Today I am going to write about a project that is very close to my heart and belongs to a very good soul and friend of mine named Carmen. I met Carmen when I was living in Canggu, Bali. Our paths crossed when she was at a decisive point in her (business) life: she felt overwhelmed and stuck with her project. And couldn’t figure out why the motivation was lacking everywhere for a project that had and still has such an amazing vision that she always has been 100% convinced of - keep on reading and you will soon fall in love with it as well.
Carmen's vision is to make every woman see and feel the beautiful, strong, vulnerable and unique wildflower they are. She helps mothers and daughter to not only connect with one another but also with themselves and to find their own unique boldness by creating amazing mother-daughter retreats (Beauty of the bond), confidence-workshops for girls (Beauty of the Brave) and workshops for mothers to demystify belief systems that make so many mothers struggle, feel guilt and be overwhelmed (Beauty of the Bold).
So what did we do together?
Spoken in tasks, we created a Project Plan, we worked on her Brand Identity (Vision, Mission, and offer) and a Brand Manifesto (the culture and the values), figured out how her brand design should look like and in the end created wireframes for her future website. Out of all the input she got from our time together Carmen created a beautiful website with crystal clear and moving words. When she finally launched the site I was impressed, proud to have been (and still being) part of this project and incredibly moved. You can have a look at the beautiful end result on her website and I highly recommend any woman and girl reading these lines right now to click on this link.
Here is what you will learn in this blogpost:
- Reasons why you need a project plan and the keys to create a plan that really serves you
- Get the basics right and create a plan with the potential to work not to fail
- Tips and tricks how you make yourself follow your project plan
Start Planning your Project
In this blogpost I want to focus on the first step Carmen and I did together, the Project Plan. As I already described when Carmen and I started working together she was stuck with her project not being able to see the wood for the trees. This feeling of overwhelm was caused by all the different things that she had to handle if she wanted Wildflower to succeed. Having all of these different to dos in her head literally made her toss and turn in her bed at night. As a solo-preneur you have to wear so many different hats and sometimes they consist in tasks that you don’t really enjoy doing. That and the fact that you basically should better be working 24/7 if you want this to work does not really help to keep yourself motivated.
You can see: We needed to get rid of all these negative emotions so that she could start feeling the sparks again and regain her motivation. We did that by having a full-on one-day-workshop and figuring out her Project Plan for the next few months.
I learned a lot side by side with Carmen and before I start jumping right into the „how-to“, within this blogpost I want to list my biggest learnings. Read this post consciously because it will give all of you amazing heart project owners more motivation to get your sh** together and start planning your path. In the next blogpost I will actually show you step by step how to create your very own project plan and the reflection of that into your week by week and day by day.
WHY AND WHEN YOU NEED A PROJECT PLAN
Focus on the steps and not (only) the entire stairway
Getting to dos out of the head and on the paper, helps to gain clarity, reduces stress and overwhelm and makes you start moving. Because instead of only seeing the stairs and how hard it is to climb them all the way up, you actually get focused on the steps that you have to take in order to get to the top.
Don’t make excuses, you do need a Project Plan
Oftentimes people make up excuses when it comes to the project plan. „I don’t have time for this right now because I need to concentrate on xx“ or „I don’t need this, I have it all in my head“ are definitely my favorites - if you hear yourself saying these sentences, this is a sign for you. Stop doing what you are doing right now, get your post-it’s and your pen ready and start doing your project plan - keep on reading and you will see how.
CREATING A PLAN THAT REALLY SERVES YOU
Every plan(er) is different
Everyone has their own way of planning. Some people like it to have a completely planned schedule, others prefer booking out blocks for the different things so they can move more flexible within these blocks. Some people feel more comfortable with online tools like asana or trello, some prefer an old school calendar and others - count myself into this group - need a mix of both. You need to find the way that feels right for you. The only goal of a project plan is to make your life EASIER not HARDER. If a project plan is causing you more stress than reducing it, that does not necessarily mean that you are failing but could be a sign for you to change the way you plan. So try out different things and fail with some of them until you find your way of planning. I will give you some ideas in this blogpost.
Make a plan with the potential to work not with the potential to fail
The biggest problem people have with a project plan once it is done is to really stick to the plan. Now this problem can be rooted in different sources. One can be - as I already mentioned above - that the tool or system you are using is not the right one for you. Another reason is that you underestimate the time that you need to finish certain tasks - which is super duper normal especially in the beginning. The third reason goes hand in hand with the second: you completely book out your entire time and fill up your days with too many things which makes it simply IMPOSSIBLE to follow the plan. And last but definitely not least: if you work on your own it is super hard to keep yourself accountable and motivated to tick of your to dos. It does require some discipline to keep on moving forward. Because this last reason is a bit different than the others, I dedicated an own chapter to it. For now here are some tips for you that will help you to actually create a plan with the potential to work, a plan that is not set up to fail:
- As mentioned before: test it out. Try out different tools / systems and use the ones that feel good for you in order to create the Project Plan that you like and that works for you.
- The first thing you can do in order to plan the correct amount of time for each task is to always give yourself more time than you originally think a task will take. Let’s say when you think a task will take 1 hour, give yourself 1,5 or even 2 hours to actually complete it.
- The second advice regarding the time estimation: track your time. In order for you to get better in estimating the time effort needed you need references. So either you look at the clock each time you start one task and each time you finish it and keep a log book where you can write this down. Or you sit down each evening and run through the entire day remembering more or less which tasks you completed and how long it took you. The last option you have is to use a time tracking tool such as toggle. It is super easy to use, just type in the name of the task, the name of the project and click „play“ and later „stop" once you are done.
picture of toggle
- DON’T BOOK OUT YOUR ENTIRE DAY. But instead if you have a daily workload of 6-8 hours only plan for 4-6. Why? This gives you space in case other tasks come up - they always do - in case that you have a bad day and can't focus that well - that does happen - or something that is completely out of your planning control occurs.
CREATING A PLAN IS ONE THING, STICKING TO IT ANOTHER
Now this for me personally is the hardest bit: discipline. And to be honest I am definitely still working on it. When it comes to planning projects - especially my client’s ones - my heart goes all nuts and I really enjoy spending time to figure out even the smallest task and how long that would take; I put a date in, assign the task to someone and overall make it all look nice. Seeing how tick by tick the tasks get done is the icing of the cake.
But when it comes to my personal Project Plan and my weekly schedule - well things somehow get messy: The plan is not as detailed and I am lacking motivation especially when it comes to certain topics like client acquisition or my personal communication strategy. Just all these spooky things that I have to do on and for my own. So let’s see what to do to address this issue:
Create a surrounding where you don’t have to be disciplined
if you know or feel that you are not a disciplined person the best thing to do is to put yourself into a position where you don’t have to be disciplined. It is kind of like that person who wants to stop smoking but surrounds itself with cigarettes. That won’t make things easier. So what does that mean in respect to your Project Plan? It means that you have to create the surroundings that will simply not give you a choice but to do the work, so you don’t have to be disciplined. Examples for concrete measures here are: turn off notifications on your phone, don’t connect to Facebook for the next 2 hours. If you find yourself procrastinating with cleaning your home, eating tons of not useful food, or just playing the guitar, get out of home and go to a place where these distraction opportunities won’t be there. Go to the next coffee shop with good internet or to the next Coworking Space (highly recommend doing this) and let yourself get into the flow.
Get a team
Another trick that you can use to make yourself be more disciplined is: work with somebody. Ideally you would have a partner or a team that works on the very same project and together you talk about tasks and due dates and then you simply get things done because you don’t want to leave your team hanging. Plus it is kind of cool to have other people riding on the same wave with you (I know all the surfers are going to say now „not true, I love riding a wave on my own“ but you know what I mean). For me that feeling is better than caffeine which is why I am offering exactly that service to my clients.
Find another self employed soul
If this is currently not an option for you because, well, your ideal work partner might not be around the corner (or who knows maybe she is just a button-click away) the next option you have is to look for another self employed soul and suggest to work next to each other. Even though you would not be working on the same subject, it still creates a sense of accountability to have another worker sitting next to you - instead of laboring along all alone on your desk at home. Plus it definitely gives room for some nice social breaks and also to discuss work related issues with another heart-connected entrepreneurial mind.
Create a lovely loving routine
„Create a lovely loving routine“ is my next advice for you which is going to sound weird because, hello, it is that concept of following a schedule = a routine that is hard for you. What I mean here with routine is more a personal than a work routine, simply a lovely loving routine. Create for yourself a healthy life rhythm including waking up every morning at more or less the same time (with love), eating at more or less the same hours (with love), wrapping yourself in your bed blanket around more or less the same time every day (with love).
Creating a lovely loving morning routine also can support you to get into the flow - mine consists in drinking a warm glass of water with lemon, drinking some healing earth (don’t ask), and then getting either into my yoga or my running cloths and dedicate the first 60-90 min of the day just to me and my body. After Yoga or running I usually meditate for a few minutes or do something that is called TRE or inner dance. In summary: for me my morning is sacred. It is there to spread the love and energy I have within my own body and mind, this genius piece of human being. And this simply gets me into an energized mood to get that work started.
But it is not only the morning routine that will help you create that flow. Also dedicating time in between to actively spread that love for an instance by doing personal hobbies - going to singing classes or playing tennis each week at the same time will help your body integrate what are working hours and when it can simply disconnect. There is much more to add to this part but the most important thing is: create a routine that you consciously decide on following every day because it is the routine that works best for you, it is the routine that you love and that helps you energize your body. So find out what it is that you love doing most in the mornings (and that can even be the tiniest thing), what you want to do before going to sleep and always actively spread the love while doing this.
Actively put yourself in your happy place before, during and after work
Spreading the love is also a super important thing while working. And oftentimes people think that you only feel excited when you do cool shit but the thing is: this also works the other way around. You can create this excitement within you and thus cool shit comes out of it. How? Before you sit down to work, spread that excitement, energy, love that you feel when you feel happy. Consciously connect to that happy place before getting the work done, be grateful for the things you will accomplish that day, be happy about the fact that you are going to do great work AND actively say to yourself „today my work is going to be fun“. The same you can do whenever you feel that your concentration does not want to focus, or maybe you even set an alarm every two hours to remind you to spread that love while working. Let’s see what an effect that will have on your work.
Work out your limiting beliefs.
Now this is a very interesting and important one and I am waiting for a very good friend of mine to publish a blogpost about that topic because she is simply an amazing coach who does exactly that plus gave me a lot of the advice you can find in this post. Finding out, why you experience this lack of motivation can be really helpful because once you are aware you can take the steps to find out how to face that issue. As an entrepreneur or someone that works independent working on the mindset, kicking out all the limiting beliefs that hold you back and creating a good, confident, healthy, positive belief system is worth a mint. There is tons of good blogs, podcasts or videos out there that can help you with that but from the deepest core of my heart I tell you today: Ain’t nothing better than a coach or a therapist to get your mindset fast and sustainable on track.
"Marlene came into my life and my business at the perfect time. I was overwhelmed and didn't know how I was going to make it through. My to-do list was a mile long and I was spinning in circles. Her calm, cool and collected demeanor assured me that together we would get through the thick of it. She worked quickly to get up to speed on my business and treated it as if it were her own. She took the jumbled thoughts in my head and created a clear project plan. A step-by-step guide to get me from where I was to where I needed to be. She also helped with website development and consulted on marketing and business strategies. Her diverse skills meant that I could work closely with her on many aspects of my business instead of having to source out multiple individuals for each part. I am eternally grateful for the support, guidance and expertise that Marlene offered me. I would highly recommend working with her. It was more than worth the investment."