Finding Boundaries and Systems That Work

I recently added a new income stream to my business. However, I don’t often recommend doing several things at once.

Today, I am going to share with you how F.O.C.U.S. has been a key to my success. Keep reading to find the meaning to this acronym.

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This morning I was interviewed on The National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs. I was asked about how I’ve integrated art into my business and into my life.

I think this is important so I wanted to share just a few things with you today.

One of the things that people ask me is “Wow, you’re doing so much! How are you adding in art to what you already do?”

First of all, I want you to know that I operate by the acronym F.O.C.U.S. It stands for Follow One Course Until Successful. I did not make up this acronym, but this is how I work.

When my husband and I started focusing on our publishing company in 2012, I had resigned my job in 2011. We thought we were going to be speakers, and all of that fell through, but that’s another story. In 2012, we published 23 books and it was a season of focus on our publishing company.

Once it was successful, I was then able to add what I do as an author coach and Author Audience Academy. This is in addition to what we were already doing with our publishing company. Then, I really focused on Author Audience Academy, and now it is successful.

That is why I am now adding the art at this time. If my author coaching wasn’t successful yet, I wouldn’t be adding it.

Follow One Course Until Successful. I think it really is the reason I’ve been successful. FOCUS, focus, focus.

I love the image from the book The One Thing.

What you see is you see this image right here, this is where you’re having focus.

It doesn’t mean you’re not doing other things. It just means that you are staying focused primarily on one major thing. The image on the left side is what I typically looked like before the last few years. I was doing a million things!

I’ve literally, at one time, had seven different business entities. I hadn’t formalized them all, but they were all different, and I was doing everything a little bit. I had a coach at the time and she said, “Shelley, you’re doing too much.”

I tell you, coaching is very powerful. I hire coaches and I also have people that invest in me for coaching.

So it was gradual, over a process of time, that I began to let go of things and that’s when I decided to focus on my author coaching.

FOCUS, Follow One Course Until Successful.

Now, I’ve added in art. Right now I’m in my art studio. How fun is that?

If you’re watching the video you get to see a little glimpse inside my art studio. It’s always changing. it’s always evolving. I’ve also already created ten classes on SkillShare. You can see those at

I’m now earning income from those classes! Just in three months, I’ve earned over $1600 just from teaching on SkillShare.

Am I telling you to go jump on SkillShare and teach SkillShare classes? No! FOCUS.

What is it you’re doing right now that you want to be successful? FOCUS. Follow One Course Until Successful. That’s what I’ve done.

A lot of people watch what I do, so I want to explain. I’m adding the art because the author coaching is successful and I can continue to do that without as much investment of time.

Setting Boundaries

The other thing I wanted to talk about is boundaries. One of the reasons that I’m able to have time for art is because I’ve set certain boundaries.

One of the things that really works well for me is having different scheduled times to batch my work. By “batching” I mean I do the same types of things all in one day or one period of time. For instance, in my current schedule, Wednesdays are my interview days. It’s my one on one coaching day.

So if you’re a one on one coaching day I’m going to give you my calendar link and that will only give you Wednesdays to schedule. Although today, I did make an exception. It’s a Tuesday but I did an interview for NACWE because I love them. I’m a member, and I love what they are doing. Typically those types of things are Wednesdays.

So you have to find a system that works well for you. My schedule changes all the time too because it evolves and changes as the demands on my time change and evolve. But you have to have a schedule.

Thursdays are my brain day. So what do I mean by Brain day?

My Thursdays are devoted to those projects and things I’m working on that I know are going to take a lot of brain work. These are projects that need intense focus, getting into the details, and doing the work. You know what I mean.

There are just things like the technical stuff or maybe some intense writing you have to do – those are brain day tasks.

So, what I then do is Thursdays is devoted to those types of tasks. I’ll still do some work on the other days of the week depending on my schedule. But typically, right now, Mondays and Tuesdays are for my art and my SkillShare classes as well as things that I’m going to maybe do on Etsy.

Now I have booked three speaking engagements for the upcoming months where I’ll be teaching in person art workshops here in Colorado Springs.

So Monday and Tuesdays might be days I’d work on finalizing details for that. I’m also getting paid for that! Crazy, right?

I just cannot believe it. This is my life. I’m now an artist, art teacher, illustrator… whoa! But, I didn’t just jump into it. I waited, and I realized that this was an opportunity that God was bringing into my life and it was the time.

The time was right, and I really believe that God brought it into my life at the right timing.

Sometimes, you have to set boundaries and days and certain times. If you say, “OK, I’m going to write in this chunk of time, or these times every day,” then the rest of the day you don’t feel guilty because you’re not writing.

With me, I know I’m going to be work really hard on Wednesdays and Thursdays so I don’t feel guilty when I’m playing in my art studio on Mondays. I know that I’m going to be working on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

It gives you freedom. It takes away some guilt, and it’s simply setting a boundary on your time.

The Little “Big” Distractions

I would say our phone is probably one of the biggest time suckers of all.

I have been very addicted to Facebook and checking email on my phone. And what that does is it gives my clients 24/7 access to me. It gives me no break and I always have to be “on”, because the way I run my coaching program is through Facebook.

It’s a Facebook group, so every time I check in I see their comments. I’m the type of person that has a high sense of responsibility, so I’d always respond right away.

I would try behavioral modification. I would try to change things but it was not working It was last November, when I was in the middle of the launch for Broken Crayons Still Color, that I was beginning to feel a desperation. I said, “Lord I really want to break this habit.”

I really sensed that He wanted me to go away on a retreat. It was a prayer and fasting retreat center that he brought to mind. It’s called Praise Mountain here in Colorado. I called them and asked, “Do you have any openings for this weekend?”

They just happened to have a cancellation! I think it was a God thing. So I went up there in the middle of one of my biggest launch ever, with no internet connection, and I spent 24 hours in prayer and fasting.

During that time I said, “God, what is the root? Why can I not break free from this? What is it? I’ve tried all these things.” I really sensed, personally, Him saying, “Shelley, it’s your identity. It’s knowing who you are in Christ.”

So, He began to do a deeper work in my heart over that 24 hours that continues today. This year I sensed the word for me was Identity. It is something that God is continuing to work within me right now.

He did a work in my heart. Sometimes, we have to go deeper, and He did a work in my heart. I have not been checking Facebook or email on my phone since. I still check it on my computer, so I haven’t closed my account.

You’ll see I’m more active on Wednesdays and Thursdays because those are my big work days. Sometimes I will check it on my iPad, but I’m not checking it on my phone. This has been the biggest addiction for me.

So this is a boundary that I set for me. But it’s a boundary that gave me freedom and it gave me a ton of time. It freed me from all those little things that you just keep checking. It frees up so much time, and that time gave me the ability to create.

I’ve created new art every day for at least the last five months, maybe even longer. It really has given me a lot of time to do what I love. Maybe art is not your thing, maybe it’s something else, maybe it’s spending time with your family, but boundaries can be a key.

Creating Systems

Now, the third thing I wanted to talk about was systems. So I’ve been able to create ten SkillShare classes in 3 months. It’s earning me significant income – $500 -$600 a month. I’m not saying it’s going to continue that way, I don’t know, right now it is working, so I’m going with it.

It really doesn’t take me that long to create the classes because I’ve created products for so long, I have systems in place, and I know exactly what I’m doing.

So when I talk about systems, what is it you need to put in place that is going to help you be consistent with what you need to do? If it’s writing, what kind of systems can you put in place that will allow you the ability to be consistent in your writing?

For me, with the art, sharing on Instagram, and creating new SkillShare classes, I needed a system to record overhead videos; so recording the art.

So what I do is I use my little tripod. I use this and then I put my phone in it and it records the art above. I can leave that up all the time and it’s not in my way. If I want, I can just unscrew it, but if I leave it up I have that system. I know all I have to do is stick my phone in there, and then I can record.

I have a system for how I edit my videos and post them on Instagram. If you’re interested, I share all of that in my Instagram marketing class on SkillShare. You can find that at I created a system.

So what system can you set in place that will help you to be consistent?

Anyone who’s been successful, whether it’s losing weight, athletics, music, art, business, or whatever you want to be successful in, it’s going to take consistent practice or consistency in creating that. It needs consistent time.

I have published and personally written over 40 books and that comes because I created systems. This is why I say my secret sauce is systems.

So what systems can you create?

For writers, maybe there is a little space that you set up – a little desk or place where you have your writing space. Make sure that’s where you’re going to write and it doesn’t get cluttered with other stuff.

Maybe you have a system where it’s every morning at a certain time. So you schedule those writing times. You have to dig deep and ask yourself, “What will my system be that will help me to be consistent in marketing?”

What can you set up or do to make sure that you stay consistent?

If you’re an Author Audience Academy member we can brainstorm ideas for this in our private Facebook group. Just start a new post if there is something that you need to create a system for and let’s brainstorm. I would love to help you create a system.

If you’re not yet a member, you can join us at

So those are the three things I want you to think about today. FOCUS – Follow One Course Until Successful.

What is the main thing right now that you want to be successful at? Where are you pouring in a majority of your energy?

It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be doing other things. For me, right now, it is my art. I still serve, give, and do everything I can to help my Author Audience Academy members. But I have created a lot of the content, I have done a ton of the marketing and I have systems in place. So it doesn’t require as much of my time as it used to.

What is your one thing, right now, that you’re focusing on?

I do recommend that book, The One Thing by Gary Keller.

What boundaries do you need to set in place? Are there certain boundaries you need to set with your time, maybe with your phone, maybe with people in your life, so that you can do what God has called you to do?

What systems can you develop that will help you to be consistent?

If you have things set up, things ready, a system and a checklist you will know exactly what you’re going to do. It’s going to make you be able to be consistent with what you’re doing. You can save time, and get a lot more done.

That’s one of the ways that I’ve managed to be so prolific.

I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear what you’re going to set into place and what has inspired you through this training. Please let me know.

Until next time!

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