Podcast 232: Time Management & Productivity for Herbal Business People

The single most important factor in the success of your business is your ability to manage your time and be productive.
Great – cause that’s not hard at all, right? 😑

Trouble is, this is not something you’re just born knowing how to do.

It’s a skill you have to develop – but you can do it, and this course will help!

Enroll for free and over the next month, you will learn so much about how to get control of your schedule – so that you have time for your business without burnout!

(Plus you’ll find a bunch of great bonus material to help with other aspects of your business, too!)

You can enroll in the free Herbal Business Productivity course here:


You don’t need a credit card or anything – just make a username and password and you’re good to go!

Like all our offerings, this is a self-paced online video course, which comes with free access to twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, twice-weekly live Q&A sessions with us, open discussion threads integrated in each lesson, an active student community, study guides, quizzes & capstone assignments, and more!

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Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.

Episode Transcript

Katja (00:14):
Hi, I’m Katja. And I’m here at Commonwealth Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts talking to you today some more about herbal business. And I’ve been going through this series talking about different kinds of herbal businesses. And what you need to get them started and also like what kinds of work you would do if you had that kind of business. And I still have a few more in the series that I want to add, but I want to do this little breakout. Because no matter what kind of herbal business you want to start, there is one skill more than any other thing that is going to make or break your business. It is going to determine whether your business is successful or not. And so I just want to take a little bit of time because really everyone needs this. It’s not glamorous, but it is literally the most important thing about your business. And that is time management and productivity. And basically the reality that you’re already a busy person, and how are you going to fit a business into your life and really make sure that it happens without burning you out, without robbing from all the other things in your life, all that kind of good stuff. So, that’s what I want to talk about today. It’s funny because in talking about the single most important thing for the success of your business, of course you would expect there to be like a one word, this is the thing. It is this thing. And it’s not one word because it’s kind of like a little category of things.

Time Management/Productivity are Key

Katja (02:03):
And sometimes I put it under the category of getting control of your schedule, time management. Sometimes I put it under the mental category of productivity. Because just getting control of your schedule, just having time management is not quite enough. You can have a very organized schedule, and that still may not get you to productivity. So, when we think about this category of work, what we’re really talking about is getting aware of what you’ve got available. And about what you need to do to get where you want to be. And then putting those two things together in a way that will successfully give you the space to be productive. Where the productivity we’re talking about here is building your business, building this thing that can sustain you. And I know that talking about time management, talking about productivity is not glamorous or trendy. When people talk about running your own business or starting an herbal business, there are a million things that people will talk about before they will talk about productivity. And I feel almost like productivity is kind of expected at baseline. Like oh, well of course, obviously you want to go into business. Of course you’re a productive person. But the thing is that nobody is born with productivity. Nobody is born with great time management skills. These are skills that you have to learn and skills that don’t get taught most of the time. I don’t think most high schools teach time management. I don’t think college teaches time management. I’m not really sure where you go to learn time management. Maybe you’re lucky, and your parents are really good at time management. And they time-managed your family life growing up in such a way that you learned that skill from them. That was definitely the case for me. And then I moved on into the software world and ultimately became a project manager and a product manager there. And so there was just lots of kind of on-the-job time management training that happened as well.

Katja (04:42):
But I was lucky. I did grow up in a family where there was a lot of time management going on in the family and then happening actively in such a way that we kids learned it. But that was just luck on my part. That’s not a guarantee for anyone. So, the first thing is that if you’re over there thinking well, it’s hard to get my business going because I don’t have any time. Or even worse, if you are having negative self-talk about how you use your time and how you manage your time or don’t. Or how you’re never where you want to be because you’re always too tired by the end of the day or whatever. And so basically the skill is not easy. It is not innate. You are not born with it. And yet we hurt ourselves about it. We have so much negative self-talk just because we’re not good at it necessarily. So, the key here is you have to get good at it. To be successful in business you just have to get good at it. But you can learn this skill. We can break it down into steps. We’re about to do it. We can break it down into steps. None of the individual steps are particularly challenging. It’s not hard to understand. It’s just like oh okay, I see. First I do this step, and I’m going to do that thing. So, this process of getting control of your time and then filling it the right way so that you get done what you want to get done and don’t burn out. That’s really important there: and don’t burn out. This is what takes the dream of your herbal business and makes it into a real thing that really exists in the world and really sustains you.

A 4-Week Practice to Get You There

Katja (06:55):
And of course there are so many other things that you’re going to need to do for your business. You’re going to have to do marketing. You’re going to have to do product development. Or you’re going to have to find a bunch of clients or whatever your business is. But all of those things require that you have organized your time in such a way to allow you to do all of those things. So, let’s jump in with a simple method for getting control of this. And I’ve laid this out into a one-month system, a one-month practice. Where for four weeks there are tasks that you would do every week. And then at the end of the month, hooray, you have a schedule that looks workable and seems like it will get you where you want to be. And then you test it. And then this system, this one-month system, you can just keep doing it over and over again to refine your skill and to get your time management more and more and more efficient. And hopefully it is a fairly painless process for you. I tried to make it like that. So, I’m going to go through each week the tasks for each week. Of course you could do this over any period of time. You could do it over a longer period of time or a shorter period of time if that’s appropriate for you.

Katja (08:24):
Before I do that, I want to let you know that you don’t have to be scribbling notes right now and trying to remember every single thing that I said. Maybe you’re driving right now, maybe you are cooking dinner, maybe you’re doing whatever you’re doing. You don’t have to memorize all this because I put this into a free mini-course that you can have for totally free. All you have to do is make a password. That’s it. You don’t need a credit card, you don’t need anything. Just make a password. And I’m going to go through the overview of each of these weeks now. But I just want you to know that you can have all this information with worksheets, with videos that go along with it, with all kinds of supplemental information that you can spend as much time as you want studying. It never expires. You can go through it at your own pace that’s right for you. And it’s much more detailed than what I’m about to say now. But as I’m going through this if you’re thinking hey, this sounds like a system I think I could do. I just want you to know don’t be trying to pause it all the time so that you can take notes. And be like ah, I wish she gave more information about that. Because you can have so much more information about this for free. Just pop over to online.commonwealthherbs.com. It is the Herbal Business Productivity Course. Totally free. Go grab it, or grab it as soon as you stop driving, or as soon as you cook dinner, or whatever it is that you’re doing.

Week 1: Observing Your Activity

Katja (09:59):
Okay. But let’s talk now about each of the groups of tasks that are going to get you to being really comfortable managing your time. So, in week one the first big task that we have to do is actually observe. We can’t actually take any kind of action until we get some data. Right now it is not like you just sit on your butt all day long waiting for something to do. That is not happening in your life right now. Every day you are doing stuff. There are things that you must do. Drop the kids off or pick the kids up. Or whatever it is that you must go to. Your day job or whatever it is. There are things that you’re obligated to do. There are things that you do for enjoyment. There are things like laundry that somebody’s got to do. There are all sorts of stuff that fills your day right now. And if we are going to try to change your schedule so that you have more time to work on your business and that you can work on your business in an organized way, we have to know what you’re spending your time on right now. So, that’s our first week. We are just going to observe a whole week of your life. And it’s good to do a whole week because sometimes there are things that only happen on Tuesday or whatever. So, if you give yourself a whole week of observation time, that will give you the best quality data. And we’re not just going to look, we’re also going to document. So, in this week we’re going to write down everything you do and what time you do it at. And you can literally just carry a piece of paper around and write it down. You can put it in your phone. There’s a million ways that you can track this. But the key is that we need to see what is your schedule like right now. And how are you using your time, or how is your time using you? Sometimes that happens, right?

Katja (12:12):
And one big part of this part of the work is not to have any kind of judgment. The purpose of this observation is not so that you will say well look at me. I’m just wasting my time scrolling through social media. Or oh, that was dumb. I was watching tv. Why wasn’t I building my business? Yeah, we’re probably going to find some things that you don’t need to be doing and that also maybe you don’t even care as much about as you care about your business. And those are going to be some things that we can reorganize. And that’s going to be fantastic. But the real key is that we are not looking for guilt, or shame, or self-criticism, or any of that kind of stuff. We are just looking to see what happens with your time. And that’s really important. Because a lot of the things we do are not what they seem, right? So, maybe you start documenting your time, and you realize that you spent two hours after dinner watching TV. And you’re like why am I so lazy? I could have been working on my business during that time. That’s true. You could have been working on your business during that time. And maybe you should have been working on your business during that time. Maybe that’s what we end up doing with the schedule at the end. But maybe you were watching TV because you were too tired to do anything else by that point in your day. Maybe you just really needed a break. And you weren’t quite tired enough to go to sleep, but you were too tired to do anything, even just fold laundry or whatever.

Katja (13:56):
And so it isn’t just a matter of writing down I watched TV, eight o’clock, whatever. But also to kind of give a little thought to oh, well I wasn’t watching TV because I’m a lazy person. I was watching TV because I enjoy watching a comedy show with my husband. And that is an activity that we do together. Or my kids wanted to watch this show, and I wanted to spend time with them. Or I was really tired, and I wasn’t quite tired enough to go to bed. Or I was tired enough to go to bed, but I just kind of didn’t want to. Or I was tired enough to go to bed. And in fact I was so tired that I was too tired to do the things that I needed to do in order to go to bed, like brush my teeth. That’s real. And so both making a note of all the things that you do and thinking a little bit about your energy level or maybe your motivation for doing that thing. Or kind of just how you got there. Do you enjoy doing that thing? Doing things for the purpose of enjoyment is valid. It is legitimate. You need that in your week. You need that in your day. But if you are like well, I did this because I really enjoyed it. Or I did this because I was too tired to do anything else. Oh, those are two really different things. And we might handle them really differently as we are trying to reorganize your schedule. So, that is what we’re looking at in the first week. Just making notes and gathering data about how you spend your time right now.

Week 2: Analyzing Your Time

Katja (15:40):
So, then in week two now we’re going to work with that data, right? We’re going to sit down and really analyze. Okay, I noticed that three nights last week I stayed up watching television until midnight. And actually I really was just putting off going to bed because I didn’t have enough energy to get up, and brush my teeth, and take the dog out, and do the whatever I had to do before getting to bed. And if I went to bed earlier, I would be more rested the next day. I would be able to work more efficiently. Okay, that’s some good analysis. We can take an action on that. Or I noticed that I made dinner every single night last week, and no one else in my household made dinner. And I did all the dishes. And that’s fine. That’s a thing that I do for my family. But maybe I could ask people in my family, in my household if they would help with those tasks. Or if they would take over some of those tasks for a period of time so that I can have more time to build my business. What if you didn’t have to do the dishes every single night? Maybe you make the dinner because you’re the best cook in the house. Fine. But what if somebody else took care of dishes, and kitchen cleanup, and all that stuff. And you had an hour and a half every night right after dinner to just sit down and really work on your business. Those are the things we’re looking for in week two. This is going to be a time of a lot of creativity.

Katja (17:16):
We’re going to take all that data that we gathered. We’re going to find ways to rearrange it, to outsource some of the work. You don’t necessarily have to be doing all of that work. Someone else might be able to do it for you. Someone in your household, someone in your community, someone at a restaurant. Somebody else could cook the dinner, whatever. Even if you live by yourself, you might be surprised how many creative ways there are to find other people to help you do the things you need to do. Or maybe we consolidate things so that it will free up a couple of time blocks in the week. And then things that you do every day that could be crunched into a sort of denser time block, kind of like batch cooking. So, if you do all of your cooking on Sunday or all your prep work and most of your cooking, then through the rest of the week, you don’t need to spend as much time cooking. I think that’s a concept that probably most people are familiar with. It doesn’t work for everyone, but for some people it’s really effective. But that idea of batch cooking can be implemented for all kinds of chores or other kinds of tasks that you have to do. So, all different ways that we can look at this data, and be creative, and also maybe just a little ruthless about things we can remove from the schedule. Even if they’re things you like, but temporarily you remove them from the schedule just to give you the time to get stuff established. And then later once things are solid with your business, you can bring those activities back. That’s valid too. So, that second week is all about the creativity and the reorganization.

Week 3: Breaking Down Goals into Tasks

Katja (19:09):
Now, week three we’re going to set that aside for a little bit. Set aside those observations and that creative rearranging. Just set it aside for a minute. Give it a chance to kind of percolate in the back of your head and to settle in. And in week three we are going to be looking at your goals. What are the things that you need to be working on right now? And there are so many different ways to prioritize your goals. So, many different ways to lay out all of the things that need to be done to build your business. But for right now we are just going to pick the most important one or two things that you need to get done to get your business going. And next month we’ll pick the next two most important things, right? We don’t have to do everything at once. We’re going to pick the most important thing or two and break those things down into individual tasks. And this is very important. Because if you just write into your schedule build website, oh my goodness. Well, there are so many steps involved in building your website. And if you just write build website, where are you supposed to plug that in? If you have two hours on Tuesday afternoon, you can’t build a website in two hours. But you can if you’ve broken build a website down into its individual tasks, oh, okay. I can plug one or two of those tasks into my two-hour time block on Tuesday, and I can get that done.

Katja (20:52):
So, okay, maybe build your website starts off with well I’ve got to get a URL. And I’ve got to figure out what platform I’m going to use. And I need to know which words I want. What do I want to say on my website? And do I need a shopping cart, or an appointment calendar system, or a whatever. All of these things are individual tasks that make up the big task of build your website. And even if you hire someone to build your website for you, you still have to do a lot of that work yourself. You still have to figure out what to say to people on your website. You still have to figure out what you want. Do you want pictures? Are you going to sell things, or are you going to schedule things? Are you going to… whatever All that stuff you still have to do. So, breaking down all the different things that you can possibly think of as part of that task is going to make it easier for you to plug that work into the schedule. Because the reality is that you’re never going to have an entire week with nothing in it. You could build a website in a week. But you’re never going to have that whole week with nothing else to do. Most people are never going to have that. What you’re going to have is an hour Monday morning, two hours on Tuesday afternoon, an hour and a half Wednesday morning. And then you’re going to have these blocks of time. And you’ll have to plug in smaller tasks so that over time every day you are building a little bit of what needs to be done. And then over the course of a couple of weeks, a month, however long you have the whole job finished.

Week 4: Working the Calendar

Katja (22:35):
So, in week three we’re talking about how to break those tasks down. How to brainstorm all the different parts of your goals. And then how to plug them into your calendar. So that then by the end of week three, the beginning of week four, we’re going back to that calendar that we established in week two. It’s got some holes in it now. It’s ready to have things plugged in. And now we have the things to plug into the holes, right? Great. And so we start off week four with this new calendar with things plugged in the holes. And that’s fantastic, but we’re not done yet. Because you can’t just do it once and say okay, I did it. I’m done. Because life doesn’t work that way. So, instead you have this new calendar. You’re ready to go. And we’re going to try it for a week and see what happens. And it’s probably not going to go entirely smoothly the very first time. That is okay. That’s expected actually. Because probably that very first time around you probably scheduled a little too tight. Maybe you didn’t schedule enough breaks for yourself. Maybe this, maybe that. Maybe you needed to delegate a few more tasks than you did. Maybe you forgot something that was coming up. And so that’s okay. We’re just going to try it. We’re going to see how it works. We’re going to take notes, always capturing data at the end of each day. If the day didn’t work out the way you planned, that’s okay. That is not an excuse to punish yourself. What it is is an opportunity to understand what was going on in that day, and what got in your way.

Katja (24:25):
And what got in your way might have been something unexpected that happened. Or maybe you just needed more motivation. And you didn’t have enough energy to do the work and motivate yourself to do the work at the same time. Because that’s two expenditures of energy right there. Maybe at the end of the day you look at your schedule and you say, I could have made it through this day if I’d had more chocolate. There’s nothing wrong with chocolate. If you need chocolate to motivate into your day, you go for it. And so just thinking creatively about what would help you succeed, and what got in your way. Maybe a mentor, maybe an accountability buddy, maybe a business buddy, where at the beginning of each day you tell each other what you’re going to do. And at the end of each day you check off if you did it or not, whatever. Maybe a new kind of planner. All kinds of different strategies that we’re going to look at to figure out how to make scheduling your time most accurate, most appropriate for your life and your energy levels. And then actually achieving the schedule that you have set for yourself. And every week that we do it – starting week four until forever – every week that we do it, we are gathering more data so that the following week can be more successful. More efficient so that you’re getting to the end of your days and not feeling burnt out. But also, you’re getting to the end of the day, and the work that you set out to do in that day is in fact done.

Katja (26:03):
Wouldn’t that feel great? Wouldn’t that be awesome? You got to the end of the day. You did all the things that you needed to do, and you were not like flat on the floor. Like oh my goodness, I ran a marathon today. That is exactly what we’re going for. If we can do that, then you will succeed at building your business, and you will do it without burning yourself out. We want to build a business that will sustain you, like enable you to pay your bills. But your business is not sustainable if it completely uses all the energy that you have, and there’s nothing left for you. So, that’s the kind of balance that we’re trying to get to. So, there it is. The number one thing that you need to get good at so that you can succeed with your herbal business regardless of what kind of business it is. If you can do this. If you can manage your time so that you don’t burn out. You’re not constantly punishing yourself or feeling bad about yourself. You just get the work done at the pace that’s reasonable for your life and feel good about it. If you can do that, you will succeed with your business. It might not go as fast as you want it to. That’s okay. Nothing ever goes as fast as we want it to. But it will get done, and you’ll not be a burnt-out mess when you get there.

Katja (27:31):
So, if this system sounds appealing to you. If you’re like I don’t know. I’m not good at managing my time. And I don’t know if this is going to work, but I’ll try it. I’m open to trying it. Then either just listen to this podcast episode a million times or go to online.commonwealthherbs.com. Grab the free Herbal Business Productivity course. There’s so much more resources… So many more resources because grammar is important. There are so many more resources there for you to help you get through all this, come up with ideas on how to manage it. And I think that you will really enjoy it. Plus, you can ask questions. You can directly ask me questions anytime that you need to. There are discussion threads in the course. There are so many ways to get in touch with me. So, as you’re going through all this, if you’re like yeah. She said this step was going to be easy, but I think it’s really hard. Then just ask me about it. I will answer you. It will be me. I will answer all of your questions. We will get you there. Anyway, go get it online.commonwealthherbs.com. The Herbal Business Productivity course. Free, free, free. Just make a username and password.


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