We all know that thinking, dreaming, planning, discussing things only get us so far. A successful life and business begins with a thought, the thought to finally start paying attention to your financial numbers more carefully, the dream to hire and work with more people, or the plan for a more targeted marketing and communications campaign, the discussion with friends, colleagues and mentors about the details when you do think about growing and taking your business to the next level. It begins here, but it can stop here too. In fact these four things could be a detriment to your success if they are keeping you from doing the one and ONLY thing you need to be doing in order to be successful. What is that one thing and how do these other things serve as barriers?
Do the important things first? In my last post, I told you not to worry about the most important things. I just want you to start doing ANYTHING and start crossing things off of your list. Working on feeling accomplished and creating momentum is key to getting things done. But, there are some IMPORTANT things you should do first, but let me define important.
Important is NOT that project you'be been putting off, and it's not checking your email to make sure you don't have any fires to put out today. Important is any activity or task that creates energy for you rather than drain energy. Energy creating activities including drinking water, stretching, exercising, meditation, creative work, journaling, brainstorming, or anything that energizes you. Meeting a colleague or friend for coffee might energize you. Going for a challenging hike could be what energizes you. Taking a long hot shower could be it too. Whatever those things are, these are the most IMPORTANT things to do first thing in your day. In order to start doing these important activities first in your day, it takes a simple mind-set shift and tweak.
I am an AVID reader of time management books and am constantly learning and researching new time management methods. Ever since I was 11 years old, I have studied this subject. I was home-schooled from 6th grade through high-school. My mother passed away when I was 12 years old but was sick a lot of my childhood. In order to help out with the upkeep up my household, I was home-schooled. So, at a very young age, I had to learn how to manage a household, take care of myself, and get through school. Needless to say I learned to be VERY disciplined and it was through the study of time management that I learned the necessary skills to get through that time of my life. My now 24 years of study of this subject has taught me a lot! Today's post is all about what I know about time management and then I will create several related posts on this topic as part of a series.
From day-planners, to do it tomorrow apps, there are literally dozens of time management tools, apps, and software to help you go from chaos to organized. But, many of my colleagues and friends still report that they find it hard to manage their daily tasks, and truly stay organized AND have enough time left in their day to do everything they wanted to do.
Not too long ago, I was struggling to keep my head above water, trying to manage and do WAY too much. Unfortunately, this predicament isn't something that happens to me only. In fact, I know MANY businesses, organizations and individuals that have or currently are incredibly stressed out and exhausted due to juggling too many roles, hats, or whatever you label all of your work and personal life responsibilities.
I know that sometime, there just isn't any way out of it. Hiring someone is just not feasible. There's no time to recruit an intern, and volunteers, though great, just don't have the skills to do what you need done.
So what CAN you do when you are on the verge of "drowning?" You create systems. If you had systems in place, you would eliminate quite a bit of time explaining things, and doing work from scratch, or I'm even guilty of this, doing something totally different from before because I forgot how I did it last. Also, when systems are in place, then you do feel comfortable hiring someone and recruiting an intern or volunteer. You and they know exactly what needs to happen what they need to be accomplishing. There is less time spent in training and orientation because documented systems can serve as training material. So here are the top 3 systems I recommend you put into place as soon as you can.
By the time Friday afternoon rolls around, I can feel that my body is ready to stop. My focus starts to go onto other things like baking, sewing projects, house shopping, hiking, getting the garden ready....everything else but business related work. Though I'd LOVE to stop and just dive right in to these other projects, I can't do that always. There is an endless list of things to get to in my business. I get even more weird about finishing my week a few hours early because, we're supposed to work until 5pm, AT LEAST, if we want to advance our careers, or so I've been reading. "Lean In" is what Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook tells us in her new book. But, all I want to do is lean into some of my red forest cupcakes that I'm dying to make!
It is later than I wanted it to be for getting my last tip of this series out to you all. Today, I had all sorts of things I needed to get done and of course there just aren't enough hours in the day, right?! Well, in all honesty, I knew that I would be writing this entry later tonight. I had my day pretty planned out. Though the baby put a few hiccups in my schedule, most everything happened when I had planned to have them completed. So why did the blog get left for the last thing of the night? I write more thoughtfully and clearly when I am relaxed. I knew that if I had all the MAJOR things of the day done, I would feel relaxed and then write a worthy entry...one worth posting! I thought I would be writing around 10:00 pm tonight, but it's closer to 11:00 pm now. That's okay. I've learned that when it comes to managing time, there are often days when you have to accept what is dealt to you, or roll with the punches, or just go with the flow.
Really, being an entrepreneur demands flexibility. So, I am. But, being flexible isn't just relegated to entrepreneurs. This mindset and spirit needs to be adopted by everyone trying to make a difference in this world, whether you are a non profit, a small business, or an individual . I like to call this time in our lives the Entrpreneurial Era. We live in a time where we all need to think and act much like entrepreneurs. Consider this an invitation to start taking the entrepreneurial approach in life, business and the pursuit of happiness. So what does that look like exactly?
TIP 7: Learn to navigate through your days with an open-mind, flexibility, and the willingness to embrace change.
That's basically the entrepreneurial approach. Let's examine these characteristics a bit further, shall we?
First, keeping an open mind. This is a huge part of being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs usually learn as they go and so, keeping an open mind allows you to receive. You WANT to receive, advice, criticism, help, and support. The only way you will see these sorts of opportunity is to let go of the idea that you already know everything. So when you hear criticism you can see the point. When someone offers you help, you accept with open arms. When someone offers you advice you really listen t o what they are saying.
Second is flexibility. Being okay with things not going exactly the way you planned, can also open doors for an entrepreneur. It's in the failures and the set backs that we experience growth. That is true for our business as well. However, you have to be flexible enough to see these things and "bend" and go along with what's happening. You will either grow as a business, or grow as a person, knowing it's time to move on to a new business idea. Here's a tip inside of a tip...entrepreneurs don't give up when they fail. They try and try again. So closing one business does not mean they are done. They look for the next big idea. I would adopt this characteristic as well!
Finally, embrace change. This may seem a bit redundant with being flexible, but here is the difference. Being flexible requires you to bend and go along with what's happening. Change requires you step out of the way completely for a new way and then you fully embrace the new way of being. These changes can be transformational and provide an exponential benefit to you and your business or organization. It can also be very painful to have to move away from an original concept or idea. But, with due time, you emerge as a beautiful butterfly able to cover much larger spans of space because now you can fly, rather than crawling your way through life as a caterpillar.
When running your own business, obtaining the skill of time management is essential. Over the years I've read pretty much every book written on time management. I guess you could say I'm sort of obsessed with the topic. I do actually enjoy reading about the various ways you can carve out time to do the things you need to do. Almost every book I read had some important point in it.
In January of this year, I became a mom. Boy! Did that time management knowledge come in handy! I will confess though, there were days where nothing I learned or knew helped. I just had to give in to my day and let it take me where it needed to go. But, overall, the biggest thing I've learned is to make use of every minute of my day. As many moms out there can relate...I'm not JUST running a business. I am first a mom. Then, I have a house I need to keep clean and orderly as best as I can. Finally, there are other responsibilities like taking the baby in for her shots, getting the groceries, etc. Completing ALL of my tasks for the day requires lots of pre-planning. So, here are the top 4 time management tips from the tip jar. But the BIG tip from the jar today is...
TIP 6: Learn how to manage your time and you'll do a lot of what you need to do for your business.
Okay, now that we've established the importance and the benefits of time management, let's jump into the rest of the tips.
1. Spend 10-15 minutes every night planning out what needs to get done the next day. Make a quick list and get it out of your head. You'll sleep better too if you do this. Next to each task, right down any phone numbers for phone calls you need to make. Make note of the files on your computer or hard files you'll need in order to get the task completed. Basically, give a little more info about each task so that when you wake up the next day you can get right into it.
2. Organize your work space. Whether you work at a coffee house, on your couch, your dining room table or from an actual desk in an actual office...organizing your work makes a huge difference on your work flow. Make sure the files on your computer are organized and things are filed in folders that make sense. Make hard copy files to keep on your desk. Keep all items you need to get your work done accessible and within reach. You shouldn't have to get up too often or waste time searching for things you need.
3. Every minute counts. When you make a list and know what you have to do, you can utilize every minute, every chance you get to tackle a task. Just start doing something. Even if you think it'll take longer than the time you have. Just start it. Then, when you get another few minutes, continue with that task.
4. Figure out your larger goals, and the feelings and desires you want to manifest in your life. When you work towards something bigger, it makes the smaller tasks, that can seem minuscule, significant. Once a year, I go through my journals, my to do lists, and mind maps and I sit down to plan out what I want for the New Year. More money, more love, more happiness, I want to feel passion, full of life...I write all these things down and then I try to figure out just how I am going to make these things happen. This becomes the basis of my weekly and daily task list.
As the New Year approaches resolve to become a better time manager, because there's always room for growth!
Engagement can seem hard, especially when it comes to social media. How do you engage and build relationships with large numbers of people you will never REALLY know? Well, let me say that the hard part is not the engagement. A few tips from me and you can become really good at engaging your fans and followers. The hard part is finding time and motivation.
My goal, with this tip from the tip jar, is to help you dwindle down your social media marketing tasks to a few minutes a day. You may save up some of the days of work and do it all over a few days. Whatever you choose to do, I intend on making it a little easier. You do, however have to do some work upfront that may require an hour to and hour and half.
TIP 5: Start you Social Media Marketing Efforts. Remember it's all about building relationships and offering value.
I would suggest focusing on just a couple of sites and getting really good. The top 4 sites I recommend are Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. Of these, I want you to choose 2. Let me talk a little about each to help you choose.
Facbeook is a multi-faceted social networking site that is heavily based on content. Writing status updates, making comments on other people's posts and sharing photos are the most popular activities on Facebook. You can also, create fan pages, start groups, and post videos as well.
LinkedIn is for professional networking. It is ideal for consultants and is heavily referral based. It is also a great site if you are looking for a job. People can make recommendations of your work and you can post all about your past work experience here. You can also create groups to showcase your expertise in a field.
Instagram is solely a photo based social networking site. Visual social networking is the key here. You take photos, upload them, create a clever caption and share. Others do the same, and you comment and leave hearts for people telling them you "love" their photos.
Finally, Pinterest is also visually based. You pin different images from the web to virtual pinboards that you create. The pinboards can be of various categories and the images then get pinned to the appropriate board. You share these boards with others and others share their boards as well. You follow their boards and others can follow your boards.
Now in terms of content. Because we are building relationships and offering value, we have to go back to the basics of building relationships. When we are with our friends and when we are with some of our closer colleagues, we share information. We share information about ourselves with our friends, and we share information about things we learn that may be pertinent to our colleagues. With friends we might share something like "Reading a great book that is helping me set intentions and get ready for 2013" and then we might share the link on how they can get the book for themselves. For our colleagues we might share something like "I just read an article about goal setting and career growth and here is a summary." Then go on to summarize.
These are exactly the kinds of things you would do on social media. Your content is revealing of you. Reveal as much of you as you are comfortable revealing. Of course, you reveal only that which is appropriate. Also, the content is valuable to the people receiving it.
Now, here is where the work starts. These are your tasks.
1. Take out a blank sheet of paper or pull a blank document up on your computer and make a list of all the categories of areas that interest you in your life both personally and professionally. Also, add to this list all the things you are working on both personally and professionally.
2. Decide what part of the day you will spend time doing your social media marketing work and commit to doing it at the same time every day.
3. Create a a file folder on your computer or a physical folder and put in it two things. A copy of the lists you just made and a print out of this article.
Ready, set, go.
Whether you are updating your status on facebook or thinking about which boards to create on Pinterest, it works the same. Okay, you're ready, you don't have to think about it any longer. Just get going. Make it happen.
When I was first starting my business getting tips on how to effectively run and market my business were so valuable to me. I would take every piece of advice and collect them like tips in a tip jar. These pieces of information were as good as getting paid, because they helped me to land some of my first paying clients!
So, I want to share my tip jar with you. Today I gave a presentation to a circle of moms who are looking to re-evaluate their skills and see how they can earn money while staying at home with their babies. Some of them were already in the midst of creating business plans or even launching their businesses.
It's not easy being a mom, and starting a business while taking care of your children takes huge effort to say the least. Hence why I want to share my tip jar with you. I hope these few things will help you focus and get your business off the ground a little quicker and little easier. I'll deliver each tip daily.
TIP 1: EVERYONE is NOT your target market.
As wonderful as your product or service is, everyone isn't going to buy it because as a start up, you can't market and communicate to everyone. It's just not financially feasible. So, it's in your best interest to figure out just who you want to market to, and exactly who will enthusiastically purchase from you. Another way to look at it is, for whom are you solving a problem by offering this product or service? You probably know this...don't judge yourself. Just write it down, share it with a few close friends and start marketing. You'll learn along the way exactly who your target market is. Just make sure you pay attention and market and communicate accordingly as you learn.
November 10, 2011 @ The UNM-LA Small BusinessDevelopment Center in Los Alamos 1:00pm - 4:00pm
Most small businesses and non-profits don’t have a marketing staff to do the marketing tasks that are needed in order to maintain and grow the organization. Often times, there’s only one person to take care of ALL aspects of the business. So how do you make time for this critical piece? Join us and learn about the priority marketing tasks a business and organization should engage in. Learn how to create a daily action plan that is built around what is feasible for you based on your resources and time. Once and for all, implement an effective marketing campaign that grows your business and organization.
Call: 505-661-4803 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register