Archive for Get Organized

Overwhelm Can Keep You From Getting Organized

The internet is a wonderful place filled with lots of very smart people willing to share all that they know, some for free and others for a fee.  So, how do you keep from getting overwhelmed.

Overwhelm often plays out in one of two scenarios:

1.) You are trying to organize everything all at once.

If you have multiple areas of your business that need to be organized, that is okay.  Let’s just clean things up from here.  You have to start somewhere, so I want you to choose ONE area to work on right now. You can’t go through everything all at once. Implementation has to be progressive, to be successful.

And don’t try to do more in a day that you really can. You’re going to suffer burnout if you overload yourself with information and tasks. At the same time, if you want to move forward, you have to start taking action steps seriously.  And daily.

2.) You already have a plan, and know exactly where you want to start, but you haven’t started.  You are letting fear get in the way of your success.

This is troublesome because it’s hard to gain confidence in yourself when you don’t take any action. You may have failed in the past, and honestly you may still have failures going forward.  But taking action will teach you how to handle success and failure.  You can get your busienss organized in a way that works for you.

The first thing you want to do is set aside a certain amount of time to work each day on implementing your organizing plan. You can break it up into small chunks of time, or put in a couple of dedicated hours, but try working all day – from sun up to sun down and end up in frustrated and in tears because you’re exhausted.  This will not help you gain in confidence, but hopefully if you do go down this path you will learn this is not the best solution.

As you continue to take action, do it step by step, just like you planned.  Don’t jump around, you will end up with too many balls to juggle and they will likely come crashing down. And don’t skip the parts you don’t really like, find a way that helps you get through, you know find your spoonful of sugar.

Take your business organizing in bite sized steps. Don’t try to organize an entire business in two hours. Even, if you succeed, it’ll be shoddy, and very unlikely to continue to stay organized in the long term.  Before too long, you will just be overwhelmed all over again, and tell yourself that you just can’t get organized, but if you do it smartly, the results will last.

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.

Plan For Higher Profits

Smart business owners know that planning is the key to higher profits. But creating a long-term plan doesn’t come naturally for many people. You have to not only have a vision for where you want your business to go, but you also have to know what you need to create (and when), be able to assign the tasks to your VA(Virtual Assistant) or other team members, work in some additional promotions for complementary products, and still leave room for last minute offers.

Whew! No wonder we get so overwhelmed when it comes to planning.

The “seat of your pants” business plan seems so much easier! And less profitable.

So let’s get planning and make your business as easy (and profitable) as possible!

Take Stock

Before you can clearly see what direction you want to take, you need to look back at where you’ve been. You’ll find lots of useful information in your stats and sales figures for the past 12 months, and you might even discover that you did much better than you initially thought.

If you has set goals for last year – and you should have, let’s review.

What milestones did you hope to hit? How did your results stack up against those goals?

For example, you might want to look at things such as:

  • Overall sales figures
  • Sales figures by product
  • Traffic numbers
  • Social media growth
  • Mailing list subscribers
  • Affiliate sales figures

Even if you didn’t set a goal in each of these areas, make a note of where you are right now, so that you can measure your progress more accurately as you work on your future marketing plan.

As you’re looking at these numbers, do any of them surprise you? Are you pleased with your list growth, but disappointed with your Facebook reach? Did you sell more of that product than you thought you would, or earn less in affiliate commissions than you expected?

For each item that surprises you in some way, ask yourself what you could have done differently, or what may have caused the difference. These answers will help you set more realistic goals for next time.

Now, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

Keep in mind, though, that you don’t have to tackle everything at once. In fact, you’ll be much more successful if you focus only on the next few weeks.

Keep the big picture in mind, but when it comes to where you spend your time, only be worrying about what’s coming up in the next 45 days.

This gives you plenty of time to finish up any product that’s not quite ready for sale, plan a launch, and get all the content in place that you’ll need.

Still feeling overwhelmed?

Even the most well-planned and organized marketing calendar won’t get the work done for you. Now is the time to hand off those tasks you don’t want to or cannot do. Using your task list, make a new list that includes only the tasks you must do. These might include things such as writing your emails, recording videos and podcasts, and intake calls for new clients.

The rest can—and should—be outsourced.

Keep the Momentum Going

Even the most well planned marketing calendar won’t produce results without ongoing care and feeding. Schedule time each week to:

  • Review tasks assigned to your team
  • Review tasks assigned to you (consider hiring a project manager if you’re bad at personal accountability)
  • Review current promotions from your colleagues, contemporaries, and competitors: Do any of these fit with your existing calendar?
  • Look ahead to the next few weeks to spot the holes in your schedule

In addition, you’ll want to do a more thorough review each month, which will include:

  • Your next 45 days of planning for profit
  • Scheduling time to update/create products and programs
  • Review your long-term calendar for changes and updates
  • Review new technology related to your market (Do you need to move things in your calendar to accommodate that hot new social network?)

Remember, your plan is a living document. It’s not written in stone. You can (and should) rearrange it to fit your current needs, new offers from others, and in answer to feedback and suggestions you receive from your customers or clients.

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.

Without a Plan, You Will Not Meet Your Goals

Whatever you decide you want to accomplish, it will be easier and be accomplished more quickly if you have a plan.  Having a plan allows you to know what to do and when to do it.  When it comes to getting organized this is also true.  If you jump around from idea to idea and never see one to completion, you will not get the results you desire.  If you dabble here and there and don’t have a plan you will not see much progress and get discouraged, confirming your own belief that you can’t get organized.

So, now you know you need a plan.

You want to be able to wake up each morning and know what you are going to do that day.  You should have an overall plan for the week, month and year as well.  I know that getting organized is often a task you fit in when you have time, but let’s change that.  Start with small blocks of time and find specific tasks for those times.  For example, if you have 30 minutes on Thursday, you can organize documents into folders and sub folders.  That hour on Saturday morning can be great for labeling photos, and sorting into folders.  Put it on your calendar.

Before you can be that specific though, you will need to have an overall vision or plan.  Are you looking to get your physical space in shape?  Are your computer files chaotic? Do you miss appointments and deadlines?  All of the above?

 

Be realistic about your plan.  If you know you will need more time for emotional attachments, plan for that.  Play to your strengths, but allow for your weaknesses.

Now remember, things will grow and change over time, this is to be expected. In order to be able to roll with those changes you need to be able to adjust your plans, and the best way to be able to do that is to have a clear vision in place.  Having a plan actually will make it easier for you make adjustments as your business grows, as your personal life evolves, you will be ready.  You will be organized.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth – or in this case – Where My Blog Is

As you can see if you have been visiting my site, I have been neglectful in getting regular posts up here on my blog, so I am challenging myself to post every day for the next 30 days.  I honestly have so many blog post ideas, that I have trouble deciding where to start, so today we are starting here.

If I were coaching myself at this point, I would advise me to take action, get some blog posts up an see what happens from there.  It’s good to practice, and I will get better at blogging if I continue to practice.

Honestly, my long term goals don’t include blogging on a daily basis, but I do need to develop the habit of regularly posting to my blog, and this will get those creative juices flowing and also help me be found online from all my different content.  Because as much as we bloggers like people to engage on our blogs and get conversations started, we also know that as smart and savvy business folks that blogging gives us the ability to be in many places all at the same time.

So tomorrow if you don’t see me here – make sure and call me out, here in the comments, or by using my contact form or even on Facebook.

And I would love to hear what challenges you are facing and what you are trying, or have used successfully to get you over the hump in the comments below.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I have gotten quite a bit off my to-do list in the last few days, but not all that I had planned.

The sticky notes have helped me to put on paper the thoughts in my head and that has helped me to take action.  I was always thinking of things I wanted to do, for my business and in my personal life, at the entirely wrong moment.  Now I have a place to write down what I’m thinking about and actually do some of the things on the notes.

I have always used Google Calendar and have the app on my phone.  But since I started to use the sticky notes, I have then added my plans to the calendar and I haven’t missed any time specific event since I started this process.  And while I haven’t accomplished all of the items on the sticky notes, I am better able to see where my time is being spent – a great eye opener.  I realize there are definitely times that I could be spending on my business that I’m not.

Right now my calendar is sticky not heavy at the end of the week as I move forward some of the tasks I haven’t quite gotten accomplished.

Sticky note week end heavy

A lot of the items I took care of this week were more personal than business specific, but I really feel that as solopreneurs, it is very hard to truly split the two.  I have also been more focused on my business and how I’m spending my time even though there was a more personal focus.  I truly believe that the more we accomplish in any aspect of our life has a ripple effect and gives us confidience.  So, alternatively the more you put off tasks you mean to do, the lower your self esteem plummets.

Of all my household chores, I like laundry the best, so if my laundry basket starts to overflow, it is usually a direct reflection that I’m feeling overwhelmed in other areas of my life.  So I do a load or 2 and get the pile down, and as I do the laundry I end up having the energy and desire to get other tasks done – that ripple effect.  You may not know what it is that makes your feel accomplished and can help you get over that hump, but now you know you should be paying attention and see what task you like enough to help you get that ball rolling, or those ripples rippling.

So I plan on, I accomplish more and I am learning more about myself and how I’m spending my time.  Let me know in the comments below how you are doing with your plans.

 

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.