Time Management Tips | Everything Sucks The First Time You Do It!

Time Management Tips - Everything Sucks The First Time

Here are my top 7 Time Management Tips for getting yourself over a starting hurdle!

Doing marketing means that you will always have to try new things. Technologies change, the tools you use change and each and every time you feel like this is just going to be too hard to understand…ever.

Just recently I have been doing a bunch of new stuff technology wise. I am building a new website for my marketing mini courses (it is still Frankensteiny at this point but feel free to take a peek), setting up sales pages (I HATE writing sales copy), integrating a membership component (I swore I would never do that again) and about a gagillion other things that are making me blue.

BUT, and here comes the big pep talk that I had with myself yesterday, “just because you don’t know how to do something doesn’t mean that you should give up or get discouraged!”

That’s right, EVERYONE gets funky when they have to learn a bunch of new stuff all at once. Here are some tips to overcoming that feeling that you will never “get this”:

1. Learn What You Need & Nothing More

I love learning. I am more than happy to watch videos about technical bits and strategies for setting things up the “right way”. I like to understand what I am setting out to do before I start and always wish that there was more documentation or training available.

But don’t get caught is “analysis paralysis” like I see so many business people doing. They spend hours or days (weeks?) researching and planning, brainstorming and asking everyone they know what to do. Make sure you aren’t spinning your wheels like this!

Talk to a trusted advisor, read 5-6 reviews and then pick a product, service or training solution. Don’t get bogged down in the decision making process.

2. Chunk It Down

I have about 4 moving parts to my current project. I have to get LeadPages set up for my sales pages, get my website set up on WordPress, integrate Infusionsoft into the mix and then developing the actual courses. Whew!

I think that the hardest part when you are doing a new something is figuring out what goes first, second and third. It is frustrating to start on something then realize you need a graphic to complete it, or to start a campaign in your email, only to realize you need to know the sales page first.

Don’t let this bother you! Just start a list of things to do as you find them and then start crossing them off as you get them done!

3. Just That One Time

It is REALLY hard to remember that some of it only matters when you are setting it up the first time. It is easy to lump all the setup time in with the doing time. For example, it feels like this whole process is taking FOREVER (actually I am on Day 3). So then I start thinking that doing courses will be too time consuming because they take DAYS TO DO…drama only in my head.

Honestly, the course took maybe 3 hours to make, I can sell it over and over and once the framework is in place I have an easily replicable model to use for the next 20 courses.

4. Write It Down

Which leads me to the process for making a system. Every time I do anything that I will have to do again I write it down in Evernote.

The first time is just a mass of mess and not something that I could use for a checklist, BUT it does put all the moving parts in one place. Then the second time I do it, I really try to figure out the best way to get it done. This is now a system that I can use and refine to get even faster the next time!

5. Use Tools To Help

I have mentioned a couple of the tools that I am using to make my training empire already, but I can’t stress enough that having the right tools makes all the difference in the world! If you are on a shoestring, use MailChimp.com instead of Infusionsoft and and the free version of Evernote instead of the deluxe version. But if you have a little capital and are truly in business, spring for the tools that make you money.

My budget for tools to run my business monthly is about $500. Some are monthly subscriptions and some (like Zippy Courses) are a one time fee. While it is tempting to try to cobble something together from free products, often the time you waste trying to jury-rig something is worth far more than what you would pay for tools.

6. Play To Your Strengths

There are times you are just not good at something. Say you have dyslexia and writing is hard or impossible. Then you are going to have to farm that portion out. Or if you can’t even take the first step with a tool because you don’t know where to start, maybe pay for a little training to get you going.

That said, everything that you farm out to someone else increases your timeline. Because I do all the setup and work, the only one I can blame if it is slow going is me and my many distractions. Putting your head down and just working until you are finished is a great way to keep the ball rolling.

That said, ask for help if something really has you stumped!

7. Good Enough Is Good Enough

Last but not least is that good enough is good enough. Second only to analysis paralysis is the “I’ll launch when it is perfect” mentality. You can dink around forever with trying to get everything just right or you can launch with a “Minimum Viable Product” which is the least you can do and still provide a quality experience. In my example, I would love to have at least 4-5 courses done and ready to go, but I don’t. I have that one course and now I just have to build some more.

BUT nothing would be served by waiting to market that one course. It is really easy to think, “well I will start when I get the next thing done”. Don’t do that! Start as soon as you can!

The Rah Rah Bit

So I feel like this is a rah rah time management post for me that I just shared out loud with you! I have had times over the last few days where I despaired of ever getting any traction.

I have thought that this is impossible and I won’t ever be able to understand all of it. But just putting one thing after another and making lists of things that still needed doing have gotten me 90% of the way there. Hopefully this post will serve as the last little bit of inspiration I need to cross the finish line.

And hopefully it helps you when you are sure that you will never get done!

Watch Out Great Marketing Tools and Resources Ahead

Stop Being Overwhelmed | Time Management Tips

Stop Being Overwhelmed - Time Management Tips

Are you sick of being overwhelmed all the time, thinking that whatever you are doing is not the right thing at the right time? These are my top time management tips…no I am not perfect but I sure do try!

My Name Is Tara and I Am A Time Addict

Cheaper By The Dozen - BookSo I have been a time management junkie for a long time. I have tried hundreds of calendars, time tracking tools, and time management systems. As I child I was fascinated by the book “Cheaper By The Dozen”, both because they had so many kids but also because the dad was an efficiency expert. In it the dad, who seemed a little weird, spent every waking moment trying to make his giant family more efficient.

As an adult, I have been fascinated watching people who seem to be more time efficient also. One of my favorite quotes is that..

You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyoncé

Now some people take this as a put down, that they are not doing things well enough, but I take it as a challenge. If I really do have just as much time as Bey, or Richard Branson, or Oprah Winfrey, what am I doing with the hours that I have?

Let’s be honest here, I used to have all the time in world. I had a great husband who paid most of the bills, no kids and a dog who needed to be let out occasionally. Then we adopted 3 kids and the wheels fell off! Those little suckers are not good for time management at all…great for hugs, super fun to love on, and wonderful little people, but damn can they take up every waking hour.

So I have had to figure some thing about time out.

Oh Crap, There Really Are Only So Many Hours In A Day

1. Oh Crap, There Really Are Only So Many Hours In A Day

If you are stressing out about time too much, I guarantee that somewhere along the line you got the mistaken notion, like I did that there are a million hours in the day. That putting something on the calendar would make the time to finish it magically appear.

Well that is wrong. So the first thing that you have to do is have a serious talk with yourself about being more realistic. If you want to accomplish something, then more than likely you are going to have to stop doing some other things that seem important.

For example, I gave myself two weeks to write a book. Yay! That is a week longer than I usually do so good on me, but what that means is that other things have to take a back seat for a while. I CAN write that guest post, just not this week. I can get my blog posts done, just not a big researchy one, it has to be more talky talk. I can let my family know that I will be head down working for a couple of days and that I still love them, but I will be a little less available.

Now you do this….so if you are reading all of this, it is time for you to start putting your money where your mouth is. You need to make a realistic “perfect week” calendar that shows all the time you realistically have. Here is mine:

Perfect Week

You Really Can't Do It All

2. You REALLY Can’t Do It All

So my next big epiphany after seeing my calendar in a realistic light of day was to realize that I had A LOT of things that I could do, but not all of them were equally important (to my business, my kids or me).

I took a look at all the things that I had on my to do list and started ruthlessly chopping things out. Facebook, hmmm not for me so much. Yes I do pop in occasionally, but social marketing efforts are focused on Twitter instead. Writing books and creating products, front and center, prospecting for more social media monthly clients, off the list. See I don’t love doing that kind of work and I have to be careful that anything I spend my time on is moving me toward my future fabulous life, not just keeping me treading water where I am now.

On the Mommy front, I had to admit that I would never get the Mother of the Year award. I am not going to be able to volunteer to be class mom, I will not be running my kids to 5 play dates a week and no, they can’t be in 3 extra-curricular activities a week (although they can all pick one that they are interested in). I don’t dress like the other Moms and I am not interested in doing a coffee clutch to talk about children, I like talking about marketing.

You do this now… so now that you know how much time you have, figure out what is important to you! Make lists, ask other people what you are good at, go on an off-site meeting with just yourself and figure out what is important to you (not what you THINK should be important). Be brutally honest with yourself and just pick a few things that really matter.

Stop Saying Yes, Right Now

Stop Saying Yes, RIGHT NOW

I have two time management challenges…being nice and squirrels.

First off, when someone asks you to do something, it always seems easier to say yes than to have to make them sad or let them down. We went to the Bunny House the other day and my middle girl, who really will help take care of it, asked for a rabbit. I SO wanted to say yes, but I know who will be feeding the bunnies, cleaning up after them and taking them to vet. I am already at my limit for animals with a dog, two cats, a gerbil (who Desy takes care of) and a fish.

This happens in business too! A dear man asked me if I could help him find a location to hold his event. I SO wanted to help, but that is not something that I am good at. I said no but I would help with his graphics and everything turned out great. But for a moment I thought…well I could help with that. It would so have turned out badly, I would have spent way to much time doing something that is not in my wheelhouse.

Your turn…make no your default. I KNOW, that sounds terrible and you might feel like you could let someone down, but say no and only agree to do things that fit into your plan!

Now to squirrels. They are everywhere! There was that really cool course about marketing books that I could buy, I could research Meerkat the new social network and get on board early, I could start a new website, or do a video a day, every day.

I am sure that there are squirrels in your life too! You really do have to stop chasing your tail and start having a real focus on what matters. Vow to ignore squirrels for just one week and see if you get more done. Ignore the ads, don’t open emails that could get you off track, put your butt in your chair and do your work-work for a whole week without even entertaining doing something new and different.

Get Some Help

Get Some Help

For some of you, this kick in the pants will be enough. You will be able to take this advice, turn your life and time around and go on to live a blissfully happy life.

For me, I needed a little help. I hired a business coach who I admire and respect. I pay him what is a big sum of money to me and then listen to what he says to do. When the squirrels pop up I ask myself if they are on track with what we have decided is important (they never are).

Now, I had hired coaches in the past and they hadn’t worked. Some were group coaching (that is NOT for me), some were charlatans who sold a good game and didn’t come through and some were well meaning but just not for me.

I know that all top athletes and business moguls have coaches so I bit the bullet and signed up.

If you need help with time management, goal setting or marketing, I would love to talk with you for a few minutes to see if we would be a good fit to work together! I have a One On One Coaching program that has helped many business owners get out of their own way and get on track to having a great business and life! Call today to find out more (727) 415-9165

Business Strategy, Motivation and Everything Falling Apart

Business Strategy, Motivation and Everything Falling ApartToday’s post is a little different… instead of talking about what we could do as marketers, I wanted to share a little bit about what I am doing and how it is making me a better business person, Mom and money maker.

The Back Story

So I have been in business for myself for a long time. About 15 years ago my dream job with the perfect boss got sold to another company and I was on the streets. My future husband at the time was okay with me starting my own business and so I set out to do SEO and make websites. That was mildly successful, then I contracted to a manufacturing company, had a couple of jobs over the years when times were tight and we needed stupid things like insurance and say a steady income.

A dip into real estate told me that I was good at it but definitely did not love the day-to-day problems that come with being a Realtor so I went back to my first love, marketing and we have been together ever since.

Now, over the years I have tried lots of different business models, services, products and other things to make money and have been 6 figures successful, but with a lot of work and lots of expenses. But that was okay. It was just Johnny and I and I could spend a weekend working if I wanted to!

Enter the kids! We were fortunate to adopt three kids and boy did everything get turned upside down! Instead of all the time in the world, now I had to guard every second religiously. I started some amazing and fun things that I couldn’t keep up because they took time away from what I had to focus on right now, family and getting it all together.

Flailing Around

So I coach a lot of entrepreneurs and none of them will be surprised to learn that from time it is easy to get off track, running down too many roads or not being crystal clear about what will work so you are doing a bunch of “stuff” and getting nowhere.

That is how I have felt for a little while. I have been doing four or five different things okay-ish but with no real strong center and goal. I have “tried” some things and seen some results but have definitely dabbled around without a clear goal.

Then I had a opportunity present itself. I could spend some time with a person who would be able to really help move my business forward, but what the hell would I tell him I do? Would I sit there with the list of all my little bits and be just frozen? Hell no! I needed to get a business strategy in place…:)

Time Management - What I Could Do

So I drank my own Koolaid. I had an offsite meeting with myself and sat down to write all the things that I could or was currently doing. I measured 4 metrics…

Smiley, straight or sad. Did doing that work make me happy (smiley face), not bother me or neutral (straight face) or sad (frowny face). Now I had done this with tasks before and I am pretty good with what I like to do and what I am good at, but this was deeper. It went more to the heart of what I wanted to do with my next five years or so.

Stars. The next thing I did was to assign stars to the tasks and see which things I felt innately good at doing. This was between no stars (meaning I suck at it), one half a star (meaning I can do it but it is not an innate skill) and a whole star (I am great at it!).

Money. Next came whether doing something would cost money or make money. Now some of the things will cost money to ultimately make money like doing Pinterest marketing, but for this little bit I just wanted to know if it was a good money maker or not.

Time. Last, and maybe most important to me, was time. Would it take a lot of time or a little to time to implement the idea, product or sales channel.

Now doing this process was not fun. I had to take my own personal biases for what I thought I liked to do and set them aside and try to be sure to focus only on my actual feelings and interest in things. Seeing them all together helped too. If something was not a happy face, made little money and took time to figure out, well that got put WAY back on the list of things that I had to worry about.

Based on this list and the things that I like to do, I have come up with my Three Squares of focus (that is from my coaching program, it just means the three business things that I am going to focus on)…

  • Social Media Clients – I have clients currently and love them, but I will not be prospecting for any new ones.
  • Selling Affiliate Products – I have done this in the past in dribs and drabs but will now have it as a focus.
  • One-On-One Coaching – Now this isn’t the most money around, but it is good for me time-wise and it is a total “I like it” and “I am good at it” kind of thing.

Bah ha! I am good right? I can just head off into the sunset and start working…..NOPE!

Now I have to break down the things that I will do to support that in another round of happy, sad, etc. These would include things like making videos, writing blog posts, etc. that I can do to support my two main areas of focus.

Once I have that done, I can schedule my time to make those things a priority and jettison all the rest.

Why This Makes Me So Happy

So as we draw to a close, I just want to let you know why this warms the cockles of my heart. First off, I have the ability to control my work time. The things I chose can be scheduled around when I CAN work rather than when I have to work. I can do a blog post at 5AM if the house is quiet and do posting for my clients mid-morning when I am not as on it.

I can also control my income more because instead of gathering up all the little crumbs and bits, I can focus on doing things that feed into the sales funnels for just those two areas of my business.

I can plan tasks. The one thing that scares us entrepreneurs more than anything else is boredom, so fortunately I am not going to be bored. I can create a hierarchy of things to do easily based on how well or how poorly they support my efforts in just those two areas.

Some of the famLast but not least, I feel like I can go talk to the knowledgable person without looking like an insane disorganized mess. Honestly, my business wasn’t such a mess, it was how I FELT about what I was doing that was the problem. I mostly work with super successful people like myself who are great at doing things and less good at understanding why we do them or channeling energy into the right places to maximize success!

I hope a peek into my world helps you to get a grip on your business strategy! That process of sitting down and taking an inventory is super effective and helpful. Please let me know if you need help, I have a great small business coaching program that will help walk you through some these kinds of focusing exercises.

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Small Business Coaching and Motivation

Planner Manners – How To Color Code Your Time and Your Life!

Planner Manners - How To Color Code Your Time and Your Life!

Alrighty then, for those of you who have been stalking me for YEARS to make this video about calendaring and planner manners…this one is for you! Now, this system is not my own, I heard about it from my besty, Deb Ward, The Irish Realtor, and she heard about it from someone else. If you are a visual person like I am, this will probably work great for you! It also works great for people with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and basically anyone who wants to take their time back and get some real balance in their lives.

A Little History

I started doing Planner Manners years ago when I worked with Deb at Keller Williams. Over the years since I opened a marketing company, began speaking nationally, took on coaching clients and adopted three kids, and the system still works.

When I started doing planner manners I just had a hard copy planner and if someone needed to see it I would scan a copy to them (Deb still uses a hard copy planner exclusively and her assistant just grabs it every now and then to coordinate their schedules). For years I only used an online version (I have iCloud with Apple but Google Calendar lets you color code too). It worked great for my business but when we threw the kids into the mix it was not as functional for me day-to-day.

Now I use a mix of my online calendar and an Erin Condren planner (I LOVE IT!)

The Overview

The Colors

The key to this kind of system is that it is visually based. I am not the kind of gal who can just have an appointment tucked away on a computer and actually remember it. I have to be able at a glance to see that I have a meeting out of my office, two client coaching calls and some strategy work to do. This can happen at a glance because each type of thing I do has its own color.

Let’s run through those now…

Pink is personal

If you are thinking about going to this kind of calendaring system, please also consider focusing on family, friends, pets or other “real” things in your life. As entrepreneurs it can be very easy to ignore your loved ones for day (weeks) at a time when you are in “in the groove” working. Well that is okay sometimes, but in general, they like to see and hear from us way more than that!

Go ahead and start planning your time with the pink bits first. These can be school days off, holidays, vacations, lunch with friends, concerts…functionally anything that is fun and has nothing to do with work.

Orange is for strategy

My next most important color is orange. This is the color of planning for the future and how I am going to make more money going forward. If have weeks without any orange I can rest assured that I am mired down in working my business and not doing any strategy at all.

Orange can be writing blog posts, meeting with JV partners on a new project, prospecting for speaking events, scheduling open houses to increase your relationships…functionally anything that has long term implications for increasing your business or reach.

Green is for money

In my world, green comes from doing client work. In your world it could come from going to an appointment, writing a contract on a house, booking a speaking gig, sales of your books, and product sales. I don’t write down what I make daily (although that might not be a bad idea), instead I color the work I do that is a direct result of my client payments.

Functionally for me this is planning client’s marketing, scheduling blog posts, fixing graphics, basically anything that I do for them.

Blue is for networking or speaking

I use vibrant blue as a way to show that I going to be leaving my office and heading out into the real world. This can be to speak, for a networking event or even just to meet someone for lunch. The reason this is important for my life is that my assistant and family needs to know if I will be at my home office or offsite.

Please don’t forget to include travel time in your calendaring. My assistant and I used to have all kinds of crossed wires before I put how long it would take me to get from Point A to Point B!

Yellow is for admin or production

We all have things in our business we have to do like pay bills or file papers. These tasks are the horrible ones that no one would choose to do, but which we as entrepreneurs cannot ignore. I make these hightlighter yellow.

Purple is for training

I like to learn thing and so I do a lot of training both online and in person. This is colored purple and is definitely an important part of my business. I think we are too willing to let learning take a back seat to “real work” and feel like it is something that best left for later. I almost put this one as #2, just because I think that if you are not growing as a person consistently, you are going to stagnate and wilt!

I also make when I teach purple, I know, that seems confusing, but you would be surprised how easy it is for me to figure out!

Why They Work

If you are not a visual person, you might not completely understand how important being able to “see” what is going on is. I swear that if I put something in a folder, it disappears forever, never to be seen again!

The beauty of the colors is two-fold. First off, you can tell at a glance what you have on deck for the day. Whether it will be a fun and festive day or a nose to the grindstone, get stuff done kind of day.

The other half is seeing if you are all out of whack. If your planner is covered in yellow, it is time to get an assistant turn over some of those admin tasks to him. If it is all green with no pink, you can bet that somewhere is someone or something that misses you and wishes you had more personal time in your life!

Avoiding Fruit Stripe Gum

Fruit stripe gumThe last thing is to avoid having your calendar looking like the fruit-striped gum zebra. Remember him? It was super cool that he had all the different colors of the rainbow all mixed up together. But if you are a business person, that is less cute. If you are jumping from admin to client work to training and back again, you are not going to be able to get much done effectively.

Instead you need to time block your months, weeks and days so you know what you are doing. If you are going to be making videos all day on Friday, it doesn’t make sense to try and set up a complex new sales funnel on the same day. Now, it might make sense to fill in with some training while your videos render, making the most of your time without setting up competing tasks.

Watch Out Great Marketing Tools and Resources Ahead

My Top 10 Time Management Tips

My Top 10 Time Management TipsI have spent a lot of time and money studying all the best time management practices out there. I am very regimented with my scheduling and time and it has created a huge amount of freedom in my life! Even if you just cringed when you read that, please take a couple of minutes to hear me out!

This is Part 2 of a three part time management series, please make sure to check out the other two posts, Minding Your To Do List – Everything Can Not Be An Emergency and Planner Manners | How To Make Time For What Is Important In Your Life.

1. Write down your goals

You cannot manage your time unless you know without a doubt what is important to you. Not what you think you should want, or what your business looks like today but a rock solid list of goals that you want. I write these down on a daily basis as a series of affirmations, you can write them however you like. Mine today are:

  • I make $10,000 / month passive income
  • I make $5,000 / month from coaching clients
  • I sell 100 marketing workbooks a month
  • There is plenty of money for kids and crafts
  • I get 50,000 hits a month on my website
  • I speak 4X per month locally
  • I speak 6X per year nationally
  • I have 5 passive sales funnels
  • I work with clients I love
  • I have 100 coaching clients

2. Goals without timelines are dreams

So you can write down all the goals you want, but if there are no timelines associated with them, they are dreams. For example, I can say that I want to have 50,000 hits on my website a month…but with no timeline for getting there it is just a wish. Right now I have about 20,000 hits per month so I am aiming to increase that to 30K by May and then 40K by September. With that kind of momentum I should be able to push until the end of the year and get my goal!

3. Put pen to paper

So once you have your goals written and your timelines set, you need to break down your goals into actual tasks that will get you there. For each of your 10 goals, break down the steps that you need to take to get there. These can be as big or as small as you like, just do whatever you are most comfortable with!

4. DO something everyday

Then everyday do one of the small tasks towards your goals. If you don’t consciously think about your goals and then DO something everyday, life will happen and your goals will slip out of your hands. It is super easy to have a list of small tasks that will get you to your goals and do one every day!

5. To do lists instead of wish lists

This is about your everyday. We can all make huge lists of things that we could or might do. One of my friends used to have a 50 item “to do” list everyday. Now, she never actually got all those things done so every day she felt like a failure. She didn’t have a “to do” list, she had a wish list. Don’t do that to yourself!

I like to have a list of three things each day that I HAVE to get done. Then I add a couple more and that is about it. I don’t try to fill up my days knowing that there will be other things that come up during the day that will take up my time.

6. There are only so many hours in a day

Each of us has our own time challenges and I have to say that this is my greatest downfall. I am a great one for adding and adding and adding and never subtracting anything. I will add a blog post a day, a book a week, a podcast, quote graphics and a million other tasks without ever taking anything away.

With this one, you need to look at your goals and then what you need to do to get you to those goals. Is everything on your “have to do” list something that still moves you toward those goals or can you cut out some old dead wood of to dos that don’t really need to be done anymore.

Additionally, you need to do the one in, one out like there is with regular organizing. If you add something on a daily or weekly basis then you HAVE to take away an equal amount of time from something else.

7. Ruthlessly say no

All of this time management goodness pivots on doing what you have set as your goals. There will aways be other people who will have things that they think you should do. While it is nice to work with other people, you have to keep your eye on the prize of your business and your life.

The one biggest problem I see with entrepreneurs is that they want to help other people AND that they love fun and interesting new ideas. The problem with those two things together is that it is easy to get off track with your goals and get onto a new track with someone else’s goals. Don’t do that.

Yes check out new opportunities, but don’t it at the expense of your own goals and business.

8. Only do what you want

This is kind of opposite of doing what other people want. A lot of the time we put what we are really good at last on the list of things to do. Because it feels so easy and right, we ignore it or just don’t focus on it. For example, I am a prolific writer, but because it comes so easy it is easy for me to think that it is not important, or that I can to do it “whenever”.

If you have a special skill, don’t ignore it. Make sure to make it a big part of your business. Doing what you are good at will make your life better everyday!

9. Be nice to yourself

If you are reading this, there is a chance that you are struggling with time yourself. It is really important that you don’t beat yourself up. You can’t change anything about your time in the past, you have to just be sure to be mindful of your time going forward.

There is a really neat lady who does cleaning help (flylady.net) and she says, “you are not behind, just start where you are”. This works for cleaning your house and also for cleaning up your time management. All the troubles you had in the past can go away starting today. All you have to do is decide that you are going to be better at time starting today.

10. Time management is FREEDOM

I started this by saying that because I have my time so structured, I have freedom. Let me explain that now. Because I schedule everything so religiously, I have work time when I work and play time when I play. I can go out to lunch with a client or friend and not feel guilty. I can play “hookey” on a Tuesday afternoon without getting behind because I know how much time I need to spend to get my work done.

When you control your time you are master of your own domain. You call the shots and you can make every day a “WIN!”

Watch Out Great Marketing Tools and Resources Ahead

Minding Your To Do List – Everything Can Not Be An Emergency

Minding Your To Do List - Everything Can't Be An EmergencyHave you ever noticed when a holiday, trip or other big event is coming up, you get so much more done despite the many additional distractions that the universe throws at your business? It is like everyone knows that you are getting ready to check out and starts asking for things….but wait, is that really true or are you just more mindful of your time when it is so limited?

Minding Your Time

I think the best time to look at your business and your expectations for yourself is when you are getting ready to take time off. When your time is limited you start really assessing what is vital to your business and which things can go on the back burner (more about these expendable things later), for now let’s just look at what is really important to me…

My business priorities are:

1. Things I have promised already to people – I am not willing to let down clients or friends so I complete any promised items.

2. Regular client obligations – I have weekly work that has to be done and I either do it in advance or have someone else take it over for me.

3. Marketing scheduling – One of the first things that seems to go for people is their marketing strategy while they are away…BIG mistake! I actually market more when I am away so I come back to a bunch of new leads.

4. Admin tasks I HAVE to do – This is boring but important, paying bills waits for no man (or woman).

5. Strategic items – I am very focused on what is strategic for my business to move forward. This includes things like making sure my blog posts are scheduled to go out.

and that is it. There is no more time before the hard stop deadline.

But looking back over that list, that is really all I need to do anyways. There aren’t any earth shattering items there that are special, what is missing is all the other distractions that usually creep in (sorry Facebook friends, you didn’t make the cut!)

Let’s break some of these down a little further and look at why they are so easy to manage now, and so slippery when I supposedly have all the time in the world.

Honoring Yourself and Your Time

I used to have lots of time, time for my business, time for my friends and associates and then we adopted 3 kids and all my free time got eaten up. Also the “scope creep” time in my business went away. You know how that goes…you schedule an hour to write a blog post but get all involved in the “research” an while away a couple of hours. In software development “scope creep” means that each little thing you add to the project makes it a little bigger and more unwieldy. Work is like that.

So my first suggestion is to rigidly schedule your time. If you have an hour to write a blog post or do your filing or make phone calls, do it in an hour. Set a timer and get it done. There is a saying that tasks swell to fit the time given them and I find that to be very true!

Making Promises

The first line item on my list is something I think we all do, make promises to people we care about. I want to help my favorite clients and friends do better marketing and make more money so of course I am willing to spend my time on them. Until it is in short supply and I am afraid of letting them down.

Next suggestion, be super realistic with what you can do. It is worse to promise to help and then let someone down than to just say that you are super busy and not able to get to it right now. A graceful “no” is so much better than over-committing.

Opportunities (Shiney objects)

I love a great new idea as much as the next gal and as soon as I get ready to take a little time off, they seem to come out of the woodwork. A business friend will let me know about his great new product he is launching and could I promote it, a new contact asks if I can just make a quick video before I leave because it will just take a couple of minutes. All of these seem fun and easy to do, but all added together with the stuff that I already have on my plate would mean that either not everything would get done or some of it would be done poorly.

You cannot ever do everything that you would like to do…not for your work, family, or friends. Your greatest asset is your time and when it is limited you need to focus on YOUR goals and priorities and politely say that you will check out those new ideas when you get back!

Wish list, not a to do list – pick 3 things

I have two different kinds of lists…to do lists that are my 3 things I need to get done today and wish lists that are all the things that I would like to do but which are not priorities right now. For example, a “to do” today was to write this post. Because I have committed to my business to write a blog post a day for a month, this is something that makes my hot list.

Now, I have lots of things that I WISH I could do like learning about IFTTT (a marketing tool that seems really neat). While that may not seem neat to you, it sounds super fun and could help my business if I had the time.

My last suggestion to you is to make yourself a wish list. Write down all your great ideas, your schemes and plans that would be fun or even effective that you can’t get to today. Make it long, and do not limit yourself. Then make your to do list for today which needs to be 3 items long. Do not stop working until they are done.

Watch Out Great Marketing Tools and Resources Ahead

Time Management Tips – How To Manage When You Have Too Much To Do

time-management-tips-too-muchIf there is one thing I am good at it is time management, goal setting and task management, with a huge BUT. But when I get to feeling overwhelmed, and there seem to be too many things to do in a short amount of time, I fall apart like everyone else and start scrabbling.

Well today that ends! I know how to get back on track, I have only been off for two days, for some of you I know this plan may be ending a lifetime of feeling like you are doing everything from behind.

The Promise and Premise of Entrepreneurship

There is a funny thing about being an entrepreneur. You are supposed to be all loosey-goosey with your days wide open and a choice for every task you have. You should be sitting around, picking and choosing the tasks that you like to do. Or your days should be filled with interesting meetings that lead to amazing opportunities. But wait, each of those opportunities probably has some kind of deliverable! Rats!

Being organized time-wise can feel to some people like they are being bound up, but to me it is freedom. Freedom from constantly worrying that I am not doing what is most important, or that I am forgetting something, or that I will miss an opportunity. It also means that when I do have the chance to get out, I know that there is nothing vital being left behind or having to race back to finish something.

For me, the last two days might feel like your everyday. Flailing around from one unfinished project to the next, scribbling to dos on sticky notes, enjoying the fact that a scheduled call canceled so I would have an extra couple of minutes to squeeze in something. If that sounds like you, just know that it can end today. I have lived a scheduled life and will just get right back on the wagon. If you have never felt the joy of scheduling, today may be the day that you change your world.

Here is what I am going to do today to get right (pretty much in order)

Make Money

The first job of an entrepreneur is to make money. Look at everything you are doing now and find the one or two things that are on your to-do list that will be responsible for making you the most money. For me today it is writing two sales pages, one for an upcoming event in October and one for our social media marketing packages.

Now there are probably 5 million other things I COULD do to make money but those are the two that will be directly money making activities so I should do them sooner rather than later.

Note: These have to be finite tasks. We also need a website for the October event, and that is more fun than writing sales copy, BUT it is not the very next thing that I have to do. PLUS it is a group of to-dos (write sales copy, add data to the directory, write 5 blog posts, etc.) It is a sub-task that is vital to the overall success of the October event and is probably my least favorite part so getting it out of the way will make the rest much easier.

Fulfill Promises To Yourself

I have “my” promises and “my company’s” promises and these are the next most important things. I promised myself years ago I would write at least one blog post a week for the Marketing Artfully blog and I am doing it now. I will not throw some crap together and call it a day because this site has actually been one of the main driver of sales. I also have to publish our book today. Now that can be this afternoon because I already have the cover done and publishing is actually only about a half an hour (my biz partner did the final edits yesterday). We made a vow that the biggest thing on either of our lists this year was to publish a book a week and barring death, we will do it!

Some other things I could/should do are 1) send out the newsletters and 2) do to-dos that Rebekah needs to move forward. Probably the to-dos will make the list, maybe the newsletters will get done tomorrow. It would be best if they were done today since tomorrow is a holiday, but no one will die if they go tomorrow so that may be answer…got to keep plodding along and see what else should get done today.

Note: It is easiest to not do these things. There isn’t a boss anywhere who will say “you didn’t write a blog post this week, so you are fired”. But to me, these “steady” things are the backbone of my success. They are the tiny building blocks that make up my whole factory and by letting them slide, I would be starting the decay of the whole building.

Fulfill Promises To Your Clients / Customers

Next are promises to our customers. I need to get article titles to our copywriter for one blog and some pretty graphics up for another one. Both of those together should take less than an hour. I will put an hour time in for those (see more about time later). Also I need to send a logo out, which will take 15 minutes and make a huge difference to our customer, this is a sure thing.

Note: After stuff I “have to do” for our comes the promises that we made to our customers which are sacred to me. That said, doing them crappy just to get them off my plate is not okay and they need to be given the gravity that they deserve. Also, poor planning on their part doesn’t mean I have to jump on my end. I have in my head that I need to save time for one of my customers who wants a pretty big job done, but they haven’t sent over all the pieces yet. I can safely move any time I had planned for that over to next week. Sometimes we are so pro-active about doing right by our customers that we wrap ourselves into knots. They would expect to send it over today and have it done, so why would I make myself crazy trying to do it?

Little Tasks

I have a few little things that need to be done like sending a link to a client (that one took less than a minute, I just popped over and did right now!) That said, most of these “little tasks” will take about 5 minutes or so. With that in mind you really have to give them a block of time on their own. Because I have a few that have backed up over the last couple of days, I am going to schedule half an hour today to clean them up. This will make me feel better, so many less things on my to dos!

Note: Because they are tiny, some experts suggest that you do anything that is two minutes or shorter immediately. That doesn’t really work for me since it means popping open my email or going on social or doing something else that will knock me off my game. I give them their own block of time, knowing that I can’t go down a rabbit hole and get them all done if I don’t stay on track.

Written Down

Ahhhh this is the key for me. I have a to-do laminated sheet that I use to write down what my three top to-dos are and then it has 10 more lines. There is no way that I can get 13 things done in a day generally, so having a longer “to-do” list would be silly and demoralizing. I have things that need to get done on the top three lines and do those immediately. The rest I cross off as I get done.

Note: I also have a Wish List. There are probably a couple of hundred things that I would like to do. Things that would be interesting, could make a difference or even might be way more fun than what I really have to do today. But they are not actually important. It is fine to have a wish list, but if your to-do list is 50 items long, you are just setting yourself up to fail every day.

There Is No Extra Time

This one is the most important to success by far. I have a day planned. I have about an hour this morning before my kids get up and it takes an hour and a half to write a blog post, so they get a pop tart and the TV (not optimal parenting, but great entrepreneurship!). Then the sitter comes and I am FREE to work! So I have from 7-10:30 today, before I go to a mastermind meeting. That is 3 1/2 hours max of steady work time. We have already determined I am going to do an hour of client work, I do have half an hour of tiny todos and I might just be able to carve out 45 minutes to send the newsletter out. One hour can go towards company work and there all my time is allocated.

The biggest mistake I see people make is to act like there is a time stretcher. While I would love to have more time, there is no magic that will make this part of my day grow so I have to be careful that I have a realistic goal of what I can really do. Luckily my mastermind is with one of the world’s best sales people, so I am going to take my “writing sales copy” out of this morning and do it when I meet with her. I have an owl timer that sits next to me so I set it and know when “times up”. Get a timer.

Note: I ALWAYS underestimate how long something I like to do will take and over estimate something that seems hard. If you like to do research online and give yourself an hour, is that a real estimate or will you stretch it out, messing up the timing of the rest of your day. Does that task you dread REALLY take an hour or are you being histrionic because you hate it? Once you get into the groove, you will see how easy it is to get things done and moved off your plate when you aren’t messing around with yourself.

Get Some Help

So I threw in there that I have a copywriter, I also have an assistant and some “elves”, workers who are doing things right now that I would have to have on my list if they weren’t there. You cannot do this all yourself, nor are your skillsets going to match every task you have to do. Before you think you are ready, you need to get some help. My elves are not full time, 40 hour a week, salaried employees. They are amazing women who need to make some extra cash and who work a few hours a week for me. But that is like getting 10 hours because they do things I am not good at.

Note: As a lone wolf, this process would become overwhelming. There is no way to run a business and not have any outside support. You don’t have to have a lot, but somewhere, somehow, there has to be some way to get things off your plate and onto someone else’s.

Ignore Email

I also talked before about not wanting to do “quicky” things that required I see my email. This is because my email is full of other people’s problems. It has people who want to partner, write blog posts and even my clients who have needs. I have done my scheduling for the day so you know I don’t magically have more time to do everything in there (or even to delete them all) so why look. My clients have my cell phone and will text me if there is a marketing emergency (there has only been one if 12 years of doing this) and my staff knows to text too if they have a problem.

Note: I generally try to make email the last thing I do in a day. Today that means after my mastermind. I don’t want to have all those other problems swirling around in my brain while I am trying to be powerful and creative about writing our sales copy. If you really can’t survive without knowing that your email is being monitored, make that your assistants job twice a day. She or he can check it and then send you only the things that really need your attention.

Work Really Hard For 6 Hours

I am a hard worker. I am from Pennsylvania and the work ethic runs deep there. That said, I can only really work hard like a maniac 6 hours a day. The rest of the time I am okay with doing “stuff”. So today my “work hard” time is a little shorter, but still doable. On normal days I put in time from 5:00AM to 11:00AM, knowing that after rocking the hard work, I can add things like scheduling social postings, training, webinars and other fluffy, non essential work.

Well that is it, hopefully you got the gist of my time management system and goal setting tasks and I am so much more settled now that I am back on track. I know exactly what I need to do today and can “win” because it is all possible. Now, if you want to learn more about why you might be off track in the first place, check out our book:

Get The Book!

Marketing ADHD: A Entrepreneur Marketing Self Help Book for…Squirrel! [Kindle Edition]

Marketing ADHD BookAs an Entrepreneur in today’s fast paced marketing world, it can be a challenge to keep your eyes on the goal and not be distracted and tempted by the endless supply of shiny new objects. With everything relatively easy to obtain and access, it’s not difficult to become lost in a sea of great offers, quick fixes, and cutting edge trainings. It doesn’t take long before business comes to screeching halt while the average, over-stimulated entrepreneur tries every “magic pill” to make their presence bigger, better, and faster.

It is time to stop the merry-go-round and regain control! This book will help you identify how “shiny object syndrome” is taking over your business life and help you stop being seduced by magic marketing messages that keep you from focusing on and growing your company in to the success you know it is meant to be.

Get it on Amazon!

Time Management Tips – Turning Down “Great” Opportunities

Time Management Tips - Turning Down Great OpportuntiesOver at M&M Monsters, the marketing site where I collaborate with my bestie, we have spent the last year defining our business goals and product offerings. We have done a lot of soul searching and have picked three main areas to focus on; writing marketing books, speaking at events and consulting with companies about their marketing strategy.

Much in the manner of “ask and you shall receive”, as soon as we hit publish on our first real book on Amazon (we had done ebooks and giveaways prior to this) we got a really exciting offer. A BOOK DEAL from a genuine publisher! The cool thing was that it was not a book we would write spontaneously ourselves!

It had some seriously big upsides for us. The status of having a real book in bookstores, having book-books to hand out, the opportunity to work with a publisher and see the process behind the scenes and there was pay involved! So we have spent a couple of weeks submitting outlines, negotiating contracts, etc. and (as you can probably guess by the title of this post) turning them down!

For me, it was totally a time management and benefits analysis problem, with a little bit of woo-woo thrown in…as in the universe kept sending me messages that getting derailed off of our primary goals could be a bad thing. Here are my top reasons why a great opportunity should sometimes be turned down!

1. Does it fit with your current business goals?

Our goal this year is to write a non-fiction ebook a week and sell them on Amazon. We may branch out and start selling on other sites AFTER the year is up, but dividing our efforts and energies at this stage of the game seems silly. We are on published book number six this week and have the outline for book seven which will go out next week.

The first book was a nightmare of formatting and figuring out how to produce actual words on a page that Amazon would accept. But we sold some and continue to sell some of that one each week!

We now have a great process for publishing and our books are getting better and better each week. We have found a writing style that combines both of our voices and the review and editing is down pat at this point (want to follow along on our book writing journey?)

So YES! A book deal at this point seemed like a great opportunity! It did fit into our current business goals.

2. Does it fit with your current product offerings?

I have always called things outside the scope of what we do a “one off” from the manufacturing world. A one off is something that is outside the scope of what your usual product line is. For our marketing company, doing a ecommerce site like Amazon would be a one off. We don’t deal with shopping carts, SSL certificates or the like when we build a marketing blog for our clients so we would have to learn all about those technologies to do a good job.

The thing is, you cannot charge anyone else for your inexperience. If we were to take that job and it took us twice as long because we didn’t know what the hell we were doing, we could still only charge the customer the going rate. It is not their fault that this isn’t our expertise. (want more? read all about one-offs here)

So our book deal would definitely be a one-off. They were looking for a technical manual with a short paragraph about what to do and then bullet points about the steps to do it. Hmmmmm. As you can tell 600 words into a simple blog post, I am more writery. I like to explain the strategy and reasons why. We went back and forth a bunch with an outline, us adding juicy bits that would help explain the marketing strategy and them cutting them back out and saying that we needed more screen captures and bullet points.

3. Is it a zebra?

There is a great quote that I heard somewhere, “if you hear hoofbeats don’t think zebra it is probably a horse”. Now I know we have bastardized this a bit, but we are constantly looking for zebras in our business. Things that could cause problems down the line if we take them as opportunities.

Years ago we got a marketing client who was “special”. Early on in the process we found that she was unable to grasp even the simplest concepts about online marketing or email. She did not value them because she didn’t use them herself and so could not understand why anyone else would either. We had a six month contract and after six months of almost nightly emails criticizing every aspect of the work we did, we were finally able to let her go back into the wild. Whew.

Now, we sorta, kinda knew from our initial meetings that she would be a little “special”. The signs were there, we just chose to ignore them as it was a time when we needed to get another client on board.

The one thing this zebra and other “special” clients has shown me is that if they say they have worked with three or more marketing people before us and they have all been worthless A-Holes, the problem is probably not with the marketing people. Early in my career I thought I could fix everything and do everything better than anyone else on the planet. So when someone came to me and said that their previous marketing company was lame, I figured I could do better! Not so much…if the client values those marketing people so little they probably won’t get us copy on time, will balk at every idea we give them and will probably require round after round of graphic concepts. Being a little older and a whole lot wiser now, I tend to run from these “opportunities”.

This book writing opportunity felt a little bit like the Social Media Examiner zebra I had already seen.

If you haven’t had a chance to read that post yet, basically I applied to write for the Social Media Examiner and they accepted me! YAY! Then they proceeded to turn down about 20 titles I suggested that I would be good at writing about…BOO. Then they finally picked one! YAY! Then we commenced a month long back and forth of me submitting my writing and them rejecting it because it had words and strategy…are you seeing what I am seeing? I have seen this zebra before and it turned out that we parted ways with me doing a lot of work and getting no glory from it! This book “opportunity” was feeling like that…like we would submit revision after revision, us adding words and them removing them.

4. Do you have a funny feeling that it just isn’t right?

Lastly, is the “Oprah effect” as we like to call it. Oprah was a big talker about how the universe tries to tell you things like your boyfriend is a homicidal maniac who will spend the next 7 years stalking you if you go ahead and marry him. Oprah says it starts with a whisper in the back of your mind telling you that this is not right…then it goes to a murmuring and eventually the universe hits you upside the head with a brick.

I am enthralled with the process of self publishing and how to market books right now and am listening to podcasts about this voraciously. I listen mostly to the Self Publishing Podcast guys because they cuss and have a great time AND great info. So one of their biggest regrets from the last year of successfully publishing a metric shit-ton of books is that they took a book deal and it derailed their efforts because they didn’t have control and they had to keep to the timelines of their publisher.

Hmmm…that was the most blatant one, but there were other niggling things that said it was hard to go from loosey goosey writing whatever you want to writing what someone else thought that you should write and that many of the indie authors were turning down book deals from traditional New York City publishers because they could make more money in less time by doing it themselves.

Time Management Tips

So if you have gotten all the way down here and are still looking for time management tips, here are my top tips for this kind of thing!

  • Have ROCK SOLID, TAKE NO PRISONER goals for your business and hold every opportunity up against them to see if it will be a good fit
  • Be willing to take the time UP FRONT to find out everything you can and make sure there isn’t something hiding in there that will bite you in the ass later on
  • Know your limitations…we COULD have written the book, but it would have taken up huge amounts of our work cycles weekly that might be better spent elsewhere
  • Walk away if you get the willies…you are never going to be more excited about an opportunity then at the start, if you feel “weird” at the start, it will never get better

Last but not least, know that something better WILL come along! There is a saying that when God closes a door he opens a window. Today, having finally figured out it wasn’t a good fit and sending my amazing opportunity to two buddies who it would be better for it, it feels like there might not be other opportunities like this again. Having spent a few weeks spinning my wheels, I hope not!

But, I KNOW that the next one to come along will be a better fit and that because I am not doing this one I will have the time and open hand to receive it!

Time Management Tips – Forms and Crystal Clear Goals

Time Management Tips - Forms and Crystal Clear GoalsHave you ever spent the day “working” only to end it knowing nothing got done and thus feeling like a failure? Without a plan or system for what needs to be accomplished there is no winning and you are setting yourself up for certain doom.

If you haven’t read Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy yet, this is a great way to get motivated. Mr. Tracy is a time management genius and it is well worth your time to read it. He has spent a lifetime developing time management habits that serve him well…I am in awe of his focus.

Steps to organizing your work life and time

These are generally in order and build on each one. Please do not skip a step as you cannot accomplish what you want if you haven’t done all the steps!

Plan Your Time

The very first thing you have to do is get your calendar under control. You can have the best intentions in the world but if there is no time in your day to complete your tasks, you will fail miserably.

Time Management CalendarThis is my calendar.

It is color coded to include Orange – which is the Strategy bits that are what actually make me money and move my business forward. As you can see, my days start with that as I am most productive in the morning and there is no way that I can get off track.

Pink is personal and stuff I have to do (if I don’t feed the little ones and get them off to school, no one will!) Then I have my standing appointments and work for clients that HAS to get done.

So, you are probably a entrepreneur and the idea of locking down your time is opposite of what the dream is. In the dream world, you can spend all day doing what you want when you want it. In the real world, if you are willing to calendar (and hold yourself responsible), you actually get to do everything that you want and more.

When I put something into my calendar, it is sacred. I KNOW that if I do what I am “supposed” to do that day, I can take the kids to the park in the afternoon without feeling guilty. If I DO all my monthly tasks, then I “get” to research marketing and take classes because I am not just wasting time, ignoring what needs to be done!

To Do List

So what should you do to make yourself more productive and organized? Put IN WRITING what you have to accomplish and do those things first!

If you start your day out checking your emails, responding to crisis after crisis, then pop over to Facebook and diddle around there for a bit, you WILL waste immeasurable time accomplishing nothing.

The concepts that you have heard time after time are true. Sit down before you end your day and figure out what the top three things you HAVE to get done the next day are. I do these after I get all my “real” work done (like writing blog posts, doing social media and learning new things!)

Now, you “To Do List” people…here is where it gets hairy. A list of 100 (or a 1,000) things you need to do is a WISH LIST, not a To Do list. Keep that to the side and hidden if you must, but make sure you have a short (I like three things) list of things that you need to do TODAY.

Monthly Goals and Tasks

The next thing you have to do is sit down and figure out what your “theme” for the month is. Our theme this month is “Amazing Social Media” so we have two hours a day dedicated to posting, growing lists and learning about social media. (we use a month because ANYONE can do something for a month and it is long enough to see some results and make the work worth it!)

Things we have included are:

  • Writing (Tara) – One hour per day (this can be on our blogs or as guest posts OR writing sales letters)
  • Pinterest (Rebekah) – One hour per day (she is rocking the Pinterest and sending traffic from there so we gave her a whole blissful hour to work on it daily!)
  • Social media – Half an hour (this is checking in on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Klout, Google+, etc. each day)
  • Sharing and Linking – 15 minutes (I have to make time to comment on “stuff” other people do as I don’t spontaneously do this without prompting)
  • SS Round Table – 15 minutes (sharing our clients social media posts)

Now, that is THREE HOURS out of every one of my days. If I do not get those things done in the morning, I have to stay up late that night and get them done after the kids go to bed (I am an early bird so that is DEFINITELY not something I am going to do daily).

Some notes about this kind of thing:

First off, whether I did this kind of focused work or just floated around, I would still be “working” all day. Just with the time blocked I am actually accomplishing something that I consider important.

Second off, there is something to be said for the old axiom that we underestimate what we can accomplish in 5 years and over estimate what we can do in a month. With this type of focus, I WILL get stuff done this month.

Lastly, by the time the month is done, at least some of this will 1) take less time so I can incorporate it into my daily life for real and 2) I will have developed habits that will serve me well going forward.

How To Actually DO All The Crap You Said You Would

This is where the magic happens. After I get my schedule down and figure what I SAY I am going to do, I make a checklist for the month. My checklist this month has at the top the daily bits for the hours committed that I can check off. We also determined what the optimal things where to do on each of the “special social media” days and put them down as checkboxes to get done.

I can tell already that I need a daily checklist for what to do on the half-hour social media days as I ran over on time and just kinda hit the high notes. We will figure that out tomorrow in our weekly meeting.

Want to see our checklist? Amazing Social Media Month!

Some notes about this kind of thing:

Good enough is good enough – because we are not going to be using this for years in our business, it is fine to work with for a month. There ARE things that I would change BUT that would take time away from actually DOING it so they can stay there for a while.

YES, you have to have the checklist. I spent the last couple of months of last year floating around without a checklist. Yep I got stuff done, but not on the scale that I do when I have determined a course of action and then set the measurable goals for completing it.

So there you have it…my best time management tips for getting things done!!! Please feel free to comment if so have a great tip I missed.

Time Management Tips – How To Stop Driving Yourself Crazy

Time management has MANY champions! That nice Brian Tracy is one of my faves with his “eat that frog” book and the late Steven Covey was also an amazing time management flag waver, providing us with tools and ideas that made our lives better.

Time management is NOT easy. Stop beating yourself up, EVERYONE is screwing it up right now and you are not alone. That having been said, I would like you to consider how your life would be different if you managed your time effectively and could stop running around like a chicken with your head cut off!!!

These time management tips are sort of in order…but feel free to skip around as you like!

Stop thinking you can do everything that you NEED to do – It is amazing to me the things I heap on my plate as “need to dos” when I already have a full plate. I decided to write a book, EXACTLY when my business was booming and a family member became injured. Seriously? I still was holding myself accountable to that commitment even though I knew there was NO WAY to accomplish it well (could maybe have done it half assed but that is the topic for a different post). Take a look at your todo list and see what you cross off or save for laters on the need to do side.

Stop thinking you can do everything you WANT to do – Entrepreneur readers, this one is for you! We all see shiney objects every day, things that could be the next great thing and take us to the next level. STOP! For the next 90 days, pick three things to do and master. Start, work on and complete them, then pick three more for the next 90 days. If you have purchased training, no buying any more until you watch and master what you have. If you have a great idea, you need to wait until the next cycle to get it into play. If it is REALLY a great idea it will keep and be even better when you can devote honest time to making it work.

Get a calendar! – SO many people come to me with a list of things to do each day thinking this is a calendar. Nope. A calendar is a way to schedule your time in big blocks so you can accomplish something. A calendar is a way to plan IN ADVANCE what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. I KNOW, you are different, you can’t use a calendar because of “X” (fill in your blank, you have kids, you have tenants, you have a service business, you have a products based business, you don’t know timelines, your suppliers vary). For everyone who thinks that they can’t have a calendar, please seek help. Find a business coach, find a friend who always seems to be “on it”, stop giving yourself permission to let time beat you up and take control.

Time Management Tips - Todos for TodaysBe honest about your todos for todays! – Want the recipe for self hatred and loathing? Give yourself so many things on your daily to do list that you NEVER accomplish them all. Having all those things there hanging out at the end of the day means that you LOST, FALIED, WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH! Instead have a todo list and then pick your top three things you need to do today, do those, get them done, succeed!

Fall back in love with your business – Schedule time together with what made you pick your industry in the first place. Take a couple of hours of week to learn something, business plan or just think about why you are doing what you are doing. I LOVE MARKETING, but when I spend to much time working at it, that glow fades and I am left with just work. You are your own boss. Tell yourself that being in the now and appreciating how cool your work and company are is important.

REALLY look at how much time something will take – I tend to underestimate how long something I like to do will take and overestimate how long something I dread will take. I had in my head that paying my bills was at least an hour long task. I timed it…sigh….less than 10 minutes. Writing a blog post, scheduled at a half hour or so, ALWAYS takes about an hour with making a picture, seo’ing it, researching keywords, etc. Both are things I need to do for my business, both NEED to be giving the proper amount of time and energy!

Stop procrastinating – Here comes the “eat the frog” moment! If you have something that HAS to get done, stop stalling, finding other things to do, checking your social media and SIT YOUR BUTT DOWN IN CHAIR and DO IT! The world is FULL of distractions and we all have things that are less than fun to do for our business. Quit stalling, do the things that are important, three at a time and in order from most important to least important.

Hold yourself to high standards AND give yourself a break! – Entrepreneurs like us tend to think we can do everything. We tend to think of our failures and what we tried that did not work. Stop that. Right now! My company has a policy of being AMAZING. We try to produce amazing work, and get amazing results for our clients. That having been said, sometimes things go wrong. What you need to do is stop, apologize, make it right and then MOVE ON! Beating yourself up for past failures is not a recipe for success.

Finally, decide to take control of your time. – This is the most important one. A number of years ago I saw a presentation about planner manners by Deb Ward and decided that day to make time management a priority. Since then my life has become more manageable and fun. I have time for work and time for play. I have the ability to give my clients realistic deadlines that we can both live with. I can feel good knowing that I am not letting things fall through the cracks (too often). You can have this too. Stop making excuses about why you can’t and just decide, today, to make it so!

Time Management and Goal Setting – 4th Quarter of 2012

Time management and goal setting time is here again! We are coming into the 4th quarter of the year and with just three months to go, we need to all be looking at our calendars and planning out what we hope to accomplish over the rest of 2012!

My future is so bright I gotta wear shades picture quoteWhat Are You Selling?

First off, let’s talk about what you are selling, is it a product or a service?

It is so funny to think that if you are selling a product, the rest of the year HAS to be about putting money in your pocket. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is typically the time that the big retailers “go into the black” sales-wise and the rest of their profits come from the end of the year. If you are a product kind of kid, make sure that your ONLY goal is to sell, sell, sell. Some things to consider….networking and in-person events will tail off after Thanksgiving…heck, who are we kidding, they will probably peter out right after Halloween so get out there for the next six weeks and show your stuff in person!!!

If you are a service seller, make sure you have sales goals early in this quarter and then a solid plan as to what you are going to produce and have in place so that you can hit the ground running January 2 when everyone else is just thinking about getting back on the treadmill.

The Holidays

Okay, let’s call a spade a spade, we all look forward to the holidays as a time to spend with our friends and families. The lure of shopping and decorating and parties is siren song that is hard to resist. If you have ever been to my house, you know it takes about 4 days to get all the decorating in place and to have everything ready to go for when my Daddy comes to visit.

I tell you this not because I want to brag about my FABULOUS decor (okay, just a little), but to show you that I am not all nose to the grindstone ALL the time. That having been said, I cannot afford to take off two months. Not only would my pocketbook suffer, but the three months that it would take to get going again would be practically un-overcomable!

One of my coaching clients said it perfectly yesterday, “It’s a tossup, but I am trying to juggle husband, work, my family etc. The calendaring is really helping me to see how little time I do have to work. So I must really make that time pay off.”

WOW! So proud that I am getting tingles!!!! You CAN have a fabulous life and a fabulous time, BUT if you are in business you MUST also make time to make money or you will soon be out of business.

Time Management and Sales GoalsSetting Some Goals

So here are some concrete things to do TODAY to get your business in order for the rest of the year…

  • Sit down with a calendar and mark all the things you have until the end of the year. Put your personal stuff in first. Have to pick up your Daddy at the airport, mark the rest of the day OFF. Setting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving, give yourself a break and mark the day OFF.
  • Now that you have all that filled in, go back and figure out what you need to do to make that time off available! I do blog posts for our clients on Mondays. The Monday before Christmas is Christmas Eve and I guarantee you I will NOT be sitting doing blog Monday. That having been said, I had to put 4 hours in on the Thursday BEFORE to schedule them out. There will be NO wiggle room. I will have to sit my butt down in the chair and crank them out. Get an invite to a party that day, NOPE, can’t come because I don’t want to mess up Christmas Eve with my family! It’s all about choices!!!
  • Next put in all your obligations that you have. I have speaking events and networking that I have to attend. I have classes that I teach in person and online. Those all have to go in there.
  • Now I need to see what I have identified as items I want to have done before the end of the year. For my business it is a robust Hospitality Marketing program, my book finished and some info products done. Because I will have free time when everyone else is flitting around, I am going to crank these out and win the day BUT I have to have them in my calendar or they will be wishes, not goals!

So hopefully that helps light a fire under your ass and gets you thinking about what you need to do to finish the year strong. If you need some help getting this in order, I have a one hour marketing consult that REALLY does help!

Small Business Marketing – Creating New Habits

{EAV:5da08477a9fda337} – funny little empire avenue thingy to verify my blog! Oh the things I will do to be popular on social media…:)

Small business marketing is a grind. If you were looking for something more uplifting and easy, move along, nothing to see here.

Small Business Marketing - How To Get Things DoneBUT, if you want to learn how to grow a marketing empire or really start creating some new habits…this is the post for you! Creating new habits is easy, it is not simple but it is easy. Just start doing it, TODAY!

Let’s start with the creating new habits timelines that I am talking about:

  • One week – you should feel GREAT if you are successful at doing your new “habits” for a week. One day, bah, anyone can do a day, but doing it for a whole workweek, that is SOMETHING!
  • Three months – this is the timeline that I use for setting habits in place and goal setting. Three months is a good amount of time because you can see the end of it and it doesn’t feel like forever!
  • One year – this is how long I use to judge if something is working, GASP! Yes, that is right, I use a social network or blog or make videos and products about something for A WHOLE YEAR before I give up on it! The reason for this is, if I don’t I am just jumping around after shiney objects all willy-nilly getting nowhere – more about this later!

Creating New Habits – See If They Are Worthwhile!

Ok, I am great for making bold pronouncements of new habits that I want start (cleaning my kitchen sink is a biggie!). But for business, I have to make sure that what I am setting in stone is a good habit to have, that it will help me sell more and that it will actually ACCOMPLISH something.

Watch any webinar and you will find something you are not doing right now, that if you could start doing it would make you a ton of money! I love webinars and watched one the other day about affiliate marketing (where you promote other people’s products). I thought, hum, if I just found a product every day, wrote a post about it, pinned a picture on Pinterest and talked about it on Facebook, damn I could be rich in three months!

But….hmmmm. I have my own products I haven’t promoted to the best of ability. I have lists of social media and friend contacts who would disappear if I spammed them with a new product a day and MOST IMPORTANT, I would not enjoy doing that every day. Sigh…another one bites the dust.

So what new habits ARE appropriate for me? Well, one is sending a personal note a day. I did this before and it got me business but then I was busy and stopped (that one ever happened to you?) Another one is to work on an ebook or information product every day. I could go on and on, in fact I have a list in front of me and am working out which are going to make the short list for the next three month period!

Creating New Habits – Be Realistic About Your Time!

If you are like most business owners, you are either really busy or really bored. New biz owners often do not have clients to work with, do not know what will work small business marketing wise and have nothing but time to devote to marketing. You guys, do a lot of different things to find out what you like to do and what works, then finesse later.

This part is actually for the really busy small biz owners (like me). If I had my way, I would do nothing all day but research marketing ideas, check them out, write about them, make videos and get Sonic sodas to keep me going.

Unfortunately, no one has stepped up to pay me for drinking soda, so back to work I go. My work work is running a social media marketing company that works with small biz owners. A lot of the time that means talking with clients, paying bills, making sure we are on track, talking to prospective clients and setting up social media empires for other people. No sodas and no researching.

So any new habits need to have realistic timelines to fit into my super busy schedule! With that in mind, I am adding a personal note and doing custom graphics for blog posts (like the one on this post). This will increase my visibility on a medium I already use (blogging) and add a new area (Pinterest). The personal notes are just a no brainer for me, I like stamps and going to the post office! I ordered a bunch of notecards with my new branding on them.

Still in the realm of time, remember that something that you just start doing always seems harder than doing nothing (deep, right?) The first time you do a custom picture you have to get a graphic, find a quote, do the formatting, size it, say dammit that was wrong, re-size it, save it, post it, etc. The next time you have all those bits already done so it takes half the time. By the forth or fifth time, you will have a plan and a system and be cruising. Too often we take the time amount that comes with the FIRST time we do something and brand our new habit with that HUGE number!

Creating New Habits – Make It Easy To Succeed

If you made it down to here you are probably well on your way to making your new habits stick (willing to listen to all this creating new habits talk means you are committed – or should be committed, it is a toss up!)

To make it easier to do your new habit, make sure you make it easy. For example, I went to the post office and bought two sheets of stamps, put my cards right next to me on the desk and had return address labels printed. Kind of takes the pain out of sending personal notes when I can do it in 3 minutes without leaving my desk!

Online I will oftentimes make a folder on my browser (Chrome or Firefox) with all the pages I need bookmarked there. I can then just right click and open them up all at once. Soooo, for my social media I have a folder with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Klout bookmarked. Simply by right clicking and saying “open all bookmarks”, each of these pages is opened and ready to fly through!

Creating New Habits – Making It Stick

Because I am careful about what I add to my list of todos, I generally can make a new habit stick pretty quickly. But this is the part that I promised to come back to…if it makes the list, I do it for a YEAR! EEEK!

Being an entrepreneur and working with entrepreneurs, I KNOW how fun it is to chase shiney squirrels. Seriously, coming up with a new product, service, plan, strategy, idea, concept…all in my sweet spot. BUT, the problem with that is the herky-jerky stop start that never gives anything time to get off the ground!

Since I decided that I LOVE Pinterest, I am giving her a year. I am going to make videos, like pictures, share pins, etc. for a YEAR. If I do three pins a day for the work year that is 5 (days a week) X 3 (pins a day) X 50 (weeks in a year). That is 750 opportunities to connect with someone new, share something and even have fun doing it. If I do videos about how-tos even once every couple of weeks, that will be 20 plus Pinterest videos.

How often have you decided to do something, tried it for a couple of weeks (or a couple of days) and then decided that it didn’t work? Exercise is like that for me, if I don’t have a 6 pack abs after THREE STRAIGHT DAYS of doing situps, I slither back to my slothful ways. Marketing is like that too! I will see people do three blog posts, no one comments, they say it is stupid and give up. That makes as much sense as exercising for and hour and a half and expecting to look like Jennifer Anniston!

Here is your mission if you choose to accept it…figure out one new marketing habit that you are going to embrace for the next three months! It can be phone calls, door knocking, personal notes, sending a daily email, Facebook, Pinterest, postcards. I don’t care what it is, you have to pinky swear that you will do it every work day for the next three months. No whining about, “its hard”, no crybaby, “but no one likes me”. Just do it!

If you could use a little help creating new habits, or heck even thinking about WHAT your new habits should be, check out my marketing coaching programs – they start with a tiny commitment of an hour and go up to 3 months!

Small Business Marketing – Having A Plan

So today I am working on small business marketing plans for some of our clients. While I love the thrill of coming up with new ideas, the most important part to assuring success to have a rock solid, laid out, step-by-step plan!

Small Business Marketing PlanI am a student of time management and goal setting who uses tools everyday to make my life a little easier (I help my coaching clients with this too!). That having been said, I spend a lot of time watching other people work and it generally looks like this:

  • Get up sometime, have some coffee, check some emails….SHIT, there are problems
  • Put out a fire, stress, run late for a meeting…SHIT, I don’t have everything ready
  • Duck into the meeting, event or appointment, apologize for being late, apologize for not having all your stuff
  • Rush out, get to the office, check your voicemail….SHIT, there are problems
  • Etc, Etc, Etc

Instead of that, what if you had a plan for your entire business and knew every morning what the most important things were overall. These could be getting speaking events if you are a speaker, geting listings if you are a Realtor, selling product if you are in direct sales, lead generating if you are a sales person. I KNOW, sounds simple right? BUT if you think about your number one, most important job for your business, I would be willing to bet you do that MUCH less often than you think you do!

Everyday something will come up that will try to knock you off your goals. Problems, opportunities, shiney squirrels and all kinds of things are much more interesting than putting your nose to the wheel and grinding out what you need to do to succeed.

Soooo…. here is my hope for you today:

  • Start work everyday at the same time
  • If you work at home, get dressed, no jammies!
  • Write down the three most important things to do today BEFORE you do anything else
  • Have daily things you have to get done BEFORE you do anything else (blogging, social media, send personal notes, make phone calls)
  • THEN check your emails or voicemails! If there is something you can do in 2 minutes or less, do that, if it will take more of your time or soul, put it on the list of your todos AFTER your three important things
  • Get to work!

Okay, we didn’t even touch your calendar, but that is a post for another day!

If you are serious about your business and sales, you HAVE to have a plan EVERY day to stay on track and get ahead. I KNOW, your business is different. You have emergencies that you have to deal with immediately OR you HAVE to be available 24/7 OR you can’t have a calendar and a schedule because every day is different OR you are too busy to make a plan.

I hate to tell you this but that is everyone’s life. You are not different…you are just making excuses. So, vow today to start putting yourself and your business goals first and everything else will fall into place!

I KNOW, the dream of owning your own business was to be free as a little birdy, but I have to say, if you schedule and plan and stick to it, you are MUCH more free, guilt free, time free and stress free than if you are chasing your tail and running around and around after every shiney squirrel that comes along!!!

Setting Goals for 2012 | Small Business Marketing

Setting Goals for 2012 | Small Business Marketing – As a small business marketing expert, I am asked all the time about what to do and THEN am asked how the heck they are going to find the time to accomplish all of those goals. I find that having written goals and calendaring them is the only way to win!

So we are going to talk about how to find and focus on your goals, then how to implement them day to day on a consistent basis!

Small Business Marketing Goal SettingI LOVE the picture in this post because it is EXACTLY how you should start.

Think of everything you have to do, all your todo lists and everything else and put them in a drawer. I do not have hard numbers to throw around, but I know at least 50% of my HUGE tasks lists never get implemented. Either I do the item and forget that it is done, it expires a sad death because it wasn’t done in time to be effective or other things are more important. So I recommend turning everything upside down and figuring out what you like to do and what makes you money FIRST!

Here is a Small Business Marketing Productivity Form 3 Squares I send out to people who are members of my community (you can sign up on the home page if you are not already getting great stuff like this in your inbox!) Basically, you need to put your three main business focuses in the three squares and the figure out your tasks based on what you have said are your goals, instead of using the “what fire should I put out today” approach.

Picking the top three things that matter most to your business each day makes sure you stay on track! I consider and then write down what I have to do today and then make sure they get done. Sounds easy but I am busy like everyone else and things pop up which try to distract me. Having those in front of me makes a HUGE difference!

One thing for my long term goals. I follow that nice Brian Tracy and he says that if you do not have written goals, you just have dreams. It is great to write down your long term goals, but if you do not do something EVERY DAY (big or tiny) to move towards them, then you are never going to get there. Seriously, there are ALWAYS things that pop up which will see more important than something that is 3 years away. Stop putting your important things last and work on them daily.

Okay, so now I know what is important to my business and what my long term and short term goals are. So how do I get there from here? GRIND IT OUT!

If you are looking for some magic bullet that will make work less, well worky, this is not the place for you. I get a lot done because I am willing to plan and then execute against that plan, grinding away every day. So here are my daily tasks for Marketing Artfully for the first 3 months of 2012! Feel free to add them to your todos or make up your own BUT you have to have specific numbers attached or life will get in the way!

Daily Goals

  • facebook, comment or post
  • twitter, comment or post
  • linkedin, comment or post
  • google+, comment or post
  • haro.com email to see if someone needs an expert or speaker
  • answer all emails twice a day (no rollovers, schedule, answer or evernote!)
  • schedule speaking events or client meetings
  • print all materials needed
  • do one thing for social media marketing
  • do one thing for small business marketing coaching
  • do one thing for speaking

note: the checking social media takes about 15 minutes (I set a 20 minute timer and that is all I get), the bottom three are my three squares so I have to do something every day, emails overwhelm me so I am going to have a policy of one-touching them!

Weekly Goals

  • write three blog posts a week for Marketing Artfully
  • client blog posts
  • back up the spreadsheet
  • comment on 10 blog posts (for backlinks)
  • 2 in person events (speaking, networking, classes)

Monthly Goals

  • client marketing plans
  • videos for clients
  • check bank account

So how does this work in the “real world”? I calendar EVERYTHING! I have a wonderful assistant who schedules things for me BUT she can’t if I don’t have things in there so I am super vigilant.

Small Business Marketing - CalendaringI will tell you now, once you put all your “must dos” on your calendar, it starts to look like there won’t be time for anything else. Here is where you have to GET REAL! If you have things that have to get done, and having them on your calendar makes you overwhelmed, maybe you have too many must dos!

Seriously, whether or not you acknowledge them, these things still take time up from your week, whether you calendar them or NOT. This is how we get so overwhelmed. So you have a couple of choices:

  • Tighten up your goals even more so there is time to accomplish at least most of your tasks or…
  • Magically add more time to the day (okay, this one is a little snarky but true!)

What I tend to do is put time in the calendar for things I have to do and then move it around if my assistant needs to schedule something else (like a client call or appointment with a human). It is important to note that you cannot just delete the time (you still had it as important to your business, remember?). You just need to move it around to fit your actual schedule that week!

So, does this seem a little overwhelming? I have been finessing this plan over the course of about 5 years so starting today it WILL be overwhelming. That having been said, it is SO PRODUCTIVE and vital to your success that it is worthwhile taking the time TODAY to implement it!

If you would like to have some help with your goal setting for your small business, I have a special, one hour marketing consult where we will sit down with YOUR business and discuss EXACTLY what you should do. I have done HUNDREDS of these and have a model for what works and you WILL walk away with concrete goals for what to do! Check out the link or give me a call today (727-415-9165) to sign up or find out more!

Finally, I want to wish you all a happy and prosperous 2012, here’s hoping that you get going goal setting for 2012 and that you small business marketing makes you many sales in the coming year!

Time Management – There Is NO Multitasking

Time management and multitasking are opposites of each other. The idea that you, as a human, can concentrate and be effective doing multiple tasks at once is the height of hubris and impossible!

Multitasking is the erroneous thought that you can accomplish two things at once. According to the Mirriam Webster Dictionary, multitasking is:

  • the concurrent performance of several jobs by a computer (notice the computer part)
  • the performance of multiple tasks at one time

It first showed up in language about 1966 when computer science types found out that machines could do two things at once concurrently. Sigh. This was the start of people saying all chirpy, “I am multitasking”.

In the real world, you can only do one thing at a time effectively. Think about it, brain surgeons do not perform surgery AND try to balance their business books on the side. They do not monitor their cell phones to see if they got an email or check their texts to see if someone sent them a message. They do one thing, operate.

I speak a lot and I am always astounded when someone in the class stops paying attention to me and starts texting or emailing while I am talking. Seriously? You probably paid good money to be in my class and now you can’t take 2 hours out of your “super important, the world will fall apart if I am not available 24 hours a day life?”

Doing one thing at a time is hard. It requires that you “live in the now” and pay attention to what you are doing or who is around you. It requires that you get over thinking that it is selfish to do what you want, when you want (or need) to do it. It requires closing doors, turning off phones and concentrating OR turning off phones and paying attention to the people who are near you. Period.

Multitasking At In Person Events

This is not a logical place to start but trying to multitask at in person events is a HUGE issue for my small business owners.

Picture this – you put a networking, training or one-on-one meeting in your calendar, taking time away from your todo list or your family. When you get there, you check your cell phone just before heading in and something HORRENDOUS has happened, you lost a client or a sale, your bank sent you a notice that your account was hacked, your kid texted that she was dating a Hell’s Angel, whatever. Now you have to go in there and “be social”. Not going to happen.

So no phones before or during the event. Turn them off, put them in your pocket or purse OR better yet, leave it in the car.

Time Management - No MultitaskingNext is a HUGE problem for most people, remembering names. How the hell do you expect to remember someone’s name if you are “processing” a million things in your head. Stop trying to use tricks to remember people’s names and just focus on them when they introduce themselves. Listen to what they do and remember them. If you are meeting a lot of people, take their card and make a note of their name, what they say they do (which may be different than what their business card says) and then something interesting about them.

One of the things that is so striking to me is how brilliant people are perceived and how they became successful. I have heard about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson that one of the amazing things about them is that they were present when they talked to people. When someone they met says, “they acted like I was the only person in the room”, what they are really saying is that they paid attention to them. Mostly it comes with the note that the time was under a minute, but just that attention for a minute made a huge difference.

Multitasking and Work

Okay, this is a huge one. Common lore says you can accomplish more if you are doing multiple work projects at the same time, either small todos all at once, or big projects over the same timeline. You switch back and forth, miraculously accomplishing twice as much as you would if you did one thing, finished it and then moved onto the next. Seriously, this DOES NOT HAPPEN. What happens is you then have more things, partly done and nothing is FINISHED.

Try this for a week. Make a list of the top three things that are the highest and best use of your time for your business today (mine today are: write a blog post, check, scan back two contracts, not yet, and do client work). These are a mix of moving my business forward (getting new eyeballs on my website with a blog post), working on my business (getting contracts finalized) and doing my “job” in my business (doing client work). Too often we take our eyes off the big picture and get mired in how much work we have to do. My todo list is crazy like yours, but there is no sense whining about it, just do those three things and then move on to the next most important three things like the little engine that could and you will move forward, I promise!

What you need to know this minute is ALL successful people are busy. Take a poll and ask people who you admire what their todo lists look like. EVERYONE who is in the process of doing something really great has a list a mile long. It is how YOU handle it and how YOU feel about it that makes a difference.

Multitasking and Smart People

Okay, I am a relative smarty, but my expertise lies in marketing and small business coaching so why should you listen to me. Because smart people say it too! Here are some facts from science types to peruse if you are still not convinced:

  • Multitasking: Switching costs – “In the mid-1990s, Robert Rogers, PhD, and Stephen Monsell, D.Phil, found that even when people had to switch completely predictably between two tasks every two or four trials, they were still slower on task-switch than on task-repeat trials. Moreover, increasing the time available between trials for preparation reduced but did not eliminate the cost of switching. There thus appear to be two parts to the switch cost — one attributable to the time taken to adjust the mental control settings (which can be done in advance it there is time), and another part due to competition due to carry-over of the control settings from the previous trial (apparently immune to preparation).”
  • Is Multitasking More Efficient? Shifting Mental Gears Costs Time, Especially When Shifting to Less Familiar Tasks – Rule activation itself takes significant amounts of time, several tenths of a second — which can add up when people switch back and forth repeatedly between tasks. Thus, multitasking may seem more efficient on the surface, but may actually take more time in the end.
  • Mini-multitaskers: For young people, a tendency to multitask may impoverish learning, productivity and even friendships. – “Plus switching itself takes a toll: As you’re switching, says Meyer, you’re not concentrating on either task. And you need a mental warm-up to resume the suspended task…As a result, the efficiency of getting the task done is much less than if you concentrated on one task from start to finish, says Meyer.”

If you would like to find out more about implementing time management (anti multitasking) practices in your business, give us a call today to find out about our Small Business Coaching or Company Productivity Programs 727-415-9165

Small Business Marketing Where Do You Find The Time

Small business marketing takes time. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but… Now you can farm some of it out to take a little less time, but that is only after you have spent a while understanding it first.

Recently I have read and listened to a couple of neat talks on finding time to do small business marketing that I thought would be fun to share with you! One of the things that has become pretty obvious to me is that time spent watching TV could be better used growing my business. Huh.

Now I am not imune to the television, I like a nice home show as much as the next gal. I DO know that my TV watching has taken a pretty precipitous decline over the last few years. My husband and I have even flirted with canceling cable and watching movies, internet shows and the like.

According to Clay’s keynote below, as a country we spend 100 Million Hours a weekend watching television ads. Argg.

As a marketer I bet you are wondering why I am anti-ad, that seems REALLY off base. Well I am not anti-ad, I am anti unrelated advertising that does not improve my life. Seeing ads for franken-foods that will knock me off of my semi-veggie plan do not help. Seeing ads for baby products do not help. Cars that I do not want and can not afford to drive (I am curb-knocking driver) are silly.

I DO like the internet ads that I see. They are generally related to something I am already interested in. When one of my favorite blogger suggests a product, generally it has something to with a topic I am enthused about. Think about that when you are developing products or “wasting time” blogging. Your audience WILL be interested in what you want to talk about and they may be interested in something you want to sell.

I know that entrepreneurs and small business marketers are interested in my Do-It-Yourself small business marketing product that I launched this month because they clicked on google ads. Soooo if I spend my time writing about small business marketing, there is a good chance I will find more people who are interested in that and will sell more more of them.

That hunt to be specific and get more business is WAY more interesting to me than watching the final season of Lost or morning talk shows. Sorry TV, I am too busy growing my business to pay attention to you!

Clay Shirky idea of cognitive surplus is REALLY interesting. He talks about how many extra hours we have when we do not spend so much time watching TV.Gary Vaynerchuk is the first one that I heard talking about how people would choose the internet over having TV. This is just one of Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote speeches that I listen to when I need a kick in the ass!

Focus Schmocus – How to get things done!

You have a million things you HAVE to do TODAY. You need to finish your paperwork, call some clients, send a newsletter, read an article, do some more paperwork, call that icky client, start your taxes, arggg!

I can tell you that there are probably only two or three things that you HAVE to do today to grow your business, sell something or get a new prospect. Those are the only things you HAVE to do today! (If you owe money to the IRS you may HAVE to talk to them today – you have my permission!)

So if you only have a few things you HAVE to do, you must WANT to do all that other busy work you have set up for yourself, right? We humans are funny creatures, we like to keep busy, to feel needed, to do important work. If we have lots to do we can justify to ourselves not getting some vital things done.

That ends today people! Today you need to figure out the top 3 things that you need to do for your business and EVERY day, before you do anything else, those things have to be done!

For my business, my top three things are:

  1. Lead generating – writing blog posts, attending mastermind sessions, writing articles, emailing prospects
  2. Strategic planning – getting the systems in place so that when opportunity knocks I am ready
  3. Writing Ebooks or speaking in person – this is my actual physical work!

If you are a realtor, yours may look like this:

  • Lead generating – holding open houses, blogging about a neighborhood, sending out emails to your database, sending a newsletter, calling your prospects or clients and asking for referrals, attending network events
  • Strategic planning – organizing your calendar, targeting neighborhoods or niches, working on your database, setting up automatic emails to your prospects
  • Actual Realtor Work – taking listings, signing buyer broker agreements, showing houses, servicing your listings, writing contracts, negotiating contracts, and attending closings

Doing anything other than those things is a waste of your valuable time! You need to make sure that something from those lists is on your calendar every day!

Write these things out and hang them on the wall. Anytime something comes in that seems urgent, hold it up to your list and see if it something you HAVE to do…you may be surprised how much you have been doing that is unnecessary busywork that you just have a habit of doing.

Where should you spend your time?

Time is money. I know, it is trite but true! I had a client ask me today if I thought she should spend some of her time on adding her real estate listings to a website. (See my response on Active Rain)

It made me think about what I spend my precious time on. Sometimes I spend time with my friends and favorite clients (good), sometimes I spend it lead generating (good), sometimes I spend it writing blog posts (good) and sometimes I spend it doing something that ultimately does not benefit my business (bad).

When I was an active Realtor I got lots of emails from companies that would “let” me post my listings on their site. They would then sell that feed to other sites who wanted real estate listings. While it did give my listings more exposure, I could have done that all day, everyday, rather than spending my time doing actual things that could sell my listings like contacting other realtors, marketing the home, attending pitch sessions, holding open houses and a million other things besides posting my listings on sites that had no traffic.

Are you doing something that you “could” do rather than stuff you “should” do? DO NOT get me wrong, I am an early adopter who likes to try new marketing efforts BUT if what I am doing does not benefit me dollar for time then I should focus on dollar productive activities and save my energy for things that have a chance of working for me!