I can never forget the first several months of 2016. It was a life changing experience for me.
It started out pretty good….set out to vacation in Florida for 10 days with my family. I had high hopes for getting lots done on my business while I was away. That was a lovely goal except I was sick on day one with a mild sniffle and nasty cough. The cough kept me every night and the mild cold turned into a full fledged cold. Each day I set my intention to do a little bit of “catching up” of work before most of the family got up and started their day.
How often did that work out?
Did I feel guilty? You bet.
Even though I was on vacation, I told myself you still have time to respond to emails, social media posts, etc. I just never felt well enough to devote time to that. We were looking at colleges the majority of the time away and I felt it was important to put my energy towards that. It was one of those big life events for my high school junior and I didn’t want to miss a step of it. I needed to have energy to devote to all aspects of this process so of course my energy went to my child that was thinking about moving 1800 miles away from home. But, as an entrepreneur, I found myself caught in this trap of must always be working, doing, furthering, etc.
The universe had other lessons for me to learn.
We finished our journey along Florida’s Gulf Coast successfully but. When we arrived home, I was going to hit the ground running and dive back into work and change lives!
Then….the universe spoke.
It said, “Christine, you my friend, are in for a treat.”
The next several months brought me to my knees. Oh heavens. I have never EVER been so sick in my life. The very next day after our return home, I was hit with the flu. Not the 24 bug where you nearly immediately see light at the end of the tunnel kind of flu. Oh no, it was the 5 days of please oh please let me die kind of flu. Every cell hurt, every hair on my body was pained by people being in the same room. That was dreadful.
Of course it wasn’t just me. Three out of five of us had the flu simultaneously.
Life lesson #1 Stock Ginger Ale and/or real ginger in your home at all times. You’re welcome.
When everyone else was getting better, I noticed that I wasn’t. Usually I am the one rallying around everyone, making sure there really is enough ginger ale in the house, but it just wasn’t happening.
Then the next diagnosis came. Pneumonia.
I actually said to the doctor, “I don’t have time for this.” That seemed to seal the deal. I was the sickest I had ever been in my life.
Life Lesson #2: Don’t tease the Universe about how much time you DON’T have to deal with whatever it hands you because it will give you more opportunity to see how much time you really have.
The first round of meds did nothing. In a matter of ten days I had gone to the doctor or specialist five times. Nothing was working. I could barely breathe. I had no energy. None whatsoever. All I could focus on was shifting from one side of the pillow to the other. Even that was taxing on my body. I would get out of breath sitting up. Of course I wasn’t even thinking about business at this point. Just surviving.
Then panic set in. I began to think about all of the things I hadn’t done for my business. All of the emails never sent. All of the social media posts I never posted. All of the articles I didn’t share. I had not done nothing to further my business in nearly three weeks.
Relief followed quickly when I realized that actually, I had. Before I traveled I created an automated email responder explaining my absence and that I would return their email as soon as I was able to. I had set up social media posts before I even went on my trip and they were being published on schedule. I set up articles to share periodically using an automated service so that I wouldn’t even have to worry about it.
Even cancelling my appointments was a breeze because I had created standard template emails in case of an event like this. Brilliant. All the work was done. I just had to plug things in and let the system run itself.
With Automation, you no longer have to feel the guilt of not doing enough.
Because of Automation my business survived without me being at the realm 24/7. I no longer felt guilty about not attending to my business. I WAS doing something to move it forward. Did it take a bit of a hit? You bet! It was nothing that I couldn’t recover from though easily because I was still on course with customer and client connection in social media and I was still navigating my plan. All while initiating self-care as I took care of my sickly butt.
These four concepts, Initiating Self-Care, Create Unique Connections, Automation and Navigate Your Plan are the four productivity pillars that I feel so passionately about. So passionate, I wrote a book about them! [You can check it out HERE].
Automation (which is what we are focusing on this week) has a HUGE impact on whether or not your business is successful. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel on systems or processes for your business unless that system or process evolves. If you have done something once, whether it is an standard email, a phone message, or a data gathering sheet, you should be automating it.
With automation you are helping to accumulate more time in your day to do other things like spend time with clients, or your family or…yourself!
These are a Few of My Favorite Automation Tools:
Time Management and To Do’s
- PAPER – Nothing beats a piece of paper and a pencil. I use a clipboard to house all of my daily tasks that are not recurring. Quite often I will write down my recurring ones on the bottom of the paper so that I can have all of my to dos on one page and so that I can clear my To Doist schedule for the day.
- ONLINE – Google Calendar app. I swear by this! I rely on this for special dates or events that are recurring. Also, I would be lost without this app for my appointments. The Google Calendar knows all.
- TO Doist.com – My to do list bible. If I have to do a task more than once, it goes in here. Seasonal to dos, Birthday/holiday gifts to purchase, etc. This is my to do list mecca.
What is your favorite time management tool? Please share an automation tip that keeps you on track in the comments below.