This article is a reprint from my newsletter last week. I’m on a mission and feel the need to share this everywhere, so I’m posting it on my blog too.
Tomorrow is December, which means 2012 will be here very soon. If you’re like most business owners I know, you have a list a mile long of all the things that have to get done at the first of the year. I have to prepare 1099’s, get my tax documents for 2011 put away, prepare my files for 2012 and so on. In the midst of all that, January is a great time to launch new products and programs, so there is marketing to accomplish as well. How in the world is all of this supposed to get done?
Anything but marketing. That’s right, I’m telling you to take a week off from marketing. Why would a marketing expert even suggest such a thing? Because in January, you need to focus on your marketing 1st thing to launch those beginning of the year programs. If you have other things distracting you, it could be March before you actually get it out into the world. I don’t want you to be bogged down the moment you return from your New Year’s celebration(s). I want you to be focused, alert, clear and ready to take on January’s marketing.
So, my suggestion is to take the last week of December to get your end-of-year things together. Pull your tax documents, get your new files ready and clear your plate for January. Also, take an afternoon off (or every afternoon off). Go catch a movie, spend some time with family, get a massage, go shopping etc… Do some things for YOU. Take advantage of the last week in December. Get prepared and take some time for yourself.
Now, if you’re like most business owners you’re thinking there’s no way you could take an entire week off from marketing. Well, you can but you have to start preparing right away. If you are in the USA, you are taking the rest of the week off for Thanksgiving, so right away means Monday.
Here is a calendar of sorts to help you plan your marketing so you can have the last week for you.
Week 1 11/28-12/2
- Inventory all the marketing that needs to still be completed in December.
- Put it into priority order. What’s coming up first? What are the most important pieces?
- Take this week to complete your top priorities…try to get through 1/2 of your list.
Week 2 12/5-12/9
- Complete as much of your December marketing as possible.
- Inventory all the marketing that needs to happen the first two weeks of January.
- Prioritize it like you did for December.
Week 3 12/12-12/16
- Finish up your December marketing and get started on your top priorities for January.
- If you plan to take all of the next week off, get your 1st week of January priorities completed.
Week 4 12/19-12/23
- Finish up your 1st two weeks of January, if you are working this week.
Last week of December
- No marketing!
Whenever you are wondering what to do in your marketing, this is the answer. Keep your list handy so you can take a quick glance and know exactly what you are working on.
If you need to take some personal time for holiday festivities, no problem. Just make sure as soon as you are back in the office you keep going to the list and checking things off. While you are working, focus is important. Stay focused and you can take the last week in December to get YOUR stuff done. How much trust would you build with potential clients if you demonstrated how to take time for you?
Are you in? Are you taking the “Save the last week of December Challenge?” Let me know if you are and how it goes.
There are lots of projects in a Coaching business. It seems that there is always something to learn and create. If you have a professional, you can rely on them to pick up the slack on these projects. However, that’s hard to do unless you plan in advance. How many times have you started a project only to find it took another week longer than you wanted it to? Did you feel like you were waiting on everyone else to get their pieces done before you could move forward? These are signs that there wasn’t enough time planned.
As a Coach, you know how to create a plan. You also know that there is information you need in order to create that plan. So, here are a few rules of thumb to help you plan projects.
1) Get an estimate - If you are coordinating with a team of professionals, talk to them before you start the project. Get an estimate of how much time it will take and let them know what you’d like your timeline to be.
2) Give notice - Let your team know what you are working on. Give them a weeks notice or more so they can schedule in their part of the work. Let them know when you want to have the project completed. Keep them updated. If something gets delayed or finished early, then let your team know as soon as possible.
3) Technology - When it comes to technology, there are usually some delays. If you think it will take 2 days to create that web page, when something comes up, it will likely be 3-4 days. So, when planning for a project involving technology, expect a delay and plan for it.
4) Take a breath - Sound familiar? When you are on a timeline and your business is just waiting for changes to happen, it’s easy to forget to breathe and allow the project to take on it’s own flavor. It’s a journey, just like anything else. Allow the journey and enjoy the changes as they happen.
Enjoy the process of developing your business. I wish all of you much success in your upcoming projects this year!!
There is so much information on the internet. So many things to learn. For those who are lifelong learners it can be very overwhelming at times, because we want to know it all! If you are anything like me, you want to know it all NOW! There is a lot to schedule into your daily and weekly routines. It’s difficult to find time for those e-mails, newsletters, blog feeds and websites that you’ve been trying to read for the last month. Not to mention your inbox that is piled so full, the task of reading all of them seems extremely daunting. I would like to offer a few tips to help you clear out and get focused.
UTILIZING FOLDERS - Do you have an inbox folder list or are you one of those people that hides the list so you have more room to read? I love folders. I organize everything into folders. In MS Outlook there is the Organize feature (Tools>Organize) which helps tremendously! With or without Outlook, you can still organize. When you check your e-mail put the new ones into a folder so you can handle them when you’re ready. I have a folder for each of my clients. I make sure all incoming e-mails are marked “unread.” When I am ready to work with a particular client, I go to their folder and handle those e-mails. I’ll still flag it unread if I want to respond later. That way I don’t forget to do it.
As for the web browser. Whenever you find an interesting website and just don’t have time to read it right away, add it to you Internet Explorer “My Favorites” (or “bookmarks,” in other browsers). I have a long list of favorites folders, but I never forget a website as long as I add it in when I find it. Each folder has a specific topic. The most important thing to remember is to delete or revise links as you find they don’t work. That way it’s always useful information.
SET ASIDE TIME - Every month, set aside an hour to go through your inbox folders and CLEAR OUT any information you don’t need anymore. You don’t have to go through all of them (that could take forever!). Just look through the ones that fill up the fastest. My inbox, newsgroups and personal folders are the ones that fill up the most and need the most maintenance. I have other folders that are just for reference. Such as the file I have for technology information. That folder has articles, newsletters and information that I will refer to often. What’s cool is that I can find it very quickly when I need it.
READ IT OFFLINE - Some people are just NOT online readers. If you are one of those, print out all the articles, newsletters and websites you want to read. Treat them as your magazines. Staple them or put them in a binder. Then put them next to your night stand, on the coffee table or wherever you like to read. You can even take it on the plane during your next business trip.
IT’S NOT NECESSARY to keep every piece of information. I have a rule; if I’m not looking for that information right now, then delete it. You see, I have been known to keep e-mails just because I MIGHT need the information in the future. I’m sure you can imagine how many e-mails began to pile up in my inbox! Now, the delete key is my friend.
UNSUBSCRIBE - If you don’t read it, then get rid of it. It doesn’t serve you to collect newsletters and blog feeds that you never read. It just clogs up your folders or your inbox. Release the clutter and unsubscribe from all the newsletters and feeds that you just don’t read anymore.
So, are you willing to stop tolerating overload? GREAT! Start with clearing your e-mail. Then as new ones come in start creating folders for the senders you will hear from regularly. Create folders in your browser as you find new websites you want to have for reference. If you choose to read offline, start printing out what your newest reading material. Only keep the information you will use TODAY!
“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” - Gertrude Stein (1874 - 1946)
What are some tips you might add to this? Share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!!
Ah, taxes are due next week. Are yours done? I spent last weekend helping a family friend do her taxes. Talk about piles of receipts!! How many of you have a shoebox of receipts that you go through at the end of every year? Do you pay an accountant to go through those receipts for you? You already know how important it is to keep track of those receipts and take each and every deduction you can. Below are some tricks that I use so that when tax time comes, I don’t spend hours getting ready to do my taxes or have to pay someone to organize FOR me. My hope is to Help you create a ”tax life” that’s a little less stressful.
Organizing receipts throughout the year:
1) Get a plastic expanding file folder with 10-20 pockets and self-labeling tabs in it ($9.00-$15.00 @ Staples)
2) Make sure it is easy for YOU to open and close. Most have an elastic band that is easy to use.
3) Create tabs for each tax category that you will have receipts for (list of possible categories)
4) Put the file folder in a place where you’ll see it and use it!!
5) Whenever you take receipts out of your pocket, wallet, purse etc… place it in the appropriate pocket in your file.
6) At the end of the year, you have two choices.
a) put all receipts in corresponding manilla folders and place into a tax box
b) bundle each pocket with a rubber band or paper clip. label them with sticky notes and put them in the last 2 or 3 empty pockets.
So, out with 2006 and in with 2007!! What are your business goals for the new year?! I know you have them. Are you getting into action? Is it part of the bigger picture that you’ve been working towards all along?
As a Coach, you have a good grasp on setting your goals, holding yourself accountable (or having someone else with you that does) and getting into action on those goals. I have clients who know what the goal is, get into action and then get lost in the little details that come along with setting a goal. A few things you can do to help keep track of and accomplish all those little details, without getting lost are:
1) delegate - give a few tasks to someone else. Hire a web designer, Virtual Assistant, Accountant, etc….
2) keep a list - keep a running notebook, sheet of paper, or computerized list that you can add new details to. As you finish something, check or cross it off.
3) prioritize - Ask yourself what’s most important to accomplish right now?
4) celebrate - celebrate each task accomplished.
5) Ask around - ask others how they are accomplishing some of the details. They may have ideas on how to consildate a few.
6) Know that every detail you work on will get you closer to where you WANT to be.
Have a Happy Holiday, Safe, Happy, Healthy and Wonderful New Year.
Your Virtual Helper,