We’re all busy. Here are a few of Michael & Allissa’s favorite hacks to take the edge off.
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I am Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines And I’m Allissa Haines.
MR And we’re your hosts. Welcome. Glad you’ve joined us today. We are glad to have you with us. [Laughing] Allissa, is your office warming up a little bit? I know it was 50 degrees last time we talked.
AH Yeah, it’s a little chilly in here.
MR (Indiscernible) those heaters out?
AH I tripped a circuit a little while ago and — because I had too many space heaters going. So it’s back up, but I don’t have as many space heaters, and that’s just what my life is now.
, how was your vacation?
MR [Laughing] It was great. We had a little bit of time in Florida. In Fort Lauderdale, it was 80-ish degrees. Did some work by the pool. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. It was a good time.
AH Good, good.
MR And yeah, so we have a great topic today, but before we get to that, do you mind if read a couple reviews from iTunes?
AH Please do.
MR All right. It’s been a while since we’ve done that, so I thought we’d grab a couple of recent reviews and say thank you to some of our listeners. This one is from Kimotimo on iTunes — or the Apple Podcast app, sorry, they changed it. And this person said, “I 100% believe that I would not be as far in my career as I am in a short period of time without having this podcast to listen to. That sounds so extreme, but it’s true.” And we got a little happy emoji there as well. “Thank you, Michael and Allissa. You’re doing a great thing for our industry.”
Well, thank you so much. We really appreciate that. That really means a lot. We love reviews. We love hearing from you, so we appreciate the five-start review there.
We got one more here on this past week — within the last week or so from Massage Nay. Massage Nay said, “I am five months out of school and five months into my private practice so any new advice is amazing. I recently found this podcast, and I’m so pleased that I was able to find a podcast dedicated to massage. I would love to hear a topic on retaining clients in our business. Thank you.”
Retaining clients, that’s a good one. We’ve done that, I think, maybe in the past, but maybe not recently. So we might want to revisit that. So thank you, Massage Nay. We appreciate that five-star review as well.
It’s always nice to kind of do a shout-out to some of our listeners that leave reviews because we really appreciate that. So thank you. There you have it.
AH I — thank you. I’m sorry. I was —
MR No, it’s cool.
AH — muted.
AH But thank you for the review. I couldn’t get in fast enough.
MR I figured you were just silently basking in the glow of our reviews.
AH I was, I was. I was actually writing them down on my office walls just as constant affirmations.
AH No, thanks. We really appreciate that because we want to be useful and it helps. Thanks. Thanks for the nudge. And also your reviews help other people find us. So even if you just tap the little star button and don’t leave a whole written thing or leave a whole written thing, it helps other massage therapists find us. That’s how they work — the algorithms in iTunes and other podcast apps. So thanks for letting people know.
MR Indeed. All right, we’re talking about life hacks.
AH We are.
MR Life hacks for busy people.
AH We are. And we’re talking about this because, one, you and I are both pretty busy people as are most of the listeners. We got a lot going on. And I was reading this article the other day that was like, helpful tips for very busy people, and they were things like start your day with a big glass of water. [Laughing]
MR That’s a life hack for busy people?
AH That’s a — yes.
AH And busy is never an excuse to skip a meal.
MR Hmm. That’s deep.
AH And don’t forget to reward yourself. And I was like, these are all decent tips, but they are not helping me —
AH — deal with making two school lunches and my lunch and the dude’s lunch — I’m in charge of meal prep, so there’s that. And also getting the laundry out in time and making sure — whatever — this happens and that happens and, you know, making sure I’m showing up to podcast recording with fully prepped episodes, and whatever, which by the way I’m not doing, and that’s why we’re doing a life hacks for busy people episode.
So what I wanted [laughing] to talk about today was a couple of things that each of us — Michael and I — do to make our lives a little bit easier. Michael’s got three, four different active businesses all with — all but one with partners, right?
MR Right, yeah. Four businesses, three of them are partnerships.
AH Right. And I’ve got three businesses. One is a partnership. One is — really, it’s two and a half because I’ve got my massage practice, and then I have the management of the space that I sublet for other people, and then I have the Blueprint with Michael. So and Michael’s got a kid and a wife that works full time, and I’ve got two stepchildren that I do — I’m like a half parent, so I’m not going to in an be I’m all doing full-on parenting. I’m like 45% parent as compared to people with natural kids and all that stuff. I don’t want to put myself out there as working mom because that’s not the thing. And a partner who also works a full-time job, works a part-time job, and we run a nonprofit together. So we have — we’re all busy people as are you, and I thought this could be really helpful to share a couple of little tips.
So I’m going to throw in a little, then we’ll do halftime, and then Michael can throw in a few tips, and then I’ll probably have more, and that’s how we’re going to go. Does that sound okay, Michael?
MR Sounds perfect. I’m in.
AH All right. So I — one of the best things that I do is I don’t fully block my time for certain tasks, but — like some people are really good at being every Monday from 9 to 11 I will do this bookkeeping task. I’m not good at that. I start to feel too caged in if I over-tightly schedule myself. But one thing I do is group — and Michael does this too but in a different way. I group things together in a real strategic way. So my errands — when I have a lot of errands to run, I try to find a 90-minute or 2-hour window, and I super strategically run all my errands. So I hit the bank — and I usually I won’t do an errand run until I have enough cash from people paying me cash from massages to go to the bank, and then I do all my errands. So it’s not even definitely weekly or whatever. Sometimes actually it’s been — I have to do it tomorrow and I have a block of time. But it’s been three weeks to get up to a couple hundred bucks that need to be deposited.
So I have — and I will very carefully map out what needs to be done, and I’ve been keeping a list in my bullet journal for what needs to be done for all these errands. And it’s things I have to be present for physically I can’t handle online. So I’ve got to drop some cash off at the bank, I’ve got to go pick up some stuff from my post office box. And a hack there is that– I have a post office box because I gypsied for several years. I lived in a lot of different places after my divorce, and I just kept it because 90% of my mail goes there. But you can get an email from the postal service every morning that shows you literally a picture of every envelope that gets delivered that day. So I know if there’s something important, that means I have to subvert my system and get to the post office box right away. But most of myself is handled online, and I can see what’s in my mailbox, so I don’t have to go there often. So there’s no mystery.
So I’m going to hit the bank, I’m going to hit the post office, I have a list of a few little things I need from my office that cannot be purchased online, and I am making that big group errand run together. I also do this with phone calls. If I need to make a whole bunch of appointments — it happens every six months or a year where I’ve got to — and maybe I made my dentist appointment, but I know that I need to change it — or this happened the other day. I needed to make a dentist appointment, an eye doctor appointment, and a few other annoying appointment kind of things. And so I had the list — the ongoing list of calls I needed to make about appointments, and I sat down and I made them all at once. And of course you can time that for when you know business hours are happening because for me it’s always a problem because I think of this at 11 o’clock at night. So I have 45 minutes blocked off — I did this last week so that — and I just made all of those appointment-making phone calls at once. So I only had to bring up my calendar once, sit there in front of it, and make a bunch of phone calls. So that works really well.
I also — and this is my last one, and then we’ll do halftime, and then Michael can talk about some of his hacks. I have stopped shopping as much as possible. I mean, I still have to do — I do a weekly grocery shopping. And it’s — actually it’s kind of every other week because that’s when we don’t have the kids every other Sunday morning, so he — the guy and I go together and we do a big grocery shopping, and then in the off weeks one of us will do just a very small shopping. But I get just about every dry good or paper product or whatever delivered to me. And I’ve done this — in some ways it might add a little complexity, but I have — I get dish detergent and laundry detergent for my house laundry, I get it from a company called Drops because it’s super eco-friendly and uses less plastic. It’s these little pods and it doesn’t have a bunch of harmful chemicals that are in some other kind of detergent. So my dishwasher pods and my personal washing pods get delivered to me on a subscription. Every eight weeks a small box comes, and that’s everything I need for at least eight weeks. I get my toilet paper delivered to me for my house and my office in a big box from a company called Who Gives a Crap. And it’s environmentally sound and whatever. So I get as much delivered — and that’s a subscription. I figure out roughly how many rolls we go through, and I have an account for home and office, and I get two boxes every eight weeks or whatever. And that is much easier. And then I do big shopping online from either Target or Walmart or whatever, and we just — and I — when we do that — and this is a bit of a privilege because you need to have cash on hand to do this, but pretty much like every four — it’s between three and six months for certain things. Probably every three months I do a big order of three toothpaste tubes and all the dental floss we’ll need and the face cream and fabric softener sheets that I need that I can’t get from a place online but I need them for whatever.
So I try to do a bulk quarterly. And I have the list — it’s a very rough list or I just look at my last order and I’m like, oh, do I need more of this, do I need more of this, do I need more of this? Like shampoo and all the stuff we need for our house that I — again, privilege because I have to put cash in the bank to do this and also I have the storage space in my home to store extra stuff. And being able to buy in bulk like that online so that two or three big boxes come from Walmart or whatever, and that is extremely helpful and makes it so I don’t have to go to the store which also save me money. But I don’t have to go to the store. And that’s really nice.
So that’s what I’ve got. Who’s our halftime sponsor, Michael?
MR Today our halftime sponsor is Acuity.
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AH Michael, what do you got?
MR So all the things that you mentioned, I pretty much do as well. I have Freshly, which I really like for subscription meal services. I’ve got some other things on autopilot, so I really agree with that. So a couple things I really focus on.
One thing is trusted systems. So when I — in my many years of observing — and I’ve worked with a lot of people in different context when it comes to business consulting or systems or productivity. And the number one thing that always comes up that I’ve noticed for me is lack of a trusted system. If someone is having problems with efficiency or time management or organization, a lot of it usually comes down to a trusted system or lack of one. Here’s what I mean by that. So we all have stuff we have to remember. By the way, I learned this from David Allen in his book Getting things Done, which I don’t necessarily expect everyone to read because it’s kind of dry and boring. But I really loved it because I’m a nerd about this stuff. And in the book, he talks about having a trusted system or trusted systems — like, a limited number of systems.
And one example of that is all of us have stuff we have to remember. Like you have to remember to this or that or a thing we have to keep track of. What a lot of people do is they scribble it on Post-it notes and they stick it on a table or something or they scribble it somewhere else, and they just kind of scribble stuff everywhere. Maybe they put it in this random mobile app they have on their phone and they also put something else in a notebook and they write something else down somewhere else, and stuff is scattered everywhere. And when you do that, you don’t have a trusted system; you have stuff everywhere, and you don’t have a trusted location or a trusted way to gather all of your stuff you have to do in one place.
So I’m a big advocate of having a trusted system that is the single place you put everything. And for me that’s Wunderlist. I’m a big fan of Wunderlist. For other people it’s other To Do list apps or paper or a notebook or whatever it is. But the point it is, you want to have one place that kind of has everything. And you want that thing to be trackable everywhere you are. So one problem some people have with paper is they have a big notebook or something and they leave it at home and they have to track something somewhere else. Now, there are ways around that; you can email things to yourself and then record it later, which is fine. But the reason I am very pro technology is because I can be on my computer and I can do a to do item in Wunderlist and then I can be on my phone, if I’m out somewhere else, I can put the same item there and it syncs up in the cloud.
So whenever I need to track something that I have to remember or have to do, it always goes into Wunderlist. I have separate categories in Wunderlist. I have separate — my categories by business, and then personal. So I’ve got four different business categories for my four businesses. I’ve got a personal category. I’ve got categories for other things. So they all go in a category, and then I mark them by date when they’re supposed to pop up on my list, and that way every day or week I’ve got a landscape of what’s coming up for me to track that day or that week.
So having a trusted system is important because then you don’t lose track of all the stuff you have to remember to get done. And then when you lose track of something, things fall through the cracks and that causes additional inefficiencies and additional effort. So all of that to say, figure out what your trusted system is. And for me, that’s electronic, but it could be a notebook as long as it’s portable and something that works for you. So that’s one thing I do.
So as you probably know if you’ve known me for more than five minutes, I’m very pro technology. I use tech for everything I possibly can because I hate paper with a passion. And to me — this is not for everybody, but for me, clutter equals lack of efficiency. So when lots of paper is kind of laying around or stuff is tracked in some physical form, that causes a lot of stress for me and a lot of inefficiency for me because then I have to figure out where to put it or what to do with it or how to track it.
So a couple of apps I love for tracking stuff electronically is Evernote. I put all sorts of stuff in Evernote. So rather than piles of paper everywhere, I use an app called Scannable which kind of goes with Evernote, and I hover over the document with my phone, it scans it really quickly, I can save it directly to Evernote, and then I can shred the paper. So I am relentless when it comes to scanning and shredding paper because I don’t want stuff laying around cluttering my life because I want to be able to go into Evernote, do a quick search, pull up what I need, and not have to mess with it.
AH I have a question.
MR Yeah, yeah.
AH I used to use Evernote on your recommendation, and then I started — I kind of made my business paperless, and then I made my personal paperwork all paperless. And I got really confused about why I would put some things in Evernote and some things in Google Drive, and it actually became — it complicated my life more to use both. So why would — how do you decide what goes in Evernote and what goes in Google Drive, and why use two things when you could just use one?
MR You could use one. There’s no reason. In fact, I’ve often wondered when I’m going to set aside this project to migrate everything to Google Drive. So there’s no reason if you don’t want to use Evernote, just use Google Drive. Totally fine.
MR I just happened to start using it, and so I’ve kept using it because it has year and years of stuff in it and so I don’t feel like migrating. The other thing is Scannable is a little bit cleaner with Evernote. There’s less clicking to save stuff to Evernote, so —
AH Yeah, because it’s their — it’s a product of Evernote. Scannable was created by the owner people, yeah.
MR Yeah, yeah.
MR So yeah, that’s the only reason really.
MR I just think it’s a nice app. It’s got a good user interface. So pick whatever you want.
AH I used it for like a year or two, and then I was like why am I using two things instead of one because I could never remember what I put where. And it started with using Evernote for all my personal stuff. And then I was just like this is confusing to me. So thank you for clearing that up.
MR Yeah, yeah, either one. Or whatever — maybe it’s Microsoft OneNote. Whatever you want to use, it doesn’t really matter. But that really helps me to kind of stay paperless.
Something else I’ve noticed, again, you and I both, Allissa, work with people in business contexts quite a bit in consulting. And without fail whenever I’m helping someone, whenever someone needs to log in to something, they never know their password. [Laughing] So it seems like one of the biggest timesavers is not having to mess with figuring out what your password is for things like your Facebook account and your bank and your whatever else, all this stuff. Whenever you’ve got to log in to something, passwords are always a stumbling block. And so for me, I use an app called LastPass. And LastPass is lifechanging. So if you want an app that remembers all your passwords for you, helps you log in to sites with one click, tracks even things like credit card numbers, bank account information, highly sensitive secure information and encrypts it, LastPass is my pick. So if you sign up for LastPass and put all your passwords in there and use that to log in to stuff, over time, you will never have to worry about remembering passwords again, and it will save you a ton of time with password resets and all the annoying stuff that goes with that. So for me, LastPass is a huge life hack timesaver.
So that’s what I got.
AH It is phenomenal. And I have to say — an example of me finally — I knew that I needed to change my cell phone plan. I’ve been looking at other plans for a while, and I — but I just — the whole idea, the task of it was overwhelming to me. And then I finally made time — or I got an email AT&T the other day that said they were raising the price of my plan, and I was like, oh, heck no. It is time to make a change. And I literally wrote — I realized I was off early one night last week, and I wrote in my calendar “deal with changing your phone plan.” And so I ended up needing to order a SIM card, so the first block of time that I went to order it — and I hit like five different problems, and I was just so frustrated, but I was like I have an hour to deal with this; I’m going to deal with it for exactly an hour. And I was able to at least get the SIM card ordered in that hour. And then a couple days later, I was like, okay, I have this other block of time, I’m going to complete the process at this point. Learn whatever I need to learn and complete the process. And I had to create an account with the new company, but then they also needed my account information from the old company, and it was all in LastPass. [Laughing]
AH And I sat there thinking, oh, my gosh, I’m so glad that I had everything in LastPass and including things like PIN number and all — it was just awesome. So yes. Verified.
AH I also want to note that meal stuff is something that Michael and I both have struggled with as far as wanting to eat a little bit healthier, and in Michael’s case gluten free. And also the pain in the neckness of having to feed ourselves and our family three times a day. So Michael told me about Freshly, which is a meal delivery service, which it comes out to — and it’s not one of those kits where you still have to do the work yourself. It comes to you as a full meal all ready. You heat it up and you eat it. And they end up being less than $10 each. We’ll let Michael put his Freshly link in the podcast notes so he gets the credits because he learned about it.
AH But also for me, meal prep — and I did a blog post on this a couple weeks ago actually. And once or twice a week making two or three different meals and portioning it all out so that people — so that our meals are just ready. Even if we’re all sitting down together, we’re all eating out of our own little container because the meals have been premade, and they’re delicious and wonderful.
One more thing, Michael, do you make your bed?
MR [Laughing] Sort of. If I think about it, I will just kind of pull the sheets a little bit up so it looks nicer. Saying I would make the bed is kind of a stretch, but I do kind of straighten it up.
AH Yeah, me too. And sometimes I don’t even pull the sheets up anymore because I realized I was doing things that were stupid, no one else was going to see, and just eliminating some of the things you do that aren’t necessary and getting over yourself is really helpful. It might only be 30 seconds a day that I save, but there’s a handful of other things that I also do not do anymore because I realized they were stupid. If no one else is going to be in my home, it doesn’t matter if the blanket on the couch is folded or not because it’s going to be unfolded in three hours when I get home from work and put it over me again.
MR [Laughing] I like that.
AH There’s just — (indiscernible) I want to have a neat house and stuff, but if you catch yourself doing things and you’re not entirely sure why, think about that and maybe stop doing it. Life hack.
MR Right on. Love it.
AH All right, that was our hacked together episode on life hacks.
MR Good stuff. I like it. Well, thanks everyone. If you like these life hacks and use any of them, send us a shout. You can do that at firstname.lastname@example.org. And —
AH And also — I’m going to interrupt.
MR Yeah, go ahead.
AH If you have better life hacks that you want to tell us about, please so. We’ll do an episode with all of your life hacks.
MR I like it.
As you may have guessed, our website is massagebusinessblueprint.com so you can check us out there. We love iTunes reviews as well as we talked about earlier. So if you’d like us to give you a shout-out for your review, give us one. We’d love that. Even if it’s not five-star, give us some real feedback. We like that. Again, thanks everyone for joining us today. Have an awesome day and we’ll see you next time.