Archive for planning

9 Mistakes Business Owners Make Managing Their Time

If you’re like me, your waking hours are filled with tasks, expectations, and stress. For most of us, even our vacations or “days off” are filled with things we have to do or obligations that need to be handled. Well that’s a sad thought, isn’t it? It doesn’t have to be.
For a long time, I found myself in this loop of never-ending stress and a growing to-do list. I didn’t find some magic pill or master time travel to give myself an extra 10 hours a day to write, sleep and watch Netflix…(isn’t Netflix just the best thing ever?!?)
The first thing I did was learn to recognize the mistakes I was making when it came to building my business that was slowing my business down. I am still growing for sure, but if I’d started to realized these mistakes sooner, I could have been seeing revenue, growth and a lot less stress in my business a year or so sooner.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had a lot of experience in the different roles that come with dating but I see a lot of things the same way I see romance. Trying to figure out your work style is a little like kissing frogs, Often you figure out what doesn’t work far sooner than you find out what does… so let me save you some time and point out some of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to manage their business.

Listen Here

Focusing on Perfect

Any time you put something out in the world with your name on it you probably want it to be pretty kick-ass, after all, your name is on it. So it’s easy to get stuck on perfection. I hate to say it, but you’re never going to reach perfection. So instead of getting stuff done you just keep finding yourself being unsatisfied with the little work you do complete because it isn’t perfect and therefore it never gets done. Done is better than perfect. Think of it this way how many programs or tools do you purchase that get an update or reboot. Sometimes you might think something is “perfect” only to discover once it’s out there that something is missing or not working correctly. Steve Jobs didn’t get the iPhone perfect the first time…see the multiple versions that have followed and continue to come out each year.

Failing to Start

Have you ever sat down with the intention of knocking out a few tasks with a to-do list that looks something like:
Create a pitch for Lane’s Online Magazine
Write this week’s newsletter
Update the blog post about knitting
Answer email from Karen

Then you sit there and look at it without knowing where to start so you decide, oh I’ll respond to some social media posts and watch an episode of Gilmore Girls. Next thing you know it’s 3 hours later, time for bed and while your Buffer is full nothing else got done.
Falling into this trap is easy. We want to get so much done, but we get frustrated and then nothing gets done.
Just get started on whatever is the first thing on the list just do it and get it done.

Taking on Too Much

This goes right in hand with not knowing where to get started. When you are excited about your business or side hustle, you find yourself constantly having new ideas or wanting to implement new things into it. For me, I always want to do more and go bigger. Adding new forms of revenue or a new kind of media is a great way to grow your business but doing it at the wrong time and in the wrong way is an excellent way to kill your business.
If you are a one woman team already feeling pressed for time, it probably isn’t a good idea to try to launch a new e-course, 2nd website, podcast and youtube channel in the same month (yeah I seriously was considering doing this at one point in time). Start by looking at low-hanging fruit (things that are easy for you to incorporate at that given time) if you want to do all of these see which would be easiest for you to do first and then start with that and once you have your footing in one area, add in the next. If you try to take on too much at once not only will your attention be divided but your work will be sloppy.

Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking isn’t evil at the right time and place. Listening to a book on tape while washing the dishes or reading a magazine while pooping is great examples of doing more than one thing at once successfully. But most of the time multitasking is a major productivity killer! If you want to get the most out of your work time, focus on one thing at a time. Turn your phone face down, leave it in the other room or shut down the sound, even small multitasking like answering a few texts during the time you said you’d work can hurt your productivity and strain your focus.
The more you spend time working focused, the more you learn about your ability to balance things. Can you listen to music with lyrics while writing? Can you watch television while painting pieces for your Etsy store? For me I absolutely cannot work in silence, my mind starts racing, and I start thinking about anything and everything, besides what I’m trying to focus on. If I’m working on social media posts I can listen to stand up or even re-watch old episodes of Family Guy on Netflix if I’m working on a post I can listen to music but if I try to watch t.v. more times than not I find myself taking a longer time to get things done.

Setting Deadlines But Not Work Sessions

Deadlines are important. For me, it is my way of saying, “Hey world, I’m doing this on this date.” Then realizing, “Holy crap it’s out there, now I have to do it.” But what is a deadline if you don’t have a plan for actually getting the thing done? If you say you want to publish a post on the 13th, when do you plan to write it? Schedule a period for working on it and if need be, anything else that accompanies the task, like creating graphics or social media posts. A deadline is a lot like a goal, it’s great to have, but a plan of action is what turns both a goal and deadline into a reality.

Thinking busy and productive are the same thing.

Busy having a great deal to do.
Productive achieving or producing a significant amount or result.
There are a lot of people who love to talk about how busy they are but the truth is being busy doesn’t mean you’re productive. I could go outside and try to pick up every rock in my apartment complex, and I’m technically busy, but it doesn’t mean I’m doing anything productive. While there are “busy” tasks that need to be done, you have to find a healthy balance of busy and productive. Yes getting your inbox down to zero is a great feeling but more than likely it doesn’t represent any income in your pocket. Just because you are doing something doesn’t mean you are making the best use of your time. Be able to recognize when you are performing goal achieving activities and not just stress relieving ones.

Focusing Too Much on Organizing.

This one was a huge rabbit hole for me. I want to be organized. Obviously, I work better when my desk is clean, and I know things look beautiful, but even worse I used to sit down with my to-do list and try to decide which thing was most important in the right order to get things done. Well, this was a waste of time.
I discovered that by just hitting the list running, I was able to get more crossed off. There are some days when it’s clear something needs to be done first, like if you have a deadline but other days you may not know where to start, so just start.

Getting Stuck on Semantics

If you can’t complete a task because you need something to complete it, then I try to follow this simple rule, if obtaining it will take more than 5 minutes I move on to the next thing on my todo list.
Are you writing a movie review and can’t remember the name of the lead actress? Go ahead and search for it, then go back to working on the review.
Do you want to make an email course outline on a poster board with sticky notes but don’t have the poster board or sticky notes? Then move on to the next task because you’ll probably just end up spending an hour at Target looking at cute office supplies. (Guilty!)
Don’t let the semantics, stop you in your tracks. Often I’ve discovered by moving forward and not focusing on the little things that could be a setback, I often find workarounds or better ideas.

Not Scheduling Downtime

This may seem counter-productive to all the mistakes mentioned above but in reality having downtime is great for productivity. I wrote a post Why You Should Take a Personal Day a while back, and I fully believe in it. Personal days and downtime are key for allowing your body and mind to recharge and relax. We are always so stressed and have so much to do, but I’ve discovered when I take the time to take a break or have some fun I come back with new ideas or feel revitalized and excited about whatever project I’m working on again. I try to do something fun most weekends, but I also have a night off I try to stick to at least once a week, Thursdays are for Shondaland. I put the laptop away, have some wine and enjoy some of my favorite shows. It’s all about rewarding myself for hard work and reminding myself that there is more to life than work.

Are you making any of these mistakes when it comes to setting up your day? Recognizing them is a great way to stop doing them. The next time you find yourself in one of these situations take a second and think about what you’re doing and how you can refocus your time and energy into working more productively.

Dealing With Anxiety In Your Online Biz

You know what’s always annoyed me is how celebrities or media personalities can have a nervous breakdown, go to a facility for six weeks to recover and work through their issues, then return to work and still have their job. The reason that this bugs me is that for the everyday Jane that’s just sometimes not an option (usually isn’t an option). When our anxiety is at an all-time high we still have to find a way to get out of bed and go to work and pretend that everything is ok. If you have the bittersweet calling of trying to run an online business or having a side hustle in addition to your daytime job and other commitments, then you find yourself having to be “on” even more often. For me, while my blog was inspired by the idea that I should write more it also kind of started out of a place of anxiousness and feeling the need to do something. Writing had always been that thing for me, so I decided to go for it. It really was a bit of a catch-22. The outlet and an opportunity to work through things by writing and distracting myself for my mind by focusing on writing were great, but then the new obligations and deadlines were also somewhat stressful.

Listen Here:

Dealing with anxiety in your online biz

Make a Schedule

I often have people laugh at how organized I am. They laugh at the fact that I have an alarm for my gratitude journal and that I plan strategic work sessions on Saturday with organized to do lists but what they don’t get is I need these. While planning and organizing this stuff beforehand might seem stressful to others, to me it’s soothing to know what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. Having a clear expectation for your work session will greatly reduce your anxiety and maximize your work time because you won’t fall that rabbit hole of, “Where do I start?”

Create Systems

One major cause of stress in most businesses stems from a lack of organization. If you are constantly recreating the same steps why not put them into place and create a system? Spreadsheets are your friend. I have processes for almost everything I do on a regular basis. I keep meticulous records to make things easier to find. I currently do all the copy and social media posting for my business but in the event, I plan to build out a team and it will be easier to onboard them.
Here is my standard process for a new blog post: 
Brain dump- Write any notes that come to me and think of sections on the topics.
Fill out Blog Post Keyword Sheet  (Wait till post is complete to do social media posts)
Write post
Proof with Grammarly
Read post out loud
Use a headline analyzer and tweak to try to get a score of 70 or higher
Find photo for graphic
Make graphics using Canva- Pinterest and square social media image
Do SEO Checklist
Record and edit audio (if applicable)
Finish Blog Post Keyword Sheet (social media posts)
Publish
Log post on proper google sheet then start sharing the post on the places listed on the sheet and marking them as done. These include: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram (via Buffer), Google Plus, Stumble Upon, etc
Add to the newsletter when for the week.
Add prewritten tweets and Facebook posts to buffer
Sporadically add back to social media schedule

Find What Works For You

We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. If you find a way that actually works for you to do something in your side hustle then stick with that way. This can be hard for a lot of us because A. We either have a hard time identifying what we are good at (this isn’t because you aren’t good at anything, it’s because when you’re naturally good at something or you have a lot of experience with something it can be hard to see it as a talent or something special because you’re so used to it). B. We are constantly victims of shiny object syndrome and hearing new ways to try things. While it is important to stay with the times, there is no need for you to try to reinvent the wheel. You need to grow with your building but do it in a smart way, figure out what works for you, master that then slowly try new ways to do things, if they appear like they will be better or more beneficial.

When you find something that works stick with it. You don't have to do what other's do. Click To Tweet

Knows What Doesn’t Work For You

Does Instagram just stress you out, give you super comparison anxiety and make you want to get in a ball and cry? Then maybe you shouldn’t be on Instagram, or maybe you should change the way you use it. If you are a fashion blogger or have a very visual product to sell, I think Instagram and Pinterest are your best bets for social media. But if you find that Instagram sends you in an anxiety frenzy then you need to create a strategy to avoid this. I would suggest creating a social media calendar using a tool like Buffer to schedule and then take your Instagram application off the main screen of your phone and turn off the notifications. Then set times to engage with it. Limit the time you spent, only use it strategically, and if you know, certain profiles are a trigger do not follow them.
If you hate being on video, then you don’t do it. Sometimes the way to find what works for you is by understanding what doesn’t work and why.

Remember You Are The Captain Of Your Fate

The remarkable thing about having your blog or online business is that you pretty much decide how busy you are and how much time you spend on it. By that token, you also determine how successful you are. You get to choose which forms of social media you tackle. How often you post, publish and create. So when you just aren’t feeling it or just can’t handle it and you need to take a break, that is more than okay. Taking the occasional break will not crumble your business, especially if you’ve set up systems beforehand. What will crush your business is having a full on breakdown after you’ve ignored your body’s pleas for a break and rest.
Be ambitious but also realistic. What I mean is dream big, set huge goals but don’t unrealistically pack your schedule because “she believed she could so she did.
She believed she could create XYZ, so she made a business plan and actionable steps to achieve this. She didn’t say I want to make five figures this month even though my typical income is only $1500. Then think she would make her first five figure month in 30 days by writing and selling 100 $100 articles, in the 3 hours a day she has to write. Not saying it’s not possible, but it’s not very strategic.
If you want to reach a particular goal be strategic and realistic about how you plan to do it. Don’t set yourself up for failure. If you get home from work at 6:00 pm don’t schedule back to back coaching calls till midnight, when are you going to eat? Poop? Sleep? Think about your needs not just your goals. I am all about the hustle but not about unnecessary anxiety.

Ask For Help

This is one of the most difficult things to do for some of us (myself included). We don’t want to be a bother, or we believe we can do it ourselves.
There are so many ways of asking for help; you just have to be willing to do it. Whether it’s taking a course, starting a mastermind group, emailing a friend who has more experience in the issue than you, hiring a coach or purchasing a book. There are so many ways to find help. You don’t have to figure everything out on your own, that is the beautiful thing about the web. Also, it’s all about taking and giving, tonight I have a call with a blogging friend to talk through some of my issues, and then two nights from now I have a call to help a blogging friend out. No one and I mean no one has it ALL figured out. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and identifying where you need help and not being afraid to ask for it is a great show of your determination to improve.

No one has it ALL figured out. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Click To Tweet

I want to offer my help to you personally. If you have issues with blogging, time management, and your online biz, anxiety or just have a question, you think I could help you find the answer to please drop me a comment. It might inspire a post, email or start a real conversation.

How do you deal with anxiety in your business?

Yes, You Need A Business Plan

When I started working on All The Things I Do, two years ago I did not even think about creating a business plan. My plan was simple; I’d start a blog, people would flock to it because of my witty humor and fascinating tales of a twenty-something and marketers would throw money at me for ad space. Yeah, I obviously had it all figured out. NOT! I quickly learned after I started working with ad companies that it would take about a million page views to even make enough money to fund my TGIT wine habit. Even at 30,000+ pageviews, a month ads make up about $70 of income a month.  As I learned more about the world of blogging and what I wanted to bring to it, I knew I needed a plan. If you’re still on the fence about whether your online business or blog needs a business plan here are a few reasons why you need a business plan.

Yes, Your Blog or Online Biz Needs a Business Plan

You Hope To Make A Regular Income From It 

Even if you only hope to make a little mad money on the side from your online presence a business plan is an excellent way to make it happen. I’m all about setting goals and making a plan for them. I’ll use one of my favorite examples, losing weight. If you want to lose weight and you say, “I’m going to lose weight by getting healthier,” you do not have a game plan. You have a nice thought and a vague statement.  If you want to sell customized quilts online and say, “I’m going to sell my quilts online and make money.” It’s the same.

A business plan is like saying, “I’m going to lose 15 pounds by eating 1200 calories a day and working out four days a week with a trainer.” It’s a clear plan with a clear goal.

Have Realistic Expectations

You know you want to sell your custom quilts online and that you can usually finish one in two weeks. If you plan to sell them at $89.00 a quilt and it takes you two weeks to make one, having a revenue goal of $500 a month is very unlikely, even without adding in the cost of materials.

You can set realistic goals for the time and money you have to work on the business. If it takes $15 in fabric and other materials to make a quilt on average, then your profit per quilt is only $74. Does the $89 include shipping or will that be an additional fee? These are things your business plan will help you plan for.

Clarity

A lot of the frustration that comes with starting something new comes from a lack of clarity and that lack of clarity lead be overwhelming.

Have you ever sat down to do something seemingly simple and found that you got nowhere because you weren’t sure the steps of doing it? Building your online business can be like that. It’s easy to let that fear you might screw up stop you in your tracks. Personally, if I have a plan or guidelines, my fear of screwing up is greatly lowered.

It also helps you know what is in your reach.  Do you plan to hire help?

Now that you know the average cost of supplies are you going to require payment upfront? Are you going to charge a cancellation fee for canceled orders to cover time invested and materials?

Figure Out Marketing

When you purposely think of how you plan to market your business, you will find yourself coming up with more ideas to market it. Yes, a website is nice but are you going to write blog posts with D.I.Y tips? Do you plan to go to local events to advertise your business? Are their local trade shows you can go to?

You will be able to plan ahead for any special seasons where your service or product might be popular. Do you want to do ads in the late Fall for all the people who might want to purchase quilts as Christmas presents?

Mark Your Progress and Re-strategize 

Like with goals, having an idea of what you want out of our business is wonderful but being able to measure those goals and the activities you do to accomplish them is what makes them work. When you have custom and personalized business plan you can sit down regularly and evaluate which activities are working and which aren’t.

Are you limiting yourself using a certain carrier? Should you shop around for fabric suppliers? If you create your business plan for Awesome Quilts Online, and 2 months later review it you may notice that the money you spent on that trade show fee actually only returned 3% in revenue and 4 orders, while attending meetings of local sororities and offering your services was a free investment and earned you 10 orders. This allows you to refocus your energy instead of doing the same limiting or unsatisfactory methods of marketing or business operations.

Are you ready to start your business plan? I’ve created a free email challenge with templates to help you get through it. In less than half an hour a day, you can have a business plan ready in less than a week to help you grow your online business and figure out your mission.

Go ahead and sign up below and I can’t wait to see you in the challenge!