Archive for Systems

Want to Journal? Hate to Write?

Journaling is a powerful self-help tool that is gaining popularity in business. Coaches and therapists are also using journaling to help clients, so you may want to consider it for yourself and your business. It is also incredibly easy to journal on your own in just a plain notebook.

However, all journaling has one thing in common and that is writing. So how can you enjoy all the benefits of journaling if you hate writing?

Draw Pictures

If you learn anything about me, know this I can’t really draw – what I see in my head never looks like that on paper. But if you are artistically inclined, you can draw from simple pictures to elaborate scenes. Any kind of picture that expresses your emotions and situation will help.

After you’ve drawn the picture you can label and annotate it. If you leave a blank page opposite your drawing then you can come back and review it at a later date and jot down any additional thoughts, emotions and responses. Quite often this simple method will actually get you writing quickly.

And I love color, and if you do too, you may want to consider colored pens or pencils. Like I shared in my previous post where I updated my progress with my bullet journal, I purchased a journal with a stencil set – you may benefit from using stencils with or without those colored pencils. All of these shapes and colors will hopefully make your journal feel more personal to you and that will make you more likely to use it.

Diagrams

If you are journaling about a problem, then you might consider using a diagram such as a mind map or decision tree. Diagrams are powerful because they are visual and help you to see patterns and connections more easily. If you think about a flow chart that is using shapes to have different meanings, the concept is the same here – but you don’t have to limit yourself to just the traditional shapes of a flow chart.

If you are trying to make a decision, then you can illustrate the different outcomes and results to help you formulate the best decision. Adding in color not only makes them more attractive but can help to highlight connections.

Use Prompts

I know that when I started journaling, I started with a gratitude journal, and so I was trying to right down what I was thankful for each day – but some days were harder than others to get started. Then I learned about journal prompts, I had never heard that term before, but the concept is so simple.

You use a simple prompt, such as a word or question, to help break the blank page syndrome and inspire you to unburden yourself onto the empty page in front of you. The prompts can be about any number of topics, so you don’t have to have just a gratitude journal, like I mentioned before. For business a great prompt for the first of the month is to write down your goals for the month. How much income do you want to earn? How many new followers do you want to attract on social media?

Then you can also build on these ideas for other days topics. It’s important that you don’t feel that you have to write a lot or even in full sentences. The journal and act of journaling has to relate to your needs at that moment in time and this will vary day to day. You can also use charts and graphs, instead of just writing.

You could consider purchasing a journal ready made for the specific use you need. There are lots of weight loss, gratitude, happiness and other journals available. Many of these will include prompts and recording methods that don’t require lots of writing.

Create a Collage

I like this project, because I feel like it has good green living implications. Get some magazines or newspapers and cut out words, phrases, paragraphs or even articles that relate to your situation or emotions at that particular point.

Add in pictures that you find that could demonstrate how you are feeling or want to feel. To make it more personal you can annotate the articles and pictures. Consider also leaving a blank page so that you can revisit and review at a later time and add in additional journaling.

Speak It

While writing using a pen and paper is probably the most powerful method of journaling you can also use dictation software such as Dragon. You’ll need the software and a computer with a microphone to use this method. It may be easier to start your journaling journey by speaking to the computer and imagining you are talking to a friend or just yourself. The software will ‘write’ what you say and you can save the document so that you can review it later.

You may decide to keep your journal electronically in which case you can review it and add in later thoughts and feelings by typing or dictating through the speech recognition software. Or you may decide to print it out and keep it in a binder. If you do print it out, then you have the opportunity to embellish it or make additional notes on the hard copy.

Be Flexible

Journaling does not have to be undertaken every day for a set period of time if that does not suit you. Many people journal every day for 20 minutes as that is the method that suits them best. However, it may be that once a week is enough.

Alternatively, you may decide that you will journal when you feel you need it. Some days it may be that you choose to use a prompt or picture to kick-start your writing. Other days you may find that the words flow and you can write without stopping.

The important points to remember are that the journal is a personal document designed to help you and that it is designed to be used and revised. It’s a living document and there is no right or wrong way to create or use it.

This is one of the reasons I love the bullet journaling system. I feel like I can use it as a planner and tracker, but it can also be a place for me to journal out my thoughts and feelings when I need to. You will also notice that most of these alternatives to writing work great in a bullet journal.

If you want to learn how to use bullet journaling for business, please check out my course on the topic here.

 

Lessons Learned From Participating In My First Business Bundle

I recently participated in the Laptop Lifestyle Business Bundle (it is now over) and I learned a few things.

Lesson #1 – Problems will Happen

Even with testing, things can still go wrong. I created a special link for the participants of the bundle to be able to download the product for free, since they had already bought the bundle. I tested the link, I had my sister test the link, and Angela Wills, who runs the Laptop Lifestyle Business Club, also tested the link – no problems.

The bundle goes live and from my tracking I see that I had a couple of sales from the link for the bundle – unexpected. I contacted Angela with the emails of the purchases I was concerned about and she verified they had indeed purchased the bundle, and she checked the link again, everything was okay for her, but obviously there was a glitch somewhere. I was able to refund the money spent right away, and let those who made the purchase that they indeed did not owe any money.

And a big shout out to the folks who were interested enough in what I had to offer that they were willing to pay more to get access to my offering.

Thankfully, Angela is a very smart lady and she had a work around, that we had up and running very quickly, problem solved. She emailed those who had already purchased the bundle so that they could try again to download the product. So even though you think everything is okay, there can still be problems – but they are fixable.

Lesson #2 – Expect Good Things

My expectations were exceeded – in a very good way. My email list was increased by over 150 new subscribers, and that number is still growing even though new sales of the bundle have ended, those who purchased have 60 days to download their products, so it may continue to grow even more.

My actual goal when I joined the bundle was to increase my email by 50 people, that happened the very first day J. I then hoped for 100 people, again that happened by the 3rd day – so now my updated goal is to have 200 new subscribers by the end of the 60 days. By the way, this was a great problem to have – exceeding my goals too quickly.

Lesson #3 – Quality Matters

The quality of the person offering the bundle matters. This bundle was the first one that Angela Wills had ever offered, and she made it exclusively products from her community. She freely admits that she had no idea how much work was really involved when she hatched the idea, but she was also so wonderfully excited for the bundle and for the members of her community, that includes me.

Each month in the club, Angela offers us an actionable challenge to help us grow our business, and I have to tell you, the steps she gives us really do work. If you would like to be a part of the Laptop Lifestyle Business Club, you can check it out here. If you are interested in learning about email marketing, the club is the right place for you – Angela is amazing at email marketing.

Lesson #4 – Create Products

Product creation is a must. To be able to participate in this or any bundle or giveaway, you must have something to offer. In the case of the Laptop Lifestyle Business Bundle, Angela helped to guide us towards product creation, so we could be prepared, but most opportunities will not be so guided.

I was planning on my next product already, but I realize, I should be creating more products more often – not at the risk of quality of course. The more ways people can find you and what you have to offer will only help to grow your business. I even created a quick product last night that I’m extremely proud of, now I just have to finish the sales page and I will have it up for sale – I feel like I’m in the “Product Creation Zone” – you have been warned – lol.

Lesson #5 – Say Yes

The final lesson is of course, say yes. When I was offered the opportunity to be a part of this bundle, I said yes. I filled out the information and sent it in before I could think of a million reasons why I should not participate. Remember to be open to growing your business online, you will be offered different opportunities, be prepared to say yes to the ones that fit you and your business.

I hope to see you in the Laptop Lifestyle Business Bundle next year when you join the Club.

 

Bullet Journal Update

As you may or may not know, I have a product that teaches you how to set up and use a bullet journal in your online business. When I was doing the videos for Bullet Journaling for Online Business Owners, I was using a plain spiral notebook, to help to demonstrate how easy it is to get started. But since I was using my bullet journal more and more, I decided to go ahead and upgrade to a journal more specifically designed for bullet journaling.

I decided on this one because it came with a great set of stencils and if you have watched the videos you are well aware of my artistic limitations. I also have to admit, that I didn’t think it would make much difference having the stencils, turns out, I absolutely love them and use them all the time.

I did pick mine up on Amazon and this is my affiliate link, of course, if you want to get one for yourself or as a gift. Read More →

Have you heard about Bullet Journaling for Business? 

Bullet journaling is a relatively new way to approach the idea of journaling and adding in all the elements of a planner and calendar system.  The bullet journal system was developed by Ryder Carroll is intended to be use offline on real paper, but it can also be adapted to a digital application.  One of the core concepts of bullet journaling is that it is completely customizable.

However, since bullet journaling can be customized, some people struggle to understand how to set it up and get the most out of it. In bullet journaling, you are essentially combining all of your thoughts, finances, schedules, to-do lists, and miscellaneous life notes into a single journal. It is a way to organize all of those different things you try to keep up with on a daily basis.

It is not only fun, but very helpful in reducing overall stress and anxiety.

Benefits of Bullet Journaling

First of all, you will benefit a lot by starting a bullet journal. Remember there is really no right or wrong way to do it. It is supposed to make life easier for you, not more difficult, so don’t be pressured to have it perfectly organized or look like others.

These are some of the fantastic benefits of bullet journaling:

  • Everything is in one place – First of all, all your different to-do lists, schedules, and notes are in a single journal. Many people do have journals or digital to-do lists with this type of information, but it is inconvenient having one for finances, one for household chores, and yet another for business to-do lists.The bullet journal system lets you have everything in one place, and with rapid logging and symbols, you can fit more information into one core journal. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what rapid logging is, we will talk about that in a minute.)
  • It is easy to do – A bullet journal is also very easy to put together. You can do this how you like, but typically you start by creating the index, which is usually located in the front. Then you want to number the pages if you don’t have a pre-numbered journal.  Most people start by adding calendars and to-do lists, but again, you can use a bullet journal for any purpose you like.
  • You can track your regular habits – Since you are writing in the bullet journal daily, you are able to track your habits and see what needs to change. It can help you see that you spend too much money on coffee and eating out, or that you aren’t exercising enough. But, I believe the real magic for a solopreneur is the ability to track stats and money, coming in and going out.

Choosing the Journal

To start your bullet journal, you first need a journal to use. This can be any type of journal, but choosing one that is thick enough for all your different pages and that has nice large pages is a good idea.Mindset for Organization

Look for one that can stay closed when needed, but when you open to individual pages, the spine isn’t so tight that it is hard to write in it. Also look for thick pages in case you decide to decorate some of the pages and don’t want anything bleeding through.

If this is your first bullet journal, you may want to just start with a spiral notebook.  This is how I got started, I had a spiral notebook already in my office and just created my index and took off from there.  In the future, I plan to get something with thicker pages so that I can use my gel pens, to add some color.

Components of a Bullet Journal

While you can create the bullet journal however you like, these are the key elements that make the system work.

  • Index – In my opinion this is what really makes the system work. The index is usually located at the front of the bullet journal. I think of it more of a table of contents, it helps you find different sections in the journal, such as blog post calendars and social media planning, or affiliate income trackers. Use short meaningful titles so that you can go right to that page.
  • Page numbers – Naturally, since you have an index, you also need to have page numbers. You can be as creative as you want, but make sure every page is numbered and it corresponds with what is in the index. For bullet journals, you will want to number the pages front and back to be able to use all the pages and not waste any space.
  • Rapid Logging – This is the name the creator of the bullet journal system, Ryder Carroll, gave to his short journal entries. Simple, crisp, facts are used to create short entries, to conserve space and to reduce the time you need to spend journaling each day. This can also include symbols or emojis to help express your thoughts and ideas.
  • Signifiers – Signifiers are symbols that you assign to different types of notes. It can be helpful when you want to use them in place of longer phrases. This can be a happy or sad smiley face for your moods, a heart for a date with your significant other, or a Christmas tree when scheduling holidays. They can also be used to add emphasis, such as an exclamation point for a task that requires immediate attention. I may have said this before, but you can customize it to make it work for you.

Now that you have some of the basics of the bullet journaling system, give it a try to get your business and life more organized. Start simple and build it up over time. To help you remember to use your new bullet journaling system, I would recommend setting a reminder for the first couple of weeks, then you can determine if you need to keep up with the reminders or let them go.

 

7 Reasons Why You May Be Disorganized

Disorganization can literally cost you money – but even worse it robs you of your most precious resource – time.  The stress that disorganization can cause a person is enormous. Things are often not done on time, you are always late everywhere, and you probably never know where to start and aren’t even ready to start when it’s time to start.

All of this stress caused by disorganization can also affect your health. It’s just not good on any front to live in chronic disorganization aka chronic stress. If you consider yourself disorganized, here are seven reasons why.

1) You Don’t Have a System

Too many people feel that a system must be rigid, that is not true, systems can be flexible and can and should be tailored to your individual needs.  But a lack of systems will keep you disorganized.  If you’ve ever had a job that already had organization and systems in place, it is likely you managed to maintain that organization at least for that job. Everything had a place, and everything had a reason, and there was a set system to do what needed to be done. That’s what you have to set up for your business and your life if you want to be successful long term without stress. Read More →

What is Momentum and How Can It Work to Get You Organized?

If you are looking to get organized this coming year, start now, and use the power of momentum propel you into the new year, more organized and more successful.

The scientific theory of momentum can work in your own life to help you reach goals. The same facts which can lift a jet plane off the ground can lift you out of a stagnant life and put you in a world where positive things happen and you reach the success you desire.

Have you read Mel Robbins book: The Five Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage?

The scientific theory of momentum is Mass x Velocity = Momentum. You’ve probably seen trucks barreling down the highway at rapid speeds – and the results of hitting a slick spot in the road. The faster the truck is speeding, the more difficult it is to slow it down. Read More →

How to Overcome the Content Creation Challenge

Creating ongoing content for your blog seems to be a challenge for most online business owners at some time or another.  The easiest way to overcome this challenge is to have a plan.  I have gone through several courses myself to help me get over the content creation challenge myself.  Truly, it was simple, but profound solutions that seemed to help the best.

One common theme was to create a content grid of topics – 50 to 100 topics on your grid just to get started.  I really struggled with this.  It made me feel like I didn’t know my subject matter.  (but I really do) The bottom line was initially the grid didn’t seem to help me.  

I would look over my list of topics, that felt forced and repetitive, and I wouldn’t write a thing.  Or I would write a few sentences and quit.  Yet, many people found these grids helpful, so tried again, and again.   Read More →

Last Pass Will Get Your Passwords Organized

I have been using Last Pass for several years.  Last Pass is a password manager, that means you only have to remember 1 password instead of many.  It can also help by creating unique passwords for you.  You put your business at risk if you use the same password on all your logins, this system makes it easy to get unique passwords for all your logins and make sure you can remember all those passwords.

By only having to remember one password, your brain can be free to remember other more important things.  I’m going to date myself a bit here but bear with me.  Long ago, we all used to have to remember people phone numbers.  If we couldn’t remember we had phone books, large ones from the phone company, smaller ones next to our phone at home and even smaller still to carry around in our purses.  Then phones started getting smarter, you were now able to program up to 10 phone numbers in your phone, such convenience.  Of course, nowadays with real smart phones, we have our ‘phone books’ with us all the time.

The concept of Last Pass is the same, we have our passwords with us all the time.  I do still have my old password book – because every so often I will find that I have missed adding something to Last Pass, but it really is just a dust collector at this point.

A feature I haven’t really mentioned is the fact that you can add an extension to your browser on your laptop and I also have Last Pass installed on my phone and my tablet.  It goes without saying that once you change a password, it is saved to all your devices automatically.  And the best part of all is that it is free.  If you wish to upgrade to their premium service it is only $12/year, but the free version will be enough for most folks.

There are other password managers out there, but I have only ever used this one, and I have never had any reason to look elsewhere.  If you want to do more research just google, but make sure you use a system, as your business grows you will have more and more passwords to remember, you do not want to use the same password over and over.

Last Pass also has the option to allow you to seperate which logins are for business and which are for personal use, creating a more organized life yoru for you.

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.

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.

I Just Love Doing A Time Study – Don’t You?

A Time Study Gives You So Much Information

As the name implies you are going to study how you spend your time, in detail.  We all have repetitive tasks and we have a general idea of how long it takes to complete those tasks, but do you really know how long they take?  And what happens when you have a new task, how do you know how long you are spending on that task?  How do you know where you are wasting time and what you should be outsourcing?

First you need to take your most common tasks and set a timer to see how long you spend completing the task.  Now the important part here is to time yourself more than once doing each task.  Timing yourself once doesn’t count.  If it is a daily task, you want to track your time for at least 10 different days.  Tasks that are done multiple times a day, I suggest you track your time on these tasks for a full week.  The tasks that are done more sporadically are harder to pin down, but still worth the effort.

Write it Down

I know old fashioned pen and paper – they help to provide a visual reminder.  I suggest you keep a seperate piece of paper for each timed task, and break down the tasks and time each element or step needed to complete the task.

Heres and example:  Writing a Blog Post – I want to know the total time it takes, but there are several steps involved.  I have to have a topic, then create an outline, choose photos or graphics to use in the post, add monetization (if appropirate), make sure there is a call to action.  That is all just the preperation steps, and each one should have it’s own start and end time, as well as a start and end time for all of the prep work, and this is just one part of the total time it takes to write a blog post.  I hope you get the idea.

Now I want you to do this for each task you do.  If you love data, you will love doing a time study.  If you hate data, you will be amazed at all you will learn about how you are spending your time, and you will hardly even notice it came from data ;).

What Do You Do With All This Knowledge?

As I said, this will give you lots of information and you will have to decide what you want to act upon now, and what you want to disregard.  You get to see if it really takes you as long as you think it does for your tasks.  This can be very helpful when you are ready to outsource, you know how long it takes to complete the given task and you know how much your are willing to pay to gain back that amount of time.

You will have some data that you think is interesting, but you won’t know how to apply it to make improvements in your business, don’t let this bother you, just let it go.  In the future it may becomemore relevant, or maybe not.  My point here is to act upon the information that is relevant to improving your business right now, and do it.

Time is our most precious resource, the one thing we can never replace, make sure you are using your time wisely.

Please share your experience in the comments below.