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Today’s “How She Actually Does It” guest, Ilhiana Rojas, is a great example of how a big vision plus a streamlined and effective productivity system can lead to impressive results. As a coach and consultant, Ilhiana stays grounded with a steady daily practice that helps her focus on completing her most important tasks, allowing her to consistently bring the best value to her clients. Read on to find out her magic number of goals to focus on each week, why she loves Post-It notes, and her favorite TedTalk.
How often and when do you set goals for yourself?
At the beginning of the year, I set a couple of macro goals. These are the ones that are going to be my main focus for the year. I always include a personal one, a professional one, and one that has to do specifically with my family. Then I set goals on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis. These include 3-4 professional goals and at least one personal goal. I try not to do more than five otherwise I start to lose focus and get spread too thin. This process is hard because I want to do everything now! But I’ve learned (the hard way) that I really need to stick to no more than five.
Finally, I set goals for the week on Sunday nights or Monday mornings. These are a maximum of three to ensure that I focus my week as much as possible. Although life happens and things may shift throughout the week, I try to stick to them as much as possible to help me focus. This year I’m planning to be more intentional about this part.
Talk me through your weekly planning process
I have two processes that I follow:
a) I use a ToDo app on my phone where I include all my tasks (personal and professional) with deadlines. This has been very helpful so that I don’t have to keep track of everything, the app does it for me.
b) I write down the most important things I need to accomplish in the day in a post-it which I stick on my computer screen. These are things that NEED to happen that day. Sometimes when it feels like everything needs to happen and I will need more than one post-it to write them down. I use the “MoSCoW” method to help me prioritize: Must do, Should do, Could do and Will not do.
What tools do you find indispensable for staying organized?
Definitely the ToDo app on my phone. I don’t know what I would do without it. It helps me feel in control, without having to be on top of everything. I write down everything there, including all my personal chores like scheduling the next dentist appointment, car service, credit card payment, etc.
Post-it’s are also a big part of it. I like them because they are small, so it forces me to prioritize.
From an email perspective, I use Boomerang. It helps me set follow-up reminders on emails so that they don’t get lost in my inbox.
Finally, I use OneNote to keep all of my notes together in a neatly organized way. I love it. It’s a great way to quickly find things, especially when you need to remember an agreement from a conversation you had over a month ago. I especially like that I can have it on my computer, iPad, and cellphone, so I can pull it out anytime, no matter where I am.
How do you structure your workdays?
Every day is different as it depends on coaching sessions with my clients, consulting meetings and events. If possible, I try to set aside an hour first thing in the morning to get organized, send out pending emails, or finish things that are pending from the day before. At the end of the day, I clean my email inbox as much as I can and schedule emails for the following day/days so that I don’t have to think about them the next day. I also use Monday mornings to have check-in meetings with my team and align on everything for the week.
Additionally, having breakfast and lunch with my family is an important priority and I try to schedule things around those times as much as possible.
What do you do when you feel stuck or overwhelmed?
I take a break and go out (even if it is to the grocery store). I’ve found this helps me clear my head. I then look back at my goals and use them to help me refocus and prioritize. If I’m still stuck, I reach out to someone in my support group.
I’ve built a very nice support group of women entrepreneurs and we lean on each other when things get tough. They might not always have the answer, but they are great listeners and help walk me through the issue and find a way forward.
What is your favorite productivity book or who is your favorite productivity teacher?
I’m more of a TEDtalk gal and I love the one on “The Paradox of Efficiency” from Edward Tenner. He highlights how sometimes trying to be efficient can be inefficient and suggests seven ways we can use “Inspired Efficiency” to be more productive.
How has your approach to productivity changed over time?
It used to be all about getting as many things done as quickly as possible. I would multitask like no other. After being burned out, I’ve learned to focus on the things that truly add value, delegating things to others, and taking a pause to think things through. Sometimes, taking a five-minute break can be more productive than you think as it helps add perspective.
I’ve also learned to ask twice when I’m not clear about expectations for a project or activity. Gaining clarity on the objective of something and what needs to be accomplished can save so much time in rework.
Bonus Questions! What is your favorite kind of pen to write with?
Ones that have the characters that I like. I’m a huge Jack Skellington and Cheshire the Cat fan.
More about Ilhiana!
Ilhiana is a Transformation Strategy Coach & Consultant, owner of BeLIVE Coaching & Consulting, and an ICF and DISC PLUS Certified Coach. She has over 20 years of Executive experience in top Fortune 500 companies leading, coaching, and mentoring professionals and teams into success. Her mission is to enable professionals to move from ordinary to extraordinary through meaningful transformation and achieve their full potential. Her coaching programs specialize in leadership development, high performing teamwork, purpose-driven culture mindset, resilient & agile behaviors, and personal branding. Originally from Mexico City, Mexico, Ilhiana moved to Rhode Island with her husband and two daughters, leading the way to showcase that nothing is impossible if you have the right mindset, motivation, and support. You can find her at https://www.belivecoachingandconsulting.com.