Episode #058 Create Space In Your Busy Week By Aligning Your Priorities With Your Purpose (Part 3 of 3)

Business Focus means you will not diffuse your effort on the Urgent, but like a Laser, cut through the Important things that matter.

Most busy people think their problem is not having enough time. But there's something deeper going on which, when addressed, can give you some breathing room.

If you feel like you're ‘always busy' or you reach the end of your week and wonder ‘Where did it go?' then tune in. Learn 5 practical ‘time management' hacks which you can do RIGHT NOW, to create space in your busy week.

Key takeaway: “Time is NOT the real problem, and it's easier to solve than you think.”

Podcast Info

Episode: #058

Series: General

Host: Amy Hooke

Guest speaker: None

Topic: Priorities and Time Management

Useful links

Priorities Masterclass – Sign up to secure your spot

Books and Articles:

The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Eisenhower Matrix

Related Episodes:

Episode #053 Is It Time To Quit? 6 Things To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up

Episode #054 Raise Your Professional Success By Understanding Your Personality Type

Episode #055 Create Space In Your Busy Week By Aligning Your Priorities With Your Purpose (Part 1 of 3)

Episode #057 From Confusion To Clarity – Amy's Personal Story of Living with ADHD (Part 2 of 3)

Read transcript

All right. Thank you for joining me today, and we're up to priorities, how to create space in your busy week. As I've mentioned in many episodes, jump all the way back to episode 53 where it all began and work your way through the journey to get on the same page and let's get stuck right into it, because we're now going to create some space in our busy week. I'm going to be going through four areas of where I've had to get my act together and to re-prioritise because the reality is that time management issues overwhelm or all those things that are connected to it are symptoms, no, actually problems, and the key problem that you're dealing with if you have time management issues is priorities.

In order to get yourself to a place where you have some space in your week and to reduce that overload is to understand and organise yourself so that you can prioritise and so you can know what your priorities are. Let's get stuck into it. I'm going to cover four areas today. Those four areas are, think, plan, focus and rest. I'm letting you know right up front, and each of these points have a couple of sub points which I'm going to go through right now.

1. Think

The number one way to create space in your busy week is to think, and I've put this first, and these are totally in the order that they need to be in. You need to first think, don't try and do any of the other ones before you do … don't try and do them out of order, which is something that we can tend to do. Don't try and jump ahead. The first thing that you need to do is think.

What do you need to think about? Well, I did touch on this a little bit in episode 55 where I started talking about the priorities and the foundational truths about time management and business. So go back and listen to that if you need to, but it's all about the big picture. If you have not ever sat down to really think about the big picture, then your priorities naturally going to be out of whack because the reality is that, with priorities, priorities are always relevant to something. If you think of, I'm just going to make these up on the spot. If you think of priorities like a magnet, I don't even know if this analogy is going to work, but if you think of priorities like a magnet. Oh no, not a magnet. A compass. That's what I'm thinking of, a compass where you've got like … so you know in a compass you've got true North, right?

If you don't know what your priorities are, then it's like your compass is going to be pointing in a direction that is not true North. Now, you might have a little bit of an idea of your big picture, but if you're not really clear about it, you could just be going like a tiny little bit off track. The reason that I had originally said magnet is because I was thinking if you put a magnet near a compass, it will actually skewer off track. So, I don't know what the magnet is in my analogy, but let's just go with that. Let's just say that if you don't know the big picture, you really don't have this …

If you don't know the big picture, then you're not going to know what your priorities are because your priorities are … If you're not clear on your big picture, then your priorities are … they're going to be skewed. There's no way around it because your priorities get determined by what your big picture is, by your being clear about your vision. So, that's the second point there. You've got to think about your big picture, but then the next thing you need to think about is your vision and your values. Everyone's heard that a business should have a vision statement and a mission statement and a value statement. On some level it's actually true. There's a reason that people do that and that's because it points them towards the right direction.

When you're clear on your big picture, you'll know, okay, well if this is where we need to get to, then this is the gap and these are the things we need to do to get there. Part of that is your vision. So your vision is like where you want to get to and why and your mission is how you're going to get there, and then your values are like … your values propel you along the way. Values are something that if you recognise it in yourself and in others, you'll be able to connect with other people who share similar values to take you closer to your goal and it will help you to prioritise again. Once you understand your core values, then you will actually know what your priorities are. Once you know your big picture, you'll be able to break your big picture down into smaller parts.

You'll know what you need to be spending your time on. It will eliminate all of this extra guesswork and things like that. The third and final point in thinking is about thinking time. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't really like to think. I like to think just like random idle thinking, the thinking that just goes round and round in your head. I like to think stuff, but I don't necessarily like to go and specifically sit down and intentionally think about things. I don't know why, but I'm just not wired that way. For me, putting a practise in place of actually thinking has been really helpful.

The reason that we don't like to think is because thinking is hard, thinking isn't intellectual process and it takes effort. It actually means that we have to put aside time for thinking. As I said in episode 55, time doesn't just create itself. Time doesn't just appear out of nowhere. It actually needs to be created, which is why I've called these, how to create space in your busy week. Because if you don't create that space, it's not just going to appear. So, same goes for your thinking time. If you're going to be thinking, you need to set some time to think. I can tell you what made the biggest difference in my business was after I read a book with a very funny title, it's called The Road Less Stupid.

This book, oh my gosh, Keith J. Cunningham is a funny guy. He's got an audiobook called The Road Less Stupid: Advice from the Chairman of the Board and it's an audio book. So I listened to the audio book, but I also bought a copy of the Kindle book cause I like to sometimes highlight things and read along, whereas you can't really do that in an audio book. It's funny, like he's an American guy. I think he's a southerner and so he's got that drawl. He's quite a character. If you can go along with the character, and he's quite hard hitting and very direct in what he says, but if you can have a listen to this book, I can tell you, this book really helped me in … Through reading that book, I actually learned that I need to set aside time to think, and I need to think about very specific areas of the business.

So, after our started to read this book and I started to set aside this time to think through the things I needed to think about in the business, it made a really huge difference. I'll tell you some of the things that happened to me, what I literally got out of reading this. I started to realise, though I already knew that I avoided thinking and I already knew that it was hard and I already knew that I was making very stupid business decisions. I knew that because the results weren't actually what I wanted. I had staff turnover and pushing very hard to meet sales targets and all that kind of thing. Yeah, things were just out of whack. There were certain areas where I felt that I just wasn't getting anywhere and there were other areas where I felt like the business was doing really well.

So, when I set aside this time to think, it helped me to see areas in my business where I wasn't taking responsibility and I wasn't setting a standard and then holding up as accountable, and I was expecting people to get on board with my vision because I thought I'd got that bit down pack. But what I didn't realise is that I was trying to outsource tasks, so I'm responsible for myself. I'll just give you an example of one of those. one of the things that I was hoping would happen is that someone would just come in and develop all my processes for me. The reality is that until you have a team of people who actually understand what processes they might be developing, it's just not going to happen. What happened is that we throw money and people at problems.

I don't know where I got that saying from. Someone said it to me a couple of weeks ago, and I was like, “That is what I did.” What I kept doing was I kept hiring people. What did I want? I wanted my team to … I wanted them to jump in and like create my marketing messages and things like that. I felt like I was too busy for all of these things. Yeah, I wanted people to create my processes. I wanted people to come in and create my content, like my learning content. It's like Amy, you are the pioneer in this business. You need to actually create these things and then hand them over to people. I realised that I was just hoping and dreaming that this magical person would come into my business one way, that this ideal staff member would come into my business and they'd just kind of go, “Oh, I'll do that for you.”

Now, I must say that I am very lucky in that I do have team members who do do that to some extent, but I still need to take responsibility for developing things like the company value proposition, the company vision and the mission statement. I need to sit down and develop my business plan. I need to sit down and think what is the big picture, where are we leading people? Where like where are we taking the business? What are my personal goals? How much money do I want to make and what do I need to earn? And all of these different things. I was hoping that someone would come in and do this, and that is actually a complete fantasy. That's never going to happen.

When I was listening to Keith talking about this, he just called you out on it. He's just like, okay, that's dumb. That is stupid advice. He'll just call it out. He'll just go like, if you do this then that is stupid, and he says so. I'm going to teach you how to be less stupid, and the only way to be less stupid and stop making stupid decisions and getting negative results is to actually take aside time to think. Set aside, I think he starts off with setting side, I think it's 45 minutes where you do 30 minutes of thinking time and then 15 minutes of summarising. Now, I didn't follow that to a T, and you don't have to either, but you do need to set aside some time to think and some time to work on your business plan and your strategy and to work at how you're going to get from A to B, and even to work out what A and B is. Work out way you are now, where you need to get to, what is the gap in getting there.

2. Plan

Once you're really clear on that big picture, then you need to go into the next stage, which is to plan. What's the next thing you need to do to? So how much do we plan? When it comes to planning, there is all different kinds of planning. So really, you've got your big picture planning. That's where you're planning like where the strategy is going to go. So you're not just thinking about things but you're actually writing things down and you're designing the way that you want things to go. So that's your big picture planning.

Then you've got your routine planning. So you've got daily planning and you've got monthly planning. You've got quarterly planning, you've got annual planning. The practical thing that you could do right now to deal with item one and two. So think and plan is I want you to open up your calendar right now and I want you to actually schedule in some time. I want you to schedule in, so I'll tell you what I do. I have 30 minutes every day, the daily planning, that doesn't always go according to plan. Some days I don't and I've replaced my email checking time. I do not check my emails first thing in the morning. The first thing I do in the morning is my 30 minutes of daily planning.

That is looking at my week, scheduling things into my calendar and then making sure that everything that's getting done this week is related to the things that are higher priority, and because our priorities can shift and they can shift quickly, especially when things happen to impact the business, your priorities shift as well. That's why you need to do your daily planning so often. Once you've done your initial thinking, you still need to do that, but you still need to schedule that in. Put in some time even if it's just once a week. What I do is I do my daily planning. Monday to Friday, I do my morning planning, except on Friday mornings.

On Friday I do a bigger block of time and I work on my business plan, the bigger picture plan. So you need the schedule that time in, otherwise it just isn't going to happen. So, I want you to put that in right now. This is the number one thing. You would have heard about people who do calendar blocking. I'm actually I'm going to run a workshop on that. So if you'd like to register go to thesavvybookkeeper.com.au/priorities. I'm going to actually do a priorities workshop where we're going to work through specifically some of these things. Calendar blocking will be a big part of that. We're going to work through actually structure your week properly.

3. Focus

The next area that you need to deal with is your focus. Once you've dealt with thinking and you know your big picture and your vision and your values, and you've set aside your … you've spent some time thinking and then you've started to plan. You don't have to plan the whole thing yet, but you need to start to plan, except the idea of calendar blocking. Then we're going to go routine planning. You've got your daily, your weekly, your monthly, your quarterly, your annual, your big planning. Then from there, you'll be able to focus on focusing. Number three, focus.

Focus goes into a few different areas, but once you've got the last two things sorted out or at least clear up, then you'll be able to work out what to focus on. When I'm talking about focusing, so you would have heard about that … it's a mind trick. You might not have heard of the name before, but it's come from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Supposedly, that's an awesome book. I've never read it personally. I've got it, but I've never read it. So I do buy books and not read them, but I've heard that it's really good. So I'm not recommending the book, I'm just telling you about supposedly this is where this concept gets talked about.

Stephen Covey didn't actually come up with this. It's called the Eisenhower matrix. I don't know if that means that Eisenhower invented it, but all I know is that I'll include a link for it. You can check it out. You know what it is as soon as I talk about it. It's that matrix that decides if something is important or urgent now are really struggled with this. If you want to listen to me telling my whole story about the personal struggles that I've had with the organisation and getting my organisation together, you can listen to episode 56 and you can listen to me tell my personal story about that. I really struggled to figure out what is important. What makes something … people would always just say, just categorise it as important or urgent.

And I'm like, but what makes something important and what makes it urgent? I was working with a lady, she was actually on my team for a season, just a beautiful person. She came in and she helped me with this stuff. I was like, “How do you know if something's urgent?” And she said, “Well, it's got a time frame on it.” So I was like, “Okay, that makes sense. What about important? How do I know if something's important?” Because it's like, I don't know. As you hear me share, when I share my story, my brain doesn't work that way. For me, something that's important is something that feels good or something that's easy or something that I like.

Unfortunately, that's not how importance works. When I started to understand how all these connected together, so what she explained to me, well she said, “Well, it's important if it directly leads you towards your goal. And I'm like, “Right. Okay.” And the interesting thing about that big, which is what I was talking about at the start, that big picture being the compass is that the goals change over time. If my goal for the quarter is to bring on more clients, if that's my number one priority, then my importance will be determined by that. Whereas, if my priority is to reduce my work hours and allow my staff to take over, then my priorities are going to be different. What I consider is important or not important or even urgent and not urgent, they're going to change depending on what the thing is. This was a huge eye opener for me. I just thought, oh my gosh, wow. That actually changed so many things for me because I realised that the reason that importance and urgency seems to be like moving goalposts or it didn't seem to make sense is because they are moving goalposts.

The goalposts move when we don't know what we're meant to be focusing on. Once we know what we're focusing on, it becomes really, really clear. This is something that I can now help you with because obviously I've made those distinctions that I've figured out a way to actually do that. Yeah, I really hope this is helpful for you to be able to know that that's what it means to categorise something as important or urgent. So, we might think something's important, but is it heading towards the specific outcome that we're trying to achieve for this season?

The next part of focus is about distractions, eliminating distractions. Now, this is going to be a huge shock for you. I can tell you now, I love distractions. I love distraction so much that I will leave and go looking for distractions. If I can't find a distraction or I'm not getting distracted, I'll distract myself. I don't know if you can relate to that, but if you can, listen to my last episode, you'll understand why. If you're fine, if distractions don't bother you, then maybe you're okay with it. But let me tell you one of the biggest distractions that you'll ever have. I used to think that it was a strength of mine, and maybe at one point in life it was. I used to think that it was a strength that whenever someone gave me a task to do, I was totally cool with getting interrupted and I would just do it on the spot so I didn't forget.

After a time, I realised like, and I guess this is through transitioning from an amateur to a pro. Listen to episode 53 if you want to learn about that. Because for me, I decided that I want to be a professional, and guess what? Reacting to every distraction to do the thing because you don't want to forget it, that is actually … it might seem like a strength, but it's actually leading to a demise. I don't want to sound like over the top or I'm exaggerating, but seriously it is. This is something that … I prided myself on this for many, many years that I could multitask and that I could just take on any destruction and then deal with it and then come back. But guess what? Every single instruction, it's slowing you down, and every single destruction is taking you out of your momentum.

What you need to do if you want to focus, is you need to maintain that momentum and the way that you maintain the momentum is learn to recognise distractions for what they really are. The problem is sometimes distractions. Sometimes distractions are annoying. It's like, go away. I'm trying to focus. But then, the distractions is like, hey, distraction, how's it going? There's this distraction that comes in and you're like yeah, let's chase that shiny thing distraction. Let me give you a few examples of distractions. A software programme that you're not using already. Like a bookkeeper goes, “Hey, I'm using this software programme.” And you're like, “What does it do? What does it do?” What's another distraction? A staff member needing help with things.

A friend calling you during work hours that it's like, “Oh, what a relief. I could have a break and go have a coffee with my friend. I love coffee.” It could be something like … for me, one of my distractions is that I have a team member who I just love chatting to and hanging out with, but it has become a distraction and so I had to set some boundaries around that. Setting boundaries around distractions, that's one of the next points in focus. It's setting some boundaries around your distractions. So how do you do that? Well, you get on top of your beat metre and you do that by spending some time thinking and you understand your vision and values and you block the calendar, and you set some times to do some routine planning, and then you figure out what you need to do to get to where you need to get to, and you figure out what's important and what's not important and what's urgent and what's not urgent.

Then you hit snooze notifications. Yeah, that's what setting boundaries is. Setting boundaries is like, I'm not going to respond to this right now, and it takes practise, and it's not always easy because sometimes distractions are good and we want them. And if we don't have them, we might make some ourself. Another thing, a distraction could be like, oh, I'm just going to sit up this thing or whatever. It can be anything. Setting boundaries is really important. I'll give you two examples of some boundaries that I'm going to talk about in this last section of focusing. Two main boundaries I can think of that I have started to set up is A, doing things, similar things together, and number two, and you're going to have a complete freak out when I tell you this. Stop checking your emails.

Now, I don't even want to hear the defensive response because I'm going to go quickly, quickly, just go back to doing the similar things together. So you would have heard of batching. Everybody's heard like, do your calendar blocking and do batching. That's what doing similar things together is like batching. I'll give you an example. When you're blocking out your calendar, if you figure out … What you need to do is … this is something practical you can do now as well. I want you to make a list of every single thing that you do throughout your week and then group them together and then work out what things are like, other things and then block out times to do those things.

I know it seems so obvious that we could have missed it, but it really is so helpful because the reason to do similar things together or to batch them is that you're in that mindset. Now, I can tell you that when I am in a creative mindset, I don't want to be interrupted. I don't want to get out of my flow. I want to really deeply think about things and to create and bring things into being. I want to be able to focus on them. So, I realised that when my staff send me messages all day long asking me to check things, because I was one of those super productive people that was able to be distracted and just do it on the spot so I didn't forget. Well, I realised I was frustrated because I never got to get my work done. I never got to get the things done that I wanted to get. And guess what I learned after I started blocking out times that my staff were allowed to contact me, I also realise that they don't like it when I do that to them as well.

So it's actually been good for them as well. For them to know, all right, Amy's available during these times and not available during these times. There's another thing that's really important to do similar things together. I'm going to add in another point in there, and that is to do things when your brain likes doing them. For me, I used to find myself dreading afternoon mentoring session, and I started to realise I still feel bad. I was like, oh, I feel bad that I don't want to make these my clients. Then I started to realise it because, in the afternoon, I'm very engrossed in creating and also quite analytical, detailed things that I just zone into and I can't zone myself out.

But if I stop that and like communicate with a human being, it's like my brain just doesn't like that. And so I realise I'm really good in the morning. I can have meetings in the morning, I can chat to people and I love speaking to them and I can go through and help them with whatever they need help with, and so that's what I did. So I'd set some times where I only do mentoring on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and that leaves my afternoons free, helping the team do all their bits and pieces or to do my own work, to create things, to create content, to design the podcast, to record the podcast and all that kind of thing, and then I have to obviously set times for my bookkeeping clients where I go through and I give my attention to them. It's just gather those things throughout the week.

By doing similar things together, it means that I'm in a certain type of mindset where I can continue on to be as productive as I possibly can. Then, the last one, as I promised. Please don't hate me, stop checking your emails. I know you're going to be freaking out thinking, but if I stop checking my emails, my clients are going to freak out. It's like, well, you have to retrain your clients if that's the case or get better clients. But I think the other thing is you probably haven't realised that the clients … there might be some who do want you to reply straight away, but it's only because you've trained them that way. So you need to untrain your clients. The way that you do that is you tell them, this is your time. Each week, and you have maybe from 9:00 AM till 12 o'clock on a Tuesday, and that's your time.

That's when I'll respond to you. Because the thing is, what you'll realise, when you stop checking your emails, you can check your emails. I check my emails, I check my emails like two times a week and I have a very specific routine for checking my emails, which I will also be going through in my priorities workshop. If you want some help with me on learning the routine that I follow for checking my emails, it is so good and I can tell you this routine will help you to not have to check emails. Now, I know some of you might be thinking, oh, but I've got this fancy software programme that manages everything. I can tell you this is better than a software programme because this is going to retrain your brain in a new way and you can still use your fancy software programme to organise the things, but I'm going to teach you a way of checking your emails that is going to just give you … well, I can guarantee it will gain you back at least a couple of hours a week.

And you will also be much more productive that you'll start to get through the things that you actually need to get through so that you're not really pressured when there's deadlines coming up and things like that. Yeah, stop checking your emails. The tip that I'll give you for free is, in that time, so what I want you to do is open your calendar and where you've put in that daily planning, I want you to put that in … that's where you normally check your email. But you normally go to work, you sit down at your desk, eight o'clock in the morning, 8:30 or whatever, and you check your emails. Then from there, your day just like spirals out of control and you go off doing all of these things, and then the days all of a sudden overlap and you're like, “What did I even do today?”

The reason for that is because you check your emails in the morning. If you can do this one thing and then let me know how it actually helped you, just stop checking your emails in the morning. I never ever, ever check my emails in the morning anymore, and it has actually changed, not just my business, it's changed my life. I'm not exaggerating. Do your planning time in the morning, plan your week, prioritise what you need to get done for your business first, and include it in that process. You can schedule that time for doing things for clients and then check your emails in the afternoon. I'll allow you a little bit of lay white, like a few people that I've worked through the email process with them, I've allowed them to check the emails after lunch, if that's as far enough in the afternoon as possible.

I check my emails, I'm going to admit to you, I check my emails at the end of the day when it's time to finish work. Then that way, I don't have to deal with anything in that email until tomorrow. You might be saying, “Well, what if it's really urgent?” Guess what? It never is. The thing that you'll start to realise is that usually … when your clients email you at all these ridiculous times, they're just emailing you when they have their free time. Clients don't go around thinking about their bookkeeping or bookkeeper 24/7. I was about to say 25/7. Everyone needs an extra hour in the day. But I really want you to start to understand that people aren't as demanding on your time as you think they are, they're only actually responding to what you trained them if your client.

There are some clients who are ultra demanding and that's not your fault, but mostly it is your fault. No, I'm just kidding. Mostly, it's because we've trained them that way because we've got such high expectations on ourself. We think that other people expect the same from us and they don't. This is going to help you stop having autoresponders. Please don't have autoresponders. I didn't mean to bring this up now, but I'm going to bring it up because I think it's really important. Obviously, I've got a large amount of bookkeepers who I email out every week or probably I'm not that consistent. Let's say every now and then I email my database of bookkeepers, and what happens is when I email them, I get back all these autoresponders, and they say, hey, I'm just letting you know that I'm going to respond to your email within 48 hours.

I can tell you, I know people do it because they're trying to let the client know this is the reason I'm not getting back to you right now, but my experience of that is that what it communicates to the clients is that you can't handle your emails. To me, that's what it says, rather than yeah. What I would recommend is that you just put in your engagement letter that you'll respond within 48 hours, and you just train your clients. If something's really, really urgent, look, the only thing that's actually urgent is usually something related to payroll. That's different. I will make an exception for payroll. If the client needs to speak to me about something that is that urgent, they're allowed to text me, but they're not allowed to text to me for anything else.

And I do. They'll message me, oh we have a chat programme, and they'll say, “Hey, I really need to speak to you about this.” Payroll is nearly the only thing that is allowed or something … Yeah, hardly anything is classed as urgent and it's just something you have to train them on. For me, what I do is I just ignore their email, and then when I check my emails in the afternoon, I will look at their email and then I'll just figure out, okay, how important do they think it is and how important is it actually and then just go from there.

So stop checking your emails. Please, find a new way to do it. If you can't, if you're like addicted to checking your emails like I used to be, then just switch out that morning time, daily planning instead of emails and do your emails after lunch once you've taken care of all of the important things that you need to take care of in the morning, take care of in the morning. I would say the priorities for the morning, for me, I'm making sure that my clients work is done and making sure, not responding to their urgent, supposedly open emails, but making sure their work is actually done. Prioritising getting their work done, prioritising making … working in my mentoring sessions with my clients, making sure that their kid for and looked after, reaching out to clients and communicating with them as another one. Then also making sure that my team have everything that they need to be able to do a great job. Emails can wait. Emails in the afternoon. That's when you sort out your emails.

4. Rest

The last area that you need to sort out is rest. We all love to hear this, take a break, take nap, have a holiday. Look, if anyone hates taking breaks me. I like to get really focused in something. I like to get so engrossed that I forget to eat my breakfast, lunch and dinner and just keep working and never take breaks. If I didn't have to take breaks … Yeah, it's not a good idea. I've learned this the hard way. I can tell you by getting to be 20, let's say 25, let's say close to 30 kilos overweight. This is, let's say after starting my business six years ago, getting myself in a position where I never exercise, hardly ever leave the house. I'm overweight, not eating regular meals, haven't had a holiday.

I've had a few holidays now. But when I reached the point of realising like, I need to get out of the house, I need to go out and have a walk, I need to look after my health. Really, for a long time I didn't want to hear it. You might be listening and going, “I don't want to hear it either.” But if you jump back a couple of episodes and listen to me speak to Tim Hoopmann, he talks about mental health and the reality is that if we don't look after our health, then things are not going to go well for us. We're not going to be able to do a good job for our client. The part of making the upgrade from being an amateur to being a professional means that you have to look after yourself, which means you need to have breaks.

Look, I'll be honest with you. I don't take my lunch break until three o'clock. It used to be 4:00. I've improved. I do exercise now. I've started an exercise programme or I exercise four times a week and it's not crazy ridiculous exercise. I used to push myself so hard and then burnout, but now I don't do that anymore. So just some gentle exercise, getting out for walks, eating meals in between, not eating at my desk. Have a break if I need to, and then taking little holidays. So not all of us have the luxury of being able to have the holidays, but what I try and do now at least a couple of times a year is rent an Airbnb in a house that's such tidier and bigger than mine with a swimming pool. I just rent my dream house for like a couple of knots. Three nights is the most I can go away with tiny little children, two kids under four.

So we just go local, somewhere within 30 minute drive and we just go on a little three-day holiday, nice and close so we can drive home and get things if we forget them, that kind of thing. Taking this little break can actually really help, but not just taking breaks like holidays, just taking some breaks during the day. Even if it's just to get outside for like five or 10 minutes. Sometimes I'll just go outside and just lie in my backyard for like five minutes, whatever. Get some vitamin D. Take some supplements. I've started taking a couple of different supplements, like nothing crazy. I did go through a season where I tried every single thing, but there's only some real basics that you need and the way to work that out is to get a blood test.

For me, it's iron and vitamin D, they're two really key ones, but also potassium and magnesium. They're some of the ones that have helped me. Caffeine is another one. So I needed to take at least 200 milligrammes of caffeine. You'll understand a little bit more of why that has to be in there if you listen to episode 56 where I share my personal story. Yeah, there's a couple of things that I regularly include in my diet, but it's really just about also making sure, so for me, it's getting enough fibre. I drink two litres of water a day at least.

Even though that hasn't been my favourite in the past, it's just got to be done. What else? Yeah, fiber's important. Really, it's typical stuff that you've heard of. Leafy green vegetables. I eat a lot of cabbage. I just love cabbage. I'm on a ketogenic diet, which is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet, helps to curb cravings, stabilise blood sugars, helps me to be able to focus more and manage. It's really good if you've got diabetes, which I don't, but I've heard it helps with that, but don't take my advice. I'm not a health professional. See a doctor. Get some blood tests done and find out if there's a way that you can get back your health and to take care of myself and to be able to rest your body and your mind.

As bookkeepers, we are, our minds are our intellectual property, our minds are our machines. They can break down eventually if we don't actually look after ourselves.

Then the other thing is just the calendar, when we talk about calendar blocking. You can review your calendar block once a month or once a quarter and change out the schedule. I found that really helped me. I've just re-invented my calendar blocks again, so I haven't updated them for a little while because they do get outdated as your priorities change, and so really updating that has just cleared out some of that mental clutter.

Another one that I'd include under the rest category is the concept of changing it up, is to change your environment a little bit. Maybe you need to rearrange your desk or declutter your desk or reorganise your filing system, or maybe you need to go through your computer and clear out all of your digital clutter. Do a backup, delete all your old stuff, delete all your whole client files that you don't need any more and things like that. All of these things can help you to be able to create that space to be able to rest and to be able to organise your way in a way that's going to be productive for you. I'm just looking at my notes. I'm going to add one more. I did say it was going to be four, but I'm going to add one more because I really want us to talk about projects. Actually, I'm going to call like number five. I'm going to call it, so the fifth thing you need to do is finish.

5. Finish

We've covered a few. First thing you need to do is think, second thing you need to do is plan, third thing you need to do is focus, forth thing you need to do is rest, but fifth thing you need to do is finish. I can't believe I was going to forget to say this, but finishing things is so important. If you want to create space now, you can listen to my story in the last episode if you want to hear how chronically bad I've been at finishing thing, but it was because I never made distinction between tasks and projects, and when I realised that tasks and projects are different, I realised that projects are a longer … So a task is something that you can quickly do on the spot.

You might have a list of tasks that you need to do. Most tasks should either come from a project or they'll just be like the daily routines and things that you need to catch up on. So if you make the distinction as to whether something is a project or a task, then you'll know when to start something, and this will help you prioritise as well. One of the problems that I ran into was that I thought everything was a task. I didn't know about project. So I'd go, oh yes, I'm just going to set up this software programme, implement the software programme in my business, not realising that this is a multi-step process that takes about six weeks and need to be broken down into different stages and that kind of thing. For example, when we moved our CRM to HubSpot, it took us 90 hours between myself and the team.

We spent 90 hours working on that. Now, in the past I would have one task on the to do list, set up HubSpot, you know what I mean? I never thought three dimensionally about things. I just thought everything is a never ending to-do list. When I started to realise that there are tasks, so things that can just get done like on a checklist, and then there's tasks that are formed part of project. Projects are, you need to be able to sustain your energy for longer periods of time so that you can actually finish them. I'm going to recommend another really good book that I've been reading, and this is what I've named this last section out after, it's called Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. This is by a guy called Jon Acuff. Ironically, I haven't finished it, but I'm still going.

I think I'm in the last chapter. I've been listening to it on an audiobook. So I recommend the audio book because it's nicely easy read. I usually get the audio book and the Kindle at certain times because I like the highlight things. But because these guy is a really good talker and explains things really well, I didn't feel that I needed to get both. Whereas with the first book I recommended, The Road Less Stupid, there were so many things in there that I wanted to refer back to. Whereas Finish, I feel like it's more an inspirational book. So yes, there's tips and ideas in the book that you can implement, but it's more about, he's more encouraging you. Gosh, I don't even remember when I started reading that book, but it's actually … The thing that I learned from that book I think is really around dealing with my perfectionism.

I'm the kind of person that I'm like, I don't want to set a goal or a project unless it's this massive, amazing thing. One of the cool things that he says in the book is, he says like, he actually says, because everyone's telling you, everyone's going, oh, 10X your problem. Not your problem. You go make it 10 times bigger to encourage yourself to get the motivation to do it and aim for the moon and land amongst the stars and all this sort of thing. It's the opposite. He's like cut the goal in half. You make the goal so big that you don't actually do it. I'm like, yeah, Jon, you totally understand me. If there's anything that I took away from that book is all these different ways that you can get over being perfectionistic.

Or I guess another pitfall of mine is that I distract myself with planning. Planning is really, really good, but if you do too much of it, it's not so good. I think the other thing that he gave me permission to do, which is really hard as a perfectionist, is to be able to go, I'm not going to finish this project, see you later. Actually, for a while, I did this and then I stopped doing it, but his book reminded me to do it. When I would go through my to-do list, or sorry, yeah, my class task list, I would categorise things as doing now, not doing now and never doing now. And so I've actually re-implemented that because what that will do … you can do this yourself. Just make a list of everything that you're possibly working on or think that you're going to work on one day, maybe whatever, and go through it, just write next to them, am I doing it now or am I not doing it now or am I never doing it now?

So, you know the stuff you're doing now is is it means that currently you're working on. Not doing now means, I am going to do it, but I'm just doing it right now, and never doing it now is those things that are always on the to-do list that never actually gets started, never get planned to get started, and they're other things that you feel really guilty about. So I would say just ditch them. That's what Jon reminded me to do in his book is that, he calls it choosing what to bomb. He's like, yeah, so he's talking about these things that you can just get rid of. I think he uses the green light, red light approach. So actually, I also have used that method as well. It's very similar. It's basically the same thing. It's just sort of expressed in a different way. So you might make it green if you're doing it and red if you're never doing it and orange, if you're not doing it now.

Then that way, you can figure out, okay, I'm never going to start this. I don't really want to do it that much. It's just a bit of a dream. Then you can cull those things. What that's going to do is it's not only going to give you space in your calendar, it's going to give you space in your brain and you're going to stop feeling bad about all of those things that you never finished and you'll start to actually finish things, hooray. That's pretty much taken me to the end of this episode. I've got a bunch of links and I'm going to share with you, so I've got The Road Less Stupid and Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. So there's those two books. I'm going to give you The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey even though I've never read it.

But if you don't want to read it, like I don't, then supposedly, it's a really good book. I'm not bagging it. I'm just already reading about priorities, so I want to finish those first. Especially want to finish the one called Finish, because that would be kind of ironic. But Stephen Covey yeah, if you don't want to read his book, I'll just put it in the link to this thing called the Eisenhower matrix, so you can just Google it. It's on Google. It's just like a little matrix where you categorise things as important or not important or urgent or not urgent. Yeah, so anyway, I hope this has been really helpful. If you'd love to join me in my priorities master class, then I will actually be working through with you to work out things like your big picture, your vision and values.

We're going to go through a calender blocking exercise, and we're going to help you to go through and set that compass at true North so that you can figure out the urgent and important things and you can overcome your distractions and find ways to change it up and set those projects and finish those projects or bomb the projects, whatever you want to do. That's what we'll be working on. That's going to be thesavvybookkeeper.com/priorities. I'd love to see there. Yeah, let's catch up soon and start to create space in your busy week. If you found this episode helpful, please post a review for me and jump in our Facebook group and say hello if you're not already in there.

Thank you so much. I'll see you next week. Well, I won't see you, but you'll see me and if you won't see me, you'll hear me. Until then, stay savvy.