Creative entrepreneur, author, and business coach Jennifer Lee shares her approach to managing a multi-faceted life, maintaining both productivity and joy. [Scroll down to the bottom for a few announcements and reminders.]
Managing a Multi-Faceted Creative Life
Creating and running a business may seem like it takes a lot of left-brained or logical work, leaving very little room for creativity in the process. Jennifer Lee, founder of Artizen Coaching and the author of The Right-Brain Business Plan and Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way would disagree.
She runs a business helping creative people launch their businesses based on how their brains work. She helps leverage their right-brain genius through coaching, mentorship program, and courses.
Scheduling her days
There’s no rigid daily routine for Jennifer, but she says she likes to spend time journaling early in the day to get everything out of her head. It doesn’t have to be anything profound, but she finds herself more grounded after doing so. She follows that with 10-15 minutes of seated meditation.
Jennifer likes to schedule her week into blocks of time, rather than setting up a typical daily schedule. Her weekly schedule, she says, is based on natural rhythms of energy:
- Mondays and Wednesdays are focused on what she calls External Energy: talking with clients, teaching, interviews, coaching.
- Tuesdays and Thursdays are focused on what she calls Internal Energy: content creation, planning, administrative tasks.
- Fridays are for self-care. She doesn’t schedule any meetings for that day. Instead, she takes time to do something nourishing for herself — Pilates, painting in her studio, going for a hike with her dog. She might do some work, but she does what speaks to her above all else.
Getting done what needs to get done
As with many women, one of the biggest challenges for Jennifer is having so many ideas she wants to pursue that it distracts from what needs to get done. Having her week broken up into blocks of time helps her manage this, as does learning to say no to requests that aren’t consistent with her values and goals. She suggests having criteria for what you say yes to — making sure to say yes to things for yourself and the people you love.
Some people are great at organizing their day by focusing on things like working with clients in the morning, but Jennifer does better knowing what energy is required for each day. (This reminds me of Mike Vardy’s daily themes approach, which helps keep him focused on what he wants to accomplish for the week.)
Using the right tools
Jennifer and her team collaborate using the task management tool Asana to help prioritize work, track the status of things they’re working on, and help everyone stay productive. Since you can put pictures next to every task, it’s a very visual tool, and Jennifer says she enjoys the graphics used by Asana when tasks are completed.
Jennifer has the Great Big Calendar from Paper Source hanging on her office wall–12 months at once. She hangs them with 3M hooks so she can move them as the months progress.
Color-coded sticky notes help her visualize what’s going on in the business and map out future plans. Courses are blue, mentorship is green, promotions and sales are pink, and big communication pieces are yellow. With that, Jennifer can see if every project is getting the time needed.
The calendar and sticky notes also help Jennifer prioritize requests by being able to look at the date and see what she’ll be doing then. For more information on how Jennifer uses her calendar and sticky notes, check out her blog entry, Creative Calendaring for Your Big Vision — My Favorite Way to Plan, which includes a link to the video she mentions in this episode.
How did the Right-Brain Business Plan start?
The plan came out of Jennifer’s need to have a creative way to create and build her business. She began by making a collage for her business goal. Without knowing what else to call it, she named it the Right-Brain Business Plan and posted it on her blog, and it resonated with readers.
If you’re running a business, you need to know what your goals are, what you want to achieve, and who you’re going to help. Why not find a way to do it in a way that’s fun and inspired?
It has since grown into a movement and a creative way of looking at the traditional pieces of a business plan, setting goals, putting plans into action, and starting and running a business. Her methods speak to heart-centered people and anyone who bristles at the so-called “normal” way of doing things. You can take your business seriously, but also have fun doing it.
Jennifer advocates giving yourself permission to go about reaching your goals your own way and through your own authentic expression.
Dealing with stress
On days where everything gets away from her or things aren’t going as planned, Jennifer credits her husband for recognizing signals that she’s under a lot of stress and stepping up to help out, like pitching in to help clean the house.
After putting out the immediate fires, Jennifer focuses on prioritizing what’s important. She also extends compassion to herself, acknowledging what has been accomplished, rather than focusing on what got away.
What’s next for Jennifer?
Spaciousness is Jennifer’s main focus for right now. Her biggest lesson, she says, is taking care of herself while growing her business. In 2015, she focused on her health, home, and happiness, and she is carrying that forward into this year, keeping that spaciousness and self-care, and deepening what already exists.
Connect with Jennifer
Learn more about what Jennifer’s doing, and find links to her social media sites, on her website and the related website for the Right Brain Business Plan.While you’re there, you can sign-up to get “Play Sheets” — business planning tools from both of her books.
Check out Jennifer’s BooksThe Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success
Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way: Sustainable Success for the Creative Entrepreneur
Additional resources Jennifer uses and loves
- Tesla magnetic notes (I’m definitely going to pick up some of these!)
- Levenger Circa notebooks and the Right-Brain Business Plan Circa Notebook, developed via a partnership between Jennifer and Levenger
Final encouragement from Jennifer
Jennifer says she imagines if you’re listening to a podcast like The Productive Woman, you have a lot of great goals in mind, and it can be easy to come down on yourself. But the fact that you’re staying committed is more important than checking off tasks on your to-do list. (I couldn’t agree more.)
What do you think?
What questions do you have for Jennifer? What resonated with you? Please feel free to ask your questions or share your thoughts by commenting below or on the Facebook page or emailing me.
Jennifer Lee is the founder of Artizen Coaching and the author of Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way and the bestseller The Right-Brain Business Plan, which has helped tens of thousands of entrepreneurs around the world launch their creative businesses.
Before pursuing her own passions full-time, she consulted for ten years for Fortune 500 companies such as Gap Inc., Accenture, and HP, helping leaders and organizations manage change. As a director of executive development for Gap Inc., she led onboarding and coaching programs for those at the level of vice president and above. She grew her coaching business in her spare time, and in 2006 Jennifer made the courageous leap from corporate America to living the life of her dreams.
Jennifer has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Entrepreneur, Whole Living, Family Circle, and Cloth Paper Scissors Studios; in several books; on numerous radio shows; and on ABC7 TV. She has also partnered with Levenger to develop the Right Brain Business Plan Circa Notebook.
Jennifer holds a BA in communication studies from UCLA and an MA in communication management from USC. Things that light her up include getting lost in a good book, indulging in a midday nap, painting up a storm, and hiking in the woods. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her creative, rather left-brain husband and their sweet husky-Lab mix.
Announcements & Reminders
- I’d love to be part of your event–women’s group, retreat, business conference–to talk about productivity and making a life that matters. Send me an email, or call me at 972.638.0308 to talk about how I might be able to add value.
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- Priscille Livenais, Julie Sheranosher, and I will be joining forces for another international live-streaming video conversation, this time about decluttering, on March 6, 2016, at 10 a.m. Central time. Click here to subscribe to this free event, and follow me on Blab for notification when new Blab events are scheduled.
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I Was Just Thinking . . .
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This podcast is refreshing for me! I’m the artisan business person that Jennifer’s programs aim to help. I make and sell products I design for a living, have too many ideas, too many impulses to act upon, and too few tools to manage the overflow. It just feels good to hear that someone understands these things. I love the BIG Calendar idea, and I’ll be interviewing the walls of my studio for the position. Thank you for this podcast! 🙂
Laura McClellan says
I’m so glad you enjoyed the conversation with Jennifer. I agree with you about her big calendar–I’m a digital calendar person, but still find myself eyeing my office walls for a good location for that big calendar!
Have you read Jennifer’s Right Brain Business Plan book? Since you have a creative business, I’ll bet you’d love her book as much as I did!
Thank you for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts on this episode!
Fascinating podcast this week! I like the idea of divvyinng up your week based on your energy. (I’m not a morning person either!!)
The picture if Jennifer’s office has me drooling! I love the huge calendar boards!!
I’m going to check inti Nozbe and Asana, too! Thanks!!
Laura McClellan says
I’m glad you liked it, Jill. I like Jennifer’s approach to managing her week and am trying to do a version of it myself. And I agree–that calendar wall is pretty drool-worthy. Even though I’m a digital calendar girl, every time I see photos of Jennifer’s calendar wall (I’ve been following her for several years), I fight the urge to buy those calendars.
Both Asana and Nozbe are excellent tools. Remember you can get that free 30-day trial of the Nozbe Pro edition (which is what I use) by going to Nozbe.com/woman. And if you decide to keep going with it after the trial period, remember to use the coupon code “WOMAN” to get 10% off the subscription price. Let me know what you think when you try it out.