Your “Summer Reset” Personal Growth Book List Is Here

Your “Summer Reset” Personal Growth Book List Is Here

10 Books That Can Help You Recharge, Reset and Exit Summer Ready to Conquer the World

Whitney Balish: Cruise Director, SOCO

What’s Your Plan This Summer? 💤 ☀️ 🏄

Travel? Relaxation? Working on those fitness goals? Sleeping for 2 months? You best have some personal growth in there!

Whatever your plans, summer is always an interesting time. The world slows down a little bit and we veer from our normal work, hustle and parenting routines (for those who know, you know). We see it over here at SOCO (and actually love it). But, the work, personal growth and improvement shouldn’t just stop.

This summer, we’d like to challenge you to invest in the idea that summer is also about personal growth for you. So, how can you keep moving forward, even when things slow down? With some great personal development books. We’ve picked out some winners that will help you make progress without feeling like you’re “reading a work book”. 🫠

10 Books With Our “Hot Take” On Their Value 🔥

We have some avid readers around here and we’re always looking to soak up some new knowledge that will help us do better work without sacrificing our personal time (or sanity). Each book below provides unique strategies to help recharge your mind, reset your routines, and approach the fall with renewed energy and purpose. These books are engaging, easy to read, and filled with valuable lessons that can be easily integrated into your daily life for you to start fall with your best foot forward.

#1: Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One has the Time 

by Brigid Schulte

Our Take: For when you are struggling with work life balance, a fun and funny read.

From Good Reads: Overwhelmed is a book about time pressure and modern life. It is a deeply reported and researched, honest and often hilarious journey from feeling that, as one character in the book said, time is like a “rabid lunatic” running naked and screaming as your life flies past you, to understanding the historical and cultural roots of the overwhelm, how worrying about all there is to do and the pressure of feeling like we’re never have enough time to do it all, or do it well, is “contaminating” our experience of time, how time pressure and stress is resculpting our brains and shaping our workplaces, our relationships and squeezing the space that the Greeks said was the point of living a Good Life: that elusive moment of peace called leisure.

#2: Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less

by Tiffany Dufu

Our Take: How to delegate and let some things go. You can achieve more by doing less. Drop The Ball is a must read.

From Good Reads: A bold and inspiring memoir and manifesto from a renowned voice in the women’s leadership movement who shows women how to cultivate the single skill they really need in order to thrive: the ability to let go.

#3: Big Magic 

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Our Take: Nurture your creativity and curiosity. Habits and processes for living your most creative life.

From Good Reads: Gilbert offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration in Big Magic. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

#4: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

by James Clear

Our Take: Our first SOCO book club pick! Members of our community including myself loved the framework this provides to make small positive changes with a big impact.

From Good Reads: No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving—every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

#5: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

by Greg McKeown

Our Take: Declutter your mind and focus on what really matters. We liked this so much, we did a Communal Podcast on the subject.

From Good Reads: The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter. 

#6: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

by Cal Newport

Our Take: Being able to focus without distraction? This isn’t just a skill it is a super power.

From Good Reads: One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

#7: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

by Stephen R Covey

Our Take: It is a classic for a reason. If you haven’t read this yet consider it your sign to do so. This books breaks down the 7 principles for being your best self and some of the smartest people we know swear by this book.

From Good Reads: When Stephen Covey first released The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the book became an instant rage because people suddenly got up and took notice that their lives were headed off in the wrong direction; and more than that, they realized that there were so many simple things they could do in order to navigate their life correctly. This book was wonderful education for people, education in how to live life effectively and get closer to the ideal of being a ‘success’ in life.

#8: Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less

by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Our Take: With science and insights, rest is work too and you NEED it (and Rest is the book you’ve been missing).

From Good Reads: Overwork is the new normal. Rest is something to do when the important things are done-but they are never done. Looking at different forms of rest, from sleep to vacation, Silicon Valley futurist and business consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang dispels the myth that the harder we work the better the outcome. He combines rigorous scientific research with a rich array of examples of writers, painters, and thinkers—from Darwin to Stephen King—to challenge our tendency to see work and relaxation as antithetical. “Deliberate rest,” as Pang calls it, is the true key to productivity, and will give us more energy, sharper ideas, and a better life. Rest offers a roadmap to rediscovering the importance of rest in our lives, and a convincing argument that we need to relax more if we actually want to get more done.

#9: The Happiness Project 

by Gretchen Rubin

Our Take: Life is short and you need to focus on what really matters. This book focuses on the author’s experiences with happiness and offers advice on how to be your happiest self. And let’s face it…with the complexities of life, work, family, kids and the greater world…we could all use a little more.

From Good Reads: Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

#10: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

by Susan Cain

Our Take: Greetings from your resident introvert! There are actually a lot of us and actually a lot of advantages to being one. 😂

From Good Reads:

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society. 

In QuietSusan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

In Conclusion

Summer is a time to slow it down, but also to catch up on some of the “work” we all need to do to show up in our jobs, for our families and our community. So, pick three of these books that resonate with you and where you are on the journey and read one per month. You owe it to yourself to hit that reset button whilst sipping a pina colada by your inflatable pool. 🏖️

Speaking of Happiness ✨

While we’re on the subject of happiness, doing your best work and generally being a bad-assed human…we think you should come find your happy (work) place with us at SOCO. We work really hard to create great workspaces filled with excellent, kind humans, chock-full of amenities like blazing wifi, bottomless coffee/tea and well appointed meeting rooms. We have coworking, fixed desk and private office options. Hell. You can just come for a day or book a meeting room for that next creative sesh. Come check us out and see if you don’t do better work here.

About The Author

Whitney Balish is a Columbia, SC native and the “Cruise Director” over here at SOCO, responsible for marketing, business development and member services. She’s a self-identified introvert and bibliophile, reading nearly 60 books a year. When she’s not crushing the pages, she’s busy creating great community over here at SOCO and finding ways to help our members win.

5 Proven Approaches I Use To Take Time Off As a Solo And Actually Enjoy It

5 Proven Approaches I Use To Take Time Off As a Solo And Actually Enjoy It

How I take time off as a solopreneur without crying or getting fired by all my clients

Guest Post by Ben Culbreth, Culbreth Copywriting

Flexibility. The Great Entrepreneurial Myth? Maybe

Time off. Flexibility. Work wherever you want. Travel.

These are the things we, the freelancers and solopreneurs, believe we’ll bask in when we embark on this journey. Then it happens. You’re halfway through the summer, scrolling on Instagram and you see all your 9-to-5 friends on a vacation. They’re having a great time. No laptop in sight.

Meanwhile, the last vacation you took caused even more work because your Airbnb’s spotty WiFi constantly disconnected. You lost time on projects you said “wouldn’t take much time,” and we all know how that goes. So, you came back less rested and refreshed than you were before.

My friends, there’s a bit of a problem with taking time off in this country. And maybe no one struggles with the eternal battle of actually enjoying the perks of not having a PTO plan more than those who are in the business of themselves.

5 Strategies To Take Time Off That You Can Do 🔥

Let’s go through some ways that I’ve taken time off without curling up in the fetal position when I return to work. Am I the leading expert on how to take vacations as a solopreneur? Maybe. I’m still waiting for LinkedIn to get back to me. But until then, just know I don’t have this all down to a science.

Some of these things may work great for you. Some won’t. But the only way to find out is by giving this time off thing the old college try. And when you look back, I have a sneaking suspicion you won’t say be upset about taking more time off.

#1: Build your boundaries ⛔

Before I could start taking time off without dragging my laptop around, I had to learn why it’s important to set really solid boundaries with clients.

I used to take on last-minute projects or respond to requests right away. Not only is this not a great way to run a business, but it’s exhausting and sets the expectation with clients that you’re always available.

Then, it’s a shock to them when you suddenly go on vacation and don’t respond. That’s a them problem, but it’s a you (and me) problem, too. If you give them the idea that you’re available even when you’re off or never off, they will treat you as such.

Even when I’m not on vacation or off work, I still focus on these boundaries. So, I:

  • Rarely reply to emails right away, and I push back on last-minute requests (those go away pretty quickly when “No” becomes a regular part of your business buzzwords).
  • Don’t respond to emails at night or after hours.
  • Stopped taking on last-minute requests and plan projects much further in advance.

If you’re like me, you might think about what could happen if stop doing these things. What if you miss an important email at 9:30 PM? (hint: you won’t).

Once you start enforcing boundaries, people, including you, tend to respect them.

#2a: Plan way, way ahead 🗓️

My vacation time is a little easier because I’m married to a teacher. The dates we travel are well defined and planned over a year in advance by the fine folks at the school district.

That’s mostly good because it means we’re often on vacation at the same time as everyone else.

But if you’re like me and have monthly retainer clients with a set list of deliverables every month, you’re probably wondering if you need to pack your laptop to keep everything moving and get paid.

I did that at one point. It wasn’t fun.

Now, I do all the work at the end of the vacation. My clients (and I imagine most of yours) are fine with this. If I’m going to be away for two weeks or more, I let customers know at least two months in advance.

I also bring them a plan for how the work will get done. I think that’s the most important part of effectively taking time off. For one thing, it helps you know exactly what needs to be done. It also communicates to your client that you’re thinking about what they need and taking the planning off their plate.

#2b: Be Really Clear. Clarity is Kindness 📣

When I went to Europe last summer, I contacted my retainer clients and told them what was happening. I let them know the dates that I’d be off from work. I made sure that they all understood what was going on, how it would impact them, what they could/could not expect and had a chance to process. And this next part is very important, so read it very carefully.

I told them I would have no access to email. No matter how hard they tried, they would not be able to reach me (gasp!).

Then, I outlined the deliverables due while I was gone. I provided an updated timeline of when I’d deliver the work and allowed enough time for feedback and edits before I left.

I got zero pushback on this plan. Was it a lot of work before the trip? Yes. But it meant I could relax in my coach seat on the flight and not worry about getting things done or what days I would need to work while we were away.

And I cannot understate how different a mindset this is compared to a working vacation.

#3: Delete your email (or go somewhere it won’t work)

One of my toxic traits is that I’m very tempted to check my email. Gen Z automatically clicks TikTok when they’re on their phone; I click on Outlook.

It’s a habit I’ve slowly broken over the years, but it still has a strong hold on me. It’s like I crave the horror and nightmares that lurk in my inbox.

So, if I really want to unplug, I just delete the app. When it’s gone, the temptation to check it disappears, too. Problem solved. Plus, I’ve never come back to any horror or nightmares after doing this.

If you’re like one co-founder of SOCO and podcast host of Communal and deleting your email app is just not an option, consider going somewhere remote enough that no matter how many times you click refresh, you’ll never get those messages.

And pack bear spray, please.

#4: Plan for coming back to work 😿 vs 😺

This is a more challenging step because there’s enough work to do before you leave, much less planning for when you return.

But planning for what you’ll need to do when you return is just as important, maybe more so, than the pre-planning. I could have done this better on my last big vacation.

The tricky part about being a service-based solopreneur is for the most part, if we’re not working the business isn’t working.

So, when you take time off, the work stops but so does the marketing, business development, administrative work, you get the idea. Reach out to your existing clients before you leave and ask them what they’ll be working on when you return. Find out where they need support.

And tell your network about your time off and that you’ll be available for work when you return.

#5: Pick your Battles 🪖

Just about every entrepreneur has experienced the ebbs and flows of new projects and clients. So, at some point, you’ll probably find yourself in a season when you may need to work a bit while on vacation.

I know, I know; before you start calling me a hypocrite, hear me out.

Working on vacation doesn’t mean working the whole time. And it shouldn’t mean answering emails or doing low-value work.

Pick a time when you can work that still allows you to spend time with your family or whoever you’re with. Be intentional about what you do. Don’t fill those few short work hours with meaningless tasks you could do anytime.

Focus on high-value work that will actually benefit your business. Make the sacrifice of being a little plugged in worth it to you and the people who matter.

It’s that easy

Ha. I wish.

I still don’t have all this stuff figured out. And I still struggle to step away from work sometimes. If boundaries and real, unplugged vacations are a new thing, give yourself some grace. It’ll take a bit to figure out what’s best for you and you’ll learn how to do these things.

Now, go, thrive on your time off, and revel in the glory of a laptop left shut and an inbox unopened.

Need a Little More Inspiration? ✨

Need some more inspiration to throw your phone in the ocean? Check out Gene, Greg and Ben’s conversation on The Communal Podcast on this very topic. Fun, funny and full of good insights that might help YOU if you’re struggling to figure out why and how to do this elusive thing called “Time Off”.

About The Author

Ben Culbreth is a content strategist and copywriter and the only one who shows up for work at Culbreth Copywriting LLC. He helps folks develop branding and content strategies and writes copy for websites, emails, and customer stories. He lives in South Carolina. He’s been an active and passionate member of the SOCO Community. You can read his words and see his work at benjaminculbreth.com.

Flow State: A Guide To Falling In Love With Work Again

Flow State: A Guide To Falling In Love With Work Again

How To Get Into “The Zone”, Find Peak Performance and Make Work Suck Less

Let’s Go To The Flow (State)

So, I’ve been doing creative work for years and if there’s one thing I know…it’s that there’s no better place or feeling than being in flow. For solopreneurs, self-employed individuals, and creative professionals, tapping into the elusive state of flow can be transformative. it can feel elusive or fleeting, but it doesn’t have to. In this guide, we’ll explore how understanding and harnessing flow state can revolutionize your productivity and creativity.

And if your income depends on you delivering, the stakes are high.  But, we really do think you can create the conditions that lead to better outcomes and better work. So read on intrepid creator!  ⛰️

Understanding Flow State

Coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow state is the pinnacle of focus and immersion in an activity. It’s that magical feeling of being “in the zone,” where time seems to vanish, distractions fade away, and productivity soars. But, how do you know when you’re there? You’ll know you’ve reached that nirvana when you’re experiencing any or all of the following:

  1. Intense Focus: You’re immersed completely in your work, shutting out distractions and honing in on the task at hand. The simplicity of being focused creates a warm bubble around you and nothing else really matters.  

  2. Loss of Self-awareness: Experience a blissful detachment from self-consciousness and time, as you become absorbed in your work.  Really tHis just means all the internal distractions have subsided or moved waaaay back in your mind.  

  3. Effortless Action:  Feel a sense of ease and fluency in your actions, where tasks seem to unfold effortlessly. Have you ever looked up from a project or skated it with a colleague and they were like “holy shit, this is a ton of work.” That’s the result when its “effortless”.   I remember being in the zone on a outdoor tourism project I was working on.  I pretty much mapped out and generated 50 pages of content in like 8 hours. The client couldn’t believe it. 

  4. Timelessness:  You enter a state where time becomes irrelevant, either flying by or standing still, as you remain engrossed in the present moment. We don’t recommend you miss too many drink and snack breaks, but when time is less relevant, cool things happen.  I experience this timelessness in my personal life when I’m crafting outdoor furniture (a new hobby – obsession – of mine) I get so into it that I miss meals.  It’s kind of magical.

  5. Intrinsic Motivation: You feel driven by an internal desire to excel and succeed in your endeavors. This is “embracing the challenge” with curiosity and child mind.  You’ve pushed past the “I’ve got to get this done” due to some external pressure. You are in this for the craft and experience.

8 Strategies To Find, Sustain (and Revisit) Flow State 🔥

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define precise and attainable objectives for your projects to provide a roadmap for your efforts and maintain focus. And if you’re feeling froggy, make one of those goals to “experiment” with whatever you’re working on (see below). 🎯

  2. Match Challenge with Skill: Engage in tasks that leverage your abilities while presenting a moderate level of challenge to foster optimal conditions for flow.  Listen.  Here’s the magic.  You can’t do things well that you’ve never done before so flow state happens when you’re leveraging your skills and pushing yourself just a little bit outside your comfort zone.  So, My pal Gene Crawford equates this to the magic he experiences when he’s practicing martial arts.  He’s put the work in for years so the flow and routine are there, but he’s taking this thing he does well and pushing himself to new limits.  Sort of like the “1% every day” concept.  💪

  3. Minimize Distractions: Create a distraction-free workspace by silencing notifications, finding a quiet corner, and prioritizing uninterrupted work periods. To do deep work, you MUST eliminate distractions.  On average distractions make anything we’re working on take 3X as long.  So, do yourself a favor and turn it all off.  The world will be okay and you owe it to whatever you’re working on (PS: And while you’re at it, come book one of our focus meeting rooms at SOCO – you’re welcome). 🎧

  4. Cultivate Deep Focus:  Incorporate mindfulness practices like deep breathing and meditation into your routine to enhance concentration. This is a muscle and skill that most of us don’t have or is very weak.  Stay fully present in your work, channeling your energy into the present moment to maximize focus and productivity. 🔬

    Need help training your mind and body in simple ways to enter a more focused state.  Tip: Try a mindfulness app like Headspace for 30 days and see how It impacts your days.

  5. Embrace Flow Triggers:  Identify activities or rituals that consistently evoke flow state and incorporate them into your routine.  Be prepared to launch, but one of my best flow triggers is when I open up Spotify and dial in the Calm Radio station.  It triggers something in my brain that tells me “it’s time to focus, Greg”.  Find your rituals and do them regularly before you get dialed in. 🚦

  6. Embrace Failure as Feedback: Listen.  If you’re doing creative work (especially), better outcomes come from failure.  Creating is an iterative process and you need to make time and space to experiment, fail and learn.  Learn about “the child mind” and embrace this way of looking at whatever it is you’re working on.  You’ll thank me for it. 💡

  7. Engage in Challenging Activities Regularly: Seek out opportunities that push your boundaries and expand your capabilities to strengthen your skill set.  If you stay in your safe, comfortable space then you’ll have a lot of trouble creating great things.  Get your mind and body comfortable being uncomfortable and you’ll unlock a lot more productivity and results. 🏋🏾‍♀️

  8. Chill Out With Rigid Structures: And maybe don’t try so hard to “architect” your perfect flow state. Here’s a great post from Dan Martin where he advocates for a less rigid approach to embracing your flow state. 🧊

Conclusion

By integrating these strategies into your regular work routine, you can cultivate an environment conducive to flow state, unlocking your full potential as a solo entrepreneur or creative professional. Embrace the journey of discovering and maintaining flow state, and enjoy the joy of doing great work again people.  You’re worth it. 🫶🏽

Need a Little More Inspiration? ✨

Looking to stay in this flow state zen a little longer? Check out Gene and I’s recent conversation on the topic on The Communal Podcast here.  We get into to our own personal practices, our struggles with Flow State and some tips we’ve picked up along the way.

About The Author:

Greg Hilton is the cofounder and managing partner for SOCO, SOCO is a thriving platform and community focused on supporting creators, indie workers and entrepreneurs just like you. He’s an avid outdoorsman, creator and storyteller. He’s also been self-employed and a business owner for nearly two decades and has worked with hundreds of solos, creators and entrepreneurs to help them lead better and more meaningful lives.

Like what you’re reading here? Share it with someone else!

8 Planning Tips To Help You Walk Into 2024 On Fire 🔥

8 Planning Tips To Help You Walk Into 2024 On Fire 🔥

Get Ready to Have Your Best Year Yet With Some Simple Planning Guidance

So, How’d Your Year Go?

“Dumpster fire”. “Lucky I Just Survived”. “I crushed it like a tin can:, Or simply “meh…”. These are all acceptable answers, but we should endeavor to dig a little deeper. And with the holidays upon us our annual “get out of jail free” card is back. We get to wipe the slate clean.

Every year, around this time, I try to slow things down just a bit and take some time to think about the year that was: What I accomplished. What didn’t go so well. How the journey felt along the way (that matters a lot). I also ask myself some easy and hard questions around what my hopes, dreams and goals are for the next year. We like to think about the future around SOCO. We like to lay out some “destinations” we’d like to get to in that future. I don’t care so much about how we get there because there are a bunch of different ways.

Ready To Have a Better Next Year Than This Year?

Me too. I really think that life is just a series of experiments. Little baby experiments where we learn things and make incremental progress. I fully subscribe to the “1% Every Day” concept. I think it’s a fundamental part of our existence as human beings….to evolve.

So, let’s talk about how we can take stock, hit reset and position ourselves to have our best year yet. Have some ideas to add? Drop them in the comment below. So, here’s to your evolution in the new year my friends. We can do this (together). So, let’s go!

8 Planning Tips To Start Next Year On Fire 🔥

  1. Take time to reflect on the year that was, really – Make sure you celebrate your hard fought wins, but don’t forget to also acknowledge areas where you struggled.  This is the growth mindset…get you some (and write them down).  I bet if you’re intentional about exploring all you’ve accomplished this year….your cup will runneth over. 🥂

  2. Refill Your Cup – Speaking of cups. No one can run hard 24/7.  Take time to nourish your mind, body, spirit and relationships.  Rest.  Sleep. Laugh.  Do something to really take care of yourself over the break.  Be intentional about rewarding yourself.  😴

  3. Commit To Kicking Imposter Syndrome – Here’s are some facts that I’ve uncovered through 20 years in business. Everyone is full of shit. Everyone has ridden the struggle bus at one point. And everyone has something they are truly wonderful at. And lastly…you and me both deserve the success the we have worked so hard to achieve (however you define that). So, stop thinking you can’t do it. Kick that fear to the curb. 😔

  4. Set Some Reasonable Goals – Focus on growth.  On getting better.  On improving.  Set some goals that you can achieve, given your resources and situation.  Write them down and share them.  And while you’re at it, do personal and professional goals.  Because we are whole people.  🎯

  5. Create a Bias Towards Action – It’s amazing how the first 3 months of the year set the tone for the rest.  Position yourself to take action early in the year.  🏃🏿

  6. Get An “Accountabili-buddy” – We’re way more likely to get the work done when we’re not the only ones we’re “reporting to”.  Find a friend or colleague that you can share your goals with and commit to regular check-ins with each other.  Accountability is crucial.  👐🏼

  7. Send something big out into the universe – Challenge yourself to think and act bigger by writing down and sharing an audacious goal.  Something that’s not very safe.  You have permission to dream a little (and fail).  What’s most likely is that your big crazy goal will push you farther (even if you miss the mark) and you’ll grow.  💥

  8. Just Don’t Give Up – Here’s something else we’ve learned. Success can be about outthinking, out hustling or out maneuvering the competition. But, normally…it’s just about outlasting them. If you believe in what you are doing, then make a commitment to not stop. Regardless of what life throws at you in the new year…don’t stop. Don’t give up. Don’t give in to fear. Be bold.. Be audacious.. Be true to yourself. Don’t stop until you’ve reached your destination. 💪🏽

Need a Little More Inspiration?

Looking for a little more inspo as you roll into the New Year? Check out this great episode on the Communal podcast as Greg and Gene expose a fundamental truth: failure is not the end, but a critical step of personal and professional evolution. We open up about fear, resilience and personal growth.  If you need a reset for 2024, this might just be your medicine.  

About The Author:

Greg Hilton is the cofounder and managing partner for SOCO, SOCO is a thriving platform and community focused on supporting creators, indie workers and entrepreneurs just like you. He’s an avid outdoorsman, creator and storyteller. He’s also been self-employed and a business owner for nearly two decades and has worked with hundreds of solos, creators and entrepreneurs to help them lead better and more meaningful lives.

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#GetaLife: 10 Productivity Approaches To Own Your Week

#GetaLife: 10 Productivity Approaches To Own Your Week

10 Productivity approaches to explore to get the work done and make time for life.

You Ain’t Gotta Go To Work, Work, Work, Work

But, as the song goes, you gotta put in the work. I love the idea of work, intellectually. It’s really interesting. We all have to do it. We (almost) all assign a lot of value in our lives to our “work product” or how we contribute to the world. Some of us “go to work” to feed our families. Some of us go to work because we’re driven to make a difference. Most of us, are striving to a little bit of both. We have crazy busy lives AND a lot of stuff (hopefully) that fills our cup outside of work. But, most weeks it feels like there is WAY (LIKE WAY) too much to get done and many of us find ourselves sitting there on Friday frustrated that our efforts fell short of our ambitions.

How In The World Do We Get It All Done?

Good. Me too. I know my purpose. I know why I work. It’s to provide for my family, make the world a better place and move us all forward. I’m working towards a goal of being financially independent, of having the ability to do what I want, when I want and with people that have meaning to me. But, man…some weeks just feel like I’m riding in a literally dumpster as it careens down the hill on fire. Does this sounds like you? If so, this question is for you. How can we do both? Do big, meaningful work AND live a rich full lives outside of work; filled with friends, family, community.

Ever Heard of Parkinson’s Law?

It’s this theory penned by a humorist named Cyril Northcote Parkinson, which essentially says “Hey dummy. There’s a reason that you get to the end of your day/week/month feeling like a failure. The work will just expand to fill up your life if you don’t have a system in place.” Parkinson’s Law was first used to explain why bureacracies get bigger, But, it’s also super helpful as a way of thinking about loads of different types of work, including PERSONAL PRODUCTIVITY.

So, if you find yourself on the struggle bus, In part, you have this asshole’s theory to thank for it. But, you also need to take a hard look in the mirror and realize that it’s on you too and not some dude from the 50’s.

Ready To Make Some Productivity Changes?

You and me both friend. A few months ago, I started a journey to casually investigate some of the things that others are doing to get more productivity out of their weeks AND I started experimenting with some of these same approaches myself.
So, let’s commit to some things.

  1. We can and will take control of our work weeks.
  2. We WILL prioritize our lives outside of work more
  3. We SHALL commit to understanding the difference between busy work and meaningful work.
  4. We are committed and open to loving/respecting ourselves enough to figure out what works best for us.
  5. And yes….we will be open to trying new shit. That chid mind is the only way to embrace these new approaches (because some will be hard).

10 Approaches to Productivity That Might Save Your Week

Okay! With the above commitments in hand, here are some solid approaches that you can use in our company, with. your team and in your personal life to end more weeks better than you started them. I’ve learned some productivity lessons the hard way from being self-employed and a business owner for nearly 20 years.

  1. Really Understand Your Week: David Baker of Punctuation.com said it best. “There are three kinds of days in your week. “Get Shit Off Your Plate” days, “Create High Value” days and “Live in Context” Days. Know that each of these will need regular attention, but know which ones help you create the kind of momentum you need. 🙄

  2. Set Reasonable Expectations/Goals: Just trust me on this one. There is mental and emotional momentum you generate when you finish things. And the opposite occurs when you end the week with a massive to do list still intact. Remember, part of this game is getting good at work so you don’t take it home and into your personal time (which is vitally important). 🎯

  3. Prioritize “Crucial” Stuff: Remember those “Create High Value” days? Know what’s important to get done and what’s not and make the priorities just that. In our shop, we call them “crucial results”. Simply put, they are the things that fall into one of two categories: Getting them done either generates big results and momentum (ex: “If we can ship this proposal, we’ll be in the running for that major account.”) OR prevents bad things from happening (ex: “If I don’t get this product launched by Wednesday, we’re going to miss the big announcement date.”). 💥

  4. Time Block or Else: Listen. If you’re not protecting creative time, strategic time or deep work time, then that’s on you. Some stuff just simply requires you to unplug and stay laser focused. I practice time blocking regularly for important stuff, but I also time block banks of “nothing on the calendar” time to batch the things that roll into my view that I do need to deal with just not in the moment. Here’s a great article on time blocking for you from our friends at todoist. ⏲️

  5. Try Monk Mode: Have trouble with focus? Try to be like a monk. Monk mode is a period of enhanced focus, discipline, and productivity where you eliminate as many distractions as you can and commit yourself to completing a goal. It’s good for task management, but it’s an even better life practice that can be applied to lots of things. But, you have to create the right environment. I enjoyed this productivity read from Jeroen V on Medium. It helped me better understand what monk mode is and how it’s an approach to life (and not just a productivity hack). 🧘🏼

  6. Eliminate Distractions: Need to do some deep work or some focused work? Why the hell do you bring all the distractions of modern day work and life with you? That’s simply cray cray. Turn off the phone (or at least put it in do not disturb). Put do not disturb setting on you laptop. Find a distraction free place to get that work done (remember those workspaces? Way better than your home office or a coffee shop for deep work). Silence the chimes, pushes, pings, etc. Every time you pause to look, read, listen etc you throw yourself off your game and get nothing done. 🦗

  7. Explore The Pomodoro Technique: If you are looking for a smart way to bang out a bunch of smaller tasks within a timeframe and normally have a lot of open ended tasks that could take forever if you let them, try the Pomodoro Technique. It’s an approach where you break tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks with dedicated short timeframes. Think of it like a “mini-sprint” with breaks. Here’s a good read on how to implement this. Promodor = Productivity 🏃🏾‍♀️

  8. Take Breaks: Yes. Take breaks. Pomodoro says so. 😊 Take a 10 minute break for every hour of focused work you put in. Change your scenery when you find yourself being unfocused or stuck (walk anyone?). Breaks also serve up a bonus…build in an automatic water bottle chugging 30-second session into your break to make sure you stay hydrated all day. For me, every time I use the bathroom, I take a 30-second pit stop at the water fountain. Non-negotiable. #HydrateorDie

  9. Wrangle Your Meetings: Listen. I’m collaborative. I love meetings with others. I think they are super valuable for creativity/innovation. At the same time, I know people who literally don’t ever get out of their chairs b/c they are in an endless stream of meetings (that’s not right or healthy). If meetings make your list of “things that I think get in the way of me doing great work”, then do something about it. Can you cut a meeting time in half with a more focused agenda? Are there meetings that aren’t 100% critical that you be there for? Delete. Can you restructure how your team meets overall to tap into some extra “productivity” time? I bet you can. It is 100% worth examining.. Here’s a good resource on the topic (with some sobering stats). 🛑

  10. Reward Yourself: When you accomplish something big, reward yourself in some small way. Maybe share a win with colleagues (we have a #winning channel in our work cooperative for people to do just that). Treat yourself to a bevvy or that break I was talking about before is a proper reward for productivity. 🎁

  11. BONUS (We just couldn’t resist)!
    Delegate (Responsibly): In our design firm, Period Three, we used to get these awful referrals from one of our “partners”. They’d send over work to us that they had already passed on. It wasn’t a good client or a good fit for them and those referrals ended up (surprise surprise) being trash for us too. Don’t be them. If you’re going to delegate tasks (and you 100%, absolutely have to to get anything done), be a responsible delegator. This could be a whole other blog post, but here are some quick tips. 🏎️
    • Don’t be a “drive-by delegator”: Deliver clearly communicated tasks, with specific deadlines and understood expectations for success. Don’t just “drive by” and drop some shit on a team member.
    • Delegate Strategically: If there are things on your plate that you’re not good at? Give them to people who are? Don’t just hand out trash to someone else. Leverage your teams skills to get more done together.
    • Delegate For The Right Reasons: Don’t give someone something because you don’t want to do it. Put on your big boy/girl pants and do the hard stuff too.

If you’ve made it to the bottom of this list…you have now “invested” 15 minutes of your precious time into bettering yourself and your work week. Now….go put one or more of these ideas into practice to start generating an ROI.

Want Some More Productivity Convo?

Looking for a little more? Check out this great episode on the Communal podcast where Greg and Gene dig into how we structure our weeks to avoid going insane. It’s a really good (and candid) conversation.

About The Author:

Greg Hilton is the cofounder and managing partner for SOCO, SOCO is a thriving platform and community focused on supporting creators, indie workers and entrepreneurs just like you. He’s an avid outdoorsman, creator and storyteller. He’s also been self-employed and a business owner for nearly two decades and has worked with hundreds of solos, creators and entrepreneurs to help them lead better and more meaningful lives.

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