The Myth: More Time = More Productivity

time

I used to have an excuse.  My excuse was time, that slippery little devil.

You probably have the same excuse.  You dream of having more time so you can do something meaningful.  If you had more time, you could give your freelance career wings, quit your day job, earn more money, write a novel, achieve all your hopes and dreams and shoot rainbows out your ass.

Where Does the Time Go?

Like you, the older I get, the faster time ticks away.  Now that I have responsibilities, the things I used to wait for in anticipation sneak up on me as I prepare for them.  I have to get a birthday gift, anniversary card, plan the bachelorette party, and then BAM, Grandma is 75, my parents are celebrating their 30th anniversary and all of my best friends are married.  These days life propels me forward at a pace that is hard to match.  So I do my best to keep up.

In addition,  I find myself surrounded by technological time suckers – google, my iphone, facebook, twitter, the TV – dangerous little attention-grabbers that slowly suck away time until it’s 2 pm and I find myself still sitting on my couch in my pjs, holding a stale cup of coffee.  Time suckers constantly compete with productivity.

I’ve Been Given the Gift, and Squandered It

When I got laid off from my job, the one silver lining was the gift of time.  Time to write, time to market, time to send my freelance writing career into a flourish.

Oh, how wrong I was.

More time does not beget more productivity.

My vision: waking up at 7:30, sending my hubby out the door to his job, sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup o’ joe, and a complete and balanced breakfast.  Whipping out my laptop and relentlessly pounding away all hours of the day.  Meeting with new and potential clients.  Grabbing lunch with friends at the local organic cafe.  Having dinner on the table, a clean house, and a pile of money.

Reality: I roll out of bed from a dead sleep around 8:15.  Throw on a grubby sweatshirt.  Let the dog out.  Brew some coffee.  Turn on the TV so I can enjoy the company of my friends on the Today Show.  Finally get in the shower around 10.  Browse my favorite blogs.  Apply to a job or two.  Before I know it, my husband is home, and I’m frantically throwing one of our go-to meals together.  Have accomplished nothing substantial.  House is in dissaray.  There’s no pile of money anywhere (I looked!).  But it’s okay, because there’s always tomorrow.

The Truth

The truth is that I got much more done when I was working.  I knew I only had a few precious hours per day to write, market myself, read, invest in my business, and still be able to relax at the end of the day.  I had structure, and deadlines.  I had goals and determination.

More time has given me time to think, and to recharge my battery.  But I need to get back to work.  To get up at a decent hour.  To get in the shower right away instead of lollygagging the morning away.  Turn off the TV.  Work hard again, so that I have a reason to relax.

In the end, time is irrelevent.  Action.  Doing.  Moving forward instead of being paralyzed by excuses.  Motion fosters results.

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
~ Leonardo da Vinci

And I’d like to add: Time is not enough.  We must act.

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Are You In? Belonging

On March 31st, I woke up and put on my St. Louis Cardinals baseball tee circa 1982 World Series.

I don’t really care that much about baseball, but it was opening day, and even though I wasn’t going to the game, I wanted to fit in.

Flashback. March 17th, 2011.

In a cranky, “I’m not Irish anyway” type of mood, I walk out of my house in a purple tee shirt. I spent the rest of the afternoon, wistfully gazing upon a sea of green. Feeling left out, sticking out like a sore, non-complying thumb.

Turns Out…

Deep down, even though I wasn’t Irish, I really did want to belong.  I wanted to fit in with the people around me.   I wanted to feel part of the celebration that was St. Patrick’s day, even if it just meant walking down the street for a kiddie-sized green tea ice cream.

Back to Opening Day and Cardinal Red.

I didn’t have tickets for the Opening Day game.  I didn’t have plans to meet up with friends at the Opening Day Rally.  But I did know that I had errands to run.  I knew I’d be meeting my cousins for lunch.  I proudly sported by World Series tee shirt all day, and felt the camaraderie with my fellow St. Louisans.

Your Customers Want to Belong

Just like me, your customers want to belong.  Help them see how buying your product will help them fit in, and see where it takes you.

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Why You Should Kiss and Make-up (With Your Customers) in Public

Kissy Face

The writing's on the wall - let your customers see how you resolve issues. (Don't really kiss them, though. Especially if it's cold season.)

So you’re down with social media. You have a blog or a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Everything is rosy. You’re getting “liked” and “retweeted.” Your posts get comments. You have fans and they like your stuff.

But then, one day, someone pops into your online world and leaves a stain of negativity on the reputation you’ve built.

“You never answered my email!” or “You shipped the wrong color!”  Completely resolvable issues, but you can’t help but take offense, because it’s kind of like your customer whipped open the door to your back office.  You know, that place behind the scenes, where it’s not always pretty, and you don’t need the whole world to see.

What are your options?

1. Delete! Delete!

Deny the existence of the offending comments and their commenter.

If the negativity is clearly spammy, it’s fine to ignore it or delete it.  Your fans/followers should be able to recognize these types of comments as such.

But if it’s a legit issue, deleting it can backfire.  If you are a good business owner, operating in the best manner you know how (which you are!), you have nothing to fear.  Deleting a negative comment can make it seem that perhaps you do have something to hide, or you’re not equipped to handle the problem.

But we know that’s not true.

So forget about who’s right and who’s wrong.  Maybe the customer filled out the order form incorrectly.  Maybe you overlooked something in your inbox.  Either way, it’s not right and it’s up to you to correct the situation.

Which leads us to our second option…

2.  Allow & Resolve.

Allow the negative comment, but then be sure to resolve the issue in the forum where it came to light.

Diffuse the situation.  Apologize.  Allow the online community to see how the situation will be resolved.  Dig deep.  Find the sweetest, most patient, most genuine you to reply to negative comments in the online arena.

When you resolve issues openly, you become a hero to your customers.

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Are You In? There is an In-Crowd (Even if You Don’t Know it Yet)

Lunch at Resort_Cuba 187

Which Lunch Table are You Sitting At?

Hello Internet.

When I first began blogging, writing online articles, and studying internet marketing back in 2009, the internet seemed mostly like the Wild West to me.  You went out and staked your own little piece of web claim via your own domain, social networking handle, free blog account, or what have you.

Turns out that it’s actually quite domesticated out there.  See, I thought you could just go online, and drone on and on and not worry about being one of the popular kids, because there were no popular kids.  But as I got sucked further and further into the blogosphere, something weird started happening.  I started seeing the same names over and over again.  The same blogs started to come up related to people who I thought were just random strangers.

The jealousies ensue.  Shit.  I do want to be one of the popular kids.  Who are these writers & why are they all internet friends, and why are they all following the same blogs?  I feel like I’m sitting alone at this weird lunch table in this strange post-graduate school, pretending to be happy enough just to eat a turkey sandwich, when, secretly, I really wish I was sitting at the table with all the cool kids, exchanging high-fives and commenting on each others’ blog posts and then friending each other on facebook and following each others’ tweets.  It turns out that, just like in real life, having the right online connections does count, does help you grow.

How do I get to the cool lunch table on a cloud of data in the sky?  I think it all starts by introducing yourself, right?

Have you found the Online In-Crowd you want to belong to yet?

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The Evolution of a Blog Post Title

Evolution of Musicianship?

A few tweaks can whip your knuckle-dragging title into rockstar shape.

 

I had an idea for a blog post, the basis being that scheduling Facebook wall posts on your business’ fan page is not as effective as actively posting and responding to your fans.  I wrote a solid post, and slapped a title on it:

Why Scheduling Facebook Posts Doesn’t Work

Then I did what I do a lot, and hit “publish” too soon.  After I had let it sit in the blogosphere for a day or so, I went back to my post…

Why Scheduling Facebook Posts Doesn’t Work.  I had to ask myself – so what?  Doesn’t work for whom?

My post was already out there, but I liked it, and I wanted to get it right.  So I dug a little deeper.

Why is any business on Facebook?  Well, to market their services or products.  Okay, so people can see their business on FB, maybe even “like” the business and see them in their news feed everyday.  But the bigger picture is that businesses need these fans to turn into customers.  Otherwise, what’s the point of spending any time, money or resources on Facebook marketing?

I took this small revelation and tweaked my title:

Why Scheduling Facebook Posts Doesn’t Work if You Want to Turn Fans into Customers

There.  I had gotten more specific.  Answered the “so what?” of my original title.  Moving on.

But wait.  My post had already been simmering for a week or so.  Then Carol Tice so kindly reminded me that one of the Foolproof Ways to Attract Your First 1,000 Blog Subscribers was to tweet about your posts.

As I went to tweet about my post, I looked at my title again.  It’s not just a title, it’s a hook.  It needs to be click inducing.

Why Scheduling Facebook Posts Doesn’t Work if You Want to Turn Fans into Customers

It’s not sexy.  Kind of clunky.  So I got in there to trim the fat, and ended up with:

Turn Your Fans into Customers – Don’t Schedule Facebook Posts

Better?  What do you think?  How do your blog post titles evolve?

Posted in Social Media | 2 Comments

4 Ways to Emotionally Support Your Spouse During Unemployment

Holding HandsUnemployment can rock your world, unfortunately not in the most positive sense.  And when you’re married, there’s two people in the equation.  Though everyone’s situation is different, you can expect your roles and finances to undergo some major changes.  Don’t let job loss throw your relationship off course.

Has your spouse been laid off?  Here are 4 tips for offering support and sticking together:

1. Share in the mundane. Since I’ve been laid-off, I’ve been pretty good at keeping things up and running around the house.  Dishes, laundry, vacuuming, cooking…I feel like these fall in my court now that I have some extra time at home.  But all of those mundane chores can get redundant.  Last night, I came home from my weekly Zumba class to find the dishes done and dinner simmering on the stove.  Thank you, James!

Not only was it a nice gesture, it reminded me that it’s okay if every dish in the house isn’t clean and put away.  Household chores aren’t my main priority, and I shouldn’t use them as an excuse to ease up on the job search or ease up on pursing a freelance writing career.  When you continue sharing those tasks you shared before, you help keep your spouse on a path to success.

2.  Express gratitude and cheer her on. A thank you goes a long way, especially when she is no longer contributing financially to the household.  Even though she’s not actively earning an income, she works hard to make connections, explore her options, and learn about her new, unemployed self.  As a spouse, recognizing that your better half is working hard can help keep her motivated toward acheiving her next endeavor.

3.  Discuss your finances. Unemployment is a lagging indicator of economic health, meaning it’s one of the last factors to recover.  Realize that while not permanent, living with one less income is a reality you may be living with for a while.  It can be hard to face your new financial reality, but there’s nothing to gain by living in the past.  Take the time to have a realistic discussion about what lifestyle changes you’ll have to make to live comfortably at your new income level. 

Discuss finances initially, but keep the conversation going. Going out for drinks, buying wedding presents, seeing a movie – all opportunities to discuss how much you can afford to spend, and what trade-offs you may need to make to make it work.

4.  Hold her accountable. Ask her what her goals are, then make her stick to them.  It helps me to tell James, my mom, or a friend the next steps I plan to take in my search for new employment because I don’t want to let them down.  Before I had a steady income.  Now, I have steady time.  Without planning and scheduling achievable objectives, time will slip away leaving you with nothing.  Helping her voice her objectives and inquiring about her progress can help keep her going when she wants to give up.

 

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Subscribe! How Do You Follow Your Favorite Blogs?

Subscribe to Jess to Impress

Like my new subscription button?

I do! It’s sleek and obvious. Much better than the text box & link I had before.  I think it screams “click me!”

My old blog was on Blogger, so I wasn’t used to the idea of subscribing to a blog.  If I found a blog I liked, I would either “follow” it if it was another Blogger blog, or just add it to my reading list on Blogspot.  I still follow my blogs from my Blogspot dashboard, and have never really gotten used to using Google Reader.

What method do you use to subscribe to and follow your favorite blogs?

Posted in Social Media | 6 Comments

Turn Your Fans into Customers – Don’t Schedule Facebook Posts

Chinese students surfing on the Internet

Thinking about using a program like HootSuite to update your Facebook page or Twitter feed?  Think again.  You’re missing out on a big opportunity if you’re simply scheduling your Facebook posts.

Potential customers and clients like interacting with you on your Facebook page.   They like knowing that there are real people behind your company. If you’re simply scheduling posts like a robot, you aren’t being very real. You can miss opportunities to answer your customers’ questions, resolve issues, and be super relevant.

Be Relevant.  Be Impromptu. What if, in the middle of February, you get a burst of springtime weather in your region? If you’re relying on scheduled posts, you could miss the opportunity to feature your new spring line of scarves, or prompt your Facebook fans to come in and taste your latest flavor of ice cream, or let them know that the patio will be open due to extremely delicious weather.

Pencil it in, but be ready with the eraser. I’m not suggesting you throw your schedule out the window.  Having a plan of action can help keep your posts in tune.  It’s just the automated scheduling part that sucks the life out of your posts.  Consult your calendar for upcoming events, have an idea of what products or services you want to feature. Then post when you are able to interact with your current and potential customers, and rack up some sales!

Wait, you don’t have unlimited resources? Wait, you’re busy running your business.  You don’t have unlimited time to sit in front of your computer posting and responding to inquiries.  You have actually flesh and blood customers and clients you need to tend to right now.  So, why not hire a professional (like myself) to bring new business in the door?

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I Know Why Vegas was Rejecting Me

Byrd Airport terminal

For the past few months, I’ve been super angry that the city of Las Vegas, NV has been rejecting my advances (see here).  I just didn’t understand why…until last Friday.

Last Friday, I walked into the office, hung my coat on the back of my chair and flicked on the lights.  I got the coffee pot brewing, and heated up a package of grits in the microwave.  I sorted through my email and leisurely opened the mail as everyone else trickled into the office.

Little did I know that it was my last day at the small business I had worked at for close to four years.  By 11:30, I had received the news that I was being let go.

Honestly, I was mentally prepared.    The phone barely rang any more, contracts weren’t being signed, and new business rarely came through the door.  I just wasn’t prepared for Friday to be my last day.

In some ways, it was a good day.  I got a lot of compliments and hugs, and felt that I really had meant something and made an impact.  Despite the bad news, I managed to hold it together all day.  No ugly sobbing.  I remembered to tell everyone “thank you,” because I meant it.  I found a reserve of strength within myself that I didn’t know I had.

I’m not angry, just feeling a little adrift.  I figure that unemployment could go one of two ways…very well, or very badly.  It’s up to me.

This morning I dropped my husband off at the airport and watched him walk through the terminal in his green sweatshirt as I pulled away from the curb.  He is en-route to Vegas as we speak.  And me?  I’m doing my favorite thing.  Sipping coffee and writing a blog post in the sun.

Posted in Unemployment | 1 Comment

Vegas is Rejecting Me

The most fun city in the world doesn’t want me to be there.

Come to Fabulous Las Vegas, Unless You're Jess.

Case 1
Planned a trip to Vegas for September 2010 with the Girlfriends. Have Vegas planning party. Do everything but book a flight.

Girlfriends have party behind my back, and we end up going to Nashville in September instead (not a bad city, just not the Most Fun City in the World).

Case 2
Husband feels for me, and promises Vegas action in March 2011 for his friends’ bachelor parties.

I feel better.

But not for long.

Bachelors do not want me at their party (understandable, but my husband PROMISED ME I COULD GO). Try to rally Girlfriends for March Vegas trip, in order to form a barrier from group of bachelors, i.e. they’ll never even know we’re in the same city.

Girlfriends are still not biting (well, actually in this case, they bite).

Husband freaks out because his friends will berate him forever if he brings his wife to Vegas bachelor party.

Promises to stay out of sight, explore on my own, stick to shopping, poolside, and blackjack tables fall on deaf ears.

Vegas rejects me again.

Case 3

Bloggers in Sin City.  Sexy hot blogger meet up at the end of May in Vegas.  Chance to go to Vegas by myself without it being weird.  Chance to make best friends who will go to Vegas with me in a fun and spontaneous manner.

$350 price tag plus airfair is not very fun or spontaneous.  Trying to raise 350 bones by hawking mittens, with limited success so far. 

Is this rejection #3???

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