Author Archives: doggonetechgirl

In pursuit of an awesome life

How to be awesome. I wish I could give you and myself a five step program for being super f***ing awesome, but unfortunately this is only learned through major trial and error as we go along this thing called life. Here are the five things that I’ve been desperately trying to do to be more awesome on a day-to-day basis:

1) Surround yourself with amazing, influential, intelligent, pure, loving, genuine, authentic people. There’s 7.125 billion people in this world. Find the best and greatest minds and be good to them. Treat them with love, kindness and respect. Cherish loyalty and authenticity. What you put out, you’ll get back.

2) Work like a dog and play like a dog too. Have you ever seen a working dog in the airport (check out this awesome video!) or a herding dog round up sheep (here is a video of a monkey riding a border collie that’s rounding up sheep, no joke)? It’s an amazing display of focused determination and relentless drive. They won’t quit till you do and they’re working because they’re obsessed and they think it’s fun. They love working as a team and they do it with joy. Dogs don’t work from 9 to 5, they will work and play 24/7 when given the chance. Work all weekend, work for 14 hours straight, play on a random Tuesday morning, and then while you’re playing, work out all of the big decisions you need to make. Then go back to work again and be a dog on a bone.

3) Simplify and streamline not only your business, but also your daily personal life. Outsource tasks that you can afford to have others do for you to make more time for income-generating productivity and even more importantly, quality time with your family. Housecleaning and cooking easily take up 25% of your 24 hours. Using GrubHubPlated or Fresh.ly can save you a ton of time in the kitchen. Have a really busy day? Use Handlr to find a dog walker, babysitter, house cleaner, personal chef, etc. that your friends and neighbors use. It’s a tiny personal assistant that lives in your pocket. Book ’em, track ’em, pay ’em. Get your life handled in a jiffy!

4) Combine activities and get up earlier. Striving to be f***ing awesome all the time can be tricky. Keep your phone/alarm on the other side of your room so that you have to get out of bed (I have yet to do this, but I hear it really works, which is probably why I have not done it yet). Schedule fitness classes early in the morning to force yourself to get up and get moving. Combine social time with workout time to free up hours in your day. Go for a hike to walk and talk, or book a tennis workout on Handlr and invite a friend to join you. You’ll kill two pounds with one stone. Or however, that saying goes.

5) Quit your complaining, learn from your mistakes and hustle. No one likes a Debbie Downer and obsessing over the would’ve, should’ves, and could’ves will only keep you stuck in an un-awesome phase. Admit when you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. Learning how to be awesome takes a life-time of messing sh** up. The point is to never give up and always hustle until you’ve figured out a better way to do it. In the wise words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Just keep working until you get it right.

5.5) Don’t swear so much. Watch your language! I’m ok with saying words like “f***” and “sh**”, but swear words that I try to eliminate from my vocabulary are as follows: “I can’t”, “I hate”, “It’s scary”, “I’m scared, “I’m stressed”, “I’m not good enough”. By learning not to say these words, it changes your mindset. Instead say words like, “I can be f***ing awesome!”, “If they can do it, I can do it”, “Handle it”, “I’ve got this handled”, and “I can learn anything and make s*** happen”.

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for living an awesome life! This lists needs to be 100 bullet points long if not a 1,000. Isn’t life amazing?

And how crazy cute is this photo? These are my furry coworkers. They’re professionals when it comes to looking adorable at all times.

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5 Ways to prep for an awesome 2015

Some people love the Easter bunny, others love the festivities of Christmas and others love the spookiness of Halloween. I’m a sucker for celebrating New Year’s Day. I mean, come one! It’s a new day, a new year, and new future full of possibilities! I’d take new opportunities over a leg of turkey on Thanksgiving any day. This particular year, I’m particularly excited about it. It’s finally time to launch Handlr and I couldn’t be more excited about it. 2014 was the year of learning, discovering and building. 2015 is the year of launching and growing. I’m ready to work harder than I’ve ever worked before and I’m ready to completely immerse myself in all things Handlr.

To prepare for a huge year, I’ve been getting my ducks in a row. Here’s the top 5 ways I’ve been getting ready for a kick ass year.

1) Journal, journal, journal. Writing down your goals and your projections for the year makes an idea a sudden reality just by putting it on paper. A few years back with DogZenergy I made it a goal to make $100,000 by June and writing it down made it seem completely possible. And it happened. From there, DogZenergy took off. That number was special for me because it meant that I could hire my first employee. It also meant that I had to take a cut to my salary in order to pay my first employee, but this was a big turning point because it meant that I was able to take on more customers and improve on my business operations in order to deliver a better customer experience. You have to make sacrifices and constantly invest every cent into your business in order to make it grow. Writing down these goals, keeping track of your finances and writing down the ways you’re going to reinvest into your business (whether it’s advertising, bringing on more employees, getting promotional materials made or attending community events) is all part of the growing process.

2) Making lists and checking them twice. Santa may have his lists, but I have my lists in order to get ready for the New Year. As my own boss, it’s not always easy to stick to deadlines because I don’t have someone to make sure that I get them done. Setting hard deadlines and making them happen is made possible with lists. I like to write my lists on my whiteboard at the beginning of the week on Sundays. I’ll write a list for This Week, and then from there I break it down into days. For Today’s list I’ll break the day down into timeframes to figure out if everything I wrote down can actually be accomplished. I’ve made a whole list of loose ends I want to tie up in 2014 so that I can dive head first into Handlr sales and not be distracted by things like bills and “life stuff”.

3) Organizing to make room for more time. I’ve been reading about Capsule Wardrobes and the power of limiting your closet to just a few items that all match so that you don’t waste time thinking about how to clothe your body. In 2015 I’m all about time management and simplifying my personal life so that I can do nothing but eat, breathe and sleep Handlr. I may not be stylish in 2015, but at least I’ll match and it’ll only take me a minute to rush out the door. I’ve also been thinking about others way to optimize my time by figuring out what daily activities zap hours in the day. Going grocery shopping, preparing meals and cleaning are the most time consuming activities during the week and easily add up to 25% of my daily hours. To free up this time, I’m signing up for Amazon Fresh to deliver on a weekly basis and just like the capsule wardrobe, I’m going to pick out 10 healthy, quick to prep recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and rotate them throughout the month. Who needs to eat a fancy meal when you have a new business to launch? Not me.

4) Reflecting on daily habits and repeating the mantra, “If I ___________, I’ll be able to ___________.” I read this in an article in the Harvard Business Review the other day and it stuck with me. It’s easy to make resolutions to exercise more, wake up early, yadda yadda, but it’s important to really ask ourselves why we want to do these things in order to truly embrace these changes in our daily lives. I’ve always been a night owl since I was a kid. I’m typing this right now at 10:31pm. I desperately want to be an early morning person and I’ve been trying and trying to push my alarm back by at least a half hour every few weeks. Sadly, my average wake up time is around 7:30, which is not going to cut it for 2015. So I’ve been telling myself this, “If I wake up at 6am everyday, I’ll be able to spend the early morning with Matt.” And then I’ll continue with, “If I wake up at 6am everyday, I’ll be able to learn about current events and business strategies before I start my day. If I wake up at 6am everyday, I’ll be able to exercise or ride my horses before I start the workday. If I wake up at 6am everyday, I’ll be able to eat a healthy breakfast and enjoy it with Matt. If I wake up at 6am everyday, I’ll be able to prepare my mind mentally, physically and emotionally in order to start my workday at 8:30am and will truly make the most out of the rest of the day.” This exercise allows you to truly understand the benefits that making one change can make. One change can make such an impact not only on your wake up time, but also on the rest of the day and your whole life.

5) Looking back on 2014 and being grateful for every bit of it. 2014 was one of the best years of my life. Matt and I traveled all over the globe and went on more adventures than I can count. From getting stuck in a river in Costa Rica, to playing with a monkey for the first time in Barbados, to skiing in the Italian Alps, to midnight product development calls in the streets of Paris, to partying in Ibiza till 5am in the morning, to eating meatballs in Sweden, drinking wine in Napa and wandering in Germany, it was a year of discovery. In each and every place we traveled to, Handlr ideas, strategies and product calls came pouring out onto the pages of my journal. I was truly living in love and living in the moment in 2014.

Last year, I didn’t make any resolutions and I chose a word to define 2014. Ok, two words, “Be brave.” This year I’ve chose three words, “Be f@#$ing awesome.” This is also our motto for Handlr. We need to do all things in our power to make Handlr awesome. Our technical team is awesome and we have an awesome Handlr Ambassador team forming. We have awesome businesses signing up and we have awesome new top-secret plans in the pipeline for taking Handlr global. 2015 is going to be f@#$ing awesome!

Wishing you a very Happy Awesome New Year!

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In the Cloud

Right now, I’m writing a few thousand feet up in the air. There’s something about being on a plane that compels me to reflect on my current situation in life and business. Maybe it’s the thin air or the complimentary wine or the fact that my phone doesn’t work. Whatever it is, it’s so great to unplug and unscramble my thoughts en route to a new environment.

Being a business owner/entrepreneur requires you to constantly be creative and inspired in order to drive new ideas, growth and change. I love being at home with my animals in my home office, but if I really want to come up with some “big” ideas I have to hit the road in order to escape from daily habits and shake up my psyche. It’s so easy to do the same thing everyday when you’re at home and so easy to get trapped on the hamster wheel of life. Traveling let’s you step out of your current situation. It almost feels like an out-of-body experience if you train yourself to reflect on your current situation.

I love to write in my journal but unfortunately I don’t really put pen to paper when I’m at home. It’s something that I’ve been trying to do more of, but I absolutely love to write when I’m on a plane or in a coffee shop in a new place (I’m typing on my computer at the moment only because my journal is trapped in the overhead bin). I try to write about where I’m at, what we’ve been doing, what I’ve learned, how much I love Matt and what my goals are for the future. Last week I read through my 2014 journal so that I could reflect on the year and was dumbfounded by how many goals I wrote down and how many I was able to check off. We traveled a ton and I got a ton done.

It’s so fun to see these random thoughts that I wrote about on planes, finally touch ground and become real. Thoughts become things and I truly believe that the first step to a thought becoming a thing is putting ink on paper. Suddenly it’s no longer a brain seed and it’s sprouting on paper right before your eyes. From there it’s a matter of drawing out the execution of this idea. Then the roots spread and gain traction. Then you put your thoughts into words and figure out how to make it happen by researching, learning, talking and connecting with the right people. From there you figure out how you’re going to find the right team or tools to help you make that idea happen. Once you have your thoughts in action, you have to drive it to the finish line. When it’s almost real, you have to tell the world about why your idea is the best idea ever and why they should use it too. Then you have to continue to believe in it and then you have to learn how to make it even better. It needs to get better and better and your ideas must get better and better.

And that my friends, is why I travel. To escape into the Cloud and think above and beyond where I am right now.

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Quick HANDLR update

Can I just say that I’m so excited that I can barely handle it?!?! Get it? Handle it?

In the last week, I’ve just managed to summon up the courage to start spreading the word about Handlr. Isn’t that funny? You’d think that after a year and half of development that I would be so excited to tell every single service business in America about just how awesome Handlr is, but rejection is a funny thing. To work so hard at something and to believe in something so much is only half of the battle. The truth is, not everyone is going to love your idea and not everyone is going to want to sign up for your vision. To have an idea and to see it come to life is so crazy. I knew that I needed this mobile platform to run my business on, but I didn’t completely trust that other people would love it too. To put Handlr out there and to get our first signups has been mind blowing. OTHER PEOPLE LIKE IT TOO?!?! Amazeballs. Bring it on!

I bought a book the other day called “Red Hot Cold Calling”. The book is circa 1995. The author recommends using a computer to keep track of your sales contacts. ; ) But he does make a few great points- pick up the damn phone and make more than one call a day. It’s tough to make one cold call and get rejected simply because a business is not ready to go mobile or they want to stay small (huh?). But it’s easy to make 20 phone calls and get 5 to sign up that day because “they get it”. It’s not about being rejected, it’s about realizing that there simply needs to be more education. He also reminded me that I’ve created an amazing product and that I’m not “selling” my product, I’m just informing people about how AMAZING Handlr really is.

The truth is, I’m not actually selling anything because Handlr is completely FREE for businesses to use. I made it this way because I am coming directly from the business owner’s shoes. I HATE paying for advertising. I’ve always dreamed about new customers just dropping themselves into my schedule and by George (where did this phrase come from?), I’ve done it! Handlr does this.

I’ve paid closed to a $100K (or more) in advertising and marketing over the years for my small business DogZenergy and I might as well gone and lit that money on fire in the middle of the street. My DogZenergy advertising money bonfire might’ve attracted more new customers than any Facebook ads ever have. But I digress- the truth is, small business owners invest soooo much time and money and effort into their businesses and they deserve a better solution. We shouldn’t have to guess that a $1,000 here and a $1,000 there will turn into new sales. $2,000 is a lot of money for a hard working small business owner. We’re better off using that money to pay our hard working employees a better wage. They’re the people who really deserve it. Not Yelp. Not Facebook. Our employees are the faces of our small businesses. They are the people who put so much love and time and energy into making our small businesses a success. I wish that I could pay my dog walkers 50% more. I wish that I could improve my margins and improve our opportunities to double our business.

With Handlr, I’m so excited to do this. I’m excited to provide the most transparent, easy, simple mobile experience for my customers and I’m so excited to keep my dog walkers 100% booked. I’m excited about Handlr and all of the good that it can do for small businesses like my own. We deserve to have the most state-of-the-art mobile technology to run our businesses and it’s almost here!

Sneak peaks of the Handlr dashboard. Shhhh don't tell anyone. ; )

Sneak peaks of the Handlr dashboard. Shhhh don’t tell anyone. ; )

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What is Handlr?

Handlr is awesome. It better be, because I’ve been working on it for over a year and I’ve been dreaming about it for 8 years. Handlr is the answer to all of my business owner prayers. It’s not easy running a small business because you have to do it all when you don’t have the budget for an admin assistant, bookkeeper, marketing director, social media manager, etc. Being a small business owner you are expected to work 24/7 and must always have your phone glued to your side. When a person first decides to start her own business, she may fantasize about personal and financial freedom, but quickly realizes that instead of one boss she just gained 20 micro bosses (if she’s lucky to sign up that many clients when she first opens up her business). If you’re lucky and if you’re doing a great job, you start getting busier and busier and it’s difficult to keep up with the demands of so many customers. You want to do the best job that you can, but the volume of phone calls, scheduling requests and changes just gets out of control. Keeping track of all of your customers, making them happy (because this is THE most important focus when running a service business), and keeping track of the “business side” of your business is no easy feat. I thought I was super human, I thought I could do it all, but I couldn’t and I was not providing the absolute best experience anymore for my customers. That’s when I knew I needed to ask for help. There’s two ways to do this- hire and find the technology that can streamline your operations.

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I decided to hire my first employee, my mom, because I knew that I could trust her more than anyone else. It’s hard to hire people because you don’t know if you can trust them. Especially if you have a mobile service business with your employees being unsupervised and going into people’s homes. I needed to find a solution to this so I tried using a different software systems, but there were so many bugs and it just didn’t offer my customers the experience that I truly wanted to give them. That’s when I decided to finally put my 8 year dream into action by developing Handlr. I wanted to have a super automated smart schedule that would communicate with employees and customers within the schedule and then be able to keep track of my customers’ satisfaction with our services and our employees. It’s hard to read your customers mind and know if they are truly happy or not. I wanted an accurate way of keeping track of their happiness. With Handlr, every time a service is completed my customers will be able to give their feedback and be able to see which services people love and which employees my customers love or don’t love. The problem these days that businesses face is that people are very quick to judge and complain on review sites like Yelp (argh!) and don’t give their feedback to the business owner. We want to make people happy because our businesses are our babies and our bread and butter. You can try to be the world’s most perfect business, but if an employee makes a mistake or if the customer is having a bad day, a single bad review online can haunt you for the rest of your business’ life. The reason being is mostly because there’s a negative bias online and not every single service ever rendered is being commented on. It’s totally flawed. For example, DogZenergy has performed well over 50,000+ services for our customers in the last 9 years (that’s a lot of miles walked and a lot of poop picked up!) yet we only have two reviews on Yelp. Yet people look at Yelp and think that we’re not established or that we’re not that good because we only have that many reviews. One ex-employee who I got rid of really quickly because of his dishonesty and bad attitude opened up his own dog walking business and has 30 reviews, has been in business for a year and pays his customers and friends to give reviews. That doesn’t add up right. I’ve tried to encourage my customers to leave reviews, but they are extremely busy affluent people and they simply don’t have the time. If they do graciously leave us a review it gets filtered because they are not “Yelpers” or because I’m not paying enough money on advertising to Yelp. Who knows? They have an “algorithm” that determines my business’ whole reputation online. It feels like extortion to me, and I’m so unhappy about it that it helped me make the final decision to start Handlr. On Handlr, every single service performed will be tracked and people will be able to sign up for our services based on who their friends and neighbors use. They’ll be able to see reviews happening around them in real time and will have all the social proof they need to confidently hire us for all of their pet’s needs knowing that we strive to be completely honest and fully committed to their happiness.

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With service industries it’s all about trust. When you are entering people’s homes and taking care of their kids and pets, they need to be able to trust that you are going to take the best care of their most loved family members.  With DogZenergy we want to be completely transparent, honest and trustworthy, which is why we want our customers to be able to GPS track our employees and know when we check in and out of jobs. We want to give our customers constant contact with our management and our walkers, which is why we’ve built in a state-of-the-art in schedule messaging platform. This way, if a customer needs to ask a question, make a change or request special instructions, we’re only a message away. Both our manager and our employee will see the messages so that nobody ever misses a request. We also know that people want visual proof that their dog is happy, which is why we can also send photos through the apps.

Handlr streamlines a business’ operations and makes it so easy to grow and scale. I like to think of it as a mobile modern day alternative to franchising. With the smart schedule management platform it’s so easy to make sure that all of your employees are where they are supposed to be and so much easier to trust that you have a good team in place. It’s so easy to set up your business’ availability in all different zip codes that you don’t have to hire on more managers or franchise out your business. You can literally set up your biz by inputting your services, prices, zip codes you service and employees, and then set up your open availability. Once that’s done you can send out a mass email or text blast to your customers to download the app and then they can immediately start doing business with you. Your customers will be able to schedule themselves extremely easily resulting in more bookings and your availability will be visible to all of their friends and neighbors who are also looking for your services. Your employees will be able to take pictures of the jobs getting done and from there you can push those photos to your business’ social media channels. Your customers can also send the photos to their FB or Twitter pages. I like to say that we’ve automated word-of-mouth by making it easier than ever for your happy customers to share their experience with your business. We connect business’ with their customers’ social network within their neighborhood. Oh how I love modern mobile technology!

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For both DogZenergy and Handlr, it’s our job to deliver happiness and make people’s lives easier. It’s what we do and with Handlr we’re stepping up our game big time. I’m so excited that it’s almost done! We’re set to launch in early 2015! To get the inside scoop on our development and secret launch date, you can sign up on myhandlr.com. Stay tuned!

 

Kicking fear’s ass

A few weeks ago I sat in an audience of 40 other business CEOs and founders and listened to Mike Jones of Science, Inc. say the words, “Are you doing something right now that makes you money?”. This quote ended up on my whiteboard at home as a constant reminder to stay on track and work on tasks that make me money instead of make me busy. Which is ironic, because right now I’m writing a blog post instead of cold calling a hundred small businesses. The truth is, starting a business is completely overwhelming. It’s like staring up at a massive mountain and thinking, “How the hell am I going to scale this thing?”. One step at a time. Mike shared with us that success rides on two basic principles: sales and an unfaltering belief in your business’ potential for growth.

The bottom line is that fear is the enemy when it comes to sales and believing in your success. It’s scary as all hell to cold call people and nerve-wracking to put your idea out into the world. It’s scary to hear the truth and the truth is, not everyone is going to love your idea. It’s scary to put your whole life savings and wedding fund into a new crazy idea and it’s scary to think that there’s a possibility that not a single soul will want to sign up for your new app. Fear is a bitch. It can paralyze you and make you want to crawl up into a ball. Owning my own business for the last 9 years and starting a new one, has been quite the roller coaster. It’s the best feeling in the world to be financially independent and to grow something from nothing, but it’s also scary to see your bank account near zero and to have tons of people relying on you to pay their living wages. It’s sometimes terrifying to shoulder so much responsibility for your business, your employees, your business’ reputation and your own living expenses. But it’s so worth it and the last 9 years have taught me so many lessons in bitch slapping fear in the face. I’m not going to lie, I have moments of panic, every entrepreneur does, but I now know how to stand up to my fear and most importantly, I know how to change my mindset.

The only thing that we have control over in life is our own mind. We have the power to choose the way we want to think about things. Dog training has taught me to train my own brain. I can train myself to approach difficult matters confidently, objectively, logically and without fear.  Today we aren’t running from saber tooth tigers or wolves to survive, but we are still experiencing varying degrees of stress to make it in the modern world. You can think about stress as something negative, or you can change your mind about it and think of it as a motivator to keep you moving forward. Some stress is good, it keeps you going. It’s just important to keep it in check and not become paralyzed by it. I’ve found that 1) perspective, 2) progress, and 3) balance, keeps stress in check and fear at bay.

#1 Perspective in life is everything. It’s really the only thing that we truly have control over in life.  You can choose to think about things any way that you want. You choose to be scared, unknowledgeable, ungrateful, panicked, or clueless, or you can choose to be confident, knowledgeable, grateful, poised and clued in. You can be these things by taking action and taking control of your thoughts. To do this you must be self-aware and reflective in order to make a conscious effort to cancel out the negative and change it to a positive. Being scared or panicked is caused by a stressful response based on something that happened to you in the past or because of staring at the unknown future. Being in the present moment and taking one tiny step at a time toward your goal is really all that you can do and is completely do-able. You can look at a giant mountain that needs to be climbed, or you can look at your own two feet and put one ahead of the other. This perspective will propel you forward instead of become stuck in quagmire of fear. Being grateful for being on your own two feet and being thankful to be on your personal journey of learning and growing will keep your perspective healthy and manageable. Like the old saying goes, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Where you think you’re going to end up isn’t always the case and worrying about the future just slows progress.

#2 Progress is another key to keeping fear in check. Checking off little goals and tasks gets you one step further on your hike to the top. Everyone starts somewhere and overnight success is a rarity, not the norm. I have a tendency to look at the big picture and end goal way too often and fear sets in. Changing my perspective to what I can do today, keeps the fear in check. I have to remind myself that DogZenergy started as Wagz n’ Wigglz on my street with just a handful of dogs and that it took a few years to walk a dog on every single street in all of La Jolla. We all start somewhere and progress is made when we keep on moving.

#3 Keeping life in balance is an art form and is the key to staying calm, brave and laser focused. Even though I can’t juggle, I have an imaginary Brittany in my head who is a fantastic juggler. She juggles a lot of balls. There’s one for my family, Matt, friends, Handlr, DogZenergy, pets, fitness, fun, health, mindfulness and learning. I am happiest and most brave when all of these balls are up in the air. If I drop one, a few others start dropping and then I’ve lost all my balls and marbles. Luckily I have ball obsessed golden retrievers who help me pick up my metaphorical balls. This is sounding weird and somewhat dirty. Getting back on track here… it’s tricky to keep your life in balance, but especially as an entrepreneur, it’s essential to take care of yourself to be the best version of yourself. You are your business and your business needs you. You don’t have time to be worrying and fretting about the future or whether or not things are going to turn out the way that you want them to. You just need to keep it all in perspective, make progress and stay balanced.

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“Fear can only grow in darkness. Once you face fear with light, you win.” -Steve Maraboli

Can you tell that I wrote this as a reminder to myself? Ha! Back to work…

7 Tips for working from home

I could probably write a better post about 20 Ways to Procrastinate While Working From Home, but let’s keep this inspirational shall we? It’s a blessing and a curse to work from home. And for those of you reading this from your real offices, you’re probably cursing me right now for having no idea how good I have it. The truth is, it can be extremely isolating and lonely to work from home, which is why I surround myself with furry coworkers. The problem is, they’re lazy and they inspire me to want to take cat naps and ball breaks instead of get work done. To keep myself on track and motivated these are a few ways that I keep myself productive while working from home:

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1) Create a distraction free, comfortable, creative space that you feel proud of. Having a whole room to turn into your office is great, but even if you just have a desk along a wall, make it feel special and make it work for you. I couldn’t find a desk big enough or one that I had-to-have, so I made my own. I found two old sawhorses that my neighbor was giving away and I bought a door from Home Depot for $22 and some chalkboard paint for $12.  I painted the door in a color I love and then propped it up on the sawhorses. The pre-drilled hole for the doorknob makes a perfect spot for threading all of my computer cords through and I love how big of a space I have to work on. On top of my desk, I stacked a few old books and laid a piece of old wood across it to make a shelf for frames, knick knacks, my lucky horseshoe and a carved wooden nose that holds my glasses that we bought in Switzerland as a souvenir. It’s all thrown together for just $32 and it sure beats the price of the Crate and Barrel $1,000 desk that I really wanted. I needed a desk to make money on, not spend money on.

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2) Put up a whiteboard. I can’t proclaim my love for my whiteboard enough! It’s life changing. I know it’s not the prettiest piece to hang on your wall, but having a whiteboard for brain storming, strategy sessions and deadlines has increased my productivity by ten fold. It’s great to have a to-do list in a journal or calendar, but having a board with your goals for the year, the quarter, the month, the week and the day lays it all out in a way that totally makes sense for me. Big dreams need to be broken up into smaller goals, and goals need to be broken down into manageable tasks. For instance, building an app is a big dream, but completely overwhelming if you don’t break it down into a million little steps.

Being able to cross off all of these steps and then erase the whole day once you’ve finished them is addicting. It also helps keep you moving forward when you feel like you’ve gotten stuck. I’ll tell myself that I have ten minutes to fart around and then it’s time to pick a task and cross that task off. Make sure to keep your to-do list to just 5 things if possible. It makes it much more manageable if you really need to think about what you can get done in a day without super human powers.

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3) Create a work schedule for yourself. When you don’t have an office to get to or people to see, it’s easy to work all day in your pjs and forget to do basic things like brush your hair. I’ve made it a goal to enjoy my mornings by checking email in bed with coffee, reading up on news and blogs that I follow, and then I get up to go feed all of the animals and clean up after the horses. Matt and I will eat breakfast together and then he’s off to work and I head upstairs to my whiteboard. I usually write down all the things I need to do the night before and then revisit it in the morning and break down the list down even more. From there I start working in two hour sprints. I’ve found that this keeps me on track and more focused. After two hours, I take a 15 minute break to do whatever I want, whether it’s taking pictures of my adorable coworkers and posting them on IG (so lame I know), or doing something around the house. Then it’s back to another sprint. I usually take a half hour lunch break and then after another two hour sprint I’ll do something on my fun chart (more on this dorky but wonderful chart later!). After having some fun, it’s another two hour sprint and then dinner. Fitting in 4-5 sprints equals about 8-10 hours of very productive work because I know that I still have time to play around or get other chores done in my break times.

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4) Be ok with breaking from routine and make sure to get out of the house. The scenario mentioned above is ideal and not especially realistic. It’s something that I strive for, but it easily gets derailed. Sometimes I’ll be so busy that I’ll work a four hour sprint and other times I’ll be distracted by going to networking events or having a day full of calls. The important thing is to do with the flow and not get stressed when things aren’t going as planned.

It’s also really important to get out of the house. It breaks up routines and can get you out of ruts. It’s also a great excuse to put on real pants and wear clothes that aren’t covered in cat hair. I love going to coffee shops like The Refinery in Santa Monica because it’s distraction free (no cute animals to stare at) especially if you get a desk that faces the wall. The beauty of working from home is that you can mix things up and if you’re a person who doesn’t thrive from routine you can work when you feel like working. If I want to work from 7am-1pm and then pick up again from 4pm-12am I can, but I’ll still be getting in some play and still be getting in some solid hours.

5) Make time for play. I feel like I shouldn’t be writing this because it might make me sound “lazy”. Our culture is obsessed with being busy. We are constantly telling people that we’re so busy as though it’s a badge of honor. I’m here to say that that’s bullsh$@. Being busy and working smart are two totally different things. I used to be that person. The person who was doing it all and I worked myself into a depression. After college I worked 12 hour days, 7 days per week and I had no time for fun let alone a vacation. I was happy doing what I was doing, but I was getting burned out and I wasn’t happy in my personal life. My business grew, but not as quickly as it should’ve been because I wasn’t able to think creatively and it was difficult to see the big picture because I was so stressed out. That’s when I knew things had to change. I took a temporary pay cut and hired my first employees to free up my time so that I was able to work “on” my business instead of physically working for my business. A huge part of being an entrepreneur is being able to think creatively about solutions to pain points and problems. Creativity comes from being in a state of joy and happiness. My happiness comes from riding horses, cooking, painting, spending time with Matt, playing with my dogs and spending time in nature. This is where my fun chart comes into play. As an entrepreneur it’s very easy to get extremely busy, but to stay creative and make good decisions it’s important to keep yourself balanced and happy. By having a to-do list that has activities on it that make you happy, you’re working on you and you are your business. I’m thinking about DogZenergy and Handlr probably 80% of my day whether it’s driving my car, riding my horse, or hiking with my dogs. I’m constantly problem solving and deciding how I’m going to make the hundreds of decisions that I need to make about my businesses every day. This way, when I return to my desk, I can execute decisions instead of sitting there figuring it out. If I don’t make time for play, I end up waking up in the middle of the night thinking about problems that I need to solve.

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6) Don’t be afraid to outsource and ask for help. Just because you work from home, doesn’t mean that you should be doing household chores all day or that you should be “doing it all”. Being busy is overrated. Getting real work done is key. One way to determine if you should outsource house cleaning is to total up the amount of all the hours you work in a year and divide that into your yearly income. If that number is lower than what it would be to pay someone to clean your home by the hour, then you should not only treat yourself to a clean home a few times per month, but also free up your time to work on your business because your time is valuable. You should be spending time on the things that make you money and house work only distracts you from it.

Another way to optimize your time is to outsource your time consuming tasks to a virtual assistant. I love using Odesk to get time consuming things done like data entry. If something like web research is going to take you ten to fifteen hours, you can find someone on Odesk who will be happy to do the work for you while you spend your time on projects that will propel your sales and growth forward. For example, if my time is worth $100/hour, it doesn’t make sense for me to spend 10 hours on data collection. That’s $1,000 for one spreadsheet, when I could just as easily save myself 10 hours of time and pay someone else $30 to get it done. It’s easy to make yourself seem busy, but working smart and making time to play will result in real success.

7) Travel. The beauty of working from home is that you can work from anywhere. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut when you work from home, so in order to keep your creative juices flowing, it’s important to put yourself in a new stimulating environment. I absolutely love getting on airplanes because it’s so amazing to have a perfectly good excuse to not look at your phone for a long stretch of time. It’s so awesome to be completely disconnected and to literally be floating in the clouds. It’s a perfect time to journal and reflect on your goals and where you see the future of your business going. It’s the perfect time to write down big ideas and explore where they can go. I love to bring a new business book on the plane and I’ll devour it by the time we land. While en route to new places I’ll look out the window and dream about what I can make out of Handlr. Thinking, dreaming, obsessing and talking about new ideas is where new businesses come from. Traveling gives me the time and the open mind to think about the “what ifs”. Coming home allows me to work on making these ideas a reality.

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I’m always looking for ways to make the most out of everyday and would love to hear your tips and tricks! Leave me a comment below or email me at Brittany@myhandlr.com.