If you’re anything like us Mondays are nightmare! Every week we think the day will run smoothly, and do crazy things like schedule 9:00am meetings, but its one tiny disaster after another. So when we met Elise Joy and she told us about her new Get to Work Book, a day planner and goal setting journal, we couldn’t have been more excited to interview her and learn some actionable ways to set goals. A busy mama, Elise has been sharing thoughts and DIY projects online since 2005, running an online shop of handmade goods since 2008 and the host of a weekly podcast that we love, Elise Gets Crafty, that focuses on handmade business, blogging, creativity and inspiration. Read on to check out more about her tips for setting goals and crushing it at work.
Productivity, Setting Goals, and Getting Started
What was one of the most creative and impactful things you did in the beginning stages of setting up your own business?
Right from the beginning, my personal blog was a huge part of my business. I was very open about who I was and what I was working on. I have always shared the ins and outs and the successes and failure and I think this sort of thing can be helpful for other small businesses. When we share, the community as a whole is strengthened.
The best part about being so open is I’ve been able to change business directions a lot without it seeming insane. I had to try a lot of hats (and product lines) to find the one that made the most sense for me, from a passion AND income standpoint. I have always shared the ins and outs and the successes and failure and I think this sort of thing can be helpful for other small businesses. When we share, the community as a whole is strengthened.
How to did you go from DIY’s, blogging, on-line workshops and the other creative ventures to creating a book about productivity?
Everything I have done has been really “goal-centered.” I love working on big projects and so even DIYs that I share tend to fit under a big goal umbrella. Over the years, I have been asked a lot about how I “get it all done” and what my “scheduling methods” are like. I considered writing a book about goal setting and productivity, but then though it would be more fun and exciting to just create a daily planner + goal setting workbook for people to use. And ta-da! Get to Work Book was born. 🙂
Can you share with us an easy exercise we can do to be more productive?
Yes! I think a huge part of productivity is KNOWING what you have to be working on. I have found it to be really helpful to come up with a short list of “action items” for the week. These tend to be things that I must tackle in the next few days. Knowing them on a Monday can help me schedule out my tasks to make sure that they become a priority. Sometimes the daily grind takes over and we don’t leave room for the some of the tasks that we need to get done to move our projects forward.
I think a huge part of productivity is KNOWING what you have to be working on. I have found it to be really helpful to come up with a short list of “action items” for the week.
What is something we can do each week to up our productivity?
Something that’s helped me tremendously is turning off email alerts and refusing to check email on my phone or tablet. At first this felt crazy and I worried I’d “miss” something. But I found that in reality, email when I wasn’t ready to deal with it was at best a procrastination tool and at worst a huge distraction. Email, no matter how exciting, is just a way that other people are making demands on our time. I have found that waiting until I am sitting at my computer with a good chunk of time to deal with it has made me much more productive. And it’s easier (and faster) to handle a bunch of emails at once instead of trying to deal with them constantly.
What quick advice can you give someone who as a big project they want to accomplish? How should they get started?
Congrats on having a project in mind! I recommend taking some time to “breakdown” each step of the project to help you to set your goals. What are the things you’ll have to do to get this project off the ground? Write them all down. You don’t have to accomplish all of these things today (and you don’t even have to know how to accomplish them all today) but seeing the pieces can help you schedule everything out. And then! Find your step one. Pick the first piece up and get working on that. Don’t worry about all the other steps. Think about the first one.
I recommend taking some time to “breakdown” each step of the project. What are the things you’ll have to do to get this project off the ground? Write them ALL down.
What is the advantage of setting goals for our finances?
Great question! I don’t know if there is an advantage for everyone because it depends a lot on how we are motivated. Personally, I am motivated by money. It’s part of how I am wired and so for me – thinking about the numbers and coming up with a financial goal for the year is a big part of my annual business check in.
Having a number helps me think about the number of products I have to sell and the number of projects I have to take on each year to come out ahead. It can also help me think though opportunities that come up. There are a lot “free” requests or “get lots of exposure” requests and knowing that I have a big number to hit can sometimes help me say “no” to some of these.
Having a number helps me think about the number of products I have to sell and the number of projects I have to take on each year to come out ahead. It can also help me think though opportunities that come up.
What was one of the biggest risks you’ve take in your career how did that pay off?
It’s interesting, because as my business has grown I think about risk differently. Five years ago, a great financial risk was spending $200 on packaging materials for unsold posters. Now it’s spending $10,000 on design work for a completely untested product. Risk, and risk management, is a huge part of running a small business and I think it’s something that you get better at handling with time. Part of it is you just get used to feeling a little scared and part if it is that each time you take a risk it either succeeds and you get that thrill or it fails and you realize you’re still okay. Both of these lessons are helpful. But so far, my greatest financial risk was GET TO WORK BOOK and the initial pay-off has been good. The reception to the first version will enable me to continue building a more solid product and eventually take more risks and expand the line.
Risk, and risk management, is a huge part of running a small business and I think it’s something that you get better at handling with time. Part of it is you just get used to feeling a little scared and part if it is that each time you take a risk it either succeeds and you get that thrill or it fails and you realize you’re still okay.
What is one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in your career?
Over the years I have definitely sold products that missed the mark and didn’t connect with my audience to result in good (or even decent!) sales. It’s tough to say what was the biggest flop but I think the common thread was that I produced a product that wasn’t unique enough to me and my brand. It looked and felt too generic and as a result wasn’t worth the interest of consumers.
Talk to us about your podcast a little bit?
Sure! I started the podcast (Elise Gets Crafty) because I am always getting the same small business and creativity questions. At first I thought I should be doing one-on-one coaching or workshops but then realized it would be way easier and probably more interesting (though way less financial lucrative) to just give away this content in podcast form. I release new episodes on Wednesdays about 10 months out of the year and really enjoy the medium and the creative folks I’ve been able to connect with.
What about you, mamas? What are some of your setting goals tips?
To learn more about Elise Joy, visit her website and Instagram.