Archive for the 'Managing Projects, Tasks & Time' Category

Do You Need to Write on a Consistent Basis, but Find it Hard to Do?

Posted by

Recently I made a commitment to write a new book. Whether I’m writing a book or a blog post, the hardest part is getting into the habit of writing. After all, writing a 60,000 word book means blocking out huge chunks of time on a consistent basis – and actually writing during those appointed times!

Then I heard about an idea that sprang up from the academic community called Shut Up and Write. People who had to write their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation would agree to get together on a regular basis, spend a few minutes getting settled, and then “shut up and write” for 25 minute sprints. Then they’d take a 5 minute break and do another 25 minute sprint.

This technique of 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break is a proven method for working within your brain’s normal rhythms. Add that to the group support and accountability of working quietly together, it’s a real win-win.

Imagine having time set aside each month when you will definitely get some writing done towards your book, blog posts, or other writing projects. This isn’t a replacement for all the time you’ll need to get all your writing project done, but it can be a cornerstone to developing the writing habit.

I decided to create my own Shut Up and Write virtual accountability group, and you can join me for five Shut Up and Write virtual meetings, beginning July 29.

We will meet every 2 weeks:

  • July 29
  • August 12
  • August 26
  • September 9
  • September 23

We’ll meet via video conferencing (I’ll send you the Zoom link once you register for the group), and each meeting will be 90 minutes. That will allow us enough time to do THREE 25-minute sprints of writing, and still have time to share, support and motivate each other.

(If you don’t have a video camera, or you won’t be near your computer, you can dial-in on phone or Skype.)

Our 90-minute video meetings will be from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM eastern.

1:00 PM eastern (New York time zone)
12:00 PM central (Chicago time zone)
11:00 AM mountain (Denver time zone)
10:00 AM pacific (Los Angeles time zone)
6:00 PM London (England)
7:00 PM Berlin (Germany) or Paris (France)

Do you want to join me?

The cost is only $20. (NOT $20 per meeting — $20 for all 5 meetings)

If you’d like to join Shut Up and Write, register here

P.S. Once you register, please email me and tell me what writing project(s) you’ll be working on.

P.P.S I can’t wait to get writing together!

Comments Off on Do You Need to Write on a Consistent Basis, but Find it Hard to Do? for now



Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Passion For Business News, Upcoming Classes

Choose One Project

Posted by

I’m just like you — just like every entrepreneur I know. I have a million ideas and I want to do them ALL right away!

Here’s how that’s killing your business.

I learned an important and enlightening lesson last year that I’d like to share with you. By focusing all my attention, energy, time and resources on One Big Project, I increased my income — and more importantly, I was happier and more relaxed.

I was shocked!

Even though experts had been telling me for years to focus on just one thing, I didn’t want to give up my freedom and creativity. I liked having multiple projects to work on. It made me feel vibrant and alive.

But it also made me feel unproductive, cranky, overwhelmed, and a nervous wreck. And guilty because I was having a hard time completing just one of those projects to my satisfaction. Hmmmm.

Imagine you are driving down a busy highway at rush hour. Now imagine that there are three other people in the car with you, all trying to have a conversation with you. Now your cell phone rings. In between all this talking, ideas pop into your head so you pull out your mobile device to type in some text notes.

Crazy, right? You’ll have a car accident any minute now.

Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing to your business when you try to focus on multiple projects or multiple goals simultaneously.

Multi-tasking Myth

In the 1740s, Lord Chesterfield said, “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once — but there is not time enough in the year if you will do two things at a time.”

Doing more than one thing at once doesn’t get more done and doesn’t make you more efficient. Recent studies by several research teams prove this point.

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, when you toggle between multiple tasks or multiple projects, you are using what’s known as the “executive control” process. This mental CEO has to choose priorities and allocate thinking/creativity resources. The more you switch between tasks, the longer it takes to re-focus attention and resources.

David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan said in a recent New York Times article, “Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes.” When it comes to your business, mistakes will cost you. Can you afford to lose time or money?

On a practical level, working on multiple projects simultaneously made me feel scattered, out-of-control, and diffused my intellectual and creative abilities. When I slowed down and focused on one major project for a full two months, four great things happened:

  • I felt more in control
  • I was much more relaxed
  • My confidence soared
  • I was able to get the project completed a full four weeks ahead of schedule.

It was as if I had been released from a multi-tasking prison of my own making.

Talk about freedom!

Choose One, Master It, Move On

In his book, “Getting Things Done,” David Allen suggests you create a list of “Areas of Focus.” Start by looking at the areas you manage in your business (you can create a separate list for your personal life). In business you may have these areas: marketing, sales, finances, customer contact, product/service development, operations/administration, long-range planning/strategy, etc.

Next, list all your possible projects in each of these areas. Once you have your full projects list, look them over and ask yourself:

  • Which project will most likely lead me towards my large business goals?
  • Which project will lead me in the direction I want to take for my business?
  • Which project am I ready to tackle now?
  • Which project inspires me?
  • Which project scares me?

Then choose one project that will have the biggest impact on the success of your business.

If the project scares you, ask yourself why. Figure out where you’ll need some help, education or resources in order to complete that project.

In speaking with some of my mastermind group members about this subject last week, they reminded me that you don’t have to focus on one thing for an entire year. Try it for three months or six months, and see what results you are getting, both financial and emotional.

Once you complete a project or master a new skill, then you can move on to the next one on your list. In this way, you can have both things in your life: a successful business and getting multiple things done in one year.

First, choose one project. Finish it. Then move on to the next.

22 comments for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time
Tags:

Designing Your Perfect Week

Posted by

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week working on my Perfect Week. Have you ever done this exercise?

perfect week large

You map out what you want to be doing during the week, by category, making sure the high-priority items get on your schedule first. It helps you set priorities and creates more productivity in your days.

Then, in the future, when you need to schedule something, you see how it fits into your “perfect” week instead of letting your schedule get away from you.

Some people balk at the idea of structuring their days so completely. That’s okay — just as long as you’re clear on what you want to accomplish each week and you have a plan in place for getting it all done. And it’s important that you also have a plan for saying “no” to tasks and people who take you off track of your goals.

For me, the structure is necessary; if I leave it up to “I’ll do whichever task I feel like doing in the moment,” I don’t get all my tasks done. 🙂

I created mine in an Excel spreadsheet, but you could use any word processor, or just a paper calendar to map out yours.

Here’s a blank copy of my Excel spreadsheet so you can try this exercise for yourself! (If you don’t have Excel, you can still download the spreadsheet, then open it in a Google Drive spreadsheet.)

Here’s a blank copy in PDF format if you prefer.

I hope you find it helpful…or at least eye-opening.

11 comments for now



Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

Increase Your Productivity: Institute Quiet Time

Posted by

Are you getting everything done on your To Do list?

No?

Join the crowd.

More and more self-employed entrepreneurs are complaining that email, phone calls, social media, and their beeping-buzzing smart phones are constantly causing interruptions, increasing stress and reducing productivity.

These constant interruptions are costing you productivity — and ultimately income.

In my blog post Choose One Project, I talk about the myth of multitasking. Talking on the phone and answering emails at the same time decreases your overall productivity. So does popping into social media sites while you’re trying to focus on an important project or task. It causes twice the number of errors when you multitask or allow interruptions to your task.

By allowing all these interruptions, you are losing TWO hours a day of productive time. Ouch!

The Solution

Many large corporations like Intel, IBM, and Deloitte & Touche are instituting something called Quiet Time: a block of time in which you cannot send or read emails, and may not make or receive phone calls (unless they are related to the specific project you’re working on).

Small business owners can do this, too!

I started to do this last year:

  • Core Productivity times are 9AM – 2:30 PM. All private client calls, group mentoring calls, classes, and project work are done during these hours.
  • Every Friday was “class design and book writing day.” No client or prospect appointments, no emails from 9:00 – 2:30, no phone calls at all.
  • Emails are handled twice a day – at 8:00 and 2:30.
  • Each day, return phone calls are handled after 2:30 PM (which is great because of the time zone differences between East and West coast).
  • When I really, really needed to work on a project in a deeply focused way, I’d bring my laptop to the lake, park or library, taking my work to a quiet environment without possible distractions. (I particularly like the lake because there’s no Wi-Fi there! :))

The Results of My Quiet Time Test

In a 12-month period, I designed and launched three new classes (including a 9-week class which was a whopper to design), wrote one new ebook, designed two new websites, and overall had a much happier and more satisfied lifestyle and work environment. Awesome!

Lest you think that you will be less productive in getting through your emails and phone calls if you institute Quiet Time in your business, think again. Having fixed times each day for email and phone calls increases your productivity, actually reducing the amount of time you spend on emails and phone calls. (I found I could get through 30-40 emails in a solid, planned hour, which would have taken me two hours if I had answered them in a scattered fashion throughout the day.)

If you are frustrated because you’re not accomplishing your projects and tasks, you need to schedule Quiet Time into each day. You will be happier and feel more fulfilled by your work if you do.

How About You?

Do you regularly block out time to get projects done? What are you doing to increase your productivity without getting burned out? I’d love to hear your stories and ideas!

19 comments for now



Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
Tags: , , ,

Are You Cut Out To Be Your Own Boss?

Posted by

I had an interesting discussion with one of my clients recently. She’s been in business for six months and is ready to quit. (I have permission to share her story.)

She writes,

“I give up. Starting a business is so much harder than I thought it would be, so much more time-consuming. I was hoping to be making a profit by now! There are so many things to do and I’m totally overwhelmed. People don’t seem to want to buy my products and I feel totally rejected. I don’t think I have the personality to be self-employed.”

Hmmmm…interesting. Are there really personality traits that separate born-entrepreneurs from people who can’t hack it?

I’d say yes, some personality traits do matter.

I’ve been self-employed in one way or another since 1981. I’ve known many self-employed people, and have been coaching and mentoring them for years. And over the past years, I see a pattern in successful entrepreneurs versus those who pack up and exit their business.

Here’s my must-have list of personality traits for the successfully self-employed (in no particular order):

  1. Tenacity.
  2. Self-worth.
  3. A sense of humor about yourself.
  4. Willingness to do the dirty work (the tasks that you hate to do).
  5. Willingness to learn new skills.
  6. A deep desire to be independent.
  7. Willingness to take acceptable and calculated risk.
  8. An ability to deal well with people.
  9. A passion for what you do or sell.
  10. Resourceful and creative.
  11. Willingness to ask for help.
  12. Self-disciplined.
  13. Self-motivating.
  14. Willing to do the personality “foundational work” to help yourself and your business.

Notice that I didn’t list any business skills here. You can always learn the business skills you need, or hire someone to do the work for you who does have the business skills you lack.

This list is about who you are and what habits you have. Changing your basic personality style will take effort. That’s why #14 is so important: are you willing to do the groundwork, the personality foundational work, to set the stage for your success?

Naturally, there are some personality traits that are business killers, but that’s another blog entry! 🙂

For you, what’s the most important personality trait you have, that helps when you own your own business?

31 comments for now



Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
Tags: ,

Are You a Jumper or a Planner?

Posted by

There appears to be two types of small business owners:Those who jump right into running their business, and marketing their products and services, with little or no planning.

And those who plan a strategy — and a service or product design — before they ever dream of offering it to the public.

Is one better than the other?

Yes and no.

Planning often allows you the time to brainstorm and think through possible scenarios before you commit your time, energy and money into your business idea. Ninety-five percent of the time, I advocate planning, especially if you’re starting a new business or launching a new product or service. The time you spend with research and working through possible alternatives, as well as the time you spend thinking about how you might handle worse-case scenarios, will reap huge rewards later on.

On the other hand, over-planning often leads to inaction. A phrase I love sums it up: Analysis Paralysis — the inability to move forward on a project because you feel you don’t have all the facts, and are unwilling to move forward until you’re 100% sure of success. (Every small business owner will tell you that there’s no such thing as being 100% sure of anything.)

When is jumping okay?

Jumping is okay if you’ve already got a solid business foundation underneath you. This means that your finances are in order, you’ve already got a working business model that brings in reliable income and steady administrative processes that support your next great adventure. Jumping is okay if you’ve done as much research as you can and have a good sense that your project is viable, even if you’re not 100% certain of its success.

There is a place for jumping in the world of small business. Jumping allows you to be flexible, and to ride the wave of enthusiasm and passion. Jumping allows you to be 85% sure and then go for it. Good Jumping is action, combined with knowledge, courage and trust.

When to put planning first?

When you don’t have a lot of wiggle room for things to go wrong, planning is crucial. Planning is a must-have when you’re protecting the reputation of your business and your brand (do you want to be known as the owner who constantly crashes and burns?). And when there are a huge number of moving pieces — and you want to eventually put all those pieces into a repeatable system, then planning is essential.

In the end analysis, a combination of planning and jumping is required of all small business owners. The key is to find a balance point.

10 comments for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

Next »