Well, y’all—it’s June. We’ve made it halfway through the year! Before we hop into any sort of blog post, I think we all deserve an enormous hug and pat on the back for that. I’m sending so many hugs to you!
But in the spirit of making it halfway through, I want to share one of my favorite practices with you: the mid-year review. Given my love for all things planning and goal-setting and living a well-designed life, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that I love reviewing plans and goals and life designs just as much.
The mid-year review is a common practice for a lot of companies. It’s an opportunity for companies and their employees to reflect on goals set at the beginning of the year, and the first six months of progress (or lack thereof). It’s also an opportunity to readjust goals and plans for the rest of the year.
It’s near impossible to anticipate the activities of an entire year at the start, so the mid-year review offers the perfect opportunity to realign as necessary, once you’re successfully six months in. And so, even though I work for myself, I like to check in, reflect, and reassess my own “well-designed life” in the middle of every year.
I like to apply this process to more than just work, too. After setting (and revisiting) a few personal New Year’s resolutions, it’s nice to check in with myself at the halfway point and see how things are going.
Personally, I like to check in using my Well-Designed Year workbook. I reflect on the first six months of the year, review the list of my heart goals, and reconnect with my core purpose—or, the overlap of my principles, my powers, and my passions.
You can do a mid-year review without the Well-Designed Year, too (though might I recommend you grab yours in 2017?). Here’s a few quick and easy tips to help you through the process:
Congratulate and Celebrate
This isn’t just about planning for the rest of the year, this is also about celebrating everything that you’ve accomplished so far—even if all you think you’ve accomplished is successfully keeping your family healthy and fed through the first half of the year.
(Ahem, that is a MAJOR accomplishment!)
Start your review by making a list of three (or more!) accomplishments from this first half of the year. Think on it, and pick the stuff that you’re really proud of. For instance, I’m really proud of the major changes we’ve made in our family diet over the past couple months.
As with any reflective process, I think it’s important to recognize and celebrate what went right. Give yourself some credit!
Consider What’s Working (and What Isn’t)
Whether you started the year with a list of big (and small) goals or not, you likely know which activities, habits, relationships, etc. have been working for you—and which haven’t. Take some time to review your New Year’s resolution lists, or start making some lists right now.
That new weekly spin class habit? That might be worth keeping. But the daily Starbucks habit? That you may want to curb. That being said, please keep in mind, that these are your lists—this is about what’s working and what isn’t working for you, and nobody else. Don’t feel like you need to cut back on Starbucks, if that’s what’s working for you!
The mid-year review process is a personal one (at least, for those of us who don’t do it with a manager in an office), so make sure you keep it that way. You’re intentionally building the life you want by doing this work, so feel free to be honest about what works best for you!
Check and Reassess Your Goals
Lastly, take a minute to review the goals you’ve set—whether you set them in January, or started jotting them down throughout this review. Are your goals (both personal and professional) still aligned with the life you want to live? With the person you want to be? With the relationships you want to build and the work you want to create?
I’ve said it before and I’ll likely say it again and again and again—goals and resolutions are great, but only when they intentionally align with how you want to feel, the person you want to be, and the life you want to live.
This mid-year review process shouldn’t just be another to-do on your list; it should be an opportunity to actively create a life that’s worth living. Make sure the goals you set in January, and the new ones you set today, are allowing you to live just that.
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The mid-year review process is not meant to make you feel bad for what you haven’t yet accomplished or what may not be going well in your life. Rather, it’s about reflecting and reevaluating, as necessary, to ensure you’re always being intentional about the way you spend your time and the goals you’re pursuing.
There’s no need to stay tied to an idea or a goal, just because you planned to pursue it once. The value of doing a mid-year review is in your ability to tweak your vision for the rest of the year, based on the information you have at hand now. It’s about flexibility and change, honest reflection and celebration.
Even if you didn’t envision the year ahead or set goals in January, you have the opportunity to do so now. It’s never too late to start intentionally designing the life you want to live!
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Have you done a mid-year review? What would you celebrate? Have you successfully accomplished any goals—or are there any you’d scrap? Share some of your mid-year review insights in the comments below!
It’s maybe one of the more popular topics on the Internet (and in magazines and in books and in my brain). It seems that every single one of us is searching for how we can balance it all—family, work, friendships, church, businesses, relationships, self-care, and more—with ease and efficiency.
As an entrepreneur whose bed often doubles as an office, productivity is an intriguing topic to me. I love everything that I get to do from the comfort of my own home, but I’m always looking for ways to do it better. Especially my work.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably sought out the perfect work-from-home productive process, too. You may have read tips like:
Plan your day the night before!
(Note: This is a generally good rule of thumb for anyone ever, folks.)
Have a designated space to work!
Schedule breaks throughout the day!
These are all excellent tips, and I second every single person who’s ever recommended them. But there’s a few more not-so-common suggestions I’d add to the list.
Motivate Yourself with Choice
Motivation is a tricky beast for everyone, but I think it’s especially tricky for people who work from home. It can be hard to motivate yourself to get to work when you’re surrounded by distractions, good and bad. But in his new book, Smarter Faster Better, Charles Duhigg suggests that motivation is a skill; it’s something that can be learned and honed, just like reading and writing.
According to Duhigg:
“The trick, researchers say, is realizing that a prerequisite to motivation is believing we have authority over our actions and surroundings. To motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control.”
So, what does that mean? It means that when you start your day by proving to yourself that you’re in control—even in very small ways—you’ll start to train your brain to believe that. Look at the tasks on your to-do lists as decisions, not commands, and make a very specific choice about how you will complete them.
You are deciding to answer the most exciting email in your inbox first.
You are deciding to start that blog post by picking out the image you want to accompany your words.
You are deciding to call your favorite client back, before you respond to customer service requests.
And with each decision, each choice, you’re proving your self-autonomy, and building up your motivation to complete the next task—and every task on your to-do list from that day forward.
Stick to the Schedule
Here’s the thing about working from home: there’s no punch cards or time clocks.
(OK, I don’t think there’s punch cards in most offices anymore, but you get what I’m saying.)
When your office is your dining room table or your kitchen counter or your bed—or even an actual separate room within your house—it can be easy to work at any and all hours of the day and night. There will always be work to do, right? Emails to answer, calls to make, launches to plan. And rarely will there be someone there to tell you to stop (aside from maybe a frustrated partner), so you need to be able to do that yourself.
I’m not saying you have to work from 9-to-5—unless, of course, the logistics of your business or work dictate that you do—but it’s helpful to set a schedule, whenever that works best for you. Think about when you’re most fresh—for some people, that’s first thing in the morning; for others, it’s late at night. Then think about the realities of your life: Do you need to take three or four hours off every afternoon to pick the kids up from school and get dinner started?
The actual hours you pick don’t matter so much, as long as they work for you—and, if I may say so, as long as they account for the other important people and activities in your life. It’s too easy to work 24/7 when you work from home, but that’s not productive; it’s a one-way ticket to burnout and unhappiness.
Give yourself some structure and stick to it. Your work and your family (and you yourself) will thank you for it!
Take a Shower
Aren’t you glad I ended with an easy one? And yes, I mean it.
Take a shower.
And not at 3pm. Take a shower after you first get up in the morning, before you settle into emails and calls and dropping the kids off at school. You can have a cup of coffee (or two) first, but I beg of you, take a shower.
This isn’t because I’m worried about your personal hygiene. Besides waking you up and helping you feel refreshed before you start the day, taking a shower (and getting dressed for work, not back in your PJs, ahem) helps you to feel more professional, even as you work amongst your unfolded laundry. Showering and grooming yourself can actually help you to take yourself and your work more seriously.
It’s all too easy for those of us who work from home to zombie walk from our beds to our laptops and not get up again until lunchtime. Take care of yourself the way you take care of your customers or your employer or your family—when you devote that time to yourself first thing in the morning, I guarantee you the rest of your day will go so much more smoothly.
And you’ll smell better, too. :)
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I wouldn’t say that I have the productivity process perfect just yet. But in the 14 years I’ve spent working for myself, from the comfort of my own dining room table (/kitchen counter/bed/kids’ bedroom floor/etc.), these tips have helped me get closer than ever to truly balancing it all under my roof.
I hope they’ll do the same for you!
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Do you work from home? Which of these tips will you incorporate to help you be more productive this week? Let me know in the comments below!
I was the only member of my team for a long while. And, honestly, there were parts of going it alone that I really loved. I loved the creative freedom. I loved making all of the decisions. I just generally loved having complete control over my business.
But eventually, I realized I couldn’t do it all on my own—not if I wanted my business to grow. And not if I ever wanted to spend time with and focus my energy on my family or my friends or myself.
The idea of adding someone new to my business was, at once, exciting and overwhelming. I wasn’t sure where to start, and I was nervous about giving someone else control over my “baby”.
There’s no doubt it can be hard to hand over the reins to your business. After all, who knows and loves it as well as you? Well, if you build your team the right way, I guarantee you’ll surround yourself with quality employees who want your “baby” to succeed (almost) as much as you do!
If you’re ready to hire your first employee, there’s a few simple steps you’ll want to consider to make sure you add the perfect person to your team.
Outline Your Vision
What’s your vision for your company? Write that down. (And if you already have one, revisit it.)
This is easier than it seems. It doesn’t need to be grandiose—though it’s also fine if it is. But there’s no need to overcomplicate it or pepper your vision with buzzwords. Make it authentic and true to where you see your business growing. Act as if you were writing a diary entry to yourself—where do you see your company in a year? In five? Dream big, and envision everything that needs to happen in order for this business to be the success that you know it can be.
This is an important exercise in any stage of your business, but it’s especially important before you begin bringing on additional team members. The people who make up your team should understand and align with your vision for the company—it will be just as much their responsibility as yours to see that vision through. And if it’s a vision that they’re excited about, can get behind and support, it’s that much more likely that you’ll have found a perfect new member of your team.
Identify Your Needs
Where are you dropping the ball in your business? What are the activities that you’re not very good at (accounting comes to mind for me)? I’m not trying to call you out or force you to look at your weaknesses—I want you to see where you need help the most. Where should you be delegating your work, so that you can focus on the work that you’re best at—and on building and growing your business? In The Conquer Kit, entrepreneur Natalie MacNeil advises that if a potential employee can do a task 70% (or more) as well as you can, then you need to delegate it.
These are the things you need to consider before you hire your first employee, because the answers will dictate exactly what you need to be hiring for, and who will best fill that role. It may be helpful to start by taking a look at all of the work you do in your business on a weekly basis. Where do you most need support right now?
If you’re not in a position to hire for every job you’d like to delegate, that’s understandable, too—start with the job that will make the biggest difference to you and to your company. What will take the most off of your plate and significantly contribute to the growth of your business in a short period of time? The faster the company grows, the faster you’ll be able to hire even more team members!
Consider Your Culture
In his book, Scary Close, my friend and author, Donald Miller, talks about his own decision to build a team after a mostly solitary career as a writer. He says:
“Our company would exist to help its employees’ dreams come true, to challenge each other within community in order to better our character, and to do this by serving our clients with excellence . . . We believed we had the power to make one another’s professional dreams come true. We believed the work we did affected more than just our clients, but each other. We believed in grace over guilt and we believed anybody could become great if they were challenged within the context of a community. Suddenly we were more than a company, we were a new and better culture. Our business had become a fund-raising front for a makeshift family.”
I know I want a company culture like Don’s; perhaps you envision something different. Regardless, your company culture is vital—it will make or break your company, because it will both be determined by the people you hire and it will determine whether you hold on to the people you hire.
What sort of culture do you want to cultivate at your company? Go back to your vision, and outline the team culture that would best contribute to that vision. Imagine your office environment, imagine interactions between team members, imagine what your employees would say about you (and your business) in a review.
Do you want to build a fundraising front for a makeshift family? Or do you want to run a less personal operation, where people come to work only to do their jobs, and connect on a deeper level at home? Perhaps something in the middle? You get to decide—but it’s important that you do so before you hire your first employee.
Find the People Who Are Better Than You
You know what you’re great at. You know what you’re not so great at—you should know this well after deciding which tasks you need to delegate. Now it’s important to find the people who can fill in where you’re weak.
Your time is better spent running and growing your company, and focusing on exactly those tasks that you do best. Now is not the time to feel threatened by someone who may be smarter or cleverer or more educated than you—in fact, you are looking for the people who do the jobs you can’t do (or don’t want to do) much, much better than you. Simple as that.
Whatever you do, do NOT hire someone who is a carbon copy of you—you already have a you! Look for the people who can step up where you fall short.
Design the Hiring Experience
I believe in the power of design—from well-designed wallpaper to designing your day and, ultimately, your life. And I think you should bring that same preparation and intentionality to your hiring process.
Before you seek out your first employee, design what you want the hiring process to look like from start to finish. What do you want it to look and feel like for your potential future employees? For you? What are the questions that will best help you suss out the ideal team member? What are you looking for in the first person to join you on this very personal and professional journey?
Remember to consider your vision for your company and the culture you want to create throughout the process. It doesn’t start when you’ve hired the first member of your team—it starts right now, with every single candidate you meet.
Be specific about these details and outline this process before the hunt begins. I promise you—and your future team member—will be glad you did. And you’ll be that much more likely to find someone who is the perfect fit for your team!
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In his book, The School of Greatness, Lewis Howes underscores the value of surrounding yourself with a great team: “People matter. And you can’t achieve anything great on your own.”
Hiring your first team member is an important moment in your business. If you’re anything like me, your business is your baby—so hiring your first team member should be like adding someone to your family. In other words, it’s no small task, but it’s reason to celebrate, too. I hope my advice acts as a helpful guide that makes the process less overwhelming, and more exciting as you grow.
Where do you need help in your business?
What’s the first position you would fill on your team?
Let us know in the comments below!