Entries Tagged 'Working Efficiently' ↓

Get Your Home Office Organized for 2010

ducks in a row

As the new year approaches, I’ve been obsessing more and more about what 2010 is going to bring me – or rather, what I’m going to achieve in 2010. I’ve got some pretty hefty goals set and one of those goals is to get so organized, it will make me want to puke. To say that I like to have my ducks in a row is an understatement. I need my ducks perfectly aligned and if one feather is out of place, I don’t run at optimal speed.

My passions and interests have changed drastically over the last decade but one thing that always stays the same is the fact that I’m an organizing freakshow. I love to be organized and I love finding new ways to become even more sickenly organized.

Motivation and inspiration are two big things for me. I need one to jump start the other, but I need to be organized before I can even begin to be either. I continuously make more money each month and I can thank my insane organizing skills for the majority of it.

Working online involves a lot of juggling, no matter what, and it’s not a skill that everybody has. Some people actually work better when their desks are piled miles high with random papers, dirty dishes, nail clippings and remnants of snacks from weeks before. If that’s you, no need to read further.

On the other hand, if you’re like me, here are some handy resources to check out so you can get your organizing skills in shape for the new year:

Organizing Your Home Office – Links

A designer’s tips for organizing the home office with some style – 5 tips for organizing a home office.

Nicole Balch is the Queen of making organization pretty. Check out her studio to see what I mean.

PapayaArt.com File FoldersThere’s nothing like some pleasantly eye-catching file folders to encourage you to get organized and stay organized.

Clutter is evil. At least for me it is. That’s what the unclutterer blog rocks, and in particular, the office organization archive.

Lifehacker has some worthy home office hacks to think about while you’re in organizing-mode.

If nothing else in your house is organized, at least your computer should be. Read How to Create a Minimalist Computer Experience.

20 Time-Saving Tips to Improve Designer’s Workflow – Even if you’re not a web designer, there are tips in this post that can not only help you organize your Mac or PC, but they can save you loads of time especially if you deal with a lot of images while blogging.

Organize your browser. Organize your desktop. Organize your folders. If you’re bold enough, branch out from your office area and organize other areas of your house too. It’s much easier to keep each room clean and in order when the rest of the house is too. Otherwise, the clutter creep will rear it’s ugly head in no time flat.

If staying organized isn’t your strong suit, keep these resources handy and plug away at them as you have time. You’ll find that the more organized you get, the more time you have to get more organized! Or spend time with family and other important things like that…

So what are your favorite organizing tips or resources?

Too Many Baskets and Eggs, Not Enough Time

time-is-moneyYou know how everyone is always saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? While that may be true, it can actually prevent you from reaching your full potential if you have too many eggs in too many baskets.

Information overload is quite common in the online world. It’s also very common to get overwhelmed with all the tasks that come with working online. There are so many options! Which ones do you choose?

Time is money, right folks? No matter how good you are, Santa isn’t going to bring you more hours in the day for Christmas.

If this is you, here’s a little exercise you can try to help you determine which things you should focus on and which things you should drop.

You’ll need to think about everything you do that you consider part of your business building methods and compile them all into a list.

The items that may be on your list could include but are not limited to:

  • buying advertising
  • article marketing
  • social media marketing
  • affiliate marketing
  • selling your own products or services
  • blogging
  • posting in forums
  • recording podcasts, interviews, etc.
  • offline marketing
  • email marketing
  • building membership sites
  • setting up squeeze pages
  • cost per click advertising like Adsense, Chitika, etc.

For this to work, you’ll need to know how much money each task brings in. This may be hard to monitor in some cases so just do your best and “guestimate”.

Now, take everything that currently makes you money or will be bringing money in soon. Write each thing down on a piece of paper with plenty of space between each item. (Some things may overlap a bit since certain tasks will directly and indirectly affect other tasks, but that’s OK for now.)

Beside each one, write down how much money it makes per day, per month, per year. Then write down how much you think it can potentially make you per day/month/year.

Once that part is done, go back through each item and list how much time and effort each thing needs to keep bringing in that money. For example, blogging may take you 1 hour a day whereas buying advertising may only take a few hours a month.

Now rate each item on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is “I’d rather stick a needle in my eye than do this.” and 10 is “This is so freaking fun!”

After you have everything written down, take some time to decide what your top 5 items are. If you didn’t have many to begin with, choose the top 3. Those are the money-making methods you should be focusing on.

That doesn’t mean you need to stop doing the other ones, just don’t spend a lot of time or effort on them right now. You can outsource those tasks to someone else, or wait until your top items are on auto-pilot and you have more time to spend on them.

If they really don’t help your business at all, cut ‘em loose.

Ultimately, you want to be focusing on things that not only help improve your business but are also things you can see yourself continuing to do without them becoming chores you despise doing.

The whole point of working at home is to have freedom. You want the freedom to be able to spend time with your family, and also financial freedom so you’re not always tied to your desk.

To get to that point, you need to periodically analyze your business plan as well as your daily routine and update it accordingly. This exercise will help you do that.

Social Media Checklist

stockxpertcom_id42373901_jpg_636e50e8f4b50455b7a1674c053e2247Chris Brogan wrote a great post which is essentially a checklist for anyone who uses social media. Bloggers, if you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., this is a list worth printing out and going through every day.

I know from experience that the tasks on this list are great ways to expand your reach, connect with new people, and solidify relationships. This in turn will mean more exposure to your blog/website and more customers/sales.

Why?

Because doing these things helps you stand out from the rest of the crowd.

A lot of marketers like to complain about social networks like Twitter and say how much of a waste of time they are, but if you manage the time you spend on them wisely, they can increase your business exponentially.

This list of “chores” will help you do that so you can continue to focus on maintaining and improving your site.

I had me an epiphany

I tweeted this today:

Quit obsessing about the skills you don’t have and focus on the ones you do have.

I’ve been giving myself a really hard time lately because I can’t do all the things I’d like to. I’m a great piano player – I used to teach it – but I suck butt at playing guitar even though I’d love to play better.

I love to mess around with code on my websites and there are certain aspects of it that I’m pretty good at, but I can’t design a whole website from scratch even though I’d like to.

I love to cook and bake, and making dishes with fresh ingredients is something that makes me really happy, but I couldn’t grow an herb garden if my life depended on it.

So what does this crap have to do with blogging or running a website?

Well, if you’ve been at it for any length of time, you’ll know that it requires an insane amount of work to be even a little bit successful. There are so many aspects to it that it’s impossible for one single person to do all of them well. (Yay for virtual assistants!)

I got to thinking today – which can be a dangerous thing – and wondered why I’m so worried about all the things I can’t do well and decided to focus more on the things that I do very well and will now spend more time doing them even better.

Worrying about the things we can’t do is a colossal waste of time.

If you can’t do something, you have a few options:

  • You can hire someone else to do it, or trade services with them.
  • Just don’t do it and leave it unfinished. I’m great at that.
  • Learn how to do it.

Each solution poses its own problem.

  1. Hiring someone can be expensive. Trading services with someone can take up a lot of time.
  2. Leaving a task unfinished means loose ends that should be tied up. In a business, this could mean bad things.
  3. Learning how to do it yourself can be extremely stressful and time consuming.

I bet you are expecting the perfect workaround at this point. Guess what. I don’t have one. I’m going to cop out and say that you have to choose which solution is the best for you. Ha!

I personally like to do a healthy balance of all three. I’ll get someone else to do the really difficult stuff that I just don’t have the skills/time for. I’ll leave the tasks that aren’t really important or beneficial to my blogs. I’ll figure out how to do the little things that I should probably know how to do anyway which usually saves me time, frustration, and money down the road.

The main thing here is not to have unreasonable expectations. Don’t assume you can do everything by yourself. Don’t feel bad that you can’t do something that others are naturally gifted at.

Instead, pinpoint your strengths and the things you’re great at and use that to your advantage.

WordPress tip to save time

wordpress_iconIf you run multiple WordPress blogs or customize WP blogs for clients, here’s a little tip that I use to help save a lot of time.

Almost any WordPress blogger has a list of their favorite plugins. I certainly do. Once upon a time, I used to download and install them one at a time. Now, I keep them all in a folder on my computer and install them all at once whenever I need them.

Each time I download a new plugin, I unzip it on my desktop and move the PHP file or the plugin folder into my WordPress folder in My Documents. You can keep them wherever the heck you want, just make sure they’re all in one folder and easy to access.

Now when you install a new WordPress blog, just open up your FTP program, navigate to your plugins folder on your server, click and drag all your plugins into your plugins folder and BLAM-O! Sit back and relax while they transfer. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Once they’re all uploaded to your server, head to your plugins page in your WordPress dashboard and activate them all using the “Bulk Actions” feature. WordPress 2.7 versions and up also come with the handy “Automatically Upgrade” option which is a huge time saver as well.

If you have a finickity theme and your blog implodes after adding all your plugins, you’ll have to deactivate them and then activate them one at a time to figure out which plugin is messing with your stuff. Hopefully this doesn’t happen as this can be a serious pain in the ass. Most of the time though, this works perfectly.

Happy WordPressing!