Put a Stop to Scatter-Brained Marketing by Systematizing

We creative-types aren’t always the most organized.

A  few descriptive words come to mind: scatter-brained, flaky, over-worked, stressed, spread-too-thin, and so on.

Basically, we wish we could just make our stuff, and let the marketing figure itself out.

But of course, that’s not how it works in the real world. You can’t just make a thing, put it in your web store or Etsy shop, and cross your fingers hoping that people buy.

Maybe sometimes they will, but even if that’s the case, you’re still be missing out on a lot of potential business opportunities by not working on your marketing.

So when things aren’t automatically selling, you start to panic. You engage in a hap-hazard “marketing strategy” that usually consists of the following: list a new item, post it on Facebook, post it on twitter, post it on Instagram, maybe write a blog post about it, pin it to a Pinterest board, check everything you just posted, wonder why none of this is working, rinse, and repeat.

When I first started selling my jewelry on Etsy, this is exactly the sort of “marketing” I did for my shop. Needless to say, it didn’t really work.

All this kind of online marketing does is create a lot of extra work and stress for you, and not a lot of results or sales at the end of the day. You feel like a hamster spinning its wheel, and not really getting anywhere in your business. Maybe you conclude that you’re just not good at the “marketing stuff” so you go back to what you know what you’re good at, the making stuff, and return to hoping that random strangers will simply find you organically on the internet and make a purchase.

So what’s the solution? How can you effectively market your business while still leaving you with enough time to actually make your products and get everything else you need to do done?

The answer is systematizing.

I know that sounds like a boring, dry, business word, but here me out, okay?

All systematizing means is creating the basic blueprint, or template, for plugging in your marketing plan and -pulling it out every time you are ready to craft a new one.

When you plan your marketing ahead of time, you are allowing yourself to strategically reach your potential customers in the ways best suited to them, and you can pre-schedule and prep all of your content ahead of time. When you have a system in place you can feel prepared and relaxed even during the busiest of shopping seasons.

You can download the 1-page template that I created for my own marketing for free here.

Free Marketing System Download

Pick a Theme

Essentially, I begin my marketing system by defining a central theme for a certain time period. For example, this past month theme was back to school, and I marketing around this theme throughout August. Having a general theme in mind makes it significantly easier to fill out the rest of the campaign details surrounding it.

Define Your Audience

Once you have a theme or product line in mind that you are going to be marketing, and have checked your calendar to figure out the best time you want to market it, the next most important thing for you to do is define WHO you are going to be marketing to. Nothing will make you feel more scattered than feeling like you are sending out random marketing messages to the universe and hoping that your right people find them. Instead, you want to define who your ideal customers are, and take your marketing to them.

For example, when I market around back-to-school, it makes sense that I would be targeting students, teachers, and so on. Sending out back to school messages to retired women in their 60s doesn’t make a lot of sense–unless of course they are buying for their grandchildren.

Get Clear on What Makes You Different

Next, and this is very important, you want to consider what your points of differentiation are concerning the actual products you are trying to sell. There are probably a lot of things that make your products different from the masses so the important thing to do here is pick which of those things are going to be of the most value to your target audience, and make sense for you to emphasize during this particular campaign. For example, if you are planning your holiday marketing around gift-giving, you may want to focus on why your products will make unique and cherished gifts, rather than on your price point or the materials you use to craft them.

Brainstorm Content Ideas

Once you have those important factors decided, the next step is to brainstorm potential content ideas that will flesh out your campaign. Considering the amount of time your campaign will be running, consider how many blog posts, e-mail newsletters, and social media posts you’ll want to create around it. Other marketing could include reaching out to press, potential partners for cross-promotion, and so on. The options are really limitless, and that’s why writing all of your ideas down will keep you from becoming too overwhelmed.

Set a Schedule

After you have a general outline of your marketing campaign all laid out on a single piece of paper, it’s a lot easier to then open up your planning calendar*, and start putting in specific tasks for specific days. For example, you may post your first blog post and Facebook update during week one, send out your e-mail newsletter and host an Instagram giveaway during week two, and set up a twitter chat around your campaign on week three. It’s all entirely up to you. Having the dates plotted out, you can then begin crafting your materials and storing or scheduling them so they are ready to go out when their time comes – and you get to breathe a little easier, knowing it’s all taken care of.

Now you get to work on your favorite part: the actual making of the things.

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please take a moment to share it with someone else who you think may benefit from it.


 

*The Rock 2016 panning calendar is coming soon. Sooner than usual, because I personally wanted an upgraded version for this year’s holiday season, and I have a feeling you could use one too. To be among the first notified of its existence, be sure to subscribe for e-mail updates.

Product Flop or Marketing Fail? Deciding Beyond Your Negative Self-Talk

Running a handmade business can feel like a very personal and even scary thing.

When you’re trying to make money from designs that you’ve conjured from your own mind and crafted with your own two hands, it’s easy to feel hyper-sensitive to any reactions the outside world is going to have about them.

It’s also easy to deem our products or business as a “failure” when, after we’ve finally summoned up the courage to put it (and ourselves) out there – we get crickets in response.

We think to ourselves: even criticism would be better than this. At least it would provide us with feedback so we would know what to change when we try again. (Or so we tell ourselves.)

So we go back to the drawing board and come up with something new, leaving the first try sitting on a shelf, in a bin, or the junk drawer for re-purposing later.

But what we probably need to consider before we call it a day is how much we have really put into getting our products seen. Have we actually given them their best chance at success before we start telling ourselves that we’ve made un-sellable duds?

Product Flop or Marketing Fail? How to tell...

Most handcrafted sellers are guilty of doing this.

We make a thing, put it up on our websites or Etsy shops, maybe post a thing or two about it on social media, and wait.

When no one buys right away, we immediately feel the excitement and hope we were harboring for our new shiny thing diminish.

We tell ourselves: maybe it wasn’t so great after all. Maybe we were all wrong about what our ideal customers are interested in. Maybe we aren’t even really that good about this whole business thing after all.

And on and on with the negative-self talk we go.

When really, what we ought to be thinking is this: have I really given this product a fair chance? Has it really been seen by my ideal customers?

Because in today’s hectic world of noise, there’s a very good chance that, no, a new listing and a few social media posts isn’t going cut it.

Conventional business guru wisdom currently tells us that people need to see your product 13 times before they buy. 13 times!

Considering the low likelihood that your target customers saw your tweet, Facebook update, and/or Instagram post, you aren’t getting hardly anyone primed to buy with a drip system like what you’ve been doing.

Not only are you not really giving your products a chance to be sold, you aren’t giving your ideal customers a fair chance at finding out that they even exist.

The #1 damaging story we tell ourselves is that our people don’t want to hear from us. That we’re only being annoying when we e-mail our lists, or write about our latest product launch on our blogs.

Uhm, NO.

Very, very, very few handmade sellers are making the mistake of selling too much. Most of us sell far, far too little. We ignore the fact that we have followers who have symbolically raised their hands to hear from us, and we’ve essentially convinced ourselves that it must be for other reasons.

It’s not.

Chances are these people saw the pictures of your lovely creations on Instagram and chose to follow you because they want to see more of them. Or they loved what you had on your website so they signed up for e-mail updates so they get to be the first in line when you launch new collections. In any case, they may not have been interested in buying right at that very moment, but they signed up to get updates from you because they knew that there was a good chance that they would be at some point in the future.

Your job as a business owner and product marketer is to foster that desire and provide your followers with the opportunity to act upon it as often as is strategically fitting.

Does this mean spamming your twitter feed with links to your Etsy shop listings every 10 minutes? No. But it doesn’t mean only telling funny jokes and never mentioning that you’re a handmade seller, either.

There is a strategic way to make you product marketing a welcomed part of the conversation. (Click to tweet this!)

The first step is to stop telling yourself that no one wants to hear about them (or you), and the second is to insert yourself (and your products) into the conversations that make sense.

You can’t really say your business or your products are a failure unless you have really, truly, given them the chance they deserve.

Curious how exactly you’re supposed to do that? Stay tuned for next week’s post, where I’ll help you create your own simple marketing system that will help you map out a specific plan for putting your products out there. Sign up for e-mail notifications from me to make sure you don’t miss it.

 

Let’s get touchy-feely.

Let’s get touchy-feely.

Okay, maybe just touchy.

(And not in the way you’re thinking.)

I’m referring specifically to getting touchy with your BUSINESS.

(Nothing against you, I’m sure you’d be great to touch, but this is a blog about how to run a business after all, not spice up your love life. *Ahem.*)

What I’d like to discuss today is the touch-points your business has with your current and prospective customers. Can you identify them? Let’s take a moment to brainstorm where they all could be.

Brand-Touch-PointsTouch-points consist of any time someone interacts with your brand at any point in the sales process.

A touch point could be seeing a link to your website or blog in a list of Google search results, viewing an update from you shared by a friend of theirs on social media, opening an e-mail newsletter from you, making a purchase from you, getting their product in the mail, and beyond.

Identifying all of these touch-points gives you a starting point for how you can present and define your brand along the customer journey in a way that instills trust, loyalty, and ultimately, more sales.

To begin mapping out your touch points, you’ll first want to think of all of the ways someone who doesn’t even know your business exists is introduced to your brand. Maybe it’s on social media, maybe it’s via word of mouth through a mutual friend, maybe it’s a craft show, maybe it’s through a blogger or local news media outlet, and so on. In any case, you want to start off with a good impression. Think of the controllable, specific ways you can contribute to that first impression that will leave your business as something the be remembered and returned to.

Next, there is the process between when a customer becomes interested in your offerings and actually buys. Maybe she signs up for your e-mail newsletter, reads your blog, follows you on social media, etc. This is a crucial stage where you build trust and loyalty, letting your potential customers know whether or not you are the right fit for them.

If your touch-points are inconsistent, confusing, and send mixed messages, you’re a lot more likely to turn potential customers away – including the ones you mean to be attracting.

Then there is the actual purchasing and delivery process. What is it like for someone to make a purchase from you? Do you send a follow-up note thanking them for their order and letting them know when it will be shipped? How do you package the products? What experience happens on the other end, when your customers excitedly open their order and get to finally see their Shiny New Thing in person?

Finally, there is the follow-up. Because the relationship isn’t always over when the initial transaction is over. Are you giving your customers a chance to sign up for your e-mail newsletter so you can stay in touch with them? Do you give them a loyalty discount in their order for them to use when they make a second purchase? How do you encourage reviews, and once you get them, how do you use their feedback to improve your overall business?

All important things to consider, plan for, and systematize.

Also, I feel like its the perfect time for this song:

What are your thoughts? Can you think of any touch-points between your business and customers that could use a little reinforcement? Please share in the comments below!

Improve Your Business with This Simple Tool

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: what gets tracked, improves.

If you have to write down everything you spend your money on every day, you’re going to be a lot more conscious and careful with your finances. By the same logic, if you have to journal every single calorie or piece of food you put in your mouth, you just must start eating a little bit healthier.

It sounds like it’s too simple and easy to be true, but keeping track can be really motivating.

What gets measured, gets worked on.

What gets consistently worked on, get better (or gets done!)

There is one caveat, however. This principal does have its limitations.

It can only work with so many things.

Imagine if you tried keeping track of every little thing going on in your business and life, from how many tweets you send out daily, to how many steps you take during your lunch-hour walks. You’d end up spending too much time keeping score and not enough time actually doing the work.

The solution is simple. You only get to pick a few goals, honing in on the big important ones, preferably, and keep track of those.

Taking inspiration from Gino Wickman’s business book, Traction, I made up a simple scorecard that you can download for free here. It prints 4 to a page, so simply cut the page into quarter sizes, and you have 4 portable scorecards that you can carry around with you everywhere!

Weekly Goal Tracker Scorecard

Keeping track is simple. Just write your main priority goals in the left column and where you want them to be at by the time you get to the right column of the score card. In the first week column fill in last weeks dates in the top top box (for example, (7/5 – 7/11) and the numbers that occurred by the end of that week according to the goal. Then, as each week passes, input your numbers for that week. To keep yourself even more motivated, you can also add your percentage of growth (or decline) from week to week.

Keep this card in your purse, by your computer, or wherever you can easily access it and look at it on a daily or at least weekly basis. It will help you stay on top of the goals you’ve decided on for your next 6 months and beyond, and keep you motivated to reach and go beyond the challenges you’ve set for yourself.

Accountability, even if only to yourself, will help to keep you pressing on.

Did you find this downloadable resource helpful? If so, please share this post with your friends so they can print out their own scorecards too! I see a lot of progress and improvements in our future.

New Animal Glass Taxidermy Eyes Available

Per several customer requests, I have added an array of animal-inspired glass eye cabochons to my current listings of glass eyes for sale.

In case you’ve missed their quiet introduction to the selection, here are a few of the newest members:

Glass Fish Taxidermy Eye - $2.97 each

30mm Glass Fish Eye in Green and Orange

Yellow Snake or Dragon Glass Eyes

16mm Yellow Snake or Dragon Glass Eyes Pair – $3.99 pair

Chameleon Glass Eyes

16mm Pink and Blue Chameleon Glass Eyes – $3.99 pair

Yellow and Purple Snake or Lizard Glass Eye

30mm Yellow and Purple Snake or Lizard Glass Eye – $2.97 each

Brown Glass Horse Eyes

16mm Brown Horse Glass Eyes – $3.99 pair

 

These handmade and originally designed glass eye cabochons are suitable for use in jewelry making (as I use them in bead embroidery or as pendants for wire wrapping and more), art doll making, taxidermy, sculptures, scrap booking, and beyond. Really, the possibilities are endless!

You can shop all of my glass eyes for sale here. There are lots more new additions I couldn’t fit into a single blog post.

The Halfway Mark – Planning Your Next 6 Months

You’ve made it. You’re halfway through the 2015 year.

How do you feel about it?

Never-mind, don’t answer that.

Unless you’re the rare exception, most of us with businesses and a mountain of to-do’s on our list are feeling just a little behind. Like most of humanity, we’ve overestimated how much we are capable of doing in the amount of time allotted the 24/7 cycle, especially considering that we need to eat, sleep, and sometimes even take showers.

But now is not the time to fret regarding how far we think we should be, but rather to plan ahead to get to where we want to be by the years’ end.

To make this process easier for you, I made you a couple of simple, interactive worksheets.

These may seem overly simplistic, but trust me, if you follow this simple planning process it’s going to make the next 6 months of running your business SO MUCH EASIER.

You ready?

First, you’re going to download and save the 6 Month Planning Calendar to your desktop.

july-dec-planner-calendar

  • In the highlighted fields below each month, type in the things you know that will be happening within each of those months (whether you want them to or not.) This includes the family reunion in August, a week spent at your sister’s in December, the craft show you signed up for in November and so on.
  • Next, type in the major things that you need to work on for your business in their appropriate months in order to just keep things running. I’m thinking of things like following up with your wholesale accounts in July, and setting up your holiday marketing calendar in September.
  • Finally, put in a project or two you may not NEED to complete by the end of the year, but would really, really like to. This could be finishing the first draft of a book you’ve been wanting to write, or completing your spring jewelry collection.

Having your events and “to-do”s for the next 6 months forced onto a single page will (hopefully) keep you from over-booking yourself, and give you a realistic time-table of just when you need to get started on what in order to have a successful holiday season.

Keep this 6 month calendar saved to your desktop where you can open and look at it at the end and start of each new week. Use it to keep yourself on track, and tweak the contents within as necessary.

Next, download the Weekly Planner worksheet. This document you can fill out electronically, or print out to fill out by hand – whichever way helps you process your to-do’s better.

Weekly Planner

  • Fill this sheet out at the end of every week for the upcoming week, and reference it every day during the week you are using it to make sure you are able to keep yourself on track.
  • Assign a main priority to each day (you can of course use identical priorities across multiple days), that way you know whether to work on something when it pops up unexpectedly, or push it to a different day more suited to that day’s assigned priority. This will help you keep your focus and give needed attention to each of your priorities without leaving you feeling scatter-brained.

For example, your Monday priority couple be marketing, which may include tasks such as planning themes for your marketing calendar, writing e-mail campaign drafts, and creating social media graphics to be posted throughout the week. Or maybe on Wednesday your priority could be collection development, where you research, design, and create new products. You get to decide, and, as with the your 6 Month Planner, you get to tweak as you go along.

The combination of planning for the next 6 months and planning on a week-by-week basis will keep you focused on your overall goals, while also allowing you to provide yourself with the weekly baby-steps that will guide you in a much more manageable fashion to achieving those goals.

Good luck with your next 6 months!

Have a friend who you know could use these tips and worksheets? Please share this post with them! Click on any of the social share buttons below to spread the love.

How to Get Your Goods Featured in Blogs

When you sell products online, it makes sense that you want to direct as much relevant traffic to where your goods are sold. So long as the traffic is relevant (meaning it consists of the people most likely to be interested in your stuff), more traffic will generally mean more sales.

While press in general is great for your business, getting press from influential blogs can be particularly beneficial to your business when you are running an e-commerce store. Unlike, say, a newspaper or local magazine article, a reader won’t have to remember to check out your stuff later when he or she gets on a computer. When your product is discovered through a blog, it’s as simple as clicking a link and BAM - he or she is right there at your shopping cart, right at the moment when they’re ready to buy.

Jewelry Featured on Fashion Blog

OOTD: Florals with Megan’s Beaded Designs on Pretty and Polished

Also, although there are many kinds of print media publications, there are vastly even more blogs out there. Out of these countless options you can niche down and approach just the right ones that suit your ideal target market.

Another positive of online blog features is that there is the added bonus of gaining back-links to your website. As you build back-links, your website will start to look more and more important in the eyes of search engines, drawing you even more traffic though their channel the higher you rank.

So how you you get your goods featured on blogs?

First things first: have a clear picture of your target market and what kind of blogs they are going be reading. If they are fashionistas, it makes sense you would target fashion and shopping bloggers. Are they home decorators/domestic goddesses? Then it makes sense to lean toward the DIY and interior design bloggers. Are they members of a particular fandom? Then, obviously, the specific pop-culture referencing blogs are where you need to be headed.

Not sure where to look? Pinterest in a great place to start (many a popular pin clicks through to a popular blog post!) Twitter is also an easy one, with hashtags available (such as #fbloggers) that will take you straight to the tweets of the bloggers themselves, and then there is also the opportunity for you to spy on your so-called “competition” or other sellers who are targeting the same audience as you. Most of them are going to be promoting the blog posts they are featured in, and you can then check out those particular blogs and decide if you too would be a good fit.

Jewelry Fashion Blog Feature

Evil Eye and Arrow on DIMPLEBUG

Once you have a substantial list of blogs you would like to be featured on, start getting the blogger familiar with you. Send him or her tweets complimenting his or her latest post. LEAVE THOUGHTFUL BLOG COMMENTS. Then, following much buttering up, send him or her an e-mail letting him or her know that you would love to work with him or her.

Take note: most bloggers will expect you to send them free product as a means of payment. This is more than fair considering all of the work they are going to put into creating a post for you and promoting you to all of their fans. Some bloggers may require additional compensation (an advertising fee). Agree to this only at your discretion, as there are many blogs out there and it may or may not be worth the cost to get in front of one’s audience.

If the blogger feels that you are a good fit, and you end up getting a feature on his or her blog – yay! But it doesn’t stop there. Share the love by promoting that post on all of your social media channels, on your press page, on your product pages for any of the items that were featured, and make mention of it on your own blog and/or e-mail list. Getting the stamp of approval from a blogger, even not a very well-known blogger, will contribute to establishing trust with your audience and encouraging sales. Plus, if you gave the blogger a unique coupon code for him or her to share with his or her readers of the post, then  the new audience that is being exposed to your work will be even more likely to buy.

Fashion Blog Bracelet

Shadows on Styled by Noosh

Not all blog features will result in immediate sales, but the build up of press will increase trust, familiarity, and back-links to your brand. A slow and steady stream of blog features on relevant blogs will make a difference in your product business. Plus, getting featured on one of your favorite blogs is exciting and fun!

 

Do you have a favorite blog that features products regularly? Share it in the comments below!

The Simplest Way to Earn Trust

The Simplest Way to Earn Trust

You’ll find plenty of tips for how to earn trust with your audience in the blogoshpere of the “how-run-a-business” realm. And there’s good reason for that. T4rust is imperative, especially with an online business, where we’re asking people to buy something that they can’t see for themselves, let alone pick up and touch to examine with their own eyes and senses. Our potential customers need to be able to trust that our products will be what we say they are, and that you will follow through on your end of the bargain and ship what was requested immediately following payment.

Among the plethora of tips and how-tos, you’ll be told to have good, close-up images (this is good advice), include reviews from previous buyers on your site and in your product descriptions (also good advice) and more.

But there is one, main, simple thing that you must do in order to earn and maintain trust with your audience.

Consistency.

Consistency is why so many people will opt for Starbucks instead of taking a chance on a coffee shop they’ve never been to before.

Consistency is why we buy new books from our favorite authors without even reading the back cover, because we trust it will be just as satisfying as all of the ones we’ve devoured in the past from this same source.

Trust is why we buy concert tickets to the bands we’ve sung along to over and over again through our car stereo’s streaming. We trust they will sound just as good (if not better) than their studio-recorded selves.

Consistency for you means having a strong brand that stretches across all aspects of your business, including all of your marketing and messaging. It means delivering the same quality products in the same way every time a repeat customer places a re-order, or a new customer gives you a first chance.

Consistency means that your audience will come to trust you to deliver what they expect from you, or better.

Consistency doesn’t mean you have to blog every Tuesday and Saturday at 10:00 a.m. It could, but it could also mean that you blog consistently inconsistently.

Consistency doesn’t mean doing only the bare minimum, but it does mean that if you are excellent once you need to be excellent every time thereafter or you will deliver disappointment.

Consistency doesn’t mean you have to be a franchise, but it does mean borrowing the systematizing of franchises and applying it to your business, as a means of ensuring and documenting your processes in order to maintain the consistency you and your customers desire.

An general way to start systematizing your business for consistency is to map out your basic process from the start of customer outreach, to order placement, to product shipment and, finally, customer follow up. Look at all of the touch points that occur between you and your customers, and documents all of the things you can do consistently at each step to create a memorable experience with your business and brand, resulting in lasting trust between you and your customer.

Getting off the Hamster Wheel and Finding Freedom in Your Jewelry Business

What do you think of when I mention the common phrase, “the daily grind”?

Does your mind make a mental GROAN as you think about all of the work you push and shove into every waking hour as you try as hard as you possible can to get your business off the ground?

I get it. The hamster wheel syndrome is an easy place for those of us on the handmade-side of business to get stuck in. It consists of the frantic day-to-day ritual of checking messages, fulfilling orders, frantically creating marketing so that the orders keep coming in (or start coming in), and feeling like we’ve accomplished NOTHING other than the bare minimum to keep things running by the end of the day.

The good news is, running a jewelry business, or any handmade business, doesn’t have to be this way. It only takes a little work on your behind-the-scenes, mainly working on your systems and overall structure, to can set your business up for exponential growth without having to increase your personal work load by exponential (and humanly impossible) amounts.

What to learn more? You can attend the free webinar Tracy Matthews and Robin Kramer of Flourish and Thrive Academy are hosting tomorrow at noon Eastern time by clicking here.

Side note: If you register for the webinar, but can’t make it live, Tracy and Robin are always good about recording it and sending you the link to listen later. So I’d sign up even if you can’t be present during the actual webinar.

There will lots of immediately applicable information on how to run your business form the standpoint of a CVO (Chief Visionary Officer) rather than a grunt – even if you are the one doing all of the work – and how to leverage more bang for time you put into your business.

Free Webinar Training

Tracy and Robin will also be opening the doors for their Multiply Your Profits Course at the end of the webinar. This is the course that will teach you all about systematizing, outsourcing, and legality details of running your business and taking it to the next level. Aka: the level beyond the hamster wheel.

I personally took Multiply Your Profits last year and I can attest to the huge impact it made on my business. I went from spending too much time on unnecessary tasks (such as finding a pair of earring in my unorganized inventory when it sold, to figuring out what to make next without any clear revenue projections), to a more solid business with a working, nearly automatic infrastructure that runs smoothly, even if I want to take a couple weeks off for vacation, or don’t feel like doing any new marketing for awhile.

After taking Multiply Your Profits I was able to confidently set up an accounting system for my business, an inventory system, a production system, a marketing system, a packaging and shipping system, a wholesale and press outreach system, hired my first employee, and learned new ideas for liquidating old inventory to keep my businesses cash flow in the positive.

Interested in learning more? Click here to register for the free webinar today.

Even if you don’t have a jewelry-specific business, I am sure there will be lots of good information to help you learn to leverage your handmade business for better success and more freedom of your own time. See you there!

10 Ways to Procrastinate

Feel like procrastinating instead of doing that thing you know you should probably be working on for your business? Here are 10 of my top tips for accomplishing just that! (Because who wants to accomplish anything worth-while, amiright!?)

10 Ways to Procrastinate

(1)    I think I’m going to prepare myself for this dreaded task by taking a moment to “read up a little bit” on how to do it, at which point I will inevitably get distracted by another article on how to do something else, and then something else, and then, oh, my goodness, there’s just so many articles I have to read! Of course, before I know it, I will have spent 2 hours reading some very helpful and entertaining information on the interwebs, and yet… it won’t do me any good. Because  while I may have learned some pretty cool facts and theories, I wouldn’t have implemented a single thing (including the task I set out trying to accomplish.)

(2)    I’m just going to check my e-mail one more time…

(3)    I feel like I could be missing out on something exciting on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram… better check them again, “real quick” … (I think we ALL know how this ends up!)

(4)    I’m not sure how to start, so I’m just going to do something that feels more productive, like building up my Pinterest boards!

(5)    Man, I’m hungry. I should get myself some food before I take on this big project.

(6)    I’d probably perform better caffeinated. To the coffee shop!

(7)    Hmm, now, where was I? Ah yes. Well. I should probably get the dirty dishes taken care of before I get caught up in such a large task.

(8)    Plus, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and the floors need to be vacuumed, and I don’t even remember the last time I did laundry…

(9)    Alright, back and ready to work! Oh, is that really the time? It’s been awhile since I’ve check e-mail/Facebook/twitter/etc… better do that again real quick…

(10)*Yawn* I’m feeling pretty beat. I guess I’ll just write this project down onto tomorrow’s to-do list. But first I’ll have to read up on how to do it right, as I’m still not 100% on how to start….

 Sound familiar? That’s what I thought. So I figured I ought to also include the following:

 Bonus! 10 ways to get going and get your important projects FINISHED:

(1)    Plan by reverse engineering. This means envisioning what you hope the end result to look like, and jotting down the steps it would take to get there, from the final actions to the beginning steps.

(2)    Break down monstrous, overwhelming tasks into tiny baby steps you can feel better about accomplishing at least something on a daily basis.

(3)    Get started. Even if you don’t feel “ready” – the best way to learn is through action, trial, and error.

(4)    Block off sections of intense “focus time” in your daily schedule to work on your Big Important Projects. That means 1-2 hours of uninterrupted, direct work on your project and your project only.

(5)    Eat. Go to the bathroom. Get your tea or coffee cup filled, THEN sit down to work.

(6)    If you don’t have enough time for an intense focus block, set a stop-watch, and work on your project for 15 minutes. See how much you can get done in such a small time (you might surprise yourself.)

(7)    Do your most important work first thing in the morning. Make e-mail and social media WAIT until later.

(8)    Think of an awesome reward to give yourself when you complete your Big Important Project. A dangling carrot always helps.

(9)    Tell an accountability partner about your Big Important Project, and when you are planning on having it done. Check in with him or her as you progress.

(10)    Remember WHY you are working on this project in the first place. Write your reasons down. Tape them up somewhere you will have to look at them every day.

 And… what are your tips for avoiding the procrastination demon and getting your most important projects done? Share them in the comments below!