourself with people who are all happily working within their zone of genius, can you imagine what a total powerhouse your business would be???
Everyone around you knows something you don’t. Everyone around you has experiences, skill sets, and knowledge sets that you don’t.
And in the coaching industry, professionally trained coaches believe that everyone is the expert in their own life. They know their lives best and they are the ones who are best able to come up with solutions, behaviors, opinions, or habits that align most with their inner guidance system.
So implementing coaching habits within your business (and life) will help your team members produce their best work.
To recap, your Sustainable Schedule journey starts at scheduling your time in a way that enhances your own brain functioning by prioritizing the 7 areas of the Healthy Mind Platter.
Second, you use Flexible Time Blocking to make sure that you stay on track and keep yourself accountable to your new schedule.
Third, you tap into Self Regulation techniques to effectively manage your emotional experience of your new schedule, thereby empowering yourself with a sense of control.
Fourth, you start Delegating the tasks or activities that aren’t in your zone of genius.
And, fifth, you Coach the people around you so that they are better able to tap into their own zones of genius.
All of this adds up to a schedule where everyone involved is producing their best work, because they are primed for optimal brain functioning, they are accountable and in control of their experiences, and they are kicking ass with their own unique skill sets.
That’s the formula for sustained long term success, right there.
Imagine if you and the people around you were consistently and intentionally energized, productive, and happy… how would that impact your business and your life?
Alright, so next time, we’ll be going more in depth into the first step of Sustainable Schedules, the Healthy Mind Platter. I hope to interweave my personal experiences with the business lessons I learned along the way so that I can paint a full picture for you guys.
And please let me know what you think! I am always open to feedback and love connecting with my audiences.
If you want to learn more, I personally invite you to join us in the Balanced Business Leaders VIP Group Program. In as little as one hour per week, you will walk away with a clear action plan to grow and scale your business sustainably.
Please visit linktr.ee/liminalclarity for more information.
You can find the episode outline, video recording, transcript downloads, related links, etc. below.
And, until next time, love you all, take care, and I hope you have a good day wherever you are.