Categories
Business

I’m So Over Instagram

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Don’t get me wrong; it’s my favorite social media platform. We normally rave about it. We even have a course teaching you how to use Instagram + Facebook ads. We know how powerful a tool it is to build relationships + make money. Buuuuut…

It’s causing people we know + love unneeded stress.
It’s stealing time from other profit-producing activities.
It’s making people feel like they’re not good enough or cool enough (including me, at times!)

Instagram is all the rage right now. We totally get it! It can help you do incredible things in your business. But I wanted to check in with you and ask you a few things I ask myself every now and then…

  1. Is the time you’re spending on Instagram taking away from other important parts of your business?
  2. Are you taking all this community and encouragement OFFLINE (partnerships, coffee dates, sending referrals to these new Insta-friends)?
  3. Do you feel life So-and-So’s success is making you jealous?
  4. Are you connecting with people on Insta that make sense for YOU and YOUR business to connect with?
  5. Are you missing out on real life relationships because you’re on Instagram or looking for an Insta-worthy moment?

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in exciting movements + #hashtags. I just wanted to shoot it to you straight today…

Remember who you are, what your strengths are and why you started this business in the first place. Use Instagram to connect, encourage and be real with your people. Just don’t let it steal your confidence, joy + too many hours of your life! Create a content plan and posting schedule. Get in and get out and get on with sharing your beauty + creativity with the rest of the world!

Go get ’em (on + offline)!

Categories
Business

How to prevent entrepreneur overwhelm

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What we have for you here, is a little roundup checklist of years of experience: How to prevent entrepreneur overwhelm! Yes, you really can prevent it! And, it’s glorious when you do! These are the things we do so that hairy beast of a bad place doesn’t get to us in the first place.

Don’t wait until you feel like you’re going to crack, cave or cry. Be proactive! Start checking these things off the list and we promise your business will run smoother. You’ll feel happier and lighter.

Start a morning routine and stick with it!
☐Set realistic + SPECIFIC goals, that are still challenging.
☐Do ONE THING at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth.
☐Know what you want and be confident in going for it!
☐Get organized! Plan out your weeks.
☐Schedule YOU things (exercise, coffee dates, long lunch breaks) first, every week, every day.
☐Get your work to 90% and then move on. Done is better than perfect. Boycotting perfectionism is not being sloppy.
☐Do not go on social media until after 11am!
☐Read before you go to sleep, instead of scrolling through Instagram.
☐Know your ideal client so you can make fast marketing decisions that are valuable to her! Fast decisions = less time beating yourself up trying to figure it out = less overwhelm.
☐Tidy up your workspace. Shave your legs if you have to 😉
Stop procrastinating!
☐Read Essentialism and implement ASAP.
☐Surround yourself with like-minded people who just get it.

Adios, overwhelm!

Categories
Business

What Do You Want to be Known For?

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If you could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?

That’s a pretty intense question.

For all you Parks & Rec fans…”Am I right, Justin?”

In the sea of books that sits on our coffee table, I picked Essentialism, one I’ve been wanting to get to for a while. For me, in a time of big ideas, big moves, big decisions and big excitement in our life and business, it’s now more important than ever for me to stick to my guns. I like to help where I’m needed. I love to be part of all movements and ideas that support and encourage people to maximize their efforts and lives. I have a tendency to say YES! because I really do want to be part of all the rad things going on in this crazy creative entrepreneur world!

But guess what? If I say YES! to everything that comes my way, I’m letting other people’s agendas set the course and game plan for my time. If I say YES! to all that’s around me, I have to say NO! to the ideas and passions within me. Not sure about you, but I want to get those ideas and passions out in the world! I want to give them room to breathe, grow and manifest into the greatness I know there’s potential for them to be! And, in order for that to happen, I need to cut through all the noise and figure out what’s essential to me. What’s essential to our business. What’s essential in our life?

In this busy season of holiday parties, consumerism and high-demands, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed because you are also trying to make your dreams come true, and that takes time and effort and strategy. We encourage you to take some time to focus on these things, so you don’t get sucked up into the abyss…

What do you want to be known for?
What are you deeply passionate about?
What are your strengths and how do you enjoy using them?
What do you stand for?

Answer those questions. Prioritize all tasks that help you live a life and run a business that clearly represent who you are and what you’re working to achieve! Say NO! to the rest.

“We aren’t looking for a plethora of good things to do. We are looking for the one where we can make our absolutely highest point of contribution.” – Greg McKeown

Categories
Business

How to Stay Sane & Productive Every Week

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How often do you find yourself realizing it’s ALREADY Friday and you have no idea where all of your time went? You had SO much more you wanted to get accomplished during the week, but things kept coming up and getting pushed back. Before you knew it, your priorities became less and less important, until you finally just crossed them off the list because you thought you’d never have time for them. Have you been there?

We’ve been there. And we’re here to help.

Managing time is a huge part of running a business. In the early years of our business, we wasted a lot of time. Not because we weren’t motivated, but rather, because we weren’t efficient. Here are some signs that you are using your time inefficiently:

  • Items have been on your to do-list for months and keep gettting pushed back, week after week.
  • You always feel behind.
  • You don’t know what you are going to work on until the day starts.
  • Any time you have a spare second, you scroll through your friends’ feeds on Instagram and Facebook.
  • You don’t schedule out your week.

We’ve found there’s one very simple solution to keeping our weekly schedule in order: a Monday morning meeting. During that meeting, we plan out our week. We look at our to-do lists and tasks. We put everything we need to do in a time slot. Then, we follow it.

There are some tasks we have to do every day. For example, I have emails to answer on a regular basis. So, I include a time slot, five days a week, sometimes twice per day, for client communication.

What do our meetings look like?

Our meetings consist of a few parts. We have a calendar, a meeting agenda (in Evernote) and a to-do list (in Wunderlist).

The calendar

First, we print a semi-generic calendar (see an example here) we’ve created in Google Calendar. It has a skeleton of our week. We have time slots set aside for things we do every day and every week. And since we run two businesses, we have slots for specific businesses. If there’s editing for the week, it goes in a Limelife Photography project spot. We look ahead in ShootQ, our photography business workflow application, and assign tasks with upcoming due dates for those spots, as well.

We start our meeting with the calendar. We use the Sunday column (which is typically our day off) as a temporary to-do list as we go through our meeting. As items come up, we add them to that space. Then, after the meeting, we transfer those things to our official to-do list in Wunderlist.

We keep our calendars until the next week’s meeting. That way we can go over anything we didn’t finish and put it on the calendar again.

(Note: It is VERY important that you are realistic with how much you put on this calendar. This isn’t for show. No one else will see this. There is no point in doing this if you just throw everything on this calendar when you know it would be impossible to finish it all.)

The agenda

The agenda is a list of topics we go through to help us remember the order of the meeting every week. It’s also a great way to track progress of current goals. Here are a few examples of things we discuss every week for our photography business:

  • Social media
    • Recap from last week. What did we post, and how did it go (likes, comments, shares)?
    • Can we learn anything from what we posted?
    • What are we going to post this week? On what day/time? (Add these things to your calendar!)
  • Workflow
    • What emails (within our workflows) need to go out?
    • What days are we shooting?
    • Do we have any thank-you cards that need to go out?
  • Leads/money
    • Do we have any money coming in?
    • Do we need to send out any invoices?
    • Do we have any new leads?
    • What’s the status on the leads from last week?
  • Meetings/networking
    • Do we have any events, networking get-togethers or coffee dates?
    • Do we have any consults?
    • Do we need to have any other meetings (marketing, new blog ideas, any new ideas we need to talk about)?
  • Marketing
    • Recap of website traffic analytics.
    • Any new marketing ideas?
  • Goals updates/new ideas
    • What is our progress on X goal?
    • Did we have any new ideas for shoot concepts?

(Note: Keep a running to-do list section at the bottom of the agenda, just so you have a place to write them down as you are going through it. These should get transferred ASAP to your regular to-do list and scheduled on your calendar.)

When coming up with your own agenda, add topics you think will be beneficial to go over and/or that will remind you of things you need to do every week. We use Evernote for our agendas, because it makes it really easy to create a folder (notebook in Evernote) for a running list of notes. We copy the agenda from the previous week (with all the stuff we filled out) and just change the date in the title. That way we can see what happened last week and it gives us a jumping off point. When you’re finished, you can add any action items to your calendar! If they are things that won’t get done this week, just add a new section at the bottom of your itinerary titled, Long-term to-do. Since you will copy this note for next week, you’ll be able to see it and see if you can schedule it the following week.

The to-do list

We also have a to-do list (in Wunderlist). We add items to this list at the end of every Monday morning meeting and also throughout the week, as we randomly think of things. Sometimes it’s a reminder to RSVP to an event, finish a brainstorming session or to mail a thank-you card. Don’t ever think, “Oh, I’ll remember to do that later.” Add it to your to-do list!

(Note: We love Wunderlist. It syncs in the cloud to all your devices and computer. You can share a to-do list with people so they can add and check things off as well. It also works great for grocery/Target/random lists you have that aren’t directly related to your business. The more things you get out of your head and onto a to-do list, the more space you are freeing up in your mind!)

The what ifs

What if I do everything right, but I just can’t stick to the schedule?

If that is truly the case, I’d be willing to bet you spend way too much time doing a whole lot of nothing on social media, checking out the latest memes on Buzzfeed or binge watching The Office (we’ve definitely been there). We’ve found the best way to combat those weeks where you just can’t force yourself to get things done, is to set up work dates. Meet up with people at a coffee shop, a park or invite them to your place for a tea and work day. Create situations where you’ll have no choice but to do the work you want to do!

If you have to work from home and you can’t resist the calling of “A man falls into a well and a rabbit jumps in after him…You’ll never guess what happens next,” then set up Rescuetime (a time tracking tool that can block sites like Facebook for certain periods of time) so you don’t have to hear about the poor man who fell into the well in the first place.

What if I have a full-/part-time job?

We’ve been there, too! When you are working another job while you are building your business, it’s that much more important to be efficient and productive with the time you have to work on your business. You might need to be a little more creative with your scheduling, but the concept is still the same. Go through your weekly agenda and you’ll see what you’d like to (and needs to) get done, look at the available space on your calendar, then fill it up and stick to it!

What if I don’t have anyone to meet with?

Becky and I have it easier than most. We have each other to hold us accountable to getting out of bed and having these meetings and sticking to our schedules. If you don’t have a business partner, find someone who you can get together with every Monday. Get coffee, meet over Skype or Google Hangout. It might be the only thing that will make you get out of bed to start planning your super productive week. You can find people with similar goals that you can meet with on Instagram, one of the Facebook groups you are a part of, or you can always just leave a comment below and make a new friend!

Categories
Business

How to Make Something Out of Nothing

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I recently realized the nothingness that can exist as a creative entrepreneur. If it’s a slow month with fewer shoots or meetings, we could potentially set ourselves up with some rad extra recess. But then, of course, we wouldn’t be able to pass the class, aka: pay the bills.

So, it’s not always the best choice to take time off when nothingness creeps in. However, scheduled time off and a few random days here and there (might as well make the most of being your own boss!), are crucial to making something out of nothing.

For the first little bit of any particular work hiatus, I usually experience a slightly uncomfortable feeling: panic.

“Everybody else is working on their business right now! Things are happening out there! Movers and shakers are moving and shaking without me!” So, I take a deep breath, go to yoga. And finally chill out and begin to enjoy the freedom from the intense creative brainpower I expect of myself.

(Because, let’s be honest, being a creative entrepreneur can make your brain hurt. And, if we don’t take the time off, there’s no way in hell we’ll be able to create something out of nothing when we need to.)

So, we get out in the world. We skip rocks. We get tan, really tan. We eat bowls of cherries and see who can spit the seeds the farthest. We collect layers of sea salty goodness on our skin. We indulge in the pure glory of nothingness, that really is everything. Everything = the birthplace of each ounce of inspiration and creativity. Everything = enjoying our life, our marriage, our friendships, our adventures. Everything = textures, colors, laughter, dirt in our fingernails, sand between our toes.

When I step back into the office and punch the timecard in my brain, I feel pumped. Refreshed and ready. We look at the empty calendar and strategically fill it up, but not to the brim. There are hours set aside for managing what we’ve already created: responding to client emails, okaying timelines, editing, etc.

But once all the maintenance type tasks are complete, what are you supposed to do? How do you create money, jobs, relationships, success, satisfaction, a thriving business and happiness…out of nothing?

1. Allow yourself plenty of “nothing” time to get creative juices flowing.
2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The world is your oyster. (Two cliche sentences we firmly believe in.)
3. Reach out. Make the most of social media. Introduce yourself to new people.
4. Simply create. Practice. Do what you love. Share it with others.
5. See what you can do for others. Forget about yourself, your needs and your business.
6. Use the buddy system. Have another entrepreneur hold you accountable to your ideas and business plans.
7. Create a business plan!
8. Collaborate with others in your industry or an industry you’d like to be part of.
9. Search hashtags based on ideas, people groups and work you’d like to be involved in. Start a conversation with people using those hashtags.
10. Volunteer your time and creativity, but only where you want to. Offering something free to anyone and everyone will hurt you in the long run.
11. Read. There are SO MANY life-changing business books. Start with THIS ONE.
12. Check in with people you’ve worked with before. Show genuine interest in their lives and endeavors.
13. Review what you’re doing and figure out how you can do it better.

It’s pretty empowering knowing we’re creating our own work to pay the bills and live a life we love. I still panic every now and then when Nothingness rolls into town. But it’s that nothingness that gives us the opportunity to create something we’re proud of.

Categories
Personal

We Don’t Need More Time

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As a culture, I feel like we complain about not having enough time. “If there were 27 hours in the day, I’d be such a bad ass.”

Let me tell you what happens when I get more time…I’m completely worthless to society.

“And suddenly, all I want to do is go outside, have coffee dates with my girlfriends, zone out and maybe take a nap.”

For some reason, space in my schedule leaves me grappling for momentum. How is it that I have no freaking clue where to start? That ongoing list of things I would do if only I had more time? GONE. It’s nowhere to be found. And suddenly, all I want to do is go outside, have coffee dates with my girlfriends, zone out and maybe take a nap. Correction, I DEFINITELY want to take a nap. I just need to figure out where this napping will occur. Outside? Inside? At a park? On my couch? These are now the biggest decisions I have to make, a far cry from the other days when I’m making lists for what I’ll do if a day like this ever decides to appear.

Are we fooling ourselves that time is the answer to our problems?

There will be days when work seems to be at a stand-still. Often, these days don’t come with a warning (if they did, I feel I’d be more prepared to use the time wisely). When this happens, it’s okay to take the day to veg out. Yes, it would be awesome to have a plan and use it to grow your business or do something super responsible and productive. But sometimes you need to give yourself a break and take the opportunity to go play outside, clear your brain and catch up on some shut-eye. If you work from home, everyone thinks that’s what you do all day anyway so you won’t be disappointing anyone. Am I right?

Tips I’m learning: try and incorporate some down time in the everyday hustle and bustle. Block it out in your calendar if you have to. It’ll help you get better use of those dead days and help you manage your time to task ratio much more effectively.

I’m thinking I don’t need more time, I need less busyness. And more naps. I think we all need more naps.