Balancing it All

Ep. 45 How to Make a Hard Decision

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It has been a long time since I recorded a podcast. And that is in part because I have been wrestling with a really difficult personal announcement. If you follow me on social media maybe you know this, maybe you don’t. But if you only listen to me on this podcast, you don’t yet know that I made the decision to step down as the VP of marketing for Clickfunnels.



And this was a brutal decision. I cried a lot of tears. I really went back and forth in my head and in my heart for quite a long time. And honestly I think one of the things that I feared most about making that decision is that I feared if I did what was best for me and my family, I might lose the friendships, the connections, the community. And by the way, that didn’t happen. Russell and the Clickfunnels team have just been unbelievably gracious. I can’t even tell you.

Anyway, I want to share this with you today not because I want to go into all the nitty gritty of why I made the decision that I did. But I want to talk to you guys about the struggle to make a hard decision. And this kind of struggle happens in our businesses all the time. You know, when I was younger I thought indecisive people were silly. Making decisions never came difficult to me as a kid, in large part, just because my personality prefers to close loops rather than to open them.

If any of you geek out on the Meyers Briggs, I’m a INFJ, I guess it’s the rarest combination of letters. But the letter that really helps me with the decision making is the J. When you take the test you can either be a j or a p, it’s just one of those two choices. And the difference can be best describes as a j personality will feel better after a decision is made. And a p personality will feel better before a decision is made, when the options are still open.

Anyway, like I said, I thought indecision was silly when I was younger, but I was just ignorant. Turns out the reason I thought decisions were easy was because they only had 2D versions of them in front of me.

So what the heck is a 2D decision? It’s basically a term I made up, but it’s what I consider a decision that has fairly easy to see boundaries around it. It doesn’t have 8 million dimensions, really just two. It also might be a decision that will have a big glaring driver like money or survival, so the choices are limited. It’s like a multiple choice test in school. You pick A, pick B, pick C, or pick D.

So my whole life decisions really were driven mainly by money. Can we afford it? Does it give us the money we need to live? Can we afford the expenses? Or decisions were morally based. When I was a kid, well not a kid, when I was a young adult, it was things like, ‘Don’t have sex til you’re married’ or ‘don’t drink’ or ‘pick the right friends.’

So I just had all these 2D decisions in front of me that were fairly easy to make. Then I grew up, I had kids, I thought for sure I’d hit the hardest decision making path I’d ever faced with kids. I would be sitting in my living room and I’d have to choose like 2 out of 3 of my kids would be in a crisis. I had 3 kids in 3 years. So Evan would be like 4 years old, he was vomiting on the couch. My 3 month old Eden was screaming because she needed to nurse, and the decision felt impossible, like which kid do you help first? But you just would make them anyway and make them fast, using sort of your survival instincts.

So I thought, alright, I had this. I still was decisive even in those moments, and those were hard decisions. And then I met a 3D decision. Again, another term I made up. And really I had my head handed to me because these are moments in life decisions that have no wrong path, no moral compass, they are not driven by need, they are not driven by money, and every possible choice or path carries with it potential opportunity cost, unintended consequences, and soft and hard benefits and risks.
And finally a 3D decision is something that happens upon you and you’re in charge of making it, but it will affect hundreds to possibly thousands of people when you do. Funnily enough, it looks like I’m quite indecisive when a 3D decision hits me. And I’m also sure there are 4D and 5D and 6D decisions like people like the president and huge CEO’s make. I don’t know, I haven’t felt those yet.

So deciding to step down from Clickfunnels and re-forge my own path, was a brutal, brutal 3D decision that took me to some really dark and lonely places. And I went on kind of a social media blackout after my announcement. It was in part just sheer exhaustion from carrying around this open loop for as long as I did. And the minute I made the decision, within a few days I had several job opportunities from companies you’d all know if I told you who they were. And these were opportunities with equity, basically more 3D decisions just appeared in the road the minute I acted. So that was the reason for my 2 week hiatus.

Anyway, this has been an incredibly difficult decision. And for those of you who have been following me for a long time prior to going onboard with Clickfunnels, I was doing my own business, Create Your Laptop Life. I started as a freelancer, morphed into an agency, became a course creator, a coach, and I put a lot of that in second place, on the back burner when I took this opportunity with Clickfunnels. And you know, the Clickfunnels community really has become an integral part of my life. The relationships, the education, Russell has taught me so much about marketing in 18 months, it’s just, it makes me dizzy.

And when I look at my journey to financial freedom and entrepreneurship. Clickfunnels and Russell himself, they’ve been probably the single greatest catalyst to launch me to where I am today. So even though I’m stepping down, I will continue to remain a very strong advocate, user, cheerleader of the software. And I will attend the events and wear the swag, and you know, continue to be a part of it.

But I have a path that I need to forge. And I am so excited to share with you guys. The last two weeks have been an explosion of ideas, thoughts, feelings, you know, teachings. I can’t even explain it to you, but to put myself in a moratorium for two weeks and really not write and talk and speak has created a lot of pressure. So you’re going to see in the coming weeks, whether you’re on my email list, my podcast, following me on Facebook, that I have a lot of things that I’m excited to share with you, and places that I want to go.
So I’m very hopeful and I hope that you come along with me on this new season. It is going to include more balance. That was one of the key decision markers in this whole journey because the last year in particular has been very difficult on my marriage and my family. And I want to make sure that the business and the mission and the things that I’m doing, it’s going to continue to serve my family and not burn them out.

Anyway, for anyone who is sat at the edge of a decision tormented that any move in any direction is going to cause a host of spinning plates to crash, I can promise you that the anticipation is way worse than the decision itself. I was a lot stronger than I thought, and so are you.

Anyway, I appreciate you all and stay tuned because there is some really cool stuff coming down the pike here in the next few weeks, as I start to gear up and make a change. So thanks so much guys, talk to you soon.

Ep. 44 The Silent Killer of Entrepreneurial Dreams Everyone Underestimates

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Today I want to talk to you about the silent killer of entrepreneurial dreams that everyone underestimates.
I am in the middle of a big launch. My partner and I, Kathy, launched Webinar Gorgeous this week. Webinar Gorgeous is basically our spin on webinar training.



So anyone who’s doing an online presentation of any kind, we have combined design with these gorgeous themed Power Point and Google Slide slide-decks along with conversion strategy training to learn what to put on the slides, why they work, all that kind of stuff.

So in getting ready for this launch, I set some goals. And one of the scariest parts about the whole launch is that I thought I would document it real time. And it’s always safer to document things after the fact, because you can kind of edit them, and you know make them look better than maybe they actually are. But I thought, you know what, I’m gonna actually do this real time.

So I did a prelaunch. Kathy and I sent out emails to our Funnel Gorgeous list and got them all excited about Webinar Gorgeous and on my email list, I actually went through a sort of deconstruction about what I was doing behind the scenes. I haven’t written another, I wrote about three emails and then we got sucked into the launch, so I haven’t had a chance to write another one yet. And I will do sort of a post mortem breakdown. But one of the scariest parts was that I was afraid to call my shot in one of my emails because I thought, well gosh, I could be so out of line here. But I knew that I knew conversion rates, I knew benchmarks, I knew the history of the market. So I thought I’m just going to set my goals and then I’m going to write them in a email for thousands and thousands of people to see.

So I set a goal of getting 4000 people to see our offer, and then I thought, the average purchase rate on a launch is anywhere between 1 and 5%. I know that we’re going to a very hot audience, I know that I’m a good marketer. I’m going to start with a baseline of 3% just because I know my history. So 3% of 4000 people seeing an offer would be about 120 sales. 5% would be 200, and then 10%, which would be nuts, is 400 sales.

So I set those three goals, and I always do this, I set a minimum goal, I set an ideal goal, and then I set a crazy goal. I threw that out into the interwebs and then sort of panicked and thought, well what if I’m completely off? People are just going to think that I’m just blowing smoke. It got me thinking because it’s now, what day is it? It’s now Friday, the cart’s going to close on Monday, and as of right now we have had, not quite 4000 people have seen the offer. We have crossed 3000 people to see the offer and we have another couple of days left.

So I’m thinking to myself, wow, 4000 views for the offer was actually a pretty good estimate. And we are at 258 sales, and I had my minimum goal at 120, my ideal goal at 200 and my crazy goal at 400. So I am currently, Kathy and I are hanging between the ideal goal and the crazy goal, and it got me thinking…Which, by the way, this is awesome, you guys don’t even…I don’t know what it is, it’s a very high buy rate, we’re approaching, quickly approaching $75000 in sales for this launch, which on $197 product is a great accomplishment.

But here’s the point and this is bringing, I’m telling you this entire story because I want to talk about that silent killer that crushes entrepreneurial dreams that nobody seems to estimate. We all underestimate it, and that is your expectation. So I am sitting here right now talking to you and explaining to you how awesome this launch is going and I’m feeling really proud and satisfied, just lots of good emotion, lots of momentum. Okay, why? Because I’m looking at my expectation that I set for myself in my goals, driven by reality and math, and I’m looking at the fact that I am hitting my target and reaching, racing for my “heck yeah” target.

And that puts me in a really positive mind set. However, just a few days before I set these goals, Kathy, and I love her to death. She is the most talented person ever. But her strength isn’t numbers. Her strength is design and branding and she’s just like, she blows everybody I’ve ever met out of the water. But numbers aren’t her thing, spreadsheets aren’t her thing. So she was sitting down one night with me and she’s like, “We should totally have a $100,000 launch, that would be amazing.” And I was like, “Yeah, that would be amazing and completely unrealistic.”

And Kathy, who has been around the block a few times, didn’t think that I was being a dream crusher, she was like, “Oh, alright. Well, what’s realistic?” So then I went through sort of my number crunching. And she’s like, ‘Okay, I wish I could say it’s $100k.” and I was like, “Yeah, and you’d be smoking crack.” And it was just this funny conversation because had we just been like, “Oh yeah, let’s do a hundred thousand dollar launch, that’d be amazing.” Had we set that goal, had we set that expectation right now we would be feeling a very different feeling. We’d be feeling like failures, or we’d be feeling like we missed our goal.

So the silent killer that happens, and this happens over and over and over again, is that people set unrealistic goals and expectations for their funnels, for their products, for their services, they get disillusioned, they lose momentum, and they become completely and utterly vulnerable to shiny object syndrome, or guru worship, where you’re like, ‘Okay, I didn’t get it. I need to go find another shiny object. I need to go find another magic bullet. I need to go find another guru.” And they get, you become so vulnerable to that. Not only are you disillusioned, not only do you think your product sucks, but your expectations are just completely out of whack. And it kills more people’s mojo than anybody would like to admit.
So what I would say is that when you are setting goals and expectations for yourself and in your business, use math. I love math. I wasn’t super talented at math when I was in high school, but I love math. I love a good spreadsheet that helps me look at realistically what I can expect.

Now a lot of people would look at me, someone who has you know, an email list of 32,000 people, I have a big platform, and they would think looking at my goals, and I bet you some actually thought this, “Gosh, 4000 people to see the sales page. Why does she think she’s only going to get 4000 people to see the sales page? Why doesn’t she think she’s going to get 20,000? She’s got an email list of 30,000, she’s got 10,000 people following her, she’s got 27,000 people in her Facebook group.”

And people do marketer math, not real math, marketer math. They’re like, ‘Oh we can get 10-20,000 people to see the offer. And they start out with a completely ass-backwards view of what they are actually capable of. And I blame bad marketers on this, because we set these expectations and we see only highlight reels and ads, and we don’t understand that real life, that even if you have a following that big, it’s hard to get 4000 people to go to a sales page in 7 days.

Kathy and I are going to hit it because we both have our own email lists. We have a funnel gorgeous email list, we have Facebook groups, we have Instagram followings, we will come close to getting 4000 unique human beings to see our sales offer in 7 days. So I’m giving you that benchmark so you can say, “Alright, (when you go to launch your thing) Julie and Kathy with combined email lists of..” you know, I would say if you combine our email lists and funnel gorgeous, you’re looking at probably close to 40,000 people on our email lists and a Facebook group of 27,000. We’re getting 10% of our following to actually pay enough attention to go over to our sales page. So 4000 views, okay, and we’re hitting a 5-7% buy rate.
That’s high. I wouldn’t necessarily expect that you would be able to hit that. I’m looking for 1-5%. And for anybody who’s turning on a funnel, this is another thing that I am always, you know, asking my digital insiders. “What are your goals, what are your expectations? What’s a minimum, ideal, and crazy goal?” Give yourself that range, base it in real actual math, and what will happen is number one, you will go into your launch or your ad campaign with realistic glasses on, which will help you actually create slow growth over time. You don’t want super, super fast growth. A lot of people think they want super, super fast growth.

And I don’t mean slow, like it takes you 4 years. I just mean steady growth over time, because if you spike too fast, too high, you run into all kinds of deliverability problems and then you end up with unhappy customers. So you want that steady growth. Math will help you get there. I love math, math for the win.

Today’s lesson is all about math, but math combined with setting expectations that are realistic so that when you enter into a launch or a funnel or you’re doing something new in your business, you can actually number one, feel really accomplished when you hit your minimum goal. Everybody should be able to hit your minimum goal. If you can’t hit your minimum goal, I would say readjust. You actually kind of, it would be awesome to blaze past your minimum goal and hit your ideal goal.

I think that my goal setting for this particular launch was on point, because I did what I knew would give us the most momentum, which is we hit our ideal goal, we’re racing for our crazy. And it means that no matter what happens at the end, we’re going to feel really solidly proud of our product and we’re going to be able to give quality attention to all of our customers, and then we have market validation and we’re ready to go off to the races to sell this in an evergreen format.

So I hope this was a helpful lesson for you. And I would encourage you to use math to set your goals and expectations, so you can create a momentum in your business and inoculate, that’s one of the words that my friend James Friell uses all the time, inoculate yourself from disillusioned reactive, shiny object buying, when your expectations were sort of all messed up to begin with. I appreciate you all, talk soon.

Julie Chenell

The Deliberate Mental Shift You Need To Make That Stops The Bad Habit Of Over Organizing

When I was a little girl, I hated Saturday mornings with a vengeance. Mom would wake us up and proceed to hand out to each of us, a white index card filled with the day’s chores.

‘Sorting socks’ always seemed to land on mine, and it was annoying as hell. The whole family’s worth of socks would be in one big basket, and it was my job to sort and match them all. No matter how fast I went, it still took forever.

So when I found myself as an adult sorting my kid’s socks, I started to wonder, “How can I stop doing this….forever?”

Turns out…I could.

And no, it didn’t mean handing the chore off to the kids.

I figured out a way to think differently about socks.



First, I bought each kid a different brand of sock. Adidas for Evan, Nike for Ellie, and Hanes Her Way for Eden.

Next, I found this cute shoe bench for the front room. The seat opened up and had storage underneath.

I literally just dumped all the clean socks into the shoe bench.

Instead of folding socks, matching socks, putting them away in drawers, I kept the large pile of unmatched socks in a storage compartment RIGHT next to the shoes. Whenever one of the kids would go outside, they’d run to the front room, open the bench, grab two of their brand of sock, put it on, put their shoes on, and go.

I got even smarter as time went on, and had a little basket for the dirty socks too. That way when they came in to take off their shoes, they could take off the socks and throw them right there. I bought enough socks to fill the bench so every kid had way more than enough, and the whole thing became a self-contained system. Grab the basket of dirty socks. Wash. Dry. Throw back in the bench.

What used to cost me so much time and aggravation, was virtually eliminated.

I made the mental shift from “Socks are clothes” to “Socks are a part of shoes”.

Deliberate Mental Shifting

There are so many things in our lives and businesses that we just “assume” we need to do. We don’t stop and observe how social pressure or the “normal” way to do something might actually be flawed, or altogether unnecessary. In just my last post, I explained how I mentally shifted the idea of the morning routine because it wasn’t really as productive as I thought.

If you were to go through your daily tasks, I bet there are evidences of what I call “over organization”. Matching socks is an example of this. It appears organized. It satisfies our OCD. It’s also a complete waste of time. Here are some ways in your business in which you might be over organizing and tricking yourself into thinking you’re being productive:

  1. You spend all day creating a complicated filing system on your Google drive or your inbox even though you know you won’t be able to stick to it and eventually your downloads folder will look like a bomb went off.
  2. You spend all day setting up a new system on Trello or Asana or some other program thinking this will solve your issue of disorganization (forgetting that you’ve done this three or four or five times already).
  3. You have created 17 Google calendars all with different colors and labels to keep track of every task you need to do.
  4. Your content strategy plan includes turning every podcast episode into 85 different quote memes for Instagram because you’re supposed to be everywhere all the time.
  5. When it’s time to create your course or write your book, you find you’re spending 95% of your time block working on your outline.

Some of you might be reading this and laughing because there is NO semblance of over organization in your life at all right now. Even if that’s true, this principle of mental shifting is still important to understand because I find that the most disorganized of people tend to revert to the “strictest” of systems and rituals in an attempt to control their distracted mind.

It also stands to note that you might not notice this rigidity in your business, but it might be showing up in other areas.

  1. Are you the kind of person who gravitates towards diet methods that include weighing and tracking your calories, macros, whatever? When you’re about to start a new plan, you clean out your fridge, buy all the new perfect foods, and then organize them with exacting perfection in your fridge?
  2. When you go to clean a room, do you get lost in ONE drawer and find that three hours in, you’re now organizing all the old photos by year and month?

The key to spotting this behavior in yourself is to look at where you feel the most out of control.

Since we’re wired for symmetry and order, when we feel the opposite of it in our lives and businesses, we tend to grab onto any methodology that promises to put it ALL back in order. It gives you a feeling of control. That is a powerful feeling, but what has really happened? The control you want over that issue is now not really in your hands, it’s locked into the rigidity of a new routine that now takes TIME to keep up with.

Let’s unpack this with one thing we all have…. an inbox.

Deliberate Mental Shifting With Your Inbox

There’s an understood belief for most people that says…Inbox zero = organized.

We laugh and joke about the little red notifications on our phone that say 15,403 unread messages, and then feel enormous stress when we open up a disordered disaster of a Gmail.

In essence, we feel out of control.

What if there’s an important message I’m missing?

Then we launch into a three hour long research project looking at all the new apps and tools and methodologies to organizing our inbox. By the way, we probably also do this during our sacred time. It’s natural for this to happen because when we set aside time to clear our mind for the important work we want to do, it also creates a beautifully empty arena for every worry and insecurity and problem to come rushing in.

Back to the inbox.

  • Maybe you set up a tool like Unroll.me.
  • Maybe you create all kinds of new filter rules.
  • Maybe you have 85 new folders to organize all your emails.

But three weeks later, you’re annoyed by Unroll.me cause some of your favorite emails are now going into that folder and you want them in your inbox. It’s hard to sort every message into a folder and with a zillion folders, it’s time consuming. The filter rules also caught a message you needed to see, and now you’re nervous that you’re missing stuff just the same as when you had a million emails in your inbox.

Time to think of a new system.

And round and round it goes.

Do you see how this causes so much additional work and mental bandwidth?

Let’s think about Gmail differently.

Truth #1 – Gmail is powered by Google. Which means, you can buy unending amounts of storage for like $10 a month. You don’t have to ever delete an email. Just hit archive. And…if you need to find it again, Gmail is also powered by the company that makes the BEST search tool on planet Earth, and you can just search with one keyword and it’ll pull up whatever you need.

Truth #2 – There’s really only ONE folder you need in your inbox, and that’s the ACTION NEEDED folder. A folder that tells you, “Hey! I need to answer the emails in this folder!” Once they are answered, you can archive. Long ago in 1992 your inbox was the action needed folder, but those times have come and gone. How bout each morning, you take three seconds, scan your emails – and just move the ones that need your attention into ACTION needed? Archive the rest, and then find a “non sacred time” to go through your action needed folder from bottom to top.

Truth #3 – You know the crazy inbox is bugging you. And mentally, you want it to feel clean. So…file email bankruptcy. Scan the first one or two pages of your inbox, archive everything and put only the important ones in ACTION NEEDED, and then make one new folder called “Email Bankruptcy”. Take your entire inbox and put it in that folder. Chances are, if you don’t have to go scouring in there for at least six months, you’re not missing anything important, and just hit ARCHIVE *not delete- remember truth #1*.

  • I’m rethinking the idea that I need to delete stuff (I don’t).
  • I’m rethinking the idea that I need a million folders (I don’t).
  • I’m rethinking the idea that I need to sort all 15,000 emails before I can have a clean inbox again (I don’t).

This could literally be done in the next 20 minutes, and then you’re off to the races.

Not only that, now that your inbox is clean, when new messages come in, you have a simple way to manage them. ARCHIVE, or ACTION NEEDED. That’s it. And you can go into your ACTION NEEDED folder once or twice a day and answer them.

Train your brain to HATE systems that take more time than is necessary and it’ll help you stop over organizing things. Even if it’s something like a content strategy plan that at first glance makes sense, maybe it doesn’t for you. If you’re busy creating scheduled posts that get no engagement, just stop doing them. Rethink why.

Sometimes just acknowledging that you feel out of control is enough to get your brain to stop and realize it’s a bad idea to cling to a system that’s going to be too hard to maintain. Your processes should work naturally with your personality, with the way you do things innately, and they should never consume more resources when your goal is to try to leverage time!

Julie Chenell

How Your Morning Routine Might Be Hurting Your Productivity

I only have to swipe a few times through social media each day before I find someone talking about their sacred morning routine like it’s the magic elixir to the perfectly productive life.

The idea of a morning routine has been around forever, but in recent years, the obsession with it in the entrepreneur world especially has resulted in a  flood of podcast episodes, planners, and Instagram stories.

Everyone wants to have the best morning routine ever.

  • Meditation
  • Celery Juice
  • Workouts
  • Yoga
  • Journaling

Some even tout that the perfectly scheduled morning routine has radically transformed all of life.

I have to be honest. Some of these morning routines look like they require a 4am wakeup call or the bulk of the morning just to get it done! If you are trying to meditate, workout, journal, make a smoothie, shower, get ready, etc. all before 7am, well – have at it.

But I want to make a bold and radically controversial statement…

Most Morning Routines Are The Opposite Of Productive

Lots of people have asked me about my morning routine, and what it looks like. And I love to say, “I don’t have one,” and watch people stare at me with a combination of confusion and curiosity.

I don’t have a morning routine for a few reasons, that, if you’ll stick with me, might start to make sense. But first…

What is a routine?

A routine is simply a fixed set of steps or actions that are followed repeatedly and in sequential order. There are really two parts to a routine – the steps themselves, and the order they go in. This is an important distinction. Steps AND order.

When I say I don’t have a morning routine, I’m not saying that I don’t do similar actions each day. Because let’s face it – I do. I wake up. I go to the bathroom. I check my phone. I get dressed. That happens every day. But the ORDER of it changes depending on my mood, external factors, schedule, my sleep needs, etc. And most people who are boasting about a morning routine, aren’t talking about these steps anyway. They are talking about things like meditation, yoga, working out, smoothies, etc.

Before I launch into why I think the morning routine in its current form is a terrible idea, I need to give a big disclaimer. If you like your morning routine, skip the rest of this post. Just go with your awesome morning self and move on.

But if you’re struggling to be productive and you feel like there are never enough hours in the day, the problem might be hiding in your morning routine.

Why I Say No To A Morning Routine

First off, a morning routine often includes activities that I would not consider 100% brain activities (no idea what I’m talking about? Read my 100/50/10 system). Things like showering, getting dressed, working out, making smoothies, etc. None of them qualify as the sacred time activities I talked about in my earlier post. And yet, most morning routines are at a time of the day when:

  1. Your brain is in PEAK state
  2. You DO have control over the time since other family members are asleep

So many mom and dad entrepreneurs pull themselves out of bed at 5am and proceed to waste TWO hours of precious sacred time doing things they could easily do at another time of the day.

Secondly, a morning routine assumes that we humans are consistent. And it’s not just morning routines that assume this, most productivity products on the market forget the small fact that we are not robots, but humans with hormones and moods and kids that love to break ANY semblance of a routine they can. Because of this, when a routine can’t be followed, you’ll hear people say things like, “My day just got so messed up because I couldn’t get through my routine.”

The routine turns into a thermometer that sets up the person to either feel awesome or horrible depending on how many steps were accomplished. Funnily enough, if the routine hadn’t been there in the first place, the person wouldn’t have to battle feelings of failure in the first place.

I can hear you saying, “But what about my daily meditation! It’s so important to me!” or “I need to workout each day or I get nuts”. The good news is that you can KILL off the typical morning routine and still do all the things you need to do each day. And I’m going to show you how!

The Daily Evaluation

Okay so here’s the crucial first step. Identify your sacred time slots in your day. If the wee morning hours are part of your sacred time, take out everything you normally do during that time that doesn’t constitute a 100 task.

These are things like showering, making breakfast, and working out. All of these things can be done when kids are around OR…at a time during the day when you don’t need your PEAK brain power.

Some stuff might need a sacred time slot. Journaling and meditation for example. But…does it need a peak brain time slot or no? Let’s just say for a moment – what might your day look like if you meditated in the afternoon, or in the evening?

Next, look at the stuff that never seems to get done. Writing your book, finishing that project, starting that podcast you wanted to. Things that you schedule into the busy workday but always get CROWDED out by other interruptions.

You’re going to swap IN the important work that you’re putting off, and swap OUT the stuff like taking a shower or getting in your celery juice for the day.

Schedule Setting The Night Before

My solution to my human-ness is to simply set my schedule for the next day…the night before.

Rather than create a routine I can never stick to, I look at the current state of affairs in my house, my business, and my life, and take five minutes to plan what my next day looks like.

  • Sometimes that means I’m going to sleep in til 7 and use two hours of sacred time to get more shut eye.
  • Sometimes that means I’m going to put my laptop by my bed and wake up at 5am and write for 60 minutes before I even get up to get dressed or make tea.
  • Sometimes that means I’m going to wake up at 6am and record a podcast or two and take my daily walk later in the morning during a call I have with a client.

I will tell you that everyone who has ever stopped to think outside the box of what you could be doing in those typical morning routine hours of 5-7am, has felt a RADICAL difference in momentum.

When you release yourself from having to do the same thing in the same order each day, you eliminate the feeling of failure when it doesn’t work out the way you planned. Less mindset baggage equals more productivity because you have brain power to use on other things.

Here are some ideas for how I work in the typical “morning routine” stuff throughout the day.

  1. Unless I have a meeting first thing, I take a shower mid-day, not in the morning. I wait until I have a lull in my schedule, or I need to take a break and regroup, and use the shower as my “break”. If you work from home, this is such a good move – I love doing this!
  2. When I want to exercise, I wait til that slumpy afternoon time. My productivity and creative brain is dead, but I’m perfectly able to go outside and play a game of tag or soccer with William for 20 minutes.
  3. If I want to eat a breakfast that takes time to prepare, I do it around 8am, when everyone is up and running around. I cook breakfast and chat about the day with Alex, and I feel so relaxed because I’ve done some work already and feel like I’m ahead for the day.
  4. Meditation for me is something I want to call on when I’m stressed, not when I’m first awake and fresh. I don’t need it as bad as I need it after an email from an angry client or a call from my kid’s school. If the weather is nice, I usually take my lunch outside by this beautiful tree. I eat, and I lean back on the tree, close my eyes, and breathe.

Test The ‘Crush Your Morning Routine’ And Let Me Know!

Okay so in summary, here are the key points to remember.

You are not a robot.
Set your plan for the morning the night before. Flexibility actually helps you be MORE productive, not less.

Use the early morning hours of sacred time for things that require 100% of your brain.
Try the laptop near your bed idea I’ve used. Don’t do anything else but pick up your laptop the minute you wake up. Just set a timer for 60 minutes and see what you get done in that time. Go through the stuff that never gets done, and imagine what would happen if you tried to tackle it first thing.

Think outside the box.
The stuff that’s normally considered “morning-ish” actually works great at other times of day like a mid-morning break, lunchtime, the slumpy afternoon, or in the evening.

Release the baggage of success/failure of your morning routine.
It’s not helpful to have a long morning routine, that if not followed, makes you feel like the whole day is a wash. It’s such crap.

After you’ve tried it, let me know in the comments below what shifted for you!

xx Julie

Ep. 40 The Pretend Assistant

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Full Transcript:

I want to bring you kind of a funny podcast. But I think, I hope it’s really helpful for you. It’s called the pretend assistant. And this is one of those productivity hacks that is sort of a little bit of a mind game that you play with yourself, but really helps. Alright, so here’s the deal. A lot of you in your business don’t have an assistant yet.



If you do have an assistant, then it’s not going to be your pretend assistant, it’s going to be your actual assistant. But the good news is even if you don’t have one you can still leverage this sort of, I would call it a psychological hack.

Now when things get really overwhelming in your business, I don’t know if you’ve felt this, where you’re almost paralyzed, you don’t even know where to start. I have this no matter how organized I think I am, there are days when I sit down to my desk to get to work and I just can’t even begin to process what I should do first, or what happens next.
And typically my normal reaction in that moment is, “I’ll just sit down and make a list.” I can’t even do that. I can’t even get the list onto my paper white board. So I’m thinking to myself, “How do I get myself out of this?” And that’s where the pretend assistant comes in. And if you don’t have one, I recommend that you name your pretend assistant whatever you want. I actually have an assistant who I love like a sister, she’s amazing.

So what I do when I’m very, very stressed out, I write to her. I write to her using voxer. I’ll either voxer if I can’t even write. If I’m so overwhelmed I’ll vox, I’ll send her a voxer message. But if I can write, you know, through slack or whatever, I will literally say, “Hey, these are the things that I think I need to do today.” And I will start every sentence with, “I need to see if I can do this. I need to find this. I need to figure out where I am with this.”

And the reason why this works, psychologically, number one, it’ll give you some momentum. So as I start to do this, I start to think of things. My brain sort of like a magnet, starts to think of all the things that are coming into my head. So I just need to get started.

Typically when you write a list, your brain is looking for very clear, tangible action items. Like, vacuum the living room, buy groceries. So when are so overwhelmed, you can’t even get the action items out, sometimes it’s hard, your brain doesn’t want to write a list. Because it’s like, it doesn’t have the tangible action. It’s like, I need to see if I can find where this is. That’s not really like a very tangible action.

But if you’re talking to an assistant, if you had an assistant, someone who is outside of you. Someone who is not as overwhelmed as you are, and you can say, “Hey Emily, I need to see if I can find that email somewhere. There was an email about where to pick up my daughter’s tickets for the show. Can you help me?”

Now all the sudden because I’m talking to my assistant, that can come out of my mouth and get on paper, get on voxer, or whatever, and then the actual task is pick up Eden’s tickets for the concert, or whatever.

So do you see how having an assistant that you can talk to, either through voxer or typed through slack, can allow your brain to release those things that don’t have super tangible action items, but are just kind of these weird floaty things in your head that will give you momentum.

So what happens, this happened to me actually just today. I sat down and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to begin. I’m so overwhelmed.” So I typed in slack, I said, “I’m just going to put my notes here.” And I started with, “I need to see if I can find the login for this.” Because what the actual task was, was I needed to get my team access to a new software program.

And exactly what I just said with the tickets, “I need to see if I can find the email that tells me what I have to do next with the tickets.” Now, she’s going to help me with some of those things. If you don’t have an assistant, even just the act of writing those out, then you’ll be able to go back and extract the actual tasks that have to be done from this sort of nebulous, foggy brain dump sort of thing.

Now, if you have voxer there’s an option to vox notes to yourself. There’s also an option to slack things to yourself. So try writing, “I need to” I need to see if, I need to try and find, because that will unhook some of that overwhelm.

So a pretend assistant can work really well in just getting you that momentum to get things out. What happened was as I started to do that, like a bike going down a hill, my brain started to think of all the other things.

And this is an actual principle of brain. I’m sure of it. Because whenever I worry about something, it seems to be a magnet to attract all other worries. I know there’s some evolutionary principle behind that, so it works the same way with tasks. Once you get going down the hill you’ll be able to get all the other ones out of your head. So try that.
Another reason why the pretend assistant is so helpful is when you have difficult emails. Difficult emails that can completely paralyze you, you don’t quite know how to respond, you don’t know what to say. Even if you don’t send them as your pretend assistant, which there are times where that’s really handy where you write as your assistant, even though it’s just you, just to give that sense of distance. Like how would my assistant respond to this? Because they’re going to probably respond more calmly, more logically than you might. Especially if it’s a difficult email.

So you can write an email as an assistant to kind of remove yourself from the heat and the emotional-ness of the email is. Or you can just practice by writing as your assistant, and then see what parts of that email are really the parts that you want to send.

So the pretend assistant is an amazing psychological productivity hat for anyone in business that doesn’t have a team yet, but really needs that degree of separation from their business in order to be able to untangle the foggy, difficult, emotional things.

So next time you get a horrible client email, next time you have trouble in your inbox from customer service, next time you can’t seem to even get a to-do list out because you’re so paralyzed, I recommend that you pull out your pretend assistant, or ask your real one, to help you sort those things out. Because these sort of little brain tricks can give you just enough room to breathe to be able to find the actual solutions and tasks that you need to do.

As always, I appreciate you guys watching, ugh, watching. I appreciate you guys listening, oh my gosh. Am I podcasting, am I live streaming, what am I doing? Awesome guys, have a great day. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.

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