business person deciding road to take

What Do You Need Right Now?

business person deciding road to takeWhat areas of your life are the most important right now (keeping in mind that these change on occasion)? List the top two or three. Is it family, your business, church, friends, an organization you belong to or something else?

Now, for each of those areas what things are the highest priority – the way that you most want to spend your time with them or will move you toward your goals?

So, for family it might be spending one night a week together, a weekly (or monthly) date night with your husband and a phone call with your mom.

For your business it might be that one big project you’ve been thinking about, making some of the phone calls you know will generate money or any number of things.

What do all of these things require? Attention, energy and time.

Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life. – Brian Andreas

I heard that quote last week and think it is beautiful, wonderfully simple and so true.

And while it’s so simple, it’s also not.

Why is it we have so much trouble identifying what is really important AND spending time on it?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking this during my phone calls with potential clients. I’ve heard over and over again that there’s so much to do that it feels absolutely impossible to pick one thing to focus on.

I even saw it show up in a Facebook update of an acquaintance.

One thing that you can do is stop taking advantage of all the free or limited time only offers.

For me, this used to show up as signing up for any free teleclass that crossed my path that might have any information in it that I was going to need at some point in my business. I was spending HOURS listening to teleclasses trying to learn what I might need later.

I see it now in some of the groups I belong to. They’re filled with great people and great products and smart marketing. And almost everyone wants to take advantage of the specials that everyone else has – and they’re stretching themselves thin, because they might need that information someday.

I get it, the offer might not be as good later, or even apply! And that’s the point of the offer – to give you a reason to act now if it’s the right fit.

Here’s the thing with those free teleclasses and great specials – it might not be what you need right now.

There are lots of opportunities for you to further your business, lots of wonderful people who can show you how to do it in the way that they’re teaching – but if it’s not what you need right now then it’s okay to say no thank you.

Like many things, this takes some practice and discipline. It means knowing where you are in your business and what your main focus is right now. Once you know that then you can work with people that specialize in that.

And I can almost hear you saying, that’s great Evie, but I’m feeling so lost and frustrated right now that I have NO idea what that focus is. So, I want you to do something that might feel really uncomfortable. I want you to STOP doing all the running around your doing and take a step back to look at your business.

What are your business goals? And what is it that you need the most right now to reach those goals? Then pick one thing that you’re going to focus on to reach that goal.

And when another great opportunity comes along, recognize if it’s not where you are right now and let someone else who is there have that opportunity. It might not be that you’re not there yet or it could be that you’re past it and just haven’t realized it yet.

I’d love to know what your highest priority goal is and what you’re going to focus on to reach that goal. Share below in the comments.

Image courtesy of 2nix / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lots To Do! And Enough Time?

Cup Of Hot CoffeeLast week I wrote about focusing on one task. The three steps to put your focus on the one thing you’re working on right now.

Well, I set up one day last week with no appointments so I could have the day to only get stuff done. Many of the items on my list that day where 30 minute tasks or less. So, I had about 15 items on my list.

Normally, I would tell a client (and myself) that 15 tasks are too many things! However, they were small tasks and I was pretty sure that there was enough time to do everything.

When I sat down at the beginning of the day, even though I knew they were smaller tasks, I wondered how I was possibly going to get everything done. It was a bit overwhelming to look at that list!

I reread my post for the week and decided to pull out my sticky notes. On those, I wrote the tasks that I wanted to complete in the next two hours. I wrote down four things, stuck it on top of my list of 15 and went to work. Somehow just looking at that smaller list was a lot more reassuring.

I didn’t have to have everything done now. I was able to focus on the current task and then move on to the next one quickly.

At the end of the day I didn’t have everything done. However, I learned a bit about what not to do in my day (don’t schedule reading a book, even a business book, after lunch because I won’t put it down after my allotted reading time is complete). And left enough wiggle room in that day’s and the next day’s schedule that it didn’t completely throw me for a loop the rest of the week.

And, when I reviewed what I accomplished, I felt extremely satisfied! I was able to get a lot done and address my overwhelm in a constructive way.

Because I like bullet points, this is the take away from my experience:

  • If your list looks too long and overwhelming, break it into smaller pieces. What will you finish in the next 2 hours?
  • Leave some buffer time in your day. Tasks can take longer than you anticipate or unexpected tasks or other things pop up. When you leave yourself some buffer time you’re able to absorb the unknown without it throwing you for a loop.
  • Review your day and make a note of what did and didn’t work that day. Use that knowledge of how you work best (or don’t work best) in future planning.
  • Review your day for your successes (or wins). We often forget this part. Pat yourself on the back for the things you accomplished, whether they are the tasks you completed, the way a situation was handled or the way you handled or managed yourself.

Basically, a successful day can be broken up into three parts: preparing, doing and reviewing (with today’s focus being on the preparing and reviewing).

Where do you get hung up with getting things done? Let me know in the comments below!

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Celebrate – Because You Are Amazing

FireworksLast week didn’t go as planned for me.

I found myself sidelined one day by a stress headache and all the tasks on my to-do list ended up being tossed that day.

It left me feeling frustrated and even more stressed (no wonder it wouldn’t go away!). However, the next day I took a deep breath, reassessed, created a new to-do list and kept moving forward.

Reviewing my postponed plans with my personal coach I shared how differently I would have handled that situation (and others) a couple of years ago. We spent a couple minutes chatting about that and she asked me if I had a coaching request for the week.

Well, we ended up creating a list of how far I’ve come over the last two years and I found the exercise to be wonderful.

So, if you’re willing to play along and toot your own horn a bit ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you easily do now that was really difficult one or two years ago? What changed?
  • What situations no longer throw you off balance?
  • What have you accomplished?
  • Where do you surprise yourself?
  • Where are you now professionally?
  • Where are you now personally?

We dismiss our accomplishments too easily sometimes. So, take the time to truly think about these questions.

And if you’re having problems with the exercise, ask yourself: if you were talking with the you from two years ago, what positive things would you tell them they have to look forward to?

The last step is to CELEBRATE! You truly are amazing and deserve to be acknowledged for that.

I would absolutely love it if you would share some of your accomplishments in the comments below!

How Do I Find The Time To Work On My Long Term Priorities?

ChecklistLast week we went through how to identify the projects/tasks that are your highest priority. So, you hopefully now know what you want to work on in addition to your day-to-day tasks. However, your day-to-day tasks still take all day.

And now you’re wondering, or still wondering how to find the time to work on those tasks, because you still have the day-to-day work to take care of. You can’t exactly let that slide, right? Of course not!

So, let’s get started!

How to find time to work on those priorities you identified:

  1. Break it down into bite-sized pieces.
    And I hear you saying: “but that doesn’t solve my time problem!” And you’re partially right. Last week, one of the example tasks was updating your website and if that a task on my to-do list I would probably avoid it like the plague.Why? Because I’d have no idea where to start, it’s too big. The first step would be to break it down into manageable pieces. And you don’t have to know all the steps right now. As long as you know the first step or two, you can get started and then fill in the next steps and you decide (or discover) what they are.
  2. Estimate the time to complete each task.
    Do this as best as you can. I know that it can be difficult to know how long a new task is going to take. However, I also know that if I give myself an unlimited amount of time to do something I get easily sidetracked by other distractions like Facebook and email. But when I give myself an hour to complete something or research something, I’m much more focused. When I’m working on it I know I only have so much time to complete it and then I want to move on to the next task.
  3. How do you currently spend your time?
    Be brutally honest with yourself. Are you spending too much time checking email, Facebook, Twitter or whatever your distraction of choice is?One tool I have installed on my desktop and laptop is Rescue Time (it’s free!). It monitors the websites you visit and the programs you use on your PC and you can assign how productive or distracting each site or program is. It’s a great way to find out where those little bits of time went.
  4. Schedule time to do those tasks.
    Make an appointment with yourself and keep it!I’ll admit that there was a time that I found this piece of advice really, really, oh my goodness sooo annoying. It took me a bit of time to really realize why. My main calendar, the one I sync with my phone, is my place for appointments and meetings. Putting tasks on it felt like clutter to me – I’d look at my phone to see my meetings/appointments for the day and only see the tasks for the day – my meetings would be lost in the tasks. Usually this meant I’d dress for a day at home and realize later that I had a networking event or coffee meeting with someone.

    So, what I ended up doing was creating another calendar. I use Google Calendars and it allows you to create as many calendars as you want and you can decide which ones are visible at any time.

    This means I can now schedule my tasks, but they aren’t downloaded to my phone. This is fine, because when I’m working on my tasks, I’m generally near a computer anyway. I still keep a paper list of what those tasks are too, so if I’m not at my desk, I know what is on the agenda for the day.

    What’s that I hear? You still think this piece of advice isn’t going to work for you? Okay, I hear you – and let’s go through a scenario (come on, play along!). Let’s say that you’re planning your week (what, you don’t really do that? That might be part of your frustration). Anyway, you’re planning next week and a potential client calls and asks if they can talk to you next week. You don’t tell them: “I’m sorry, I’m too busy with the day-to-day of my business to talk to next week – call me back in a month.” Nope, instead you find a time that works for both of you and block the time out in your calendar.

    Completing the high priority projects and tasks you’ve identified is just as important to your business as that potential client meeting. The biggest difference is these projects and tasks generally aren’t as obviously related to your income.

    At any rate, try scheduling the time, even if it’s just on a piece of paper near your desk and see what happens.

  5. Hire it out.
    What can you pay someone else to do for you? Is there a task you do every day or week that you could write directions for and pay someone else to do it? Maybe one of your non-day-to-day projects has a task or two that would take you a couple hours or so (between the research and then actually doing it) and it would take someone else a fraction of that time.Your time is valuable. So, even if you don’t think you’re at a spot where you can hire someone else right now, start a list of things you could hire someone else to do. You never know when an opportunity to pass some of those tasks on might land in your lap!
     
  6. Be patient and kind with yourself.
    One of the big reasons I get frustrated with all the THINGS! that must be done NOW! Is I’m feeling behind where I think I should be. The truth is it doesn’t matter and worrying about it, or beating myself up about it, is just a huge time and energy suck.All that matters is that this is where you are now and that you’re taking steps forward.

    Know that you’re not alone! And it’s okay if you’re not where you feel you should be. Take a deep breath (I’m fond of those) and look at the things you’re doing to move forward. Then pat yourself on the back!

Feeling overwhelmed happens to everyone. There are always things to do! And that can be really frustrating, but it can also be very positive (it means that you’re constantly moving forward!). Along the way, don’t forget to celebrate your victories, big and small. And reward yourself!

What other things do you do to address your entrepreneurial overwhelm? Share in the comments below!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Trail Starts Here sign

Where Do I Start?

Trail Starts Here sign

It’s easy to answer “Where do I start?” with “at the beginning” isn’t it? Sometimes though, the beginning isn’t immediately obvious.

“I’m soooo overwhelmed with what has to be done! And I have no idea where to even start making changes so that I feel like I’m accomplishing something on a regular basis.”

Sound familiar?

I’ve heard it a few times, heck – I’ve said it myself a few times!

I pulled this great quote from David Allen’s book Getting Things Done:

Trying to manage from the top down, when the bottom is out of control, may be the least effective approach.

This describes exactly why I believe you need to know what’s currently on your plate before you set your long term goals.

Now, you might be saying, but Evie! You’re a coach, don’t you encourage your clients to set goals right away?

And yes, I do, but the shorter term goal of “I want to understand what’s currently on my plate” needs to be accomplished before adding more goals to the plate.

So, why take the time and energy to know what’s on your plate before you set your goals? Well, there are three reasons:

  1. When you don’t already know exactly what is on your plate, taking on more things only adds to the confusion and overwhelm. ‘Should’ becomes a constant companion as in, “Oh, I should be doing this” and you spend less and less time with what makes you excited, as in “Ohhh! I get to do this today!”
  2. When you know what’s on your plate, you can easily see where you’ve taken too much on or what’s not as important as you previously though. And then you can let that stuff go. Remember, just because you’ve always done it that way, or other people in your profession have, doesn’t mean that you have to do it that way.
  3. When you set your goals after you know what’s on your plate, you can easily see what you’re already doing that supports those goals. And you might find that with a slight tweak, some things you’re already doing will support your new goals.

Think of it like this, if you’re driving and get lost, you stop and find out where you are (or pull out your phone or GPS) so you can determine how and when you’ll get to your destination.

So, what’s on your plate that you can let go of? Share in the comments below!