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!

Incoming search terms:

  • turning down on a great opportunity

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, $247 marketing consult that REALLY does help!

Incoming search terms:

  • future
  • goal
  • management
  • sales

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!

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

Incoming search terms:

  • multitasking and time management
  • difference between multitasking and time management
  • difference between time management and multitasking
  • managerial multitasking
  • no multitasking

Small Business Marketing Timing Is EVERYTHING

In your small business marketing efforts, timing is EVERYTHING and is something that very few people consider. Figuring out your timing can increase your efforts, without taking any more work than you are doing now.

Small Business Marketing TimingIn my post last week about thoughtfully scheduling your social marketing, I talked about doing things when it was convenient for you instead of when it is best for your customers and prospects. This post will talk more about THINKING about your small business marketing timing to maximize your results.

Here are some examples and tools to help your small business marketing efforts…

Know when your visitors come to your site! By using google analytics I can tell you that over time, the majority of my visitors come Monday to Thursday with almost none on the weekends. So how to I capitalize on that? Usually I write a informative or fun post Monday, and then great keyword rich posts Tuesday to Thursday and a Realtor or Local Marketing post on Friday.

This way I am still providing great content for my readers BUT I am also getting the most marketing bang for my buck!

Know when people read your email newsletters! You may have never thought of this but I bet you have a better result when you send your newsletters out a certain day of the week. Overall small business marketing wisdom says that Tuesday through Thursday is good for B2B and the weekends for B2C BUT you need to check your audience. Take a couple of months and mix up WHEN you are sending them and then check your open rates.

Know when to sell your product or service! You can use google trends to see when people are searching the most for whatever you are selling. This is NOT an exact science and you need to dink around in there for a while but over time you will be able to see that promoting mittens in June is a bad idea or selling weight loss in September will be a bust.

The easiest way we have found to do this is to pick “themes” for the month. SOOO if it a Realtor client, we may look at when the most people typically buy homes and start heavy duty marketing a month before. OR if it is health food store, we will talk about vegetables in the spring when they are coming up on being the freshest.

Piggyback on the big guys! Most businesses have associations or competition that has huge themes. If you are selling green cleaning products, take advantage of the fact that people are searching for the term “earth day” and make sure you have that in your titles when it has the most chance of being lifted by the national event!

Use google alerts or watch the TV to see what big companies are marketing and see if there is anything there you can work into your marketing. For example, next superbowl I could do a post on the history of “Go Daddy” marketing and get a jump in hits because of the big ad spend they are doing around the superbowl.

Hopefully that helps you see that your small business marketing efforts can be super-plumped just by paying attention to what is going on around you!!!

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!

Entrepreneur Marketing Focus and Motivation

Successful entrepreneur marketing is all about focus and motivation! If you are an entrepreneur you better hope your boss is focused and a real task master or you will find yourself veering off track on an almost daily basis.

Entrepreneur Marketing Focus MotivationThat is right, I said that entrepreneurs have a boss. Granted it is you, but you are still master of your own destiny and you better hope that there is a grand plan for success or you are doomed to failure!

I HATE when other people are right and I am wrong. There I said it, I was wrong. Sigh. When I was a Realtor, the gang over at Keller Williams was always saying that you should be working on the twenty percent of your business that is vital to growing and generates income. Gotta say that made me wicked mad as I could not figure out who was going to do that other eighty percent. Well here is my take on the VITAL 20 percent and the not so important other 80 percent!

Step One – Figuring out your ONLY important tasks

If you are an Entrepreneur you better make sure you are the rainmaker for your business. There is no one else who is going to be watching over your sales funnel to keep it stocked or hand you leads. With that in mind, I have to say that my most important function for Marketing Artfully is to make the rain. For me that means speaking, writing blog posts and networking with other humans online and in person. I have benchmarks that I am required to hit each day and week. For example I have to write one blog post a weekday. No excuses.

There are many other ways to generate leads like prospecting phone calls, leads groups, direct mail and email. It does not matter what type of marketing and prospecting you choose, make sure you have a quota and that you are accountable to yourself or someone else to hit that. BELIEVE ME, I know how easy it is to let these things slide, especially when you are busy and successful BUT you have to have a system in place and one that is unbreakable. If you say you are going to make 30 phone calls a day, do that, everyday. If you are going to do email, do not TRY to send out something every week, just do it. Like Yoda says, do or do not there is no try.

Step Two – Do what ever else MUST be done

So in my business I also have clients. They have paid me and I need to do things for them. This is another part of my eighty percent work. NOW, I do not have to physically do everything. There are parts that need my expertise and there are parts that need my supervision. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that you are the only one who can perform all the tasks for your business or you will not be able to grow.

I will give you a great example! There are about 6 pages of line items needed to set up a blog. However, there are only a couple of vital things like doing keyword research and SEOing blog posts so that they show up right on internet. These are tasks that I never give to anyone else. The other 5 pages of line items are MUCH better done by someone who is meticulous and checks off every box.

Look at your business and see what can be handled by someone else (who might even be better at it than you)! The things that do not need to be in your hands are 80 percent things that you can offload.

Step Three – Get rid of the rest

I have to say that there are lots of things that I think I SHOULD do or maybe things that I COULD do in a perfect world. These include tasks that are left over from past processes that are done now (we used to enter everyone into this convoluted CRM system that did not get used fully) or things you like to do (I have seen small business owners require that they review EVERYTHING an employee does – if you are that guy, stop it! Either get a better employee or chill out a bit).

Once you realize that everything on your to-do list will never get done, life gets better. One of the things I do to make myself more focused is to write my to-do list every day. Not just new things but all the old things too. Let me tell you, when you have moved something over for more than 5 days, it is really not all that important or should be outsourced to someone who will actually DO it instead of just thinking about it!

Another thing that helps with focus is to have three things a day that HAVE to be done. You get to pick them BUT nothing else matters until those three things are accomplished today. They say that after 21 days doing something becomes a habit. When I started my one blog post a day rule, writing a blog post was on my three things list. Now that I have been doing it for a while it is a habit and new things have replaced it. Doing this makes that increased effort your new “normal”. If you had told me at the start of my blogging efforts that I had to write a post a day, rain or shine, I would have been overwhelmed. Over the years I have increased the number of posts a week a couple of times until now writing 5 posts a week is normal and easy!

So that is it. Easy-peasy to get your business on track…:)