• Annika Robbins

Updated: Jul 28



Is your current system falling short?


Systems help you manage the never ending flow of business tasks, from billing to communication. It’s likely that you already know the benefits of having a system… you’ve heard the buzzwords… you believe the logic... you may even have the recommended tools in place. But your current system is falling short if you:

  • Don’t use it

  • Don’t know how to use it

  • Never finished setting it up

  • Hop from tool to tool

  • Feel intimidated


Wondering how to close that gap - without wasting time you don’t have?




TAKE THE 5-MINUTE ASSESSMENT💡


After you submit your checklist, I'll look it over and reply with personalized recommendations for your next steps.







Current strengths and weaknesses


A system you don't use is falling short!

The first step to improvement is an honest assessment. To help you identify common strengths and weaknesses, I've created a quick checklist that breaks things down by category.


A great overall system includes tools and processes in all aspects of your business: tasks, clients, communication, finance, content and innovation.





Target a system that sticks


Focused action steps save you time!

The goal is to have a system that’s effective, and tailored to your business. The best way to make that happen is with focused action steps.


It’s easy to waste time in the wide world of systems advice - even accidentally - when you don’t have a clear understanding of where you are and what you need.

By stepping back to assess and set a plan, you’re finally on your way to a system that sticks.



  • Annika Robbins

Updated: Jul 18

This week I'm testing ideas for improving my time management as a stay-at-home entrepreneur.


PREP


Goal: Increased awareness of how I spend my time


Plan: Distraction-free phone • Quit The Bachelor • Daily “stand up” meetings • Evaluate 3 planners • Start tracking capacity • Wear a watch


If you’re watching your weight, it helps to limit calories coming in and increase calories going out. This two-pronged strategy is how I’m thinking about time management, too. I’m hoping to maximize my time spent on stuff I have to but also to prevent my time from leaking out in distraction or unplanned tangents.


For maximizing my time working, I’m trying daily “stand up” meetings where I evaluate what I need to do for the day each morning and make a day-of plan. This is different than what I’ve been doing the last few months, where I tried to plan one week or one quarter in advance.


For preventing time leaking, I’m going to finally, truly, earnestly move toward a distraction-free phone. I waste a ton of time scrolling infinitely, and I don’t even get much out of it, not even rest when I think I’m taking a “break”. I want this to actually stick, so I’m not going cold turkey, but little by little hoping to take back the control on this lame issue.


I am also quitting The Bachelor. No disrespect to Bachelor fans, because I get it. But I recently admitted to myself that spending 2-3 hours each week on that show makes me more frustrated than recharged, so let’s just see if I can’t find a better use of that time.


Finally, for increased time awareness, I’m testing three different physical planners, wearing an actual watch, and logging detailed notes regarding my weekly task capacity all so I have an increased awareness of where my time is going.



MONDAY - FRIDAY


This week felt good. I felt especially on top of things on Tuesday and Friday, and made time throughout the week for networking, chores around the apartment, fancy homemade avocado toast and longer workouts. It’s working well for me to keep the plan small and achievable, with the idea of layering on new things to try as the project continues.


Biggest Wins:

  • Felt more connected with the day’s tasks thanks to daily “stand up” meetings

  • Recognized a sweet, relaxing interaction with my husband as it was happening. Consciously tried to prolong this moment.

  • Epiphany: It takes me time to process things, but I don’t allow space for that and instead constantly cram too much content into my day.

  • Haven’t watched a single episode of The Bachelor

  • Made time for this stuff:




Maximizing my time working:

I’ve been experimenting for a year on the best way to schedule my tasks, something I’m particularly nerdy about due to my background in project management.


This week felt like a breakthrough, where I made time each morning to re-evaluate what I needed to do for the day. Making a plan for the day in the same morning, instead of in advance, allowed for ultimate flexibility, re-prioritizing and realistic expectations. I could definitely write an entire post about this new method, and probably will in the near future. For now, I’ll just say creating a day-of plan helped me feel present and connected to my work, so it was easier to manage my time during execution.


I tried three different physical planners this week, including Design for Mankind, Make Time and Productivity planner. The jury is still out on a favorite, especially since they each have a slightly different focus.



Preventing time leaking:

Guys, I haven’t watched a single episode of The Bachelor this season and I am extremely proud of myself.


I’m not doing as well creating some distance between me and my phone, although I did rearrange a lot of the apps and begin working through a very long, very thorough guide to a distraction-free phone here. Instagram is currently tracking my daily limit at 45 minutes, and I usually hit it, but hopefully I can reduce that amount over the next few weeks.


Increased time awareness:

Well first of all, I keep forgetting to wear a watch, but I still like the idea and I’m hoping I can get back into the habit. It’s a way to increases awareness of how I’m breaking down my time, and add distance from my phone.


Along the same lines, I’ve assumed for a while that I have 40-50 hours each week for real work, and scheduled 40-50 tasks accordingly. Week after week, I fell short of my to do list, and felt frustrated and lazy as a result. Recently I’m thinking the issue is more about understanding my capacity than increasing my productivity.


Capacity is tricky, because you probably need to start with the total hours you’re working each week, and then subtract time for:


  • getting settled at your desk

  • eating meals

  • answering emails

  • filing emails

  • filing receipts

  • prioritizing tasks

  • scheduling meetings

  • capturing notes

  • following up on invoices

  • posting to Instagram

  • unloading the dishwasher

...and other perfectly necessary things that prevent you from making substantial progress on a project.


But this week I started tracking my tasks in a way that should give me a better sense of my actual capacity. It will take a few weeks of data, a spreadsheet, and some color coded tags, so I’m excited to try it and report back.



RECAP


Bottom Line: This week was a promising start toward realistic + sustainable time management.




RESOURCES



Planners:





#productivityproject #timemanagement #entrepreneurs #resources #transparency #energy


  • Annika Robbins

This week I focused on increasing my energy level while working from home


PREP


Goal: Learn the best way to power my day


Plan: Healthy snacks • Daily exercise

• Wake up early • 6 pm unplug


Energy felt like the most urgent category, so week one of my Productivity Project was all about making small adjustments to learn the best way to power my day.


Spoiler: my plan didn’t include any radical ideas or changes, it was basically just a formal opportunity to actually try the stuff you always hear recommended. Eat well, rest, exercise, avoid mindless, infinite scrolling on my phone. A lot of these principles are reinforced in the “Energize” section of Make Time, an awesome new book by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky about how to focus on what matters every day.


So to prepare for the week, I filled my kitchen with ingredients for healthy meals and snacks. Sprouted pumpkin seeds, RX bars, trail mix, green tea, dandelion tea, dried fruit, almonds, popcorn, oranges, radishes, celery, and carrots. Can you tell food is a big deal for me?

I haven’t worked out consistently in a few years, so this week I committed to a light, 20-30 minute workout each day. I knew it wasn’t much, and wouldn’t burn many calories, but it would actually be a huge improvement to my recent set-at-a-desk-at-home-all-day routine.



MONDAY - FRIDAY


I did a decent job of sticking to my plan for the week. I’d even give myself an “A” for effort - although the grade for the week overall is still a lame “B-”.


Biggest Wins:

+ Quiet lunches - no music or television

+ Alternated computer work with short errands + walks in the rain

+ Good variety of healthy snacks

+ Only one weak afternoon looting a gingerbread house?

+ More physical activity than last week


This week called for an excessive amount of copywriting, so while I completed everything I set out to accomplish - maybe a win in itself - I can’t say I felt super energetic throughout the day.

The success for me was more about using these tactics when I felt especially low energy to boost me back to a functioning state to keep working. I realize that doesn’t sound very romantic, and it’s not necessarily where I want to be either.





RECAP


So, I didn’t notice a ridiculous change in my energy level this week, but I suspect that the most important factor in cultivating energy is actually being consistent.

It’s not really fair to expect that swapping Cheetos Paws with sprouted pumpkins seeds is enough to make me jump out of bed, but without that instant gratification, it will require commitment + discipline to stick to a routine that really should be beneficial in the long run.


Bottom Line: It takes time to change old habits, check back later...




RESOURCES


Make Time (Book)

Imperfect Produce (Produce delivery service)

Trader Joe’s (Grocery store)

Fitbit (Exercise tracker)

Beach Body On Demand (Digital workout subscription)





#productivityproject #energy #timemanagement #entrepreneurs #resources #transparency


annika@whitsettandlaurel.com


Based in Los Angeles, CA, USA

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