Sept. 1, 2020

How to Do Less and Scale Your Business Faster with Kate Northrup

How to Do Less and Scale Your Business Faster with Kate Northrup

In this episode of The Systems Made Simple™ Podcast, business systems expert Courtney Elmer talks with best-selling author Kate Northrup, to show you how to grow your business faster by doing less.

Ever wish it was possible to work half the time and make twice the money?

It’s not a pipe dream, and you don’t have to be a time management pro to do it, either.

It is possible to work less, make more, and live a life you love, and today's special guest will show you how to be more efficient with your time. When you walk away from this episode, you'll know exactly what you need to supercharge your productivity in a way you’ve never experienced before.

Kate Northrup is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, speaker, and mother who has built a multimedia digital empire that reaches hundreds of thousands globally.

She teaches data-driven energy and time management tips that help you learn how to be more efficient, make more money, and experience less stress. Her work has been featured by The Today Show, Yahoo! Finance, Women’s Health, Glamour, The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Wanderlust, The Huffington Post, and more.

You’re going to love the counter-intuitive time management tips Kate shares today, so you can learn how to be more efficient and grow your business without sacrificing the things you love along the way.


  • A deeper understanding of why we’re culturally so obsessed with being busy

  • Why most time-management tips don’t work, and how YOU can start looking at time differently

  • Kate’s unique Upward Cycle of Success: aka, her “secret sauce” on how to be more efficient

  • Practical ways you can apply this exact cycle to your life and so you can learn how to be more efficient and what that means

If this episode inspires you, leave a review and share your biggest takeaway with me. And while you've got your phone out, make sure to follow me on Instagram @thecourtneyelmer for more quick tips on how to streamline your business systems and spend more time in your zone of genius.





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© Copyright 2022 | The EffortLESS Life®


Welcome to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, Episode #33.

Our culture has told you that you’ve just gotta slave away and do the work if you want to reap the rewards, and I’m here to tell you, nope. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here at The EffortLESS Life®, we’re not about giving you quick time management tips to help you know how to be more efficient or productive. Time management tips don't work, because time can’t be “managed”. Today’s guest is going to reveal why because she sees the broken system too: people trying to implement overrated time management tips that weren’t working, and people still struggling to learn how to be more efficient despite the overload of time management tips and how-to content available on the internet. 

Allow me to introduce Kate Northrup: entrepreneur, bestselling author, speaker, and mother who has built a multimedia digital empire that reaches hundreds of thousands globally. She teaches data-driven time management tips and practices that help you learn how to be more efficient, save time, make more money, and experience less stress. 

You’re going to LOVE the valuable energy and time management tips Kate shares today so you can learn how to be more efficient and grow your business without sacrificing the things you love along the way. 


Courtney Elmer 9:04  

Kate, I am so excited to welcome you here to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast to talk about why time management tips don't work, and how to crack the code about how to be more efficient. Our culture today has adopted this "hustle mentality;" everyone is obsessed with finding the best time management tips so they can learn how to be more efficient and do MORE. But you teach the opposite: how to be more efficient by doing less. What specifically led you to doing this type of work, teaching people why time management tips don't work, and helping them do less to get better results?


Kate Northrup 10:31  

The first year of motherhood for me was extraordinarily difficult, which I hear is the case for many people. Up until that time in my life, I’d been able to get through things by working harder. Time management tips didn't help; hard work always seemed to be the answer. Yet after a traumatic birth experience, I had a sick baby, nursing issues, and postpartum insomnia and anxiety. For the first time ever I couldn’t work harder to fix things. That was such an identity crisis for me, as someone who was very capable, but who felt the most out of control I’ve ever felt. I couldn't figure out how to be more efficient. I had very little creative output because I was exhausted and totally spent.

Then we sat down with our accountant in September of 2016 -- one year after my daughter was born -- and our revenue had remained steady. I don't think I’d realized that despite working less than half the amount I’d ever worked, and despite not having any energetic resources to devote to our business, we'd still made the same amount of money. 

Surely it wasn't from any of the overrated time management tips you see over the internet. I hadn't magically learned how to be more efficient. I thought, “What was I doing all those years? What were all those hours spent on?” Maybe all of us are just working too damn hard. Maybe the amount we're working is not necessary for the results we want. I started researching and looking at what we did differently, what worked, and what didn’t. 

I looked at what people were talking about in regards to time management tips and how to be more efficient, time hacking, etc. and I came up with a methodology based on the unique experience of living in a female body that I wasn’t hearing in other places. That’s where the Kate Northrup Do Less Method came from. 


Courtney Elmer 14:38  

I think most people listening would agree, the time management tips they've tried, haven't worked. So let’s cut straight to the chase: why is that? Why do you think our culture is so obsessed with being busy? What’s the driving need under that, and why do we lack effective tools for learning how to be more efficient with our time? 


Kate Northrup 15:13  

We're so obsessed with being busy because we don't want to feel. We seek out time management tips to learn how to be more efficient, so we can stay busier and feel less. When we're not busy, then we have to feel things. Culturally speaking, we get taught how to do math and about Christopher Columbus. But we're not taught how to be human. Which is how to be in our bodies, how to feel our feelings, how to sit with profound discomfort. There's so many different ways we numb out there are a lot of numbing strategies that we know of that have whole 12-step programs around them. But using work as a numbing strategy, being busy as a numbing strategy, is so celebrated in our culture. There’s no “workaholics anonymous.” People look for quick time management tips so they can learn how to be more efficient and work MORE. There is no 12- step program for it. Can you imagine we said, “The more cocaine you do, the better!” We’re going to give you awards, we're going to put you on the cover of a magazine, pay you more money, give you all these followers on Instagram, and celebrate you." We’d never say that… yet replace coke with work and that’s exactly what we do. We try to implement these short-term time management tips to figure out how to find more time, but then we fill that time working. We’ve lost sight of our values because we have not been taught how to be human.


Courtney Elmer 17:47  

The emotional intelligence piece of that is so huge. Work IS a numbing strategy. Time management tips are largely ineffective. Partly because of the unspoken belief that we hold as a society that the more work you do, the more you matter. It's deeply ingrained. It can be very easy to fall into this “work harder” mentality, then we struggle to figure out how to be more efficient and can't find the answers because our plates are piled with too much. I’ve seen this addiction to work tear apart families, relationships, marriages, and implode businesses. The worst thing is that when you're on the path to burnout, you don't necessarily recognize that that's the path you're on. So tell us, why isn't working harder the answer? What's the real secret to learning how to be more efficient? What's the real reason time management tips don't work?


Kate Northrup 19:40  

Just because you're busy doesn't mean you're getting results. Even if you knew how to be more efficient, it still wouldn't always yield you the results you want. Among the top five regrets of the dying, they didn't wish they'd found better time management tips. They wish they’d given themselves permission to be who they are and that they’d lived more according to their own expectations or desires. They wished they didn’t work so much. At the end of the day, we're all dying -- that's what we know for sure. Yet we live like there's some goal that we're going to get somewhere other than dead. The reason working all the time and short-term time management tips aren't the solutions because putting in more hours does not mean better results. The secret to success is not learning how to be more efficient. It's not about the work itself It's about how you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it. It’s not about proving yourself… It's about fulfilling your passion and purpose.


Courtney Elmer 22:59  

Yes, and yet even when you're working from a place of passion and purpose, it can still be easy to slip into doing more than you’re physically able to do. So we look for time management tips to find more time to work, or time management tips to help us know how to be more efficient and find more time to take care of ourselves. What would you tell those listening who feel this way? Maybe they feel they’re living their purpose. They love what they do. They’re excited to get out of bed every morning and want more time to do more of what they love. Yet inside, they know they haven't learned how to be more efficient because they’re not taking care of their bodies to energetically support the work they’re doing. 


Kate Northrup 23:53  

Absolutely. First and foremost, we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. My philosophy is not "I must learn how to be more efficient." My philosophy is "body first, business second," because our body is literally where our business comes from. It's where our best ideas come from. It's where our mental focus comes from. It's where our emotional clarity comes from. It's the bedrock from which everything grows. You can either have well-fertilized, nutrient-dense soil. Or you can have totally depleted soil that gives you a bad crop with no nutrients and is full of bugs. So when I’m in the loop of, “I don't have time to take care of my body, I don't have time to do a workout, I don't have time to get outside… my work is just too important,” time management tips won't fix that. I like to remind myself, “Kate, you're just going to die. So how do you want your day to be?” You have to look at the bigger picture. It's amazing to witness how in a space right now where I've had less time than ever before, I suddenly have the time for this workout class I really love for example. I don't have some secret time management tips I'm using. We as women have these four energetic phases throughout the month, where you really begin to honor your body as the source, instead of the impediment to your success.


Courtney Elmer 27:20  

I do want to dive into those phases because as our listeners know, my own life trajectory changed because of the cancer diagnosis I received at 25. I was in the same situation; looking for quick time management tips and trying to figure out how to be more efficient to get more done. But my body was on the back burner. Had that diagnosis not happened, I don't want to think of what my life would look like today. There's a human behind every business and if the human is not thriving and operating at peak capacity, then how can you expect your business to thrive? Let’s dive into your Do Less methodology because I know that those listening want to know, “ok Kate, tell me what I need to do to put my body first and truly learn how to be more efficient.” The time management tips they’re using aren’t working, and they are frustrated. They want to know how to be more efficient, but they feel burnt out and exhausted. So how do we handle it?


Kate Northrup 28:54  

So put time management tips and all you know about how to be more efficient to the side. Let's look at this from a completely different angle. As women during our reproductive years, we have four hormonal phases that we go through every single month. Yes, this has to do with your menstrual cycle. But if you are pregnant, nursing, had a hysterectomy, or if you're perimenopausal, if you're postmenopausal, if you're trans, if you're a man, this all applies too. Because it’s a metaphor. When I began to learn about these four phases in my menstrual cycle, I also began to study the lunar phases. I realized there are the same exact four phases in the moon every month, and there are the same four exact phases on planet earth every year called the seasons. Every project we do in my company has these four phases. There are also four trimesters of pregnancy, including the fourth trimester right after the baby is born. There are four stages of life. It’s literally everywhere.

So I realized this is about the creation of life. Whether it's a blog post, or a baby, or a dinner party, or a launch rate, these four phases exist. 

When we can align ourselves and begin to identify what phase we're in, everything becomes easier. You don't need time management tips anymore, and you could care less about how to be more efficient because you learn to work with your body's natural rhythm, it's effortless. If you are somebody who has a period, that is unmedicated and that is regular, begin to track that period. If you do not have an unmedicated regular cycle following the phases of the moon is great. 


Phase 1: Menstrual Phase (Winter / New Moon)

Day One is the day you start bleeding. That is your menstrual phase. That is the time that is similar energetically to winter. It's also the same energetically as the new moon. It's the time to rest and reflect. Rest, reflect, research. When you think about how to be more efficient, your don't usually think about rest time. But this is the time hormonally that you will have access to your inner voice, wisdom, and intuition. It will be the loudest because your left hemisphere and your right hemisphere are the most interconnected at that time. Your logical brain and your intuitive brain are working together so beautifully. If you have big questions to ask, wait for that phase, and often the answer will be so clear.


Phase 2: Follicular Phase (Spring / Waxing Moon)

Then the next phase is the follicular phase, also the same as the springtime. So it's a really great time of new beginnings. You'll have higher energy levels, you may want to try new things, you may want to brainstorm, it's a great time for planning. You don't need time management tips when you're working WITH your body's natural energy. This phase is higher energy, and you turn outward again. This is also the same as the waxing moon. Also, just like Day and Night, there’s a full half of the month where we move inward, and a full half of the month we’re more outward. If you truly want to know how to be more efficient, practice this.


Phase 3: Ovulation Phase (Summer / Full Moon)

The next phase is the ovulation phase. That’s when we’re the most fertile physically, and also energetically. So yes, it’s time to make a baby. It’s a great time for pitching, for batch-recording podcast episodes. It’s a great time to be on stage. To reach out to contacts. It’s a great time for sales. You’ll feel the most communicative and verbally fluent at that time. It’s the same as the full moon energetically, it's the same as summertime. In a project or creativity flow, I call that visibility. It’s when your website goes live or when the cart is open, or when you're on the stage or teaching workshop. 


Phase 4: Luteal Phase (Fall / Waning Moon)

Technically, there's no last phase or first phase because it's a cycle, but the last one I'm going to list is when we turn back inwards. It’s called the luteal phase and it's 10 to 14 days before your period begins. This phase is the same energetically as the autumn and it's the waning moon. I call it culmination as far as projects and creativity go. This is when we’re wrapping up loose ends. You’ll be the most detail-oriented during this time. It’s a great time for doing paperwork. Clean out your inbox. Fix a funnel. Look at the analytics. Energetically and emotionally, you’re more attuned to the negative at this time. This is a time when I might be most likely to be annoyed by my husband and want to quit my business. It's not a great time to make decisions about the things you feel irritated about. But it's a great time to notice them. Then during the next phase when you're back around to your menstrual phase or to that darkness of the new moon, that's the time to then lean in and ask your inner guidance. “Okay, what should I do with this information that like two days ago, I wanted to quit my business, what do I need to know?” You'll get that insight. Again, no need for time management tips when you're working with your natural rhythm. Knowing how to be more efficient is as simple as knowing how to work with the way you're already wired to work.


Courtney Elmer 37:38  

Exactly. Who needs time management tips when you operate with the way you're innately wired? It's not about knowing how to be more efficient, it's about working within the rhythm of your life as a whole. Everything is so interconnected. Now, there are always a couple of skeptics out there. So for those listening, who are like “Sounds great, but we only have 24 hours in a day. I have a LOT to get done and I feel like I never have enough time.” You have a different viewpoint on time, so let's go there.


Kate Northrup 39:35  

Just like everyone else, it’s been deeply ingrained in me that time is linear because I was raised in this culture too. We're always running out of it. There's never enough of it. So if you feel like this, you come by that honestly. But you need to stop wasting your time looking for time management tips or trying to figure out how to be more efficient.

People look for time management tips because they don't understand it’s not about how much time is on the clock. It's not about knowing how to be more efficient. It’s about a decision that you make every day. In the bookThe Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, was the first time I learned about Newtonian time vs. Einstein time or Kairos versus Kronos. I'm going to give you the only "time management tips" you need, right here: Kairos is the same as Einstein time, which is relative time. It's the fact that when we sit here talking to each other, and having a great conversation, it could have been 5 minutes or 2 hours. We don't know, right? Because we're suspended in time. We’re time-less in time because we’re focused. We’re present. We’re enjoying ourselves. But we’re also a little bit challenged. We have to stay with it, we’re a little on our edge. Because we’re recording, and neither of us want to sound like idiots. It’s when you're in this flow state. So that's Kairos or Einstein time, timeless time where you really are the source of time, and you can speed it up or slow it down at your will. 

Then there's Kronos or Newtonian time, which says that this podcast takes 35 or 40 minutes, and we’re going to meet at this exact time. We need Kronos time too. But Kronos time is the only time -concept that says there's only so many hours in the day. Once you run out, you run out. This is the trap most people fall into where they feel like they need time management tips to somehow make more time.

The idea is to become a time-bender, and find yourself in Kairo- Einstein time as often as you can so that you're less attached to the clock and more attached to your presence.

It’s an ongoing practice. When you operate this way, to bend time, you don't need to rely on time management tips to help you find time to get it all done. Here’s a great example. Two weeks ago, I was rewriting a sales page and technically didn’t “have time” according to Kronos time. But I got my coffee and put on classical music. I did a meditation and connected with the soul of my ideal customer. I went in and got it done. And it was so joyful! I looked up and it could have been 30 seconds, or 30 hours. So that’s a practical example. Mastering how to be more efficient is about mastering your understanding of Kairos vs. Kronos time.

Saying "there's not enough time” also has a lot to do with the story you're telling yourself about time. The people who look for time management tips or who are searching for how to be more efficient are the ones currently telling themselves a STORY about time. Like, “this blog post is going to take so long to write.” Time-bending is about noticing: how are you using your energy? How are you investing your energy, or are you spending it? Telling ourselves the stories of how hard it's going to be, how we're not good at things, how long it's going to take, is what prevents us from having an experience of time that is spacious and nourishing. It prevents us from doing our best work because we waste our precious energy worrying about how much time it'll take vs. just doing the work. And, some things take more time. That’s ok. Time is relative, and an illusion anyway, because we're all just gonna die. So don't worry so much about how to be more efficient. Focus on being where you are and having as much fun as possible.


Courtney Elmer 46:18  

Totally. Time management tips don't work, because time can't be "managed." I could sit here and talk with you all day, Kate. I know our listeners could sit here and listen all day as well because you've cracked the code on how to be more efficient. Are there any final thoughts that you’d like to leave our listeners with today? 


Kate Northrup 47:21  

Yes. I want to affirm that your worth is not determined by your productivity. You have been enough since the day you were born, and you will be enough on the day you die. Stop worrying about how to be more efficient, and start worrying about how to be more present. Everything that happens is about being fully here, now. So how are you going to live, knowing that?


Courtney Elmer 47:55  

Beautiful. My last question for you Kate: What is your definition of success?


Kate Northrup 48:18  

My definition of success is actually being there. Wherever I am.