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FREE 2017 Website & Business Planner!

Happy New Year!

With the way Christmas and New Year’s fell on the calendar last year, I feel like that first week of January was getting back into routines and playing catchup more so than getting anything actually planned for 2017!

So here’s your chance! Download our Free 2017 Website & Business Planner PDF and get going on your goal setting!

The PDF will take you through basic business goals that are going to set the foundation for your marketing and website for the year. Try to push yourself from what you’ve done previously and think about new things to try – but keep in mind what worked last year too.

Once you’ve got your foundation goals set for your business, think about how they should be applied to your website. How do these new goals change what your site should look like? What the site should encourage people to do so those goals are realized?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from pros that know how to get things done for you! I’m always here for your business, design and website needs – feel free to give me a shout and see how I can help you tackle that list!

7 ways to be more productive during even your most unfocused work days

7 ways to be more productive even during your most unfocused work days

We’ve all been there, our to do list is out of control, now to the point where it just feels overwhelming and impossible. So much so, that you can’t even fathom tackling one item on it, so you put it off, and in turn, end up ending the day feeling unproductive and not great.

We know everything is on that to do list for a reason – it needs to get done, right?
Okay, let’s buckle down and get to it. You can do it, I promise.

  1. Priorities. Take a look at each item on your to do list. Obviously some are going to have a higher priority than others, especially ones with deadlines (like RRSP season!). Highlight the ones that have to be done today in pink. Not the ones you “want” to get done, the ones that have to get done.
  2. Eventually. Look at the ones that have been dutifully copied over every week (or day/month, depending on how you organize your to do list), the ones that don’t have a hard deadline, but still need to get done eventually. Put them in their own list, and stop feeling guilty about them. They’re not the priority – they’re not the ones stressing you out right now.
  3. Eat the frog. Let’s go back to the pink/urgent ones. Find the one that will take the least amount of time, suck it up, and do it. Get that first task done. Bonus points if it’s also the most important. (I’ll bet it’s calling to make an appointment for something! It takes less than 5 minutes, and doing it will make you feel so much relief! Do it!)
  4. Mix it up. Congrats, you ate the frog! How’d that feel? Pretty good, right? Maybe not enough to tackle the next most important item on your list, though. Maybe that one will take a bit longer to get done than simply making a phone call, so break it down into 15 minute increments. Do something else for 15 minutes, and then come back and do another 15 minutes. It might seem counterproductive to keep switching things up, but when you’re truly unfocused, and you know there’s no chance you’ll actually be able to sit down and complete the task, there’s no point in wasting time trying. Committing to small chunks at a time is motivating, knowing there’s a set time on a task you’re not digging, and most tasks take less time than you think they will too.
  5. Break it down. Let’s assume you’ve done that first chunk of priority #2, and you need to take your break from it (only 15 minutes!). What else is on your list that you can break down into tasks to complete over the next few time increments or days if it’s less deadline specific? Spend the next 15 minutes organizing your list and making a plan. (Just don’t get caught up in re-organizing the list and never actually completing anything on the list… guilty!) 
  6. Done is better than perfect. Love this quote. Obviously do your best when you can, but don’t let it stop you from completing (or starting!) a task. You can go back and revise whatever it is later if you need to (in most cases), but don’t let “perfect” prevent you from making progress. Get started. Take action.
  7. Suck it up. Yup, no sugar coating it. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it. Being an adult is tough – but there will always be things that need to get done that you don’t want to do. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself to suck it up, get it done, and then eat ice cream for dinner… because there are perks to being an adult too!

I’m as guilty as the next person for procrastination, but these tools have absolutely helped me to get things done that have plagued me for weeks on my to do list.

If you enjoyed these tips, feel free to share them – help some other poor soul that’s procrastinating on social media to get started on their own to do list!

6 great tips to get you organized for the new year

organized-jan11-2016

It’s no secret I love to organize. Lists, spreadsheets, colour coding, I love it all. I’m constantly changing them up to keep myself motivated and on track when a system stops working for me. As much as I love the feeling of crossing something off my to do list, I’m definitely guilty of using organizing to procrastinate actually doing the items on my lists, so I’ve collected some tips for what’s currently working for me to kick procrastinating and cross items off that need to get done!

  • Brain dump.
    • Get everything out of your mental to do list, and get it on paper. I like using small squares of paper (about 2″x2″) so I can easily rearrange the items on the list or move categories without having to re-write the list.
  • Categorize.
    • You won’t have “buy groceries” in the same category as “write blog post”, so divide your items into a few categories. I tend to go a bit overboard with sub-categories for my business (finances, blog, marketing, etc), but personal all gets lumped into one category.
  • Prioritize.
    • Instead of putting them in order of what you feel like doing, put them in order of what’s stressing you out the most on your list. Eat the frog – and know the worst, most stressful task is done.
  • Be realistic: break down big tasks into small ones.
    • “Reorganize entire house” isn’t going to happen in a day, so if that’s what’s really weighing on you, divide it into rooms, or by closet/area. It will make your list a lot longer, but I’m sure there’s a specific room/area that’s in need of organization more than other ones, and that’s the one pressing on your mind.
    • Only give yourself a to do list for the day that you know you can reasonably get done, or you’ll end every day feeling like you didn’t get enough done. Be kind to yourself!
  • Use a timer for tasks you don’t want to do, but need to get done.
    • I’m loving this trick, especially with my goals for the new year requiring doing some stuff that’s not as much fun (tax prep, egh). I can suffer through 15 minutes of pretty much anything, and typically, once I get started, I can keep going and finish whatever it is that needs to get done.
  • Use a timer for tasks you do want to do!
    • 15 minutes of something I do want to do is a snap, it’s stopping to get the “frog” items done that’s the problem.
    • If you’re having trouble stopping after the timer goes off, alternate between tasks you do want to do and tasks you don’t. You know you’ll only have to wait 15 minutes to get to the one you really want to do, and can feel good that you made progress on the task you’re not digging.

Best of luck organizing this year! I’d love to hear your tips and tricks, so feel free to comment below, or send me an email!

FITC 2015: Eating the Frog

Sometimes, even when we know we have stuff we need to get done, even really important things that you should “eat the frog*” on, you still want to procrastinate it. As a business owner, it’s easy to put things off because there no one to tell you to just sit down and do it. (I’ve tried telling myself in a very stern voice to get it done, and usually it’s not very successful unless it’s something I’ve put off and feel guilty about.)

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, sometimes we think things will take longer than they actually will, so here’s a fun solution: eating the frog with owls. Owls eat frogs, (and they’re really cute) so we’ve got 4 owls in different colours. Place owls in a bag, grab your timer, and shake the bag! Let one owl fall out of the bag, or reach in and grab one if you don’t think you’ll try to cheat. Set the timer for 15 minutes, and see which frog-task awaits!

fitc-2015-owls

Finances/Admin: light brown owl
Marketing: light grey owl
Learning: dark grey owl
Creative: dark brown owl
Bonus: coffee cardinal

Each of the owls represents common areas where I might put something off, and having the task in a manageable 15 minute increments resolves the thought that it’s going to take “forever”. Plus, there’s a bonus! The coffee cardinal is your 15 minute break to gather your thoughts, and get ready to buckle down and get stuff done! (ie. a bit of hope that you can still procrastinate)

I’d love to go to FITC Toronto 2015 so I can meet with other business owners, share tips, stories, and learn how others deal with the day in and day out of running a business. I’d love to be able to attend a variety of presentations, to help balance out business vs. creative vs. learning vs. new trends, etc. I’ve met very cool people in the past at different sessions and networking events, and I’d love to reconnect with them this year, and meet new people!

The best advice I have for someone entering the industry, is to prepare for it to constantly change! It’s not easy keeping up with the speed that technology changes, so sometimes we need to make up silly games with needle felted owls to lighten the mood, and help us to figure out where to start when things seem overwhelming. It’ll all get done – 15 minutes at a time 🙂

 

*”eating the frog” is a term used to refer to getting the task you dread most out of the way first

Noted all the thoughts!

I recently wrote about noting every thoughts in a previous post, which inspired me to do a much needed “brain dump” to help organize my current digital to do lists and free my mind.

So here it is! It’s not beautiful, or prioritized (yet), but it’s all out there. I’ll make improvements, maybe get some fun coloured post-it notes and find a way to avoid using painter’s tape (but still protect the wall), but for now, it’s all there! Look! It’s all my “to do” items! Great… um, wow, there’s a lot there, and most of them aren’t going to be quick to complete.

to do lists

The picture is blurry, because that’s how it kind of feels right now. There’s a lot to get done. Some items I’m really excited about, others, not so much. After spending all that time getting the important to do items down, I realized today that I’m missing something really important on the wall – balance. I’m missing the positive, inspirational pieces of paper that remind me that although there’s a ton to do, I can (and will) get it done, and do it to the best of my ability. Pinterest has an infinite amount of this type of stuff, but it’s all digital, and short of taping my iPad to my wall, I need to find some new stuff to remind myself that it’s not all bad, and I’m excited about growing my business so I don’t get lost in the infinite to do items.

Cheesy? Maybe a bit, but there’s always days when you need a cheesy little reminder that you’re awesome and can do anything – besides, cheese is delicious.

Note Every Thought

It’s no secret that I like lists, I make tons of them, everywhere – all the time. Lists make me happy and organized – I even wrote a post about it last year! I categorize my lists, and the prioritize within each category. It helps me to get a better grip on what to tackle first.

Lately I’ve been creating a new kind of list, a list of items that don’t necessarily have a solution/task associated with them. I’m calling it my “Note Every Thought” list. I’ll often have a passing thought like “wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a solution to problem xyz?”, so I write it down, or even a passing thought about an issue that came up in my business, not even necessarily a problem, but a thought that drifted in, but held enough of my attention that it was worth writing down. I may never come up with a solution, one may not exist, but the thought is at least out of my head, and written down to be pondered later. I find that I’m best at coming up with solutions when they’re written down, as if writing it down somehow releases my brain from the task of remembering it to be open to the task of solving it.

I’ve only just started this list in the past couple of weeks, but it’s already helped me to come up with some new ideas for how to better serve my clients and streamline my business practices (more on this in February!). One passing thought that was almost completely separate from a sudden new idea, but somehow by writing it down, I managed to form a connection between the two, and it opened up a new world of possibilities. Despite the name, not every silly little thought will be written down, but when confronted with one that holds some promise of using it as a stepping stone for something bigger/better – I’ll be writing it down and letting my brain work on it while I’m doing other things!

Tackling your “to do” list, and outsmarting procrastination!

One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is being able to work on things on my schedule. I’m so much more productive when I can work on the things that I’m feeling really motivated to at the time. As a business owner, there’s also an awfully big list of things to do that, let’s face it, you never feel like doing. Often they’re important things. Things with time limits that you put off as long as possible, until you finally suck it up and do it, but only because you ran out of time. All that procrastinating can be quite stressful. It’s a huge weight to carry around so many tasks in your head. I always feel better when it’s all written down because I don’t have to keep worrying about what to do first, or if I’m going to forget something – it’s all written down in front of me.

I’ve learned a few tricks to help tackle my to do list over time:
(disclaimer: these work well for me, but you may want to figure out a system that works best for you)

1. Organize your to do lists into categories, and prioritize them with items that are time sensitive or most important at the top. I often use sticky notes cut into strips or small pieces of paper and magnets stuck to the fridge so that I can rearrange the priorities if necessary. (I also colour-code them… but I recognize that I might be a bit crazy about organizing lists.)
Examples:
a) Spring Cleaning To Do List
b) Business Admin To Do List
c) Business Client To Do List
e) Shopping To Do List
e) Hobbies/Fun To Do List (can’t forget fun stuff!)

If we look at the Spring Cleaning List for example, I like to break down the list into individual items. Realistically, I’m not going to be able to do it all in one go, so having smaller chunks helps to show you the progress of what’s left, and decide what to do based on that.

Spring Cleaning To Do List:
Living Room:
– dust
– vacuum
– tidy clutter
Bathroom:
– windex mirror
– clean shower
– clean sink
– clean toilet
– wash floor

By writing out all the items to be done in each room, I can see that the Living Room probably won’t take up as much time as the Bathroom, so if I’m feeling less motivated, I’ll tackle a section that has less items or, pick and choose which items to do individually.

2. Once the lists are organized, take a look at what needs to be done in order of priority and decide what you feel like doing. If you try to force yourself to do something and you’re just not motivated, you won’t do it, or you’ll do a half-rate job at it. Look at your priority item #1. Feel like doing that? No? Ok – let’s move onto item #2. Go through until you find something you wouldn’t mind doing. Sometimes tackling something can make you more motivated to tackle one of the more important items.

3. Recognize that the items that you’re putting off the most are the ones that will take away the most stress and weight off your shoulders. Usually there are only one or two items that really weigh on me on the list. They’re the ones that I put off the longest and dread the most. HOWEVER – I’m only putting off feeling better about it by not doing it. It’s a lesson I know from experience, but it still doesn’t stop me from procrastinating. I even start to try to get stern with myself through Google Calendar reminders.

google-cal

Have I called Bell? Nope. I know what’s coming. I’m going to sit on hold for 20-30 minutes, and I really don’t feel like it, but I need to do it. I’ll do an update of when I actually call Bell – maybe I’ll have had an epiphany about procrastinating after doing it?… ok probably not, but you get my drift. I’ll feel better once it’s done, and that will eventually motivate me into doing it.

4. Part of putting things off is assuming that things are going to take so. much. longer. than they actually will (except that call to Bell). Try adding a time estimate to each item. How long will it take to windex the mirror in the bathroom? Probably less than five minutes. Items can seem more arduous than they really are, so by putting a time estimate on it you can psych yourself up by saying “Ok. It’s going to take me 30 minutes to call Bell, but then it will be done and I’ll feel so much better that the task is done.” or “it will take me 5 minutes to clean that – I can clean for 5 minutes.”

5. Some people give themselves a reward for doing a task. I tried that once with candy. I ate the candy while promising myself I’d do the task. I did not. Doesn’t work for me, but it may work for you. To me it makes it feel as though the task is more negative than it really is by having the reward at the end and makes me want to do it even less. (The reason I included it in the list is because this does work for a lot of people)

6. Be realistic. This is all about prioritizing. What are you really going to accomplish in a day? a week? two weeks? I have a list called “Eventually”. Some of these items have been on the list for two to three years. Clearly, they’re not important or vital, but things I need to do eventually. These are guilt free items. If you’re realistic about what you can actually accomplish, you’re less likely to feel guilty if you don’t manage to complete the tasks when you’ve scheduled them.

7. Scheduling using Google Calendar or a similar calendar system can be helpful if you’re in front of your computer as much as I am. I try to schedule tasks for a time when I’m most likely to actually do it (for example after I’m done work for the day, but not so late in the day that I’m too tired and put it off). Having the reminders show up in my inbox helps to keep the important things fresh in my mind and adds some pressure to get it done.

As I said at the beginning, this type of thing won’t work for everyone, but organizing it in a way that helps you get it out of your head and in a realistic schedule for getting things done can make you feel a lot better. Find out what works for you and start tackling those items! Good luck!