Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #112 / Are you solving problems that don't exist?

Are you solving problems that don’t exist?

“Solving problems that don’t exist.”

This is an idea that I came across a week or two ago.

When I Googled it to see if I could find where it came from, the top results were about inventions that solve problems we don’t actually have.

But that’s not the way I saw it used.

This is about those items on your to-do list that seem like a good idea, but you actually don’t need to do—it solves a problem, but the problem doesn’t actually exist for you.

I’m guilty of this.

A couple of weeks ago I spent at least a couple of hours updating the passwords that my password manager app told me were either duplicates or not good passwords.

95% of the sites I was changing passwords on were sites that I rarely use, have no important information stored with them, and if they did get hacked it wouldn’t have been an issue.

It wasn’t a good use of my time.

Those sites didn’t actually need their passwords updated.

I was solving a problem that didn’t actually exist.

Instead of spending time on that, I could have been making phone calls, emailing people, or any number of things that are actually important for my business.

So, I encourage you to look at your to-do list for today or this week and make note of the things that solve problems that don’t exist OR that can be done after the tasks that are actually important for your business.

And then, instead of doing them, do the things that are important for your business instead.

When I do this to my to-do list I instantly have a slew of reasons pop into my head about why those things need to be done.

For the above-mentioned password updating it was “but now that app doesn’t complain nearly as much as it did about passwords” or “now my security score is so much better!”

Those things didn’t actually cost me any time before I changed it. They weren’t important.

For some of the other things on my list, it’s thoughts like “but getting those things off my list will feel really good” or “these things can be knocked off my to-do list quickly” or “they’ve been on my list to do for a while now, I should do them”.

But they don’t need to be done. Nothing will be negatively impacted if I do them next week or next month.

What are those things for you?

What are your tasks that really do need to be done?

And if everything feels like it’s important and needs to be done, reach out and let’s talk. The easiest way to do that is to leave a comment or fill out the Contact Me form here.


Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #111 / How to exercise your "no" muscle

How to exercise your “no” muscle

Last week we talked about boundaries.

One of the skills that can help you with honoring your business boundaries is the ability to clearly say no.

Saying “no” is a muscle. Like any muscle, it needs to be exercised to be strong.

Saying “no” is also a gift.

Yes, it’s a gift for yourself, but it’s also a gift for the other person.

Think back to a time where someone seemed interested in your service or product.

Maybe you asked them if they were interested in more information or purchasing.

If they said “not right now” or “maybe later” then you reached out to them again later.

If they said “this isn’t something I’m interested in” or “no” then you didn’t reach out to them again.

When they clearly said “no” you didn’t spend any more of your time reaching out to them.

The same thing happens you’re able to clearly and confidently say no to something you know you’re not interested in. That person no longer reaches out to see if your answer is going to change (saving them time) and you don’t have to spend your time answering the question again.

So, only say “not right now” or “maybe later” when it’s true.

There’s a group that has reached out two or three times to ask me to join. I honestly might be interested later, but now’s not the time. I tell them that and I expect that I’ll be asked about it again in another year or so.

Here’s a quick “how to say no” guide:

  1. Be brief.
    You don’t need to explain everything that went into making your decision. You can say “That doesn’t work with my schedule” or “That’s not the right fit for me.”
    Or saying no can be as simple as saying “No”.
  2. Be honest.
    Don’t make something up to get out of something.  You’ll both feel better about it later and you don’t have to keep track of fibs.
  3. Say “No”.
    Seems straight forward right?
    Remember phrases like “I think that” or “right now” or “I’m not sure” make the other person think you might change your mind later. 
    Be clear with your response and let them know you’re not interested.
  4. Repeat. 
    Even when you’re clear with someone, they might ask you again later to see if anything has changed. 
    Be kind and let them know the answer hasn’t changed.

If this topic feels like it’s impacting you personally, and you’d like some help, let’s talk! The easiest way to set that up is by applying for coaching by clicking here.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #110 / Rethinking the boundaries of your business

Rethinking the boundaries of your business

I was listening to the Being Boss podcast yesterday and one of the topics they covered was setting boundaries—both personal and business boundaries.

It was a really interesting conversation.

And I like analogies and the one that came to mind for boundaries are the very real boundaries you literally have when you own a home with a yard.

Your property has boundaries.

You are aren’t responsible for the things that are outside the boundaries of your yard—that’s your neighbor’s responsibility.

If your neighbor has a garden that’s gotten a bit unruly, well, that’s their responsibility—you might notice it, but you getting upset about it doesn’t do anything for either of you.

However, you might also notice that a neighbor (or just a yard you’re driving by) has some feature or garden or something that you really like. You might make a note of it to do something similar in your yard.

And occasionally, you have a situation where there’s a neighbors tree that’s at or near the boundary that extends over into your yard – if it’s causing you problems (scraping against your house or garage) or is in danger of falling onto your property, THEN you have a reason to be concerned about it and maybe have a conversation with your neighbor about it.

In business it’s similar—don’t worry about the things other people are doing in their business. Yes, notice what you like and don’t like, but if it’s not affecting you, and you don’t like it, don’t worry about it.

Boundaries do more than tell us what’s outside our realm of responsibility though.

They also tell us what IS our responsibility.

So often we talk about our business boundaries in terms of what is on the outside. The things we don’t or won’t do. The times we’re NOT available.

What if instead, you thought about your boundaries in terms of what’s on the inside, the things you ARE responsible for?

The things you do, the things you include, how you show up, when you are available, or the emails you respond to.

If you’re having problems identifying your boundaries and what you exclude or don’t do, maybe it’s time to focus on what’s inside those boundaries and figure out what’s not later.

If this topic feels like it’s impacting you personally, and you’d like some help, let’s talk! The easiest way to set that up is by applying for coaching by clicking here.


Why I unsubscribed half the emails from my newsletter last month

Last month I unsubscribed just under half of the emails from my email list.

And it freaked me out.

I don’t have a large list.  And I kinda didn’t want to do anything that would make that list smaller.

But by making that change my open rate went from around 17% to over 30%.

And if I would have shared those numbers with you without any other information would you have immediately assumed that the change was the number of people that I send my newsletter to?

Maybe you would have wondered if I figured out some magic way to write subject lines or if I discovered the absolute perfect time to send emails to guarantee more people will open the email.

This is why it’s so important to ask question when someone starts sharing statistics without any additional information.

Telling you that I unsubscribed emails from my email list doesn’t tell all the story either, but when you add the improved open rate to it the picture becomes a bit clearer.

The full story of why I unsubscribed so many people from my email list is that the emails going to those addresses weren’t being opened anymore.

Some hadn’t opened an email from me in over a year.

So, I decided to start a re-engagement campaign that asks people if they want to continue to stay on my list if they haven’t opened any of the emails in the last 90 days.

If they don’t open the emails or indicate they want to stay subscribed, they are unsubscribed.

I thought about putting this system in place off and on for over a year, but I was always scared to pull the trigger.

If you have an email list, you want it to continue to grow and not get smaller, right?

Well, there’s many reasons for that goal missing the mark.

One of them being that an engaged smaller list is better than a large list with incredibly low engagement.

But man on man, was I tied to that old number!

Even though the same number of people opened my newsletter last week, but because my list was almost half the size, the open rate significantly improved.

I’ll write it again for emphasis the same number of people opened my newsletter this week as they did last week.

The open rate improved because the email went to fewer people.

So, what can you do with this information?

I’m not encouraging you to go and implement your own re-engagement / unsubscribe campaign (of course, do it if it’s something you want to do and it makes sense for you right now).

What system or change in your business are you resisting putting into place?

If you have a system or change in your business that you want to put in place but are having some problems putting it in place or getting the details figured out and you’d like some help, let’s talk! The easiest way to set that up is by applying for coaching by clicking here.


How to handle the unexpected

This morning I spoke about Time Blocking to WESOS Aurora (WESOS networking group and I spoke at the Aurora location).

Time blocking is basically creating a budget for your time. You create categories for your business time and assign those categories days and times in your week – much like you create categories for where you spend money and assign your money to those categories.

I shared about how important it is to do this so you are spending your time where you want to.

Someone asked what do you do when something unexpected happens, like a family emergency?

I don’t remember exactly what I said, but when an emergency occurs, you let go of the “ideal week” you created for yourself with time blocking and rely on other planning you’ve done so you know what can wait until later and what things you want to do now.

And, sometimes, it’s a big emergency and if you can find a few minutes or so all you can do is reach out to the people you have appointments with and let them know you have to cancel and you’ll reach out to reschedule later.

She was so relieved.

Sometimes we just need permission or someone else to tell us it’s okay to shift our focus.

Over the years I’ve done a few different value assessments or test (this is different than a strength assessment), and each time family is in my top three.

If I had to guess, I’d bet family is up there for you too.

For some reason, when I acknowledged that family is one of my top values, it made it easier and more “okay” to devote time to family when there was an emergency or even small ways to support them that are impactful (like taking an afternoon off so I can drive my mother-in-law home to Indiana after a doctor visit in Illinois).

And sometimes things happen that we need time to heal from or process.

Don’t forget to take time for yourself to do that too.

While you don’t need my permission to do that, if it helps, please know that you absolutely have my permission to forgo “normal” business time to support or take care of family AND yourself.

If this topic feels like it’s impacting you personally, and you’d like some help, let’s talk! The easiest way to set that up is by applying for coaching by clicking here.