How to Get 1,000 More Website Visits

Finding Your Productivity Sweet Spot (Bonus EP8)

The best social sharing snippet from this interview is by far… “The goal is not to get it all done, but to get the right things done.”

Today’s episode is a must-listen! I’m talking with Amber De La Garza about all things productivity. We explore why being busy isn’t the same as being productive, how to find your most effective work environment, and practical strategies for time blocking. Amber’s advice will help you reclaim your time and focus on what really moves the needle in your business.

02:32 Defining Productivity
02:39 The Real Meaning of Productivity and How to Achieve It
04:44 Behavior Over Tools
06:42 Productivity Is Not One-Size-Fits-All
12:25 A Strategy for Structured Flexibility
20:06 Choosing the Right Tools for Productivity
22:59 Addressing the ‘I Don’t Have Time’ Dilemma




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Hello, and welcome to the small business sweet spot. I’m your host Barb Davids, and this show is dedicated to helping small business owners like you get more organic website traffic and also to help create and distribute content and analyzing the numbers so that we can make better informed marketing decisions. It is action oriented, direct, and conversational. And if you’ve been looking for SEO or content marketing help, please stick around to the very end where I share about the group coaching program, small business sweet spot. I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s go.

Welcome back to the small business sweet spot. This special episode features productivity specialist, Amber De La Garza. I have been following Amber for quite a while on Instagram. I love her posts about productivity and I took her time management course that I’m carefully implementing. So welcome to the sweet spot, Amber.

Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, and I’m going to read off your bio and then I’ll have the listeners hear from you directly what your sweet spot is and who you help. So the bio Amber DeLaGarza is the productivity specialist. Amber has more than a decade of experience helping small business owners maximize profits, reduce stress and make time for what matters most by improving their time management and elevating their productivity.

Amber is a sought after coach, trainer, speaker, writer, host of the Small Business Straight Talk podcast and creator of Leverage Lab. Amber shares her message on her weekly podcast and as Straight Talks both virtually and in person across the country for audiences that range from small business owners and associations to multinational corporations.

You spread everything everywhere. Yes, but I do absolutely have a specialty. So all of my coaching, both individually and group coaching is specifically for small business owners and even more specifically for service based business owners, which means anyone who is the service that’s being sold, right?

So they don’t have a product, they don’t have a restaurant, but we’re talking from attorneys to. to interior designers, architects. So my specialty is business owners and those that have a unique skill set that they are offering to the world. I love that our audiences definitely overlap. I do the same with service based businesses as well.

So I think this is going to be super, super cool to be able to give your expertise to my listeners. So. Productivity. Okay. So we do have some questions depending on where we go with the conversation, but let me just start with this one. Yeah. What do business owners think productivity means? And then that versus what is it actually?

Yeah, that’s a great question. Great jumping off point. And I can’t answer what everyone thinks productivity is only because it’s so loaded, it’s so. So subjective. Some people love it and some people are like, it’s not for me. I, you know, they equate it to having to wake up at 4am, 5am in the morning. They equate it with color coded calendars being incredibly organized.

And so wherever you land, my request is that just for the time being of this episode, I’m going to share with you my definition of productivity. And if our listeners like it, you’re free to keep this definition over whatever else you’ve been thinking up to this point. And I have defined it over a decade of specializing with productivity.

And it’s less of a definition and more of a framework. But I specifically say productivity is when we are investing our best time into our best activities. And it’s a framework because that can lay over. Of course, we’re talking business today. It could lay over relationships, our health, any goals that we have.

What we want is to show up our best, that focus, distraction free, incredibly great energy. And then know that we’re working on the activities that actually move the needle. Because what we do know is that not all activity and tasks are created equal. And so this is really important because many people associate productivity with being busy, being exhausted at the end of the day.

And I do not believe they are the same and they definitely do not get the same results. Do you think that there is, is it, does it lean more in your experience? Does it lean more to people maybe not having the, the tangible tools, like not knowing what to do with workflows and processes and how to manage time versus.

Mindset or is it more mindset or something else that’s going on with regards to being productive? Mm hmm Yeah, it’s a combination of both. I would say definitely less the the next next tech or shiny object. I really focus on the behavior change decision making, search strategy Boundaries, clear communication.

I believe that those have a bigger impact and the tools are just helpers. They, they magnify. So if you are, you know, if you don’t have good habits and behaviors of planning your day. Like scheduling the time, showing up for the time. It doesn’t matter what system you have. It doesn’t matter what app you have.

So I really focus on the behavior and then layer over tech to just take it to that next level. That is very cool. I like that. It does include the behavior. I’ve been looking down that road quite a bit more lately than I ever used to. And yeah. It just is amazing to me how much underlying stuff there is that keeps people from either being productive or Doing the tasks or even the boundary setting like that’s a big one.

I bet it that is huge And I I think you addressed it as well as mindset You know, there’s a lot of self sabotage and I think we more of us know what we need to be doing and should be doing around improving our productivity and the gap between knowing and implementing is, is where it’s at, you know, really understanding everybody is built differently.

Everybody has their thing that they avoid or they procrastinate on. They have the thing that they enjoy doing over other things. And so part of the work that I do with my clients is just, Helping them discover themselves more and understanding how they operate and what are their go to behaviors and how can we create structure?

How can we create an environment that supports them specifically and uniquely? I had referenced that some people believe that productivity is organization. And, you know, for me, I have a white desk that’s often very, very cleaned off, but there are a lot of people that I might as well put them in a straight jacket if I just cleaned off their desk, meaning that doesn’t work for everybody and, and if that doesn’t work for you that’s definitely not the definition of success, of productivity.

And we know that, right? Like, do you know someone that has an incredibly I don’t know, cluttered desk, but they’re slaying their goals? Like, like I’ve known people, I’ve gone into corporations, I’ve worked with business owners where you can barely see behind their desk, but they’re incredibly clear about what moves the needle.

They’re incredibly clear about their goals and achieving them. But we also know people that have a color coded calendar, nothing on their desktop, everything is organized, but they’re still not focusing on the things that get them closer to their goals. And so if both are true, we understand that organization can be helpful, but it is not the defining thing that makes us most productive.

And that’s just one example, but you can go from that to mornings to do you focus better in quiet? Do you focus better in, you know, the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop? Really looking into how you show up best. And then doing that on purpose is all the world needs from you. It’s all that your business needs from you.

I think that’s a great question. Just being able to identify that. I, I tend to go back and forth and it’ll depend on what I’m working on. Yeah. If I need quiet or if I can do something coffee shop I was just at the coffee shop the other day and I was like, I can’t sit here anymore. My butt hurts. Yeah.

You gotta, you gotta change it up. Yeah. You know, when I started my business 14 years ago, I had left corporate and I was in management and any good manager has their desk open. There’s all these cubicles outside of my office, a huge hustle bustle corporate office. And I thought for sure when I went home and worked from my home office.

That I was going, I mean, I was just going to nail the productivity, right? Like all I needed was quiet. No interruptions, nobody walking by. And I remember like. thinking there was something incredibly wrong with me. Like I would sit at my desk and the bird that landed on the tree distracted me and you know, the, the UPS driver would drive by and everything would catch my attention.

Whereas when I worked in corporate, I had trained myself to zone it out and actually found myself focusing better with all that white noise. And that led me to asking, well, why did that work for me? And, and even though this seems like it should have worked, it didn’t, what could work for me? So I actually built my entire business from a coffee shop.

Anytime I wasn’t face to face with a client, I was sitting in the corner of a coffee shop. And now you can get you can get, you can download and stream a coffee shop noise because they’ve proven right. And before it was like, that’s weird, Amber. Like, why wouldn’t you want to sit at your office where it’s quiet?

But now scientifically they’ve proven that, that many people do actually focus better with white noise. And so there’s all these like stations you can stream into and, and utilize To imitate or mimic that background noise. Well, I didn’t need all the hard science just to know that. Did it really matter where I found my focus and best work?

I had a business to build. And so part of my messaging is about really experimenting with where you show up your best. How do you show up your best? What environment You know, sometimes it might be sitting on your patio, working with your laptop and other times it’s going to be in a quiet office, or maybe you need to go to the library.

Whereas I went to somewhere that was so busy that, that there was noise everywhere, experiment with that and then figure out how can you create those blocks of time. And then align your highest value work, the work that takes your most focus, that has the highest priority, with those blocks of time. That is some good stuff.

And it reminds me to check out the coffee shop sounds because I forgot all about that. I think I heard that in passing somewhere and I’m glad you mentioned that because there’s there’s bird apps, there’s the white noise apps, but I forgot about the coffee shop sounds. Yes, there’s lots of them out there.

There are people that do well with classical music. It’s really, there’s quizzes you can take out there to find out what kind of background noise you work best in. So that might be something to look into. And the lesson here is to stop shitting yourself. It should, productivity should look a certain way.

I should show up at X, you know, wake up at X, you know. This time in the morning really think back to the last time you did really good work, focused work. You were motivated, clear headed. This could also include what you’re eating, what time of day it is. Did you exercise that day? What kind of food were you eating?

Are you hydrated? Right. And observing and being more curious. And then once you find those clues, Replicate it. Make it happen frequently. That’s good. There’s so much lifestyle that really plays into productivity for sure. Absolutely. I have, okay, so next question I have for you. Yeah. What, and it’s kind of a personal question.

What do you tell small business owners who may feel smothered, for lack of a better term, when they try to do time blocking? Excellent question. It’s common. And my answer is simply this. Structure with flexibility and it’s a spectrum. Some people need an incredible amount of structure and others need a lot more flexibility.

And that may be personality based. It may be situational because of the support they have or don’t have in the business at that time. Maybe the type of business that they do where, you know, say a realtor. Right. They need, they need structure, but they need a lot of flexibility because no two days look exactly the same.

They don’t end their day in the office. They may not start their day in the office. But one of the reasons that many of us became business owners is because that we wanted, we wanted more freedom, right? We didn’t want to be told we had to be in at eight o’clock, what time we had lunch, what time we’re out, how many hours we work.

And we’re railing against that structure. However When I found, I have found that with no structure, it is the thing that will sabotage all things. So if I could invite our listeners to actually think about structure differently, is that when you were in corporate or had a regular, you know, nine to five job, somebody else was creating that structure for you.

So instead of saying structure was the issue, I would invite you to think about how exciting is it that you get to create your own structure? That if you want to be off by three o’clock, if you want to take lunch at 11 or 3 p. m., if you want to work four days or six days a week, but what is the structure and can you create that for yourself and your own lifestyle and the success of your business?

Okay. That gives me something to think about now. I I’ll add one more layer is that time blocking in general has been taught that every Monday looks the same. Tuesdays look the same. I do this in the morning. I do this in the afternoons. And I teach a second way to time block and I actually merge them together.

And the second way that I teach time blocking is to time block specific tasks and activities off of your task list. And creating that intention and planning. So if I wanted to record a podcast episode, as I’m a podcaster, I would put on my calendar one hour and it would literally say record episode 328.

And then another block would say record intros and outros for episode 330 and another block of time might say write content for episode 350 and I’m being very specific now, that’s just for podcasting But we have all kinds of tasks that are on our task list and I I tie together Planning our days and blocking out the time So if you know what your priority tasks are for that day, I would want each person each of my clients I asked them to answer three questions.

What are you specifically doing? You When are you doing it? And how long are you going to do it for? And by simply creating an event on your calendar, you’re answering those three questions. You’re getting really intentional about what you want to accomplish. You’re giving some thought as to, is this a 15 minute task?

Is it a 90 minute task? Is it a one hour task? And you’re making that commitment with yourself of when you are going to focus on that. And another layer to that time blocking is that if you’re working off your priorities, time is very abstract. It’s very difficult concept to wrap our heads around. So for many of us were visual and we want it to be more concrete.

And when we start time blocking our specific tasks onto our calendar, we’re making it visual. It’s more concrete and it helps with decision making because if you’re somebody that has 10, 15 things on their list and you’re like, I’m going to nail it. And then 10 of them roll over, you did three and the next day, five more roll over.

It’s not because you’re probably not doing the work. It’s that we’re being overly optimistic and what can get done. It’s time. It’s very difficult to quantify the time it’s going to take 15 things versus three things, right? Not all tasks are created equal. And so if we start answering those questions of what specifically am I going to do, how long am I going to do it for?

Next thing you know, the calendar’s full and you only got to item four. You’re really clear. You had better pick the highest value for activities or tasks, because if we don’t, and our brains say, I’m going to get all 10 things done. Does it matter which 10 you start with? Cause your brain saying I’m getting them done today.

And so then we know we don’t always choose the most highest value or high priority. Because we’re really optimistic. We’re going to get to it and it’s okay. And so if you or your listeners have an issue with tasks rolling over, it’s not that it may not be that you’re not working hard and maybe that you have missed expectations of what can actually happen.

And by time blocking, it fixes that. It really, really helps that. That is amazing stuff. That’s very tactical, which I really love in terms of how to do the time blocking and the rollover thing is definitely something that I struggle with. So I, I. There was one day when I did almost cross everything off.

That was pretty cool. You know, when we first started, you would ask the question, you know, is it tech? Is it strategy? Is it mindset? Yeah. And so I just want to add to this is that I just gave you something very strategic, like a how to, right? But there’s also the mindset aspect of it, and the mindset aspect of it is that we believe, and I say we and I’m being general, but we believe that we are going to get it all done.

The reality is the day you get your entire task list done, you’re probably out of business. And so if we can reframe that to say, I get what’s most important done, I will get my high value, you know, most high priority items done and understand that the thought and it racing over and over in our heads that we’re supposed to get through the whole to do list this day, this week is not obtainable and you wouldn’t want it.

So if we can distance ourselves from that thought pattern. It’s a loop. Then it helps with our mindset because it never feels good to say, and I, I worked so hard and when I went to bed tonight, I was exhausted. And yet there’s so much more to do as if it shouldn’t be. The truth is we’re building businesses.

There will always be something next. We’re creative. The next idea is going to come the next strategy or thing that you want to do in your business. So if we make peace with that, it actually helps with our mindset. And it reframes what the goal is for the day. And the goal is not to get it all done, but to get the right things done.

Boom. That’s it. That’s all we need to talk about. That was really good. Okay. Definitely have some new material to be able to share with people and to turn people onto your Instagram, because that is a great way to look at it. Definitely. I love that. All right, so let’s move into tools because they help, right?

They’re not the answer, but they do help. What would you say is your most helpful that you find for you? Yeah, a task and project management system, hands down. So of all the tools that are going to keep us in a line, it’s going to be a task project management system slash your calendar. Right. And sometimes they’re all in one and sometimes they have to compliment each other.

And specifically I use ClickUp. Now ClickUp is very well, first of all, I love ClickUp, but ClickUp is not for everybody. There’s a lot of bells and whistles. I mean, it is, it is something that is not right out of the box. It takes a lot of customization. But it also gives a lot of flexibility in how you use the project management system.

Something that’s kind of middle of the road that I like is Asana. That’s really out of the box. You can get right in there and start using the task management system, project management system. And there’s many other great ones out there. And this is where I pause and do my PSA, Public Service Announcement.

If I didn’t just say the project management system you’re on, doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong one. Those are just my favorite. So don’t go jump and be like, I have to go find the next one. My advice always is if you’re already using one or you’ve tried one, Recommit to it, really learn, go to the knowledge base, watch the videos, commit to learning what you have, because there’s a real cost to switching.

There’s a cost to learning something new to getting your team and you off of one system and onto the next. So most project management systems are pretty similar and if you’re truly using it and it’s not meeting your, meeting your needs, then check out ClickUp or Asana. Okay, very good. I am also a ClickUp fan.

Oh, great. High five on that one. Yes, yes. I’ve been with them since they first started out. I was one of their like beta, beta clients. So fun. It’s incredible what they’ve built. Yeah. So that’s really changed then since beta. Cause I came in after that for sure. But it was in the, it was before like the latest I’ve been on it for maybe.

What, four or five years or something like that. I don’t even know, but it has really grown to be something quite amazing. Actually. Yeah. When they first came out, maybe not when they first came out, when we first started hearing about them so early on, I actually interviewed the CEO of ClickUp and I went and visited their offices in San Diego.

I was really intrigued with what they were doing and this is before they got all their funding and you know what they’re doing now and it is really incredible that the program can still exist. And it’s serving huge corporations and everything in between. That’s amazing. Yeah. So I have two more questions.

One is on productivity still. And then I have a final question that we can wrap out with. So when people say they don’t have time. What do you think they really mean? What’s the underlying thought behind that? Well, it’s not an absolute. Again, I know we’ve got some quick answers here, but when someone says they don’t have the time, they may have too many competing priorities.

So where they don’t have the time, but the real issue is they haven’t really prioritized what needs to be done first, second, third. When somebody tells me that they don’t have enough time, I’m also looking at what is their actual workload. Are they delegating? So I’m looking at root causes. When somebody tells me that they don’t have enough time, that’s a symptom.

Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes it’s not true. It’s a belief. It’s a it’s a feeling that they have But it’s never the actual problem if that makes sense. It does actually I just saw a post too that you did that was about Yeah. Do you want to talk a little bit about that? Well, I think that oftentimes we wear it as a badge of honor that we’re really busy.

Some people equate that with success. We can get into a habit of keeping ourselves incredibly busy and Again, this like it’s a full circle is a great question to ask because that is not being productive and we know that we can be busy and still feel like we’re in a hamster wheel. So I believe that we owe it to ourselves to get really clear of how we best serve the business.

What does the business need from us? Which, you know, I teach that as in what is your highest value to move the needle on the goals. And that’s a combination of your skillset. It’s a combination of analyzing where your team is and your businesses at that time. But doing that and doing it consistently and then starting to solve for some of the other stuff that you are just busy with and start outsourcing it.

Because there is a lot of busy work that is required to, you know, keep a business going But I would argue if it’s the business owner’s responsibility to do those things instead of the highest value business growth activities. Such good stuff. Thank you so much. You’re welcome. All right. So my final question and something I ask from every guest is what would you say is the biggest takeaway someone should walk away from this episode with?

To get curious of how you show up best in your business. And then get really, really purposeful with carving out productive time on a regular basis. So if you find yourself constantly in the busy mode, then start with 30 minutes a day and then go to one hour of like no distractions, no interruptions. You have intent with what you’re going to work on.

You’re showing up your best and keep building on that. It’s like going to the gym. I’m not going to ask somebody to run a marathon or to lift, you know, 250 pounds. You’ll never go back to the gym. So start with 30 minutes. Commitment a few times a week or every day and then build up to 45 minutes or a couple 30 minute sessions Being very purposeful with peppering in this productive time until it starts shifting You’re gonna be less busy and more productive over time by expanding those blocks of time.

Excellent. Great takeaway. I love that one. All right. So much for having me. Yeah, thank you. So let me ask you, is there one resource that you’d like to share with listeners or direct them to a spot for more information on you? Absolutely. So wherever you’re listening to this episode, I also have a podcast called Small Business Straight Talk.

Really good one. Really good. We’ve been around for a long time. I think I’m going on my eighth year. So we have lots of content there, but we make it really easy for our new listeners. So we have a quiz is called the Next Level Business Owner Quiz. And in three minutes I will share with you what your biggest challenge is currently in your business and then provide you with a curated playlist of those episodes from the podcast that address those specific challenges.

That way you’re not like, Oh my gosh, I have so many episodes to listen to. That doesn’t matter. We just want to solve the first, most, the largest challenge. And then go from there. So you can get the customized playlist and take the quiz over at Amber DeLaGarza, D E L A G A R Z A dot com forward slash quiz.

And I’d love for everybody to go take that three minute quiz and start at the podcast. Love it. Thank you so much for your time today, Amber. I really appreciate it. Thank you for inviting me and thanks for having me. Thanks. And that wraps up today’s episode on productivity with Amber. So stay tuned for more episodes on making your business thrive online.

We’ll see you in the next sweet spot. Cheers.

Thank you for sticking around. I hope you enjoyed the episode. If you’re looking for SEO and content marketing help, consider joining the small business sweet spot. It’s a group coaching program where you can get answers to your questions about your business directly and clarity around the marketing strategies that you would like to implement in your business.

You can find all kinds of information at compassdigitalstrategies. com. And if you liked the episode, please tell a friend. Cheers.

Barb Davids - SEO Consultant

Barb Davids is an SEO consultant and owner of Compass Digital Strategies. Driven by data and analytics, she works hard to get business-changing results for her clients, such as 256% more website traffic and 22% more leads. Connect with her: Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter
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