Emails sucking all your attention?

Emails sucking all your attention?

Notifications pinging into your inbox, on your phone?

Looking at your emails as they drop into your inbox is a sure-fire way to waste your valuable time.

Your time is a precious and finite resource – once it’s gone, you never get it back.

One of the simplest changes you can make to start to take control of your email habits. By getting strategic in how you manage your emails, you can actually free up several hours a month.

Imagine what you could do with 3 extra hours each month? And when I use this figure of 3 hours a month, I am being ultra-conservative.

My clients tell me, and from personal experience, I can confidently say most people save an extra 8 hours a month – that’s a whole extra business day!

3 Email Management Tips

1) Set designated times – for checking your emails.

First thing in the morning, midday and before you finish for the day works well for most businesses.

If possible, shut down your email in between those times. That way you are not tempted to peek at them as the notifications come in. Because no matter what your intention is, you’ll spot it out of the corner of your eye.

The saying “momentum goes where attention flows” is spot on.

Even if just for a few seconds those distractions soon add up over the course of the day. Imagine how much time it adds up to over a week and a month!

2) If you need to refer to information in your emails – switch to offline mode.

This will allow you access to all your information whilst also ensuring you are not distracted by incoming email.

3) Quick flick tasks – when going through your emails, if there are some that you can deal with via a quick response, do this immediately.

It’s quicker than flagging for follow-up and then having to come back to it later.

What will you do with the extra time you save? Hit reply and tell me in the comments.

Fly like a dragon!

Dragon head image

Michelle

PS – if you’d like extra tips for how to set your priorities and stay in your lane – download my free e-guide which has proven strategies that really work.

 

Do you really need all the latest gadgets?

Do you really need all the latest gadgets?

You know gadgets like – new computers, cameras, phones, apps, software and gizmos are pretty much wherever you turn these days. Okay, maybe they are not strictly gadgets, but for the purpose of this article, I’m lumping them together.

Advertisers are smart. They know exactly how to make that emotional tug. You know how it goes…

This product will give you…more time with your family, more status, increase your confidence, increase productivity, save you time…

And so on the list goes.

Guard your time

Time is a finite commodity. Once the time has passed, you can never get it back.

The time you spend learning how to use a new gadget/gizmo like a phone etc or even just looking into something can often be better spent working on your business.

If you’re always time-poor, think about using that time for some much needed “me-time”.

Investing time in yourself by taking a little bit of rest and relaxation is a smart move. It means you take time to make sure you’re in tip-top condition to run your business, look after your family etc.

Confusion

It’s super easy when you first start in business to get confused about where to focus your attention.

Marketers are a pretty savvy and innovative bunch – they know how to make irresistible offers that will have you reaching for your wallet.

Now here’s the thing…when it comes down to being innovative – you too can be super innovative by… ignoring the new shiny objects and keeping your eyes firmly on your own goals.

Although I have been in my own business for over 20 years, the online world of courses is relatively new to me. It’s only in the last 4 years that I have started to venture into this space.

When I was looking at a hosting platform for my online courses, I got so confused because I spent my time listening in to advice from other course creators.  I also wasted quite a bit of money chasing shiny objects.

Gaining Clarity

In hindsight, what I should have done was written out a list of what features were important to me and my clients/students. Instead, I focussed outwards.

Had I created my own “shopping list” based on my individual needs, I would have been able to choose the right platform with a lot less time-wasting.

In case you’re wondering where I ended up – I finally chose to use Podia. It’s not as “pretty” as some, but it is easy to use, the right price point for me and gives me the important features I need to deliver my courses.

I can tell you lots more stories on this topic about how I wasted both time and money, but that’s going to take way too much time 🙂

Three lessons learnt

1) Focus on your own forward momentum, even if it is baby steps.

2) Find trusted mentors to help you explore what is right for your business.

3) You achieve more when you set your own priorities and stay in your lane.

Do you have some lessons learnt to share?

Fly like a dragon!

Dragon head image

Michelle

366 Days of Opportunities

366 days of opportunities – yep, 2020 is a leap year.

Each day is a new dawn and a new opportunity.

What has past is gone and whilst you should learn lessons from the roads travelled and experiences gained it’s also important not to spend too much time looking at the doors that have closed.

As we were closing our December, I took my Mastermind members through a 2020 Self Accountability Workbook.

Opportunities

Opportunities need to be identified.

It then comes down to time management and accountability.

Because we are all unique, we each have different working habits but the key formula is the same regardless of what industry you are in. Download a copy of

The Self Accountability Workbook that members complete individually is a valuable exercise.

The best thing about this method is that by taking the time to think, and by writing it all down, you come to a position where you have much greater clarity.

That clarity allows you to step forward with confidence.

To make the most of those 366 days of opportunity  – even if you do drop a few balls along the way.

And with the workbook completed, it becomes your guide, one that you have written for yourself, that goes alongside your strategic plan.

When you get the wobbles, it’s there to look at.

You can see in black and white exactly what the problem is.

You see at a glance if you’ve been going down rabbit holes. Not been keeping your promise to yourself to prioritise your time. not taking enough time out for your own self-care and so on goes the list.

Most importantly of all, you can see the planned solution and that is what will get you back on track.

It’s what will keep you on track for 2020.

Making the most of opportunities

Making the most of opportunities is what makes the difference.

Yet it can be so hard…where to start.

Sometimes you just need to get out from under the pile of stuff on top of you, or climb out from the hole you seem to be sinking deeper and deeper into.

This is what I hear over and over.

I know first hand what that feels like (see my personal blog here) and I am the proof that the strategies I teach for overcoming this work.

Are you on track?

Are you confident that you’re on track for your 366 days of opportunity?

Or would you like a little bit of support and guidance – a dragon in your pocket kind of thing?

Check out the Mastermind Membership where I help confused and overwhelmed folks get clear on the steps to take to achieve their goals through group strategic guidance to a crystal clear pathway.

Want to have some fun?

Tell me in the comments what you are saying YES to in 2020.

Fly like a Dragon!

Dragon head image

Michelle

Achieving Goals

Achieving goals comes down to knowing what you want.

But knowing what you want is not enough.

Once you have your set goal, it’s then time to get down to planning out the way you’re going to achieve it.

Regardless of whether it is in your personal or business life the reality is that strategy really does play a huge part on the journey to achievement.

Defining Strategic

Strategic (adjective) as identified by the Oxford dictionary is defined as – Relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.

If you want to achieve a certain outcome then you need to have a very measured approach.

A pathway. A series of stepping stones that take you forward towards your goals.

Without that pathway.

The map.

The strategy.

Life tends to just wander along in and before you know it a year has flown past!

Without strategic direction, there is less chance of achievement and satisfaction.

Strategic planning is all about aiming for what is right for YOU and for your business.

You are unique and your plans will be different from mine – but there is a commonality to all plans…

You can read here how I utilised strategic planning to achieve my personal goal of living and working in Europe for 12 months.

Strategic Direction

As you move along with your business/life/career you NEED to know the direction you are heading in and WHERE you want to end up.

Why? Because without clear goals it is impossible to tell if you have actually achieved your goals.

You will not know when you have arrived.

And knowing that is super important BECAUSE it is what helps you feel motivated.

The sense of achievement, as you tick off each goal, helps keep you fueled with positive forward momentum.

Naturally, goals can and often do change as you move through life. That’s part and parcel of business growth and life in general.

Fly like a dragon  Fly like a dragon

Michelle

 



PRODUCTIVITY vs ACTIVITY

Productivity is not a by-product of lots of activity. 

It’s really easy to look busy, to bustle about from one activity to the next, but it is important to recognise that being busy does not always equate with being productive.

This is exactly why is it so very important to be consciously aware of what you are investing your time in.

A great example of this is time spent on social media – it’s got to be one of the biggest time wasters around.

Yes, social media is crucial when you’re in business. If you are bootstrapping it is even more important to harness what is available at no cost.

Conscious Awareness

BUT…we each need to be consciously aware of avoiding the rabbit holes that social media temptingly offers as we scroll through newsfeeds.

Sponsored ads, powerful tempting images with great headlines are popping up in our feeds.

It’s clever.

The advertisers are tempting us to click away from whatever it is that we are doing.

It’s a real trap that is so easy to fall into – and I’ll confess it has got me several times!

The solution?

Focus on Productivity

When you’re looking at the productive habits of highly effective people, it all comes down to…

Staying focussed and being disciplined.

Productivity comes from knowing where you are going. And taking those measurable, achievable and progressive steps.

Steps that are moving you along the path to successfully achieving your goal.

No matter what that goal is – large or small – the formula you follow for productivity is exactly the same.

The teachings of the late and great Jim Rohn suggest asking yourself:

Who am I around?
What are they doing to me?
What have they got me reading?
What have they got me saying?
Where do they have me going?
What do they have me thinking?
And most importantly, what do they have me becoming?

When you stop to ask yourself those questions there is a shift in perspective.

Have you taken the time to ask yourself these questions? If not, take a moment now and run through them.

Love you to let me know in the comments how you ensure you’re at your productive best.

Fly Like A Dragon

Michelle

PS Curious to know more about me?  Check out my LinkedIn Profile AND let’s connect 

 PPS – if you enjoyed this and would like more productive tips sign-up for my newsletter here




Here’s why you need a strategic plan – or an action plan!

Here’s why you need a strategic plan – or an action plan.

Whilst the words might make your eyes glaze over and conjure up images of boring boardrooms stick with me here….promise, you’ll gain an insight that will be super valuable.

A good strategic plan is not a large and boring document. It’s user-friendly and simple to read.

It lays out your pathway. A pathway that should be measurable, achievable and progressive.

It’s a tool that you should be regularly referring to because it shows you WHERE you are going.

Unless you have your directions clearly written down it is pretty much impossible to tell if things are on track and when you have arrived at a goal.

This is extremely valuable when you are tempted to go after a shiny object. You know something new comes onto the market, you hear a great pitch and decide immediately it might be perfect?

This is the time to look at your plan and check if it aligns with your goals.

If it does great!

If not, then move on and keep your eyes firmly on the goals you have set.

Being strategic means being specific

It is important to be very specific about your goals. As an example, writing down “gain new business” is not clear. It is not strategic in the least. It’s a general statement.

Why do you want new business? Is it because you want more $$ in the coffers?

If it is just $$ ask yourself this question – could you gain these from existing clients/customers? Be clear on the $$ amount that would equate achieving that goal.

For instance, having 10 new customers at say $5000 each is not the same as having a goal of $50,000.

Which is it the 10 customers or the $50K?

The 50K could potentially be reached with just 5 solid contracts.

Here’s another example from my own life. To be able to live in Europe for a year.

Without being retired or having the capacity to afford a year without income, this was not an easy task to achieve. But I did!

How? By using my own personal strategic plan that involved an end goal and many mini-milestones to get there.

Want to learn how to formulate your own strategic plan?

Reach out to me as I’d love to help you just as I’ve helped so many others. Promise! Don’t take my word for it…check out what others have to say.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

 

Procrastination the enemy of productivity – are you guilty?

Procrastination. Everyone is guilty of procrastinating once in a while.

You put off doing that one important task in favour of washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or playing a game. We all have some form of procrastination activity, but it’s the enemy of productivity and in business, there’s no time for it.

Encouraging Productivity

I’m a terrible procrastinator, and I hate it. So over time, I’ve tried to find ways to be productive and also to FEEL more productive.

There’s a plethora of books and articles that will tell you how to be more productive but a lot of the time those tips don’t work for me.

And even when I’m being productive I often don’t feel like I am.

Now I’m not saying what works for me will work for you but here’s what I’ve found helps:

Check Lists

When I have a checklist to mark off I’m able to tell if I’ve been productive and that in turn encourages me to be more productive.

It also works as a bit of a pseudo-reward, I love that feeling of accomplishment when I mark off a task.

There’s an App for that

And of course, in this technological age, there’s an array of apps for monitoring productivity and encouraging productivity.

Personal I’ve got two apps on my phone and a separate program on my laptop for this and I find them so helpful in avoiding procrastination.

My favourite is Habitica which a friend recommended as a way of tracking productivity.

It’s super helpful in that it’s designed to be a little like an RPG (Role Playing Game).  You get experience points and coins for completing tasks so you go up in levels and can purchase new equipment for your avatar.

For me, this format is really encouraging.  It feels familiar and even though the rewards are simply virtual I find them a great incentive for upping my productivity.

The other apps I use to keep myself productive are Anti-Social and Cold Turkey.

Forced time offline

Social Media and the Internet, in general, are some of the biggest tools for procrastination.

We’ve all had that moment where we go to check something on Facebook and then, one hour later, we haven’t gotten anything done. That’s why it’s so important to be able to take time off.

To unplug.

Although often times your work may require you to remain a little plugged in – emails need checking, research needs to be done etc.

For that reason, I’ve made blocking apps a part of my work habit. When I really need to buckle down and focus I turn on the apps and block off all access to social media.

Removing the temptation is a great way to push forward. If I slip up (and I do sometimes) I just get a pop-up that says the site is blocked – a great deterrent!

I’d love to hear about your productivity secrets, so leave me a comment.

Sasha Hanton

 

MAXIMISING YOUR LUNCHTIME

Maximising your lunchtime makes great business sense. And, I don’t mean having a sandwich at your desk as you pour over reports or jumping on LinkedIn, Facebook etc.

Making time to have lunch, to step away from your desk/place of business is essential to maintaining a helicopter perspective.

When you’re leading a busy life, especially if you’re running your own business, it can be really tough to squeeze the extra time out of your day.

BUT…here’s the thing…you need to eat!

So maximising that time for your own benefit makes good sense – right?

Put down your phone – at least stick it in your pocket or handbag – stand up and walk out of the office.

Walking down the street, stopping to say hello to people and having a quick chat. Sitting quietly in a park/at the beach and absorbing nature, or having lunch with people outside of your normal circle all serve to help either ground or stimulate you.

What you choose to do each lunchtime depends on the outcomes you’d like to achieve.

The key is to make a conscious choice to utilise your lunchtime wisely. After all, it is time. Time is a finite commodity and once passed cannot be recovered.

Alone Time

Choosing to spend time alone, to sit in the park/at the beach will give you silence.

In that stillness, you have the chance to reflect quietly. You’ll often get to hear your inner voice that has been drowned out by the chattering monkeys.

Many of our clients who work in front-facing roles that demand they are “on” for most of their business day love these kinds of lunch breaks.

Actively Being Out & About

If you’re working in isolation, then getting out and about helps to switch off that intense focus your work demands.

Walking down the street and stopping to chat with a couple of people can often provide that human connection that is so important to people who work alone all day.

Alternately, if your work causes lots of pent-up frustrations, bursts of physical activity like a brisk walk, jogging or working out at a gym full of people can be a great tension reliever.

Group Lunches

Getting together with a group of like-minded individuals, from different industries is another productive way to spend a lunchtime. You gain a different perspective which is so very valuable.

I’m not talking about a boozy lunch at a fancy restaurant. You know, where everyone talks about how great they are and no one remembers anything much afterwards. I’ve been to a few of these over the years. Enjoyable but really very unproductive.

Rather, I mean a quiet place where you actually get to connect with authenticity and help each other out through the sharing of information in a supportive environment.

Lunch & Learn Sessions

Lunch and learn sessions are common in large corporations. Often used as a means to minimise downtime, and maximise employee engagement.

Now, if you’re a small business or solo operator you won’t have this luxury BUT… a group lunch and learn for others in the same boat is not too hard to organise.

We know because we’ve facilitated quite a few over the years.  Topics are always varied so attendees choose which they are interested in.

The objective is always that participants leave having learnt something of value – not just had a great lunch.

Scheduling

The key to successfully maximising your lunchtime and being able to get away all comes down to scheduling.

Consider it an important appointment with a very important person. Yes, that’s you!

If you are struggling to get started with this habit, begin with a day a week, and gradually increase it over a period of a month.

Once you start consciously working on maximising your time, you’ll be surprised at how easy it becomes. More importantly, the benefits that you gain are invaluable.

Speaking from a personal perspective – my lunchtime habits are one of the ways that I have been able to keep sane during challenging times. As an added bonus they’ve also brought Dragon Sisters new business connections.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon!

Michelle

PS – let me know in the comments how you spend your lunchtimes – I’m always curious 🙂

CHANGES = NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Changes are part and parcel of all our lives. From the day we arrive in this world, change is inevitable. We are constantly changing as we grow. Learning. Evolving. This goes on for our entire lives.

Being in business it’s exactly the same. Periods of growth and evolution. Changing is not unusual. Adapting to meet the demands of the marketplace and the needs of clients.

Sometimes changes are planned…other times they are thrust upon us by circumstances.

I’m currently finding myself in one of those “thrust upon you” changes. Not planned but something that has to be dealt with.

My ageing parents (almost 80 and 90) mean that I now need to be physically close to them. I have a lead role to play in helping care for them in their own home.

And you know what? I welcome the role.

They have taken care of me for my entire life, stood by me and seen me through ups, downs and bumps in the journey of life.

It is my turn to give back. To be close by. At hand to help as needed without being asked. It’s what our family does.

But of course this does have a massive impact on my business; big changes need to happen.

Changes needing to be managed

I’ve travelled my entire life. It’s never been a big deal for me to hop on a plane to meet clients, or to take Skype calls across time zones at weird hours.

BUT…that cannot continue…at least not for the immediate future.

So what does it mean for my business?

It means lots of juggling and in a nutshell, a bit of a restructuring.

I’ve spent many hours mulling everything over and thinking about what is possible in these new circumstances.

Challenges are actually opportunities…to explore other ways of doing things.

Opportunities

Opportunities come in many guises if we are open and receptive.

No point in looking at a door that is closed. Instead, it’s important to search for openings that lie ahead.

The result for me is:

1) Moving further into the online market.

What I have done for the last 10 years is help businesses move ahead by helping them to learn HOW to tackle challenges that prevent them from moving forward.

This can be done online; it actually works out a lot cheaper than having me on the spot. It makes my services more affordable and is actually a win/win.

Below are some of the things now available via online teaching:

  • Identifying your Unique Selling Point
  • Creating a Strategic Plan for your business
  • Elevating your brand profile without being ‘salesy’
  • Building a marketing/sales funnel
  • Understanding the power of social media and harnessing it to help your business
  • The key steps to take to CLOSE a sale without coming across as pushy

I am still here to answer the questions, but there is a component delivered via online modules.

Benefits

Way cheaper for a start!

Access to the modules at a time that works for you.

Queries are answered through weekly online sessions and via a private Facebook group. It’s not quite as instantaneous as one on one but the cost benefits make our services more affordable to many.

2) Less Travel

I can’t just hop on a plane to fly overseas or around Australia. Bookings for my in-person presence need to be scheduled well in advance.

3) Increasing the Writing Bureau output

Ghostwriting, grant writing, sponsorship proposals and of course our favourite area…

…supporting authors taking them from the idea stages to the finished and marketed product.

Never widely promoted previously, this is an area that has been steadily growing since Sasha joined the team; we’ll be ramping it up further.

Coping with changes

Coping capacities are determined by mindset and attitude. Being individuals means we each react in different ways, but being in business means it’s important to be proactive.

I’m getting feedback that I must be Wonder Woman, being able to put together business proposals, deliver workshops and also deal with current family circumstances. I’m no such thing – although it is flattering 🙂

The reality is simply this – learning to be resilient and excellent time management. It’s a skill I’ve picked up over many years.

I’ve also learnt that when you are open and using a smarketing mindset, there is always an opportunity.

The opportunity often means adapting to what circumstances present themselves. Looking forward…not backward. Being grateful for what you have.

I’m extremely grateful to still have my parents.

If you’d like to help me with this next phase of my business I would love you to get in touch or recommend me to anyone who’d benefit from my new model of service.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon

Michelle

Facebook Groups – Time Management

Facebook groups and time management can often present a huge challenge.

Running your own group or being part of one can be extremely beneficial for your business.

BUT…

It’s really important to be able to understand what your objective is.

It only works to your advantage if you can control how much time you spend in the group…

AND… you are really clear on your purpose for being in the group.

Identifying your WHY

In order to successfully utilise and enjoy being part of a Facebook group, it’s vital to understand why you are there.

Is it to learn?

If this is the case, make sure that members are knowledgeable and generous with sharing.

Or maybe, you are just there to learn how other people run their groups. That’s fine too, but remember that each group reacts differently and it all hinges on the personalities involved, so what is working for one group may not always work for another.

Is it to teach and share your own knowledge?

Be sure that the admin of the group will welcome what you have to share. This can cause angst if the admin is not generous in spirit and sees you as “competition”.

To find potential clients?

This is definitely the most common reason most business people are in groups – although there is some exception (like our SMART Circle.)

If this is your reason, you need to be prepared to share your knowledge in a non-sales way.

Most importantly have a strategy going into the group.

After all, you want to share but you don’t want to give so much away that no one will need to pay for your services.

Size matters

The bigger the group the more there is to keep on top of.

It’s important not to make the mistake of thinking you have to comment on every post or read everything that goes up.

Big groups are not necessarily always super active. As a general rule, there tends to be a small core of active participants with the rest being “lurkers”.

When you first join a group take the time to look around. Then write a small introduction about yourself. Chances are you’ll get a few welcomes below your post – these are the people who are, likely as not, the most responsive members.

My personal observation is that smaller groups tend to be a lot more interactive than larger ones.

Spend your time wisely

Being active in groups can be a huge time drain. The first step is in recognising and acknowledging this.

Once you know the potential for time to gallop away it’s much easier to guard against it.

1 ) Be firm with yourself

Make a rule about when you will be in the groups.  Plan this into your diary.

What works for me is to pop into the groups I am a member of first thing in the morning and then again in the evening – not every day.

Spending 5 minutes skimming through the content is normally sufficient.

Do not be tempted to read every single comment unless the subject is something you really need to learn about or have expert knowledge on.

2) Build relationships

Commenting on a few key posts rather than hitting like on a whole bunch is much more effective.

A comment is way more valuable than simply liking. By taking the time to comment you are building relationships.

Typically members ask questions in groups. They are searching for answers. Answer the questions that relate to your area of expertise.

3) Know when it’s time to leave

After a few weeks in a group, if you are not getting valuable engagement that is either helping you or your business to grow, it’s time to pull the pin. There is no rule that says you need to stay.

Use the tools available

There are some very handy tools available on Facebook that help with managing what appears in your feeds and your time in the group.

Search

Use the search function to find questions/discussions on topics that you are interested in answering/learning more about. This way you don’t have to scroll through all the posts. It’s especially helpful in very active groups or if you’ve had a short break.

Notifications

When you like or comment on a post, if you don’t turn off the notifications you can end up with a whole stream of notifications pinging your way.

Similarly, if you want to follow a post, simply because you are interested, but you don’t necessarily want to comment, you can turn on the notifications.

Copy Link

Even better than turning on the notifications – if it’s something you want to refer back to – grab the link and paste it into an Excel spreadsheet.

You can then come back to visit it later when you have more time.

Turn Off Commenting

This one is great when you have a post that is getting heaps of engagement, but it’s now way past time the subject closed.

You have the option to delete your post or better yet, just turn off commenting. That way nothing else can be added but everyone can still read it.

One final tip

Limit the number of groups you belong to.

Work out how much time you can afford to spend engaging. Then count up the groups you’re in to come up with a realistic figure of what time you can actually afford without it impacting on other areas of your business and personal life.

By limiting the number of groups you belong to you’ll end up being able to offer better value and create stronger relationships.

Let me know in the comments if you found these tips helpful.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon

Michelle

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