Creating systems to reduce stress with Jo Burgess
Do you struggle with organisation and systems to get all the things you need to do to juggle business and life?
In this episode I chat to Jo, founder of the app Life Sorted, about time saving hacks and systems to improve your productivity.
In this Episode:
- 05.50: How to systemise your families activities
- 06.50: How to keep your brain clear from clutter
- 10.44: Clearing that pile of paper on your bench
- 13.26: How to prioritise – The difference between urgent and important
- 17.40: Being aware of procrastination
- 23.55: Getting the rest of the family onboard with organisation
- Downloadable: 4D’s Framework
- Life Sorted Masterclass
- Life Sorted Website
- Life Sorted Instagram
- Clare Wood Instagram
Jo is an experienced entrepreneur and business owner who has grown many successful companies.
Jo co-founded and is a senior executive of a world leading salon management platform. Shortcuts, a Brisbane-based startup success, launched in 1994 with the world’s first touchscreen booking and POS system for salons, that now boasts over 14,000 customers globally.
Her 20 years experience of developing calendaring and booking systems for the complex international salon environment, combined with having a family and managing a busy household has led her to her next innovation, Life Sorted – a shared family organizer app.
If you are a busy business owner and struggle with organisation and systems to get all of the things done in business and in life, then today’s guest just might have the solution for you! Today I’m chatting to Jo, the founder of the app Life Sorted, about time saving hacks and scheduling systems to increase your productivity.
You’re listening to the Clare Wood podcast, where we talk all things business, finance, marketing, and mindset for entrepreneurs, sharing practical tips, and actionable advice to help you take your business to the next level. Introducing your host: me! I’m Clare Wood, I’m a numbers geek, a travel lover, and a reality tv addict, and I’m here to empower you to create an extraordinary business and an amazing life, because I believe you don’t have to choose between the two. Now let’s dive right in to today’s episode.
Today’s guest is someone I recently met in person at the Marie Forleo event, and it was such a pleasure meeting her, that I said I have to get her on my podcast. So, I’d love to welcome, Jo from Life Sorted.
Thank you, thank you for having me Clare, it was great to meet face-to-face!
I know, and what a great way to meet, at Marie Forleo. It was a really fun night!
The reason I wanted to get Jo on the podcast is because she is an expert in systemising schedules. So her program, Life Sorted, is all about doing that, so I wanted to get her best hacks so you can systemise your family schedule. Which as business owners, is super important, right Jo?
So tell us a little about who you are and what you do Jo.
Jo Burgess is my name, a serial entrepreneur. I started my career as a hairdresser and brought a salon in my early 20’s, and then brought a few more salons and along the way I was lucky enough to run into a couple of entrepreneurial web developers in the early 90’s and together we created software for the hairdressing industry which was fun and bizarre, and that is how I started my love and life of technology. And once I had a family that led me towards creating my latest app, which is Life Sorted.
Thanks a very short background on who I am. I’m a mum, my children are teenagers now, but the journey of motherhood and juggling all the things, and being an entrepreneur, is something I have definitely experienced.
This is something I hear a lot in the entrepreneurial space. You come across a problem and then you go out and create a solution. And that is what you’ve done with Life Sorted.
Absolutely! It was really about 4 years ago, when my kids were late primary/early high school. And anyone with children of those ages will know it is particularly busy with all their extracurricular activities, plus they are older so you are back into life and work. As an entrepreneur I was busy and travelling a lot, juggling all the things, and considering myself an organised person, but the wheels fell off basically. And my life feel apart. So I went looking for a solution. I tried so many different things, I was a planner freak, my diary was never more than an arm’s length away, I was meticulous in making notes and making sure it was up-to-date, but one my kids got bigger and they were doing things in different places, they couldn’t see my diary and I wasn’t in control of it anymore and they were living their own lives, but it was still falling back on me. So I found that very stressful time. I went looking for a solution and when I couldn’t find one, I created one.
I think that is such a great way to create a business. Because if you have a need, then I bet other people do too.
You know what Clare, I didn’t even really think, I’m going to create an app and sell it to thousands of families, I was like, why hasn’t anyone done this, I can’t be the only one, and the idea burned away in my brain until I took action and had to take action. At that point I was like, I don’t care if it doesn’t work because nobody else has done this, and I felt so strongly that there is a solution or a tool that can help us as busy mums and entrepreneurs. So that’s where it came from.
Awesome. I’m a busy mum and juggling things all the time, but unlike yourself, I’m super dis-organised. I loose things all the time, in fact on the weekend, I found an invite of a party for my son the week earlier and unfortunately had missed it. I find it so hard to keep track of all these things, so what suggestions do you have for systemising, parties, activities, across the family, so that mums can keep on top of things?
How to systemise your families activities
That’s a great question. And first of all, you are not alone, everybody has done that, and even recently, I forgot my Dad’s birthday. I mean life is crazy. But I have a few hacks and systems I’d love to share. First of all, it’s not one thing, it’s a combination of systems and the right tools. Just buying a diary isn’t going to make you organised. Just downloading an app isn’t going to make you organised. You still need to have systems which are simple, which work, and you also need to have communication amongst the family, unless you want to manage it all yourself, you need a combination of those things. So, I’d be happy to share some more information around that, around the systems, the communication and the tools.
That sounds perfect! Let’s get stuck into it!
How to keep your brain clear from clutter
My first hack is something I call the four D’s framework. Essentially it’s a framework to allow your brain to stay clear from clutter. Our brains function best when the neurons aren’t firing all over the place, so if we can keep it streamlined and keep the information that comes in and out of our brain fairly smooth, so things don’t get stuck and jumbled, we function better, and our memory and everything else works better. To do that, any incoming piece of brain traffic, which it’s to do with an event, filling in a form for school, organising a gift for a birthday party, whatever that hits your brain and demands attention, you do one of my four D’s.
The first one is…
DO IT. If it is something you can do straight away, in 5-10mins and you’ve got the time and priority to do it, then get it done and tick it off your list and then it doesn’t linger there in your brain.
DELEGATE IT. Get somebody else to do it, does it have to be you? Can you get one of your children, your partner, your babysitter, your cleaner, your VA to do this? Anybody else that is supporting you in your life, can they take on this task, so it doesn’t have to be done by you. I see a lot of mums that just take on, and feel like they have to do it all themselves.
Number three is…
DEFER IT. If it doesn’t need to be done right now and it can be done the next day, week or month, put it in your calendar, whatever you are using, and set yourself a reminder, then it doesn’t stick in your brain. I used to be thinking I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that on Friday, and it would be in my brain taking up space, and not allowing me to function at my best if that piece of information hit my brain on a Monday. So if it doesn’t have to happen until the Friday, get it out of your head, pop it into your system that is going to give you a reminder to tell you to pay attention and do that thing.
The fourth this is to….
DELETE IT. Ditch it. Don’t do it. You don’t have to say yes to everything. When it comes in you have to think, do I do it, can I delegate it, can I defer it or can I delete it. It’s always one of those four things. And those four D’s will allow your brain to stay clear so it doesn’t’ get stuck.
I hope that makes sense!?
Definitely it does.
So just find that reminding yourself of that, instead of always going into the do it. What we tend to do, what people fall into the trap of, is they don’t think about deleting it, they don’t really think about delegating to someone else, it’s either I’ve got to do it now, or I have to keep remembering to do it soon, and that’s where the overwhelm and the brain clutter comes from.
Good point! Let’s talk through some practical examples. I have this pile of paper that just builds up on my kitchen bench. Honestly, I can clean it out then within days, there is a massive pile there again. How would you translate that into using your four D system?
Clearing that pile of paper on your bench
So depending on what it is, I really hate paper, so getting it into a digital format as soon as possible.
For example if I get an invitation to a party or a kids party, I take a photo, attach it to the event in my calendar and I throw it in the bin. I’ll put the address of where we need to go, I’ll do things like remind myself that I need to buy and gift and get a superhero costume or whatever it might be. I put it all into my system and I get rid of it straight away. That’s something you can do in a minute or two.
If it’s a school form that you need to get back straight away, and it needs to go back to school, I do it then and there, and get it back in the school bag so it’s done.
If it’s something that can be done later in the week, I pop it in my office in my in tray and I send myself a reminder to do it on the Friday or something.
So sometimes you just have to shuffle things to make things work. Because if it’s all in one jumbled pile and you have some things urgent and some that are not, or some you don’t even have to do like open your mail. I actually open my mail over the top of my bin, honestly, because I deal with it, file it or it goes into the bin. I don’t have paper in the house, apart from my office or sometimes my wardrobe for something like a shopping voucher. I put in my wardrobe, any shopping discounts I want to use, so when I’m getting ready and doing my hair etc, I can see them, and that’s my personal stuff.
I think what people need to do is find a system that works for them. Just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for everybody. If you’ve got this pile of paper in your kitchen and it drives you crazy, then there is something you can do about it, start to make some changes and separate the urgent from the non-urgent stuff, so you are dealing with the things that need to be done by a certain date, then hopefully you won’t forget that birthday party. That happens, an invitation gets completely hidden and our brains can’t remember everything so unless we see it, out of mind out of sight.
I like these hacks! I’ll have to keep you posted on how I go implementing them.
On that notes of prioritisation, how do you actually go about prioritising everything? So prioritise something that has to get done straight away or…
How do you actually prioritise? The difference between urgent and important.
That’s a great question and in fact in the earlier days of Life Sorted, I did a survey of busy mums and I asked them, when they were thinking of scheduling their time for the week, what were their most important things, to them. It was really interesting! So the top 5 are things were (off the top of my head), quality time with the family and kids, eating meals together, preparing healthy meals, and I got a lot of feedback around last minute and not planning their meals, so they are feeling they aren’t giving their family the nourishment they want to, and sleep and exercise. They were the top 5 things busy mums said were important in their life. And I think most of us would agree. The next question was, do you feel you have enough time in your week to do those things, and 76% of mums said no. So that just highlighted to me a really big problem and the need for a system and the need for a change to prioritise the things that are important in our life. I think that what we need to learn is how to identify what is urgent and what is important. So as a way of explaining it, urgent things that demand your attention right here and right now and generally they are associated with someone else’s agenda like replying to a school form or an email from somebody, social media posts, those little things that pop up and demand our attention and we feel they are urgent, and potentially they are, but they are not important! And we like doing those things, because we like to feel a little stressed, that little bit of adrenaline because it keeps up going, and we like to send off a few emails to make us feel we’ve got things accomplished, but then we feel guilty because the things that are actually important like exercise and planning time with the family or preparing healthy meals never gets done. Those important things are the big tick items, the things that when you spend time doing them are actually creating life or family memories and your look back on them and you know that that is important. I know you walk with your family every morning, because I know that’s important to you. It’s not urgent, it’s important and you make time to do that.
First of all, have a think about that and write down what your top 4-5 things are that you want to spend time on every week. That’s the first thing. The next one is, go look at your schedule for next week and write next to or tag each item with a U if urgent and I if important ,then if you don’t have enough important things in your calendar, use your four D’s to ditch or defer or delete some of the urgent things so you can prioritise the important things. What I try and do is when I sit down to plan my week or my day, I think, how am I going to feel at the end of this week, if I do them first. I do the important things first in the day, whether it’s work or family, because you will always make time for urgent things, they will always get done, so you might as well put them at the tail end of the day or week and feel good about the things that you’ve identified as being important in your life.
There is a massive confusion about the difference between urgent and important and I know I find myself falling victim to it all the time, and surrendering to people’s agendas rather than focusing on what’s important to me.
Being aware of procrastination
100%. And do you know what also, as entrepreneurs, we procrastinate because we are stressed and busy and procrastination leads to doing urgent things rather than important things, because we think, I’m not going to write that blog because it’s going to take an hour and I don’t have the brain space and I don’t want to get interrupted and I really only have half an hour, whereas really, if we just started that blog post, we would most likely finish it, or we’d be able to get it done in a faster timeframe later on, had we not done that. Procrastination is another thing to be aware of and if you catch yourself procrastinating, be kind to yourself, I’m procrastinating because I’m busy and stressed, and lets just take a break, make a cuppa tea, and then start it and it doesn’t matter if I don’t finish it, because important things generally take more time then urgent, and we try do as much as possible rather than 3-4 big ticket things.
Me to a tee! It’s one of those things, even just being conscious of it and being aware of it can make all the difference.
You know they say the most intelligent people are the biggest procrastinators.
Another one that I really like is, I have really terrible handwriting and so I always say Doctors have terrible handwriting so I say it must be a sign of intelligence.
I have bad handwriting too, I’m with you!
Now I watched the masterclass you run for Life Sorted and one of the things that I loved was you said, it’s not just a women’s job to manage the load, so I wanted to ask you for your opinion, why the responsibility for running a household tends to fall with women a lot.
Why the responsibility of running the household tends to fall on women
Let’s face it, women are more capable. No! Honestly, we are capable and we do feel good about taking control over the family and the direction we want to take it in, and we feel guilt when we are not doing that. I think that’s the biggest thing. So I’m like drop the guilt. I got to a point with my family, and I wish I had done this earlier, where I wanted the to take accountability for their own stuff, because it was falling on me and it was ground-hog day. I tell the story about my daughter and her swimming lessons on a Monday afternoon, and she’d get picked up at 4pm by a neighbour and at 3.45pm I’d be like, have you got your togs, your towel, your goggles, your thongs, get ready! And I’d say that over and over, and I got sick of hearing the sound of my own nagging voice that was like, how can I get my children to take ownership of things themselves, if they miss out on swimming or don’t have their thongs then maybe they’ll remember next time. It becomes a default mode for our families that we do these reminders for them constantly. Our dinner conversations, that is all they started to consist of was managing all the logistics and I was like the CEO of the family, I was the one telling everyone what they had to do, where they had to be, who was picking them up and all the rest of it, and I realised that wasn’t serving me, my family, we are a team and we needed to behave and work like a team, and once we started doing that my life transformed completely.
Jo, that is fantastic. I honestly think that society has a lot to answer for in this space as well. I was on a flight on Sunday, and the air hostess, well-meaning I’m sure, but, there was a man with a baby sitting near us in the plane, and she was like, aren’t you such a hands-on Dad, you are doing such a great job, and I sat there thinking if that was a woman would you say you’re a hands-on mum?
The thing I heard recently was, who is babysitting the kids? And I was like, their Dad is spending time with them, they don’t babysit the kids! There is definitely still some stereo typing there that we need to bust through mummas.
Yes, and I think we need to be a bit more forgiving as well. An example I want to give is when my husband used to take the baby out, he’d just take the baby, whereas I would take the nappy bag, spare nappies, wipes, spare outfits, and I used to look at him and think, you are going to fall on your face one day and learn why I take it everywhere. Anyway, it never happened, except one day we went to the EKKA, the Brisbane Show, and he didn’t pack any nappies and when we got to the EKKA, the baby needed a change, and so he went up to another mum and said do you have a nappy I can have? And she said of course! I imagine if that was a mum, I feel there may have been a slightly different response, rather than oh that’s cute. But I agree, managing a house and my kids are still quite young, but especially as kids get older, they need to take responsibility for these things as well.
Getting the rest of the family onboard with organisation
If they are big enough to have a phone, then they should be learning to use it for productivity and not just social media or texting. That was really when it shifted for me. It was interesting because when I knew I had to develop my systems and ideas into technology app, was when I had a post it note system which was in my wardrobe and in order of things that needed to be done and I had a shopping section on my mirror, and the regular things up for each day of the week, and what I discovered was that I’d realise we needed toothpaste and I’d come home and my husband would have brought toothpaste and he would say, yeah I saw the note on your mirror so I brought some. This transparency is really needed, and me being able to put things in and for others to action them and not just be me. The kids would say we have this thing coming up on Friday because they had seen the post it note in my bedroom, and that literally was the ah-hah moment, when I thought I need to create this post it note system in a digital format so the whole family can see it and add to it and access it. If you are still using paper diary or a tech solution and it’s not shared with anyone else, then it will always fall back on you.
Well Jo, I know I’ve learnt a lot today, and I know the listeners have as well. If anyone wants to know about Jo’s masterclass I’ll be sharing the link for it in the show notes for today’s episode at clarewood.com.au/podcast/episode27.
Jo, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking with you today, thank you for sharing your wisdom with the listeners and I’m sure we’ll be in touch soon!
Thank you it’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Thank you so much for joining me today, if you enjoyed this episode, please make sure you subscribe to receive future episodes, and I’d be so grateful for a review on apple podcast! If you’d like a copy of the show notes or any of the links mentioned today, please jump over to clarewood.com.au/podcast and remember that Clare is spelled CLARE, have a wonderful week and look forward to chatting to you again soon!
About your host
Hi, I’m Clare Wood – I’m a numbers geek, a travel lover, a reality tv addict, and a passionate business coach. I’m here to empower you to create an extraordinary business and an amazing life; because I believe you don’t have to choose between the two.