If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a good chance you spend a whole lot more than 40 hours a week working. I know that’s always been the case with me. In fact, in my entire corporate career, I never once took an entire week off. Instead, I’d take long weekends, thinking I couldn’t afford to let business “slide” for longer than that. I was actually told that I couldn’t take any vacation time from September through December because my presence was too valuable during the holiday season. I always thought that was just part of the deal working for a large retailer. So, I’d just fly back to Boston from Cincy to celebrate the holidays with my family in January. No biggie. But it actually was a biggie. I didn’t realize it until after my Dad passed. Now, every holiday, I don’t think about all of the future holidays that I will miss with him but I regret all of the past holidays that I missed with my family because of work.
My thinking about the idea of losing productivity while taking time off has changed. Why? For the first time in my working life, I actually took a two-week vacation! Okay, technically I still worked remotely while traveling, but something remarkable happened during those two weeks. I found I was actually MORE productive when I did sneak in a little work. I knew that I only had limited pockets of time in which I could get things done, a fact that made me laser focused! There was no time for “shiny object syndrome” or social media breaks when I was working on a project. I had to be very diligent about how I spent my time. It’s classic Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”! In other words, if you allot only a certain amount of time to complete something, it motivates you to get it done! Here are a few other tips for navigating some well-earned time off …
- Communicate your plans to your clients. Let them know you’ll be taking some time off, but you’ll still be working on a slightly condensed schedule. They’ll appreciate the heads up, and aren’t likely to begrudge you a little time off.
- Take advantage of automation. Set up email auto-response. Set up a “splash page” on your website with an awesome freebie, and plan out your social media and blog posts before you head out.
- Share your vacation with your audience. People ultimately are buying YOU. So let them see the person behind the brand. One of our clients, Kathy Jalali from Happy Cinnamon, is doing this brilliantly right now while she and her family are traveling in Spain. She’s taking amazing images while incorporating them into her brand messaging of Spice Up Your Wellness.
You can take time off! It takes a little planning, but the rewards — a change of perspective and the balance gained from a bit of time off — make it all worth it in the end!
We have ALL had our Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunctions or our fair share of one too many wine coolers, i.e. mistakes in life, so what makes us believe we won’t ever have any in business? I thought I was immune from miscalculating. Nope! Shit happens. It’s how we recover from those mistakes that proves important in life or work.
I’ve negotiated millions (over $2 billion, actually) in business deals throughout my career. I know how to write specifications and qualify suppliers. Guess what, though?! When, I started my business, I made some false moves. I hired and partnered with people who later showed their true selves as disreputable and unreliable. Well, hindsight is always 20/20. Did I cry about it? Never! OK, well, maybe for a minute.
After I nursed my fair share of Ben & Jerry’s and went into hibernation mode, I was left with either remaining paralyzed with fear, or bounding forward. The ONLY viable option for your business having that momentum propel you forward, not into a downward spiral. You CANNOT let fear hold conquer your vision and mission.
When you’ve had a blunder, here are some steps you can do for rebounding ASAP:
1. Let it out. Before you can go full-on Elsa and let it go, acknowledge what you are feeling. Maybe, this means scheduling a weep-a-thon in the privacy of your own home, screaming “I did my best!!” Dane Cook style, or bringing out your Jean-Claude Van Damme side in Tae Bo class (is that still a thing?). Whatever works, just let it out and breathe again!
2. Learn the art of giving zero fucks. I know it’s hard at first, but when you stop letting others’ attitudes define you, then you are free to operate your business as you truly feel is best. Society is always trying tell women how you have to care for the feelings of everyone involved, even putting everyone else above yourself. But, put that notion and conditioning aside and act as if their opinions don’t matter because it’s your business. Believe it or not acting like it doesn’t bother you, will sink in. Eventually, you really will let cares of their opinions and regard go, and start doing you. Think of it as method acting your actual life, if you will.
3. Put your game face back on. Alright, now you’ve dusted your hands off and are ready for getting back into a new plan of action. It’s time for getting into game plan mode. Write down all the steps you can take for setting a new course. Remember, the key is embracing your past mistakes in order to avoid repeating them.
4. Monday morning QB. Once you are feeling confident in your new plan, look back and distinguish what lessons you learned. What can you do differently next time to safeguard? Trust me, you will never make that mistake again because you already have a fail-proof strategy.
In closing, I truly believe everything happens for a reason, even if we can’t envision that reason until later. It’s all part of life’s plan. If my life and career hadn’t had the twists and turns it’s had, I wouldn’t be where I am today: grateful for ALL the experiences of my life!
Need some strategy and support in setting your new direction? Set up a FREE strategy sesh.
It’s midsummer: a perfect 75 °F, the cumulus clouds drift above, and perfect time to dip your pedicured toes into the pool – but wait! How is business going? How are sales? Is it a slow month? Do you have a marketing funnel in place? There are a lot of things that are great about summer. Picnics on the beach, swimming in a refreshing pool and sweet summer nights are things we love during the hot summer months. But, unless you are the ice cream man, business can feel slow. Despite what you may think, Summer is great for marketing your brand. We strongly encourage our clients to do a summer review for turning up the heat on their summer marketing efforts! It is entirely possibly to luxuriate in the season, all while business moves along swiftly. Here are few tips:
The ‘Summer Slump’ Plan of Action
Forbes magazine notes that “more than two-thirds of small business owners [see] dips during the summer… Some 67 [percent] of the 2,000 firms surveyed [saw] mounting concerns about the ‘summer slump’ phenomenon.” In fact, much like schoolchildren, business owners and businesses suffer from slacking during the holidays. By the time the owners return to their computers, they amass stress from drops in productivity, growth, and the ROI. However, business strategists can help you mitigate this by having a clear strategy and action plan in place! This is an opportune time to create some fresh content, revisit your marketing strategy and attract new followers.
You will want to start with doing an inventory of the current content that you have. Can it be updated and repurposed to have more a summer focus? Which blogs and posts are most popular and create the most engagement? What promotional events can you plan some campaigns around? (4th of July, Father’s Day, Back To School)
You get the idea. Having a plan in place will help alleviate the stress and allow you to actually enjoy summer. Our Summer Guidebook takes you through the questions to ask yourself when preparing your plan.
How Only 6 Hours Makes A Difference
According to The Social Media Examiner, “By spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of marketers see lead generations with social media.” In other words, very little media maintenance is necessary to drum up some business. We suggest a behind-the-scenes video look at your business since it’s not peak season. There’s more time to focus upon ironing out that old website, or getting your Facebook Live broadcasting, as we point out in our summer guidebook. With only six hours of online marketing, you still have time to swing by that barbecue and the flamingo-themed pool party. Not sure what to post or what content to create? Join our Outlier Social group through the summer and get the accountability and real time feedback you need to create content that will attract those new followers.
Gain Some Competitive Advantage
The last hidden beauty of a summer slump is that the competition is likely off-duty. While you’re posting a summer promotion, they’re growing anxious about what sales will look like in August! You are gaining some competitive advantage while they are snoozing. Even if you are taking a break from the online space, you can still be moving the needle forward on your business. It’s a great time to brush up your skills. Could your content creation and social media skills use some polishing and tweaking? Want to set up a sales funnel that is ready to launch in Fall? Want to improve your storytelling ability? Need to learn some techy skills? Need to find more balance? Find a course or group that will improve your business and/or life. We meet with our clients twice a month over the summer to help them create lead magnets, blogs, social media posts, email campaigns and more. They also learn cool ninja tips and get real time training from experts such as copywriters, graphic designer and social media experts.
To create your summer marketing strategy, download our summer guidebook.
Call it burn-out, call it an off day or even off month, but accept that there are going to be times when everything seems like it takes too much effort. You’ve lost your “mojo” and you don’t know how to get it back. What can you do to get your motivation back when you just “can’t even”?
We all have them — entrepreneurs, writers, artists, moms, career women, everybody — those days or even weeks when we just can’t seem to find our rhythm and maintain our focus. The next time you find yourself struggling to “get back on track”, try the following strategies to set your world right again:
Gain Some Perspective
Sometimes the best thing to do is to simply stop trying so hard and get a change of scenery. I personally like to walk on the beach. Being close to the ocean make me feel lighter and feeling my toes in the sand literally grounds me. Treat yourself to a self-pampering afternoon at a spa. Spend the afternoon reading a novel you can get lost in. Sometimes, if I find myself unable to create content, I’ll sit at the local coffee shop sipping a chai latte and suddenly the ideas start flowing. Often a simple break with routine is enough to refresh and recharge, leaving you ready to dive back in and actually get something done.
Talk to a Like-Minded Friend or a Mentor
Now’s a perfect time to choose someone from your network for a little inspiration. Reach out to your business besties for some support and encouragement. If you have a coach or a mentor, even better! Pick up the phone, have a Zoom chat or meet for lunch. That’s one of the reasons you have a network or a mentor. Another person’ input can be the perfect catalyst to get your own creative juices flowing and get out of a rut that you can’t get out of on your own at the moment.
Eliminate the Negative
During those times when you can’t get out of your own way, it’s time to surround yourself with positive-thinking people who support you and believe in you, no matter what. Every entrepreneur needs a support system to help move them forward. You’ll return the favor when one of them needs it, because that’s why you have a support group in the first place — you’ve got each others’ backs!
Remind Yourself of Your Goals
If you’ve written your goals via a business plan or even just an informal “idea book”, pull it out and have a look. You’ll be reminded of what you want for yourself and the future of your business. You’ll also be reminded of what you are capable of accomplishing most of the time. If you haven’t met your goals, don’t get discouraged. Ask yourself why. Was the goal unrealistic? Were there unforeseen obstacles? Maybe spend some time to revisit and reset your goals for the remainder of the year. You can use this Goal Planning Workbook.
Set some attainable short-term goals. Start small. Decide on one small thing you can do to pull yourself out of this slump, and do it. You’ll feel better for the small success, which may motivate you to plan another small step and accomplish it. Call it taking baby steps, if you like, but putting one foot in front of the other means you’re moving forward!
Being an entrepreneur can be stressful. We wear many hats and most days are just trying to keep our shit together. There are days when we are super motivated and our creative juices are flowing and other days when we just can’t seem move past the obstacles in our way. But we put our big girl pants on and we make it happen. Because we are fierce boss ladies in the pursuit of our goals..and I know you have BIG goals. But you don’t have to do it alone. I got your back.
“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women that have her back.”
I’m Candace, founder and creative director over at House of Paige, a Boston-based creative studio specializing in interior design and home organization. I am thrilled to be guest blogging for my girl Kelli today!
With the New Year in full swing, it is officially time to DE-CLUTTER! There are endless problem areas in the average person’s home that need de-cluttering, but today I’m going to suggest some ways to de-clutter your home office.
It’s the start of a new year and you’ve set some pretty awesome goals for yourself, but you’ve got piles of crap in and around your desk with no rhyme or reason to your workstation. How on earth are you supposed to kick major boss lady booty when you can’t even get to your keyboard?!
Whether you work from home full-time, have kids’ schedules to juggle, or just want a calming place to browse Pinterest and answer emails within, these organization tips will absolutely come in handy!
Ditch the mismatched storage/organizational products and opt for a cohesive look.
I can’t stress how crucial this is. I realize I may be a little more O.C.D about cohesion because I’m a designer, but this is highly important and a step that should not be overlooked.
When entering your workspace, you want to feel at ease and motivated to tackle all of your to-do’s! Having mismatched or random pencil holders, letter trays, bins/baskets will only add to the chaos that already exists.
I suggest sticking to a clean color palette like white or gray. Feel free to add pops of gold, silver or another accent color to add more depth to your space. Places like Target and Ikea have amazing office-y storage and desktop accessories AND the best part is that they’re cheap!
Clear the paper clutter! There are four categories of paper in which you should be keeping accessible.
To contain the paper, I recommend this KVISSLE letter tray. I like that the color is white so it’s calming and crisp looking on the eye. It’s inexpensive, sturdy and you can easily label the lip of each shelf so that you know which tray is which. Don’t have the desktop space? A wall-mounted version is the perfect space saving solution!
Read – This is an easy one. Put pieces of paper in here that need to be read. Once you’ve read them, either toss them or move them to the next appropriate category i.e. respond, receipts or file.
Respond – These could be documents that need to be signed or mailed, for example. Once you’ve responded to these papers, toss them or move them to the next appropriate category, which if anything would likely be “file”.
Receipts – If you keep receipts for tax purposes, put those in a separate file like this clear plastic envelope. Once the year comes to an end and you’ve filed your taxes, shred all receipts. Don’t forget to label the outside of the envelope! Helpful tip – Be sure to keep this plastic envelope in a desk drawer or storage bin so that it’s not taking up precious day-to-day space.
And if you’re holding onto receipts for purchases that might be returned, then keep them on your “receipts” file shelf until you’ve decided that the item(s) is staying put!
File – For paper that needs to be filed, I strongly urge you to scan these and keep them in an electronic filing system. Surprisingly enough, you actually shouldn’t be holding onto the hard copy of almost anything. With so many things online now like bank statements, manuals, email notices, etc. you really do not need to have original copies. And for most snail mail, you can opt in for receiving it electronically.
For around $5, you can download apps (onto your iPhone) that allow you to scan documents using your iPhone. If that’s not foolproof, I don’t know what is! I’ve heard TurboScan and Scanner Pro are really good!
I suggest creating a routine where once a month you spend 15 minutes to sift through your “file” shelf. Discard anything that no longer needs to be filed. For paper that you do want to hold onto indefinitely, scan it and save it in an electronic filing system. If you’re feeling a little weary of completely discarding the original document (even if you’ve scanned and saved it into an electronic filing system), then move it to a file folder within a file cabinet.
For paper that is important but you hardly need to access it, keep it in a decorative box in a cabinet or on a shelf within your home office. I love these Ikea TJENA boxes! Your tax documents and/or receipts that I referenced above fall into this rule.
For important legal documents that fall into the below list, store in a fireproof safe elsewhere.
- Social Security Card
- Birth/Death Certificate
- Marriage License
- Insurance Policies
Helpful Tip! Set rules for yourself so you can stay on top of the paper trail. If your letter tray or your file cabinet is getting full, then force yourself to sift through the piles before allowing yourself to add to them. You’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll be able to make decisions whether to toss or keep papers that have been sitting, untouched.
Pens, pencils, markers
Is there a reason to have 37 pencils and 20 pens in which half are out of ink? NOPE. Spend the 10 minutes needed to collect all writing utensils, check to see which pens and markers work and ditch any pencils that look crummy. If there’s only one person occupying the office, there’s really no reason to have more than a handful of pens, a handful of pencils, and a few markers. And again, if you want to be a little O.C.D about the overall look of your writing utensils, opt for all black pens and the same color/brand pencils.
Next, choose a holder that’s stylish and easy on the eye. I like to add pops of texture or even color in items like this. I love this hammered gold holder from Target.
Paperclips, rubber bands, push pins, etc.
Same rule as above, applies here! Collect all pieces, trash any junky ones, then make a pile of each. If you’re a visual person then this corked jar set is great for the desktop. If you’d rather keep these little guys stashed away, then opt for a drawer organizer like this one from The Container Store.
For any office supplies that you hold onto in bulk, don’t jam everything into one little organizer that ends up overflowing. Instead, store your bulk supplies in a labeled decorative box/bin on a shelf or within a storage cabinet in your office. Replenish your cute little canisters or drawer organizers once they’re running low!
Remove all contents of each drawer and prepare to sift through everything. Toss anything junky and categorize as you go. You can find some great drawer organizers here and here!
This is such a commonly cluttered category. Cords, headphones and USB drives can be found in the silliest places. Collect all of them that pertain to the electronics in your office and if they have a counterpart, match them to it. For example:
Camera – camera USB cord and charger
Laptop – laptop power cord
I recommend using storage boxes to conceal all electronics. I love these utility boxes because of the tiered compartment tray. The utility boxes are great if you’re storing the box in a closed cabinet, but if you’re storing your electronics bin on an open shelf, I’d suggest something better looking like this one!
Speaking of electronics, control the cord chaos that lives underneath your desk and invest in a cable management box.
Trash & Recycling
Yes, please have separate bins for each. SO many recyclables come out of offices, so be kind to the earth and have a separate bin for them. : )
Stick with the same bin for each so these guys look nice and cohesive in your space. You can label them too, that way you know which is which!
Memo & Inspiration Board
I LOVE these boards. I think they’re a great decorative feature in addition to a helpful and accessible way to post notes to yourself, inspirational clippings or even fabric swatches (if you’re a designer!).
This is an inexpensive and no-frills option, but if you’re looking to add a bit more pizazz to your space, this PB Teen one is killer!
These pieces of furniture are great to “house” all of your office goodies. Open shelving is great because you can see everything while closed cabinets can hide stuff that you’d rather not have on display. File cabinets are also great for many different types of professionals.
Find a few of my favorites below!
Billy Bookcase from Ikea
Wood & Metal Bookcase from World Market
BJÖRKSNÄS Glass door cabinet from Ikea
Modern Cabinet Bookcase from West Elm
ALEX File Cabinet from Ikea
ALEX Drawer Unit from Ikea
Okay guys, I think that rounds up most of my home office de-cluttering tactics! I hope you’ve found my suggestions helpful and please be sure to leave comments or questions below or feel free to contact me here.
Don’t you just love new beginnings. They can renew your enthusiasm and make you feel like you’re getting a chance to start all over, clear out the cobwebs and forge a new year for you and your business. But before you dive in, you’ll need to take a little time to declutter for a clean start to 2017!
Most of us let these get at least a little untidy during the course of the year — out with the old and outdated! How quickly can you find a file that you need? Are your files scattered throughout the computer in any number of places such as the hard drive, documents, the cloud or portable storage? Electronic folders that are not filed in their right locations can be just as messy and cluttered as paper folders.
- Go through your desktop and delete unused folders.
- Ditto for Google and/or Dropbox.
- Going forward use a hierarchal system to organize your files. File: Clients >Folder: Client Names > Subfolder: Topics such as Communication, Projects, Contact Info
The email inbox can easily get unruly. Time to choose and junk those sales pitches and subscriptions and anything you no longer want to receive. Block them and/or unsubscribe. Goal: 0 emails. Don’t spend longer than 30 seconds deciding what to do with each. Put things that’ll take time to do on your to-do list. Don’t forget the file folders. Clean them out or delete whole folders that are no longer relevant or necessary. Sign up for unroll.me to help you unsubscribe and have a system going forward.
Reconsider how much time you want to spend on Facebook. Unfriend people who are friends of friends or casual business acquaintances. Move the business acquaintances to your Facebook page or group. If unfriending seems too harsh in some cases, at least unfollow that person. Be deliberate with your time on Facebook. Set a timer if you need to so you don’t end up going down a rabbit hole. The goal for 2017 is maximum productivity!
To Do List?
Has your to-do list reached monster proportions? Do what you can to simplify it and test potential improvements to your system. If you have properly planned out your 2017 goals you should have 3-5 top goals that you want to accomplish this year. Always keep those visible. If you have a long to-do list, ask yourself which tasks will contribute to accomplishing your top goals. Those are the priority. For everything else, either put it in a parking lot folder or delegate.
Down to the Nitty Gritty
One pile at a time, get rid of any old notes, correspondence, etc., that you no longer need to reference. In fact, do a relentless purge of anything that doesn’t contribute to the productivity of your business. Get rid of the little things that pile up that have absolutely nothing to do with business, period!
A year-end purge reinforces the “ready to go” attitude that feels strongest at the start of each brand new year! Amazingly, your office and electronics won’t be the only beneficiaries of your efforts — your head will feel amazingly clear as well!