Archive for Brainstorming

Time is on My Side

I have gathered up my sticky notes and pens, and pages and pages of calendars – I am ready.

This is my desk :).

This is my desk :).

Seriously, I needed to sit down and really look at where I am spending my time.  I mentioned in the previous post that I had recently gone back to work 4 days a week – almost 40 hours per week.  I really underestimated how tiring a 12 hour workday can be – I can’t guarantee I can get anything done after work on those days (big eye opener).

So while this is a sticky note method – I’m also updating my Google Calendar.  I added my new work schedule, I have been just mentally remembering not to overbook myself – this hasn’t really worked out.  Just the visual of seeing the blocks of time that are already taken up and being able to see where I have blocks of open time.  This has been the best part for me so far.  I am a winner just for what I have added to my Google Calendar to finish out the year.

I think one of the reasons, we get unorganized in the first place is lack of planning and lack of tracking.  Just putting my plans on paper has given them new life, they have dates and times attached to them.  And by using the sticky notes and Google Calendar – I can also easily make adjustments as I go along.  I’m sure there will be changes, so I really like the flexibility of this system.

One aspect that I had to change from Angela’s original plan was the ability to lay out all the calendar pages and leave them out for several days.  I don’t have a place to lay them out in the first place, so I put the pages into a 3 ring binder.  I divided the monthly pages from the weekly pages.  This way I have easy access anytime I need to add any more sticky notes.

As you can see in the picture I used the Rio De Janeiro Collection of colors from Post It Notes.  I figured this way when I buy more I’m sure I’m getting the same colors.  And by giving each area of my life it’s own color I look at my weekly schedule pages and I want to see an equal balance of the colors, not just 1 color dominating.  And if I see very little of a color, I know that is an area that needs something.  Another thing I did to help me easily remember what color I assigned to each aspect of my life, I wrote it along the edge of the sticky pad – that way I didn’t have to stop and think about whether I was using the right color or not – it was right in front of me.

If I didn’t have this challenge – presented by my coach – and perpetuated by my creating these blog posts – I may not have gotten to this project yet.  In other words, I would have kept procrastinating.  If you are putting off your next step, I encourage you to move forward and procrastinate later :).  If you want to be held accountable, just leave a comment below and I will follow up and encourage you to take that next step.

This project is not over by a long shot, I am still adding sticky notes all the time – and feeling more and more focused.  Til the next update….

How I’m Getting Time Back

I have added to many priorities in my life and feel like I’m losing my grip.  I pride myself on staying on top of my business and lately that has not been true.

So it’s time to take a step back and see what I can do to get back on track.

I am working 4 days a week outside my home.  I’m rarely posting to my blog, which I truly do so love.  I’ve not sent any new inventory to Amazon for over 2 weeks (thankfully I’m still making sales :)).  I’ve started to put back on some the weight I just worked so hard to lose, and I wasn’t really done losing weight yet either.  I’m eating on the run and making poor choices.  Now some of these are not directly related to business, but I feel that as a solopreneur everything is related.  If we are the primary aspect of our business, and our health is suffering, our work suffers.  If we are distracted by pressures in our “real lives,”  that affects our ability to focus on our business.

Okay off my soapbox.  To fix these areas of my life I know just identifing the problem is a wonderful first step.  I’m a planner, it is my nature, so I need a plan of action.   My coach Angela Wills, has a planning system she calls the Sticky Note Unstuck Method.  I’m going to use her system to create a time management schedule.  I feel that is the first step to trying to keep all my ducks in a row.  Quack Quack.mama and baby ducks walking in grass

Angela’s system uses different color sticky notes, so I have identified 5 differnet colors – so far.

Sticky_Note_Pad

  • Personal
  • Household
  • Ecommerce
  • Internet Based Business
  • Work

I like that fact that she wants this to be a fun task and use color and be creative, I want to make sure this works for me, not just copycat someone else.  When I’m away from home I’m keeping notes (physical and on my phone) to add to stickies later and place on the calendars.

This process will take time, and I will be sharing my experience with you and you can decide if you would like to try it for yourself.

Brainstorm to DeClutter Your Brain

Want to know what’s really holding you back from reaching your business goals?

CLUTTER!

But, I’m not talking just about those piles of paper on your desk or stacks of business cards you have been collecting – although these are problems too.  In this case, though, we’re talking about the clutter in your head.  You know that endless list of things that scrolls through your brain constantly, that distracts you whenever you sit down and try to focus.

This is the clutter that’s holding you back, and truthfully, we all have this problem.  And now the Good News – it’s easier to clean up the clutter in our brains than it is to clean up those piles of paper or that stack of business cards.  To accomplish this amazing feat we are going to Brainstorm and get it all out in the light of day.

Here we go:

  1. Set aside at least 1 hour of time.  Quiet, uninterrupted time.  No distractions – internal or external.  No possible interuptions from the kids, the phone, the computer – nothing.
  2. Now choose your brainstorming tool of choice – but not a mind map here – we want a nice linear process first.  I like color and love Post-it Notes, they are bright and easy to move around as I change my mind :).  You can use Evernote, a spiral notebook, index cards and make sure if you are writing you have plenty of pens and/or pencils (No getting up once you commit).
  3. Now start writing.  Write down everything that’s on your mind.  Ideas for your business.  Tasks that need completing.  This is your to-do list on steroids.  No task is to big or too small, but don’t get too caught up in the details.  An example, if you need to write blog posts, instead of listing every topic you want to cover, write down “Create Blog Posting Calendar/Schedule” then you can brainstorm topic ideas at a better time, when you can actually act upon them.
  4. Categorize to Organize.  Now you have all this stuff written down, now we have to make sense of it all.  This can be the hardest part.  Organize tasks by project, then prioritize their importance.  Now my projects may not look anything like your projects, but they all have steps and some steps have to be done in a certain order, others don’t.  You know your business better than anyone else, be logical and fill in any blanks that may be missing as you go along.
  5. Now you need a system to keep these tasks on track.  You need to set deadlines and add them to a calendar system with reminders and alerts, or a project management software system if you are working with other team members.  Now you have to use the system you choose.  I used to love day planners, I would buy them and fill them all in and never use, they didn’t fit my lifestyle.  The system itself is only useful if you use it.  Day Planners were a great product, just not for my needs at the time.  If you find you aren’t using the system you set up – try a different system – this is the most important step – the follow through.

Now you may find that you get bogged down again in the future, so you can just repeat this brainstorming process.  I would even recommend schueduling a brainstroming session at least every 3 months, to keep you on track.

I would love to hear what you discover in your own brainstorming session in the comments below.