Summertime is a Great Time to Get Organized

Here in the Northern Hempisphere are celebrating the first day of summer – warm beautiful days and lots of hours of sunlight – so let’s get organized.

For some people, their business slows down in the summer and this can be a great opportunity to get your business organized.  For others this may be their busy time, so best to be as organized as possible.

If you get organized now, imagine how much you could possibly increase your productivity and income by the end of the year.

Schools Out For The Summer

The kids are out of school, so take advantage of their skills.  Younger kids may be able to help you with various projects, but the older kids – high school and college – are very computer savvy, use this readily available labor force.

You can make use of your own children, you can farm in family and friends kids, post ads at the local college job boards.  They are out there, go and find them.

But wait, before you hire them, know what you want to hire them for.

Do you need to get your documents into organized folders, with logical file names.  Do you need to have them organize your photos, separate work and not work, etc.  Do you have multiple websites or businesses that they can organize?  Do you need receipts entered into a spreadsheet or accounting software?  Just make sure you decide what you want before you officially hire anyone.

Remember to be careful if you are hiring college students, this is your home and your business, make sure to protect both.

Once you have this wonderful team of summertime organizers you can focus on planning your next business steps so that your year ends on a high note.

Have Fun In the Sun

It is still summer and you may want to take some time off and catch some rays.  I don’t expect you to spend all summer inside getting organized – that actually sounds more like punishment – just to remind you of all those opportunities while they are available.

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

The Secret to Successful Organization (And Lots of Other Stuff Too)

I know that you want to be successful in your organizing goals.  Perhaps you have gotten organized in the past only to fall right back into old habits, or you get started organizing, but don’t get very far at all and just abandon the project all together.

Part of the problem may have been that you didn’t have an end goal in sight.  You have to know what you want to do before you can successfully get organized.  I know you want to get organizeed, but you are dabbling, and you aren’t really clear on your next steps along the way.

The world’s most successful people know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going. They have a clear plan of action and will stop at nothing to make success happen.

If you want to be successful at getting your business orgainzed (and other areas of your life too), you will have to do the same. You will have to have a plan, stick to the plan, and know when you need to be flexible and make the necessary changes.

In addition to knowing what you want to do, you need to know why you’re doing it.  A strong why is a foundation for success.  It keeps you going when you’re tired, when you’re frustrated, when you’re wondering if it’s all worth it, because your why is always the reminder that keeps you moving forward.

What are you doing to get your business organized right now? Are you thinking about what needs to be done?  Are you taking daily action? Maybe you feel like you’re stuck, treading water, but not really getting anywhere.  Maybe you are completely lost — you have bought various products and trainingings that promise to teach you how to get organized, but it hasn’t happened for you yet.

I think the problem may be in your mindset, rather in the specific solution itself.  If you are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, it’s never going to fit.  So, what you’re doing right now may not be truly in alignment with who you are. You’re dabbling, clinging to the idea of the next great thing that comes along.  Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of wonderfully helpful solutions created everyday, but if you don’t have that end goal in sight, they won’t really be that helpful in the long run.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to change the core of who you are, just that you have to have the mindset, that you want to be organized and that nothing will stop you from reaching that goal.  Know that not everything you try is going to be the right fit, but it is easier to recognize this and move on when you have a clear goal and an open mindset.

And one of the big differences between those who are successful and those who aren’t is that they aren’t waiting for a product or a training to make them successful, they modify existing solutions to fit their purpose, or they create their own unique solution.  What an organized business looks like to you most likely won’t be the same as the coffee shop down the street, but isn’t that one of the main reasons you wanted to go into business for yourself?

A switch in mindset can have amazingly wonderful results for you.  Please share in the comments below when a shift in mindset has helped you move past a problem.

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

Why is Focus Important to Solopreneurs?

First let’s talk about it in the aspect of business, focus is the ability to concentrate on the task at hand, over and over again, in order to arrive at the ultimate end goal.

Now focus is not as skill that everyone is born with, but the good news is that it is a skill that can be learned.  It does take practice to be able to focus effectively.

One of the best ways to focus is to create an environment that allows you to be focused.  Now for some people this may be a very quiet room, and for others, music may be beneficial.  You know what works best for you.  Now, you need to create a time and place that you can be focused.

But before you get settled into this lovely focused place, make sure you know what you will be working on.  Is this a time for brainstorming?  Will you be writing a blog post?  Is this client time?  Have a plan and then put this time of focus to use and you will be amazed at how accomplished you can become.

Multitasking is the death of Focus

Let me shift the focus (ha-ha) for a moment and talk about multi-tasking.

You might think that the most efficient thinkers and doers of this world are great at  multi-tasking, but you’d be wrong.

Actually, the opposite is true. Most of the movers and shakers of this world have learned how to focus, that is why they were able to become the movers and shakers of this world.

Effective focus means focusing on one thing – one task – until completion, and only when that task is complete, moving on to the next. Multi-tasking is actually a way to keep you occupied, but not the way to truly harness the power of the success of true focus.

Multi-tasking creates sub-par results.  You need to focus to produce your best results.  I can multi-task, but when I’m working directly with a client, they have all of my focus, and they know that.  People can tell when you are distracted, and when you throw something together vs. creating your very best product.

I know that sometimes we have to multi-task, but take a serious look at your business and see where you can be more focused and reap the rewards of that focus.

Focus not Blinders

Now, even though you should be focusing on one thing at a time, you still need to retain the ability to turn on a dime, recognize when that focus needs to be placed elsewhere, and be able to change your focus.

This is not multi-tasking.

This is prioritizing.

And prioritizing is the most important skill you must have in order to turn your vision into a focused reality.

In business, situations can change in a heartbeat.

You need to know when you may need open to change.  Learning to focus on one thing at a time, but having the ability to change direction quickly, will spell the success of your solopreneur business!

To learn more about strategies to gain more focus, please download this copy of Increase Your Focus to Be More Productive.

How to Handle Old Habits Creeping Back Into Your Life

No matter how good your plan is, you might find that after a few weeks you let old habits slide back into your life. Or, perhaps something threw you off your game plan, such as illness or an emergency. However it happens, you find yourself back into your old habits of being a disorganized solopreneur.  Here are some tips to get you back in the game:

  • You Have Choices — Remember that you’re not without choices in your life. You can choose to let this slip up derail you completely or you can remind yourself why you wanted to get organized in the first place. And also learn from the experience, why did you fall back into your bad habits, in other words, what was working and what wasn’t working?  Make adjustments and keep moving forward.
  • Be Honest With Yourself – Were you committed to your plan, or were you expecting failure? Are there some changes you can make?  Are there other factors at work?  Are you over tired?  Are you eating right?   What caused you to go back to your old ways of procrastinating and being disorganized?
  • Start Small – If you were simply overwhelmed with all that you want to accomplish, take a step back. Find one small area that you think you can get done in a small time frame, a few hours or 1 day, whatever works for you.  Now schedule the time to work on only that area until it is done – and don’t procrastinate, sit down ready to work.  Set a timer and see how quickly you can finish.  Offer yourself a treat if you beat you estimated time, whatever will make it fun for you do it.  In the words of Nike, Just Do It.
  • Go Back to Your Calendar – Time it the one resource we can’t get more of. Make sure you are where you are supposed to be when you said you were going to be there.  Using a calendar system is the best way to make sure this happens.  If you’ve been writing things in it, even just a few random things here and there, then you already have a start.  If you are not using a calendar system, start today.  I personally using Google Calendar, and love the convenience of having it available on all my devices.
  • Let Go – Take a deep breath. You didn’t get disorganized overnight, you won’t become organized overnight either.  You will make bad choices, you won’t follow through with a system you set up.  Don’t beat yourself up. The important thing is that you’re trying.  Remember: Baby steps will get you there just as easily as leaps and bounds.
  • Do What Works — If you’ve discovered a way to do something that works, stick to it. I’ve said this already, but it is so important it gets its own bold heading. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. If it works, stick to it. Watch and make sure it is really working and not just a clever way to disguise more procrastinating.  And build on your success, pay attention to what is working and why.  And then how can you apply those ideas to other areas of your life and business that are also disorganized?

The fact is, starting is half the battle.  Even if all you do is start with something small like filling in your calendar, or cleaning off your desk.

You have taken the first step, just by reading this far.  You know you want to be organized, so start today and build on each success, before you know it you won’t even recognize the disorganized solopreneur you used to be.

Overcoming Procrastination Roadblocks

If you’ve identified yourself as a person who procrastinates it’s time to overcome your personal roadblocks and stop the excuses. There is a saying that failing to plan is planning to fail. And it is very true.

Whether you believe that statement or not it doesn’t really matter, if you don’t plan for success based on your own personality and way of doing things, you can’t succeed. If you cannot accept your part in being a disorganized procrastinator, you’ll be stuck forever.

Sometimes disorganization or procrastination is situational. In severe cases it’s chronic.

Whether you’re chronically disorganized or situationally disorganized, the fix is the same. Develop a plan, and then follow it.

Ironically, doing this will rid you of both disorganization and procrastination, which just seem to feed off each other.

Fixing Bad Habits and Creating New Good Ones

The best way to fix a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. But first, you need to identify the bad habits that you want to change.

Write a list either on paper or in Evernote or Word on your computer, whatever works best for you. Next put them in order of smallest problem to biggest issues.

Start with one of the small habits first, to get that taste of victory.  Small successes help us stay motivated. The “bigger” habits may take more than one try to get under control, but get started.

I use this system in my crafting life.  I love to cross stitch and I love to start huge projects, but then I feel bad for all those other projects that I have tossed aside, so I will pull out a quick project that I can finish in 1 day and then I can go back to enjoying the big monster project.  You can do the same with your bad habits.

Compartmentalize the Habit

Try to find out when you commit an offense and take action in the moment.  For instance, if you check your email multiple times each day, that may be a bad, time sucking habit.  Would you more efficient to check your email at the start and end of your day?  That’s right; don’t just think you can quit cold turkey, designate specific times when you will deal with the behavior. Set a reminder in your phone to check your email at the designated times, and then check, and then get back to your more productive work.

I would say that most of us, should strongly consider the same system for dealing with social media.  We all know that social media can be a real time sucker.  You go in to make a post and 2 hours later you’re watching another cat video.  Set a timer for no more than 30 minutes and stick to it.  You can always come back to social media after you have completed the real items on your to-do list.

Let me know if I can help you with your procrastination roadblocks in the comments below or by using the contact form.

The 3 Most Common Reasons Procrastination is Keeping You Disorganized

As a procrastinator, it’s important for you to find out why you procrastinate, if you hope to change the behavior and become an organized solopreneur.

Now, almost everyone suffers from procrastination tendencies in at least one aspect of their lives, whether it’s getting work done, doing household chores, or going to the gym.

Wouldn’t it be great if we procrastinated about eating that delicious chocolate brownie as much as we do about writing that blog post?

The truth is, when you procrastinate, you’re getting some sort of payoff for the behavior.

You’re avoiding the pain of right now.

Maybe you realize that it may cause pain later, but you put that out of your mind. Think about that the next time you decide to put something off until later.

Now some of the most common reasons that people procrastinate are:

Fear of Failure

This is the most obvious reason people procrastinate. The fear that you won’t succeed is so strong that you’d rather not try at all. Your mind tells you that you’re not a failure because you didn’t do it yet.

Many people who fear failure have perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism is really just a cover and an excuse for the fear of failure.

Fear of Success

Believe it or not, some people procrastinate due to a fear of success, the inverse of fear of failure. If you have an innate feeling that you don’t deserve success and lack confidence in your ability to continue being successful, you will procrastinate.

You have a tendency to look so far ahead you already know that once you are on top, it’s harder to stay on top, so why get to the top at all?

Fear of being able to repeat success can block you from ever experiencing success in the first place.

Addiction to the Rush

This is something that often happens to college students and other people who work with strict deadlines. They wait until the last minute and the extra adrenaline that their body produces makes them feel good, too good.

Adrenaline junkies often believe they do better work at the last minute, which could not be further from the truth. If you believe that you perform at a high level at the last minute, imagine how well you would do with a real plan of action?

Now of course there are other reasons for procrastinating, but you will often see at least some of your actions reflected in these 3 most common reaseon for procrastination.  Identifying your reason can help you identify that behavior in the moment.  If you are a perfectionist, you now need to give yourself a deadline and then meet that deadline, no matter what.  Everything could always be improved upon, but does it always need to be imporved upon, that is the real question to be asking.

Please share you procrastination struggles in the comments below or use this contact form to reach out to me privately.

Do You Love PLR as Much as I Do?

So I guess you already know that I love PLR.  PLR – Private Label Rights, is just generic information, sold in batches, that can and should be customized.  It is wonderfully helpful to get me started with ideas for blog posts and I get lots of material that I can customize for you my readers and customers.  I rarely publish the PLR as it is written, but you can do that if you really want to.

But PLR can be very low cost and that makes it easy to have a lot of unused PLR left sitting on your computer’s hard drive or filling up your dropbox space.  Kelly McCausey, a very smart solopreneur recently offered a peek into how she uses PLR in her business and her tips and tricks for making sure she uses the PLR she purchases.

Well, I watched her webinar and then took a look at my own stash.  Um, yeah, I have tons of PLR and some of it is just plain outdated information.  In other words, it is trash.  So I spent money to buy a product, downloaded it to my computer and never used it as intended and now I am literally throwing my money away.  This made me mad.

So I have spend the past 2 days, making some deep and painful cuts to my PLR stash – it is still too much.  I have a lot that I need to read and see what it says and make sure it is relevant for you.

If you are like me and have an overflowing stash of PLR, you may want to take advantage of Kelly’s new coaching offer, called it PLR Review Coaching..  She will spend time with you one on one to help you get that PLR sorted and put into use.

Like I said, after watching her webinar, I was inspired and I know that if you work with Kelly, you will be inspired too.  I know that I will love my PLR even more now that I’m putting it to use.

Let me know in the comments below, do you have a PLR stash?

Identifying Your Organizing Style

Getting organized is important.  

The first thing you need to do is figure out your general organizational style. Even as a disorganized person you have a general organizational style. Trust me. Knowing your own personal organizational style will help you avoid choosing methods that won’t work for you.

  • Neat Nelly — She puts everything away out of sight, however the term neat can be questioned. She feels neat because it’s all out of sight and out of mind.
  • Piles Polly — She puts everything out where everyone can see it, usually in piles all over the place. She cannot find anything when she needs it.
  • Basket Betty — She puts everything into baskets so that they look neat and out of sight, but they are anything but neat (and maybe not even out of sight).

Understanding your organizational style will help you move forward with creating a system of organization that works for you.

Working with your personality, instead of against it, will make becoming more organized a lot simpler. So, it doesn’t matter whether or not you pile everything up, stuff everything out of sight, or have lots of baskets and bins with all your work in them. You can work with your natural inclinations to create a plan and develop a system that works for you.

If you’re still not sure about your organizational style, think for a moment about what you do when you receive a monthly bill. Do you throw it on a “bill pile”, file it away, or throw it in a basket (or drawer)? Some people just prefer to be able to see everything because they’re afraid they’ll forget something. Other people feel more accomplished if it’s all out of sight (and out of mind), while others do a mixture of the two.

Which one are you?

My personal inclination is to be a Piles Polly.  I like everything where I can see it, so I don’t forget about it.  My husband on the other hand is a Neat Nelly, if it is out of sight it is cleaned up.  So we tend to compromise along the lines of Basket Betty, we have several “junk” drawers, but at least I get to keep the mail in a tabletop basket so I remember to pay the bills.

Now as you move forward with your office organizing plans you can know what works best for you.  Don’t get a desk with lots of drawers and very little desktop if you tend to be a Piles Polly or even a Basket Betty, you want a system that allows you to have items where they can be seen and easily accessed.  On the other hand if you are Neat Nelly, make sure to get a desk or workspace with plenty of drawers or storage, so that you can keep your items out of sight when you are not working with them.

Please let me know what style you most identify with in the comments below.

Outsourcing Requires Organization

You can’t do everything on your own – and you shouldn’t.  As a solopreneur, you are not looking for employees, your solution is outsourcing.  To get the most out of outsourcing, it requires organization.  You have to be able to keep track of the jobs you have assigned to what people, when the requested work will be completed, how much you paid for the job, etc.  And you will also need to be able to tell the person what you want done, and sometimes that will require step by step instructions.  

I truly believe you will not reach your highest business goals without getting your business organized.  As your business grows, being organized will become even more important, the sooner you get on top of this issue, the better off you will be.  

Online, we use VA’s or Virtual Assistants most commonly for our outsourcing needs.  You can find lots of great VA’s and some that are not so great.  Like anything, you may not find the right person the first try, that doesn’t mean quit, hopefully you will learn something from the experience and you will use that information to make a more informed choice the next time.  The best way to see if you are a good fit with a person you wish to hire, is to start with small tasks, or smaller jobs, as they prove themselves a good fit, then continue to add to their workload as you see fit.   A great way to find a good VA is to ask other solopreneurs who they use and/or who they would recommend, this will often get you a better match with fewer headaches.  And a great place to meet these other solopreneurs is Facebook groups.

In addition to VA’s there are many sites that offer specific services by the job.  Fiverr.com is a site that allows people offer services starting at $5.  Other sites like upwork.com have various levels of service, from individual jobs, to long term commitments.  These sites work best if you are specific in your needs.  If you are vague, you will not likely get the results you are looking for.  If you are looking for research on a topic, be as specific as possible, if you like to include stats, ask them to research stats related to the requested topic.  If you want articles from popular publications and not lesser known places, or vice versa, say so in your instructions.  I have used Fiverr in the past and had mixed results, so I stopped using them, but they have worked on improving the site and I have been meaning to give them another try, so I encourage you to as well.

So, now you have hired someone, now you need to tell them what to do, the easiest way to do this is to already have step by step instructions in place.  For example, publishing a blog post, sounds simple, but there are several steps involved.  I need to have a topic or research a topic, then I need a headline, from there, I actually have to write the blog post.  I like to add images to most of my posts, so after I write the post, I pick out the images I would like to add.  If there are links to be added, I do that right about here.  Then I check the SEO with a plug in I have installed on my site.  I also add my tags and categories, then once everything is done, then I hit the publish button.  So if I was going to have someone help me in this process, I would need to be able to know which steps and so perhaps all I do is the actual writing and I have my VA do all the other steps.  I’m free to do what I do best and they do what they do best.  A win for everybody, but if you aren’t organized, you will not be able to relay step by step instructions and you will likely be disappointed with the results.

As you can clearly see, getting your business organized will help you increase your bottom line and help you to outsource tasks to keep you loving your business.  Please let us know how you do with outsourcing in the comments below.

What’s Going On Behind You?

Have you given any thought to what appears behind you when you are recording videos or making Skype video calls?  These days, you need to be able to go live – and sometimes unexpectectedly.  All too often we are so worried about how we look – am I right ladies? – that we forget to think about how the room looks.  Some great options are to clean and tidy the space, get a folding screen that you use when making videos or even create a permanent backround/recording area.  Just make sure to think about what is behind you before you turn that camera on yourself.

The obvious is to make sure the space behind you within camera range be cleaned up so that you are not embarrassed by what is behind you.  Now if your subject matter is model airplanes and all you see behind you is model airplanes that is fine, if they are all piled up in heaps you may want to fix that, but the idea is that your customers will expect an expert in model airplanes to have model airplanes in his office.  Personally, I talk about being organized or getting organized all the time and right now my back drop includes a shelf of binder folders.  This makes sense for me and my audience, now the bottle of lotion I set down there as I started to write, will be gone when I leave the room too.

Now a nice folding screen can make a great instant backround.  If you have a large space you may want to do this even if the space behind you is neat as a pin.  You can find these a variety of folding screens at places like Amazon and Pier One Imports.  And if you are on a budget, you may be able to find one at a local garage sale or thrift store.  You can even use the screen to advertise your business if you want.  Make sure that what ever you choose is not too busy, you want a simple pattern or solid colors.  Another option is a white board as a screen, you can use it as a prop while talking or just have a message you want to share.  Again, the main idea is to be thinking about what is behind you when you are on camera.

Another option may be to have a specific recording “studio” or area that has a plain wall or minimal distractions.  We, myself included, often forget how mobile technology allows us to be.  We got used to working at the desk in the office and have often transferred that habit to our home based business, now we can change that habit.  Do you have a room that has a great place, that would look great on camera?  Then why can’t you make your video recordings there?   Have fun and get creative, you may have several wonderful spots that can be great for making your videos reflect your message, just remember to watch the light if you are recording near a window.

So, you have a great product to share with your customers, now you will be able to record videos that will look better that all those others that don’t take the time.  I know that you will not always be able to have the perfect back drop and you will just have to hit record on the fly sometimes, but the more you think about this, the more of a habit it will become.  

So share you best or worst video backround story in the comments below.