During a recent mastermind, some of us were discussing why people don’t want to succeed and I suggested that it was probably due to the fact that they might be fearing failure and did not know how to overcome their self-imposed barriers. This got me thinking…
Fearing Failure is a Choice!
Have the courage to fail big and stick around.
Make them wonder why you’re still laughing!
~ From the film Elizabethtown
There is a lot of wisdom in that statement. It isn’t so much that you want to prove to others that you’re strong in the face of adversity but rather, to me, it portrays an individual who understands that fearing failure is only a result of caring about the opinions of onlookers. In the vast configuration of things that really matter, what those people might think have nothing to do with your actual experience.
Children are inherently good at moving past failures because, in their youthful pursuit of life experiences, they have no idea what failure means. Like everything, children are taught that fearing failure is “normal” by some well-intentioned adult who explains the mechanics of failure and success.
Strictly speaking and in my opinion, you can only fail if you are comparing yourself to external standards that may or may not apply. Yes, this sounds a bit like double speak but please bear with me while I explain.
When we measure our success against another person’s accomplishments and find ourselves falling short of that mark, we are doing ourselves a disservice. What worked for them in their environment may have no bearing on what will work for you. Have you ever noticed the small print in advertisements and sales copy that informs us that results are not typical?
I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t surround yourself with people whom you admire and pursue the level of success apparent in their lifestyle. That is the premise of working with a mentor, after all. They have traveled the road that you wish to undertake and, if they are charging fees for mentoring, they have *hopefully* learned something about the route that they can teach you. But, if you cannot immediately mirror that level of success, please don’t let it slow you down or stop you!
In my mind’s eye, any effort to do something that one has never done before cannot ever be considered a failure. Fearing failure has potential to stifle your creativity as you imagine ways to proceed with your plans. If things do not turn out as expected, that is not a failure either. Remember, goals are only intended to measure progress. If you have to regroup or reset your goals, that is NOT a failure.
Who says you have to have it all together by a certain age? In my early 50s, I threw away the success model my parents prescribed and started all over again because I discovered that what was true for them was not bearing out to be true for me. You can read how to avoid fearing failure here.
Fail Forward, Fast
I can’t help finding analogies in the behavior of children when I think of this topic. Children pick themselves up from a fall and keep moving after their goal. If something hurts, they eventually learn to avoid it. The same is true for our businesses. Inexperience might cause a painful lesson or two along the way to your own definition of success but fearing failure can stop you from trying something new. It’s all about your attitude.
This is a link to a story about an 11-year old who understood the iterative process of succeeding. It is a pretty awesome video example.
In the video below, Brian Tracy gives some great advice for overcoming the fears that may be holding you back in your progress.
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There is a huge difference between being confident or arrogant. This is a fine line that we often walk as we manage in our personal and business relationships. For the purposes of this post, I will focus on professional relationships but the information does apply personally too.
It is completely true that we must have confidence in our abilities in order to gain and keep the trust and respect of our prospects and customers. If we become too forceful about the value that we feel we are delivering, that can be perceived as arrogance which will be off-putting to people.
your ability to be transparent shows if you are confident or arrogant
In this era of full-disclosure and social networking, whether that is through Instant Messaging or other well-known social networks, it is critical that we are above-board with regard to our accomplishments and skills. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate your expertise is to reveal the value of the knowledge you’ve gained by sharing it openly with colleagues, where this is practical and do-able.
It isn’t enough to say to others that you are the best at what you do. The ONLY way that your colleagues, prospects and customers will come to believe that you are an expert in your field, as you claim, is through their perception of who you are and by the information you share openly to back up your claims. If someone asks you why you are saying what you are saying, this does not mean that they don’t believe you or are challenging what you are sharing. The way you handle yourself will show people if you are confident or arrogant.
I’m not suggesting that you should give away all that you know without compensation. What will gain more respect and higher quality referrals will be to display a spirit of collaboration when you are in group settings or in pre-sales discussions.
whether confident or arrogant, remember that you are not always right
Even though you have spent years doing what you’re doing, you will be viewed as either confident or arrogant based on your willingness to accept the possibility that you still have something to learn and letting people see that this is the case. Face it, people are inherently innovative and it is possible that someone has discovered something that can enhance your previously earned wisdom.
The ability to hear a message without the background noise of your own filters is not easy for some folks. When you KNOW you are the best at something and a new person inquires about the wisdom you are sharing, check your ego before responding. The way that you respond will inform those directly involved in the conversation, as well as those looking on, as to whether you are confident or arrogant.
You can easily avoid confrontations by keeping an open mind. If you feel that the person asking the question has less knowledge than you, do not react to their inexperience with a phrase like:
I’ve been doing this for years so I know what I’m talking about.
Kick your ego to the curb by admitting, to yourself, that nothing is static in our world. Try to actively listen so you can learn more about their position. You can experiment with statements such as:
I hadn’t thought of that. Can you tell me more about it, please?
The first part of this phrasing validates the speaker by giving them credit for their idea. The second part lets them know you are interested in what they have to say and leaves the door open for them to discuss it with you.
People will notice whether you are confident or arrogant, especially if you have a genuine interest in learning more about them and what they have to say. A good rule of thumb which I’ve discovered is that it is much better to be interested than it is to be interesting. Besides, you actually might learn something new!
mean what you say!
Overly confident people rarely have the ability to truly appreciate someone else’s expertise, especially if it approaches their own. If you are in this position and find yourself congratulating someone, make sure that your praise is sincerely offered because insincerity has potential to undermine the less experienced person with whom you are in conversation.
Always focus on building or improving your relationships by being honest. Sarcasm or self-deprecating humor is a tactic that is sometimes used by arrogant people to draw attention away from others and to themselves, so be careful about how and when this is used. If you can’t offer praise authentically, wait until you actually feel that emotion before dishing out your Kudos so the recipient knows whether you are being confident or arrogant when it is offered.
make yourself easy to approach
Your relationships will be enhanced and define you as being either confident or arrogant based on your ability to set aside your judgments that someone younger or having less experience automatically knows less about your subject than you do. This will also make you seem more approachable.
When you position yourself as an authority in your field, people will gladly follow you and have more respect for you because they want what you have. They may not have decided yet whether you are confident or arrogant, and their decision is based on their perceptions of you.
As I used to quip:
She puts on her pantyhose one leg at a time too…
When given the opportunity, provide your fans and followers with some personal information about how you arrived at your position of authority in your area of expertise. I do not recommend being overly dramatic, as this will turn some people off. What I’m suggesting is that it is totally OK let people know about things that bug you or mistakes you’ve made along your way.
In the spirit of authenticity, always ensure that you are differentiating between what is your opinion and what is a fact, based on your knowledge.
It is too much work to be perfect and it is probably an unobtainable goal anyway. Your admirers need to know you are human in order to truly value the expertise that you have to share.
confident or arrogant?
Leaders and mentors understand the responsibility of the characteristics that have attracted people to them. Marketers sometimes appear to have problems weighing the balance between being confident or arrogant and, sadly, some do not even recognize that this is an opportunity for them to change and gain higher respect.
It is my opinion that confidence and ego have the power to make or break your patterns of success. As useful as it is to have an ego to propel you, that same ego will cause people to stop listening to you if you stomp on them in public or stifle their ideas by telling them they are wrong.
People will quickly spot whether you are being confident or arrogant. Truly confident people don’t have to prove that they are good at what they do for it is obvious without declarations. Such people have a very firm BELIEF in their own capabilities, as well as a CLEAR UNDERSTANDING about their own strengths and weaknesses.
An individual with a properly balanced ego will embrace what others feel is risky because that person believes in themself and knows that they have the ability to manage the risks and make it work. Thus, these sorts of people will often take leaps of faith that would totally freak out a less confident professional. But this can be inspiring to onlookers.
Having talent and being good at something is a gift. Don’t abuse your power by diminishing those around you, no matter how much you know.
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As our nation pauses to reflect on the events that occurred a decade ago, we are reminded of the qualities that define us as humans and leaders. Standing up in bravery during a time of utter chaos is not an uncommon. The heart of humanity does tend to pull together time and again, so history has proven.
The tragedy of that event will never be forgotten by anyone who was alive that day. For some, the tragedy was much more personal due to the loss of loved ones and family. For others across the globe, the act of terrorism was celebrated, to our horror.
On Facebook, my nephew wrote this comment:
“The sadness and outrage inside me is just as much then as now. The question in my mind goes unanswered, why? I’ll never know the answer. If there’s a lesson to be learned from this it might be…don’t take life for granted, don’t just live the day like it’s any other day.”
There are no answers for acts of violence and terrorism. In and of itself, terrorism is a cowardly act because the perpetrators hide in the shadows and congratulate themselves on a job well done while the innocent suffer the consequences and grief. When they later take “responsibility” for their actions, it is nothing other than crowing inane justifications for their insanity. This has been my opinion since long before the historic events of 9-11 and my feelings were galvanized on that day.
Disregarding politics, Mayor Rudy Guilani rose to the top of the list of leaders whom I observed that day. His intentions were pure as he motivated his constituents to help each other recover during the crisis. Apparently, he was among those who impressed talk show host, David Letterman, during that time.
The civilians on United Flight 93, who took fate into their own hands and diverted the plane away from its intended target, acted without regard for their own lives as they protected our nation from further devastation. We can only imagine how it felt to be forced to make that life or death decision and, God willing, none of us will ever have to confront such a choice.
On this day, and everyday, remember the lessons of 9-11, a nation unites to keep the memories of those who served and protected us by taking a stand for the greater good during a devastating tragedy.
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For the past two years, I’ve been in a business relationship with a client whom I felt had also become my friend. After extracting more than twice the amount of labor than was allocated under the terms of our monthly retainer agreement for WordPress Website Development services over several months, these local clients have reminded me that mixing friendship with business is a bad idea.
In an effort to overcome my disappointment about their denial about what is owed for my services … or even discuss a compromise, I decided to write a post to advise and educate small business owners on better ways to structure contracts with clients who expect to receive benefits prior to payment.
Qualifying Business Prospects
As a former Realtor, one of the refrains that they drilled into my head during training was that Buyers were Liars. We were taught to qualify people for mortgages prior to investing time and energy in setting up showings or writing contracts. This is easy to do when you can “spin” your request for qualification as a service that will benefit the Buyer but it is not so easy to do in other service businesses.
The difficulty may lie in the fact that most small business owners cannot afford to use expensive credit checking services. Thus, the qualification process involves interpersonal communication that almost seems intrusive while qualifying a prospect for their ability to pay.
In a perfect world, you would take 100% of the payment up-front but that is a hard sell. In lieu of that, insist on a retainer of no less than 50% of the total contract price and establish milestones that pay the remaining 50% for each deliverable at the time of acceptance. You may want to consider using an escrow service to ensure that you will be paid as tasks are completed. If you are in the middle of their project and they begin to tell you they are having trouble paying their bills, stop working on their project. Retainers are non-refundable. You cannot recover the time you’ve spent once it is gone.
Get it in Writing!
If there is no written contract to enforce a business agreement, things can easily go wrong. At the very least, put the request into an email message after you’ve agreed to deliverables and pricing. Don’t begin work on the project until you have an email reply that acknowledges the agreement.
Stick to Business
Since time is the commodity that service providers trade, don’t allow yourself to get engaged in personal discussions with your clients during the project. Clients will act friendly and they will say anything to get what they want. Inevitably, they will try to gain your sympathy and convince you that they will pay you later when they want more than they can afford. In my experience, this never happens when the bill comes due and the friendship that you felt was merely the tool they used to get what they wanted.
Negotiate Before You Do the Work
If a services client requests work that you know will take more time than the payment arrangement allows for, take notes about their request and tell them that you’ll have to get back to them with a price. Regardless of their insistence, don’t lift a finger to get the work done until you have reached an agreement about compensation and received an additional retainer payment. This is business and you are delivering value.
I repeat: Don’t budge if they say they will pay you later. They won’t.
Don’t be Afraid to Walk Away
As the saying goes, when one door closes another is opened. If you feel that your client is difficult to work with and they are exhibiting signs of ambivalence about your requests for payment, this is a sign that you need to move on to another client who understands that this is your business. You are not their employee and you owe them nothing. You are an independent business owner and it isn’t your job to save them at your expense, no matter how nice they seem.
Don’t Get Distracted by the Noise
When a client knows they are wrong, they will endeavor to assign blame to you for their irresponsibility. If you get caught up in their accusations, you’ll get distracted from the goal of being compensated for the work that you’ve done. Acknowledge that you have heard what they are saying but do not engage in a debate about why you are demanding to be paid and do not involve yourself with explanations about your actions as you pursue payment. You did the work. In a business relationship, you deserve to be paid.
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In these times of entrepreneurship and light-speed marketing, I’m frequently reviewing things that other people are doing online. YouTube is a great place to locate innovative marketing techniques. It is also a great place to wonder how people came up with their ideas but some things are better left unexplained … especially a video like this!
Make Your Business Fun!
Here is a video where Matt explains his business and how he has grown his ideas into something that not only is more fun but also is profitable. It is carrying a beneficial message to our world too.
Last weekend, I attended a reception for a well known nature photographer named Thomas Mangelsen. He autographed my purchase with this message:
Dance while you can. Scream when you must.
There is wisdom in those words, and Matt’s video and business plan reinforces them somehow.
Here is another favorite quote of mine by one of this world’s most famous writers, Mark Twain:
“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.”
For those of you in the USA, have an awesome Thanksgiving. For all my other readers, enjoy the day!
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In my business, potential clients sometimes ask for me to submit a detailed proposal that outlines deliverables and costs for milestones on a project. This usually follows a lengthy phone conversation. This is not an unreasonable request but preparing these proposals takes time that cannot be spent on other business activities and exposes details about my strategies and methods so my quandary is what level of commitment to ask of the prospect in exchange prior to delivering the document. Although it is part of doing business, nobody likes paperwork.
When I launched my business, I submitted detailed proposals without a second thought. However, I modified my approach after a potential client failed to acknowledge the receipt of the proposal and ignored my requests for follow-up and negotiation until he contacted me to share a listing he had placed on a freelance site which was a verbatim copy of everything I had written in my proposal. I was shocked. He seemed pleased about the fact that he had sourced the project at a lower rate than I had proposed. He has returned with new requests since then but I’ve declined.
My proposals now include a time limitation for pricing and a copyright notification that is intended to discourage prospects from using my content to shop their projects around. In spite of these measures, there still are people who promise to meet with me after the proposal is sent, fail to return calls or emails for a while, and send a cryptic email saying that they “going another direction” with their project after a couple of weeks. This is disappointing … and suspicious.
This isn’t a sour grapes post. I certainly don’t expect to win every contract but I honestly don’t know how to handle prospects who leverage my copyrighted content to shop around for better pricing. It is a bona fide conundrum.
These are the possible solutions that I’ve come up with:
- Withhold the delivery of all proposals until a mutually agreed to meeting time where we can walk through and discuss each point/price.
- Charge a flat fee for preparing and delivering detailed proposals and estimates that covers the cost of my time.
- Propose only an hourly rate for all projects in the future and track time, which is a big headache for me.
- Join the Circus and escape it all.
Well, the last one isn’t really an option but it is fun to muse about sometimes.
We are all aware of the value that our digital tools bring us. Our technology expedites information delivery, allows us to follow our social networks, makes calling from anywhere possible, and provides on-demand entertainment.
Based on this quote from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, we are actually depriving ourselves of much-needed mental downtime that ultimately may be affecting our learning capabilities.
“Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories,” said Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the university, where he specializes in learning and memory. He said he believed that when the brain was constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process.”
Perpetually Plugged in People
There are armies of mobile application developers who are hard at work creating new productivity tools and producing games to entertain us in between tasks. I am not a Luddite. I use mobile technology for both business and pleasure but it does seem possible that society is becoming enslaved to its mobile devices.
Entrepreneurs benefit greatly from the advanced technologies availed by multimedia mobile devices but these same advantages have potential to introduce stress, which can have a negative impact on our overall business productivity. While we want to give our customers the impression nothing matters more to us than our business, we are of no use to customers if we are burned out.
All of our technology needs to be rebooted periodically to clear memory and cache. The same is true of us humans. While it is easy to assume that browsing the internet, checking email, or playing a brief game is a break, these activities don’t remove our technology chains nor provide our brains the breaks they require to renew our creative juices. Regardless of our professions, most of us are tethered computers throughout our work days so taking a break on another computer isn’t really a break, is it?
During a keynote speech, Harvey MacKay suggested that the most productive time that he spent was time spent looking out his window. He went on to explain that he was both resting his eyes and refreshing his imagination. This “stuck” with me. In situations where there was no window, I hung a photograph of a beautiful place upon which to fix my gaze.When I am confounded by a bit of code for a wordpress website development task or unable to come up with fresh ideas for a new branding strategy, leaving my office for a stroll along the ocean shore totally renews my perspective. While I am away, I am not thinking about the work task. I am enjoying the salt air and interacting with people around me. I also leave my mobile device in the car while I am at the beach. There is nothing so earth shattering that it cannot wait for a few hours. Relaxing in a chair with a good book (with REAL pages!) or doing a crossword puzzle is another method that I use to get away from bright LCD screens and computers.
So, whether your thing is shopping, cerebral pursuits, or nature, do your favorite things and leave the mobile devices at home so you can clear your mental cache and attract new ideas. You will return to your tasks and I guarantee you will feel better and be more productive.
It’s Mother’s Day in the United States. This is a holiday reserved for the women who gave us our lives and, if you are as fortunate as me, the person who believed in us so much that we knew we could never fail. Today, I will tell you some of the most memorable stories that I have about a remarkable woman who was my mother, my mentor, and my friend.
My mother was born in 1926, which means she grew up during the depression. She was the oldest in a family of 12 children and, because times were difficult, her father expected her to quit school so she could help earn money to feed the family. Mom didn’t honor that request for she knew it would inhibit her future possibilities. At the age of 15, the same year that World War II began, she left her family and moved into a girl’s home so she could finish high school and make something more of her life. Her courage and focus were quite admirable.
Perhaps one of the bravest things that my mother decided to do was to have a career other than being a homemaker. I know this doesn’t sound amazing at all these days but, during the 50’s, this was not popular. Many of the suburban housewives whispered among themselves about how she was neglecting her duties as a mother and a wife. Some of those women even prohibited their children from being friends with my sister and me but, in my eyes, nothing could have been further from the truth! Mom and Dad explained that she was going to work so we could have greater oppotunities. Her working created income opportunities for me around the house, which taught me to be enterprising, industrious and responsible.
Mom took a job as a secretary, which was about the only position that women were allowed to have at that time. Within a couple of years, she was promoted to the position of Wholesale Buyer which caused a bit of conflict within the secretarial pool. My mother loved what she did, and she was quite good at it too. Twice a year, she would travel to New York City and negotiate large purchases for her company. I got to tag along with her a couple of times. Having the chance to see her at work was nothing short of inspirational. She was well-respected and a tenacious negotiator.
One of the fondest memories that I have of her is a reaction she had to an editorial in the local paper. Some man had written that women should not work outside the home and, if they did, that they should stick to “jobs for women” and stay out of the more challenging business roles because men were better suited for those sorts of positions.
Mom had a fit! She went straight to her typewriter and prepared a response that was published by the paper. This created quite a stir in the family, since she had used her married name on the letter. I will never forget listening in on a debate between my mother and grandfather, who was unhappy that she had used “his” name on such a controversial subject. She stunned him to silence when she retorted, “It’s my name too!” In that moment, she taught me that it was OK to stand up for what you believed in and be who you are, regardless of the circumstances. Remarkable!
I’m chuckling as I write this … and experiencing a little emotion too. I miss my mother very much.
Although Mom didn’t always agree with my ideas as a youth, she never told me I was wrong. In the truest sense of the word, she mentored me by discussing the pros and cons, just as she would with any adult. Those conversations always ended with her telling me that she trusted my judgment, which was empowering. I got to test my strategies and, if something didn’t work out the way I expected, she never said, “I told you so.” She would offer her advise and recommend solutions but it was always up to me to decide what path to choose. That was her greatest gift to me. Over the years, her strength became my will.
Her independent style and tireless encouragements are factors that still motivate me today. Her belief in me allowed me to rely on my good instincts, which has been the basis for every decision that I’ve made in my career. She taught me to disregard the nay-sayers and follow my own path. This is something you will feel in many of my articles and it is one of the primary reasons that GetIncomeBlog.com was launched in 2008.
Whether I am writing about following your passions or shutting out the noise around you so you can try something new, my message is always the same; Believe in Yourself first. It isn’t always comfortable to follow the road less traveled but, if you believe in yourself and your abilities, the pot holes on your path are never so deep that the axle will break on your carriage.
Mom’s resilience never ceased to amaze me. Up until the day she went into a coma, a week before her death, my mother’s mind remained sharp, she never doubted my ability to succeed, and she was a good friend to me. I was blessed to have her in my life.
So, this one is for you, Mom!
When your life changes in a radical way, what do you rely on to keep yourself moving forward? That’s a good question to have a solid answer to, I believe.
Many people define themselves by the accumulation of their material belongings, their careers, or their family roles. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, unless it is the primary method you use to define yourself TO yourself.
Take a young parent who immerses themselves in the very important job of being the best parent they know how to be. This can include a lot of sacrifice, especially in the early years. As children get older and more self-sufficient, that dedicated parent can find themselves feeling directionless if they have not maintained perspective on their personal goals in life.
Another example would be a career-minded person who has devoted themselves to being a loyal employee, which also can include a lot of sacrifice. In these unpredictable and tumultuous financial times, executives and individual contributors alike are surprised to discover that loyalty means nothing when shareholders are demanding better returns on their investments or a private company owner must cut back on expenses to keep their business viable.
When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.
~Alexander Graham Bell, US (Scottish-born) inventor (1847 – 1922)
We have choices to make at the time of a significant change. If our moorings are based on a self-perception that can withstand exterior influences, we will embrace the changes and use the opportunity to GROW.
Establish some goals for your new life. Make sure these goals are aligned with your personal passions so they are goals you will enjoy pursuing and bringing to life. Once you have selected goals, find a group of people who share similar interests and hopefully people whom you can look up to so you can emulate their successes and learn from their mistakes.
Appreciate the fact that reality, as you previously understood it, has changed. If this causes you to feel dread, you must find a way to adjust your mindset. Perhaps it could be something as simple as finding at least one thing everyday about the difference that you like better than your previous reality.
Know all of your options. If you feel limited in any way, introspect about what is the source of that feeling and create a solution where the problem exists. Truly creative often see a problem seeking a solution long before anyone else. Could that be the purpose of the perceived limitation?
Especially for entrepreneurs, there are times when sheer force of will is all that propels you forward toward your goals. If you are willing to believe in your own success, that will make all the difference in the world.
Perhaps the most important thing to investigate each day is your willingness to get out of bed. It is important to know why you are living and working each day. Write these things down and keep your list near the alarm clock. If you find yourself hitting the snooze button, rather than getting up right away, you might need to make a new list or evaluate your priorities. Face it; If your “whys” aren’t compelling enough to get you out of bed, they clearly aren’t important enough.
Recently, a newsletter arrived from a self growth website which explained dysfunctional personal productivity personalities. Because productivity styles can mean the difference between entrepreneurial success and failure, I’ve taken some time to analyze this topic and provided some tips and techniques that have worked for me in overcoming some of these productivity inhibitors.
Scrappers are people whose offices and desktops look like modern art with a collage of post-its and paper scraps. While conventional wisdom accepts that a cluttered desk is an indication of a cluttered mind, disorganization can result in missed deliverables and over-commitment.
If this is your style, whether you are working solo or in a partnership, adopting a method that serves to remind you of what you have to get done can be useful. If you have a partner, ask them to send you email reminders prior to important deadlines. Using a website like Airset allows you to set up a system that will allow you to put your projects online with automated reminders about deliverables sent to your email. Face it, a little up-front planning is needed for any endeavor.
Pilers don’t throw anything away and file nothing. They can sometimes find what they’re looking for quickly but watching them sift through their piles of books and papers can be unnerving. Many years ago, I adopted the tactic of dating a hard copy document if I decided I needed to keep it after reading it. These days, most of my files are kept on my hard drives and I still tend to precede the document name with a date, year first, if I’ve taken notes using notepad.
My work entails writing business proposals, marketing plans, project plans, website code, creating website artwork, and researching business niches for good keywords. For obvious reasons, these sorts of files must be saved for a period of time, even if the project has ended.
At the end of 2008, after a cross country move, I spent several hours moving client folders off of removable storage and onto a secure location within my network. Using a standard folder hierarchy allows me to go directly to a client folder to locate content related to those projects immediately. My clients seem grateful for my organizational skills when they call to ask for a password that they’ve lost!
At the beginning of each month, I set aside a few hours to sift through file folders in my inbox and in the folders related to my clients. It takes time but the time is well spent.
Multi-taskers have millions of things they hope to get done simultaneously and seem to take great pride in talking about their long lists. A downside for some can be that a lot of things get started but none get finished.
If you are an entrepreneur with clients or own multiple websites multi-tasking is essential, but if you’ve begun to notice that you are feeling frazzled or overwhelmed by your work, it is time to take a serious look at your short and long-term goals. Document all the things you have committed to do and organize it into do-able chunks that are prioritized by relevance. Aside from family commitments, your most important things to do ought to be money making activities.
Interrupters are people who do not respect the fact that, just because they have time to talk about something now doesn’t mean that you do. Because I am sensitive to this myself, I’ve always allowed the person whom I think I need to talk with know why I’d like to talk with them right away and never fail to ask if it is a good time for them. If not, I negotiate a more agreeable time for them.
When someone unexpectedly requests my time, I’ve found that my best defense is to be honest with them and, if I don’t have time for the interruption, I force myself to refuse and also let them know when I’ll be free. If I feel that I can take a few minutes at the time of their request, I inform them up-front about my time constraints and hold to that schedule by curtailing the conversation or text chat when the boundary is reached.
Procrastinators claim to work well under pressure and use this an excuse for putting things off to the last minute. Their real crime is that they work on things that they would prefer to work on, which pushes the less desirable, and often more complicated tasks, back and puts them at risk. Sure, we all are guilty of this sometimes but the pursuit of business success doesn’t guarantee that everything you will work on will be easy to do or fun.
Unmanaged, a procrastinator on a project can create havoc for other members of that group. While their creativity and talents might be welcomed, they require firm guidance and follow-up from a more focused team member.
Socializers waste incredible amounts of time communicating in frivolous ways. With the advent of social networking, people I was fascinated by and lost a lot of time on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook profile updates and responses. In an effort to recover my productivity, I established an hour or so at the end of each day to research topics that I wanted to post to Twitter and set up those transmissions using one of the many tools available for timing them. Many of these sites allow you to update multiple social networking profiles at once, and always include the highest quality sites.
I use a very similar tactic with both phones and Skype. Turning off the ringer during times of the day that I need to focus avoids phone interruptions. Similarly, putting Skype on “do not disturb” allows me to see when someone is trying to contact me and choose whether or not an immediate response is required.
Meeting addicts are obsessed with convening to talk about what needs to be done. So much time can be spent talking about such things that forward progress is hindered, however. If you’re invited to attend a meeting, ensure that the organizer has a clear purpose and that an agenda is issued in advance. If the topics on the agenda do not mesh with what is critical to your immediate needs, take care of yourself and decline the meeting.
If you are in a meeting and have something to say, make sure to apply the “So What?” rule before opening your mouth. This may sound like a statement from a belligerent child but it does force you to evaluate, in advance, whether what you have to say is relevant or useful to the group at the meeting.
E-mailers never use the phone to deliver a short update and love to broadcast their news to everyone on their list. It’s easy to ignore superfluous emails but, IM broadcasting software has opened up a new arena for pointless intrusions. Without exception, everyone who uses a Skype broadcast tool to communicate useless BizOp updates has been blocked from my list.
Although it is “polite” to acknowledge communications, not all emails or IMs require a response, especially if it is an uninvited solicitation.
Crisis creators dwell in a state of anxiety and everything is critical to them. The slightest problems can be exaggerated and their alarmist mentality can draw you in, if you are close to them.
Fire-fighting is a part of my business, at times, but keeping a cool head is what my clients seem to appreciate. If I cannot see an immediate way to help them with their problem, I will get offline with them and decide or do what needs to be done. If I am able to resolve the issue without another conversation, I will provide a real-time or email update apprising them of the cause and the solution. If not, I get back to them with a strategy, at the very least.
Packrats have never thrown away anything in their lives. This obsession has become a matter of public interest but not all packrats are obsessive. Like clearing your desk on a regular basis, making sure that you are eliminating clutter from your office or household is important. If you are looking over stored items and realize you haven’t opened the box or envelope in years, then you might want to honestly evaluate whether or not you need to hang onto it. Heirlooms and sentimental keepsakes are excluded from this, of course.
As a funny aside, I once dated a fellow like this. The first time I visited his apartment, the ancient computer equipment and stacks of printouts astounded me. There was but a narrow path between spaces to a chair in the living room, his bedroom, and the kitchen. When he moved to a new place, all of these things wound up in his garage too.
Perfectionists are so interested in doing things perfectly that they often neglect to get them done. Impressively long lists and generous offers to contribute are part of their style. I have known people whose lists were so lengthy that their lack of completion caused them distress. I recommended that they write shorter so things could be checked off quicker.
This actually could related to the multi-tasker style and the suggestions that were made there are certainly applicable here. Organizing and prioritizing “to-do” items into chunks that are easily accomplished not only gives a sense of personal satisfaction but also demonstrates to your clients that you are capable of getting things done.
Workaholics can’t seem to think of anything but work and also can’t seem to avoid reminding people about how much they work. As an entrepreneur working from my home, it has sometimes been difficult for me to separate my work and personal life but assuming dual expenses for internet, phones, utilities, and rent is not desirable to me.
I’ve learned to schedule “free time” for family, play, and personal projects figuring that, as human beings, we were given life so we could experience pleasure and fun too. I like to call these things mini-vacations, for all work and no play can make one dull and this is the last thing any of us wants.
This is a fairly complete list of things that could be hindering your entrepreneurial output but I’m sure that those of you reading this post can think of others. Any thoughts that you have and want to leave as comments are welcomed.
During holiday seasons, when stress levels are higher, make sure to take care of yourself. Business success may be critical to your survival but so is your emotional health.