Time Management & Working From Home

Time Management & Working From Home

Entrepreneur, JS

As a working from home entrepreneur, time management is extremely important to me and my success, just like it was when I was an 8:30 to 5:30 corporate salesperson. I think the unifying thing across all jobs and all industries is being able to effectively manage you time and all of your priorities and tasks.

 

When you work from home or are an entrepreneur in general, time management and work-life balance is extremely important, and may be the single most impactful thing in business.

 

It’s hard to turn off being an entrepreneur, and I have long tended to be available days, nights, weekends, anytime. I answered emails, I jumped on calls, I said yes to every “hey, can you edit this super quick?” questions that came my way. I had to learn to turn it off, disconnect, and spend time with my family and a good book.

 

I don’t need to be constantly available. I am providing a service and high value to my clients, I am finally figuring out that I don’t need to sacrifice all of my time to my work and my clients. Yes, my clients’ needs are incredibly important to me. But so is my health and happiness and my family and home life. Finding that balance has been a difficult but necessary road in my life and business.

 

Since I am not available at 10pm on Saturdays anymore, I needed to be as productive as possible during my business hours and manage my time wisely, in order to get everything done! Managing time effectively does not mean just staying busy for the day, it means being productive and getting done the things that need to be done, not just clicking around and checking email!

 

Here are some tips for time management that can help you really have a productive day that allows you to get offline and enjoy life after work!

 

  1. Daily/Weekly To-Do Lists

This is something that has helped me immensely! I tried to get into bullet journaling, but I am not a pinterest-worthy bullet journaler and it didn’t stick. The thing that has stuck is the daily listing of to dos. Every day, I write a list of all the things I want to accomplish either today specifically or this week in general.

 

I don’t know about you, but checking things off of a list is super satisfying for me! I move to dos up from the day before if needed, and I star the things that MUST be done today. Deadlines are written next to the task if there are specific due dates.

 

By rewriting the list daily, I am cementing my tasks in my head and able to really prioritize what needs to be done first.

 

  1. Schedule in Some Down Time

At the office, people get lunch breaks, smoke breaks, walk around breaks, etc. You can’t expect yourself to focus for 8 hours nonstop every day, it just doesn’t happen and isn’t realistic. Instead of giving yourself unrealistic expectations and then being disappointed when you don’t meet them, make sure to give yourself some down time.

 

I start every day with coffee and checking Facebook. I check my email and my social media marketing as well, but I START with coffee, petting my cat, and Facebook before jumping into work.

 

Next, I write my daily todo list, and check my email. At lunch time, I generally log off the computer and eat while I read a book or have a one-sided conversation with my cat. In the afternoon, I might go take a walk, or go to the gym, or just get up and stretch.

 

Have priorities and tasks for each day, but allow yourself to walk around and read the news, and text your friend, too.

 

  1. When Working, Block Out Distractions

Like the down time, schedule work time. Use a calendar or an alert or whatever gets you ready to work, to let you know it’s time to do this task or that activity or call that person. When it’s time to get down to business, do the task. Close out your social media tabs, and focus on the specific activity you need to complete.

 

In my case, I have several clients that I do weekly blogging for. That means on Mondays and Tuesdays, I have to block out time to work on specific client blogs. I will do something like “10 am: Research and write blog for X client on topic Y.” When that time comes around, I turn off Facebook, put my phone face down, and write the blog for my client, edit it, and turn it in. If it take 45 minutes, great. If it takes an hour and a half, great. As long as it gets done. And work gets done faster when uninterrupted and when I’m not allowing my mind to wander to instagram or texting my mom.

 

I also find that when work gets done faster, I feel better about it than when it takes hours or days because I just can’t focus on it. My clients are happy, I’m happy, it’s awesome.

 

  1. Stay Organized

This fits right into my to do lists. Staying organized saves me time and energy, and most importantly, keeps my client information and needs at the forefront. As a solo practitioner, if I lose track of a client or forget to do something for them, I risk losing some of my income! Keeping contracts, invoices, tasks, priorities, client needs, and my work organized is one of the biggest parts of my success.

 

  1. Learn to Say No

This has been one of the hardest things for me to learn and is something I still struggle with and work on. I want to be indispensable to my clients, and also prove my value over and over, so I tend to say yes to anything they ask of me.

 

This can lead me to being overwhelmed with work if I didn’t really have the time for whatever I said yes to. I could miss deadlines or be overworked, or be working until late at night, like I did when I was working two jobs.

 

I love writing and editing and being an entrepreneur, but I can’t be everything to everyone. I am still working on saying no when I don’t have time for something or if it is not part of the scope of my work or what I’m paid to do.

 

Side Tip: Don’t Ever Work For Free

Especially say no to doing work for free! Even a trial article for a new client is paid work, though often at a discounted rate. Do not give away your work for free. You are a professional, and your time and skills are valuable. Obviously an exception to this rule is when you are purposely doing something as a volunteer!
In the end, I have to protect my time and keep my work from completely overrunning my home life. In order to be a good wife, daughter, friend, and individual, these time management skills have been important in my personal and professional development and evolution.

Becoming An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur, JS

Being an entrepreneur is a major goal for a lot of people, and the Millennial generation is more entrepreneurial than previous generations – by a lot.

 

According to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, the millennial generation are starting business earlier than the Baby Boomers did, but they also are starting a lot more of them, and are more socially conscious.

 

I never dreamed of being an entrepreneur and building a business. I actually was perfectly happy working for my last boss, as he was my boss for several years and became a close friend. He always encouraged my work and supported my training and growth, and I was incredibly lucky that he also encouraged me in my path to being an entrepreneur.

 

Even now, if someone wanted to hire me full time to be a writer and editor, sure! Why not? YOU take care of the taxes and retirement account, the benefits, the liability!

 

But being an entrepreneur has been thrust upon me, so that I can live my dream, and I am in love with it. Sure, taxes are more annoying now and I’ll certainly never get a refund again! Sure, it’s a bit more paperwork, and the responsibility is all mine.

 

On the other hand, I am very Type-A, very organized, and I am loving every second. I am in the exact right moment in my life, the stars are exactly aligned to allow me to do this, and start a business from my couch.

 

I have met some amazing people, found awesome clients that have opened my eyes to new ideas, new ways to live and learn, and have even gotten the chance to do my dream job: book editing and ghostwriting.

 

My entrepreneurship journey happened incredibly quickly. It was almost 3 months today day from getting my first big project to quitting my full time day job. I am still navigating and figuring everything out, and I’m sure I’ll make missteps.
But I’m a businessowner, and that is all a part of the process.

Content Marketing & Strategy

Entrepreneur, JS

The best way to increase sales and boost your business is to make your company the go-to experts in your area. By having a solid marketing strategy that includes content marketing, you are increasing your value to customers, establishing yourself as a leader in the industry, and creating a more loyal customer base. Content marketing focuses on ways to engage you audience, and uses content to drive profitable behaviors in customers.

 
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing can be defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

 
The key words here are valuable, relevant, and consistent. Unique content will drive up your rankings and put you in the position of offering them a direct benefit of even just visiting your website. Once you have potential clients on your site, you can get to converting them! Getting people to your site is over half the battle.

 
Strong content is not just blog posts, but also the copy on your website, your ads, and your social media. As opposed to spam, when you are providing free relevant and valuable information, customers are more likely to trust you, and continue to remain loyal to you. Great quality content is a key part of any marketing strategy, including social media, SEO rankings, inbound marketing, email campaigns, and more.

 

 

There are four steps to an effective content marketing strategy, though every company is different and you will want to adapt to what works best for your business and your goals. The first step is figuring out what you want to accomplish and the risks associated, secondly you create a business plan for your goals and the value you want to provide, which includes what message you want to send and keeping your branding consistent. Next you need to figure out your target audience and their wants and needs, and what content and engagement specific to them would look like. Fourth, you develop a channel plan; what channels are you using for this content marketing? These are the platforms you’ll use to put out your content and tell your story, and should also include your criteria and objectives of each platform.

 
Your content marketing strategy will grow and change as your business does. A fantastic way to move your business forward, attract new customers, and increase sales is to offer valuable, relevant and consistent new content in a smart, engaging way that matches your goals and your branding.

Pricing: Don’t Undervalue Yourself!

Entrepreneur, JS

I have always, always, wanted to be a writer.

 

When I was a kid, I filled journals with the ramblings of being a tortured little sister, and then the angsty poetry of my teenage Myspace years. It progressed to song lyrics, poems, book and story ideas, and the occasional update about my life. I have a whole shelf of notebooks, composition books, and journals from over the years.

 

I am now a writer, and in another post, I will go into excruciating detail about how that came to be, the steps I took, and how it all worked to become a success for me.

 

I am a freelance writer. In my process to becoming an entrepreneur, I did a lot of research and asked other entrepreneurs for advice, for help with things like invoicing, portfolios, small business tools, contracts, and the big one: pricing.

 

I have met a lot of young entrepreneurs over the years and they all have one thing in common: big dreams and a bad estimation of their value. Watching Shark Tank is also a great example of people with crazy valuations! They either completely overvalue or undervalue their companies and themselves.

 

The truth is that your time and your skills are valuable. If it were easy to be a writer, everyone would do it. Just because YOU find it relatively easy to write blogs or create a website or make a logo, certainly doesn’t mean it is.

 

When starting freelancing, most people tend to undervalue themselves. They might say it is because they are so new, or are trying to prove themselves, or they don’t have a portfolio. No matter what they say, it is normal to try to undercharge when starting out.

 

I did it, too! For my first couple of clients, I researched average pricing for the specific types of writing projects I was working on, and I put my pricing just below the average.

 

But those prices didn’t account for the actual time it took me to research and put together the writing, the posting, edits, and client communication. In the end, for my first project, I ended up only getting about $7 per hour, even though the overall price for the article was around “average.”

 

As time went on, I made sure to increase my prices to the point where I am able to make a good wage for the work that I’m doing. Even for my longer-term or repeat clients. This is something I see a lot of questions about in online freelance forums. You can increase your prices, you just have to be honest. Try something like “I have enjoyed working with you, and as of XX date, my prices will be increasing to XY price. Because of our prior relationship, I am going to extend your current discounted price for one more project/month/etc.”

 

I had a phone conversation with one of my bigger clients, and we agreed to almost double my price, plus a nominal fee for research time! You really just have to ask. Your clients already like you and see value in your work, and they will understand that you need to be fairly compensated. This is very similar to how you might handle a salary negotiation in a corporate position.

 

Another thing I see a lot of is questions about sites like Upwork.com and Constant Content, which are sites that take a heavy fee to allow you to bid on work from paying clients, but highly encourage very low prices. Be careful when using these sites, especially about severely undervaluing yourself. Do research on these types of sites before jumping on, and manage your expectations reasonably. Some people do extensive filtering and careful proposals and do well on these sites. I tried it briefly and was very frustrated by the low prices and the amount of proposals on things like “write me 5 blog posts for $6.” For me, these types of sites were not worth my time.

 

Side note: no matter how much you want new clients, don’t give your work away for free. Legitimate companies that want you to do trial work will pay you for it.
Your work, your time, and your expertise are all valuable. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to undervalue yourself to potential clients. Research average prices for your specific work and your location, and take a cue from that. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to raise your prices as you get more experience. You are here to make money. Just because you love it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be profitable!

We the Young People

Entrepreneur
www.shanevanderhart.com

I believe that our generations are the ones with the power to change the world. We are large in number, we scream for tolerance and change, and Generations X and Y were the first generations to be raised during the rise and rapid evolution of the internet and technology. We were among the first to be able to access the entire world and the wealth of information on the internet.

Today’s teenagers and young adults may be somewhat spoiled from the ridiculous amount of technology and information at our fingertips. Who needs to remember phone numbers or how to do simple math when we can just use our phones? Who needs to actually read the classics when you can just Wikipedia the summary? But whether we are spoiled, entitled, or just misunderstood in an evolving world, we can change everything, and we already are doing so.

 

In an article on Salon.com, author Alexander Balkin talks about why calling Millennials lazy and entitled is wrong, and discusses how we got here: “Baby boomers came of age in an era of unprecedented prosperity. They were raised by parents who had survived poverty, war and the true sacrifice of a generation burdened with great moral struggles. As a whole, they experienced economic and physical security. Baby boomers received, by today’s standards, inexpensive and widely available education, preparing them for a thriving and open job market. […] So what did they do with all their good fortune? From the time the baby boomers took over, the United States has experienced an economic environment plagued with unfounded asset and real-estate bubbles and collapses.”

 

There may be more people in Generation X and Y than there are Boomers, but the Baby Boomers are the ones currently holding office, holding the high level CEO jobs in a lot of companies, and are a lot of the ones making policies that affect our lives. Around 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day and are retiring, and now it’s our turn.

 

Imagine what we can do. We can literally change the world. Look what we’ve already done.

 

More young people voted in 2008 and 2012 than ever before. We voted, and it just goes to show that your vote does matter. Your vote helped change the direction our country was going in. Generations X and Y have live-tweeted catastrophes, getting information out faster than ever, such as in Egypt and Israel, they have demanded information from governments, they have turned their arguments into petitions, protests, and internet rants.They have leaked information that they believed the people deserved to know.

 

We have built social networks that literally connected the world, we believe in starting something from nothing, and we know that with the right idea, anything is possible. Our generations have created Google and eBay, we have Facebook and Twitter to unite people globally at the touch of a button, we made the Hubble telescope and the biggest strides in space exploration. We are the most entrepreneurial generations so far.

 

Our generations are fighting for LGBT rights, the ones who lobbied the loudest for equal constitutional rights for gays and lesbians to be allowed to marry. We follow in the footsteps of every Civil Rights movement in our history, which proves over and over again that we the people know what we want, and what is right, and are willing to yell and fight and work for it.

 

Jeff Gordinier, author of X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking, has a pretty awesome quote from when he was featured in Time magazine.

 

“Shirking the media myth that Xers are slackers, Gordinier argues that Generation X has — to borrow a ‘60s term — changed the world. Citing Gen-X icons like Quentin Tarantino and Jon Stewart, along with Gen-X triumphs like Google, YouTube, and Amazon, among others, Gordinier argues that not only are Xers far from over, they might be the most unsung and influential generation of all time. ‘Gen-X stomping grounds of the past — the espresso bar, the record shop, the thrift store — have been resurrected in digital form. The new bohemia is less a place than it is a headspace. It’s flexible enough to bypass all the old binaries. It encompasses mass and class, mainstream and marginal, yuppie and refusenik, gearhead and Luddite. It’s everywhere and nowhere in particular,’ he writes. [In short,] ‘GenXers are doing the quiet work of keeping America from sucking.’”

 

So, rejoice, young(ish) people. We are changing the world, one step at a time.
Seriously, we have the interconnectedness, the tolerance, and the desire to learn, grow, and change the entire world and how it works. We are, in all terrifying honesty, the future.

This article originally was posted on Huffington Post on 8/23/2016  by me (original content).