Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done? Wondering how successful entrepreneurs can “do it all” when we all have the same 24 hours in a day? Like, do they have some secret system that makes it all work? What about personal responsibilities? Do they have house cleaners and huge teams?
Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can certainly share my own productivity journey with you.
Back when I started my first business, I was working long 16-hour days. I had no systems and zero time management skills. But one step at a time, I cut them down to 5-8 hours a day, with weekends off, all while maintaining a multi-six-figure income.
And recently, I received such a vulnerable message on Instagram that I wanted to share with you because I truly believe MANY business owners can relate to this.
Here’s what the message said:
This message spoke to me because I remember feeling that exact same way. It felt like no matter how hard I tried, and how hard I worked, I still wasn’t working fast enough.
So I want to have an honest chat with you about the journey, the systems, and the changes I made so I could “get it all done,” so to speak.
If you’re working hard, running around the clock, and sometimes losing motivation to keep your business going, then I encourage you to keep reading. I’ll be addressing each question from this message and share strategies I’ve developed to save time and find a better work-life balance so you can do the same.
“Do you just learn to be crazy disciplined and whip out an insane amount of work?”
I’ll admit that discipline is one of my strong suits, probably because of how I was raised. My parents were incredibly strict and had very high expectations of me — things like work and chores always came first.
Buuuuut there are still days or even months when I don’t feel like doing anything at all — because it all feels like too much! That’s when I lack motivation and my brain keeps thinking about everything else I COULD be doing instead of the thing I should ACTUALLY be doing.
Over the years, I’ve learned that one way to keep moving forward is by working with myself, understanding myself, and recognizing what’s happening in my life or business when I start to feel this way.
When I hit productivity wall, I ask myself:
- Am I simply exhausted because I’ve pushed myself too hard without giving myself space to recharge, which is affecting my productivity?
- Am I not clear about my current priorities? Have I not defined the steps needed to reach my current goals which makes me inefficient, go around in circles, and overwhelmed from overthinking?
- Am I trying to juggle too much and add too many things to my to-do list without taking anything away? Am I not saying no when I should?
- Does my current routine or the way I handle specific tasks make sense? Or am I stuck in a gerbil wheel without taking time to pause, reassess, and create a better system that supports me?
When you’re aware of these things and work with yourself, instead of beating yourself up for being “too slow,” it actually makes getting things done a whole lot easier. That’s because you realize the kind of help you need, how to simplify your work, and make greater progress towards your goals.
I won’t dive deeper into the topic of discipline because I’ve got an entire blog post about it. So if you want to learn more about how to develop discipline in your business, that blog post is a great place to start!
Now, let’s get to the next part of this message:
“Or do you work at pretty much the same pace as you have before, except now you have more experience?”
I’m so glad she asked this! It’s easy to look at people who are ahead of us aaand no matter where we are in our business journey, feel like they’re faster, have better systems, and get more impressive results. But what we often miss is the grind behind the scenes and the hard work that got them there.
For me, this was especially true when I had my product business. In the beginning it would take me half an hour just to make one cup. I worked 16-18 hour days for months because I was slow, unproductive, and lacked systems and a sustainable business model. I had to go through that stage to understand that the products I was selling wouldn’t help me reach my financial goals without working 24/7.
So, I switched from single products to gift boxes, hired help, began outsourcing, and stopped taking custom orders. It took a lot of thought, deliberate action, and trial and error, but I managed to cut my work hours from 16-hour days to 5-hour days.
When I started the Small Biz Babes Community, my education business, I had to go through the same time-consuming stages all over again. Making TikToks took me hours. Writing podcast scripts and preparing for an episode took me an entire day.
There really isn’t any fast-forward button you can press to push through those early, inefficient stages where you’re working countless hours. But, it’s important to remember that many people have been through them before you, which means this is just a stage if you choose it to be.
If you want to become more efficient and create systems that support you, start observing what you’re doing, break it down into steps and ask yourself:
- Could I make any of these steps more efficient?
- What could I delegate?
- Can I stop doing any of these steps altogether?
Perhaps you need better equipment or tools so you can be faster in your workflow.
Or perhaps you discover that you need mentorship so you don’t waste weeks trying to find answers and get overwhelmed by hundreds of different opinions online that just keep you stuck.
Perhaps you discover that you need a virtual assistant to manage your customer service.
I think everyone starts and gets stuck in that place of running around the clock, feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get them closer to their goals.
Those super long and inefficient days show you the need to value your time and invest in your business so you can take it to the next level and free yourself from trying to do it all. Because you can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.
It is just up to us to make different choices with our time if we want a different outcome.
“Is everyday super systematized?”
Yes and no! Systems are a big part of managing my business and personal life, but I’m also intententional about creating unstructured space in my life. If I live too closely by a strict schedule, I find I lack creativity and motivation.
And I say this because intentionally giving yourself time to recharge WITHOUT a system, having that freedom not to always be on the clock, can make things more manageable. It recharges your batteries and makes pushing through on busy days easier. Plus, it boosts your creativity and clarity which allows you to be more efficient.
Now, when it comes to systems, I need them to get things done. Otherwise, I’d be overwhelmed, confused, unproductive, and always “busy” without actually making progress.
But at the same time, systems evolve as our businesses grow. What worked a year ago might not support the demands of today.
For instance, I used to have a content planning system where I recorded everything for the week ahead, every Thursday. But now that I have a podcast, blog, newsletter, aaaand Instagram posts which all get repurposed to TikTok, Pinterest, and YouTube shorts, that old system became unsustainable. I had to rethink it and create a system that helps me plan content months in advance, breaking it down into manageable time blocks throughout the week.
I also needed to brainstorm what tasks I could outsource. Long story short, the systems in your business and life should support you. If they’re not, that’s when it starts to feel like you’re a gerbil on a wheel always chasing a goal, but never getting closer to it.
Wondering how to create systems for your business or life? Start with writing a list of tasks you do repetitively:
- Social media
- Ordering inventory
- Customer communications or replying to emails
Then ask yourself — is the way I accomplish these tasks right now supporting my priorities?
For example, I used to check emails and Instagram messages 10 times a day. It was a huge time suck and ate my attention. A simple change I made was streamlining it to only once a day: IG messages in the morning, emails in the evening. That’s it!
So, pay attention to the individual steps in your tasks, both at work and in your personal life, and ask yourself if there’s a better way to do them. To sum up the answer to this question, I do have systems, but I also have unscheduled free time to do whatever I want without the guilt!
“Do you have your groceries delivered or someone that cleans the house for you?”
No, we don’t have household help. My husband and I, however, work together as a team to create a household flow that works.
It wasn’t always like this. There were fights, weeks where we had cereal for dinner, and when our healthy eating habits took a hit the moment my business started to grow.
After months of chaos, we had an honest conversation about how we could work together realistically as a team.
Because my husband works from home, he began picking up some household responsibilities, like cooking and grocery shopping, to support my business. It was a work in progress (sometimes, my husband went back to the grocery store 3 times a week because he forgot something!) but over time we made it work.
Personally, we use a system in Notion where I have all our recipes with grocery lists. Every Sunday, it takes us just 5 minutes to plan our meals for the week, considering leftovers for lunch and prepping snacks with healthy meal choices. We also only do one or two large grocery trips a week, instead of trying to come up with last-minute meal ideas and shopping every day, which has been a big time saver.
Now, I’m aware that many husbands may not be able to cook because they likely work outside of the house. But can you still think of mundane tasks to make your week easier? Like, for example, ask yourself…
- Can I cook casserole every Sunday to have dinners for Monday and Tuesday?
- Can I freeze a portion of soup when I cook it to make at least one meal out of it for next week?
- Can I start ordering groceries online?
- Can I make a meal plan that makes it easier for me to cook a week ahead?
I will say, the biggest thing that keeps me on track when it comes to planning in general is thinking long-term. I do yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning and reflection. I plan for upcoming projects and create checklists in advance so I can be realistic with my commitments in both my personal life and business.
I won’t go into weekly and monthly planning now because that could easily be an entire blog post. So, if you’d like me to dive deeper into that topic, shoot me a message on Instagram and I’d be happy to create content around it!
Alright, let’s move on to the next part of this message:
“Do you outsource a lot in your business?”
Okay, here are some things I currently have outsourced at the time of writing this blog post:
- Podcast editing and publishing, along with all the management tasks that come with it. I still write and record all podcast content myself
- Repurposing podcast episodes into blog posts
- Content brainstorming and audio research have been outsourced to my VA based on a checklist I gave her
- I’m currently working on creating a system to batch record speaking videos and outsourcing their editing, but right now, I’m still handling all social media content and editing it myself
- Technical glitches, coding, and other random online business tasks that I can’t resolve quickly are outsourced to freelancers on platforms like Fiverr
- Content repurposing for Pinterest,
- Content reposting on TikTok, and YouTube have been delegated to my VA
- My VA also helps with customer support
Other than that, I handle everything myself (for now)! I currently work about 8 hours a day and spend a significant amount of my free time on professional growth.
This business started with me doing everything on my own, but I soon realized I couldn’t do it all alone. I began trading money instead of my time for education to scale my business. Later, I delegated one step, one task at a time to free up 20 minutes a week. Then an hour. And eventually two hours. I have an ongoing list in my task system where I continuously write notes on what to outsource next, what to streamline next, and what to automate next. Which takes me to the last point of this message:
“I feel like I’ve reached a plateau even with a VA — how can I make our process work better?”
If you have a VA and you feel like you’ve reached a plateau with them, I recommend conducting a time audit! A time audit will give you a real sense of where you spend your hours and where your time is going. How much time do you spend dedicated to growing your business, and how much of it do you spend managing the daily business activities that keep you busy, but don’t move the business forward?
That stage where you’re working hard but not making the progress you want can be really frustrating. There’s just so much work to be done!
For me, it used to feel like I had to push a huge boulder up a mountain to grow my business. But that’s not how businesses grow. I realized that instead of struggling to push a boulder, you need to build a machine that can take it off your shoulders. My encouragement to you is to focus on building that machine — which means streamlining your operations, getting help with tasks, and setting clear boundaries for your time and energy.
This allows you to step into the role of CEO instead of being a worker bee, endlessly spinning your wheels and trying to push that boulder up when you have nothing left in you.
You can’t “do it all” alone. You need the right systems and team supporting you!
I hope you’ve found these answers helpful! Know, that I’m rooting for you. I know the feelings you’re going through at this stage, and believe you have what it takes to overcome them! Keep pushing forward and remember that growth is possible once you start making the right shifts.
So, let’s break down all these answers into three actionable takeaways:
1. Pay attention to your behaviors and triggers — If you struggle with discipline and find it hard to tackle challenging tasks, Ask yourself some key questions:
- Have I pushed myself too hard for too long without giving myself space to recharge, which could be affecting my productivity?
- Am I not clear on my current priorities?
- Am I trying to juggle too much?
- Does my current way of doing things make sense, or is it time to pause and reassess a better system to support me?
2. Track your time — If you’re constantly busy but not getting closer to your goals, start time tracking. Record how you spend every hour during the week to get a realistic view of where your time goes. Then, make a list of things to stop doing, identify tasks you can do differently to make life easier, and tasks that are worth investing money in to free up your time
Aaaand number 3…
3. Step out of your own way — If you want to achieve your goals, you may have to start looking for creative, easier solutions. Instead of saying “Oh, I can’t” or “I don’t know how,” start asking yourself, “How COULD I make it happen?” Focus on the first step, the first change you can make today, and start there.
If you want to hear even more honest conversation about what it actually takes to “get it all done,” tune in to today’s podcast episode here 🎧.
PS: If you need or want a system that would keep all your projects, goals and tasks organized in one place, so you can get more done without constantly drawning in your to-do list – you can snag my work and personal task and project management system here.