Hello everyone and welcome back to the Spotlight Series. I’m joined today by the amazing Jo Bendle. If you’ve been listening to my podcast for any more than five minutes, you’ll know that I talk about her quite a lot.
Jo is the productivity queen, but she does it in such a different way. I absolutely love her work. She’s all about working fun, fast and on target so that we can have fun in the other things that we can do for ourselves. Welcome, Ms. Jo!
Prefer to listen? Here you go …
Jo: Thank you! Hello. Nice to be here.
Tash: Yay! Today on the Spotlight Series, I’m going to be picking your brain about productivity. Before I do, do you want to tell everyone a little bit about your business, what you do and who you serve?
Jo: Absolutely. Firstly, thanks ever so much for having me. I’m very excited to be here.
A little bit about me. I’m a productivity coach and I’m working specifically with entrepreneurs, enabling them to get more done in their business, but in less time. I currently work with women all over the world to ditch overwhelm, overcome those productivity blocks, which those are the things that are keeping them stuck in their business; keeping them stuck in that busy mode so that they can’t achieve their big goals.
The important part of this is that it’s whilst living a life that they love. I’m really passionate and believe that we are all capable of creating a life that we love. To me, productivity is the tool that allows us to become a reality. I think that’s why I’m so passionate about it. The exciting part about that for me is that my big dream for my business was to be able to travel the world whilst running my business and productivity has been the vehicle that’s allowed me to do that.
Tash: Perfect! I absolutely adore your work. We’ve talked several times on your blog, my blog and all sorts of places about just how powerful this productivity message is.
Normally, I would ask a regular question about why this is important for entrepreneurs. But, in one of the Facebook groups that I’m in, I told everyone I was interviewing you and I asked them if they had any questions that they would like you to answer. I got one little contentious question and I didn’t know whether to share it or not, but I thought, “Why not? Let’s be a little bit controversial.”
The question that I got was something like, ‘I started my business so that I could be my own boss and I wouldn’t have to stress about pushing and rushing all the time. Why should I bother with this whole productivity thing? Can’t I just have fun?
Jo: Oh, wow. That’s a good one. Yes. My first thoughts are exactly that. We started a business so that we can have a lifestyle as well. I do have a very different start to productivity. I don’t have that masculine, “It’s all about the tools. It’s all about the wham, wham.” It’s actually more of a, “We use productivity strategically so that we can live the life that we desire.”
Actually, we were talking before, Tash, about the purpose of having a time purpose. If I really, really worked on being more efficient and implemented proper strategies, that means that I could maybe get my business down to maybe two or three hours a day. What does that do to my life?
Tash: Yep. It doesn’t take the fun away. It actually enhances the fun, right?
Jo: Absolutely. The other thing we talk about is, for me – you’re the same. We chose a location-independent lifestyle for a reason. Freedom is one of my top values. For me, I get that I don’t want to be restricted to a schedule and things like that. But, I’ve also learned that freedom and fun comes through discipline. The more disciplined we are, the more we’re opening up ourselves to be able to live that life that we desire outside of our business.
Jo: It’s really juicy.
Tash: Just to catch up the listeners on one of the stories that I’ve shared in relation to my productivity journey with you, Jo, was I was on holidays unexpectedly with my family. You and I had just started working together and I asked for your assistance because I set myself this target of only working on my business for one hour a day, plus client-facing time whilst I was on holidays. I had that time purpose. I wanted to go and be Auntie Tash and have fun with my family.
In that one hour a day business model, I got more done. It really blew my mind just how crazy that experiment was and what an impact it had on what I did.
Jo: That was so exciting.
Tash: It was so cool.
Jo: The thing about this is that this is what is exciting about productivity. I get that it’s one of those words, but the exciting thing is that it does allow that kind of thing.
Tash: We’re suddenly able to do the things that we want to do! We’re suddenly able to live that life that we’re looking for. I think it creates magic. When you’ve got a limited time to actually get stuff done – and you’ve talked about this on some of your blogs before, that whole Parkinson’s Law: a project will extend the amount of time you give it.
If you teach your business that it takes 10 hours a day to run it, it takes 10 hours a day to run it.
Tash: You’ll find stuff to fill the time.
Jo: That is so true. It’s really powerful if you actually watch yourself. You know that you’re allowing yourself – in fact, if you don’t give yourself a deadline of a task, it will take you a lot longer. It’s fascinating to watch how we work. Obviously, this is what I call the productivity blocks. That’s a mindset thing. There is a reason why you’re not prioritizing the right things. That’s a big thing.
When you reduce the amount of time you want to work in your business, you then become very, very good at prioritizing and only working on the right things.
I think one of the things that we do as entrepreneurs is we like to call ourselves multi-passionate. I’m like, “No. Don’t be proud of it.” It’s like multi-tasking.
The way to be successful is to zone in on, “These are my two/three projects maximum and anything else will go on the not now list. I’m going to stay focused on these things, which means that they’ll get 100% of my attention. They’ll be done to the best of my ability. They’ll be completed, which means that’s going to grow my business.”
I do think there’s a priority thing as well. That’s that productivity part. People will not commit to just a few projects and give 100% focus. It’s the FOMO. “What happens if I don’t do this?” These are the things that stop us from being able to, with ease – it’s all about this effortless productivity and effortlessly growing our business. There’s so many things that get in the way, especially for female entrepreneurs.
Tash: For sure. Tell me, what are the three big whoopsie, uh-oh, oopsie moments that you see entrepreneurs making in this productivity space. What are the big things that you see people doing wrong?
Jo: One of them is definitely perfectionism. I think that’s a really big one for us. We get stuck in, “I can’t get the website out there,” or, “I can’t do X/Y/Z because it’s not yet perfect. I’m just going to tweak it a bit more.” This will go on for months and months.
I often share about how I have built my business. I had to create a power statement that became my default whenever I realized that I was allowing myself to stay stuck. It was to take imperfect action. I share this a lot because it is so powerful. My whole business has been built on taking imperfect action and nothing broke. I didn’t damage anything. I actually grew it. I think that’s the thing I want to share. It’s that if you wait for things to be perfect – which doesn’t even exist – then you don’t take the action. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable, taking that imperfect action that steps you outside of the comfy comfort zone.
That’s where the sensational things happen. That’s one big one that I see a lot of people get stuck in. Perfectionism.
Another one is remembering that it’s our habits that create our futures. Good habits are actually as addictive as bad habits. Once you allow your habits to be the things that allow you to go about your day effortlessly, but effectively, then that’s how things get achieved.
The other side of that is that most people I meet, they’re like, “I don’t want this structure. I don’t want a routine because I want freedom and flexibility.” The reality is that that’s what limiting your potential. We do have to have some kind of routine. For me, I hold a weekly review. As I’m in different places at different times, it would be like, “Next week, what do I want it to look like?” That’s when I can say – coming back to that time and purpose – “I want Wednesday afternoon to go and explore this new city.” Okay, that means Wednesday morning has to be super-focused.
It does work to have a schedule, even if it’s one that changes each week. We’re telling ourselves that we don’t have time, we always say, “No. No, I don’t want a schedule. I don’t want to stick to anything like that,” but it doesn’t have to be something that’s really rigid. It’s actually what sets you up for more freedom and more success.
The other one, “I don’t have time.” People are proud. It’s almost glamourous now to say, “I’m busy. I’m really, really busy.” I actually think that I want to call people up on that and say, “Is that true?” and really peeling back the layers to find out what is really going on there. There are people out there that achieve a hell of a lot of stuff and live an amazing life – and have 24 hours in the day, the same as us.
Having this limiting belief that that’s their situation, which isn’t true. We can change that by lots of different things; the strategies and the mindset blocks.
Tash: Yes, for sure. I even see that a lot. It’s similar to how little sleep I got. “I only got four hours of sleep last night.” “Oh, I only got two hours of sleep last night?” Why is that a thing that we wear like a badge of honor? I’m with you. I think people, talking about pushing really hard and got their hustle on and, particularly in big push times in their business, “I’m launching. I can’t go out and have a glass of wine. I can’t go to see the movie. I don’t know what’s going on in the world. I can’t be on Facebook. I’m in launch mode.”
There’s all of these things that we talk about that are going on in their businesses and therefore they can’t be a functioning member of society. Or, they can’t have a social life or they can’t enjoy themselves. That’s the fast way to burnout anyway. Is it really creating this phenomenal success?
The big thing that I see is that people are afraid. They’re afraid to say, “I’m just going to work three hours a day.” They’re afraid that that’s not going to create enough for them. Isn’t it worth it? I did it as an experiment. Isn’t it worth it just to experiment and just see what’s possible if you just reduce your work hours by two hours a day?
Jo: It’s the same as having one focus at a time. It’s very, very scary. It’s so, so powerful, but man it freaks everybody out. It’s like, “No, no, no. I’ve got all this stuff I need to do.”
If you focus on one thing at a time, then that’s how big things get achieved.
It’s when we talk about the effortless productivity formula. It’s like there’s three things that we need: fun – we’ve got to build our business in a way that energizes us. We don’t need motivation then. Fast is building it efficiently. That’s where the productivity tools come in. Then, on target, but making sure you’re focusing on the right things.
People come to me and they want the productivity tools they want. I see people out there that are signing up for the next beautiful, pretty planner and it’s like, “That is not the thing that is going to make you productive.”
Tash: Don’t get me started on that, Jo Bendle.
Jo: We’ve opened it up. We keep waiting for this golden ticket all the time. Bring it back to basics. We can make you as productive as anything, but if you’re not focusing on the right things, then you’ve got to achieve that burnout or you’re heading in the completely wrong direction and you’re not going to get the success.
Tash: I absolutely agree. I think the planner thing triggers me because I see so many people spend so much time and energy and dedication, filling in this pretty planner with beautiful big dreams and that kind of thing, but then they’ve got no actual strategy or commitment or dedication to making that thing happen. A pretty planner is no substitute for a good business strategy. It’s also not a substitute for you actually making a decision and making something happen. You’ve still got to go out and do the things. Writing it down doesn’t magically make it appear. It helps, but it doesn’t magically make it appear.
Jo: How many people will do an amazing plan that never, ever relook at it? There’s so many people that are like, “Oh, I forgot about that part of my plan.” They don’t actually revisit it anyway, so they’re just looking for that magical thing to fix them when, in all honesty…
The thing that will change everything is if you take simple, consistent baby steps every single day. That is what’s going to change everything.
It’s why I created RPM, my Really Predictive Month program. People are just not taking action and they’re not implementing. That was the big thing. It’s frustrating me. It’s like, if you just implemented what you already know. You said you went on a rant about planners. Mine is about people signing up for another online course or another free webinar. Just stop. I thought you had no time. What would happen if you implemented and took action on what you already know?
Again, that is just fear. Fear is just popping up. That’s that huge productivity block that’s stopping you from getting to where you want to get to.
Tash: Yeah. I even see the same thing with all of the productivity tools. Every help day in my Facebook group, someone asks a questions about Trello versus Asana versus 17 Hats versus Basecamp versus Evernote. What tool is it that’s magically going to make me figure myself out and get this stuff sorted?
My response is always, “It’s not the tool. It’s the habit.” When I first started doing the RMP with you and first started working on the productivity stuff, I actually did it pen and paper to start with just so that I would form the habit. Then I was able to move it onto an online tool. I tried the online tools before I got the habit and before I got the process sorted and I couldn’t maintain it because I hadn’t established it as a routine to go in and look at it every day. I needed something that was literally in my face. I did it with a pen and paper on my desk in front of my face. It was there, I could refer back to it and that was how I managed myself. Then I was able to move it onto the online platform.
I think if you can’t do it offline, no magic tool is going to make you more productive. You have to implement and you have to make it a priority and set this routine and this structure.
It sounds sort of like, “Routine and structure!” but I really do agree with you that routine and structure are what allow our creativity to thrive. We’re not trying to remember those 30,000 things that we had on our list that we needed to do. “I’ve got to email that person and get back to that…” How can your brain flourish and function when you’re already holding onto all of these pieces of information that you should have dealt with when you first came in?
Jo: Yep. Absolutely. It’s so true.
If you’re struggling to get to where you want to go, it’s not because you’re lazy or you don’t have enough time or because you don’t have the right tools. It’s the productivity blocks who’ve decided. The mindset is getting in your way.
I think the self-awareness is really key. One of the things that I’m finding really powerful at the moment is that because my focus of my business is simple is enough. My clients need really simple strategies that are very easy to implement. But they are extremely powerful if you do them consistently.
That’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s consistently taking those baby steps. The processes that we’re implementing each week, they’re really simple but they are so powerful. That’s when I get really excited. The productivity doesn’t have to be this big all the different tools and the online software and things. What it does need to be is that very different approach to thinking about things. What’s the one thing always coming back to the present now? Stop getting stuck in planning. Stop getting stuck in learning and come back to the present.
“What’s the one thing that I need to do right now that will take me closest to where I’m trying to get to?”
The amount of people that don’t actually have a clear focus of where they’re trying to get to… The quote from Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you nowhere.” No! Is that why we created our businesses? No.
Tash: No. Absolutely. You’ve actually just answered my next question, which was, “What is the one thing that you can do in order to really embrace this idea of powerful, effortless productivity?” I think that that’s it. What is the one thing that is going to get you closer to where you need to be?
I think it actually hides in a little senses of resistance. What is the thing that you’ve been moving on your to do list over and over again and saying, “I really do need to get to that?” It’s one of two things. It’s either something you don’t need to do or it’s the thing you need to do most. Being able to identify which it is is a powerful skill.
Jo: Yeah. It’s interesting because I could sit and talk about all the masculine productivity tools that we could implement, but with my clients is that there is a deeper layer going on about it’s scary getting outside of your comfort zone. It’s scary only focusing on one thing. It’s scary prioritizing. These are the decisions that feels scary so we don’t do them.
That’s why it’s a fascinating environment. I watch myself as well. I can see that I’ve got the awareness and I can see sometimes, “What am I avoiding?” That’s what’s blocking the productivity more than anything. Yeah, it’s all about the self-awareness.
I think the other thing that’s really, really important for me is the habit.
Our habits create our future. What we do on a daily basis does matter.
Tash: Love it. Awesome. Jo, if I was to quote you on this beautiful space of productivity, what is something that you would like me to say?
Jo: I think instead of quoting me, I would quote the F.M. Alexander who says…
“People do not decide their futures. They decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”
Tash: That is a great one. You’ve said that one before and it is so true and so powerful. Yep. Absolutely.
Jo, if people wanted to find out a little bit more about what you do or maybe learn a little bit of something from you, do you have a freebie or something that you can share with our lovely listeners?
Jo: Yeah. Absolutely. You can come and join me on the free Facebook group, which is Productivity Boosters. I’m in there every day with lots and lots of tips.
I also have a five day End Email Overwhelm Challenge which is for anybody that got stuck in the inbox overwhelm.
Tash: Awesome. The paperless tiger. I love it.
For those of you who are looking for Jo’s freebie, if you go to TashCorbin.com/freebies, then you’ll see Jo’s gorgeous shining face at the bottom of the screen and you’ll be able to click through and grab her five day challenge. Also, I’ll put the link through to the challenge in the show notes for you, too.
Awesome. Thank you so much for joining me for the Spotlight Series, Jo. It’s been so fabulous to interview you and speak with you. I really do value the message that you’re able to share with the listeners and with the viewers. I think that even the way that I do business, it’s very much more about the feminine, connection and that kind of thing. I really do find your approach to productivity to be in alignment with that.
All of, as you said, that really masculine productivity stuff is about pushing yourself harder and working yourself to the bone. I just can’t subscribe to that belief. I think it’s a really beautiful thing that you are able to share with people this much more aligned and much more feminine way of being more productive and doing it for a reason that actually lights you up. It’s not just so that you can make that extra tiny little bit of percentage cash flow in your business. It’s so that you can have a life. It’s so that you can spend time with your family. It’s so that you can travel or conquer that mountain climbing habit. I’m not a fitness freak. I don’t know.
There are people who have long term fitness goals that they really want to aspire to. We all have these really amazing, unique things that we want to do with our lives.
Actually, I saw a really awesome quote. It said, “Surely, I was born to do more than just work and pay bills.” I think that that’s so perfect, right?
Jo: Exactly! I think that’s why we’re all doing what we’re doing!
Tash: Yeah! We don’t want to just create a business that covers the bills, but takes up all of our time.
Jo: It breaks my heart. I watch my clients and they’re scattered, but they’re working so hard. It doesn’t need to be like that. It’s just pulling back. We can’t see that ourselves.
The other thing I get is people say to me, “I can’t teach myself. I can’t make myself be productive. I’m just lazy.” No, because I need to work with a coach. We get stuck in our own emotions and we can see, “Oh, if I did that, that would make a big difference.” That’s why it’s really exciting. It’s life changing. That’s the thing, it’s actually life changing.
Tash: It so is. Look, if I can give anyone a piece of advice in this space, it is just try it. When I first heard Jo Bendle’s message, I was like, “Yeah, that’s really nice, but I can do 40 things in one day. I don’t need to stick to just three. I can totally nail a giant to do list. I don’t need you.” But I really quickly learned, just by trying some of this stuff out and approaching it through a different way, that I don’t need to do the 40 things. I can do them, I can have a to do list of 40 things and I can smash it out in a day, but at the end of that day I’m worn out, I’m exhausted, I’m not 100% sure I’ve done the right things, I’ve probably done 30 of those things avoiding the one thing that I should have done for the day. It’s really revolutionary for me.
If I can provide one piece of advice for people listening to this, it’s listen to Auntie Jo-Jo. She knows what she’s talking about.
Jo: Thank you. Whilst you were saying that, the thing that popped in and would have been really great for my quotable is … it’s not what you know. It’s what you do.
Tash: Oh, my God.
Jo: We know all this stuff, but we need to take the right action. That’s the power.
Tash: I love it. I’ve been saying for the last month, if it was just about knowing what to do, we’d all be skinny and rich.
Jo: Exactly. That’s exactly it.
Tash: Awesome. I think that is a perfect note to finish this one on. Thank you so much, Jo, for joining me. As I said, everyone, if you want to get your hands on Jo’s freebie, it will be on the show notes and over on TashCorbin.com/freebies.
Thanks again, Jo. Have a wonderful day, everyone. We’ll talk to you soon. Bye!