The Secret to Organization: The Family Operations Manual

If you’re feeling like your parent responsibilities are being sacrificed by your entrepreneur life, I have a treat for you. Not too long ago, I invited Renée Warren of Family Academy to pop in and share some boots on the ground tactics to help you succeed at family and business.

Renée did not disappoint! In her struggles and victories, you’ll find a kindred spirit.

She explains that within one year, she gave birth to two babies, launched two businesses, and moved two times. At one point, she worked with twelve clients and managed ten to twelve employees and freelancers across various time zones.

As she strived to be the best she could be at business, her family responsibilities fell by the wayside. With her home life organization in shambles, she and her husband knew something needed to change. If not dealt with, this vicious cycle would only get worse.

Does her story sound familiar? Don’t be disheartened.

From losing to winning, in family and business

So Renée and her husband acknowledged a need for change. This is the first step to crawling out of the chaos. But what then?

They came up with a strategy called The Family Operations Manual. It changed their life and they hope it will change yours too. So read on!

What is The Family Operations Manual?

In a nutshell, The Family Operations Manual is a manual that lays out the important information and how-to behind your family’s life. Say goodbye to the days of not knowing where you left the doctor’s number or having to re-write instructions for the next babysitter. Everything about your family will be located in one handy playbook.

Truly, we all know what it’s like to have phone numbers and important documents scattered across the house in odd places. You can uncomplicate your life by having this easily accessible system created.

From meal planning to packing checklists and funeral wishes, your family will no longer be in a constant state of confusion when a family document must be found. Reminder for password updates or passport renewals can also be stowed away in this playbook. It keeps your family running like a well-oiled machine.

Breaking down The Family Operations Manual

To help you out, Renée is giving you a copy of her family’s playbook. You may copy it at this link.

What makes her playbook unique is that it incorporates a system that can easily communicate beyond what a pen and paper could do. Because the system is on google drive, you can easily share it with your spouse, kids, and other pertinent people. You update the file on your google drive and everyone else with access will see the latest version too.

Now that you’ve copied the document to your own drive folder, let’s look at how Renée breaks it down.

Understanding the sheets within the document

At the bottom of the document, you’ll notice three different tabs labeled reference, procedures, and template.

  • Reference. This sheet is a master list of all your reference documents. On the far left column, you’ll see a reference number that’s linked. Clicking this link will take you to the reference document.So, for example, you can have a reference document created for each child. The document will hold all the medical information for that child – you can list allergies, medicines he or she is on, passport number, etc. You may also write down phone numbers associated with this particular child (specific doctors, teachers, etc.)Additionally, you can have a reference document with instructions for your babysitter. This document will be written once and adapted over time as needed. You won’t have to retype it every time a new sitter is employed and you’ll know right where it is located. At the click of a button, you can send it to the babysitter or print it off for her.
  • Procedures. In your procedure sheet, you’ll find a list of procedures such as emergency contact information, house cleaning schedule, and packing checklists. You can create a list of procedures for a variety of scenarios as they come your way and they’ll be filed away here for safe keeping. Again, as with the reference sheet, the very left column links to the appropriate document.
  • Template. Next, we have the template sheet. Here you’ll keep a database linking to various documents such as your meal planning system, your family tree, and your kids’ lunch plan.

How this system works for you

There are numerous benefits to embracing this system but it’s important to know how it can work for you.

It’s accessible from your phone

This system works because you and your family can easily access it from your phone screen. Need to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher immediately? No problem, just pull out your phone and look your child’s reference document. Her number should be there.

Share in its entirety or only in part

First, this system is versatile in that you can share the entire manual or only part of it. So for example, maybe your accountant is someone you’d share this with in its entirety. Great. You can share the spreadsheet with them. But let’s say you only want to share the babysitting instructions with someone. Open that reference document and use the share feature on just that document.

Implement with other task management tools

Second, if you’re a fan of other task management tools such as Asana, you can easily adapt this system to work with these apps. Be creative and find what works best for you and your family.

Plan family meetings around your manual

Third, communication is key. It’s important that you sit with your partner and go over The Family Operations Manual once a week. This will help you both calibrate and stay on the same page. You can both discuss updates that were made or changes that need to be made.

Renée and her husband like to have a family mission and values statement in their manual, it keeps them focused, on target, and unified in their vision.

So the secret’s out, what are you waiting for?

Now that you have the secret to keeping your family life in good working order, it’s time to get your own Family Operations Manual going.

As more and more people become entrepreneurs, it’s important that we learn how to balance family and business at the same time. Renée admits that being a parent is tough enough already, but throw a business into the mix and you really need to do more than barely survive. You need a system that will take you from struggling to thriving.

Renee WarrenRenée Warren began her entrepreneurial journey at the age of 17. She’s written hundreds of articles and eBooks on startup marketing, some published on She’s currently on a mission to help over 1 million entrepreneur families gain more freedom in their lives through her programs at The Family Academy.

A certified Reiki practitioner, CrossFit athlete and mom to Irish twins, Renee resides on the East coast of Canada with husband and kids. flogo_rgb_hex-brc-site-250 flogo_rgb_hex-brc-site-250


Introducing a global collection of business and life tips

Hi guys! I have an exciting update to share with you.

Back in June, I rolled out a series of video guest posts. These videos were shared in my Productive Entrepreneurs Facebook group. These videos brought entrepreneurs from around the world to your computer screen. Wherever you found yourself, at any time and any place, these videos allowed you to glean some great advice. These videos provide helpful insight and tips from everyday entrepreneurs who want to share some of their systems, thoughts process, and tips.

Knowledge is power. Why not share it and empower others?

Obviously, I love Asana, productivity, and systems.

But I don’t know everything. (Surprise! Ha.)

So I thought it would be fun to continue in June’s vein of guest posts. It was so much fun and educational, why not make it a regular thing?

I’m inviting other people to come in in and share from their point of view – how they work and live – no matter what they do. It can be a mindset, food-related, personal or business-related.

As a business owner, you get that the lines between business and work are often blurred. They’re both intertwined in many cases – it’s hard to separate the two. So I didn’t want to do that in this group either.

Here’s how you can participate

Last Wednesday, I started sharing the first of many posts featuring a guest video.

Every Wednesday, you’ll find a new guest video in the Productive Entrepreneurs Facebook group. I’m excited to share this new adventure with you.

And the best thing of all? You’re invited to participate by submitting your own video to our queue!

If you’d like to contribute a video, I have a three-step process in place to get your video up.

Step 1 – Submit your idea.

To get started, submit your topic idea through this link.

Step 2 – Fill out the acceptance form

Once your topic is approved, I’ll send you an acceptance form to be filled out. In the form, you can decide your own due date. There’s no pressure. The due date will simply get you on the schedule, ensuring we get your video in the queue. It will give me an idea of when to reach out to you with a friendly reminder.

Step 3 – Launch

After I post it in the group, your video will eventually make its way onto my blog, email list, and other social media venues.

Of course, I will include links to your social media and you will receive proper attribution.

Join me! Let’s create a database of productivity and life hacks!

It’s my hope to get these videos up on an ongoing basis. Would love to collaborate with you! Don’t forget to apply at this link if you’re interested.

nicole_hatcherAmanda Leigh, with her business savvy tools and upbeat attitude, helps entrepreneurs develop systems that work for, not against them. By setting up project management systems and email management protocols curated specifically for each business, Amanda’s dedication to helping others thrive means making sure nothing is forgotten.

If you could use an extra set of hands in your business, Schedule a FREE Discovery Call here. flogo_rgb_hex-brc-site-250

Can Your Business Thrive Without You?

“It’s all about systems,” Sarah says.

That’s right, with the right systems in place, your business can thrive with and without your active presence. And she’s not talking about merely having a presence online while you step away. You can get it to a place where it’s actually bringing income without keeping an eye on it constantly.

Stepping away from your business does not mean the productivity needs to stop.

We all need a break

Let’s face it. The entrepreneur knows how to hustle and go above and beyond the needs of each client. But oftentimes, you forget or feel like you can’t get a break from the machine you’ve recreated. Maybe you can’t right now. But I’m excited to think that Sarah’s workshop may inspire you to put systems in place that will get your business going without you.

Sarah Williams is quite the productivity hacker and I’m thrilled she accepted my invitation to share some tips with you. She’s all about helping business owners find efficient solutions to save time and increase income.

So without further delay, let’s look at some of the strategy concepts Sarah shared with us in her workshop. Thank you, Sarah!

Out with the guesswork, in with the planning

It’s important that you find a way to stay visible and sell, even if you’re not around. Sarah’s a believer in planning and scheduling content.

She suggests you dedicate one hour each month to planning your content. By giving yourself a time limit, you can hone in on the message you want to deliver across your content for that month.

Certainly, this is a much better strategy than winging it and trying to come up with content as you go along. Instead, you have focused time to create a plan. Having that brainstorm and planning session will benefit you in two ways. It will give you direction to stick to and it will save you time so that you’re not struggling to think ideas up on the go.

If you wanted to, you can adapt this strategy for each week or quarter instead of doing it each month. The time carved out for planning is dependent on your content strategy and your social media strategy. Find what works for you and carve that time out into your schedule. Apps like Hootsuite and Buffer can be a huge help for scheduling the actual content.

Automate and streamline your business

Next step is to make sure that people can still buy from you. Once the planning and scheduling are done, you need to be able to sell your product. Even if you’re not present.

Sarah suggests creating an automated sales funnel that will resonate with your audience. This funnel can be programmed to send subscribers periodic messages about your product or service. But be sure to put yourself in the shoes of your audience as you plan your funnel. How are you getting your customers now? How can you incorporate that into your automated system? What can you do to remove any barrier that may prevent them from making a purchase?

By automating, you can give your customer that quality experience even if you’re not at the helm.

Make sure any written material in your sales and email funnel carries your voice. Sarah encourages you to make the writing a little more enticing since you’re not presently there to talk one on one with clients.

A streamlined and automated experience is what you’re shooting for. Consider setting up payment processors such as PayPal or Stripe for your products and services. You don’t want people to wait on you if they want to make a purchase. They may lose interest.

Reassuring the purchase

Since you’re not dealing with your customer face to face, they’re missing the personal contact they’d get during checkout at a storefront or via phone. Why not set up your system to reaffirm their purchase as soon as they buy?

This will reassure them that their money didn’t just go up into thin air. As soon as they buy, you want your site to redirect the customer to a thank you page. This thank you page should clearly state what the next steps are. This can simply be a message stating that they’ll receive a shipment notification soon or instructions to get started if it’s a digital product.

By giving them greater confidence in your business, you’ve give them a great customer experience. And it’s what sets you apart from other businesses.

The benefits of a business that runs without you

As Sarah states, some things in life are completely out of your control. Personal reasons and health reasons may force you to break away. Maybe there’s an unexpected death in the family or you’re simply burned out and in desperate need of a vacation. Whatever happens, the time to strategize for these moments is now, before you’re in a pinch.

Another reason to get on board for the big win is that your precious time will be freed up for other things. By automating your business (or at least some aspects of it), you’ll be free to invest your time in other worthwhile ventures.


So to sum things up, you want to plan and schedule a quality online presence. You want to automate your business in a way that speaks to your customer. And you want to reaffirm their purchase as soon as it happens.

If you enjoyed this workshop, check out my facebook group. Every week I invite an entrepreneur like Sarah to share some of her best tips and strategies in the form of a video workshop. And the best thing of all, you can enjoy the benefits of being part of a growing network of people who will encourage and inspire you to get things done! It can help to know you’re not alone in this journey of personal and professional growth.

In the meantime, read up on how you can stay productive by planning.

Sarah WilliamsSarah is the owner of Rebel Office and is super passionate about turning productivity and processes into profit. She creates tools, resources and programs for entrepreneurs that allow them to re-evaluate their customer experience and implement systems that actually make sense for *their* business. Because we all deserve to run OUR businesses, OUR own way.

To connect with Rebel Office, like us Rebel Office or join our free community The Efficient & Successful Entrepreneur: home to app insider looks, productivity hacks, exclusive content and MORE. flogo_rgb_hex-brc-site-250

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Hiring Tips from a VA who Hired a VA

Hi guys! So I wanted to give you an update on what’s new with me.

I hired a Virtual Assistant.

Yes, I’m a VA that just hired a VA. (I’ll admit, it’s kinda fun to say that.)

I thought this might be an interesting hiring perspective to share on my blog.

As a bit of a Type A person, the idea of entrusting business tasks to someone else seemed difficult. If you’re a business owner, you feel like the business is your baby and that no one will care for it like you do. However, if you want to scale your business, that is no way to think about delegating tasks!

Embrace the right thought process

Oftentimes, I feel like I can do everything. That, plus a hesitancy to entrust my business tasks to someone else made the idea of hiring a VA rather uncomfortable for me. But I knew I needed to change my attitude if I wanted to grow as a business and a person.

There’s an old saying, “You can do anything but you can’t do everything.”

It’s ironic that I ran into this need to change my thought process. It’s something I’m constantly telling my clients to do.

So it became clear that I need to change the way I thought about delegating tasks. Because the old saying rings true – I may be capable of doing the task well, but I cannot do everything.

Be aware of ways to whittle down your list of applicants

This will look different for everyone, but I’ll share what worked for me, my business, and business needs.

So I put together an application form via Google forms. On the application form, I asked applicants to check off the software and social media platforms they knew how to utilize. I also asked applicants to list both their strengths and weaknesses.

Then there was a little section titled “pitch me.” It’s a spot I created for people to show off their personality. I wanted to get to know these individuals who applied for the VA position. I value personal connections, people I can just sit with and talk to. Because I couldn’t talk to everyone in person, I figured this section would be a great way to “connect” with people.

In the end, I received over 120 applications through my google form. It really surprised and thrilled me!

But now I needed to come up with a way to quickly whittle down my options.

If someone didn’t bother to list their weaknesses, I disregarded their application. Why? Because everyone has a weakness. It’s important that we’re aware of our strengths and weaknesses.

Remember the “pitch me” section? Some people didn’t fill that in. Those who left that blank were eliminated from my pool. It concerned me that they left it blank. Why? Because if you can’t put the extra effort into filling out a complete application, then I can’t help but wonder if you’d put that extra effort in for me.

The phone interview

Finally, I narrowed my list down to three people.

The next step? A phone interview with each of the three applicants.

Here’s the thing about a phone interview – it’s harder because it’s like putting a face to a name. You get to connect with people when you hear their voice and it’s just harder to turn anyone down. I wanted to hire them all, but I’m just not at that point in my business yet.

So, when it was all said and done,  I hired someone.

Moving forward with my new VA

I was scared.

I didn’t know what to expect.

So I got on Asana and prepared tasks for my new VA. Within each task, I put down – step by step – how to complete what I wanted to be done.

My main tasks entailed repurposing my blog. I gave her a few weeks to get into the swing of things so there wasn’t any unnecessary pressure. After all, I’m a VA too. I know what it’s like to be her in shoes.

In addition to setting her up with tasks on Asana, I wanted a simple process to communicate back and forth with her, making sure we’re both on the same page. So I decided to use Slack for our communication. It worked out great because she came back with questions and suggestions. I gave her answers.

Funny thing is –  I gave her more work than I intended to give her.

So miss Type A over here ended up giving her more of my tasks!

Free up brain space, hire a VA

Sometimes these tiny tasks accumulate and take up so much of our brain. When you give these tasks away, it frees up precious brain space.

In my situation, I wasn’t necessarily concerned about her background experience. I just wanted someone I could connect with. If the right person came along, I knew I’d be able to train them!

I knew what I wanted and of course, we adjusted as we went along.

Let me know if you have questions. If you need a VA, I’d be glad to personally help you or find someone who can!

nicole_hatcherAmanda Leigh, with her business savvy tools and upbeat attitude, helps entrepreneurs develop systems that work for, not against them. By setting up project management systems and email management protocols curated specifically for each business, Amanda’s dedication to helping others thrive means making sure nothing is forgotten.

If you could use an extra set of hands in your business, Schedule a FREE Discovery Call here. flogo_rgb_hex-brc-site-250

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Three Steps to Writing a To-Do List That You’ll Actually Stick To


So recently, I had the pleasure of inviting Nicole Hatcher of the Corporate Women’s Lounge to share an invaluable workshop. She lays out some killer tips on how to create and tackle to-do lists that work for you rather than against you.

A mother of three, practicing attorney, and a consultant, Nicole understands what it’s like to juggle multiple hats. She knows very well it’s important to not drop the ball on any of these responsibilities. So what’s her secret? How does she keep on top of things?

The problem with to-do lists

We’ve all been there. It’s the start of a new week and you sit down with optimism to write out all your grand plans. But by the end of the week, you’ve barely scratched the surface of your list.

Before you know it, the next week rolls around. And so do last week’s tasks on top of the new. This pattern continues on repeat. Your to-do list spirals out of control.

And with the growth of your snowballing to-do list, so grows your disappointment, discouragement, and negativity.

This is certainly not what you had in mind for a productive lifestyle.

3 steps to writing a to-do list that you’ll actually stick to

What’s the missing ingredient to blasting through your to-do list? Should you chuck that to-do list out the window? There’s no use in a to-do list that isn’t serving you well, right?

Here’s where Nicole comes to the rescue. She shares a three-step process to get out of the mire of inefficiency and into a lifestyle of active productivity. So before you throw out that to-do list, why not take a look at some of Nicole’s advice. You’ll find that with the right attitude and structure, you can format a to-do list you’ll actually stick to!

Step 1: write out who you want to be

Begin your journey towards effective to-do lists by writing out an affirmation of who you want to be.

Using herself as an example, Nicole writes out the following:

“I am a gentle, present parent.”

“I am thorough in my work, I am responsive, and my clients love working with me.”

“I am a kick-ass consultant. I show up for my clients.”

So think about the different hats you wear and think of the person you want to be in those spheres. Write it out as exemplified above and there you have your affirmation.

You can leverage the power of these affirmations by reading them each morning before you start your day. Nicole says they work wonderfully to calibrate her attitude to deal with oncoming tasks of the day.

Step 2: Write a to-do list in four quadrants

Now here’s where we come to writing out the to-do list. To visualize the four quadrants, Nicole uses a large index card – she draws two lines to divide the space on the card into four sections. (As an aside, Nicole is quick to point out that she isn’t the first to uncover the four quadrant system. She’s merely adapted it into a way that works best for her.)

What you put on this card will guide you through your day. Every morning you can sit down with your cup of coffee and come up with a strategy for the day using this method.

Now let’s discuss what each quadrant represents:

Focus. First, we have our focus quadrant. This is where you write the things you will get done. Nicole cautions viewers to list no more than five things to ensure success. To the right of each list item, write the approximate amount of time it will take to get that item done.

Up next. In this quadrant, you’re going to scribble down things you want to get done the next day (but today, if possible.) This quadrant will serve two purposes – first, it lets you gain a preview of the next day. Second, if you breeze through your focus quadrant and find yourself with time to do more, you’ll know exactly what to work on.

The queue. Within this quadrant, you will list what’s happening in your life – projects and commitments on the horizon. It lets you get an overall look at upcoming commitments and deadlines. This quadrant helps you figure out if you need to say no to new opportunities that come your way.

Manage. For those projects in life that you’re overseeing or managing, whether it’s your child’s book report or your team’s progress, you can write them down here. This quadrant will remind you to check up on these tasks that aren’t necessarily something you’re directly working on but still come under your responsibility. Just don’t fall into the trap of being a micromanager!

Step 3: Tying your affirmation and to-do list together

Now here’s the big secret that will help you stick to your to-do list! Incorporate your affirmation into your to-do list, it’s as simple as that.

By viewing your to-do list through the lens of your affirmations, your to-do list isn’t going to be seen as something you have to do. You’ll see it through renewed purpose – your list will be something you need to do or that you want to do so you can be the person you want to be.

Want to be a superhero for your clients? Your to-do list will be a roadmap of what you need to do to be that person.

To-do lists that work for you

In summary, to-do lists that you’ll actually stick to require three things. You need a powerful affirmation, a to-do list divided into manageable chunks, and you need to see that list through the lens of your affirmation.

And the best thing of all? You can adapt Nicole’s system into Asana or other task management apps. Give it a try and see what works best for you. With the right attitude and processes in place, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

nicole_hatcherNicole Hatcher is a corporate and securities attorney whose practice and clients are remarkably aligned with her personality: passionate, strategic and rule-oriented.

In between consulting and lawyering in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, you can find her in the East Bay running after her three children and instilling in them (or hoping to) a love of cooking, reading and toy organizing.  flogo_rgb_hex-brc-site-250


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