Ready to reach your goals faster?
There’s no better feeling than planning and setting big goals to grow your online business—it’s part of being an entrepreneur!
The challenge is actually following through with those big plans and accomplishing the tasks you need to reach your goals. And if you’ve ever struggled to hit your goals, you probably know it can get pretty discouraging.
I’ve totally been there. Productivity isn’t easy for entrepreneurs, especially when you constantly have a long list of new ideas and tasks to distract you. But my team implemented one strategy that’s changed the game for us, and I’m super excited to share it with you today.
This simple strategy is helping us get more done, create more wins, and get more excited about work because we’re consistently hitting our goals. If you’re ready to do the same for your business, let’s get started!
Setting Goals for Your Business
Let’s chat about where freelancer goals usually go wrong.
We usually think of goal planning on a yearly basis so that’s how we start to map things out. First, we figure out which big goal we want to hit for the year. Once we know what that big goal is, we break it down into four quarterly goals.
That gives us about 90 days at a time to work on whatever projects will help us hit our goals.
Let’s be honest y’all, 90 days for an entrepreneur is a lifetime! A lot can happen in 90 days and if we’re working on a project during that time frame, there’s a good chance we get a little bit of Shiny Object Syndrome happening.
That means before we can complete a project, we’re already onto the next great idea. Then we get to the end of our 90 days and the result is a bunch of projects we started… and maybe one is finished.
So, we didn’t hit our goal and we’re frustrated.
Then we do that four times and by the end of the year, we have a stack of incomplete projects that we started but never fully executed. It’s exhausting, frustrating, and the fast path to burnout. How do businesses improve productivity?
Today, I’m going to share some productivity tips for entrepreneurs to help you change the narrative of how you plan your weeks, days, quarters, and years.
This is something my team and I have implemented that we absolutely love! We went from having a ton of undone projects to fully completed projects.
It’s also something that a lot of our students have implemented in their businesses. Not only are they seeing so much more progress, but most importantly, they’re seeing more wins. And the best part?
When we’re winning in our business, we’re more likely to stick it out and have true longevity in our business.
That’s what I want for you, my friend. I want you to accomplish everything you’re already set out to do!
Note: I did not come up with this strategy. The planning tool that I’m about to share with you comes from Basecamp. They published a book about how the Basecamp team works in dev cycles to get more done—it’s very much a software thing but I’ve seen how it can work for any type of business or team.
They use 6-week cycles and 8-week cycles to work on projects. And the cool thing about using these cycles is that you don’t have to wait for the start of a new quarter. You can start this tomorrow if you want.
So, how do 6-week cycles work in your business? Let’s get to it!
Set a Date on Your Calendar
First off, you’re going to take a look at your calendar and figure out which day you want to start your next project.
What we’re going to do is count out 8 weeks from that start day. Once you’ve counted out that timeframe, then you’ll label each week (Week 1, Week 2, etc.) up until the last 2 weeks.
Here’s how it works: we have 6 weeks to work on our projects and then two weeks where we’re cooling down. The last 2 weeks are what we call Cooldown Weeks, so you’ll label both of those weeks in your calendar accordingly.
We have cooldown weeks to give us some wiggle room. For instance, we sometimes get sick, go on vacation, or we just need some extra time to tie up loose ends to wrap up our project. But most importantly, we plan for our next 6-week cycle during the cooldown.
So, how the heck do you decide what you’re working on during a cycle?
You might be thinking, “But Brandi, I have client work to finish!” This 6-week cycle isn’t the only work you’re going to have. But what it does is tackle one BIG project that you need to get done—and that is powerful.
Productivity Tips for Freelancers
As business owners, we have a bazillion tasks on our plate on any given day.
And when you’re freelancing, it can be really easy to prioritize client work before working on growing your own business.
And I get it!
But then we get trapped in this mode where we’re thinking, “Oh my goodness, I’m so exhausted. I need to get my ClickUp setup and my Dubsado systems in place. I’ve got to work on my website.”
You have all of these projects to finish. What typically happens is you’re either not working on any of them—or you’re working on all three of them at the same time. And this gets super frustrating.
Especially when nothing is complete. But that’s where the 6-week cycle comes in—you sit down and take the time to plan which project you’re going to tackle.
Instead of juggling five different projects at once, you’re going to think about which one will make the biggest impact on your business first.
So, maybe that’s getting your CRM set up, like Honeybook or Dubsado (affiliate link). But here’s the most important part. After you set your project goal, you’re going to put it into your project management software and assign a date to it.
Let’s say you need to get your HoneyBook set up. So, what steps does that involve?
The first step is probably setting up your onboarding process. Inside my ClickUp, I’m going to put that task in there to tackle my onboarding process. Then I’m also going to list the other project tasks: offboarding process, client communication, proposal templates, design work, and tech.
Under each task, you’re going to assign a date for when you’re going to finish them. So, if it’s a proposal, what are the things that have to go into creating your proposal templates in HoneyBook?
For instance, you’ll have to write the copy and then you’ll need to design them.
(By the way, if you’re using HoneyBook or Dubsado, I have 2 programs that will help you knock out that project! Check out Delighted With Dubsado and HoneyBook in a Hurry for more details.)
The truth is your CRM setup shouldn’t take 6 weeks. But the reason we want to keep this to one project is that it might involve a lot of moving parts. Maybe you need to do your proposals, get your pricing set up, add your contract in there, and write all of your canned emails.
So, you want to put a date on when you’re going to do everything in your ClickUp (or whatever project management tool you use).
Once this project is assigned in your ClickUp, it’s already planned. Your CRM setup is the big 6-week project you’re going to get done. Then when you’re cooling down from that project, you’ll move on to planning the next project.
The best part? When you get through the year, you’ll have all these amazing completed projects! You’ll be making forward movement in your business instead of sitting in a constant state of overwhelm—and not knowing what to do next to move your business forward.
But I know a lot of freelancers have course businesses too. If you’re a course creator, you might be wondering how to use 6-week cycles in your business.
Productivity Tips for Course Creators
Let’s say you’re a course or membership creator and you want to offer a paid workshop.
That paid workshop is your 6-week project. First, you’re going to break down all of the tasks that are involved in hosting a paid workshop.
Here’s how I would break that down:
- Admin surveys
- Workshop content
- Organic promotion
- Hub build
- Sales page
- Email sequence
- Funnel flows
Each of those tasks will also have subtasks. And the most important part is every single task has a date assigned to it.
Because as I like to say, if it doesn’t have a date, it doesn’t get done. That means I’m going to assign the date for when I’m going to do it—not the day when it’s due.
Also, that paid workshop is one project. I don’t have any more projects than that in my business, because it’s the one project that I’m working on for the next 6 weeks.
Now, my team members also have projects. If you have a team, you can assign them a project or you can let them choose a project. For example, if that person is working on email deliverability for their 6-week cycle, that’s their sole focus in terms of a project.
That doesn’t mean your team member isn’t doing their daily tasks, like answering emails, scheduling Facebook group posts, or payment recovery. They’re still handling the normal responsibilities, but that email deliverability project is the one business project that the person is working on.
So, how do these tasks fit into your day?
How to Find Time for Your Business
Okay, so you know what project you’re working on for the next 6 weeks. Where do you find the time to actually do the dang thing?
What I see happen a lot is freelancers have these big projects in mind that they’re working on. But they treat them as a bunch of little tasks to get done instead of knocking it out as a whole project.
For example, a lot of my students say they need to set up their ClickUp system. But then they don’t break it down into a project. The reason why these 6-week cycles are so helpful is that you’re giving yourself enough time to get it done and take action.
You might be thinking, “It doesn’t take me 6 weeks to set up my ClickUp.” And you’re right about that. But here’s the thing, I’d rather you overestimate how much time it’s going to take you to finish a project.
Let’s say you finish your ClickUp setup in 4 weeks.
Amazing! Then you have 2 more weeks in that cooling period to pick up some other small project and start planning how you’ll get the next one done.
That right there is going to be so much more productive than underestimating how much time you need to finish setting up your ClickUp systems—and going into your 2-week cooldown without even getting close to being done because you bit off more than you can chew.
(Which we’ve all done before!)
So, when we’re mapping out our cycles we have to look at a project and be realistic. Ask yourself, “Can I do this?” Is this something that I can honestly complete in the next 6 weeks?”
And if it’s not, then let’s halve the project.
For instance, I revamped my Serve Scale Soar® membership program last year. It was a huge project that took way longer than 6 weeks to finish. So, we broke it down into smaller projects, like building the hub was one cycle and re-filming was another cycle.
Let me tell you, that made it so much more achievable.
It’s way more achievable than thinking that we can do everything in 6 weeks. And then we get frustrated because nothing’s getting done. We want to set ourselves up to win and win more. And the way you do that is to break things down into smaller bite-sized pieces.
When you work on projects in bite-sized tasks, it’s normal to think, “I’m not moving far enough or fast enough.” But the thing is, you’ll probably get way more done working with one 6-week project than everything you’ve been previously doing in 12 months.
Keep in mind, it did not go smoothly the first time we did this. It’s taken us several cycles to really get in a flow. But now it’s totally changed how we run a business and takes a lot of stress off our plates.
How to Improve Productivity in a Business (When You Have Too Many Ideas)
Now, if you’re thinking, “But Brandi, I have all these ideas!”
I hear you, my friend. We have a home for all those ideas inside our team ClickUp. So, whenever anyone comes up with an idea for Brandi & Company, we pop it into that list.
For example, this list might include a page on our website that needs to be updated. Maybe we need to update some of the Facebook guides we have in our programs because the platform changed. I have my YouTube channel on that list.
We write down all of our ideas. If it’s important, this idea may become a project when we go to tackle our 6-week planning. Or maybe it’s not as important or I’m not as interested in that idea anymore.
It doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, but every idea won’t necessarily make sense for our business right now. We often run off to start a project without prioritizing if they really fit our current business goals.
So, I would encourage you to do 2 things right now in your project management planner:
Whether you use ClickUp, Asana, Trello, or another tool—start with making an Ideas Board. This board will become the place for you to dump all your ideas for your business.
Then start a 6-week cycle and focus on ONE of those ideas. The best thing you can do is take time to break down all the steps and assign dates for when you’re going to do them. Remember, you’ll want to space this out week-by-week for the entire cycle, so you know exactly what you’re working on every week.
Now, it might take some time to get this process down…
But if you get your ideas written down and avoid biting off more than you can chew, I promise you this strategy is a game changer!
I can’t wait to hear how it changes your business and helps you become a more productive entrepreneur.
Want to listen to the episode on the podcast as well? CLICK HERE to listen.