What does your morning routine look like?
Maybe you start with a cup of coffee, some avocado toast, and a quick read of theSkimm.
You set the dirty dishes in the sink and add “bread” to the grocery list. I should run the dishwasher… No, I’ll wait till lunch.
You hop in the shower. Hop out. Start a 5-minute makeup routine you found online (which, for the record, takes closer to 10 minutes). You pour another cup of coffee and remind yourself that you should be drinking more water. Maybe I should meditate? Do I have time for a workout? Damn it! I already took a shower!
Why do we do this to ourselves?! We purchase dozens of Target planners and calendars. We wish there were more hours in the day (you think 30 would suffice?)… BUT even if we did have more time, it’s likely that our routines would look the same.
We’d race from the gym to the office to the dentist to Trader Joe’s to blah blah BLAAAAAAH!
So, maybe adding hours is the wrong approach…
This week on the podcast, we spoke with Kate Northrup, founder and 7-figure CEO of The Origin Company and author of Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Ambitious Women. (See where we’re going with this?)
Many of us entrepreneurs wear “BUSY” as a badge of honor—but not Kate.
“People will often say to me, ‘I know you’re probably too busy for this.’ And I’m like, ‘I am NOT that busy,’” Kate shares. “I have all kinds of time for the things that I want to do.”
In fact, Kate has so much time that she was able to take seven weeks off of work last summer.
Let that sink in. SEVEN WEEKS. It’s hard enough for many of us to take seven DAYS off of work!
That’s why we asked Kate the question everyone is wondering: “How on earth do you do it?!”
The answer is quite simple. Kate goes with the flow… literally.
Some people look to corporate culture for effective time management skills. Kate, however, chooses smart work vs hard work, by drawing inspiration from the natural world. More specifically, she builds her schedule around the 4 phases of her menstrual cycle. Yep. You read that right.
By syncing her work with her body’s natural cycle, Kate is able to harness the energy she has available for projects that most appropriately match that energy. She calls it “egg wisdom.”
Here’s how it works…
Our bodies experience 4 phases of the menstrual cycle every month, each of which is fitting for a specific level of energy that we can channel into certain projects for work.
Initially, Kate was more literal about coordinating these four main phases of her menstrual cycle with her professional “cycle.” For example, she would batch all of her podcasts together when she was ovulating (the time when she was uber-social). However, Kate’s cycle is inconsistent, so she has tweaked her process over time.
Nowadays, Kate looks ahead in her week to see what phase of her cycle she’ll be in. Then, she selects how much and what work she wants to complete during that period (pun intended!).
“I lean into the kind of energy I’m actually feeling,” Kate explains.
For example, if Kate’s period shows up a little earlier than expected, she asks, “Is there anything I can reschedule?” BOOM. Rescheduled!
Or, if she’s coming into her follicular phase… foot on the gas! Time to get movin’!
“When I work this way,… there is so much more wiggle room in my schedule,” Kate says. “Things just kind of magically work out… all the time.”
This is why Kate designed a productivity model for her team at The Origin Company that’s inspired by the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle (as well as the four seasons and the lunar cycle).
Instead of working harder and filling her schedule to earn that “BUSY” badge, Kate is more intentional about her work. She and her team follow a unique productivity model and practice efficient ways of working smarter. Furthermore, Kate’s model also allows for breathing room to rest and reflect.
She calls it “The Upward Cycle of Success.”
Kate builds her own schedule around her menstrual cycle each week, but the upward cycle of success is how she applies that same genius idea to her business. It’s how she and her team collectively and purposefully choose smart work vs hard work.
OK, OK. If you’re sitting over there still wondering how this CEO took seven weeks off of work, don’t worry! We’re getting there next…
Kate starts off every workweek with the same questions, pulled from her Do Less Planner. She looks at an upcoming task or event and asks…
That third question, in particular, gave Kate permission to take a little time off… actually A LOT of time off. Other than showing up a couple of times for her mastermind students, Kate was able to delegate tasks and even coaching opportunities to her team throughout the summer so she could take time away with her family.
We’re wired to think that working hard is best for our business, and the fact is… that’s just plain FALSE. Equating hard work with success is a difficult narrative to unlearn, but established professionals like Kate prove that you can choose smart work vs hard work.
“Often there is an intersection between what is most effective for your business and what is the most fun,” she says. For Kate, that intersection is connecting with people. It’s creating content and speaking on podcasts (click here to listen to her on Cubicle to CEO!). So, she prioritizes connection and leans into that energy—and it works.
You can build a successful business by being a smart worker instead of a hard worker.
“One of my all-time favorite memes says, ‘Why put off until later what you could straight up cancel?’” Kate laughs. “Because we’re programmed to believe that we are more valuable if we’re doing more things, we will, as a default, put things on our to-do list to give ourselves that feeling of significance that don’t need to be done.”
Let’s stop perpetuating the idea that hard work signifies worth! Take a page from Kate’s book (or just buy it here) and ask yourself hard questions like, “Does this need to be done?” Give yourself permission to delegate tasks. Find new ways to manage your time and work smarter. Gosh darn it, take seven weeks off!
Let this be our invitation to start leaning into our natural energy and focusing on the things we actually want to be doing. Period.