Be vigilant in cutting out your time investment in activities or events that are no longer most effective.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E, a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who are overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished through an exclusive Schedule Makeover™ process. This system of lasting habit change leads to increased productivity and work/life balance through effective time investment strategies.
Elizabeth is an internationally recognized, expert time coach with clients in North America, South America, Asia and Europe. Her experience as a full-time entrepreneur and her training in coaching and leadership development led to the development of the Schedule Makeover™ process that empowers individuals to move forward with their goals and companies to maximize the effectiveness of their knowledge workers, sales staff, remote employees and project managers. She also has spoken to thousands of individuals, and even spoke after Steve Forbes at a business retreat.
Prior to founding her own business in 2005, Elizabeth worked for Meredith Corporation, the publisher of magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies Home Journal, VNU Business Media, Studio Pink and Abbott Laboratories. Elizabeth graduated summa cum laude from Drake University and has appeared in Inc magazine, Forbes.com, TIME.com, Harvard Business Review blog, and NBC. Stiletto Woman named Elizabeth one of the “Top 25 Amazing Women of the Year.”
What are you working on right now?
Creating a world full of peaceful, confident, and accomplished people through my company Real Life E Time Coaching & Training. I spread the message that you don’t need to be stressed out all the time, and teach people how to invest their time effectively through guest posts on blogs like the99percent.com, one-on-one coaching, and group training. In spring of 2013, McGraw Hill will publish my first book on effective time investment.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
When I started my first business in 2005, I took a very loose approach to my schedule. This meant that I would sometimes take care of personal items like running errands or talking with friends during the day. But it also meant that I would end up working in the evenings and on weekends. I didn’t have a clear sense of when it was okay to stop, so I ended up feeling guilty when I wasn’t working and frustrated that I could never really take a break. My erratic schedule also had a negative impact on my personal relationships.
In 2007, I decided “enough was enough,” and started tracking my hours and limiting how much I worked per week and when. Through these efforts, I was able to focus during the day and then take evenings and weekends off without guilt. My other entrepreneur friends were impressed at how I managed to be so balanced, and encouraged me to start teaching others. That’s what led to me founding Real Life E.
What does your typical day look like?
Not surprisingly, I’m very routine oriented. I get up around 6:00 a.m. to read my Bible, pray, and eat breakfast. Then I get ready for the day and start work around 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. Unless I have an early call with a client in Asia or Europe, I start the day with a few hours of processing and planning. This means listening to voicemail, looking over my projects list, answering e-mail, responding to Tweets, reviewing my calendar, and going through any papers in my tickler file. After that’s in order, the rest of my day is filled with coaching calls and writing for guest blog posts, for my ScheduleMakeover.com newsletter, or for my book. Around 5:30 or 6:00 p.m., I wrap up for the day. In the evening and on weekends, I exercise, practice French, spend time with friends or my boyfriend, read, take care of “life” items like grocery shopping and cleaning, and travel.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I share my excitement about them! Whether it’s writing a blog post, talking with a potential client, doing a webinar, or introducing myself to a stranger at a networking event, I’m so excited about the positive impact of good time investment habits that I can barely contain myself.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The cultural shift toward defining success holistically as not only doing well in your work but also investing in meaningful relationships, personal wellness, and spiritual endeavors makes me ecstatic. My business is a reflection of these changing values.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My least favorite job was working in the domestics (i.e. lots of towels to fold) department at a large outlet store. I enjoyed helping people, but most of the time I was trying to organize an incoherent assortment of curtains or doing price checks (which always seemed to happen at both sides of the store at the same time.) From this job, I learned to have a great deal of empathy for customer service people. If people can’t give you what you want or do something as quickly as you would prefer, it’s usually because of some factor outside of their control.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have invested in sales training sooner. After going through a coaching sales course, I had a much clearer idea of how to offer my coaching services in a way that had the biggest positive impact on my clients and made my coaching business sustainable.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Evaluate what is actually working. When the industry changes or your business changes or your location changes or your lifestyle changes, what used to work for you and your business may no longer produce results. Be vigilant in cutting out your time investment in activities or events that are no longer most effective.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My work involves helping people to not procrastinate so I, by definition, attract potential clients who have trouble making decisions. This meant that I used to end up having to do lots of follow up after an initial free consultation in order to get their commitment to move forward. I solved this problem by offering a “Decisive Action Savings.” If people want to take weeks or months to decide whether to proceed with coaching, they can. But if they choose to move forward within a short amount of time after the initial consultation, they receive a significant savings. It’s a win-win for both of us. They save money, and I save time with follow up.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
This may already exist, but if it doesn’t, it would be great to have an app that limits the number of times that someone can check their e-mail or their phone throughout the day. I find people tend to get obsessed with finding out what’s new, instead of moving forward with what they already know they need to do.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would have people be able to clearly evaluate their lives from an objective perspective to see what actually makes them happy versus what they think should make them happy. My work with Real Life E is making this happen by helping people define their personal definitions of success and go after what they want–instead of chasing after what everyone else says that they should want.
Tell us a secret.
I’ve always wanted to be a real princess. Given that I’m as American as they come, that’s probably completely impossible. But this dream may explain why I have a penchant for hats. I currently have 18 in my collection and wear them as often as possible.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- Google Calendar. I find it a clean, simple way to organize my week’s activities.
- Hootsuite. This makes keeping on top of Tweets and updating Facebook and Twitter a very efficient process.
- Zoho CRM. This tool helps me track my client contact information, and progress through their coaching programs in a clear manner.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Well, of course they should check out my book, which is coming out in the spring of 2013. But in terms of books in print, I highly recommend Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. Knowing how to communicate effectively with others about emotional, meaningful subjects is an incredibly powerful tool both personally and professionally.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @askgerber. I’m honored to be a member of the YEC, and Scott Gerber is the mastermind behind the enterprise. I think YEC articles are one of the best ways to get inside the minds of the world’s top young entrepreneurs.
- @DSLandau. He’s a passionate, young entrepreneur in the Detroit area who sends out inspiring tweets.
- @gretchenrubin. I appreciate Gretchen’s down-to-earth approach to happiness as the author of the book and the blog The Happiness Project.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laughed out loud just an hour ago, when I was talking with a time coaching client about meal planning. She was describing her memory of her grandmother cooking kale on the stove and it smelling awful. (I love it broiled by the way.) It’s a joy to work with my clients, laugh with them, and help them be their best selves.
Who is your hero?
My parents. Both of them have overcome so much in life and are examples of how you can be constantly learning and growing. I’m so proud of my mom and dad, and am grateful for them.
Why should entrepreneurs care about investing their time well?
Businesses come and go, but who you are and the people who love you endure. Investing in those areas of your life is just as important as investing in your business. Don’t lose sight of what matters.
What are your hobbies?
I love to dance (currently swing and salsa), travel internationally, and practice French.
Elizabeth Saunders on LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/in/elizabethgracesaunders
Real Life E on Twitter: @RealLifeE
Time Coaching of Facebook: Facebook.com/timecoaching
Schedule Makeover™’s website: www.ScheduleMakeover.com