by Jenna Kutcher
Work smarter, not harder. How many times have you heard that in your life? That’s the goal, but it’s not always the starting point. It can take years to get your business to a place where it’s running itself, you’re making money while you sleep, and you’re not burning the midnight oil every. single. night.
I love sharing my own strategies on this show for efficient workflows and staying productive, but today with my guest, we’re looking at the science and data behind it all. What are the proven methods to being more productive while actually doing less? And get this… the productivity hack relating to our menstrual cycle that actually BLEW MY MIND.
Kate Northrup teaches data-driven and soul-driven time and energy management practices that result in saving time, making more money, and experiencing less stress. Check, check and check, right? She’s an author, an educator, a speaker, and today she’s on Goal Digger.
Kate runs a seven-figure company with her husband, but it all began out of credit card debt. Learning how to approach her finances and manage her debt from a place of love (and not shame) lead to her first book, Monday: A Love Story. During this phase of her life, Kate got married and became a mom. After a difficult pregnancy and birth experience, she realized that she didn’t want to write a book about the same topic because she didn’t have anything new to say, she also didn’t have as many working hours with her new baby, and yet she and her husband still had to make money to support their family.
Kate focused on her daughter for the first year of her life, really letting the business take a backseat and not really knowing how the company was doing. When they sat down with their accountant, Kate and her husband realized that despite only putting 10-20 hours into their business for the last year, the company had GROWN. The result was surprising and enlightening. If she could get the same or better results from working fewer hours, why wouldn’t she? That’s what Kate teaches now, and it’s the theme of her new book Do Less. Kate teaches female entrepreneurs how to do more with less time and less stress.
How to Start Doing Less
Kate has worked with hundreds of women, so she has the anecdotal evidence to back up her claims about doing more with less time. Kate also has the scientific support. Data actually shows that we do the best work when we take frequent breaks. Optimal productivity is 50 minutes on (as in working) and 17 minutes off. Our culture leads us to believe that more “butt-in-seat time” means we’re doing more work, that being busy makes you valuable, but that’s not the case.
That go-go-go lifestyle will start to take its toll on you. Kate says adrenal fatigue is rampant among women and it’s because of our busy lives. If you’re not sleeping well, you feel anxious, or an important relationship in your life is suffering because you’re so busy, take a step back. Kate recommends an activity that she explains in detail in the episode, but here’s the overview: Take a piece of paper and write your biggest business wins on the right hand side. On the left side, write down the tasks you spend time completing every day. Then, draw a line from the task to the win it helped achieve. Those tasks with the most lines? That’s where you should spend the most time. This activity demonstrates the 80/20 rule. Tune in for the full explanation!
Upward Cycle of Success
Kate explained that there are four seasons of a project. The first is emergence, the brainstorming, starting and planning, like the springtime of a project. The second is visibility, like launching or the live date, which is the summertime of a project. As entrepreneurs we love the first two. What we forget is the backend of the cycle — culmination (Autumn) and the fertile void (winter).
Culmination is the phase where we review the project and measure the metrics. We ask what worked, what didn’t work, what were the open rates, and consider other analytics. This phase allows us to make better choices and grow in the next phase of emergence. “It’s like a spiral staircase — Yes, we’re revisiting a lot of the same things in the process, but we can continue upwards from what we learned in the culmination phase.”
If you’re an idea person like me (you know, like it’s annoying how many things I dream up and want to act on) you might be getting stuck in that spring and summer season, or the emergence and visibility phase of the Upward Cycle of Success. This can slow you down, so Kate recommends creating a system to “capture” your ideas. It could be a notebook or Google Doc or file on your laptop where you can catalog all of your ideas as they come to you. Then, set aside time to review those ideas and choose which ones to develop. In the full episode, Kate shared the questions she and her team ask herself before they develop an idea. Press play to hear ‘em!
Period Productivity Hack
Okay, this seriously blew my mind. You need to hear Kate’s full description of the science of periods and productivity, but here’s a run down for you. Basically, women cycle hormonally every 28-days (yeah, you probably knew that). Men cycle every 24 hours. As women, we are programmed for four very specific types of productivity throughout this 28-day cycle. Our world expects us to show up as the same exact person every single day, but as far as hormones go, we’re not the same today as we were the day before.
If you really want to hack your productivity, track your cycle and pay special attention to the follicular phase (the week after your period). This is the part of our menstrual cycle where we are full of energy, wired to dream up brilliant ideas, and initial new projects. “Your brain is poised to be brilliant for [these things] at that time of the month,” Kate explained. So what can we expect from our brain and productivity levels in the other three phases of our cycle? You need to listen to the full interview right now. Press play on the player above.
More from This Episode
What does it mean to give yourself a “longer runway”? How does Kate approach busy mom life and how can you adapt it to your own season of motherhood? And why you should be asking for help early, often, and kindly… All of those answers plus more from the brilliant Kate Northrup. Press play and get ready to take notes for this one!