Alexis Haselberger is a time management and productivity coach who helps people do more and stress less through coaching, workshops and online courses. Her pragmatic, yet fun, approach helps people easily integrate practical, realistic strategies into their lives so that they can do more of what they want and less of what they don’t. Alexis has taught thousands of individuals to take control of their time, their to do lists and their overwhelm and her clients include Google, Lyft, Workday, Capital One, Upwork and more.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I spent the first 15 years of my career running HR and business operations in early stage start-ups in the Bay Area. In a start-up environment, there is always so much more to do than people to do it. People work hard, they work long hours, and they burn out. My super-power was always the ability to get A LOT done, and done well, with minimal effort and stress. I had a boss that used to tell people that I could do in 20 hours what most could do in 60 hours. Over time, people started recognizing these skills and starting to come to me for help with streamlining processes, creating systems, prioritization and general time management. When the last start-up I worked for went out of business (as more than 90% of start-ups do), I decided that the most impactful thing I’d been doing was helping others with time management, productivity and stress reduction. And luckily, that was also the aspect of my career that was the most fulfilling for me. At that point I decided to open my own time management and productivity coaching and consulting business so that I could help others kill it at work, and have fulfilling personal lives as well. I haven’t looked back. Turns out, there are a lot of folks really struggling in this department so there was strong product-market fit.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I typically get up between 7 and 7:30 am, spend a little morning time cuddling with my kids and chatting with them while they eat breakfast and I make coffee. Then our babysitter drives them to school and I start my workday between 8 and 9. I run my business out of my home, so I have no commute most of the time; this is HUGE for my own time management. (Although, I do travel, both locally and nation-wide, to teach workshops with fair frequency.)
Then, I typically have 2 different types of days: those where I’m in back to back client coaching sessions, and those where I’m going to a company’s office to teach a workshop. I try to arrange my schedule so that on Mondays I have no meetings and can really focus on the head’s down work of running my business; writing, accounting, working on long term projects. I also arrange my schedule so that every other week is jam packed with client coaching sessions and the opposite weeks I teach workshops and I have a bit more breathing room.
I also ensure I’m productive by ending each day with the plan for the next so that I can both disconnect from work in the evening, and start the next day with a plan ready to execute. I make sure that my calendar is a visual representation of my task list so that I can ensure I am only assigning myself what is realistic to do in one day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I tend to think of a lot of my creative ideas while running. And it’s imperative to write these ideas down so that I don’t forget them. I will often stop a run, grab my phone and enter the idea, then keep running.
Then, I set aside at least 1 day a week where I don’t take meetings or calls and I focus on creative work. I get head’s down and really focus so that I’m able to bring these ideas to life quickly.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m really excited to see what happens with remote work. As the world currently struggles to mitigate the spread of coronavirus by working from home, I think we’re going to finally have a bunch of data around whether this is a trend that should stick around.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t rely on memory. I am meticulous about tracking all my tasks and projects in a “single trusted system” so that I can use my full brainpower to focus on the task at hand instead of trying to remember the many, many things I have to do. By using this system religiously, I never drop balls, I’m able to prioritize with intention and I’m able to use my time intentionally.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Start your business earlier! Starting a business is hard, and it’s a big leap of faith, but the satisfaction I feel knowing that every day I get to do exactly what I want to do, in service of my own goals, instead of someone else’s, is worth the risk and hard work.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’m what you call “politely persistent”, meaning that if a potential client reaches out to me, I’ll follow up until either they become a client, or they tell me they are not interested. Many entrepreneurs I know assume that if someone doesn’t respond to your email, that means they are not interested in working with you. But I’ve had the opposite experience; I’ve had clients thank me for continuing to follow up because life is busy and it’s so easy for things to get lost in people’s inboxes. (That said, I don’t cold-call; this strategy only applies when someone has reached out to me and expressed interest first.)
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I’m going to answer this as an opposite. One this that I don’t do over and over that other people do all the time is to check email constantly. I process email 2-3 times a day, and process it down to zero during those times. Most people check email several times an hour, which is very disruptive in terms of actually getting work done. Email is other people’s priorities, and you can still be responsive even without constantly checking.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that really helped me when I first got started was to simply email every single person I knew and tell them about my business and who my ideal clients were. It was uncomfortable to email people I hadn’t spoken to in decades, but the more people who know about what I do, the more people I can reach, the more connections I can make, and ultimately, the more people I can serve.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Every time I don’t land a client, I feel like it’s a failing. But I overcome and move forward by seeing what I can learn from the situation and then improving my sales process going forward.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Here a great business idea that I’ve had for years but which I’m not going to pursue (so someone should!): Helicopter tours over Burning Man (for those of us who want to see the awesome art, but don’t want to have to live in a desert for a week!).
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Renewing my Calendly account (which is around $100/year) is the best $100 I’ve spent recently. Calendly allows me to automate all scheduling so that I don’t have to email back and forth to find a time with someone. I’m also able to set up different types of meetings with different buffer time required, etc. so that travel time is automatically scheduled as well. Calendly saves me at least 2-3 hours a week.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
TickTick is the task app I recommend most frequently to my clients and that I use myself. It’s a one-stop shop to keep track of all your tasks, all those “opportunistic” lists (books to read, restaurants to try, etc.), to track habits, etc. You can essentially offload your whole brain into this app so that you can focus on the task at hand instead of remembering all the things.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Getting Things Done, by David Allen. It’s part of the canon in how to think about tasks and “getting things done” and is a great starting off point for anyone who is looking to be more productive.
What is your favorite quote?
“There’s no growth in the comfort zone.”
- Grow your business by getting uncomfortable and telling everyone about it. Get yourself out there!
- Use a task system to externalize the mental load so that you can prioritize effectively and avoid dropping ball
- Use your time intentionally; don’t let the day happen to you!