110: 10 Simple Habits That Create BIG Growth for Your Business with Bjork Ostrom

Welcome to episode 110 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks about 10 habits that can help your business grow long-term.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork interviewed Greg Hickman about building systems, building courses, and building a profitable business. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

10 Simple Habits that Create BIG Growth for Your Business

Forming habits can have an exponential affect on your business’ growth, and Bjork has seen that first-hand as he built Food Blogger Pro.

Bjork talks about 10 habits that have had a huge impact on his productivity and on Food Blogger Pro’s growth. He recommends apps, systems, philosophies, and practices that you can implement today into your business today to see growth long-term.

In this episode, Bjork shares:

  • What a “black book” is
  • How to keep track of your to-dos
  • How a morning routine can impact your business
  • How to get to “Inbox Zero”
  • An easier way to keep track of receipts
  • How to save articles to read later
  • How to optimize your workspace
  • Why you should turn off all push notifications
  • How do perform a time audit
  • How to find ways to “work in your zone”

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Bjork Ostrom: In this episode, I’m going to be chatting about a few things that might make it just a little bit easier to build your business.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Bjork Ostrom and you are listening to The Food Blogger Pro podcast. I say this every once in a while, but I really, really mean it. I appreciate you tuning into this and listening to this podcast. It has been really exciting for me to see the slow but continual growth of The Food Blogger Pro podcast and we’re getting to the point now where the downloads and the listens are at a significant level. When we first started, it was hundreds and now it’s getting into the multiple thousands, and we are getting close to the point where we might crack the 10,000 downloads and listens mark for a podcast coming up. My hope is that that happens in 2017 on the back half here and I think that we can get there.

We couldn’t do it without you listening and I know that a few of you have shared The Food Blogger Pro podcast with people that you listen or that you know would potentially listen to the podcast as well. I just really, really appreciate that and I hope that as we continue to do this that we can continue to deliver lots of value.

Speaking of, my hope today is to deliver some value in the form of advice from some of the things that I’ve been implementing in our business and specifically things that I’ve been implementing in my work habits or my work routine or even my work philosophy. These are some things that for some of you it might seem like, “Yeah, of course, I do that already and I already implement that”, but for others it might be the kind of thing where you haven’t done that and you haven’t thought about it, but after listening to this podcast you will integrate that into your daily habits or your routine or the way you think about building your business and it will have a positive improvement.

Even if it’s just a tiny little bit, I’m a huge believer in long-term growth via really small changes. Doing those small things over a long period of time, that will have a big result. This podcast can be a part of it because you can take something away from this, you can implement it, and over months and months and years and years, the result of that could be a lot of time saved or maybe it’s an idea that you’re able to implement that you otherwise wouldn’t.

What I’m going to do here is I’m going to talk about 10 things that I think you might be able to take away and implement in your business building strategy that could have an impact. These are things that I’ve been doing, either for a really long time or just starting to do, that have had a really big impact in how I work and the work that I get done. What we’re going to do is we’re going section these off one at a time. So, let’s go ahead and jump in. I’m going to talk about 10 different things that you can implement to make your business building a little bit easier.

The first one is a black book. What is a black book? I actually looked this up before I started because I was like, I want to make sure that this isn’t like a weird thing that I’m suggesting here by starting a black book. The description is “a book containing a list of secret contacts or of the names of people liable to be punished,” which is not my first suggestion. That’s not what I wanted to suggest here. It’s more that beginning part containing a list of secret contacts and maybe not even secret contacts, but just contacts.

Here’s the idea with the personal and business black book. My goal is to have every question mark that I have or every task that I have to accomplish, have a direct path to the person that accomplish that. What I noticed both for personal and business is a lot of times things will come up and I will be tasked myself with figuring out what I need to do in order to get that done.

A really easy example here is let’s say at home, this is a personal example, but it applies to business as well because a lot of us are balancing the personal with the business. You never are just focusing on business stuff so this personal stuff overlaps as well.

Let’s say I was looking around the house and I noticed the windows were really dirty. What would usually happen for me is I would jump on a service like Angie’s List or I would do a Google search and try and find a window cleaner in the St. Paul area here in Minnesota and I would look through all of those people and I’d maybe reach out to a couple and I would ask for estimates and they would come out and they would do an estimate. But what I’ve started to do with the black book is, instead of going through that process, I will have one person that I connect with, if it goes well with that person, in this case, window cleaning, I’ll add them to the black book and now that I know who that person is that’s going to clean windows, when that issue comes up again, when I look at the windows and I say, “Oh, they’re kind of dirty. They need to be cleaned,” I know exactly where I can go to contact that person.

That can apply to even the tiniest of things for your personal or business. It could be house cleaning stuff, it could be window cleaning, it could be maybe you do lawn care. On the business side maybe it’s what happens if you have a design question that you need implemented or development question that you need answered. It could be if you have a business-related question where do you go? It’s building out this list of contacts so anytime you have that little trigger point of like, “This is an issue,” you know that either you reach out to this person or you go to this place. Right? It doesn’t have to necessarily be an individual. Maybe if you have a blogging related question you know your first step in the black book is you go to Food Blogger Pro and you post in the forums and try and get some responses there and get some feedback on the forums.

But the idea here is that by building out the black book, both the personal and the business black book, what you’re doing is you’re creating a place for those questions or those tasks that you have to be directed. Now, some of those will come back to you and we’re going to talk about some strategies for dealing with that next, but the first thing that we’re trying to do with this personal and business black book is every time that you work with a vendor or a service provider or anytime that you have a certain question in a certain area, you know exactly where to go with that so you’re not spending time researching or looking things up. You’re building out your black book, your contact list for the different questions that you might have both personal and business.

Now, how does this happen? What does this look like? For me, I use a tool called Evernote, which is a great way to organize things. I use two different notebooks. One is personal black book and then the other is business black book. That’s something that I’ve just started to do within the past few months is to start to build this out.

Now, some of you might be thinking, well, it’s really obvious if you have a question specifically for a developer then you just go to that developer. It’s not like you need to build out an official document for that, but what I’ve noticed is that it’s really, really helpful to build that out because what you’ll notice is that you actually have a lot of people that you rely on for all of the different things that you have in your life. Even if it’s just five minutes of looking that person up again and figuring out their contact information, then that’s five minutes saved just by entering that in. There’s something that feels really good about organizing that and having it all live in one place.

It’s also helpful for those times where people reach out and they say, “Hey, you know. Do you have any recommendations for somebody that’s really good at XYZ?” You can go to that black book and say, “Yeah. Here’s their contact information. Somebody I’ve worked with in the past, maybe it was just a few months ago or it could have been years and years ago.”

That’s something that I’ve been implementing lately that’s been really, really nice and it’s allowed me to get stuff out of my head in terms of creating this database in my head of who people are and where they are and how to get ahold of them, and somewhere stored in an official document, the black book.

Now, speaking of getting things out of your head, that’s another thing that’s really important to do and that’s actually number two. The number two tip that I wanted to give for making your business building a little bit easier is to get stuff out of your head and to store it somewhere else. The brain, or at least my brain, is a really bad place to store and remember things. It’s important to take things out of your brain and to have them stored somewhere else to have a system that you use that you know that you can refer back to. The brain is really, really good for creative thinking and creative problem solving and sorting through information and making decisions, but it’s not great on storing.

What do you do if you want to store something not in your brain but somewhere else? For me, I use a few different places for that. The first that I use is this tool called Things. Things is for IOS, so for iPhone or for Apple, and there are comparable tools and services and the second one I’m actually going to talk about works for PC as well. But the way that I use Things, and it’s by a company called Cultured Code, and the way that I use Things is for personal storage. There’s not any sharing that happens with that. I’m not integrating that with things that Lindsay and I have to do and task items and things like that. This is just for me. I use it on my phone and I use it on my computer. It’s something that I check every single day and I organize every single day. I’ll talk about that process actually in number three.

What happens if you have people that you work with? Maybe you have a team or you have somebody that helps in kind of a part-time capacity. There’s other ways that you can get stuff out of your head and into a storage document that you can then share with other people. Now, for Food Blogger Pro and Pinch of Yum, we use a tool called Asana. Kind of a quick backstory with Asana is it was started by some people that were a part of the Facebook crew early on. They branched off and they started Asana.

There’s another service that you could use called Trello, but the basic idea with that is it’s a project management software, but one of the ways that you can use that is as you’re thinking of things, as things are coming up in your mind, instead of trying to keep those in your head, you take those out of your mind, you take those out of your brain and you put them into a project management tool or a task tool. It could be something as simple as the Notes app on your phone, but it’s nice when there’s a little bit more functionality behind it with something like Things or Asana or Trello.

Now, obviously, the advantage of something like Trello or Asana is that you do have that team component where you can create a task and maybe it’s not something that you need to do, but somebody that you’re working with needs to do. You can assign that to somebody that you’re working with and then that’s out of your head. You don’t have to remember to communicate with that person. It’s out of your head and you can communicate that via the app.

I use Things for the personal things that I have to do. How does that work and what does that look like? Well, if you were to look at the app there’d be two really important things that I would want to point out. These conceptually would impact how you would use whatever the app is that you use. The first is this thing called Inbox. When you have something in your head and you know it’s kind of bouncing around in there and your brain is working really hard to keep that in your mind, you need to get that out of your head so your brain can work on other creative things instead of just holding on to this idea that you know that you need to remember. The first place that it goes is to somewhere called the Inbox. The Inbox is simply this catchall for the things that you need to sort through.

And then after you have it in the Inbox, once a day or once every couple of days, you would go to that Inbox and you’d sort through those things and you’d assign those to different areas. Maybe it’s something that you need to do when you’re, like for me, I have one when I go back to our hometown. When I go to our hometown, visit our parents, what are the things that I need to do there? I would move from the Inbox to that area the thing that I need to do or the other thing that you could do is you could assign a date for it. So, if you know it’s not something you need to do right away, then what you can do is you can take that and you can change the date. You say, “I know I don’t need to do this until three weeks from now, so I’m going to move it out of the Inbox and into this Upcoming category.” And you shift that into Upcoming. And then the most important one is the Today area. With Today, those are the things that you’re working on that day.

How do I use it? What does that look like? Well, the simple process is if I have something in my brain that I know I don’t want in my brain, I put it in the Inbox. If I know that it’s something that is a certain area, I move it to that area and that could be business related. Maybe it’s something I do on the weekends like an errand related thing or it could be location related. It could be when I’m back home visiting my parents, something that I need to do. The third thing would be you can move it to a certain date and then if it’s something that needs to get done right away, you’d move it into that Today category.

All these things are based off of the concept of Getting Things Done, which is a book by a guy named David Allen. It’s a productivity book, but the biggest takeaway from all of this is taking things, getting it out of your head, and getting it somewhere else where you know that you will process through that. That could be Asana, it could be Trello, or it could be something like Things, which is what I personally use and appreciate.

How do you build in that routine of checking that every day? Right? That’s the hard thing. You get these things out of your head, how do you trust that you’ll actually go back and revisit those things? Well, for me, what I do is I build in this daily checklist. That would be number three, establishing a morning routine.

Now, my morning routine is pretty stringent, but what I’ve realized is the impact that that has is pretty significant because I’m doing these things each and every day, it’s allowed me to have those incremental improvements over a long period of time and I know for sure that if I didn’t have these incremental things that I was doing every day then I wouldn’t be diligent enough to own my own just think about doing them. So I have to have this list that I follow, otherwise I would forget.

The app that I use for that is called Clear and that’s an IOS app, but there’s also a comparable, and I haven’t used this, so I can’t recommend it one way or the other, there’s a comparable one called Koalcat Clear for Android, which works very similarly it looks like just by kind of checking it out here. But basically what I do is I have a super simple list that I work through each and every morning. These are things that I consider to be really, really important parts of my morning routine. I’ll just walk through this list here so you have an idea of what it is.

I weigh in, I record my sleep. For weighing in I use this scale that syncs to my phone so I have all of the information for the past, it’s like six months or something like that. It’s really interesting to see that. I can keep track of that. I do sleep recording and I just do that manually so I can keep an eye on how much I’m sleeping. I have a routine of taking morning pills, so vitamins, and drinking a glass of water. It sounds so simple, but I would really forget to do that if I didn’t. I do breakfast. I read for 45 minutes. I review some of the important business numbers that we have. I do a Five Minute Journal. That’s the name of the journaling that I do. It’s not kind of an official journaling process where I do pages and pages of just open thoughts. It’s kind of this really intentional short journal. You can just search “Five Minute Journal” if you want to find out about that.

I do something called gratitude journaling, which is I journal about things that I’m grateful for in that day. I do 10 minutes of mindfulness using and app called Headspace. I review my calendar for the day, so I take a look at the day. The last thing that I do is I jump into Things, like I was talking about in the last point, and I intentionally build that out and say, “What are the things that I’m doing today and what is the order that I want to do those in?” And I take some time to intentionally review that and then that kicks off my day. The next thing that I do then is pick up the first thing that I need to do.

Now, with the morning routine piece, what’s really nice about this is that’s structured. That’s the same each and every day. The pass off item happens as I pass off from that last item building the day into the thing that’s different every single day, which is the things that I need to do that day. That’s why that last item for me is reviewing those things.

How does that impact business? How does that impact my personal life? The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is the three pieces there that are kind of the big chunks. The first is reading. If I didn’t have that intentional time to read every morning, I know that I wouldn’t be able to fit that in just by saying, “Hey, you know, it’s noon and I’m going to read for 30 minutes.” Or at the end of the day when I’m wiped out and I’m tired, I probably wouldn’t have the brain space to sit down and to read. That’s one of the big things.

Another really big thing is that those intentional times of journaling and reflecting and then the third thing that’s really important is that meditation. Just taking 10 minutes to do some really intentional guided mediation has had a big impact in how I move into the day. That’s become a big part of my morning routine.

That’s the third thing. It’s building out an intentional morning routine. For me, I need that list, otherwise I wouldn’t remember to do it and there have been days where I kind of thing, “I’m just going to go through this on my own,” and realize even after doing it for months and months and months, I don’t think of all the things that I would usually do in my morning routine. That’s number three.

Number four. Use a system for organizing your emails. Now, if you’re the kind of person that would open your phone and you’d look and you’d have notifications for 3,000 emails, this would be a good one for you. One of my goals is always to every three days or so, every two days or so, to get to inbox 0. That doesn’t mean that I’m replying to every single email, but it does mean that I’m replying to emails that need a reply. Now, here’s what I mean by that.

Sometimes you’ll have an email in your inbox and that email actually doesn’t need a reply from you, but maybe you’re storing it in your inbox because you know that there’s potential to-do item associated with it or you’re waiting for that person to reply so you keep it in you our inbox. What happens is every time that you pull up your email, you see that and there’s a little mental ping that happens that takes up a little bit of your brain space, and that repeated over and over and over again can have a really big impact in how email works in your day to day interactions with the work that you’re doing.

What I do is I use this tool called Mixmax and I actually used to use a tool called Boomerang and I just recently switched. Each of these tools works in kind of a similar way. What happens is you can do scheduling of your email and you can build in these really incredible processes for your email interactions. For me, I use it, there’s two primary things that I use Mixmax for.

The first is I’ll send a message to somebody … Actually, there’s probably three that I would say. The first is I’ll send a message to somebody and I know that it’s a really important message and I need a reply from that person. What I’ll do is I’ll send the message and with Mixmax I can say, “Send this message and if I don’t hear a reply from this person in a certain time period”, and you can set that time period. Maybe it’s two days. Maybe it’s five days. Maybe it’s a week. “If I don’t get a reply from this person, put that message back in my inbox.”

Then what you can do is you can follow up with that person. You can say, sometimes it’s as simple as just “ping”. If you reply to your message with that person included and say “ping”, what that does is it pings it to the top of their inbox and then they’re able to see that again.

That’s a great way to gain back some of that mental real estate because otherwise what you’d be doing is you’d either be thinking like, “Oh, I didn’t hear back from them. I need to follow up,” or you’d be holding on to that idea or that to-do in your head, but with Mixmax or Boomerang, which is the previous one that I used that works in a similar way, you can send that and you know that if that person doesn’t reply, it’s going to show back up in your inbox, you can follow up with them. Super slick way to get those to-do items for email out of your head.

The second way that I use it is I will remind myself of messages that I know I don’t have an answer to yet, but that I need to reply to. Sometimes somebody will reach out and they’ll say, “Hey, can you send over this information?” I’ll say, “Yes.” I need to get that information from somebody else, so I’ll ask somebody else for that information and then I remind myself of that message in two days, let’s say. That gets out of my inbox and in two days later the message shows up again. What I can do then is follow up with that person if I have that information that I need at that point.

Sometimes there’ll be a message, it’s sitting in my inbox, instead of just keeping it in my inbox, what I do is I get it out of there, I say, “Hey, in two days remind me about this message, but don’t keep it in my inbox.” So it moves it out of my inbox, which is a really nice way to keep inbox 0, even if you have messages that still need a reply.

A third thing that I really like about using a tool like Mixmax is that I can send emails that are delayed. An example is actually from this last week. We were communicating with our attorney and she mentioned that she had to be out of town for a funeral at the end of the week. I had a question for her at the end of the week, but I knew that I didn’t want to send an email and be insensitive to the fact that she was at a funeral on this day. Of course, she probably wasn’t checking her email, but I just like the idea of waiting a little bit before sending her this email. I also knew that I probably would forget to send it if I waited a couple of days, so what I did is I used Mixmax. I created the email and I said, “Instead of sending on Wednesday,” I said, “Send on Friday.” That email arrived on Friday instead of showing up the day where she had mentioned that she would be attending a funeral. It gave some space in between that date and allowed me to still get that out of my head, but to not do it on that day when I knew that she’d be attending the funeral.

That’s three ways that you can use a tool like Mixmax. It’s a really, really powerful tool and there’s lots of other ways that you can use it, but that’s the primary way that I use it and it’s been a really important piece for me as I try to get to inbox 0, respond to those emails that I get, and also, to keep the to-do items out of my head, especially as it relates to email.

Speaking of email, number five is the tool that we use for receipts. If you are starting your business, you know that it’s really important to track your receipts because you need to have validation and you need to have a credible trail for the expenses that you have with your business. If you’re doing that, you also know that it can be a lot of work to keep those on hand and to keep track of those. We use a service called Shoeboxed. There’s other comparable services out there. What we do is we either take a photo if it’s a receipt, like a hard copy receipt at a restaurant, or just forward an email to our specific Shoeboxed email address. What that does is the service we use takes those receipts and scans through them, and this is I think both automated and manual. They have a staff and it’s automated as well. They find the information from the receipt, they pull that information out, and they create a little entry in your receipts database.

You can have hundreds of receipts stored and searchable and you can get them out of the literal shoebox at your house if that’s where you have it, or potentially out of the folders on your computer, and stored somewhere online. The nice thing about this is it’s also really easy to go and to search through those. Let’s say that you have a certain expense and it’s $29.37, you can go in and really easily find that because all of that information is entered into Shoeboxed.

The prices vary depending on how many receipts you have and how much you want to process each month and if you’re sending in physical receipts for them to scan or if you’re just doing emails. You can check that out by going to Shoeboxed.com.

The basic idea here is to create a little system around tracking your expenses. I think what you’ll realize is it’s really nice to have some organization around that because for the first few years we didn’t and we had folders that we tracked them in, but it was really hard to search through those and something might have come up where we saw there was an expense and maybe it came through a little bit later than when we thought it would, so maybe it’s in a different month of the folder for the receipts. It just gets a little bit confusing, especially as you start to build up those expenses within your business. When we switched to Shoeboxed, that had a huge impact on processing receipts for us.

We also use that with our team, so if anybody has a receipt from something they purchased, they can just forward that receipt to Shoeboxed and it makes it really easy to deal with expenses and to deal with receipts. A little bonus tip, if you get to the point where you have an accountant or a bookkeeper helping with some of your stuff, one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve given our bookkeeper read access, read only access, to Shoeboxed so she can go in and she can look through that. If she ever has a question about one of the expenses that we have, she doesn’t have to come to us to ask, she can go to Shoeboxed first and she can see, okay, this is a $30 purchase from Amazon, can see what that is, and categorize it without having to ask us.

So Shoeboxed or digital receipt management, in general, has been a really big win for us.

Number six, using a read later app. I get a lot of articles and videos sent to me. Might be friends that have something business related they want to share, family that’s sharing kind of a fun informational video or article, or it could be coworkers that sent something along that’s helpful and interesting. But what can happen is that type of content can really take you out of the flow of work. At the same, you don’t want to lose that information because it might be something that you want to read. I’ve been using an app called Pocket, which allows you to pocket those articles and to pocket those websites that you want to go back to a little bit later, but maybe don’t want to consume within the minute that somebody sends it along.

My process for that is taking that article and then I’ll put the little Pocket button, I use it within Chrome so it’s an add-on for Chrome, I click the Pocket button and then I label it. It might be marketing related. It could be personal. Maybe it’s health related. It could be funny. It could be entertainment. I label that and then it’s pocketed with the appropriate label. Then what will happen is there’s downtime, maybe I’m in the car waiting for somebody to come out, or maybe I’m sitting by myself at a coffee shop and waiting to meet with somebody, I know that I don’t want to jump into work, but I use that as a time to read some of these articles that people have sent that I know I want to consume, but I don’t want to do it during a normal work day. I use Pocket in order to read those articles or to watch those videos a little bit later.

Number seven is optimizing your workspace. This can be a huge way to make it easier to build your business and it might just be doing a couple small things. Number one, this I know sounds like a totally geeky thing, but if you have the budget and you have the space on your desk, I’d really encourage you to look at getting a second monitor. That’s been a really big thing for me.

I have my laptop off to the side and then I also have at the home office a computer monitor, a second computer monitor, that sits and that’s my main monitor. What I’ll do is, a lot of times, let’s say I’m doing a podcast interview, I’ll have static information, things that don’t really change much on my laptop monitor, the smaller one, and I’ll be doing the majority of my work on the bigger monitor. Maybe I’m pulling up websites, maybe I’m looking through social media for the interview, and the show notes or maybe the questions that I have will be off to the left. Or sometimes if I’m working throughout the day, what I’ll do is I’ll have Things, that I talked about earlier, the to-do list, on my laptop monitor that’s off to the side, and then the actual work that I’ll be doing will be in front of me on the second monitor.

Adding a second monitor is a great way to optimize your workspace.

This is a small thing, but I love to use the same type of keyboard at my desk that my laptop has. Sometimes what can happen is people will have a different keyboard from their laptop keyboard. Let’s say that you have a Apple MacBook Pro, but your keyboard is a PC keyboard. Now, some people that’s not a big deal, but for me what I’ve noticed is that switching back and forth, I end up doing typos or incorrectly hitting certain keys, and it really slows me down. One of the ways that I optimized my desktop, my literal desktop, the top of my desk, was to get the exact same keyboard that I use on my laptop.

And this, obviously, would only apply if you have both a laptop that you mount when you’re at your desk. Some of you might just work off of your laptop, in that case, this doesn’t really apply to you, but if you do end up getting that second monitor and you use an external keyboard, not one on a laptop, then I’d really encourage you to get the same type of keyboard that you have on your laptop so you don’t have to kind of relearn that every time that you start typing.

The last small thing that I’ll recommend here for optimizing your workspace is to have a literal inbox, as well as the inbox for the to-do tracker, the to-do software that I talked about before. What is a literal inbox? This is something that sits on your desk, that is the stuff that you need to process through. Really easy example is maybe the mail comes and you know that you need to sort through the mail, there’s some important stuff in there, and instead of just setting that down on your desk somewhere random, you have a place where you can set that and you know those are the things that you need to sort through and process through. Sometimes I’ll even use that to remind myself of things that I need to do. Maybe if I don’t have something on my phone, I’ll just jot down a quick note, I’ll put it in my physical inbox on my desk. That reminds me to process through that.

Number eight, turning off notifications. This is going to be a game changer for some people and it’s going to have a huge impact, believe it or not, on the productivity of your business. That’s because these little interactions throughout the day add up to huge time loss and huge productivity loss. Even if you have some type of notification turned on for email, which is an important thing, I’d really encourage you to think about the potential of turning that off and doing opt-in notifications.

Here’s what I mean by that. For email, an example of opt-in notification is you only get notified of new messages when you open the actual app. So you’re saying, “I want to go in here and I want to check to see if there’s anything new.” It has to be you deciding, not the phone deciding that it wants you to check. I would encourage you to do that across the board, with email, with social media, with things. Even at some points, I think it would make sense to do it with messages or phone calls. Those would be the deep moments, maybe you put on “Do not disturb”, and you go into deep work, but throughout the day, always, I would encourage you to have notifications turned off for social media and email, specifically on your phone.

Even if you think that it’s going to be a huge detriment to your ability to quickly respond to people, I would encourage you to at least go through a trial period. Maybe you say for one week or one month, I’m going to give this a shot. I’m going to see what it’s like to turn off notifications for social media and for email and maybe for some others, maybe for message as well. You could even go so far as to try it with your phone and to see if that has an impact. My guess is as you get into it you’ll realize the big impact that that has. You’ll also realize that you don’t actually need to get back to people as quickly as you think you do. The result of that will be you’ll be able to do much, much more important and deep work because you won’t be getting distracted as often.

Number nine. Something that will make it a little bit easier to build your business is doing a time audit. Now, we have a decent amount of time in each day. There’s 24 hours and we need to fit our life into that 24 hours a day. Let’s say you want to get seven hours of sleep, so that gives you a total of 17 hours. What does that look like and how do you fill that time?

A lot of times what I realize is we think or I think that I’m spending that time differently than I actually am. I realize this by doing a time audit. For me, most recently, that was using an app on my phone called Moment. This allowed me to see how much I picked up my phone and how much time I actually spent on my phone each and every day. No big surprise, I actually spend a lot of time on my phone every day. What I found out is a lot of that is stuff that I don’t actually really need to do. I’m wasting time on my phone and I didn’t realize how much time I actually was wasting until I did the time audit using an app called Moment.

There’s also a way you can do that for a computer, for your desktop computer, using an app called RescueTime. RescueTime allows you to track the time and how you’re using that time on your computer. When you get a good understanding of that and you have that data, it informs how you work. What I realized is that by having knowledge about how much I’m using my phone, it made me want to use my phone less. Using RescueTime you’ll see the different apps that you’re using or where you’re spending your time and it will make you want to adjust and change. Sometimes an improvement can happen just by seeing how you’re spending that time.

I would encourage you if you haven’t done this to just give it a shot. Maybe you don’t have any expectation whatsoever with what’s to come of that or a goal with it, but you just want to see how am I spending my time. Once you know, then you can make some adjustments and say, “Hey, actually I want to spend less time in email,” or maybe you want to say, “I want to spend less time on Facebook. Now that I know I spend an hour a day on Facebook, I’m going to see if I can cut that down to half an hour.” That will have a really big impact on your business because you’re going to be able to focus on more important things. I could encourage you to do a time audit.

Number 10, just cut it out. Some of you are doing way more than is realistic. You have so many things on your plate and you feel like you need to do it all, but the reality is you can’t do it all. You have other things to attend to, family, you maybe have a full-time job and you’re also trying to build a blog or your website, or even if you’re doing this full-time, there’s still probably the reality that you’re doing too much. What you need to do is cut some of those things out. This simply has to do with simplifying your life.

Even if you are doing this full-time, let’s say you’re blogging full-time, that’s what you’re doing for your job. You have a website, you have a small business you’re running online, chances are you’re still doing too many things and you’re probably beating yourself up about it. But I have good news. It’s not you. It’s just the amount of stuff that you’ve committed to. Simplifying that by cutting things out will allow you to have more margin.

Now, where do those things come that you’re cutting out? Maybe it’s personal related. Maybe it’s a commitment that you have outside of work, but maybe it’s something within work that you need to cut out, a certain habit that you have each day, or a routine that you’re doing related to scheduling something on social media or responding to every comment on your blog, or following up with every single email. There might be things that you need to cut out in order to gain back some time and to not be overwhelmed by all of the things that you need to do and by doing that, you’re going to build a more successful business, have a bigger impact because you’re not trying to do it all. I’d really encourage you to think about cutting things out where possible.

This ties into the last one. We’re going to do an 11, kind of a bonus tip here at the end. One of the most important things that you can be doing is working in your zone. What are the things that you procrastinate on? The things that you push off for a really long time? The things that you don’t like to do and even when you start doing them, you know that you don’t enjoy it? That’s probably not you working in your zone. Now, I’ll say this, sometimes it’s possible to procrastinate on things that actually are in our zone and that’s the difference between something we’ve talked about before, this idea of the resistance, which is a concept from a book by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art. He talks about this thing that keeps us from doing really important work called the Resistance.

But there’s also the other side where there’s things that we just really don’t like to do and we procrastinate on those things. I think if you look at it really closely, you’ll be able to distinguish what those are. In working in your zone, what you’re doing is you’re taking the thing that you enjoy the most or that you’re most passionate about and you’re allowing that to be your focus and either, like we said in the last item, cutting out the things that don’t matter or finding ways to bring people in that can help with the things that you’re not as passionate about. We’ve talked about that on other podcasts before, but maybe one of the first places you look is if you hate accounting you look to bring on a bookkeeper that can help keep the books of your business. Or maybe if you really, really don’t like social media, you find somebody that can come in and handle that part of your business in order for you to focus on maybe it’s the photography or the writing.

But the important thing is to find out what your zone is, to reflect on your zone of genius, the place where you really feel fully skilled and capable and excited, and to let that be your focus. If you do that over a long period of time, the results that you’ll see will be huge because you’re working on something you enjoy working on, you’re able to spend more time with it, you’re able to build it into the margins in ways that you can’t do with the things that you’re not as excited to do.

So, that would be my final tip. Find ways to work in your zone.

That’s a wrap. Hopefully, you were able to find something that, even if it’s a really small thing, that you’re able to implement starting today that will have a long-term impact on your blog or your website or your business.

So how about you? I would love to hear from you. What is your tip? Something that you’ve done that we didn’t mention in this podcast, that has made it easier for you to build your blog or to build your business? All you need to do is go to foodbloggerpro.com/110 and scroll down to the bottom and leave a comment. What will happen is we’ll have comments from other people that will be added onto this list so we can have this awesome little resource for people that are looking to continue to grow their business and finding ways to make it a little bit easier and altogether we can help each other out. I’ll be diving into those comments as well and looking through those. Again, that’s foodbloggerpro.com/110. I would love to hear from you.

All right. Make it a great week. Thanks, guys.

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  1. Bjork, I found this episode really helpful! You inspired me to *finally* clear my email inboxes to zero, something I’ve been putting off all summer. I also started using Pocket and really like it – it’s a much more efficient way of keeping track of articles. I’m trying a to-do list app called Remember The Milk since it’s free… see if I use it before committing to buying one. Thanks for the great suggestions!