Business & Marketing

One (Super-Fast) Time Management Tip

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One (Super-Fast) Time Management Tip

 I was supposed to write this post on April 28th.

It sounds like the set-up to a bad joke…”blogger takes assignment to write about time management…forgets to schedule it”. But seriously, that’s what happened. I woke up last night, in complete horror at the realization that I forgot to write my post for my friend Sage’s blog-hop.

So in the ending hours of the day, or the wee hours of today (not sure which), I wrote a somewhat frazzled explanation to Sage, to see if I was too late to get in on this. I even explained that I would now use this experience to explain why time management is so important…don’t do this at home boys & girls.

I like to think of myself as organized…I use to-do lists religiously. I have a detailed calendar/PostIt setup…but here’s where I made my mistake. When I signed up for Sage’s blog post, I didn’t put it in my calendar immediately. I said to myself, that I would put it in later, when I updated my to-do list. Obviously that didn’t happen.

And it’s not because I wasn’t excited to join in. It’s not because I’m wildly disorganized. It’s because life happens. I was prepping for my own upcoming launch, dealing with storms in our area, preparing for my son’s second birthday, and dealing with a teething baby. And I forgot.

This is what makes time management so valuable. It’s there for us when life gets in our way. If I had put this blog post in my calendar immediately, and put a notification in my phone…my post wouldn’t be late. It’s like a seat belt…it can be constraining, and awkward at times, but it’ll save your bacon when you need it the most.

Time management is there to save your bacon, when life mangles your day. Click To Tweet

Sage asked us to chat about our #1 time management tip…before yesterday, I would have said “have a to-do list”. But now I would say, put any appointments, deadlines, or obligations on your calendar THE MINUTE you know about them. That way you’re not waking up in the middle of the night to message your friends with an apology. 😉

So! Do me 2 favors please? 🙂

1. Watch the video below, and hear all about Startup In 60, Sage Grayson’s new time management program, from Sage herself! (Her energy & enthusiasm are simply unbeatable!)

2. Leave a comment below with YOUR number one time management tip! 🙂 Clearly, I’ve still got some learning on this, so I’d love to see what you do to prevent this sort of situation.

How using a to-do list has doubled my productivity!

I’ve always heard about the power of making to-do lists, and every once in a while I give it a shot, but always with the attitude of “what if I need to change plans”?

For some reason, I've viewed planning as equaling inflexibility. But it's FREEING! Click To Tweet

A little over a week ago, I realized that I need to up my hustle, in order to take my business to the next level. So I poked around for some to-do list printables. I found some cute ones on Etsy, pondered making my own in Illustrator (but I’m just not skilled in that yet, haha!), and finally I found a really cute free one! (I’m using the top one.)

Here’s how I use it:

Every night before I go to bed, I write down what I need to get done the next day. And I include everything I can think of…classes I need to attend, research that needs done, social media tasks, etc. And because I know I have a tendency to shove off reading as “I’ll do that when I have more time”, I even write down what I plan to read the next day.

That’s it. Nothing earth shattering.

But the results have been phenomenal! Just setting those intentions on what I plan to do, has meant that my productivity has multiplied exponentially. Even if I don’t complete everything on the list, I’m getting so much more done than I was before. I’m almost done with a new opt-in, I’ve got a hefty portion of my upcoming course completed, I’ve been attending a 30 day CreativeLive class, and so much more.

ToDoList - Amanda Sue Howell - CheekyVisionaries.com
Tomorrow’s to-do list.

In fact, because I’ve getting in the zone, I’m believing myself, and seeing really fun things happen. For instance, I’m now one of the team members on an Instagram community for Texas photographers.

I went from stalling on a new opt-in, due to too many questions about “what might work best”, to pulling on my CEO britches & making an executive decision.

And while my introverted side means that I usually don’t talk about what I do “in person”, my desire to see a revolution take place has superseded that. It’s all about the mission now. 😉

Are you a to-do list fanatic? If so, please leave a comment and let me know what you like to use/how you use it. If not, please leave a comment and let me know why you’re not a convert (yet). 🙂

5 Tips For Scheduling In Creative Work

Babies are strange little creatures. I mean it! They require feedings, and baths, and changing…and strangest of all, they require it all over again later. 😉

Obviously, I’m joking, and given that she’s our 5th child, I do somewhat have this repetition thing on lock. But I did want to explain why I’ve been a bit on the absent side. She has a sixth sense….if I’m prepared to eat, crochet, or write a blog post….she wants fed! But she’s nearly 2 months now (can you believe it?!?), so she’s able to go a wee bit longer in between feedings…so here I am. Surprise!

Many of you are parents…whether it be of the human or furbaby variety…and this topic is near & dear to your heart. How to schedule work around the family? Even for those with no babies at all, there are husbands, husband’s work schedules, health concerns, or possibly even our own jobs that we’re working until our creative business takes off. There’s always something to work around.

The bad news is, that it’s hard….it truly is. It may mean sacrificing time in other things we love. Maybe you cut an hour of sleep in the morning. Perhaps you watch one less episode when you’re binge-watching House of Cards.

The great news, is that’s it’s totally doable. Again, it may require some sacrificing, but this is your dream. The sacrifices will all pay off when you’re sipping mai-tai’s in Jamaica for your well earned vacation.

So how can you do this? Here are 5 tips for scheduling in creative work, regardless of what is getting in the way.

5 Tips For Scheduling In Creative Work | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.com

1. Perfect Your Vision

It’s an oldie, but a goodie…the vision board. You can do this in an art journal, or a big piece of cardboard, or on Pinterest….wherever! But drill down what you REALLY want. I want this to be so crystal clear, that you can taste the salty ocean air at your vacation site (or maybe for you, it’s mountain air…whatever works!).

Where do you want to live? What kinds of foods will you eat? Where will you vacation? What kinds of clothing will you wear? Who do you want to work with? Will you have a second, third, or fourth home?

Personally, while I don’t think I’d leave Texas, because it’s where my family is…I’d like several other homes. A cabin in Virginia, a villa in Italy….who knows where else. The sky’s the limit in your dreams, right?

I’ve never been on a vacation in my life, and my husband & I didn’t get a honeymoon…so best believe that those are on my vision board.

You get the idea?

2. Don’t Tell the Soul-Suckers

You know exactly who I’m talking about. That person who thinks everything is stupid, or that there’s a problem some how. There’s no reason to want to make that kind of money. Who would ever need multiple houses? What makes you think you could ever start a charity….

Do. Not. Tell. Them. These people are cancerous to your vision. They get into your head in ways that are counter productive to your goals.

3. Get a Support Group

Snag 1-3 people who are totally on board with you. If you’re crazy lucky, like me, your spouse is one of them. Maybe you’re in a coaching group, with other people on this same journey…see if one of them wants to team up for accountability & support.

They don’t have to have the same goals as you, but they do need to have big dreams! Big dreamers inspire other big dreamers.

4. Analyze Your Time

Okay, sit down and make a list of the things that you do in a day. Now make a list of the things you want to get done in a day. Odds are, you can’t do all of it. But pick 1-2 things to start making time for. Are you wanting to be a writer? Get up early and start writing a page or 2 a day. Set an amount and stick with it, whether it be page count, or word count. This will make it easier to track your progress. Are you wanting to learn how to knit? Get a book, or a class, or find a website, and start. Maybe you can only do 15 minutes a day…but it’s 15 minutes more than you’re doing right now!

5. Lay It On Me

Okay! Your turn! I know y’all have been through some of this before, so what’s worked for you in the past, or what’s a tip you’ve read, that you always wanted to try? Share it in the comments below!

How I’m Making 2015 My Best Year Ever (and How You Can Do It Too!)

Hola Cheeky Birds!

It has been craaaaazy over here, and it hasn’t even been holiday chaos! We’ve been eagerly preparing for the arrival of our sweet baby girl, due in January. Or so we thought! Then we went for our appointment last week, and we were told that I’m looking a bit further along than that, and they think it may be closer to 2 weeks earlier. I was a little freaked out (I like having time to plan for stuff!), but my midwife reassured me that we’d get it all figured out.

So I came home to figure out what date that would be, and as it turns out…that’s CHRISTMAS! That’s right…we may be getting a family Christmas present this year! (Of course, all my December birthday friends are voting that she comes a wee bit before Christmas, so she has a spotlight all her own.)

With all that having been said, in the middle of preparing for our bundle of joy, I’ve also been eyeballs deep in prepping for 2015. I swear, in my head, it’s not even 2014 any more…I’m sooooo ready to rock this next year. I don’t just want 2015 to be better than 2014. I want it to be my best year ever!!! So what am I doing differently this year?

2015 Best Year Ever - Amanda Sue Howell - CheekyVisionaries.com

1. No more comparisons…

I’m dreadful about wishing I could sing like so-and-so in the church choir, or wishing I could photograph like this person, or wishing I could draw like that person. But then I ran across this really cool article about these people who dedicated themselves to improving on drawing. And some of those beginning drawings were terrible…seriously.

So I began to wonder…what if?

What if…I worked on a chosen craft several times a week?

What if…instead of comparing myself to my friends, I busted my badonkey to see what I could be like in a year?

What if…instead of wanting to photograph like this person, I honed my craft to see what my photography style is?

What if…I’m secretly every bit as awesome as the people I admire, but I never find out, because I’m too busy wishing instead of working?

Do you compare yourself to anyone? Let’s agree that we won’t do it anymore next year…forget that…let’s agree we won’t do it anymore, starting now. Pinkie promise?

[Tweet “Don’t let comparison keep you from accomplishing your own greatness!”]

2. No more second-guessing…

I’ve probably spent most of my adult life second guessing myself. Okay, I can’t even limit it to adulthood…when I was a teenager, I’d frequently back out of correct answers while watching Jeopardy with my family. I can’t count how many times my Dad told me I should have more confidence in myself…and yet here I am, nearly 30…still doing it.

Part of it is the level of passion I throw into everything. I’m extremely intense in my approach to things (in fact my husband thinks I’m mad half the time, cause I apparently mean-mug when I’m focusing on a task…ha!)

But because of that intensity, when something goes awry, I tend to think it’s on me somehow…even if it’s nothing I could have avoided. I also think part of it comes from being a Mom (or even a wife for that matter, lol!)…if something’s wrong I have to fix it, and if I can’t, that’s a real struggle for me. You should see me if my site’s hosting server goes down…or maybe you shouldn’t…I’d like us to still be friends!

But here I am digressing again…the point is…it’s time to stop. This year, I need to recognize those things that are out of my control, as being such, and just let it go (thank God my 4 year old isn’t reading this….she’d be screaming that darn song in my ear again). And the things that I can fix, instead of wallowing in the “how could I have let this happen” & the “is this cause I stayed up too late last night”, I need to take them in stride and figure how how I can prevent it. Do I need more practice on a certain skill? Should I have a friend look over my sales copy? Should I not write something at 3am, and then just post it? (I’m assuming the answer is yes to that last one. 😉 )

Do you ever second guess yourself? We know better! Let’s stop that cycle, right now!

3. Less education, more implementation…

This one actually goes hand in hand with the last one. Since I’m a dedicated life-long student, if something goes wrong, I assume it must be because I lacked the knowledge. But after some serious self-examination, I’ve realized, that’s not really the case.

I’m a serious, serious, serious self-education junkie. An autodidact addict, if you will. (Ha, say THAT 10x fast!) I’ve probably consumed more books, courses, webinars, virtual conventions, etc., than I could ever recall or name off. But how much of it have I actually put into practice? I’d totally be making a shame-face right now, but that would go against my resolution to not wallow in this sort of thing.

So, instead of consuming more information, I’m going to examine the situation…is this really something I don’t know…or is this just something I haven’t done yet? I read a fabulous blog post from a friend of mine earlier, about taking a CEO day to examine how your business has gone that month. Y’know…I’ve never done that. And it’s not that I don’t know that I should be re-examining my goals…I’ve just never done it.

It’s like I heard once, about the difference between wisdom & knowledge…knowledge is knowing that when you get in the car, you’re supposed to buckle up. Wisdom, is actually buckling up.

So who’s with me? Ladies, I say it’s time to buckle up, cause 2015’s gonna be an awesome freakin’ ride! 😉

The Magic of Gift Wrapping

 

The Magic of Gift Wrapping | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.comDid you ever receive the perfect gift? The kind that looked like it was wrapped by angels?

Y’know what I mean…the kind that has beautifully coordinated bow & paper, or maybe it’s got a soft sheer ribbon holding it together, or maybe the paper was loving stamped/painted by the gift-giver. The kind of gift wrapping that’s almost as much a gift, as the present itself.

Conversely, have you ever gotten a present…maybe from that one aunt that likes to “save money” by wrapping everything in newspaper? I mean, you love Aunt Ruth, and you love her gifts, but maybe that newspaper’s just not as enticing to rip open…right?

I used to have that problem with my blog, and my sales pages….the goodies were there, but the packaging wasn’t enticing enough. In fact, the first time I created a digital product, I made one sale. One. And it was a friend who believed in me, and felt bad that no one was biting.

Once she bought it, she was blown away at how much I had in there, and told me it was worth more than I was charging. So now I had 2 problems…my wrapping wasn’t inviting anyone to try it out, and my pricing was telling people it wasn’t valuable enough to be worth their time.

[Tweet “When it comes to digital offerings, part of the packaging is in the sales page.”]

At the time, I hadn’t found my voice yet, and my sales page was about as thrilling as a 1970’s PBS special. Oh okay, so it wasn’t that bad, but it didn’t have a lot of my personality in it. I’ve mentioned before, that was something I really struggled with. After being called unprofessional for having pictures of my kids on my site, I wasn’t really sure how I was supposed to be. So I went into pure “business” mode.

Later, I realized that he wasn’t my target market, and his opinion wasn’t who I should have worried about. I should have been worrying about my people!

My first step was to figure out, who am I? Who am I working with? How would I talk to those people?  I would want to be open, laid back, and my playful/quirky self! I would be free to sprinkle nerdy comments, movie quotes, and occasional sarcasm. I could be myself, because I am my people, if you know what I mean. 🙂

Second step…how do I bring that out on my blog? How do I translate me, to my writing? Like everything else, it takes practice. But what helped me the most, was to figure out who I’m most “myself” with in real life. For me, it’s my sister. She gets most of my nerdy references, she’s used to my sarcasm, and I love to pick on her so my playful quirks totally shine when we’re together.

My Sister & I | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.com
Similar faces, but very different personalities!

But the biggest thing I did, was attend my friend April’s course on CreativeLive. She spoke about writing a successful creative blog. It was 3 days of full-on note scribbling, and I couldn’t wait to implement it! Between what I had figured out about my voice, and what I learned during her course, I was on the road to massive improvements.

So after having seen magic happen with her first course, imagine how stoked I was when I found out that she’s coming back, and it’s ALL about digital products…she’s teaching how to choose the right product for you, design it, make the sales page (woohoo!), and put all those little details on there that make that angelic “aahhhhhhhhhh” when prospective buyers see it!*

*Angelic choir not guaranteed.

If you’re even vaguely thinking about creating a digital product, you should totally check this out. Best of all, if you watch it live, you can see it for free (although she has all sorts of cool bonuses for those who buy the program!), and you’ll be able to interact with me & other creatives in the chat room! Interested? Here’s the details!

Create Digital Products That Sell While You Sleep | April Bowles-Olin | CreativeLive

Are you ready to make your creative work more lucrative, stable, and sustainable in the long-term? Join April Bowles-Olin for an introduction to digital products and how they can enhance your creative business. This course will show you how to produce and position viable products for generating multiple revenue streams and passive income. RSVP right here to watch it live and get access to the workbook for FREE. This post is part of the Create Digital Products blog tour.

 

 

I’m Not a Jack of All Trades

Before you get the impression that I’m a one-trick pony, let me clarify. I love lot’s of things. And I don’t have anything against multi-passionate persons…in fact I am one! What I hate, is the part that follows jack of all trades…”master of none”. The end of this expression honestly makes me want to stamp my foot like a toddler throwing a tantrum. It’s an irritating expression and I don’t want to be master of none. I want to be master of all…okay as many as I can master in my time on earth.

It’s one reason I’m so very fond of the term “Renaissance man” (or woman 😉 ).  Think about the famous artisans of the Renaissance…they didn’t just paint, or just sculpt. First off, they painted or sculpted (or whatever) with excellence. It wasn’t a flight of whimsy…it was a practice for them. Something they strove for perfection in. Secondly they had many talents…they were painters, writers, philosophers, anatomists, cartographers, botanists, etc. As I’ve mentioned before, they worked in fields that were both very right brained, and very left brained. They were creatives, and they were life-long learners.

 

I'm Not a Jack of All Trades | Amanda Sue Howell | CheekyVisionaries.com

Life-long learning is another passion of mine. In this pursuit, I joined a group of amazing creatives who seek clarity in the chaos of life. It’s run by Mayi Carles of HeartmadeBlog.com, and I knew it was perfect for me! I’ve met some very amazing people in there, and I’ve gone on a journey to figure out what truly makes me happy. What do I enjoy doing the most?

On this quest, I discovered that I’ve strayed from my own personal creativity! I talk about it on here, and I talk to my friends about it all the time…but somewhere in the blogging, and the homeschooling, and the moving…I’ve forgotten all about my own creative pursuits. No wonder I feel pooped all the time!

With this in mind, I jumped wholeheartedly on board, when I found out that April (of the CreativeLive course) was teaming up with Mayi and issuing a challenge. I love a good challenge! The challenge was to name a goal, set a date, and make it public. Nothing like a little accountability to motivate one, amirite?

So with my HUGE goal of getting back on track with my own creativity in mind, I decided to aim for something I’ve been “intending” to do for months now.

 

So you may not be able to read it…in retrospect, I should have written in marker! My goal is to update/expand my 30 Days of Creative Abandon. It’s got some good stuff in it already, but I’ve had some great ideas for really beefing it up, but it’s been a sideburner project for too long. My date to complete this, is August 18th of this year (mah b-day, yo!), and I will let neither rain, nor snow, nor sleepless night (okay okay, I said my 4 crazy kids) stop me from delivering the mail…errr..wait..no completing this goal. Yeah, that was it! (Told you I should have written in marker!)

This is all in preparation of a 21 day challenge (hosted by the lovely April & Mayi), and it’s for super-cool peeps who want to rule the world, but still have time for an ice cream sandwich and a Doctor Who marathon. Cause let’s face it, if you no longer have time for those…what fun will ruling the world even be? Will you be there?