Just a few months ago, I packed everything that I loved (including my dog) in my Honda Civic, and traveled 22 hours from Texas to California to pursue a new venture for my business. Since making the move, I've been introduced to new opportunities, but I've also been exposed to a lot of distractions. Sometimes when you're on a new journey, it's easy to become preoccupied with unnecessary things and lose track of what truly deserves your attention and energy. In return, this can cause your productivity level to decrease. It seems like in a blink of an eye, the worst happens.
Whether you're bossing up as a business owner or in the corporate world, your level of productivity can easily dictate whether or not you're successful. Being productive isn't something you can just pop up and be a beast at immediately. Mastering productivity happens over time and requires a change in mindset and lifestyle. It's something you have to intentionally practice every day.
Recently, I connected with a few business owners on what productivity means to them and how they maintain a high level of productivity. Keep reading to learn from these bosses and snag some inspo that you can use in your own life!
Let your past and shortcomings be fuel for the future.
Image via Sky Landish
Sky Landish, Founder, StripN'Fitness:
Being productive means continuously hustling daily for the things that add up to the big picture in your mind.
"I feel as though the largest two challenges surrounding my definition of productivity is the motivation that facilitates your hustle and the vision that keeps that picture in your mind clear yet attainable. We constantly have to reinvent motivation because it can quickly expire. A vision of your picture--your end goal--can be clouded with small setbacks and financial or personal struggles such as breakups or costly bills. When I was 23 years old, I was homeless, struggling to finish college, working a full-time job, unhealthy, unhappy, and had recently been cheated on. There was a moment where I didn't know what to do. However, I somehow found my motivation in the anger of being treated less than by another human being and it led me to hustle harder, to start working out, and to share more on social media. I saw my bigger picture in my ability to take the worst situations and make them a positive light. That alone allowed me to build on me, what I wanted out of life, and how I could create the dopest future for myself.
"A productive workday for me includes waking up at 9 a.m, creating the vibe for my ladies who are signed up for my 'Transform Your Eating & Exercise' program in our Facebook group, and responding to their questions.
"After that, I answer any emails from brands for influencer collaborations, negotiate, and sign any contracts. I then go to my beauty room and tape content for my social media platform, then head to the gym to do my daily workout. Once I'm done, I go to my collaborative office space that I share with my fiancé, and we typically discuss whatever calendar updates, bookings, or other things that are coming up. We usually end the day with dinner together, and I head home to catch up on news or trending topics for the day."
Let technology aid in your productivity.
Image via Alexis Davis
Alexis Davis, Founder, The Content Plug:
There are only so many hours in a day, so having systems and using your time efficiently is vital for entrepreneurs and businesses of every size.
"It takes a certain mindset to perform at your best each and every day. For one, I strongly believe that getting started early helps me have a productive 16 hours. I like to begin my day by checking emails and responding to items that need immediate attention. I double-check my calendar to see what meetings I have planned for the day and ensure that I have my agendas and notes prepared well before my meetings are set to begin. Scrambling at the last minute will only pull me away from focusing on other important tasks.
"Managing my to-do list on Trello helps me significantly as I am able to put dates and times on tasks instead of feeling like I need to accomplish everything in one day.
"Since I am a social media manager, I spend a lot of time on the various platforms looking at discussions or trends to see if there are any conversations I can appropriately jump into on behalf of my clients and to keep an eye on current events. Ironically, looking at pages that have nothing to do with my clients can get distracting, and I have to have a bit of self-control.
"Finally, getting a full eight hours of sleep helps tremendously. I was once a person that could stay up all night and run on a few hours of sleep, but [that will] catch up to you and does not help you or your productivity in the long run! For me, a productive month ends with happy clients, new proposals delivered to potential clients, at least one new invitation to speak on a panel or teach a class, a short to-do list, and little to no emails."
It's OK to pivot.
Image via Psyche Terry
Psyche Terry, Co-founder, UI Global Brands:
Being productive means to be moving but not in the same place and to have energy but not in the same area. It's about forward motion even if it's not the original direction but you're still moving, learning, and being challenged. It's about growth rather than standing still.
"A couple of years ago in my business, we were doing themost! We had two LLCs under one company---one was apparel and the other was beauty. I was still in motion with both so [I was] not as productive with my beauty business because of the time that I was spending on the apparel brand. This wasn't a line--it was a whole company! I put a lot of time, energy, effort, and talent into it, but ultimately it was distracting from my other brand.
"Great business mentors are part of my success story. Enrolling in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program was most productive for us as a company because it helped me to identify the best path for us while truly looking at the final outcome.
"Once I considered the end result, it forced me to choose the most productive route and avoid distractions. My definition of a productive workday is constantly changing.
"I would define a productive workday as anything that helps me get closer to my end result. [It's] if I'm able to move, whether the movement is positive or negative, to get closer to that end result that I have stated for myself. This also includes self-care, rest, and being conscious of my personal well-being. To do that, I have to breathe and reflect in self-care. To me, that's the true definition because if you end up burned out at the end, then what's the point?"
Every second counts.
Image via Instagram/getfitwithmassi
Masiel Encarnación, Weight-loss coach & Founder, The ConFITence Blueprint:
Being productive means being efficient and wasting as little time as possible.
"Instagram used to be a major distraction when I first started my business. First, I followed too many influencers in the health and wellness space which clouded my creativity and focus. Scrolling through a feed full of others in your space to be 'inspired' is actually a sure-fire way to always be in second place. I had to quickly learn that being an influencer and being a profitable business owner were not always the same thing.
"The way I overcame this was to unfollow almost everyone in my space unless I knew them personally and focus on my company's framework and mission.
"Secondly, I love connecting with my community, and in the last 6 years, I've built a very engaged following. However, at one point, I constantly felt pulled into 100 different directions with requests from all over the place. My desire to be accessible and immediately responsive to hundreds of DMs (and emails) in real time was unrealistic and a huge stressor. Once I changed my mindset, prioritized revenue-generating activities, and set better business boundaries around my availability and response time, I was able to be more efficient.
"For me, a productive workday begins with self-care and non-work activities. I create, meditate, write, read, journal, exercise, eat breakfast, and then dive into work after I've already poured into myself. Work happens between the hours of 9 a.m.-9 p.m."
The small wins add up.
Image via Kaylen Zahara
Kaylen Zahara, Founder, AmazedByKay Consulting:
Productivity is knowing each day you performed a micro task that targets executing your macro goal.
"The biggest distraction for me as a founder and content creator is analysis paralysis along with a pinch of procrastination. As the boss, you have no one to micromanage you but yourself, so there are times when my moods can get the best of my mornings. The fear within will nudge me to put things off for later in the day. Before you know it, it's a new day and my to-do list has barely been tended to. On days my moods aren't in charge, my fear of failure is, and I convince myself that if I spend more hours being analytical, that contributes to productivity, therefore I can't be hard on myself after all, right? If you can relate, the best way to eliminate these habits and comfort zones are to look in the mirror and be honest. Realize you are just afraid of your best version of yourself.
"To rise to success, you have to sit with that fear and be friends with it, quiet the noise, and reprogram your subconscious to believe you are capable. Remind your conscience of your why.
"Here's what a productive workweek looks like: 5 a.m. wake-up times to set intentions for the day, 45 minutes of daily exercise, therapy sessions, deal-closing, accomplishing the biggest to smallest tasks, and assisting my team to meet their needs and to ensure overall brand success."
Being aligned with your team is important.
Image via Jasmine Shells
Jasmine Shells, Co-Founder & CEO, Five to Nine:
Productivity means to be in a state of flow and to accomplish the tasks I set for myself to complete.
"As a startup founder, things always pop up onto your radar that tend to divert your attention from the goals you set for the day. It's inevitable. Those things typically disrupt the flow completely. So I started looking at my to-do list in an aggregate week view versus a daily view. It provides me with more flexibility to accomplish my goals and to allow room for those things that pop up. For low-priority tasks, I easily prioritize them later in the week without any associated guilt.
"I've noticed that weekly to-do lists give me what feels like more control over my schedule and my mindset by creating a more realistic working environment for what startup life looks like.
"A productive workday or workweek from my perspective is alignment between my team members. We have work that is interdependent and collaborative, so keeping us all on the same page while moving a million miles an hour is a constant focus. This, to me, is the ultimate productivity goal."
Understand that success takes a village.
Image via KaDeadra McNealy
KaDeadra McNealy, Founder, Millennial Nail Bar:
As a founder, being productive is understanding what skill set isn't my strongest and reaching out to other female founders for recommendations.
"When Millennial Nail Bar (MNB) first launched, I truly thought I could do it all. From creating the website, running the social media accounts, and partaking in pitch competitions---all while searching for potential investors. I remember speaking with a fellow woman founder who not only explained how important it is to lose the grip on 'your baby' and onboard a team, but how to properly select the individual who can help you accomplish the company's goals.
"Every week, I look over the prior week and/or month's goals. This might include eliminating or continuing current tactics or understanding where the ball was dropped and how to prevent it from happening again."
Planning must meet consistency.
Image via Dawn Myers, Esq
Dawn Myers, Esq., Founder, The Most:
Peak productivity means meeting specific metrics for my organizations as efficiently and effectively as possible.
"In the past, I have been guilty of sacrificing sleep and pulling egregiously long workdays. I was moving the ball forward, but I wasn't working smart, and I was careening toward burnout. It took me a while to realize that the easy way is the smart way. I come from a professional background that glorifies backbreaking work hours, so it took some time to stop feeling guilty about delegating. I thought I was being lean by doing it all myself instead of hiring contractors and virtual assistants. I know now that delegating allows me to focus on the highest-impact activities which result in the highest impact gains. Also, delegating has forced me to build a team, put repeatable processes and training documents into place, and strengthen my management skills. I'm happier and less overwhelmed, and my company runs much more smoothly than it did when I kept a firm grip on every single task.
"Productivity is what happens when planning meets consistency. With the time freed up by delegating low-impact tasks, I've been able to embed small but mighty habits into my routine like blocking off an hour each day for investor outreach or fitting in a morning workout to power me through the rest of my day. Having the space to make consistent, measurable progress has been transformative. Measurability is the key here. Make sure that you associate goals with attainable daily and weekly metrics.
"A successful, productive week for me starts on Sunday night. I have an alarm set on my phone for 7 p.m. to skim my calendar and plan in any high-priority tasks for the week. Less is more. I aim to complete no more than I can fit on a sticky note each day (I use ruled notepads so I can't cheat by using smaller script). If I delegate effectively, adhere to healthy habits, and manage a few high-impact tasks every single day, I am guaranteed to see stunning progress month over month."
Make conscious decisions to take care of yourself first.
Image via Gabrielle Deculus
Gabrielle Deculus, Founder, Business Rules for Women:
Being productive means moving the needle forward, productivity ultimately equates to accomplishing my goals and accomplishing my goals yields success.
"To be honest, mental health has been a challenge, and I work on it daily. There have been times when I struggled with productivity because of it, specifically because of personal life events and work-related experiences. Without having proper support as a founder, you will be impacted and distracted in a multitude of ways. The bottom line is things will happen, but how will you handle it? This is why I actively invest in my mental health and why I started Business Rules for Women. Being ambitious and in business can be lonely, and I have had to deal with a lot on my own.
"Within the last year, I have made conscious decisions to go to therapy, actively develop stronger relationships with my business friends, and share as much as possible with others. We learn when we teach, and we grow when we are vulnerable and willing to listen.
"The past several months, I have been continuously working on producing a much-needed 3-day conference for ambitious women happening April 3-5 here in New Orleans. I truly believe in fully utilizing my time, which means my days are filled with setting timers to meet deadlines, holding several meetings each day, and communicating with my team to ensure things are constantly moving."
Multitasking is a trap.
Image via Dorian Morris
Dorian Morris, Founder, Undefined Beauty:
Productivity is about taking it step-by-step, building brick-by-brick and not trying to boil the ocean while also recognizing multitasking is actually the ultimate productivity killer.
"As the solo bootstrapping founder of Undefined Beauty, there's never enough time in the day to tackle the constantly growing to-do list and capitalize on opportunities, especially in the dynamic and ever-evolving cannabis and CBD space. It can get overwhelming but I find chunking--breaking big tasks into small steps--makes it easier and less anxiety-provoking to GSD (aka get stuff done).
"It takes focus and removing unnecessary, derailing distractions like social media and resisting the urge to multitask, which makes each task actually take longer. I also celebrate small wins along the way to maintain momentum.
"A productive workday involves balancing the strategic versus tactical tasks--putting out today's fires while also planting seeds for future growth and opportunities. It's definitely a journey that's part art and part science, but that's what makes entrepreneurship fun."
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Featured Image courtesy of Dawn Myers, Esq
Brittani Hunter is a proud PVAMU alumni and the founder of The Mogul Millennial, a business and career platform for Black Millennials. Meet Brittani on Twitter and on the Gram at @BrittaniLHunter and @mogulmillennial.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Donald Glover Thanks God For Rejection Because Without It His Career 'Wouldn't Have Happened'
In the fast-paced world of television production, stress is a common occurrence for both cast and crew members. This can be magnified when you're a young creator and even more so when you're a young creator who is melanated. This is no different for the team behind the hit show, 30 Rock, specificallySwarmand Atlanta mastermind Donald Glover, who was a writer for the show.
He recently opened up about the “stress dreams” he used to have while writing on 30 Rock as a result of only being hired because of NBC’s diversity initiative at the time. According to Glover, these dreams would involve him running around the set, trying to find something he had lost. While this might seem like a typical anxiety dream, Glover claims that these dreams were more intense and vivid than any he had experienced before.
"It definitely didn't feel like I was supposed to be there. I used to have stress dreams every night where I was doing cartwheels on the top of a New York skyscraper with the other writers watching me," he revealed to GQ. "There's no animosity between us or anything, but [Tina Fey] said it herself...it was a diversity thing. The last two people who were fighting for the job were me and Kenya Barris. I didn’t know it was between me and him until later. He hit me one day, and he was like, ‘I hated you for years!’”
Glover went on to serve as a writer for three seasons before he broke out to become the phenom that he is today, ultimately developing his alter ego, rapper, singer, and artist, Childish Gambino.
So, what do these stressful dreams reveal about the behind-the-scenes world of television production? Probably everything. And for one of the most brilliant and original minds in Hollywood to struggle with imposter syndrome, our struggles with the same seem just a little more validated.
Glover also opened up about his new production team, where he's headed in the next few years, and more.
Donald Glover on only putting out the freshest entertainment and art at GILGA, his new multimedia studio (which btw, he recently revealed he is actively hiring for):
“You know how you go to a farmers market, and you ask for peaches, and they don’t have any because they’re out of season? Peaches have a season! I’m not gonna sell you shitty peaches just because you want a peach now.”
Donald on one of GILGA's first projects being a short film created by Malia Obama and what it's like being her mentor:
“The first thing we did was talk about the fact that she will only get to do this once. You’re Obama’s daughter. So if you make a bad film, it will follow you around."
Donald on being thankful he was turned down from Saturday Night Live in 2007 and 2009:
“I dodged so many bullets. Me being on SNL would’ve killed me. I got friends who made it on SNL, and, at the time, I was like, damn. But if I got on SNL, my career wouldn’t have happened. And thank God. Thank God I didn’t get some of those pilots. I wanted so desperately to be on Parks and Rec because it was the cool, hipster show. I am the bullet dodger. I feel like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. That wasn’t a mistake, you know? God did that.”
On Chris Rock encouraging him to try stand up (again):
“So I was with Chris Rock, and he was like, ‘People aren’t good [at stand-up] until they’re your age. The only one who was better when he was younger was Eddie. Why aren’t you doing this shit?!’"
Glover went on to discuss what he's like as a family man, the meaning of GILGA, and what's next for Donald Glover. Continue reading his GQ cover story in full here.
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Featured image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images