Breaking free from overcommitment to find a positive work-life balance is a huge challenge for many female entrepreneurs. That’s why today, I’m uncovering what’s really causing you to constantly overbook yourself and the tips you need to increase productivity, ease, and joy in your business.
Today, we’re getting to the root cause of why you’re stuck, how to bust free, AND how to create a calendar that leads to more productivity and more time for what you love.
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Courtney Elmer 0:00
What's up Welcome back, you are listening to the System's Made Simple™ Podcast. This is episode 123.
Do you struggle to say no? Are you afraid of missing out on Productivity opportunities that could maybe potentially at some point down the road grow your business? Do you initially commit to something and then looking at your Work-Life Balance, you regret it? Are you one of those people who opens up your calendar looks at the week ahead and feels this gigantic knot in the pit of your stomach?
I hosted a Work-Life Balance training recently where I taught seven Productivity tricks to stop over committing because as business owners, we are busy. And in today's day and age, we are busier than ever there are things that happen so quickly. In fact, my team tells me all the time. They're like we're really good at Productivity and pivoting. And I'm like yes we are. Because there are it moves so fast. Business moves so fast in this day and age. But here's the thing, learning how to get really good at protecting your Productivity, time and Work-Life Balance -- cultivating that trendy catchphrase: Work-Life Balance, which really boils down to how well you hold your work life boundaries.
Let me say that louder for the people in the back. The real truth about Productivity is, it is not about how good your time management skills are or how well you can time block or how well you curb distractions. Sure, all of those things can help your Productivity and Work-Life Balance but they are crutches, they are band aids, they do not heal the real issue the wound itself, because the key to a healthy Work-Life Balance is to stop over committing and figure out why you're over committing in the first place. And inside of today's Work-Life Balance episode, I'm going to show you how. let's roll the tape on that Productivity and Work-Life Balance training right now.
Courtney Elmer 3:49
Work-Life Balance is something that is so important for us as business owners to understand is not only how to best manage our time and Productivity, and we'll talk about what that even means here in a minute. But how to put Work-Life Balance boundaries and structural limits in place on our calendar on our schedule so that we're not overbooking ourselves so that we're not over committing so that we're not feeling overwhelmed all of the time, because chances are you didn't get into business for yourself to feel overwhelmed or to work harder than you did at your full time job before you became an entrepreneur.
It really is important that you learn how to run your business, like a business. And to have Work-Life Balance. And this is one of the Productivity problems that I see in the entrepreneurial space is that people come into business for themselves, with the employee mentality that they had working their nine to five. And so they apply those Productivity practices and that mentality to their business. And the truth is, that doesn't work for yourProductivity or Work-Life Balance. And so you have to start thinking like a business owner, like a true CEO and running your business that way too. Hopefully what I'm about to share with you today, when it comes to actually managing your calendar and structuring your calendar in such a way that allows you to have the Work-Life Balance that you need to spend on the things you love or with the people that you love, and also enough time for the Productivity to get to what you need to get done.
Chances are, you might be feeling burnt out. You might be feeling like, oh my gosh, there's never enough time in the day to get to everything. There's a backlog of stuff that I need to get to that I can never put a dent in and only seems to grow instead of get smaller, no matter how much Productivity I have. And quite frankly, you're feeling overcommitted and overbooked and you look at your calendar, and maybe you look and see like, gosh, there is no space in here for me at all. And I'm going to walk you through how to streamline your calendar for Productivity and Work-Life Balance.
Courtney Elmer 7:13
One of the fastest Productivity ways that you can begin to streamline your Work-Life Balance is to simply say no, and to be very mindful of what you choose to say yes to. And it's easier said than done. I'm going to walk you through some Productivity, practical Work-Life Balance steps today to do that. But it dawned on me, I was like, it is not my team's responsibility to clean up the messes that I am making by over committing. And by saying yes to too much. There's so many things, I see opportunities everywhere. And sometimes it can be really hard, especially for those of us that have a lot of interests. We're very outgoing. We like to be involved in a lot of things. It can be tough for us to say no not because we don't want to but because we don't know what to say no to everything looks like a great opportunity and we love what we do and we want to do it all.
Before any of these Work-Life Balance calendar hacks that I'm going to give you are going to work for you, there's some Productivity groundwork that you're going to need to do first. And so the first thing that you need to do is to assess your current commitments through something I call a light and heavy filter. So you're going to look back, I want you to think about the past two weeks. And looking back the past two weeks, what are the activities that you have done, make a list, what are all of the things that you have done the past two weeks. And what I want you to look at as you're writing as I want you and in fact do this, draw a line down the center of your paper and on the left hand side, right, light, and on the right hand side right heavy. So looking back over the past two weeks, everything that lit you up, everything that gave you energy, things that you really enjoy, write all of those on the left hand side of your paper. And then on the right hand side, you're gonna write down everything that drained you everything that you sat there, and you were like, Oh, my gosh, I I , you felt so much resistance to doing, chances are, you're going to have a lot more on the right hand side than on the left hand side. But the purpose of this Work-Life Balance exercise is to help you begin to notice where your time is going right now. And so where did you say yes, these past two weeks when you really wanted to say no? And what did you say no to that maybe you really wanted to say yes to,
Courtney Elmer 12:09
The purpose of this is to figure out where the bulk of your time is going for Productivity. Because we want to create more of a Work-Life Balance there. Because when you have more of the activities that light you up, you are going to feel more fulfilled, you'll feel more satisfied in the work that you're doing. Take some time after listening to this episode, and really figure out where your time has been going and create Productivity and Work-Life Balance.
Okay, so once you have this list, there are two things that need to happen next. First, you need to become hyper aware of what's draining you, you're going to become really aware of what you've said yes to that you really wanted to say no to. And your only job over the next two weeks, is to practice saying no. And this can be so hard. I know. Because if you are someone like me, who has a history of people pleasing.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in session with my personal trainer. And he's like, you know, I was listening to a podcast the other day. And they had a really great Productivity suggestion for how to buy time and Work-Life Balance like that, but in a way that really acknowledges and respects the person who's asking. And so he shared this with me and I loved it and I have been practicing it since then. And it's very simple. It's when someone asks you Hey, can you participate in this online Summit? Hey, can you come on my podcast as a guest? Hey, can you meet me for coffee first? Whatever it might be, all you have to simply say is, wow, that sounds like a really great opportunity. Well, thank you so much for thinking of me. Let me check my calendar first. And make sure that I can make that work. And I'll get back to you.
You're acknowledging the other person, you're acknowledging the opportunity or the invitation that they're extending to you. But you're not knee jerk reaction saying yes. Or you're not being dismissive or ignoring them, and trying to like hope that it goes away. It's a perfect Work-Life Balance response for those kinds of situations.
So the next Work-Life Balance step I mentioned, there were two things that need to happen after you make this list for Productivity. That's number one, saying no to things for the next few weeks. The second thing that needs to happen for Productivity is that you need to begin working on your identity, the identity that you have right now that is attached to saying yes, this is so critical. Right now, your identity is attached to being someone who says yes, to keep others happy. And we need to shift that from, I'm someone who says yes, to keep others happy, too. I'm someone who only says yes to the things that I truly desire and have the capacity for in order to keep myself, my family and my team-- my Work-Life Balance, happy.
Courtney Elmer 17:05
And all this does is it begins to shift on an intrinsic level, your response when you're approached with opportunities. And so if you're someone who prioritizes Work-Life Balance for your family, if you value your family or your personal time, your team's time you value the happiness of your family, yourself and your team, then being a person who only says yes to the things that you truly have capacity for that becomes part of your Work-Life Balance identity and Productivity. And then that guide your behavioral response that makes it easier to say no to the things that you actually don't have the capacity for. And it allows you to be honest with yourself, and you will feel so much more aligned and fulfilled. And happy, because you won't be overcommitting, there won't be this low level underlying resentment for you saying yes to something that you really didn't want to say yes to in the first place.
So those are the two things that have to happen for Productivity once you make that list, saying no to things over the next two weeks, and then working on shifting that Work-Life Balance identity. So instead of saying yes to something, you're now going to say wait, I'm someone who only says yes to things I actually have capacity for. Because I want to keep my friends and my family and my team, my Productivity, myself-- my Work-Life Balance, happy.
So we've talked about kind of what has to happen internally for Productivity. So now let's talk about what has to happen externally for Productivity. So how do you put Work-Life Balance structure in place so that you know when you've reached your capacity, and you Don't overextend yourself? So how do you know what Work-Life Balance structure to put in place? How do you know when you've reached your Productivity capacity? Because a lot of us don't have clear cut guidelines on what our Work-Life Balance capacity is.
And here's the thing, that internal Productivity shift that we talked about, that's going to take some time, that is not going to happen overnight. That's going to take you repeatedly saying no. And repeatedly practicing, saying no, and doing it in a respectful way. But saying no and holding your Productivity boundaries, it's one thing to have Productivity boundaries. It's another thing to hold them. So until then we've got to put some external structures in place some external limits, I call them structural limits, and this is where we get to Productivity and your calendar.
So what I want you to do for me first and foremost, before anything else is I want you right now to take a look at your calendar, open it up whatever you have to do take a look at it and I want you to check something for me and make sure that you have seven days in the week. You do like everyone else, Seven days. Okay. So next I want you to double check and make sure that you only have 24 hours in a day. Yeah. Okay. That's what I thought, making sure we're on the same page. All right. So now I want you to consider what responsibilities do you have in your life right now that are non adable things that you cannot move around. So for example, for me, this for you might look like family needs, it might look like relationship needs, maybe you're caring for a parent, whatever it might be. For me, it's my family. So I am unavailable from six in the morning till 830 when I dropped my son off at school, because I am full time mom at that point. And I'm not available from 230 in the afternoon until 930 At night, because I pick him up from school. And I'm back on mom duty and family duty at that point with our evening activities, dinner, Bed, Bath routine, all that kind of stuff. So that's not adable. Like, I'm responsible for my son, that is time that I have to be present with him. Which means that work for me has to fall before six in the morning, or between nine and 230. So on average, that's about five and a half hours a day. I choose to take weekends off in a different season of my life when he was home with me full time I was a mom Monday through Friday, and I worked on the weekends.
Courtney Elmer 21:35
Well, now that he's in school, I work during the week, I'm off on the weekend. So you have to figure out what your current family situation is. Now, what about the actual work activities that you focus on within that time that you have for Productivity? So that's the first step is figuring out how much time that you have available? And then the next step is figuring out okay, what are the actual things that I am currently saying yes to working on within the time that I have, because chances are you've got a to do list a mile long, I know you do.
I want to make that Work-Life Balance distinction between working in your business and working on your business. So you need to figure out the majority of what you're saying yes to work wise, are you saying yes to the day to day stuff? And is that why you feel like you can never pull back and have time to focus on the bigger picture stuff. Because if you don't make time for the bigger picture stuff, you're never gonna be able to focus on it. That's the Work-Life Balance bottom line. And so what you need to do is figure out, gosh, if I'm saying yes to all of these things, waking up first thing and checking email and letting that be the way I start my day, then you can begin to restructure how you're spending the available time for Productivity. So the first step is getting an awareness of it.
Courtney Elmer 24:04
And so the Work-Life Balance concept that I love to use for my calendar is something that I learned from my dad. And he learned this Work-Life Balance concept from Dan Sullivan, who if you've been around the entrepreneurial space for a while, you might have heard his name. He's the founder of the Strategic Coach, and he has programs all over the world. He's like this big guy that talks about systems and structure and Productivity, all of these things. And so he learned this Work-Life Balance concept of buffer days, my dad came home one day from one of these strategic coach conferences, and he was telling us it wasn't actually telling us he was complaining to my mom about how he didn't have enough buffer days in the week.
And me is like a little you know, 11 year old or whatever. I'm sitting there at the table like minding my own business but actually listening to what they're talking about. And my dad was complaining that he didn't have enough time to get to everything he needed to get to in his business. He was so bogged down with the client work that he couldn't actually Eat, have quiet focus days to focus on the other stuff. So enter the concept of buffer days. So Buffer days is simply a day where there's nothing scheduled, no calls, no podcast interviews, no sales calls, nothing, it is blocked off on your calendar. Now, when you put these days in place, and how many you put in place is up to you. But I recommend a minimum of two for best Productivity. So maybe you have your Work-Life Balance buffer days on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is time for you to pull back and focus on the visionary leader aspect of your business versus Monday, Wednesday, Friday, where you're kind of front facing, you're meeting with clients, you're doing the work to move the business along the day to day stuff. Maybe it's the opposite, maybe Monday, Wednesday, Friday are your Work-Life Balance buffer days, and Tuesday and Thursday are your forward facing days for optimal Productivity.
I like to back end load my week, meaning that I have my calls Wednesday through Friday and leave the first two days as my Work-Life Balance buffer days. Other people like to front end load their week for Productivity and have the last few days as Work-Life Balance buffer days to wrap up the week for the week ahead. So you have to figure out what Work-Life Balance system works best for your Productivity. The point is to block off a minimum of two days every week, for you to be able to focus on this stuff that you haven't been able to get to because you've been so busy in your business. I do have a template that can make this so easy for you. And you can literally plug and play. So if you want that template, then click the link in the show notes. And we'll send that template to you.
When it gets down to the nitty gritty, I'm going to give you the easiest Work-Life Balance calendar Productivity hack of all, you ready for it. Let someone else manage your calendar. I know I know, that wasn't the Productivity calendar hack you were probably expecting. And I have not gotten to the point where I have completely handed my calendar off to someone else I'm at that point where I'm like ready for it. But if you're the type of person who maybe you don't have someone to hand it off to or maybe the idea of letting go of control of your calendar is a little too much for you to swallow right now. Then the second best option is to use some sort of Productivity calendar software like Calendly or acuity, we like Booker phi.
And plan in these Work-Life Balance buffer days schedule yourself off on those days so that people can't book calls with you on those days. And so for me, this might mean I have those first two days of the week, blocked off. And then the last three days are open for calls for you. You might block off Monday, Wednesday, Friday, whatever it is, but block them off so that people literally cannot book from this point forward. They can't even book a call with you on those days. And then you'll get to the point where you have those days built into your week. I was talking with an entrepreneur the other day, we were on a collaboration call and planning upcoming collaboration. And she was like, yeah, one of my team members the other day was like go eat. And she was like, I don't need to eat. I'm gonna keep when she's like, go eat and like, yes.
And it was funny because at the same time, not like a day or two before. Alan, my husband was like Courtney, do you even schedule yourself a lunch break? And I was like, No, I don't. And he's like, and who's in control of your calendar? You are right, like, yeah, so I really went into literally, I went into my Booker fi account. And I scheduled myself off between 12 and one every day so that I could eat lunch. Because what was happening was on my call days, people were booking, booking, booking, booking, and I wasn't even able to like take a break and eat lunch. So all of this to say you are the leader of your business, no one is making you work as much as you're working except you.
Courtney Elmer 28:53
And that can be a hard truth for some people to swallow. And I understand if it is, but your Work-Life Balance isnt going to change until you start doing something differently. And so expecting things to change and expecting the sky to magically part. And for you to suddenly have all this Productivity space on your calendar is not going to happen unless you begin to put these Work-Life Balance structural limits in place. So if you're following me on Instagram, you saw one of my Instagram stories I shared recently, I had a to do list. It was a story where I shared like all the calls that I had for that day and it was like five calls. That was very intentional. I had already had my Work-Life Balance buffer Productivity days that week. So when you have those Work-Life Balance buffer Productivity days, you're energized, you're ready for days like that. And on those call days for me. I booked that very intentionally so that I can show up.
Be present, be available, have those calls, and then be done and it's not scattered all throughout the week. So I have these solid chunks of time to work And then chunks of time to focus on clients and leads and sales and all of that stuff. Another Productivity tip here, if you're using a booking software like Calendly, or one of the ones I've mentioned, put a max number of appointments per day. For me, my max is three, I had five calls last week, it was honestly too many. So every once in a while I exceed that number. Do I regret it? When I do? Yes. But I know that three really is my sweet spot for Productivity you might be less. You canset your calendar to only allow that number of appointments per day.
So do you see how this works? I know these Work-Life Balance hacks are counterintuitive. It's not me sitting here telling you do this on Monday, do this on Tuesday, do this on Wednesday for Productivity. And here's your beautiful calendar. Because I'm not here to help you get more done. You don't need to get more done, you're not keeping up as it is. This is really designed to help you get better at setting Work-Life Balance boundaries in your business, so that you can experience more Work-Life Balance in your business, and spin your time in your zone of genius as the visionary leader of your company. And so what the structural limitations do is it forces you to only say yes, to working on what's really important to grow your business.
So if at this point, you're like, Okay, Courtney, I'm on board, but what about all the other work? What about the backlog? What about the stuff that I won't be able to get to because now I have less time to get to it because I have all these structural limitations in place. First of all, you need to assess all of those things and see if they're actually things that are helping you grow your business. And if they're not delete them altogether. If you can delegate them, if you have a team, they should be handling some of that stuff for you for optimal Productivity. I guarantee you, there's stuff on your list right now that you're doing that your team could be doing for you.
So take a look from that lens and see, okay, what is it that I absolutely have to do like for me, I have to show up and record a podcast interview, I can't have a team member do it for me, because it has to be my voice on that recording. But I can have a team member process that interview and optimize that transcript, and help facilitate all the things that go into publishing that episode. So what are the things that only you can do? And what are the things that you can get support in?
But allow yourself a block of time for Productivity to focus on catching up on your backlog. Don't go start working every Saturday, this is not permission for you to start working every weeknight and every weekend. But within reason. Sometimes if that's your only option for Productivity, and you have to get it done to get caught up, then blocking off a specific focused block of time to focus on those things to focus on getting caught up could be a solution there.
So I have a mastermind program called the visionary leader incubator, and we teach Work-Life Balance systems like this forProductivity in every area of your business. And so I actually was talking with one of my students last week, and she was like Courtney, she said, when I first joined this program, I had absolutely no idea the depth of what you would be teaching, she's I knew you were going to teach us the four systems that every business owner needs for Productivity, which I'll share with you or visibility, which has to do with your marketing and how visible you are sales, which has to do with revenue coming into your business. And then on the back end of your business deliverability How are you delivering on what you are promising to your students and clients and operations, which is like the glue that holds everything else together and keeps it flowing smoothly.
Courtney Elmer 33:50
She was like so being kind of new in business myself, I knew that I didn't want to have to figure all that out on my own. And she was like, that's why I wanted to be part of this. So I could learn this. She said but oh my gosh, after having gone through this content, she said first of all, you should be charging triple for this, I would have paid triple for this. Because you have helped me streamline and structure my business from the inside out. And I feel so confident now that I can operate and run my business like a true business owner rather than floundering around everyday trying to keep up with it all. Join me back here next week for more on that and until then go live your EffortLESS Life®.