We ask the wrong question first

In general, in my coaching practice (and life), I tend not to blanket things as “right” and “wrong”. Things can only be right or wrong for you in this moment, and even the wrong things can turn out to be right.

So I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that I wrote the title of this blog post out of succinctness rather than accuracy! Here’s the long version:

We tend to focus first on a question that doesn’t often serve us

Catchy, hey?

Editing issues aside, you probably want to know the question. To be honest, I don’t think you’re going to like it. Not at first, at least.

Here it is: The question that needs to wait is, “What should I do?”

I spend a lot of time helping business owners and clever, creative humans to prioritise their to do list, make action plans, and even write business plans.

The value I add, the place we spend our time, the process is not, in fact, writing the list.

It’s easy to write a list. It’s easy to find 10 things to do. I bet you have 10 things you think you should be doing right now.

The value and the wisdom and the secret key to success is asking a whole load of questions (and maybe getting some answers) BEFORE you ask what you should do.

Questions like:

  • What am I really hoping to achieve?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What’s the most important thing for me right now?

(More of my favourite questions are available for free right here.)

The more you can understand the problem you’re trying to solve, the business you’re trying to create, and the world you’re trying to influence, the easier it is to write a meaningful, prioritised to do list.

So, when you’re looking at your list, when you’re wondering what to do, rather than panicking or rushing, try taking a breath.

Remember what matters most to you.

Remember that you’re capable and clever and creative.

Remember that going fast in the wrong direction isn’t that helpful.

Remember what your direction looks and feels like.

Then ask that pesky question.


Again, my 20 favourite coaching questions are available for free right here.

And my Progress not Perfection group has a prioritising group call on Monday at 12pm. You can join on a pay-what-you-can basis.

How do you prioritise your to do list?

It only takes a quick Google or Pinterest search to be completely inundated by different productivity approaches. And truthfully there are a thousand different ways you can think about your priorities.

I have a few suggestions that I’ve used with my Progress not Perfection group and my coaching clients to help them feel confident and, crucially, to make progress.

Take your to do list, and look at each category below. Mark each item with a £ (money), a ! (important), 🙂 (fun) and Q (quick), choosing no more than three things in each category.

1. Where’s the money coming from?

Take a look at your to do list and mark the items (£) that are going to bring in money directly. Things like listing a new product, invoicing the client, or sharing the discount voucher with your email list. It’s really important that we see the link between the actions we take and the money we make.

Some things might have a longer term payoff, and that’s great too. In fact, I have a whole other post coming up about long term vs short term. But for now, let me say that if you need short term income, you need to prioritise those actions first.

Sometimes this is about prioritising marketing activity. Sometimes it’s cancelling those subscriptions you don’t need, or asking for the refund on faulty goods. Sometimes it’s designing something that will sell later in the year (e.g. Christmas).

Whether you’re strapped for cash or feeling comfortable, this has to be a priority for those of us taking our businesses seriously.

2. What’s important?

Important means different things to different people, and that’s okay. This category is for any item that is important to the running of your business, whether it’s setting up your eco friendly packaging or completing your tax return. It might not be a direct revenue driver and it might not be fun, but it’s vital to YOUR business.

It could be important for you to work on new designs, or a re-brand, or a new website. Perhaps it’s about setting up a new, more efficient process for getting your orders out the door.

For me, writing a weekly blog post is important because it helps me to hone my voice, help my audience, and demonstrate my expertise.

3. What’s fun?

The more joy you experience, the more success you have, and vice versa. That’s my experience, anyway! Especially as creatives, it’s important that we feed our enjoyment of our businesses. We didn’t start them so that we could do loads of boring stressful stuff.

So highlight anything on your list that’s truly a pleasure for you to work on!

If there’s nothing fun on your list, add something. I promise you’ll start to feel better about your business when there’s something you can look forward to on there.

4. What are the quick wins?

Publish the product. Email the people. Put the thing in the mail. Reply to the commission request. Enquire about the space. Decline the invitation. Say yes to the opportunity.

Some things are quick, we just procrastinate them. What is a quick win on your to do list? If it will take less than half an hour for you to complete, add a big Q next to it.

And review your newly prioritised to do list!

Once you’ve marked up your to do list with these categories, you should have something with a bit more of a priority to it. It might not be what you thought it was, but hopefully a couple of things have started to stand out as priorities for you.

If something is going to generate revenue, and is important, that’s the place to start! If it’s fun and important, that sounds great, too. Basically, you start to weed out the things that aren’t bringing in money, aren’t important or fun, and take ages. Why do we need to prioritise those things?

This is just one model for prioritising your to do list. It’s one that certainly helps to get things in perspective.

What do you think? Does this method work for you? Or do you have your own prioritisation preferences?

If you need more help prioritising your business plans, you might like to work with me one-on-one, or sign up for my very affordable group programme, Progress not Perfection, which is only £20 per month.

Here's the thing: quality vs quantity

Quality vs quantityIt’s the end of my second week of self-employment. Woohoo!

Except some of the woohoo has started to wear off and I am approaching a problem I didn’t think I’d have: too much work.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great problem to have. I’m delighted that so many amazing entrepreneurs and designers have been in touch and want to work with me. That is awesome.

But it’s thrown me into an old battle that I’ve had with myself several times over the years – the old quality vs quantity argument.

You see, I’m a big quality person. I live to do a good job, and I love to do a good job. Quality is one of my core values – as a human and as a business.

But there are lots of things I love to do! I had hoped to launch an e-course for August – something I’m really excited about – but trying to squeeze that in would mean lesser quality for my existing clients. Which is not somewhere I’m prepared to go. So the e-course will have to wait.

These first couple of weeks have been an absolute delight – I am thrilled to be doing work I truly love with people who I believe are also doing work they love. The learning curves are just starting to creep in, and I’m noticing them as much as I can. Which is all any of us can do.

So here’s the thing:

We all walk the line between quality vs quantity. We’re not machines, we can’t just increase our output to do more at the same quality level.

So where have you been on the spectrum this week? No judgement, just noticing. And where would you like to be? Is there something – like my e-course – that you could drop or re-think to ensure your quality level is where you want it to be?

And the final thing. I have a couple of business mentoring spots left, so if you’re considering working with me, now’s the time to get in touch. For content creation and online shop reviews, I’m booked up until the second week of August. (Woohoo!) If you’d like to book some work with me in August, let me know.

We’ll be on to Christmas prep before we know it…

PS There’ll be a letter going out to subscribers next week. If you want a little thing from me in your inbox, subscribe below!


Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.