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Archive of ‘Explore YOUR Business’ category

Are you doing what matters? Here’s how to know.

are you doing what matters

What are the last 5 things you did for your business?

I don’t mean big crazy things, but the very last 5 actions you took.

Now zoom out – what were your big goals for 2015? What had you planned to work on this quarter?

Do the actions you recently took have anything to do with the big goal? Can you see how they fit together?

Or are they totally unrelated? Are you spending your working time reacting or distracted?

What about today’s to do list and plan? Is it related to your goals?

As we wrap up the first quarter of 2015, it’s the perfect time to check in on what you’ve done (celebrate it!) and realign your daily actions into a plan for what you want.

If you find yourself doing a lot of unrelated stuff that has nothing to do with your goal, don’t beat yourself up, just take the time to reset. There are lots of ways to reset. You could:

  • Revisit your map (if you made one) and mark off all the things you did (and celebrate!) and pick 2 of the next steps to do this week.
  • Write down your goal and brainstorm the VERY next action you could take towards it.
  • Tell someone what you’re going to work on next (accountability makes it much more likely to happen!)
  • Schedule a time to work on your goal, in the very next 2 days. Put it on your calendar.
  • Take a dance break…then sit down and get to work.

Need help getting clear about what actions will move you towards your goal? Want to make a plan for getting there? Need accountability?

The Starship provides exactly this..and it’s now open! Make a plan, choose the best actions, and be held accountable when you beam up here:

Boarding this quarter is super-short and it closes on FRIDAY. Join here.


A plan for sharing your work (+ a peek at my first marketing plan)

So what's your plan

Last week we talked about how to sell something:

  • Identify the person who will love it and buy it (I call this your Right Person).
  • Figure out what she cares about and why she buys your product (in the beginning you’re guessing; as you get more sales, you’ll ask her directly).
  • Explain how awesome your thing is, in terms she understands.
  • Go where she already is and talk to her there.

I heard back from lots of you that you KNOW you should be doing this, but it just feels overwhelming and like a lot to keep track of.

But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, all these pieces can fit together into one plan, that you implement day in and day out, without worrying too much about it.

Yes, it takes time, energy, and commitment to set it up, but once you have it…it just works. You know what to do, every day. You’ll continue to test it, improve it, and work it…but first you have to have it.

This knowing what to do thing feels AWESOME. It helps alleviate so much of the doubt and second-guessing you’ve been struggling with. It focuses your working time. It allows you to be consistent, which builds trust with your people, expands your reach, and – yes – leads to more sales.

This plan for reaching people is called….a Marketing Plan! (Imagine that!) Remember: Marketing = any communication you have with your people. So this is just a plan for reaching your people on the regular.

My first marketing plan was scribbled in my day job office, on a post-it note I kept hidden under my keyboard, circa 2007. It said:

  • Post one new picture to Flickr each day + add to groups (the days before Instagram!)
  • Tweet picture (ask for help naming?)
  • Reply to 3 new people (Flickr, Twitter, knitting blogs)
  • One new Etsy listing/day
  • Blog 1x/week
  • Email list every month (new yarns)

You see, your marketing plan can be as big or small as you need it to be. I added new stuff to the list all the time to see what might work, but knowing the absolute minimum kept me focused when things got busy. What you can’t see from the list is the time I spent finding my possible customers (knitters who knit with handspun yarn…which was harder before Ravelry!) and figuring out what groups or tags would help my yarn be found by more people. But once I did that … I just followed the plan.

To make your own marketing plan (that actually works, and isn’t a waste of your time), you need to:

  1. Know what makes you and your thing sparkle (stand out from everything else).
  2. Identify who some of your people are, what they care about, and where they hang out.
  3. Choose the methods you’ll use to reach them.
  4. Put it all together in a plan that you implement, day in and day out.


If you’d like guidance and a clear path for making your own plan, check out Craft Your Marketing. In this 6 week e-course you will identify your sparkle, find your people, choose your tools and then make a simple, post-it worthy marketing plan that will bring you more fans and more sales. You don’t have to do this alone. I’m here to help with audio lessons (and enhanced transcripts!), worksheets, and FUN.

If you don’t know what you’re doing TODAY to connect with your people (or who they are or what to say), I hope you’ll join me in class:


PS. This class includes a signed copy of my book, so I’m closing registration next week so I can get the book in the mail to you in time!

How do you find your people?

how do you find your people

The past few weeks we’ve been learning how to talk to your customer — but talking to her is just one part of the process. To actually SELL your goods, you need to:

  1. Identify the person who will love it and buy it (I call this your Right Person).
  2. Figure out what she cares about and why she buys your product (in the beginning you’re guessing; as you get more sales, you’ll ask her directly).
  3. Explain how awesome your thing is, in terms she understands.
  4. Go where she already is and talk to her there.

The thing is, the first three are all about you doing the work, alone in your studio/office/kitchen, thinking and working and guessing. You can spend hours, days, months just thinking and guessing about your Right Person. You can even put some stuff in your shop with the descriptions and photos you think will speak to her. You can write blog posts aimed at her.

But that’s not enough. It’s not enough to stay in your own world and hope that she finds you.

But I can hear you now, you want to know: HOW?! 

It’s entirely dependent on what you sell and who you sell it to.

You can show up where your person is in a zillion ways:

  • You can write a post on her favorite blog.
  • Your product can be featured in her favorite magazine, blog, or TV show.
  • Her friend will tell her about your work or forward your email.
  • You’ll vend at the craft show she attends.
  • You’ll comment on HER blog or be in the forums where she chats.
  • Someone she follows will retweet you, or share your FB post.
  • You’ll write an article for her favorite magazine.
  • She’ll search for a product, and you’ll show up in the search results.
  • You’ll meet on social media, in a FB group or Twitter chat.
  • She’ll see your ad (on a blog, on Facebook, anywhere).

You see, not every option makes sense for every business (or buyer). If you try to do them all, you’ll waste your time. If you try to do everything  at once, you’ll be distracted and ineffective.

But if you pick the one that makes the most sense for your business and your Right Person? And you do it consistently, week after week? You are sure to find your buyer and connect with her. You’ll learn so much about your person, where she is and what she wants from you. You’ll also learn where she isn’t and what you’re wrong about.

I can’t tell you exactly what will work for you.

But all of us can answer a few questions to get started:
Who is going to love and buy what I make? (You gotta know this first!)
When does she buy my thing?
What influences her decisions?
Where does she look for information? (What term does she search for?)

By answering these questions, you’ll get an idea of what to try.

And then it’s up to you to do it, to actually TRY something and keep trying it, with consistency.

PS. We’re going to walk through this entire process+ get specific about what you actually DO in the upcoming class, Craft Your Marketing.

How do you talk about your work without feeling gross?

How to talk about your work

How do I describe what it is I do? How do I talk about my work? 

This is the question we nearly all have. (If you’ve figured this out and feel 100% confident talking about your work, send me an e-mail immediately and tell me your secret sauce –
Even though I’ve been doing this for 5 years (and have been running my own business for over 8 years!), I struggle with how to talk about my work every day. In every sales page I write, in every conversation I have, and in every byline I submit to a magazine or blog.

I don’t know that this question ever goes away, but you certainly can get better at talking about your work. 

For starters, you want to discover what it is that you do that’s special.  I often refer to this as your “sparkle,” because it’s the thing that catches your customer’s eye and attracts them to you. You gotta get crystal-clear on this, so that you’re not being general or vague, but truly standing out from everyone else. I’ve worked with hundreds of makers, and found a very particular sparkle in each of them, so please trust me when I say – you’ve got it. You’ve just gotta uncover it. (There are worksheets for this in Market Yourself!)

Then, once you know what makes your thing special, you want to put it into words that resonate with your customers. You want to talk about what your customers care about. This is NOT going to be the things you most care about (usually), but you can find this out with some thinking and digging. (The recent podcast episode walks you through figuring it out for your business.)

And then, you practice. You do it over and over and over. You describe your work and yourself to customers, to strangers, to your dog. You practice.

When I work with a creative who is incapable of talking about what they do and sell, we are always able to solve it (so don’t despair!) by focusing on one (or all!) of the above.
Either we:

  • Define what makes them special and who they want to work with.
  • Put it into words that resonate with their ideal customers.
  • Talk about how and where they can practice.

The fact is, feeling weird talking about yourself never goes entirely away, but it can get a heck of a lot easier.

As you review the above list, where do you think you need to focus?


PS. Need some help? Check out the new class.

What makes a buyer … buy?

what makes a buyer buy

Last week we talked about your motivation. But you know what’s awesome? The exact same framework applies to your customers. So let’s flip the table and talk about what motivates your buyer to buy. 

If you’ve taken my Marketing for Crafters course, then you know how you can use Maslow’s Hierarchy to figure out your buyer’s motivation.
But what about the new research – how can you use that to connect with your customers?

Let’s dig in:

Autonomy: People are motivated to take actions so that they will feel like the Captain of their own ship. 
Some questions to ask yourself (and answer in your communication with potential buyers):

  • How does my product help the user feel like she’s in charge?
  • How does it help her feel one-of-a-kind?
  • What information can you give her to enable her to feel like she’s making a great, smart decision?
  • How can you speak to that Inner Captain in your messaging?

Example message for artist who sells paintings: Your house doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. You get to decide what you put on the walls. Choose something that communicates who you really are to the world.

How could you apply this to your own business? 


Competence (or Mastery): People are motivated to take actions that will help them feel competent and/or skilled. 
Some questions to ask yourself (and answer in your communication with potential buyers):

  • How can I speak to the competence of my customer?
  • What can I provide to make her feel more competent?
  • How can I serve her need for mastery?

Example for a jeweler: Write a series on how to wear your necklaces, or give weekly outfit ideas for what to put with the jewelry – make your reader feel like a master of looking chic (if that’s your brand!).

Example for a knitwear designer: Create patterns that increase the knitter’s skill. Speak to the desire to be a more skilled knitter.

How could you apply this to your own business? 


Purpose: People are motivated to fulfill a deeper purpose in life; they want to feel connected to something larger than themselves. 

Some questions to ask yourself (and answer in your communication with potential buyers):

  • What is the larger purpose behind what I’m doing? How can I invite the buyer to take part in that?
  • How can my product enable the buyer to pursue her own purpose?

Example for anyone: Tap into your own business mission and highlight the aspects your buyer will care about. Share that with them and invite them to join it.

Whether your mission is about sharing love or empowering women or keeping handcraft alive or celebrating the geeky, your best customers are going to want to know about it and they are longing to join in and be a part of it


What’s your mission? How can you communicate it? 

Hopefully, as you consider your business and answer these questions, you’re beginning to see that, yes, your marketing = talking to real people. People with the same motivation, desires, and enthusiasm as you.

Your job is to communicate the value and provide the information in a framework (speaking to their motivation) that they understand.

The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the news  on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The view

After 20 min of whining & pacing, Raylan accepted the car wasn't a death trap. He then spent a good while facing backwards, watching the back window. #raylanpup
This what shipping a book to every #TSLiftOff student looks like. A HUGE box of pink bubble mailers and rolllllls of tape.
Our view, every hour or two, for the past week. The only way I was able to snap this is that a dog walked by and they both froze. #raylanpup #taralovesmornings
The real reason we got #raylanpup: Beau demanded a pup-chauffeur. #fancydog


(It’s all pups, all the time over on Instagram…because I’m truly doing nothing other than working and dog-wrangling. I have hopes for future non-dog activities.)

I am so grateful for…

  • Quiet mornings
  • An increasingly calm Raylan (the new pup)
  • Warmth in the cold

The Finds:

I’m enthusiastic about:

In case you missed it: 

What adventures have you had?

How I get things done

How I get things done

 This is the second piece of the How to Get Stuff Done series. Find Part 1 here and tomorrow’s podcast episode will be the final piece: How to build your own system for getting stuff done. 


Warning:  I am diving deep into how exactly I get things done – from producing a podcast every week to writing my book to creating 18 hours worth of class material. I’m sharing this as an example of how a system can work but please remember that you’ll need to find the system that works best for you and your particular tasks. In fact, tomorrow on the podcast I’ll be teaching you to how to build your own system.

Although it doesn’t always feel like it, I get a lot done.

There are the every-week projects: this blog post, podcast episode, free lessons for subscribers, a new lesson for the Starship, answering questions in the Starship forums, holding the weekly Starship live chat, and working with 2-3 clients a week.
There are the quarterly projects: Opening the Starship, welcoming in members, writing new content for the launch, doing my own quarterly planning and taxes.
And then there are the one-time projects, (writing a new class, teaching live, writing articles for magazines, giving interviews) and my bigger goals that require me to work on something long-term (like a book proposal or creating everything (whew!) for Lift Off).
And then there’s email. I have planning and project-detail emails from Jess, session notes from clients, questions from potential customers (“Is this for me?”), and compliments from readers and listeners (thanks!). I read and reply to absolutely every question or concern or even my-life-is-falling-apart email I get from readers, listeners and students.

I listed this because before I can share how I get things done, we have to talk about the different kinds of productivity I need. I need regular routines for getting the weekly stuff done and I need a separate, set-aside time to work on one-time requests and projects. I need internal-thinking time for writing (usually at the coffee shop) and quiet-house time for talking to clients (usually at home).

Above all, I need to NOT keep all these things in my head. When I don’t have some way to write them all down and not lose them, or when I don’t trust my system … I go crazy. My head swims. I can’t sleep. I get swirly. (Swirly is when you just go over and over the same thing until everything is doom.)

How I remember everything I need to do

Here’s what I did for the last 5 years of self-employment:
I keep everthing in a moleskine journal that fits in my purse. When someone recommends a book, I write it down. When I remember a project, I write it down. When I have an idea, I write it down.
Each Monday, I made a “This Week” list. I’d write down my weekly stuff plus all of the one-offs that are particular to this week. I’d look at all my ongoing projects and write down the tasks I wanted to get done this week to make progress. I’d go back through the last week in my journal and add anything to the list that I didn’t get done, or that I wanted to remember. I’d check my calendar (Jess books client sessions and adds them to my calendar) and write down anything that’s coming up (I keep all time-bound appointments in my google calendar, so it syncs on my phone and computer, but I also write them on my list so I remember to allow time for them). This fit on one piece of paper. 

Each weekday, I’d look at the This Week list and write a list for today. I’d write down just the things I could get done today. In general, I worked on the weekly things on Monday or Tuesday (if at all possible), so that I can work on the bigger projects or one-offs later in the week, with a bigger chunk of uninterrupted time. This also ensures they always get done, and I stay consistent in my online connection. (Here’s how I stay consistent with my social media presence.) If a day had a lot of tasks, I’d number the most important, so I remembered to focus on them.

The above system isn’t that different from a Bullet Journal (which so many Starship Captains LOVE), except that I’m prioritizing daily, based on what’s going on.

I’ve recently changed this system a bit, and here’s what I do now:
If I have my phone near me, I put every To Do in OmniFocus. From adding a book to my To Read list, to remembering to mail letters, to writing this weekly post, I put it all in OmniFocus the moment I think of it. If I’m with someone else or my phone isn’t nearby, I write it in my journal and add it to OmniFocus the next day.

Once a day, usually at the end of my workday before I start dinner, I go through the newly-added tasks and assign them “contexts”. Thanks to Sarah, I think of Contexts as the description of what state I’m going to be in when I work on the task.

I use:

  • Home (little things around the house),
  • Errands (when I’m out),
  • Big Rocks (the tasks that will move my most important projects forward),
  • Consistency (the things I do each week or month or quarter, I’ve set them to repeat automatically, so I add them once and they come back when I need to work on them),
  • Quick and Painless (tiny things like “Finish filling out invoice”).

Contexts are harder to explain than they are to implement – I use them to ensure I’m working on the important things and that I know what I could do when I have a moment (other than scroll through Instagram for the 10000th time). While I’m going through them, I also apply a due date, if I want to be sure and do it by a certain date. Things with a due date (even if I made it up!) are FAR more likely to actually get done!

Each Monday I still make a This Week list in my journal by looking at what’s coming up.  I make sure that each piece of each project for the week is in OmniFocus, with a due date. This isn’t really necessary, except that I find it clarifying to see everything I’m doing in a week in one place and it gives me a shape for my week. (For example, last week I had a live workshop on Monday that involved a total of 4 hours driving, and then had 2 clients sessions and a vet visit on Tuesday, so I knew I wouldn’t do my normal writing days, so I’d need to write on Wednesday and Thursday.)

Each day, I look at my OmniFocus list for the day and pick the 3 Most Important Things for the day (learned this from ZenHabits). If I get nothing else done, I really need to do these. This helps me focus on what’s important and it keeps me from getting distracted by the internet. As soon as those 3 MITs are done (sometimes it’s done in an hour, sometimes they take all day), I check out my OmniFocus list for the day and start going down it, occasionally taking a break with a Quick and Painless task. (Today it was ordering protein powder from Amazon.)

That is how I remember to do everything, and remembering (and prioritizing) is half the battle when it comes to getting stuff done.

Actually DOING the things.

The most important piece to doing stuff is to HAVE A TIME to do it. Nothing will get done unless you set aside the time for it.

Side note: I cannot believe how many makers I’ve helped completely change their business growth by just doing one thing: Setting aside time for work. If you don’t have a time set, do it. It will change your life. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 hour a week or 8 hours a day, just set it aside and keep it sacred.

I work 4-5 weekdays (never on a weekend unless I’m traveling and teaching) from 9ish to 4ish. Before “work”, I take the dogs on a long walk, workout, shower, have breakfast, meditate/pray, set my intention for the day (pick my 3 MITs) and maybe read. I try very hard to only turn on the internet after all this, which ends up being between 9 and 10 am.
I have two main ways I think of my working time: Writing Time + Project Blocks. In between these are emails and quick tasks. Writing Time is mostly for the things I do every day or every week (writing free content) and Project Blocks are for doing one-off projects and making progress on my Big Goals.

Writing Time
I try to make my working time as much of a habit as possible, so I always sit down to write first (I try SO HARD to not check email before my writing time). If it’s early in the week, I work on the Routine Writing. If the Routine Writing is done for the week (usually by Wednesday), I write on my bigger projects (paid writing gigs, guest posts, or my Big Goal project). I make sure to write first thing because this is when my brain is freshest. After I get to 1,000 words or have finished what I was writing, I stop writing and head to my email.

When I check email, I catch up on it (remember, I use to keep all of my subscriptions in one place, so the only emails in my inbox are ones I need to take action on). I try very hard to just handle what’s there, reply when needed, and file everything else. If the email is a reminder to do some specific action, I add it to my list and archive the email (so I can find it later if I need it, but so that my inbox does not become a To Do list in competition with my own To Do list).

Project Time
After email, it’s Project Time. Often this involves client sessions, catching up on the Starship forum (I read every post there and answer any questions), editing what I wrote, planning my content calendar, creating a class, updating the site, researching, or scheduling social media. I try to have at least two or three Pomodoro sessions without email or distractions for Project Time.

Now the fact is that almost no week is “normal”. I teach classes all over North Carolina, which often involves a good bit of travel time. I occasionally have client sessions earlier in the day. If the Starship is Boarding, I’m in my inbox constantly – personally welcoming every new member as soon as they pay. Each quarter I set aside a whole day to plan the coming three months.
But thinking of my time in these two categories helps me be sure my week is balanced and I’m getting both time to write the consistent stuff and to work on the bigger projects. Before I started partitioning my time up like this, my weekly writing and emails were taking over every workday, ensuring I didn’t get much done towards the bigger projects.

When it comes to actually focusing during the work time, I’ve got a few hacks:

  1. I find the most important thing for this very moment and either write it down or if it’s already written down, I circle it, star it or do whatever it takes to say to my brain: work exclusively on this.
  2.  If I find myself getting distracted (ex, the other day I suddenly really needed to look up this song), I set my Pomodoro timer and do nothing else during the next 25 minutes.
  3.  I play music in my earbuds constantly. Embarrassingly pop-y, shallow music. It’s important that it has a driving beat (I type to the beat) and that I can bop my head to it and that I already know all the words. This is my best list, but right now (as I write this) I’m listening to Spotify’s Throwback Thursday list. This is vital to my productivity because it keeps my chattering brain busy so my think-y brain can think and write. (Jay likes to listen to sports radio while he works because his chattering brain likes words.)
  4. I close all other tabs (If I’m leaving a tab open because I want to read something, I save it to Pocket.). I write in 750words, because it’s just blank and I love to see my word count.

And that’s it!

I’d love to hear from you – how do you get stuff done?


Make 2015 Awesome.

Make 2015 Awesome

I am getting super excited about the end of the year. I love using the next few weeks as an opportunity to hit pause on everything for a minute (remember, you have permission to take time off) and look at what happened in this last year, and what I want to happen in 2015. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the biggest lessons of 2014 via email, so (in the last blog post of the year!) I want to talk about how to make 2015 awesome – how to be sure that next year at this time, you’re going to feel great about what unfolded.



As I’m always reminding you, you can build your business to be whatever you want – you get to define your own success.
But that’s not where it ends. After you define success for yourself, you have to boil it down to what that will look like – the specifics of it – and start taking action to actually getting it. Action that is directly going to impact your goal.

As you’re planning your New Year, keep these things in mind:

Review the last year first.

List what worked and what didn’t. Celebrate your successes and ask yourself: What actions made that happen? Let go of what didn’t work. (In Chart Your Stars, which you’ll get in both Lift Off + the Starship, the most popular activity we do is releasing the regrets of last year- forgiving yourself and choosing to move on is powerful.) Enumerate the lessons you’ve learned (I’m sharing my lessons next week, via email). Make a list of what lessons you want to bring with you into the New Year.

Be specific.

Everyone wants more sales or more money or “growth.” What does that look like in your specific business? This is where you’re going to take what you learned while reviewing your year, and build on it. If you made 50 sales last year and you want to grow – how many sales do you want to make this year? If you want to write a book, how you will you do it (self-publish? book proposal to traditional publisher? something else)?

Find your reason.

Why do you want this? For things you truly want, you can usually answer this question swiftly, with multiple answers. Knowing your why will keep you motivated, even when things get hard. It will inspire in you another way of fulfilling that deeper desire, when a goal doesn’t work out. For example, you want to make more money because you want your business to be profitable, because you want it to….pay some bills? Allow you to go to a movie? Contribute to your dream house? How else could you get that?

Pick a focus.

If you listed 500 things you wanted to do in 2015 – that’s fine! But in order to make progress on any of them, you’re going to need to pick one or two to really focus on in the next three months. You can start anywhere – I always tell explorers to pick the thing they are most enthusiastic about, no matter how crazy it might seem. After you choose a destination for your next quarter, you’ll break it down into individual steps, so that you can take an action every day to get closer to your goal. (We do this step by step in the Map Making Guide – which is free in Lift Off and the Starship).

You may find, as you go through this process, that what you thought you wanted actually…isn’t. Maybe you’ll come up with an easier or more obvious way of reaching your definition of success. Maybe you’ll realize that you don’t have any reasons, and you’re only doing this because you think you “should.” No matter what the results are, be encouraged and keep going until you have some goals and ideas you are truly enthusiastic about!

If you’d like to do all of the above in a guided workshop, surrounded by a community of encouragers – beam aboard the Starship! It is now open to new members!

Permission to take time off

Permission to take time off


By listener-demand, this week we’re talking about taking time off, and I give you a giant permission slip: You ARE allowed to take time off, no matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where your business is!

Listen in for: 

  • Your Permission Slip
  • Why you have a hard time taking time off
  • How to get comfortable with breaks in your business

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).
  • Get all the blog posts, email lessons + podcast episodes in your inbox, subscribe via email.

Find all the podcast episodes here.



What it takes to go on vacation

What it takes to go on vacation

Last month, I took off a whole week off from work to visit my family, celebrate my brother’s graduation, and enjoy my husband’s only vacation all year.

But I gotta be honest: even writing that sentence makes me nervous. I want to give you a zillion excuses, reasons, and explanations. I want to point all the times I traveled and didn’t take time off. I want to tell you how crazy I worked before we left. I want to tell you that I still answered work emails while I was gone.

I want to do all this because, for many of us, we feel weird, guilty, or unworthy of taking time off. It’s a combination of our emotional attachment to work and producing AND the realities of what it means for our business.

Tomorrow in the podcast we’re going to talk about the emotional stuff and how to give yourself permission to take time off, but today I want to talk about the practical side of it. HOW do you actually take time off? How do you step away from your business without it all falling apart?

The answer is: Systems.

Now, “systems” might sound serious, but they can be simple. Think of it like this: in order to take time off, you need to know what gets done in a normal week in your business, and either get it done ahead of time, or create a plan for catching up when you return.

For me, this meant that I wrote blog posts and emails and recorded podcast episodes ahead of time. I got all caught up on Starship posts and let them know that I wouldn’t be in the forums for a week. I let all my collaborators know I wouldn’t be working on our projects or replying to my emails while I was gone. I got all the recently ordered books out the door and created an email draft I could send to any new orders, to let them know their book would ship in a week. (Most items in the shop are digital products which are delivered automatically, which means I don’t have to be online to make it happen.)

I knew what to do because I know what I have to do in a normal week. I have a content calendar that I plan about a month in advance and I have a marketing calendar (in the same doc) with important dates noted. I know the time I spend writing, emailing, answering Starship posts, and all the other tiny things that happen in a week.

But you can see how taking time off becomes completely impossible if you don’t know what you need to do in a week to keep your business moving. If you’ve never looked at the underlying structure of your days and your business, you won’t know what’s important (and what can wait). If you just handle the urgent stuff that comes at you, not only can you not take time off, but you also can’t grow or change or shift your business around.

Your systems might be:

  • What and how much product you make each week
  • How you handle incoming orders (labeling, printing, shipping)
  • When you do your numbers
  • How you connect with potential buyers (marketing)
  • Scheduling social media

If you’re hoping to take time off for the holidays (which I heartily recommend!), start with this: list what you do in a normal week. Star the things that you want to be consistent with while you’re away (like your communication with your customers: blogging, social media, email list) and the things you can get “ahead” on (production and working on projects). Note the things that can wait a week.

Now, make a plan with what you’re going to add to THIS week, so you can take time off for the holidays.

A system can be that simple, and the more you pay attention to them and improve them, the easier it becomes to take time off, whether it’s for fun or an emergency.Learn how to build these systems (and get time off) in Lift Off. It closes on December 31st, so if you’re going to take the holidays off, sign up now.

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