I have had several conversations in the last month regarding clients and associates either wanting to write a book or wanting to finalize one. Now, "book" is a loose term meaning everything from a short handout or e-book to a 30,000-word tome. In any case, there is something the person wants to communicate to others, something from the heart or the mind.
Just about everyone has some sort of book in them. You may excel at some sort of creative art and want to teach others. You may have profound realizations that changed your life and you want to share them with others. You may want to inspire people to do their best in the workplace, or the home, or in nature. So...big question...what is stopping you?
Now, two people I've spoken with in the last year had been "working" on a book for literally years. They'd get motivated and write or edit, then run out of steam. Why? Usually fear. In fact one person actually told me she had no desire to be noticed - I have to wonder, then, why publish? What's fascinating about that case is that, close to the end of our process, she became very angry about the fact that low resolution images could not be used in her self-published book, and quit her process entirely. I know that her fear created an "excuse" for her to not step out and be known. I hope she was able to resolve that, as her topic was a really good one.
Two clients have worked with me to assemble wonderful blog posts into a book. The writing is already done! Just a matter of patchwork to get it all to flow. One self-published a paperback, and the other created an e-book for download.
One former client is a career search expert - and I mean expert! She worked hard to assemble her best systems for success into a book, and she has the marketing knowledge to really make a go of it. How exciting!
Bottom line: If you feel inspired to share knowledge with others, do not let fear hold you back. There is a reason you felt inspired: someone needs to know or understand what you have to say. Write! Just WRITE! Get it all out on paper, then organize and see what can come of it. You can do this!
I recently realized that I omitted to do something I know is very important...update my image! I hadn't refreshed a couple of website pages, social media messages, images, etc., and so my public profile was not as current or accurate as it could (and should) be.
And so, I scheduled some block of time to attend to all this! I got new headshots, updated my marketing message, focused on some new branches of Lightseeds (speaking and leading workshops), and generally gave my work an overhaul. Very refreshing indeed!
I've written often about making sure that everything in your business still fits you - environment, message, client base, services, etc. You might find it easiest to break these tasks into "chunks" and schedule them on your calendar. For instance...
Image: check your headshot, logo, message
Online: social media profiles, website, public listings
Clients: your services, who you target, how those match
Expansion: Explore new ventures, look into expanding the business, offering new services
Connections: review your network and connect with those you have not spoken with in a while (or ever)
When you plan for these evaluations, knowing that they are scheduled in your calendar, you will take action regularly to ensure that your business image stays current, authentic and visible.
If you follow me on social media or here on my blog, you know that I preach organization in all forms. Now that spring is FINALLY here, it's a great reminder to spring clean my business practices, to be sure I'm doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right people. It can be an interesting exercise to step back from the "DOING" and take a look at HOW you're doing.
How are you marketing your business? Is it effective? Is it time-consuming? Is it cost-effective? Can you delegate marketing? Be sure that there's a good balance between cost (of time, energy and money) and return on investment.
How are you serving your clients? Are you offering the services they need, services they don't respond to, or perhaps need to add some features? Is their investment fair to both you and your clients?
What's your process? Could your business practices be streamlined or condensed? What tasks are you doing that should be either delegated or eliminated, so you're doing ONLY those which serve your business and which only you can do?
Where are you doing business? Is your office, studio or other workplace conducive to efficiency, productivity, and success? Do clients enjoy it? Do you?
And what about expenses? Are they reasonable or do you need to cut back? Do expenditures directly serve your business goals?0
Many years ago I was involved with Total Quality Improvement processes and disaster recovery for an employer. As analytical as I can be, it was one of the most enjoyable tasks I had there. It taught me a great deal about efficiencies and repeated evaluation of systems. I strongly recommend you schedule time in your calendar to do a total business examination like this at least annually. You deserve a tune-up!
I write often about how our energy is affected by our surroundings. Did you ever consider that email is part of your environment? It is - unless you don't use a computer at all - and then how would you be reading this post?
Imagine this... your email inbox is an actual mail slot in your front door. As soon as you get up, you see paper coming in through that slot. Mid-day, there's a pile. In the evening, there's a mountain. And that continues day after day - YIKES!
When your Inbox is full of unopened emails, that’s exactly the energy you’re creating. Every time you open your email program and see Inbox (135) you’re going to feel stress, consciously or unconsciously. That number 135 reminds you that there are 135 demands for your attention that have not be dealt with while you take care of other matters. 135 pieces of paper blocking your front door!
Why have that hanging over your head? Let’s do something about it now.
First off, let’s examine why these emails are unopened. Are they spam? Then DELETE them and change your spam filter so they stop coming! Are they in the “I might want to read this later” category? That’s like having a mountain of magazines on the floor. DELETE them! I promise you, if they were important enough to open you would already have done so!
After you’ve cleaned those categories out of there, look at what’s left. What really, truly, honestly needs an answer? Then ANSWER it! Be sure your inbox is sorted by received date, and then start at the oldest message. If it is now outdated, delete it. If it's important and you missed it, reply with an honest apology for taking so long – no excuses, just an apology.
What’s left after these steps? Things you need to do? Either flag each remaining email (if your email provider has a way to mark them) or print out and make notes. Prioritize what you can do quickly, preferably for the oldest outstanding issues. Address these tasks as you would any others on your to-do list.
Now, take another look at your Inbox. Hopefully it now looks like this: INBOX (no numbers after it!).
What can you do to prevent the buildup recurring? Improve your spam filters. Tell friends and family to stop sending you junk mail. Get off the mailing lists that no longer matter to you. Set aside a specific time of day (when your mind is not needed for more important tasks) and a specific amount of time to focus ONLY on email.
Address new messages as soon as they arrive and your virtual “living room” will stay clear of unwanted invaders!
Here's another business writing lesson for you from The Grammar Queen! Whether formal or informal, be careful with the shortcuts you use in your writing. Overuse can set the wrong tone.
For example, use of shortcut ordinal numbers as bullets for a listing (1st, 2nd, 3rd) is casual but acceptable, if that's your writing style. Personally I prefer just using straight numbers (1, 2, 3). However, except in very casual communication, ordinal numbers used in copy that is NOT list format, just straight text like this, are written out (first, second, etc.).
1st: Open the door.
2nd: Walk through the door.
3rd: Close the door
First, open the door. Second, walk through the door. Third, close the door.
I've written before about another shortcut I see often: the use of "&" in business writing (outside of titles and such). It is no harder to type the three letters "and" than it is to shift-7 to create the &, and it is far more professional.
Greater grammar Nazis than I am are predicting a decline in proper grammar and spelling due to the huge younger population accustomed to tweeting and texting. These shortcuts can be viewed as the destruction of proper English (yes, I tend to this view) or to a new written dialect. I certainly wouldn't want to see a resume that says, "I wud luv 2 work w u bcuz im g8 at it ru hiring?" Key is to understand the use of each in context.
I am so often asked "What the heck is a Virtual Assistant?" It's still an up-and-coming profession, and OH so rewarding! A "VA" is someone who assists a business, usually an entrepreneur/solopreneur, with various administrative tasks. A VA can be a generalist, rather like an administrative assistant in a corporation. But she (I use the feminine because the majority of VAs are female) can also be a specialist, focusing on a certain type of company, or offering a specific set of services. For instance, I am a Spiritual VA, offering business communication and organizational services to heart-based entrepreneurs.
I have explained to dozens of people how the process works...here's a summary.
Download a free copy of the full report here!
When you know that you're doing too much and not focusing on your key skillset, those tasks that are your "sweet spot" that only you can do, it's time to unload! Do some online research and find the right match for you!
I have written in this forum often about organization and neatness in the work environment. Whether you work from home or not, when you work in a messy area, your thoughts and energy will also be messy. When you are organized and your work setting is enjoyable, then your thoughts are more creative and organized as well.
There's more to it, though. You may be neat and organized but your work space is a basement corner, with cement block and no windows. Energetically, what does that do to you? Without natural light, your body and mind tire easily. Hard, dull concrete stifles your senses. You may feel enclosed, restricted. So, what can you do to change this energy?
If the basement corner is your best option in your home, you can still make your workspace pleasant. Use natural lightbulbs placed overhead, mimicking sun coming through a window. Keep fresh plants or flowers in the area. Place pleasing pictures around with lovely landscapes, to offer a "window" view. Get up and move around often to avoid feeling restricted.
The best option, or course, is to work in a more pleasant surrounding. If you can, move your workspace near a window for natural lighting, avoiding direct sunlight creating glare in your eyes or on your computer. Frequently look away from your computer out the window to give your eyes a break. Stand and stretch, and admire the view, even if it's just the street outside.
When you keep in mind that your environment affects your mood and your thoughts, you can ensure that you feel your best every time you're working.
Sometimes this is what my brain feels like. Sometimes each one of these people is clamoring for my attention. "Me!" "Me!" "No, me!" I feel the anxiety building in my body, my breathing gets shallow and my body tenses. All I want to do is shut down and go somewhere quiet.
But I don't need to do that, because I have tools!
When my task list is 2 pages long, and dozens of emails need to be dealt with (which, of course, bring me more tasks) then rather than explode, I get organized!
I have learned a lot of great organizational tricks in my long (long!) working history. I know how to prioritize for my Lightseeds clients.
Because I think and process best in the mornings, I tackle those tasks that take the most brainpower and attention, prioritizing by my clients' deadlines. Those which I can do quickly and/or easily come in the early afternoon.
Recently, I found I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with work. So much was coming at me at once I knew I needed to get a handle on things before I allowed the pressure to build. And so I did a "dump!" Taking a tip from my client and friend Lisa Crilley Mallis of Impactive Strategies, I wrote down every task I had to do for my business or for clients, in no order. Everything on my existing to-do list, everything in email, everything in my calendar reminders. Once it was all on paper, I felt an immediate relief - I didn't need to remember or retain any of it!
Next step was to examine the list for things that could wait and note the estimated completion date. Now, with a smaller list, I looked for tasks that needed to be done the soonest, and decided what date and time of day (based on my needs above) I could tackle them. Now, with an even smaller list, I had identified tasks that would fill in around the urgencies.
Now this may sound a bit TOO organized for some, but I tell you the truth, the relief of doing a brain dump like this is indescribable. As Lisa often says, it's best to use your brain to THINK rather than REMEMBER.
Do you have anti-stress tips like this? Do share - you may help someone else!
"What is a Spiritual Virtual Assistant?" This is a question I am often asked. I describe myself at different times as a spiritual or a holistic virtual assistant, because they are both accurate. This descriptor defines me as a virtual assistant with a spiritual focus. I am deeply spiritual, balanced with a very practical, business-minded side. Both of these are important to both my life AND my business. My work is supported by my intuition as well as my considerable business experience.
The work began with my corporate life and developed along with my spiritual journey. (Read more about that here if you're interested.) I realized that the people I was drawn to were all in heart-based, helping professions - healers, coaches, etc. We share a focus on making individuals, and thus the world, happier and healthier.
Here is my question to you: how do you define yourself? Not in your "30-second commercial," but in real life? How does your work define you? And vice versa? Are all aspects of you present in your work or do you define your work life very differently from your "real" life? Is that the way you like it or would you like to share more of yourself in your business? If you, for instance, are a CPA who is also deeply spiritual and with an interest in metaphysics, would you like to focus your business on strictly commercial enterprise, or would it make you happy to work with the metaphysical community?
No matter what your skill set, be authentic to who you are in your work. I know from my own and others' experience that when you can be authentic and present all aspects of yourself, you will feel a freedom and joy that carries through your whole life!
Carol is a really busy entrepreneur. She was always the "go-to" person at her former employer's office and has carried that energy into her own business. She loves knowing everything, having her hands in everything.
As her business grows, Carol more often finds herself working later (and earlier). Checking email as she can, often late at night. She takes client calls, posts blogs, publishes a newsletter, attends networking events, and just realized that she rushes through client appointments. By the time her day is done, so is she! Done in, tired, hungry, and very, very crabby.
What Carol forgot is that no (wo)man is an island! She forgot that there is all sorts of help available to her. And when she was reminded of that, she promptly hired help! Now she has someone to manage her blogs and newsletters, take client calls and handle other administrative matters. Carol focuses on her networking and actually doing her work with clients. Doing her work. The part that she loves ... the part only she can do.
Are you "Carol"? Look around you and explore your options for ways to delegate. When you know the part that only YOU can do, you know what others can take over for you. As your time expands with those tasks off your plate, you will not only be more productive, but more successful - and rested!
Welcome! These stories, tips and tricks are intended to help you save time, and be more organized and effective in your work. New items will be added frequently so check back often.