As we all do, I get many notifications through social media and email that I want to follow up on ... helpful business tips, a new article on copy writing, someone I want to connect with, etc. But in my scheduled times to check both email and social media, I cannot (should not, don't want to) take the time and interrupt the flow of my to-do list to read the item.
Here's what I do - I use a parking lot! (My thanks to my colleague Lisa Crilley Mallis of SystemSavvy Consulting for the parking lot concept!)
I will open the link I receive in social media or an email, and leave the tab open (parked) on my internet window while I work on the task at hand. And when I am completely done with my work for the day, THEN I can go back and review what I have open. I'm fairly disciplined so having the open tabs does not draw me into sneaking a peak, but if you are not so disciplined, here's another step to try. Open a Notepad or Word document, and paste the links into that page for later reference. Then CLOSE the internet window you find so tempting! If you have dedicated time in your schedule that day to review the links, go right ahead, but you can also save the document and get to it when you do have time scheduled, or on an off day.
Give it a try - it works for me!
I often write and speak about delegating and outsourcing whatever does not serve you and your business. But how do you know for SURE what those tasks should be?
Let me give you an example. I had a client (who for the sake of simplicity I will call Carol) who was a speaker and author and also individually coached clients. She did all those things while simultaneously scouting and scheduling her own speaking engagements, researching publishers and websites for her writing, preparing for and scheduling clients. AND attempting to create a website, a social media presence, and copy writing.
Tired? That’s not the word for it! Ineffective? Yeah, that too. Carol’s every moment was filled with work, yet little got accomplished. She was amazing with words - a superb writer and an engaging speaker. She enjoyed using her words one-on-one with clients. Because of this she was also a great copy writer and knew what she wanted to convey.
But Carol frequently missed client appointments, lost her notes on speaking engagements, and missed publication deadlines. Her online presence was not professional because she had few technical skills, and it showed.
When she finally decided she could do better, she scheduled a call with me, and together created a list of the tasks she is just awful at doing but that were important. Staying with the “important” classification, then we then tackled the tasks she did a fair job or was awesome at doing. Carol could see that she spent a great deal of time on tasks that not only she did not do well, but that she could easily outsource to those who DO do them well. After learning to delegate, she found a wealth of time she could spend on those tasks that not only served her business but that she very much enjoyed.
You can follow Carol’s example – download your own complimentary Delegation Audit here, and learn what tasks you could be delegating to an expert assistant.
If you work from home as I do, how do you keep your life separate from your work – or do you need to?
Without firm boundaries (working hours, privacy, accessibility) we can too easily become overwhelmed and overworked. It's important to me, and perhaps to you as well, that my spirituality surround and fill everything I do in my work and my home life. However when you work from your home it's important that you not allow your working life to overtake your home life.
For example, your work may rely heavily on phone calls. Do you have set working hours after which you will not accept calls? You should! Do you check your work email 7 days a week? Probably not a good idea.
Give yourself (and your family) the courtesy to honor your everyday life. Your work may be important, but your health, family and friends are your very life.
At first pass, this seems obvious, but when you first start working with any sort of helper, you may rush to delegate tasks without proper planning: “Here, do this.” If “this” is something you love to do that supports you, then that is not the best task to delegate. Assign the tasks that support your work, that you either can’t or don’t want to do well, and that take time you choose to spend elsewhere. Another way to look at this is to "play to your strengths."
Let's say you ROCK at writing and stink at disciplining yourself to post blogs or social media content, or get your newsletter out to an adoring public. Then write, and delegate the "git er done" to someone else!
Maybe you have so many client appointments that you spend more time scheduling than working with them. Delegate! Either hire someone to schedule for you, or use one of the many online schedulers to plug into your website.
Or what if you are an expert networker and love connecting people. Then YOU should be the one attending events and making connections, while someone else does the data entry to record those connections.
You get the idea. Make a list of what in your work you love to do, you do well, and that serves your business. Do that! And delegate the rest to a willing helper.
Don't think you have anyone to delegate to? WRONG! My friend Lisa Crilley Mallis of SystemSavvy Consulting will prove otherwise...here.
You know that feeling when your body has changed shape and your clothing doesn't fit quite right? Or when your once-perfect home has features you no longer need? Well, if you're a teacher, trainer, or coach of any sort, after a time your training materials may not fit your needs either.
Let's say you created a wonderful teleseminar a few years ago, with PowerPoint slides and downloads. The topic really speaks to your heart-based business, and it's been well received every time you offered it. You're preparing for another class, and you notice some references to a spiritual practice that no longer fits your belief system. Or perhaps you want to include material from a book you just read. These are indicators that what once worked for you no longer does.
Take advantage of these cues to read through your material. Does the overall "story" you're telling in your teaching represent the story in your current practice? Do the action steps you provide your students still make sense? Take a highlighter to the areas you want to revise, and draw a line through items you want to delete entirely.
While you're at it, examine your business practices in the same way. Do your rates work for both you and your clients? Do your speaking / teaching fees match your value? Do you have items you need to delegate to someone? Make sure that all aspects of your business still "fit," and if they don't, take action to tailor them!
And if you need help in the process, I know a great Spiritual Virtual Assistant who'd be delighted to help - Holly@
Anyone who knows me or has read my blogs knows that I encourage organization in life and work. And yet I have not always been good at goal setting. From a Law of Attraction standpoint, not to mention practically, I learned the value of setting goals.I've always used lists - and sometimes to excess! - to keep track of tasks, shopping needs, spiritual goals. (Read my post The To Do List.) Yet I did not break down my goals to plan my work week until just over a year ago. I knew what I needed to accomplish for clients or for my own business, but just attacked the list one item at a time based on priority. When I was presented with the idea of planning one week at a time, I felt such relief! I was no longer looking at a long list of obligations, but instead, a short, easily managed list.
One of the several spiritual business coaches I follow suggested that we plan our week on Sunday or Monday, to create a good work/life balance and yet accomplish what is necessary. For the last year, I start my Monday with a brief planning session. I take a look at the long list, at my current clients' wishes, and my time available, and from this information I write down the goals I want to reach for that week. This short-term planning helps me stay flexible, avoid overwhelm, and maintain my balance.
Give it a try yourself. Don't get so caught up in list-making that you feel anxious or controlling. Instead remind yourself that your intent is to make life easier for yourself! Sounds like a plan, Stan!
Does your work involve serving other people? That's the case for most of us. There is some level of customer service in the process, whether you're delivering a product or service. You need to understand the needs of your customer in order to meet them. You can make the best darn word processing machine in the world, but you won't have any customers because nobody uses those any more!
Service involves much more than the "complaint desk" idea of customer service. Truly it encompasses the entire relationship, from beginning to end, if there is an end. You provide service by anticipating your client's needs. You anticipate that there is a need for your product or service. You anticipate how you can improve it, how you can change it as your customers' needs change.
In new-age spiritual thought, we realize that we take our next step based on where we are, and once we're there, we make another move based on that new place. That's the same concept as in excellent customer service. If we can understand where our customers are, anticipate their potential next move, and then anticipate the NEXT move, we are way ahead of the game in service.
For instance, recently I worked on a project with a new client. Because I know project management well, I was able to anticipate some things she might need to know or do. By addressing those before she even knew she would need them, I solved a problem before it could occur, and made the project go ever so much more smoothly than if I had merely reacted to the need after the fact.
The lesson is to not only know your own product or service, but to understand thoroughly your customer's end use of it. By anticipating their next step in the process, you too can be the miracle worker, and be the hero in your customer's eyes! Go for it!
And when you want help defining your processes and procedures, and in understanding your client, I know a GREAT business consultant: Holly@LightseedsOffice.com or (330) 835-3876.
It's easier than you might think to manage short- or long-term projects. Oh, I can hear the maniacal laughter coming through the ethers, but believe me, it's true! All it takes is organizational skills. Well, OK, organizational skills and time management. But anyone can do it if you get organized!
Think about your project - is it a series of tasks taking place over a period of time? Is it a one-time event with several aspects to manage? Who is involved? What is the timeline? (This is probably the most important part - write down the deadlines for each stage of planning.) Once you have the details written down, it's time to enter them into a spreadsheet. Excel has several templates you may want to look at (click on File/New and search on Project), you can use one I created, or create your own. Create columns titled with each category you're tracking. For example, contact information for the people involved, date of initial contact, date of followup, date of their response, what the response is, date final sent to person, etc. The columns for which you are responsible should contain the date ranges for the tasks you have to take care of. For instance, a column might say "initial email 10/1-10/7" and then the dates each email is sent in the column below that title.
As the project goes along, it's vital to keep the spreadsheet updated every single day. If you lose track of whether you talked to Joe Gomez about the catering, or whether Shelly Carroll called you back about your email, you might find yourself floundering. When I'm working on a project, I keep the spreadsheet open the entire time I'm working, and enter data every time something changes. Yes, it seems anal, and that's how I manage projects, but believe me, this kind of careful record-keeping is key to a successful and organized project. And key to sanity as well!
Another aspect to keep in mind is communication. If others are working on a project with you, be sure to categorize them as "need to know only," "decision maker," "partner," etc., and communicate regularly as needed for each of these roles. I've been on many projects in my career where a change was made that affected my work yet I was not told. Don't be that person! And expect communication from your staff in return. I communicate with my client often about the status of our project and where we stand.
I hope that this basic guide will get you started on ideas to simplify the next project you work on. If you find yourself overwhelmed, of course, I know a GREAT project management resource you can call on - Holly@LightseedsOffice.com!
Okay, calm down - I can hear some of you cringing from all the way over here! So many people hate lists, feel they're kind of anal. Then there are those who are addicted to lists, making lists of lists. But lists are only good if you USE them - making lists that get lost on a cluttered desk are useless (you know who you are..... ;) ).
I've talked before about prioritizing, and a list (ONE list) can help you do just that. They can remind you of ongoing tasks and urgent ones and will help organize your time. I know several people who sit down to get organized, write out a list of tasks they want to accomplish, then get distracted by something else. As with so much I've talked about in this blog, it's about self-discipline. No, I don't mean extreme control; I mean sticking to your guns and doing what you promised yourself (or others) you would do.
For me, I find it easiest to write the most important and/or the item with the soonest deadline at the top, and go down in urgency. Sometimes I'll brainstorm and write down all sorts of things I choose to get done, then go back over it and number the priorities. Right now my lists consists of writing this blog, updating my Facebook page, contacting a couple of new clients, doing some marketing, writing a workshop I intend to hold soon, and read some articles I've downloaded. Having a list by my computer helps keep me focused on items that really do need to be done, while also including ongoing projects (like uploading articles to a website, or data entry into a social media uploader) so I don't forget about them.
I know someone who grabs the nearest piece of paper to write herself a note or a phone number, then ends up with reams of paper scattered all over. She gets frustrated with herself, when a simple solution would be to only use a pad of paper so that everything remains together. Avoid the temptation to be distracted by things outside your window, or seeing what's happening on Facebook, or a great new idea. Stick to the "to-do's" for an allotted period of time each working day, using only ONE list, and ONE pad of paper. You'll find your time much more manageable.
And of course, if your list is entirely too long, I know a great organizer who could help you de-clutter it......Holly@LightseedsOffice.com!
For many years I worked for multiple supervisors and learned how to efficiently juggle multiple projects. I do not believe in the ever-popular term "multi-tasking" because if you're juggling several balls you cannot focus on any of them. However I do work well with what I think of as sequential multi-tasking. I prioritize in this way.
I look carefully at my "to do" list and decide what categories the items fall into. There are things i can do quickly and get them off the list. There are ongoing projects that I need to spend some time on. There are "emergencies" - rush jobs that someone else needs done right away. There are routine parts of the job that need to be done daily.
It's also important to understand in what time of day you work most efficiently. I'm a morning person and enjoy my creative and more difficult tasks before about 2:00. I usually first tackle a few of the "quick-draw" items that needed attention - quick phone calls or emails, checking on the status of something I'm waiting for, that sort of thing. I set a time limit for doing these so the important tasks are not ignored - perhaps half an hour. This ensures that these short items don't sit unattended for too long. I'd work on items that need alert concentration after that, while I'm still fresh. I'd save cleaning off my desk and filing and such for late afternoon when I'm least productive. After 8:00, my brain is done thinking for the day. But if you work best in the late evening or right after lunch, save your creative or project work for those times, and handle such "brainless" tasks as filing or cleaning when you're least alert.
If you deal with rushes and emergencies often and have control over any part of that process, it's a good idea to think of preventive measures and ways to organize to stave off crises. If the rushes are given to you by supervisors and you find yourself trying to juggle several "top priority hurry hurry" items, you may need to go to your supervisor to ask for guidance on how to prioritize. Presented in the context of providing excellent service rather than complaint, a supervisor will usually help the process along.
And if you run your own business and can't decide how to prioritize, I know a great office assistant who could help you: Holly@LightseedsOffice.com!!
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.