Keep Calm…and Make Your Home Office a Productive, Minimal-Stress Zone with Feng Shui

Working from a home office isn’t as free and easy an experience as people often imagine.Feng shui your home office for productivity and stress management

1. Distractions abound.

2. You never completely leave your work behind.

Having felt the stress of some aggressive deadlines and and too much on my plate, I realize it’s not just how I manage my time that makes a difference in my ability to cope. Having a working environment within your home that’s conducive to both productivity and stress management can make the difference between “pumped up” and “burned out”, too.

I’ve been trying to become more in tune with how my surroundings influence my demeanor. For  instance, playing classical music on Pandora while I work tends to soothe my nerves and calm me when I’m feeling frazzled. But I realize there’s much more I could do to make my office a place that enhances my concentration and productivity, while keeping stress at bay. I did a little research on the topic and thought I’d share some of my findings with you.

Ways to Create a More Productive, Less Stressful Home Office

Employ the 5 elements of Feng Shui

With thousands of years behind it, the concept of feng shui fascinates me. The ancient Chinese system, which uses design choices to create and guide our physical and emotional energy, involves five elements we can use to achieve a balanced state in our home offices. It’s actually a lot more complex than that, but here are some elemental basics if you’ve got an open mind and want to try to incorporate some of the principles of feng shui into your home office. The key is to have a healthy balance of the five elements so the energy of your space is working for you rather than against you.

  • Wood
    Wood represents personal growth, intuition, inspiration, and creativity. Consider decorating your space with some wood furniture, small plants, and perhaps some flowers. The color green is traditionally associated with the wood element. And purple, believe it or not, is another wood color. It represents abundance and expression. When looking to accentuate your creative powers through wood, choose energizing, not dull or gray hues.

 

  • Earth
    Earth energy serves to support and ground you. It provides stability and balance. Decor (like baskets or ceramic pots) low to the ground and square, rectangular, and horizontal objects, particularly made of earth materials like straw, stone, and brick will enhance earth’s stabilizing properties in your work space. Earth colors are brown and yellow, but make sure the yellow is muted rather than clear and bright.

 

  • Fire
    Fire promotes transformation, leadership, and enthusiasm. Its energy helps you welcome new ideas and gives you the motivation to share your abilities and skills. In your home office, candles, sunlight through your window, and lamps can all bring more fire energy into your space. Decor items shaped liked triangles, diamonds and pyramids and the colors red, orange, and pink are associated with fire.  Aim for bright colors and semi-gloss paints that make the room more reflective to boost your office’s fire power.

 

  • Metal
    Metal enhances clarity and logic. It actually has two aspects, just like the mind: a dense and focused left-brained aspect and a dynamic, in motion left-brained aspect.  White, gray, and silver are left-brain energy boosting colors, while the rainbow colors stimulate creativity. Decor items that can help pull you into focus include wind chimes and bells. Metallic shelves, desks, and office accessories can boost creative energy.

 

  • Water
    The water element represents release and rejuvenation. It helps you let go of what isn’t beneficial and opens you to renewal of your insight and inspiration. Fountains, aquariums, and objects with reflective surfaces can bring water energy to your office. Colors of the water element include black and deeper, darker hues of blue.

Note that the objects you place in your office can represent multiple elements. For example, a metal desk with its horizontal surface represents both metal and earth. In other words, you can get more bang for your buck if you thoughtfully select objects.

Based on my untrained assessment of my office, I’ve got a lot of earth in my space, a decent amount of metal, but I could stand to some more water, fire, and wood. I’m hoping the candle with the wooden wick in my photo will help with that, but it appears some office accessories shopping is in order.

Have you ever considered the principles of feng shui for your home office? At first glance, is your working space feng shui friendly or a feng shui failure?

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Soloprener™ Post

Sources:

McWilliams, Stephanie. “The Elements of Feng Shui”. n.d. http://www.hgtv.com/decorating-basics/the-elements-of-feng-shui/index.html (accessed April 27, 2014).

Stasney, Sharon. Feng Shui Chic: Stylish Designs for Harmonious Living. Edited by Laura Best. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing, Co., Inc./Chapelle, Ltd., 2000.

 

Optimizing Content on Social Media: What Marketing Tactics Are Making Good Things Happen [Study Results]

As small business owners and marketers, producing content is just one step in the process of using it to help us reach our business goals…We also need to take steps to optimize it to get it in front of as many eyes as possible in our target markets.

Software Advice has partnered with Adobe in launching a  Social Media Content Optimization Survey to find out what marketers’ most effectively achieve through social media, which tactics work best, and more. They’ve been so kind as to share the information they’ve gathered so far, so I can share it with you.

While the Social Media Content Optimization Survey is still open, the early results show some interesting trends…

    • Marketers say that using images and photos is the most important tactic for optimizing content on social media.

 

    • Nurturing relationships, increasing brand awareness, and growing followers are top outcomes of optimizing social media content.

 

  • Generating leads and driving direct-response sales are least-impacted by social media content optimization.
According to Ashley Verrill of Software Advice who is leading the study, “Our survey results showed that images and photos are among the effective elements for ensuring your social media content is successful towards campaign goals–particularly when combined with #hashtags, username callouts and @-mentions that allow you to target specific people.”

 

Which social media content optimization tactics are working?

Here’s how they stack up according to the respondents so far…

Most effective social media content optimization tactics

 

What do marketers find social media most effective at accomplishing?

Here’s what survey participants have said they’ve gained through their social media efforts…

 

Top outcomes of social media marketing
Do the most effective tactics and accomplishments shared by the respondents match what you’ve experienced in your social media efforts? I’ve found much of what the participants have shared to be true in my solopreneurial business…although I’d score “generate leads” a bit more favorably.

 

Social media success: What does it mean?

“Success” with social media can mean different things to different people. It all comes down to expectations and aspirations.

 

Verrill explains, “As far as what ‘success’ means for social media marketers when it comes to optimizing content, most are using the medium for nurturing relationships with existing customers over driving direct sales–hence the emphasis on using tactics that target specific people and groups; It’s a more personalized means for connecting with customers. At the same time, marketers said social content optimization is really important for building brand awareness. I think this is actually very connected to their efforts to nurture relationships because the more they can get customers talking about their brand, the more that customer’s friends, family and social circles will be exposed to it.”

 

For more information about the survey results, please visit the related post on the B2B Marketing Mentor blog by Software Advice.

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

How to Give Your Small Business Staying Power on Social Media

Here today; gone tomorrow. On social media networks, that describes a lot of solopreneurs and small business owners. If Marathon runneryou’ve been using social media consistently, you’ve probably noticed some people and brands start strong, but then drop off the radar almost completely. I’ve especially noticed it on Twitter. In my three years actively using the network for business, I’ve seen people go from tweeting and interacting full throttle to running out of gas, their tweets coming to a full stop. It happens on all of the other networks, too…Google+, Facebook, Pinterest…

But why? If people know (and most do) that building brand awareness and professional relationships on social media takes prolonged and consistent effort, why do so many give up?

It’s simple: They bite off more than they can chew and get overwhelmed in trying to keep up amid all of their other business responsibilities.

Tips for Giving Staying Power to your Social Media Efforts

If you – or someone you know – is struggling with keeping current on social media, here are a few pointers that might help:

Educate yourself about how much activity is needed to gain traction on the various social media channels.

Twitter, for example, requires significantly more posts to stay top of mind because of its fast and furious nature. By contrast, connections would find it overkill if you posted that many updates on Linkedin. By knowing how much posting and interacting individual networks demand for gaining notice and building goodwill, you’ll better be able to choose which are right for you.

Be realistic about how much time and effort you can – and are willing to – devote to social media networking.

Far worse than not being on a popular social media channel is being there with a severely neglected account. If you haven’t posted a status update on your Facebook page for 3 months, you need to make a decision: either get active or cut the cord. The same goes for any other online social network. Are you committed to putting in the time and work to stay consistent with each of your social media networks? If no, are you willing to delegate or outsource your social media responsibilities? If no again, it’s time to close some accounts.

Learn and use social media tools.

Time-saving, productivity-boosting online tools can make a big difference in how well you’ll be able to manage your social networks. I use both Hootsuite (which also has a wonderful dashboard component) and Buffer for scheduling posts. Using an RSS reader like Feedly will help you keep content sources readily accessible when you’re looking for relevant articles to share with your audience. Also important: organizing the connections in your network (for example, via aptly-named circles in Google+ and lists in Twitter) to make it easier to keep tabs on posts by the key people (e.g. clients, prospects) you want to interact with. And don’t downplay the power of mobile apps! Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin…they all have mobile apps for Android and iOS. Use them to keep up on your networks when you’ve got idle time waiting for a client at a coffee shop or when you’re in line at the grocery store.

Have a plan.

For some people, having a pre-set content calendar helps keep them on track. This may or may not work for you depending on your type of business. When creating content in advance, you run the risk of appearing like you’re sharing yesterday’s news. Still, it’s good to at least have a loose plan for how you’ll approach your social media activities. Establish how often you’ll aim to post updates, how often you’ll login to your networks to interact with others, and what mix of content you’ll share (article links, photos, videos, contests, etc.).


Last but not least…

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall short! Occasionally, you will. We all do! Expect times when you won’t fulfill your social media commitments. Life happens. Work happens. Both can throw unexpected surprises that can derail your best laid social media plans. When they do, don’t look back and beat yourself up over it. Instead look forward and pick up where you left off. Just don’t give up!

 

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Two Things Your Small Business Success Depends On

If you’ve got a great product or service that satisfies a need in the market, but things just aren’t falling into place for yourProcess diagram small business, you might have a problem somewhere in your processes and systems. No matter how small or artsy your business is – and even if you don’t have them written down – your processes and systems are there. While they might sound like yucky, boring, stick-in-the-mud stuff, you should give them some thought and attention. They affect every success and failure you experience.

What is a “process” and what is a “system”?

According to Merriam-Webster online, they’re defined as:

Process – “a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result”
System – “a group of related parts that move or work together”

It stands to reason that to get results, you need processes. And you need systems to help you execute and maintain your processes.

Processes and systems applied in a small business

At the start of 2014, I joined a small online mastermind group, that’s got me looking at my business in a different way. It’s challenging me to think about the systems and processes behind my freelance company and how they affect my success. In a way, I’m rediscovering by business by thinking in these terms. While I hadn’t acknowledged or officially defined all of them in the past, virtually everything I do in my line of work is guided by processes supported by systems.

I have processes for:

  • Managing my blog
  • Fielding and qualifying leads
  • Prospecting for new business
  • Creating proposals and estimates
  • Maintaining working relationships with clients
  • Executing project work
  • Executing hourly work
  • Marketing
  • Invoicing clients
  • Receiving client payments

My systems to support my processes consist of a variety of platforms and tools:

  • WordPress
  • My bank
  • My credit card
  • Email (Gmail and Google Apps)
  • Social media platforms: Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, Facebook,
  • Social media apps: Hootsuite & Buffer
  • Quickbooks
  • Evernote
  • Trello
  • Toggl
  • Memberships to various local networking groups.
  • My calendar
  • My smartphone
  • My whiteboard
  • Sticky notes

Essentially, everything that goes right or wrong in my business can somehow be traced back to a success or failure within my processes and system components.

While you might drive yourself to the brink by trying to lay out everything you do into perfectly-detailed processes, it can help to at the very least recognize your business functions that involve multiple steps and identify the systems/components that support your efforts to accomplish them. That way, you can objectively look back on what you did and how you did it to discover why something fell through the cracks and determine what needs to be fixed or removed from the equation.

So the next time your check book balance isn’t matching up with your accounting records, or you’re falling behind on project deadlines, or your engagement on social media has plummeted, or you’ve missed out on an assignment because you responded too late…look a little deeper. There’s probably a process or system that needs some tweaking.

Special thanks to my mastermind cohorts, Rachel Strella, Jennifer Grigg, and Terry League for their insight and support. 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What the 91% of Small Biz Owners Who Do Their Own Marketing Need to Think About in 2014

According to results from an AWeber survey, 91% of small business owners are also the primary marketers for their companies. Whoa! Marketing in itself is challenging and time-consuming, but even more stressful and daunting is when it’s one of many other business-critical responsibilities on your overflowing plate.

So much to do; so little time. Where should you put your efforts in the limited hours you have to market your business?

The marketing tactics small business owners say they will focus on in  this year:


Data and infographic by AWeber

There’s no such thing as “one-size-fits-all” marketing, but there are some universal considerations nearly every small business owner should make top of mind…

  • Make sure you have adequate time to plan and execute effectively. Not all social networks and tactics take the same amount of time and attention. If you don’t have the capacity to keep up with them, either look to do something different, or hire someone/outsource the responsibility.
  • Go where your audience is. As of December 31, 2013, Facebook had 1.23 billion monthly active users.* That’s a bunch, but if you’re a B2B consulting business targeting mid-size company CEOs you might be wasting your time with a business Facebook page.  Don’t squander your time on social media channels that won’t reach your target market.
  • Don’t treat online networking and face-to-face networking as two separate initiatives. If you do, you’ll miss out on opportunities to build relationships and trust. Nearly every professional you meet at an in-person networking event will have – at the very least – a Linkedin account. Connect so you’ll have an easy and noninvasive way to maintain contact long after the networking event is over. And don’t forget to find out which other social networks they – or their companies – have a presence on. Social media can help you stay on the radar and generate goodwill when you show support via your interaction. Likewise, seek to strengthen online networking with face-to-face conversations whenever possible. Reach out to local contacts to see if you can connect at an upcoming chamber mixer, industry trade show, seminar, etc. Those multiple touch points can result in strong business development outcomes.

 

Final note:

When you’re a solopreneur or small business owner who does it all in your business, it’s impossible to do it all in marketing. Be smart and selective when choosing where to devote your time, energy, and hard-earned money. You’ll find it’s better to do one or two things well than to spread yourself too thin and flounder while trying to do five or six.

 

Your turn: What marketing tactics are you focusing on most in 2014? Have you given any up since 2013? I’d love to hear from you!

 

By Dawn Mentzer

 

*According to the Facebook Newsroom – accessed January, 30, 2014

The Four-Letter Word I’m Removing From My Business Vocabulary

Can you guess what it is?

B – U – S – Y

Perhaps not what you were expecting, but that’s the one: “Busy”Strikethrough of "busy"

The reason? We use…no, we OVER use…it to such a large degree it has become nearly void of meaning. Ask someone how their week was: “It was busy!” Ask someone how work is going: “I’m so busy!”

Busy, busy, busy. We’re all busy in our own minds, and we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve lost all sensitivity to and sympathy for the busyness of others. I don’t think most of us even empathize with other busy people because we always think we’re busier than they are. I know I am. You probably are, too.

Banning “busy”

I’ve decided that no matter how hectic or crowded my professional and personal plates get, I will no longer refer to my schedule’s condition as “busy.”

That doesn’t mean I won’t let people know if I’m unavailable to attend a meeting or work on an assignment; it just means I will choose other words to more meaningfully express my situation. Something like, “I’m sorry, but I have other commitments this week. Could we look at some alternate dates toward the end of  next week?”

Saying you’re busy means nothing because “busy” is relative. We all have different tolerance levels for taking on responsibilities. Others will have a greater understanding of – and maybe even an appreciation –  for your workload and schedule conflicts if you communicate your busyness in other terms.

No more “busy” starts today

Starting today, I hereby banish the word “busy” from my vocabulary. If you catch me using it to describe my present or future calendar’s condition, I expect you to call me out on it.

Not only will banning “busy” result in more accurate conveyance of my working availability, I expect it might also alleviate some stress. Ever notice how just thinking about how busy you are seems to push your blood pressure to the ceiling?

Unfortunately, eliminating busy from your pool of acceptable words won’t remove tasks and projects from your schedule, but I expect it could remove the propensity to think so much about how busy you are. And that could free your brain to better focus and accomplish more in less time so you’ll be less busy all the time. Here’s hoping anyway!

 

Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post
By Dawn Mentzer

 

Get a Grip on Google Plus and Twitter: It’s All in the Lists

(Actually, in the case of Google+, it’s in the circles, but that didn’t sound nearly as poetic in the title.)Woman with tennis racket

Google+ and Twitter have become my favorite social networks for business. Like all online social media, they require time and ongoing effort to share content and interact with others. It’s not easy. But it can be easier if you have a system in place to streamline your activities.

Finding a way to effectively organize my G+ connections and Twitter followers has helped me immensely both in keeping tabs on and interacting with important contacts and in finding really good content worthy of sharing with the people who are following me. For both Google+ and Twitter, I use a similar approach for organizing the people and brands I’m following on those networks.

Two Google+ Circles and Twitter Lists that will simplify and streamline your social media efforts

VIPs

Create this list/circle and include all the connections you consider “VIPs.” Include clients, hot prospects, sources of referrals, etc.  It’s a list where you can place anyone you want to keep close tabs on and nurture relationships with. Keep the list relatively short (I’d recommend no more than 30 people or brands at any given time). On Twitter mark the list as private, so no one but you knows who is included (why risk hurting someone’s feelings or burn bridges when people discover they’re not on it!). Your VIPs may or may not be good sources of content that’s relevant to your audience. If not, it’s OK. This list is meant to ensure you stay on top of what these individuals are posting so you can show support, offer input, and give virtual high fives  to build goodwill.

Content Masters

It’s time consuming and frustrating to scroll through random posts in your newsfeed trying to pick out those that are meaningful to you and your followers. Instead, create a “Content Masters” list/circle and include people and brands who consistently post quality content that’s relevant to your audience and that you can glean knowledge and helpful tips from.  Make this list your “go to” place when you’re deciding what to post on your networks. It cuts through the noise, saves time,  and helps you stay on top of the content that matters most to you. As with the VIPs, you might also consider making this list a private one on Twitter to avoid hurt and hard feelings.

Related tips for managing your Google+ circles and Twitter lists…

  • Whenever following anyone new, take the extra 30 seconds it takes to view their posts/tweets to see if they’ll make good VIPs or Content Masters.
  • These lists are meant to be fluid. As relationships evolve and strategies change, remove people from your lists and add different people as you see fit.
  • For people you might not need to keep quite as close to the vest as VIPs and Content Masters, but who you don’t want to lose in the noise of the general newsfeed, create other lists/circles. Do it sparingly though. Only create a list or circle if you really intend to monitor and interact with the activity there. Otherwise, why bother?

 

While there’s no right or wrong way to manage your Google+ and Twitter connections, there are tips and tricks that can help you minimize your efforts and help you get a better return on them.  It usually takes a healthy dose of trial and error before finding a good system, so don’t get discouraged or throw in the towel. Keep trying until you discover an approach that works best for you.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Often Unsung Benefit of Blogging

Blogging. You’ll find no shortage of articles telling you how important it is to your business. It directs traffic to yourThumbs up website, improves your placement in search results, establishes you as an authority in your field…need I go on?

But there’s something else blogging can do for you. And it’s something I believe we don’t talk about nearly enough…

Blogging helps us better understand – and project offline – who we are and the value we bring to our clients.

Here are some of the reasons why that’s so…

  • Blogging helps you find and develop your professional voice.
  • As you blog, you have an opportunity to think about the individual components of your business and how they impact you and your customers.
  • Blogging gives you a reason to dissect your systems and processes. Preparing to explain what you do to an audience helps you find holes and gaps that you might not otherwise find.
  • Blogging reinforces what you know and instills confidence in your capabilities.
  • Blogging often requires some degree of research – you expand your knowledge in the process.
  • Regularly writing about what you know and do and what’s important within your industry can help you feel more comfortable and confident when talking with prospects.

If you’ve felt like you’re simply going through the motions of blogging because you believe you have to for the purpose of marketing, look at it as a professional development opportunity instead. Blogging can do more for you than put you on the online radar screen; it can make you a smarter, stronger, more confident small business owner.

Important to note: Even if you hire a freelancer to write your blog posts, your involvement in identifying topics and specific talking points can give you these benefits!

YOUR TURN! How have your blogging efforts transcended marketing and helped you develop professionally?

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Building Professional Connections: No Riding of Coattails Allowed!

“We need to get together and discuss how I can get involved in your networking circle.”

Awhile back, someone posted this comment on one of my social media platforms in response to a photo that I shared of me with some colleagues at a networking event. While some people might have meant that in jest. I know this person did not.

There’s so much wrong with his statement…I’d call it a request, but really it wasn’t. He didn’t ask. He told me what we need to do so he can further his business in the local community.

Connecting in the local professional community – No riding of coattails allowed!

When building a network of professional connections to grow a business, there is no “we” where responsibility for reaching out and nurturing relationships is concerned. Yes, it’s fine to leverage existing connections and occasionally ask for introductions to people who you might have some synergy with.  (As professionals, it’s professional courtesy – and the right thing to do – to graciously introduce connections whenever appropriate), but it’s wrong to expect others to do all the work for you.  To anyone who hasn’t shown the initiative or effort to make inroads on their own in their community…get off our coattails!

There are no shortcuts for building meaningful business relationships.

Building relationships and awareness in the local community takes hard work, continuous effort, and a consistent presence. Sometimes you even have to dole out some cash to join groups and pay registration fees for events. Why would you share the fruits of your investment with anyone who is obviously looking for free ride and has nothing to offer in reciprocation?

While helping others professionally is admirable and often mutually beneficial, giving a pass to people who are too lazy to build relationships on their own could damage your reputation rather than strengthen it. If they’re that self-focused with you, you can bet they’ll be equally as self-serving with the people you connect them with. By introducing them, you might be misunderstood as endorsing them. And that could put your professional credibility at risk.

Back to the incident that prompted me to write this post…

I did respond graciously to his request. I didn’t offer to sit down to talk with him, but I did share what I believe are some helpful bits of insight to get him thinking about  how he might start to forge relationships on his own…

  • I listed the networking organizations  in our area for which I’ve paid to be member so he can consider them for his own business development – and so he would understand that networks don’t grow by accident. You have to put yourself where the people you want to connect with are.
  • I explained how important my ongoing and consistent use of social media has been for nurturing relationships and expanding my network.
  • I told  him there’s no secret formula. It takes getting involved and putting in time and effort. You get out of it what you put into it.

Hopefully it has made him think about what he (not we) needs to do to start making connections and building trust within the community.

If I seem a bit territorial about my network, it’s because I am. You should be, too. We’ve worked hard to start – and maintain- our networks of connections. Why should we feel obligated to help someone with a strong sense of entitlement but a weak desire to pay their dues? I’ll always be willing to give other professionals a hand up…but a handout is out of the question.

 

By Dawn Mentzer – Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post.

 

 

Take Action Against Distraction in Your Small Business in 2014

“Bounce rate.” If you’ve got a website, you know less is best when talking about that particular metric. But the bounce Multi-tasking womanrate of your site isn’t the only bounce-related thing that can spell trouble for your business.

As soloprenrenurs and small biz owners, we take on every aspect of our businesses, so it’s easy to become unfocused and “bounce” from one uncompleted task to another, then back to the first one, and then move on to something else before bouncing back to the original task. That zaps productivity. And problems with productivity can quickly manifest themselves as an inability to fit in enough billable hours. And not enough billable hours means less revenue than you may have been banking on. Ouch! Bouncing can be painful!

But you already know that and saying it out loud doesn’t change the fact that you’re faced with needing to tend to not only the work you do for clients, but also to the day-to-day administrative responsibilities that come with the territory. So we multi-task, trying to get more done in less time. Unfortunately, while trying to take care of as many things as possible in a single bound sounds great in theory, in reality we’re only human and therefore incapable of doing it well.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article by Jonha Revesencio about multi-tasking and how digital stress affects the human brain.  According to the infographic within her post, some neuroscientists believe online multi-tasking (particularly email) can put our brains into overload and trigger a “fight or flight” reaction that causes us to lose focus and always aim for tackling what we perceive as immediate opportunities and threats.

And this post by Rachel Blom about interruptions from social media shares that parallel tasks (tasks done simultaneously) take us 30% more time to complete than if we’d do them independently (one after the other).

Multi-tasking might also do some damage to your gray matter, according to this article and infographic on Ragan’s Healthcare Communication News. A mere two percent of people can multi-task successfully, while the other 98 percent of us could lower our IQs by letting email, phone calls, and social media interrupt our work. Another astounding stat from that article: on average, people who use computers for work are interrupted every 10.5 minutes throughout the day.

Yikes!

So how can you get it together, get things done, and resist the urge to do everything at once. Take action to resist distractions!

Here are a few defense maneuvers to help you resist multi-tasking your days away…

  • Schedule time on your calendar daily for all tasks and responsibilities.

    By dedicating specific windows of time for email, social media, client work, accounting, etc., you won’t feel as impelled to bounce aimlessly from one to another.

  • Close your email and social media tabs on your computer when you’re supposed to be working on something else.

    Make them out of sight, out of mind. You’ll find they won’t lure you away nearly as easily from the task at hand if you don’t have them front and center.

  • Put your smart phone out of reach.

    Even a 1-minute phone call can throw you off course when it unexpectedly interrupts your work on a project. Plus, you might be tempted to check your incoming emails, texts, and social media interactions if you hear the notifications ding and your phone is within arm’s length. Better to put it across the room – or in another room – until you’re free to attend to it

  • Schedule some “wiggle room” into your day.

    While you might not always find it possible, try to block out a half hour once or twice each day for the unexpected. That way you won’t get completely behind on your work if you need to field an impromptu call from a prospect or discover a task is taking you a little more time than you anticipated. You can find more on my “wiggle room” suggestion in one of my earlier Insatiable Solopreneur posts this year.

When I stick to the plan above, I find I feel less stressed, feel more in control, and think more clearly. Most importantly, I get more done and have far less apprehension about what’s on my “to do” list, because I know I’ve got a plan in place to accomplish my outstanding projects and tasks. If you’ve found bouncing is sabotaging your productivity and not leaving you the time you need for focusing on billable work, it’s time to break the multi-tasking cycle. Take action against distraction and discover the difference it will make for your business in 2014.

 

Your turn! What tips and tricks do you use to avoid bouncing through your day?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

 

 

Image courtesy of Pong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net