Ep. 93 Focus on the right things

focus right things

In today’s episode, Anna looks at why getting clear on your priorities is so critical to make sure you’re getting results in your business, and freeing up time for everything else that matters so that you can focus on the right things.

When we talk about getting clear on your priorities in business, it’s easy to think, “Oh, I don’t have time to take a step back and look at my strategy. I’ve got so much to do….” And that’s a dangerous place to be in. I think if you’re resonating with that, if you’re thinking, “Anna, there’s no point, I can’t right now, I’ve got to just get all this done,” then that is the exact moment when you do really need to take a step back and look at what your priorities really are.

Why is this so important, especially in the context of work-life integration? Well, getting clear on your priorities means that you’re focusing on the right things, the things that will actually create movement and generate the most results from the least amount of work. It also means that you’ll be clear on what is *not* a priority and that is so important. It also means that you can focus on what you have to do, and want to do, to make a real difference in your business.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

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Focus on the right things

Transcript:

Hello, hello. And welcome back as we continue to explore the topic of flexible work-life integration, designing a business and a career that allows you to balance, manage, prioritise all the different things in your life, get results without burning out, without compromising your health and relationships and so on. And this week, I want to talk about getting clear on your priorities. And this is something where we think, “Oh, I don’t have time to take a step back and look at my strategy. I’ve got so much to do. I just have to do, do, do.” And I think that’s a dangerous place to be in. I think if you’re resonating with that, if you’re thinking, “Anna, there’s no point, I can’t right now, I’ve got to just get this done for the deadline,” that is the exact moment when you do really need to take a step back and look at what your priorities really are.

Now of course, if you have a deadline for tonight or tomorrow morning, or for a client very urgently, you’re heading off on holiday or whatever it is, then, by all means, do that and then take some time later on, but do sooner rather than later book some time in your calendar. And in fact, there should be regular time on your calendar every week, probably at least every month to review your strategy and your priorities.

Why is this so important? Why is it important to get clear on your priorities and in particular, in the context of this idea of work-life integration? Well, getting clear on your priorities means that you’re focusing on the right things. It’s the things that will actually create movement, create results and you’re going to get the most results from the least amount of work. And while I’m not quite in the Tim Ferriss four hour work week zone, I certainly think that we all want to be working less rather than more. And the way to do that is to be super clear on what it is we want to be doing, what it is we need to be doing and then focus the time we are working on those things. Get the most bang for your buck, I guess. Get the most results from the least amount of work.

It also means that you’ll be clear on what is not a priority and that is so important.

I was just talking again this week in the business incubator about the importance of learning to say no. If it’s not a priority, scrap it. At least put it on some kind of someday, maybe in the future list if that makes you feel better. But really honestly, if it’s not a priority, get rid of it. There’s plenty of other priorities to be coming.

It also means that you can focus on what you have to do, what you have to do as the CEO. And I know if you’re just one person in your company, that seems strange, but you are the expert. You’re the leader. You’re the main content creator, service deliverer person and there are certain things that you have to do, you want to do, you love doing and that’s the core of your business or your passion, skillset, zone of genius, whatever. There are other things that can be delegated. If they are priorities, you can’t quite scrap them, but also it’s not something strictly speaking that you should be doing, then you can identify those pieces of your strategy and delegate them to somebody else. And of course all of this means that you can free up time to spend on your other priorities in life and to take care of yourself, which by the way is a priority as well.

If you agree that it’s important to get clear on your priorities, how do we do that? Well, three different levels really. The first one, and you know me by now, I’m going to tell you that you need to know your definition of success. That’s the big picture. What do you want from life? It’s the meaning of life question. It’s really right now, the next year, the next few years, whatever, what is important to you? Are you building your business so that you can create freedom in order to be able to travel the world? Or have a young family? Are you actually maybe wanting to meet somebody? You’re single and really your personal life actually is taking priority right now? Or you’ve got little kids and, and again, that’s the priority over hustling away in your business and so on? The big picture vision for your life, what is it you’re actually trying to achieve? And what is the order of priority right now?

I know it’s really hard to go one, two, three, kids, partner, business or whatever that is, but try to think. Try to get a bit of clarity there because it helps so much in terms of making that call. If you are working late into the night and thinking, hang on, I’m doing too much, what can be delayed a little bit? Big picture of what’s important.

The next level, I guess, is your business strategy.

I’m going to dive into this a bit more, but of course, you need to know, okay, what is my strategy right now? Or what is the priority? Am I trying to get my name out there? Have I already got my name out there and I’ve got lots of people coming, but I’m not yet converting so I need to work on engaging people, nurturing, following up and that kind of thing? What is the stage of the funnel, I guess that would be important for you to focus on right now?

And finally, use the big picture vision of success and also the business strategy to check in every week, every day and make sure you’re focusing on the right things again. You may have heard me or someone else talk about Pareto’s 80/20 principle,:generally 20% of your work, your clients, your projects, whatever, is generating 80% of your results. Really getting clear on, hang on, what are the activities I’m doing in my business? What are the clients and projects and so on that are actually making the biggest difference? And then scrapping the rest. And that’s true in terms of content too. Maybe you’re active on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook everywhere, but 90% or let’s say 80%, according to Pareto, of your clients are coming from, let’s say Facebook. In that case, probably the other channels can be a little bit deprioritized.

Then reviewing where you’re actually spending your time each day, each week, because probably often, our daily activities are not aligned with our priorities.

The classic example that I often give is, I want to write, I want to publish a book, but am I ever actually working on that book? No, because I’m constantly creating content for my social media, I’m working, of course, to deliver content for clients, I’m doing all sorts of other things. And so if you’ve got a priority like that, which is really key for you for fulfilment, for financial reasons or whatever it is that needs to be on your agenda. It needs to on your to-do list, but also in your calendar, if not every day, then certainly every week.

Likewise, I’ve said several times, if my priority is to get my name out in the media, I need to be reaching out to the media every week and that’s something that doesn’t necessarily happen because it’s a new thing. I’m adding to my plate on top of work and I’m already doing. Review where you’re actually spending your time each day, each week and make sure that does align with the priorities I’ve identified.

And then you can really examine your to-do list and see what is a must-do. Strictly speaking, most of the things on there can be delayed. They will be anyway so you might as well make an intentional choice. I use Asana and Asana is sort of an online task list, planning software, I guess, which is free. There’s another version called Trello and other company. And you have basically today, tomorrow and later. And as you can imagine, today tends to be the one, the way I’m using it at the moment today is full of stuff. And that’s not a very productive way of doing it. I do have a good system and I have repeat tasks and I’m pretty clear on what’s the priority. And I also use my calendar, but obviously putting everything as a today, putting everything as a priority one, means that nothing is a priority so that’s no good.

Big picture definition of success, business strategy and then what are your weekly and daily priorities? And I wanted to look a little bit more as to, okay, if you are starting out in your business, what are the things that you should be focusing on? Because of course, that’s the question. I can’t tell you what your definition of success is. And I won’t tell you what your priorities right now are, but I can ask you a few questions and also suggest some things that probably should be on your priority list if you are just starting out in your business.

And the first one is, of course, to look at your strategy, I’m all for being a lean startup and agile and learning by doing and so on but I’m still very much a big believer in having a sound business strategy and a plan. In my programmes, we always start with developing that business model, the one-page business plan, so that you have at least a basic overview of how your business is going to work before you start with anything else. You know, okay, this is where I need to spend money. This is how I’m going to get clients. This is the key message I need to put out there and so on. These are who my key clients are and so on. Of course, your strategy will evolve as you go so keep that front and centre and you can refine it when you see what works and what doesn’t.

But if you don’t have a business plan yet, please do develop something and I can help you with that, of course.

You can get in touch with me to book a call, onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation. I also had an episode a while back on business plans, business models so do check that one out as well.

But the kind of questions you need to answer are: Who’s your ideal client? What is the main problem you solve for that client? What makes you credible in solving that problem? How will you reach your ideal client with your message? How will you get your ideal client to buy from you? Essentially it’s sort of who is your client? Having that understanding. What messages that you want them to get from you, how are you going to put across that and how will you then get them to buy from you? It’s essentially that funnel of how you’re going to reach them, how will you engage with them, nurture them and then ultimately, how will you convert them as it were? And again, this is something that we should be reviewing regularly. But if you don’t have that yet, do you please start with the strategy for your business. And again, we can book a call together and discuss that if it’s something you don’t have yet, onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation.

Now, again, that’s the basic strategy and each of your strategies will be slightly different. However, I wager and again, I want to recommend one thing that should be on everybody’s strategy is to start building an audience because the reality is and I’m sure I’ve said this many times, you cannot simply just go, “Hey, I’m a coach. I’ve got this product. Buy my graphic design service,” one day and expect the clients to come flooding in. It may seem obvious, but I can guarantee you and I’m holding up my hand here that I sort of did this when I first became a coach. A lot of us forget that basic fact. People need to know that we exist, they need to connect with us and our message, they need to like us, like our personality and style, get to know us, of course, and then they need to learn to trust us. To really understand, okay, we’re a credible person or business, we can deliver what we say we can deliver. Know, like and trust is really key.

And it takes time so you need to start right now and you need to be doing things in your business, in your content, in your marketing, to help people get to know, like and trust you every day, every week. And that means putting your ideas, putting your expertise, putting your content in front of your ideal client and then finding a way to engage with him or her. Of course, when you’re first starting out, you probably want a website. Hopefully, you have that by now, but that’s going to be your hub. It’s the platform that you already own a 100%, the destination you want to get everyone to eventually. If you’re really starting out, just start simple, don’t overthink it, get something out there, but you will ultimately be refining this many, many times.

If you had a website for a while, then go through, review, make sure the navigation is clear. Make sure there’s a really clear message. If someone lands on that, what’s the one key message you want them to have? What are your packages? Is that really clear? How can I work with you? That’s one of the key messages you probably should have there. And what’s the next step? What’s the call to action? Should I book a call with you? Should I send you a message via your contact form? Should I just sign up to a email list? What’s the call to action? What’s the key message? What are you trying to actually get across to them? And what’s the next step?

Choosing your channels, of course. You can’t be everywhere. You may be intimidated sometimes when you see other people, I certainly am. And I’ve layered on over time so I have now the podcast and the book and Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, I even have TikTok now a little bit that I’m playing around with. And if you’re just starting out, that can seem, my goodness, how can I ever do all those channels? And so start with one or two channels where you want to focus. Are you a strong writer? then maybe choose a platform like Medium or LinkedIn to write articles. I am more visual? Try Instagram. If you’re comfortable in video and you probably should start to get more comfortable because it’s such a key, such a powerful medium, you can then try YouTube, Facebook Live, Instagram Live and so on. Thinking about what you’re comfortable with and of course also where your ideal client is present. And then you just need to start putting yourself out there.

You can start slow. You can start by commenting, engaging on other people’s posts and sharing other people’s content and so on and then gradually you can start creating your own content as you begin to feel more confident. But again, start small and rather start building the audience now because it will take away longer than you think. You should be doing something every day, every week that is putting your name out there and building an audience.

Something that maybe you might not think of right away, that should be on your priority. And I apologise for using the word should, I’m not a big fan of the word should, but I encourage you to have these things on your priority list, is to learn from other people. Immersing yourself in this topic, this industry that you’re moving into, maybe can do wonders for building your expertise, your confidence. Surround yourself with people who are doing what you’re doing or want to be doing. Conferences, virtual or real events, listen to podcasts. You’re listening to this one so you’re doing well already. Maybe follow one or two people. Don’t as I did, when I started out, sign up to 20 different so called gurus and get completely confused. You can also go old school and read lots of books. I love books.

Now, you don’t want to get overwhelmed by all the information that’s out there.

As I said, when I was sort of signed up to hundreds of people, then that is quite overwhelming and distracting. If you’re starting out, it’s great to have that initial exploration, but then it can be helpful to draw back a bit and focus on what you’ve decided to do so that you don’t get distracted by what everyone else is doing. Choose one person to follow. For example, if my message really resonates with you, I’m a few steps ahead of you in the process, you’re looking to leave your job or build your business up to full time income, then maybe follow me for a while and learn what you can from me, from free materials. Ultimately, paying to work with me perhaps in a group programme or one to one and then when you’re ready, you can always move on to someone else or you want to learn something else, then you can find someone else.

But learning really needs to be a priority that we’re doing. And that goes for any level of our business. I’m continuing and people who are way ahead of me, I hope are definitely trying to continue to learn, to stay on the cutting edge of what they’re doing. Of course in my case, you’ve got my podcast. You can join my Facebook group. You can go to onestepoutside.com/community. You can subscribe on YouTube if you like the video format. There are lots of different ways in which you can engage with me and sign up to the email list and so on.

Now, something else to think about in terms of priorities is to balance your long-term vision with your short term needs. And I’ve realised that this is one of the hardest things. Both when you’re starting out again, and when you’ve been in your business for a while, but it is so important because you’ve got this big vision, you’re trying to make decisions and take actions that either building a long term brand when it comes to business or allowing you ultimately to live this dream life that you’ve envisioned for yourself, but you do also have short term needs. And those short term needs usually are financial, bringing in money either via your current full time job or via perhaps consulting, freelancing, contracting, as you build and grow your business.

Other priorities as well, taking care of a family crisis, getting over a cold or hopefully not COVID or something more serious, the flu. And it’s so easy to neglect the actions that are needed to move you closer to your long-term goals, those important, but not urgent tasks that are going to allow you to quit your job, shift your focus towards your true passion and make those big changes in your life. And the problem, of course, is if you don’t take action towards those long-term goals, if you just focus on your immediate needs, you’re going to be stuck where you are today and never going to reach those goals. Make sure that when you’re looking at your priorities or keeping your eye on that bigger vision, but also obviously having to put out some fires in the immediate short term.

And then it’s key, of course, to be taking consistent action on these priorities.

Review your priorities. Don’t reinvent the wheel every day, but check in in the morning, in the evening, whenever it works for you, Friday morning, not Friday morning, Friday afternoon, Sunday evening, Monday morning, whatever time of the week you feel like, okay, I’m really going to look now at my plan ahead and see where should I be spending my time? That can really help you to not go all crazy on some kind of new project that gets you all excited, the shiny object syndrome, or have a massive peak of enthusiasm and then do nothing for weeks and so on. The magic comes when you’re taking consistent action towards those priorities in the face of all those other temptations and distractions. And that’s when you’re going to see the results. And by the way, taking action, even when you don’t see results is very tricky as well.

I’ll stop there. We’re at sort of the 15-minute mark, but a few ideas there, I guess, as to how you can get clear on your priorities and how you can make sure you’re focusing on those. Again, big picture success for you. What is your big vision? What are the big building blocks in your life and business right now? Looking at your business strategy to make sure that, okay, my focus now is to get my name out there. That means that I need to be every day, getting my name out there, whatever that looks like for you concretely. And in fact, again, building that audience is going to be a priority for all of you really when you’re first starting out as it is for me, by the way, as I’m growing. Learning should be on there as well. And then consider also that balancing the long term goals or the short term needs. And again, checking in to see that you’re taking consistent action towards your goals.

Hope that was useful. Again, you can get in touch to book a call that onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation, to review your strategy, to help you get a strategy in place if you don’t already have one and to make that you are focusing on the things that are going to make the biggest difference for you, so you can get the results that you want. Again, and we’re talking remember, in the context of work-life integration, we’re talking about working less, freeing up time and energy for all the other things and people in our life that are so important.

Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.

If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Up-level with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate

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