What my workout taught me about business

I almost didn’t go to yoga this morning. I was awake and laying in bed looking at my phone, reviewing the class descriptions over and over again, convincing myself this particular class would be too hard.

The class I attended a couple days ago kicked my butt. As I am still working on regaining my pre-baby fitness, I found myself struggling with even the most basic flows and skipping every other chaturanga. So when I read that this morning’s class was a faster (more difficult) flow, I looked for easier classes on the schedule instead.

I was wide awake though, and the rest of the family was sleeping, so I got up and went.

The teacher starts each class by reading a short story, quote, or poem and today was all about stepping out of our comfort zone to take little side trips throughout the road trip of life. She talked about changing the inner narrative that plays in our head telling us that something is too hard or too scary, and reframing that narrative into a more positive one.

Well then.

For someone who waxes poetic about stepping out of one’s comfort zone and trying new things, this was a little bit of a kick in the pants. Just because one class was hard, I was going to take the easy way out next time?

Nope. Not me.

I spent the rest of the class telling myself that I could hold the pose just a little longer, and you know what? It worked. My little side trip down this morning’s yoga practice journey left me feeling energized and ready to conquer the day.

A shift in my inner narrative and my mindset, something that costs literally nothing, changed the course of my entire day, maybe my entire week.

Now apply this to your business or organization. If you ask a potential donor for a $500k grant and they say no, you could tell yourself, Well, this type of donor doesn’t believe in this organization so I may as well only request $100k grants from now on. But if you change your mindset to, I believe in this mission and I know they will too, and you may land three $500k donors because they can sense your passion and dedication.

I know that all this mindset talk may be a bit woo-woo for some people, but it all boils down to this:

When things get tough in your business, what do you do? Scrap a good idea because one person said no? Decide never to hire someone again because you had one bad hire? NO WAY!I challenge you to do just one thing out of your comfort zone this week and practice resiliency to get through it.

I promise it will be worth it.


How a sabbatical can make you more successful

Have you ever dreamed about leaving your 9-5 grind behind and embarking on an epic adventure? Where would you go?

I would head west to our national parks – Bryce Canyon and Zion and Yosemite and Yellowstone – then maybe pop over to Southeast Asia to explore the beaches of Thailand then Australia and Kilimanjaro and Morocco…and so on.

It’s fun to dream, right?

But Tim Ferriss and his 4 Hour Workweek don’t think this has to be a dream. I’m halfway through this book and feeling incredibly inspired to streamline my business and stop wasting time, so that my time is freed up to enjoy elsewhere.

Have you read the book? What do you think of a 4 Hour Workweek? Impossible?

I will admit I’m skeptical.

I took the leap into business ownership and while I definitely see room to increase productivity, I’m not sure that I could get my working hours down to only four. And convincing my husband to leave corporate America with its cushy and more importantly reliable salary and health insurance and 401(k) is a serious long shot.

What about a sabbatical?

For those who like traveling but don’t want to be a nomad, a sabbatical is a perfect option. Think: a three-month break from work to decompress, experience the world, and focus on living life (not just through someone else’s Instagram feed).

And, as it turns out, sabbaticals can benefit both you AND your company. I think we can all point to the obvious benefits of reducing stress and refreshing your brain with creative ideas so you come back to work energized.

But a recent study called Creative Disruption showed that your organization benefits too.

“Organizational capacity is increased as the second tier of leadership takes on new responsibilities.” And “governance is strengthened as a result of the planning and learning that goes with a sabbatical process.” Talk about testing the limits of your org chart!

I’d say that’s a win-win.

I’ve seen the benefits of being away from my routine for three days – mind space is freed up for more creative thinking and relaxation – so I can only imagine what three months would do for my business.

What do you think? Is a four-hour workweek or a sabbatical in your future?

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How to survive the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship

You know that feeling of anticipation and nervousness as you’re climbing the first big hill in a roller coaster? You’re excited but holding onto the handles tightly because you know the big drop is coming soon, then you crest the hill, barreling down at over sixty miles an hour and your stomach drops. Once you fly down that gigantic hill though, you loosen your grip a bit because the scariest part is over, and your teeth unclench and you relax and scream and enjoy the ride and the upside down loops and ridiculous speeds. Then when it’s over and little car stops, you breathlessly look at your friend next to you, grins plastered to both of your faces, with a look in your eyes that says “let’s do it again!”

That, my friends, is entrepreneurship.

This week marks one year of saying goodbye to the 9-5, working for myself, and seeing just what 100 Degrees Consulting could be.

To say the very least, it’s been better than expected. The highs are pretty darn high: no employee handbook dictating when I have to be in the office or what days I’m allowed to take vacation. Some days I’ve worked for a couple hours then spent the afternoon at Home Goods. The lows can be pretty trying too though: I am now my own payroll company and entirely responsible for making sure there’s money coming in. Some days I’ve worked until 2am to meet simultaneous client deadlines and I even took a client call at 6 days postpartum. With multiple clients, it’s almost like I have eight bosses instead of one.

While the past year hasn’t been perfect, I did have a pretty smooth transition from traditional employment to entrepreneurship so I’m going to share exactly how I made that happen.

I tested my idea in advance. About nine months prior to my departure from my job (October 2015), I created a website and started thinking about what it would look like to be a CFO consultant to nonprofits. I cold-emailed organizations I thought would be a good fit and they actually wrote back. (Check out my proven strategy for cold-emailing potential clients.) By February 2016 I had two active clients and another two by June 2016. Clearly, my idea had legs and I gained tons of confidence that this could work.

I saved money. I didn’t want to worry about paying the bills or making major sacrifices while I was building my business, so while I side-hustled and still worked my 9-5 I doubled down on paying off debt and socking away money in savings. I left my 9-5 with the equivalent of three months’ salary in the bank. (Full disclosure: I have a husband who covered health insurance!)

I hired a coach.  I’ve no shame in admitting that I’ve never built a business before and have no clue what I’m doing. Sure, some of it is intuition and just taking action but I wanted someone to help me get on the fast track – to have a full client roster and a full pipeline at all times. Enter: my coach. Working with her has been a huge investment that’s paid for itself time and again. Not only do I get practical, strategic advice on business stuff (should I hire more help?), but she helps me get past mental road blocks (I can’t let this client go because there are no more clients out there!)

A year in and I have no intention of going back to the 9-5 grind anytime soon. Now I just need to figure out how to celebrate my one year anniversary! Perhaps a daytime trip to the amusement park?


The best afternoon routine for a better tomorrow

It feels like every other blog post in my Feedly reader is about some famous entrepreneur’s morning routine. I know now that Elon Musk eats his Cheerios with almond milk at exactly 6:17am every day and Richard Branson meditates on one leg for eight minutes while thinking about palm trees, and their success is SOLELY attributable to this incredible morning routine.

I’m joking. Mr. Musk eats his Cheerios at 7:05am like a normal person.

Okay, okay, all joking aside, I’ve been thinking about morning routines and wonder if this is something that the entrepreneur community has just latched onto and now talks about ad nauseum, or if there’s something to a routine.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a solid morning routine. I wake up anywhere from 6:30 to 7:30am and sometimes check emails first thing and sometimes don’t. Sometimes I shower before getting the baby up, and sometimes I’m in my pajamas until the nanny comes at noon. The only constant in my morning routine is that I retrieve the baby from her room upon awakening and feed her and put her down for a nap at the right times, then typically start my work day at 12pm. The details change daily.

With a six month old in my sole care until midday, I’m pretty sure morning routines are not in the cards for at least another six months.

What I CAN get behind, though, is an afternoon routine. Unlike a morning wake-up routine which can be unpredictable with a baby, I know when exactly I will stop working every day and realized there are a few things I currently do without fail before I close out my day.

Do a final scan of the emails. File away what doesn’t require my attention and get the inbox as close to zero as possible.

Update my to-do list. I keep three running to-do lists:

1. My list for the next day in order of priority is Sharpie on paper because nothing is more satisfying than taking a big marker and crossing things off.

2. My list for that week is also on paper, a gigantic Post-It note that I keep stuck next to my computer to keep me focused on the week’s priorities.

3. My long term list is in a Word document that I have open at all times. This document includes strategic priorities for each client so I can always check-in to make sure the work I am doing is towards that greater purpose. It also includes my own business goals, blog post ideas, anything else that pops into my head for 100 Degrees Consulting.

Clean up my desk. Aside from my to-do lists, I’m not a paper person but occasionally I do print out bank statement or other document and I always make sure they’re filed or shredded before the end of the day. Starting the next work day in the midst of a sea of papers would give me major anxiety.

I found a few more great afternoon routine items in this infographic:

  • Sign out of your work email
  • Perform a brain dump
  • Reflect on your day

What does your routine look like? Do you slam the laptop screen shut at 5pm and beeline to the nearest bar? Or do you linger around and chat with colleagues until everyone else leaves? Or maybe you don’t have a stop time and pop in on your laptop until bedtime?


How to thrive as an entrepreneur and new mom

If you’re a highly ambitious, Type A, make-it-happen entrepreneur, who’s passionate about growing your business, AND you’re about to have a baby, you must read this.

You are excited for your little one to arrive. You’ve probably meticulously planned his or her nursery (and of course you know the gender, because TYPE A!) and have all the little clothes hung neatly in the closet, arranged by size. You know where you’ll deliver and maybe even have some meals socked away in the freezer for after his or her arrival.

You are also a busy entrepreneur. You’re hustling daily (and you love it) and your business is growing, maybe faster than you’d anticipated. Your days are filled with client work, potential client sales calls, and you’re being asked to speak at different events. When you left your 9-5, you didn’t imagine it would all work out so well and you are energized and on fire (as much as can be for a pregnant woman).

Does this sound like you?

Then keep reading and let’s talk about what it’s like to be a new mom and an entrepreneur. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not at all like what you think it will be.

If anyone could do it all, it was me. The Queen of Efficiency and Productivity, I remember my husband remarking at my Master’s degree graduation celebration that he couldn’t believe I was even in grad school plus working full time plus commuting four hours a day because I just had it all together.

So naturally, I thought that having a baby would be similar. I’d give birth and be able to keep all of my client work going, hopping on the computer after a feeding or when the baby was sleeping. I knew I’d be tired, but it wouldn’t be that bad. I could do it all.

Turns out, even the Queen of Efficiency and Productivity needs help.

I am sharing my Five Proven Tactics to help you be fully present as a mom, which is critical in those first few weeks and months, AND continue to help your business (your first baby!) thrive.

1. Prepare financially in advance. You are your own boss and nobody is handing you any paid maternity leave, right?! As an entrepreneur you should be accustomed to saving in advance for business investments like a conference or a new computer, and maternity leave is no different. Figure out what your monthly number is then begin setting aside funds in advance. I had set aside three months’ worth of income, just in case all of my clients disappeared while I had the baby (they didn’t!) and it gave me a huge peace of mind. Voila! Paid maternity leave!

2. Tell your clients. I was super nervous about telling my clients that I was pregnant and would likely need to step away for a little while. What if they all left me and I was left with no job, no money, and no prospects? Turns out, that was ridiculous thinking. My amazing clients were not only understanding, but incredibly supportive (they even sent me thoughtful baby gifts!) and they managed to keep the lights on without me. You will feel a huge sense of relief once you tell your clients and come up with an agreement as to how long you’ll be unavailable and when you’ll dive into work again.

3. Give yourself a maternity leave. I am serious about this. I know you love your business and will want to get back to feeling “normal”, and a true leave might feel hard. You don’t have to disconnect for three months but you must give yourself some space for a minimum of two weeks. I made the mistake of not putting an out of office message on so I felt obligated to answer emails. I even took a call at just 7 days postpartum, where my mind was so foggy, it was almost an out-of-body experience. I looked back at my notes several weeks later and they were completely unintelligible, so I wonder how I sounded to the client! Trust me that your clients will wait (remember how long they took to finally sign your contract?!) and that you will feel much better after a break.

4. Ease in slowly. So maybe after two weeks you start answering emails, then another couple weeks you take sales calls, then a few weeks later dig into the actual heavier client work. I thought I’d have no problem handling bigger, strategic thinking type projects but I truly needed that time to let my brain begin to function normally after the hormone surge/drop and sleep deprivation.

5. Enlist help. It’s okay if sometimes that help comes in the form of car seat naps and Starbucks. I can’t tell you how much work I got done in three hour increments while my daughter slept in her car seat. I felt like a normal human by getting dressed and out of the house, she got a solid nap (when she likely wouldn’t have slept at home), and my client work got done. In fact, there was a point in time where we were frequenting Starbucks so much that her car seat began to take on the aroma of coffee beans. And, are you part of any neighborhood or community organization that uses a meal train? Get humble and SIGN YOURSELF UP. I felt weird about it at first (like, I can’t handle taking care of my own meal?) but when that friendly woman showed up on my doorstep with a bag full of chili, artisan bread, and brownies, a smile, and then left, I couldn’t have been more grateful.

Being a mom and an entrepreneur isn’t easy. I landed myself back in the hospital at three days postpartum with an infection, and spending the night in the ER with your tiny newborn isn’t all that fun. But these tips will help you get through those first weeks, focusing on your baby and yourself, and give you the confidence that your business will be there as soon as you’re ready.

And I promise you that your clients won’t run away.

Happy Mom-ing, Boss Lady!

(Disclaimer: Every mom’s birth and postpartum experience is different. Major love and respect to all the new parents out there. This is based on my experience alone!)


3 Ways to Engage an Audience When You’re Presenting about NUMBERS

Over the past year I’ve given a handful of presentations to fledgling nonprofits and entrepreneurs about finance. Managing and understanding the financials is such a foundational skill that can make or break a business, that it’s important to me to present the information in a way that these leaders can latch on to.

One of my goals as a CFO is to encourage ownership of the financials by everyone in the organization. Everyone from top to bottom should understand the basics of the budget and financials, and the role of a CFO is to present the numbers in a way that tells a story.

Here are 3 ways to engage your audience when you’re presenting about numbers:

1. Identify the goal of the session and repeat it at least three times. Explain why it matters. This isn’t because your audience is stupid and didn’t get it the first time. In a session I did for a group of budding social entrepreneurs, I highlighted revenue, expenses, and cash flow, and explained why each was critical to understand. In addition to words on a slide, I showed them how to identify each element on the financial statements and referenced them multiple times.

2. Provide a clear action item for the audience and explain how to make it happen. Instead of reciting a bunch of bullet points and walking off the stage, I presented one action item for each of my three main areas. I asked the group to develop their revenue pipeline, create an expense budget, and figure out their cash flow.

3. Ask questions. I provided a worksheet which outlined my talk but left some elements blank. Participants were forced to really listen and fill in the blanks which I found left them entirely more engaged than if I was just speaking. Hearing + writing led to more questions and repetition breeds familiarity and success.

A BONUS way to engage your audience? Be interesting! Smile, make jokes, learn people’s names, make eye contact, tell stories. Nobody likes a starchy stiff presenter. Break that stuffy CFO stereotype!


How to Write the Perfect Cold Email

When I first started my business over a year ago, I had no idea how to get clients. I had a business model that I thought would work based on my experience in the field, so I had a basic website made to give myself a bit of credibility, and ordered a box of business cards. But how would I get people to actually look at my website and hold one of my business cards?

Maybe surprisingly, my first thought was not to tap my network! I was still working a 9-5 and was terrified that my day job would somehow intersect with my business and I’d be “found out”. I wasn’t doing anything against the rules, but I was almost scared for people to find my business – was I actually good enough to be a CFO consultant? Talk about major imposter syndrome!

So I got to thinking about my ideal client and figured the best way to reach them was to write a cold email. And you know what? It worked! My email response rate was well over 50% and within three months I had landed not just one, but FOUR clients for ongoing work.

Cold emails work when done right.

Here’s proven formula for landing clients using cold emails:

1. Identify your target market. And I mean REALLY get specific. Here’s how I identified my ideal clients:


Nonprofits without a CFO.

Nonprofits with small to medium-sized budgets were the most likely to be without a CFO.

Nonprofits whose causes I am personally passionate about (Cincinnati-based, education, international development).

See how specific that is?

Once I narrowed my target client profile, I harnessed the power of the internet using Google and Guidestar (a nonprofit database) and put together a list.

2. Do your research. Instead of just dropping a line to the info@company.com email, research the company, review their website, and figure out who the decision-maker is. Email that person directly.

3. Craft the perfect email. Here is the formula:

Address the person directly. Hi Sarah…

Tell them exactly why you’re interested in their company and working with them. The first sentence of my cold emails shares my genuine passion about their mission. Don’t fake it – you will sound sales-y and transparent!

Explain how you understand a problem they’re likely facing, then show them how you can help in one or two sentences.

Close with your website and ask for a brief chat. Would you be interested in a brief conversation? I’d love to chat about how we can work together at Company X!

So what do you think? This tried and true method works because it shows the client you’re approachable, concise, and genuine. You are someone they want to work with because you’re not sales-y.

I challenge you to give it a shot this week and let me know if you get a response! Want advice on a cold email draft? Send it my way and I’ll take a look, no strings attached!

Happy emailing!


Providing More Value to Your Constituents

Whether through our own holiday celebrations or simply through the messages that retailers throw at us starting in October, we are neck deep in the biggest season of giving throughout the year. My own personal list of gifts to buy for family and friends seems to grow so much annually that I have to wonder where all of these loved ones are coming from! And the list of charities both that I support and that ask me for money seems to grow as well. Like most people, I set a budget, make lists, search for deals, and give as much as my wallet will allow.

As I wrapped up little tokens of appreciation to send to my clients this year, I got to thinking, what intangibles am I providing? I hope I’m providing more value than expected and creating change and allowing them to make better strategic business decisions.

I recently came across this Value Pyramid from the Harvard Business Review to help me think through the elements of value.

The basic concept is that the attributes of a product or service address four kinds of needs: function, emotion, life changes, and social impact, and companies that deliver well on multiple elements of value tend to have stronger customer loyalty and higher revenue growth rates.

I think we can all agree that customer or donor loyalty and higher revenue (or program!) growth are exactly what we’re aiming for.

So how do you stack up? This season of giving and pre-January goal setting is a great time to assess what needs you’re meeting for your customers or constituents, and on a recent afternoon, I sat down with a cup of tea, pine-scented candle burning and did just that.

Starting at the bottom of the pyramid, the Functional Values are what initially draw customers in. They’re the shiny light at the end of the tunnel and show clients how you can solve a problem they have. 100 Degrees Consulting can help you: save time, simplify, organize, reduce effort, reduce cost, improve quality, and inform. What Functional Values are you providing to your clients, donors, constituents?

Next up are the Emotional Values. We’re getting a little deeper now, and I believe my services can: reduce anxiety, reward staff, provide access, and increase the attractiveness of a company or organization. When you think about the Emotional Values of your organization, does this get a bit harder? It did for me.

It was a bit of a mindset shift to think of my particular business as providing Life-Changing Value, but I think it can: provide hope, and motivate. What about you? Nonprofits, I think your life-changing values are clear, but what about the graphic designers or lawyers or artists out there?

And finally, Social Impact or self-transcendence. Is what you’re doing making an impact beyond your own wallet? Since my foray into the nonprofit world nearly a decade ago, I have focused my career on service and while I am not ashamed to admit that I earn a living doing so, my main motivation is service. But is my business making a social impact? I’m pretty confident that most of my clients are making a social impact.

When thinking about your goals for next year, consider not adding services or programs quite yet, and instead think about which elements of value will resonate with your customers and which can you go deeper on and deliver effectively.

“Judiciously adding elements can bring new life and growth to existing products as well as build customer loyalty — with far less risk and lower costs than hunting for breakthroughs.”


Hey entrepreneurs: Don’t make these 3 finance mistakes

Entrepreneurs are the BEST. We take an idea from scratch, put all of our brain power and hard work into it, and build that idea into a business for which people pay real money for our services and products. When you think about what goes into building a business, it’s pretty awesome that we can make this happen.

However – you knew there was going to be a however, right? – there are some pitfalls that entrepreneurs often encounter that will truly make or break their success, and they’re related to the numbers.

I get it. We’re not all math people. But neglecting the numbers can land you in a scary place, so today we’re talking about a few mistakes you can avoid.

1. You fail to plan.

When you start your venture, it’s easy to just dive in headfirst and spend a little here and there, get your first sale, and go full steam ahead without thinking about what expenses lie ahead and what your revenue pipeline looks like. This could be a quick way to get into trouble if you don’t know what’s around the corner. Your plan doesn’t need to be super complicated.

Start with the expenses. Think about what you need to be successful, what investments you need to make in your business (computer, training?), what supplies you’ll need to create your products, any professional services (legal, accounting, etc) – then lay those out into a monthly spreadsheet so you know the timing of each expense.

Then tackle the revenue. What is the bottom line you need to cover expenses? Now think bigger: How much do you want to make? Plot out your revenue goal by month so you have clear targets to work towards.

I know it sounds like a lot, but this planning exercise will help you focus and give you clear insight into the financial health of your company or organization.

2. You get behind on tracking your numbers.

We, as entrepreneurs, are busy people. We’re constantly thinking about our businesses, serving our clients, putting out products, doing activities to help the businesses grow, so it can be very easy to let a few months go by without entering expenses into our accounting system, organizing receipts, or looking at a P&L. This is the danger zone! We have absolutely no knowledge of how our businesses are doing without staying up to date on our numbers.

So make sure that you set aside just one morning a month to make sure all revenue and expenses are entered into the books, your bank account is reconciled, and you take a look at your P&L. Maybe even forecast out the coming months so you can see where your business is headed. The most important thing is to stay on top of it – otherwise, you’ll likely be spending more money and calling in the experts come tax time or end of year. This strategic insight is going to help you make better decisions for your business and give you the insider info you need to grow!

3. You refuse to ask for help.

I know firsthand how hard it is to ask for help. I mean, you’re an entrepreneur for goodness sake! You built this business from nothing, so why shouldn’t you be able to do it all?! I ran into this in my own business. I am very stubborn and was determined to build my own website and create my own graphics from scratch. Hours and days later, I was frustrated with the end result, tired of Googling how to do every little thing, and annoyed I had wasted so much time with nothing to show for it. I was humbled into making that call to the graphic designer I had in my back pocket.

Same thing goes for the finances. If you’re not a finance expert, you probably won’t give the numbers they priority they need because it’s not a fun task for you, and you’ll likely spin your wheels for much longer than it would take an expert to get your financial house in order and analyze the numbers for you. Focus on your strengths and leave the numbers to the crazy math lovers.


5 Ways to Achieve More Focus

I’ve come across two separate blog posts recently talking about a conversation between Warren Buffet and his pilot about goals. The TL;DR version is that Warren Buffett asked the pilot to write down his 25 career goals then circle the top five most important goals. Warren Buffett asked how the pilot would accomplish these top five goals, and he responded that he would focus on the top 5 while working on the other 20 as time allowed.

Warren Buffett stopped him and said that his sole focus should remain on those top 5; the other 20 were to be avoided at all costs.

As nonprofit professionals or busy entrepreneurs, people who are inherently driven to accomplish as much as possible, it can feel truly impossible to only focus on the top 5 goals. I tried this exercise myself – first, I found it difficult to come up with 25 goals to begin with, but once I had them all on paper (and knowing where the exercise was going) it felt nearly impossible to limit myself to just five!

And that’s when I felt like I had discovered the key – by choosing just five goals, Warren Buffett was not telling the pilot to limit himself. He was telling him to focus on those goals, and put every single ounce of his effort and his being into those goals.

What about you? Are you focusing on what really matters at your organization? Or are you spending unnecessary time on things beyond your career, business, or organizational goals or expertise?

In my personal entrepreneurship journey, I’ve been challenged by juggling high-quality client work, blogging useful content, finding people who can use my content, creating useful tools for nonprofits and entrepreneurs, utilizing Facebook and LinkedIn, and MORE.

Here’s how I’ve (at least temporarily!) figured it out.

  1. Write it down. Use a real pen and real paper and write down your top 5 goals. Heck, even go through Warren Buffett’s exercise if you want and write down the top 25 and narrow it down to 5. So much clarity can come from the 15 minutes it takes for this exercise to realize that some things you were spinning your wheels on simply aren’t important. Another method to check out – Being Boss’s Chalkboard Method!
  2. Push the noise aside. After writing down my top goals, I decided that figuring out Facebook ads simply wasn’t worth my focus right now. It would be a big-time commitment – I’m not the most social media savvy! – and the ROI for my business would be minimal. SKIP IT or CALL IN THE EXPERTS!
  3. Dig deeper on those five goals. Surround yourself with people and resources to accomplish those goals. Do you want to reach three new donors next month? Reach out to your dream donor for a meeting! Several of my most impactful client relationships have come from cold emails. Connect with one person or organization who’s already doing what you want to do.
  4. Manage your schedule to encourage focus. I have always struggled with my calendar and giving myself enough roomy blocks of time to actually accomplish my top 5 goals. I tended to fill any empty slot with a phone call or meeting, leaving 30 minutes chunks throughout the day to accomplish work. Do not do as I did! Set aside several chunks of time – or maybe even a whole day (GASP!) – each week for strategic work time, over which you will not schedule anything else.
  5. Find an accountability partner.  My nonprofit and entrepreneur friends are so highly driven and motivated to change the world or build a business that our brains are constantly spinning with ideas, leaving us with little time to focus. I hired a coach to keep me on track and provide me with solid business advice. You don’t need to hire someone necessarily; you could find someone within your network to help you focus on your top 5. Highly recommended!

Here’s to a focused and successful Q4!