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

 

Why Reviewing Is Essential For Your Confidence

Does the word reviewing send you into a spin? Do visions of being hauled over the coals or worse…being let go, dance before your eyes?

Hang on a sec. Let me explain.

The word review is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as meaning a formal assessment of something with the intention of instituting change if necessary, a critical appraisal of a book, play, film.

When you look at something in a formal way, it means you take the time to really LOOK.

To be considered and measured.

You are focussed.

This means you can often see something that is in plain sight but has been missed in your day to day routine.

Taking time out to review where you’re heading and how you’re tracking tends to be something that is not always given the priority treatment it should be.

Let’s be honest, life gets pretty hectic – both in the personal and professional sense. We’re living in a fast-paced world.

I’ll fess up and say that reviewing my progress is not my favourite activity. BUT…I mean, how do you know where you are going if you are not measuring and reviewing?

I manage a pretty packed schedule; juggling business commitments, taking my turn looking after my Dad (he’s got Alzheimer’s so we can’t leave him alone for long), and making sure to spend quality time with the rest of my family, as well as plugging in some “Me Time.”

It’s one big juggle, BUT….the way business works has changed heaps since I started my career, so it’s actually easier to keep all the balls in the air.

Note I said easier, not easy!

Approaching our 10th Birthday (27th October) means time to do a deep review of Dragon Sisters. We’re looking at how we are working, who we work with, what tools we use and most important of all what results we are getting.

We began with looking at where we came from – I’ll be talking about that in another post.

When Yvonne (the other Dragon Sister) and I first started working…..

Telex machines – Shock! Horror!

Yes, we are “that” era! – ran hot, zapping messages to offices on the other side of the globe. If we needed to speak to someone, the phone costs were horrendous, but, hey, we worked for big corporates so finances were never an issue.

Tea ladies, doormen, receptionists, secretaries and typists (woe betide those who confuse the two!) were a part of our daily working environment.

Fast forward to 2017

Things we never even dreamed of …smart phones, tablets, laptops, Skype, WhatsApp, Trello, Dropbox, LinkedIn and…

…the Nespresso machine is part of our daily toolkit.

No doorman, no secretary anywhere in sight. Instead, we have virtual assistants and independent freelance experts.

One thing jumps out at me …

Despite all the changes and the new technologies at our fingertips, there is one thing that never changes.

One thing that never changes

The need for strong communication skills remains as vital today as it ever was BECAUSE this is the way to connect.

If you cannot make the connection then you cannot move forward, in life and in business.

As an example, you want something done – perhaps you want your kids to clean their room, or staff members to adopt new initiatives. How you connect them with your message, how you present the instruction is going to shape the results you get.

As I think back, I now realise all my successes were achieved because of my ability to connect. In other words, to communicate with my team, donors, my board, managers, and clients.

Communication methods have changed

Most things are electronic; hard copy letters or invitations are pretty rare.

The way we write has also changed.

Let me ask you…how many times do you just skim through correspondence?

I’m a fast reader. I need to be because of the nature of my work. When it comes to unsolicited mail, I am a skimmer, and so are most people I know.

There is just so much that makes it way into our inboxes that unless we skim, we’ll never get to the end.

The new way of writing means lots of white space replaces block paragraphs. It makes things easier to skim and scan through to pick out key parts of the content that are of interest to you.

I have had to learn how to write for this new era.

Everyone types these days, and not because of typing class. Technology has made us all typists – even if you are of the two finger or flying thumb variety!

And that has made me realise that although almost everyone can use electronic communication tools, not everyone has the ability to communicate well. And some are really uncomfortable with the new mediums.

So as the 10th Birthday review for Dragon Sisters is underway, we’ve come across some very interesting data. It’s informing the direction the business will head… and no one is being let go.

Phew!

Services will be changing slightly, but the one thing that is standing out loud and clear is the need to once again be adding to the Wordsmith Wonders team, which has tripled in the last 12 months.

The first surprise for us is that our biggest client base is the young male, senior-level executives/entrepreneurs who are absolute stars when it comes to heading up their teams. Being thought leaders that are so self-aware, they recognise a little confidential support on the communications front goes a long way.

So how does a review boost your confidence?

In its very simplest form, a review gives you confidence by either demonstrating you are on track or off-roading!

Regardless of what the outcome is, you can then be confident that you are either on the right path for your career/business or you know 100% that you are not.

Knowledge is power. You have the information in your hands and this provides the confidence to make the decision on what your next steps will be.

A review gives me the confidence to keep going in the same direction or to cut my losses and change direction.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Fly like a dragon,

Michelle

Need help choosing the right consultant or coach to work with? We’ve got a tip sheet that just might help. Click reply and ask for a copy.

5 Simple Tips to Improve Your Writing

Do you love to write?

If you do, then you’re just like me!

If you don’t…. you’re not alone.

Whichever category you fall into, these 5 simple tips will help.

Before you take to writing that next piece of yours, whether it be a blog post or a business report, here are some quick tips to help you shine.

1) The Daily Habit

Get in the habit of writing each and every day; start a journal or a diary, write to a pen pal, just get yourself in the habit of writing.

It might seem like a lot of work but it isn’t.

*A really good way to practise this is to write 2 pages in a notebook each morning. Even though I am a writer,  I’ve just started utilising this tip that I learnt from a LinkedIn post and it is working wonders for me.

If you’re in business, chances are you’re already writing every day. You might not think of it as writing, but no doubt you send off countless emails each day?

2) Broadening your vocabulary

Get a word calendar or download an app on your phone like Dictionary.com.

Putting new words into your vocabulary is a great way to make your writing more powerful.

Often, when expanding your vocabulary you’ll also improve your knowledge on spelling and the correct use of words already in your vocabulary.

*I personally love learning new words and use them often to improve my personal writing.

3) Keep using those tough words.

Everyone has words they struggle to spell.  Don’t let that stop you.

I recently found a recipe book and I’d written one of the simplest words wrong.

I was mortified, but you know what? That’s just proof of how reliant we’re getting on the computer spell checking for us.

If you struggle with certain words keep pushing yourself to use them. Eventually, you’ll spell them so often that you’ll learn to spell them correctly.

*Whenever I misspell something on my computer before looking for the correct spelling I go back and try to spell it again. Nine times out of ten I’ll spell it right on the second try.

4) Don’t always listen to the computer

Microsoft Word is great, don’t get me wrong.

I’m always looking out for those red and green squiggly lines, but it isn’t always right.

Sometimes computers don’t understand the context of how a particular sentence should work, so it’ll underline the whole thing with a green line. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the sentence.

Before taking on board the computer’s recommended changes always give it a second or third read over.

See if it flows.

If it flows and you don’t detect anything wrong there probably isn’t an issue.

Also, bear in mind that not every word is registered in the Microsoft Word dictionary. If a word is really old or comes from another language Word will just keep on telling you it’s spelt wrong, even when it isn’t.

5) Write it ALL down first.

I used to always edit as I went, so if I misspelt a word I would immediately change it and if a sentence didn’t flow I’d spend ages re-writing it.

However, that isn’t the most efficient way to write and edit.

The most efficient process is to write everything out and then do a re-read for editing.

Trust me it saves time.

A helping hand

If you need a helping hand with any aspects of writing or editing…

Simple emails, sales funnels, website content reviews through to book manuscripts, blogs and ghost writing are all in a days work for us at Dragon Sisters.

Need some help…..reach out to us.

To your success,

Sasha

Sasha Hanton – a graduate of Bond University with a Bachelor in Journalism. Sasha possesses high caliber skills across a wide genre of writing, editing and multi-media content creation. Sasha’s achievements include the Sally A White Award for Investigative Journalism 2013.

 

It’s an Honour

Working as part of Dragon Sisters and now heading up the Wordsmith Wonders team as Editor in Chief is a huge honour and a big step forward for me.

What I love about the position here at Dragon Sisters is the diverse range of writing that we tackle to help connect clients with their audiences.

My personal favourite is the social media posts where we see the images and the words come together to create empowering and enlightening messages. I also love getting my teeth into the ghost-written blogs and books, and enjoy learning more about Smarketing as I edit the Sales and Marketing Strategy reports that Yvonne and Michelle prepare.

Want to know more about who you’re dealing with?

Back in 2014 I graduated from Bond University with a Bachelor of Journalism. Studying journalism opened up a whole new world and taught me some invaluable skills. I found myself especially adoring editing and wanting to be more involved in this field.

During my studies I was able to experience a vast array of journalistic fields, from copy writing to film. It was hands on and intricate, I was taught how to better refine my writing and how to edit my own film pieces. For one of my classes we even got to experience being part of a real life newsroom.

In 2013 for my university course work I was even granted the honour of being a part of the team that won the Sally A White Award for Investigative Journalism. However, I found during my studies that I didn’t feel confident with my chosen path and that journalism didn’t seem to fit me.

After graduating, my suspicions that journalism wasn’t quite right for me were quickly confirmed. Of course I didn’t completely wash my hands of journalism as I later found myself writing an article for Territory Q Magazine.

The piece I wrote was about the local NT fireman’s stairclimb competition, Rescue Me. I’d been given the responsibility for writing the piece as at that time I was volunteering for Lifeline, which was that year’s chosen charity that Rescue Me would be donating to. It was a fun experience getting interviews with the firies and taking lots of photographs.

I spent the last 2 years working casually in customer service retail, whilst simultaneously freelance writing while I figured out what my next step would be. After all, if you want to succeed in your career then it should be something you are passionate about. You should always strive to be able to love your job. In October this year, I quit my job, said goodbye to a wonderful team of co-workers, and took a two month European sabbatical.

My return to Australia

It’s become evident to me that my focus needs to be on what I love – writing and editing.

I’ve always been an avid reader and pride myself on being able to easily pick up on mistakes in both spelling and grammar. As a child, I used to enjoy finding that one mistake there always seems to be in a book. Even whilst in High School I was editing and assisted with some ghost editing of a book before it was taken to a professional.

Whilst I’m an avid reader and have been called on numerous times by friends for help with spelling and word choice, I’m also not afraid to admit I wasn’t always the smart cookie that I am today.

Overcoming Obstacles

During the years of my earlier education I actually had to have learning support and go to Kumon for help with improving my grades. I was also a somewhat slow writer. However, that was a long time ago and I’ve overcome those challenges.

I certainly didn’t envisage that I would become one of the youngest journalism graduates, or be able to complete my degree in just 2 years!

Overcoming obstacles is what helps to shape us as people, and I’ve overcome a few.

As head of the Writing Bureau for Dragon Sisters you can be sure that I’ll be doing all my editing with a fine toothed comb and utilising all my skills to provide you with the best possible service.

I look immensely forward to working with Dragon Sisters and managing our team of exceptional VAs.

Sasha Hanton

Sasha Hanton_Dragon Sisters My full bio is available on LinkedIn

Do you share this WordPress dilemma?

Maybe you already knew this, but just in case….did you know that there are two versions of WordPress?

I’ve been merrily blogging on WordPress for quite a number of years. I’ve blogged, mainly on a personal level as a way to keep my wide network of friends, that are not on Facebook, updated on what’s happening in my life.

I love using WordPress, it’s easy to use and pretty intuitive. I never realised there was another side to this great platform.

I’ve recently started to blog as a way to share information,tips and ideas that are more connected to my business. As a result, I started to interact with business blogging communities and hear mentioned a bunch of fancy little features. Plugins that can be used for tracking, measuring, making online sales and more.

It all sounded fascinating. I was worried it would be complex, but was assured it was really simple. Of course, I wanted in on this!

WordPressGo to the dashboard they said and just click the little button. So I did.

I look and I look. Nope, no little button thingy there.

Yes, there is comes the response from several quarters.

I must be blind or stupid!

I slink back to my dashboard and look again. Still, I cannot see the elusive button!

Finally, someone pipes up and says you need to be using WordPress.org. “Ooooh,” says me “I never knew there were two!”

So what’s the difference?

That’s the best question you can ever ask if you’re new to or considering using WordPress!

Choosing one or the other really does depend on what your needs are, your skill level, and what you aim to accomplish.

No one told me this at the beginning, and I’m not alone in the dilemma as many folk report similar confusion and I still see others make the same mistakes I did. It’s a really easy mistake to make.

So which WordPress should you choose?

There’s loads of literature on this, but here’s my take of the two options and this link will take you to the official WordPress comparative chart

WordPress.org
This is the perfect choice for small-to-medium business owners and DIY’ers, as it is cost-efficient, fully customizable, and there are loads of options.

The myriad of customization options is limited only by your skill level and imagination. The software itself is free, including thousands of plugins you can use for your website. There is also a raft of additional plugins that you can buy separately to suit your needs/wants and budget!

The WordPress site itself will provide you with lots of advice, including handy walk-throughs on how to install the WordPress software and guide you through your initial posts. Considering it is a free service, the guide is very helpful and the instructions are really easy to understand.

You will need a web hosting service and a few other essentials. I love and always recommend this easy guide from Michael Hyatt on “How to launch a self-hosted WordPress blog in 20 minutes.”

Support forums abound all over the net, and you’ll easily find answers to “how to” questions about customizing your site. There are no restrictions to what you can do with the site, especially if you have coding experience in PHP or HTML, just to name a few. I’ve got no experience but the site works well for me – so I’m pretty convinced anyone can make this work!

WordPress.com
One of my VA’s came up with what I consider a great analogy to define WordPress.com. He referred me to this article – they describe it as being like when you rent a flat. You pay a certain amount to be able to occupy the space. There’s no need for you to maintain the flat because the landlord has that covered. You’re usually unable to make any significant structural changes to your flat or even bang a few nails into the wall – after all it’s rented. It does not belong to you.

That’s how WordPress.com essentially works. Web hosting is free and WordPress.com takes care of everything for you including fantastic spam protection, automatic backups and updates.

WordPress.com’s  security is also dependable. Plugins are available, but you don’t get to upload your own. There are heaps of themes to choose from (around 200) and some can be tweaked and customised in terms of colour choices, but you can’t really make significant changes. Kind of like in a flat where you choose your own furniture, but the basic layout remains the same in the whole complex.

As far as adverts go, your hands are tied because WordPress decides who gets to advertise.

In terms of a domain name you can only go as far as adding your preferred name to the WordPress domain – e.g. yourpreferredname.wordpress.com

You can unlock some further options if you are willing to pay a small fee e.g

● Remove ads to use your own (WordPress adverts not included)
● Make basic changes to the themes
● Extra storage space
● Upload your videos (VideoPress)
● Premium themes

If you want a full blown site sporting your own domain name, unlimited file storage, and no adverts, WordPress.com can work out to be expensive.

My personal choices

For my personal blog, I choose to pay to upgrade my WordPress.com to michellehanton.com and for everything else I use there is the free version.

I use WordPress.org for my business blog – Dragon Sisters

I have grappled with the idea of combining the two blogs, and the jury is still out on that one. I’m torn between separating my personal and professional life, but then, on the other hand, they are so closely intertwined, many of the people I’ve met professionally have become friends and similarly, those who I have been friends with have become clients.

These days business is a lot less formal than when I first started my career and as I always tells everyone, it’s all about people connecting with people. I guess I just might combine the two into one blog, but on the other hand, maybe my friends don’t want to read about the business stuff.

I’m in a bit of a dilemma!

Love to have your feedback in helping me make this decision. Leave me a comment below or send me an email with your thoughts.

Michelle

 

 

Memory Monday #2 – In the Air

We’ve dug through our archives to bring you this article for Memory Monday – something light and uplifting.

When a Dragon Sister mentioned going on holiday to Venice and a luxury cruise, I thought, ‘Well that’s OK for some. Some of us have a job to hold down, a family to hold together and myriad obstacles to abandoning all responsibility in favour of racking off on some self-indulgent girls-only jolly!!’

However, where there’s a will, there’s a way; and the more I thought about it, the more I thought: “I will!!”  Mindful of the fact that it may well be a very long time before I ever make a dash for Dragon Sisterly debauchery on this scale again, I kept a little travelogue of all the happy happenings along the way.

‘Jetting off’ to Europe has a connotation of speed, glamour, pizzazz about it, which in the interests of honesty, I have to say is a far cry from reality. The trip from here to there in cattle class is more akin to a slow boat to China but is it ever worth it!!

Oz – Dubai:   A 14 hour flight with Emirates Air manned (bizarrely) by an entirely Spanish cabin crew. I discover early on that my movie gubbins are not working and I finally give up the ghost after being pinged back to the beginning of Benjamin Button for the 3rd time.

The steward who promised to check it out vanishes without a trace. Which doesn’t matter since it is obviously a technical problem only fixable by NASA and handsome as this Spaniard is, he seems more at home with the coffee pot than mission control.

Speaking of which, the coffee is curiously scarce, being served a la Manuel chez Fawlty Towers in the middle of the meal. The options are (especially if you’re slow with your nose bag) to drink coffee before your main course, cold at end of your meal, or do without. I ask one trolley dolly “will you be back with coffee?” She says “No!!” but smiles prettily before whipping away the precious pot. And, obviously, don’t hold your breath for a refill – because you’ll need an oxygen mask before that happens!

Happily, all drinks are free except champers ($8 a glass). Sadly, I choose the white wine which is barely chilled (tepid) and if you want more than one drink you have to go on a “seek and detain” drinks trolley mission.  In short, beverage hospitality is not at all forthcoming!! Otherwise, the cabin crew are very nice in an overall charmingly inattentive way!

I have a long chat with a lovely elderly Rhodesian (now Zimbabwean) chap most of the flight. We amuse ourselves with quips about the Latin lack of alcohol and whether Basil Fawlty is in fact the captain. Total sleep managed: 2 hours.

Transit c.4 hrs Dubai, United Arab Emirates:   I find I am disappointed in the airport, having heard of it being lavish, luxurious, spacious and everything you’d expect from one of the world’s oil sheik capitals. No doubt it normally is but as luck would have it, a new airport is under construction, consequently the current terminal has us jammed in like so many sardines in transit. The only seating available is in eateries or lined up at the departure gates. Duty free shopping, taking up all available space, which is quite understandable. So, with nothing better to do, I go shopping. Alcohol is delightfully cheap and smarting from my recent in-flight depredations I purchase 1L each of Gordon’s gin and Bailey’s liqueur for a paltry AUS $46.00.  Ah, things are looking up!

Final leg Dubai-Venice 6 hrs.:   The closer I get to Venice the better everything becomes: I find myself seated next to a Brad Pitt lookalike and the movie thingo is working perfectly. I am however, too knackered to enjoy either.

I really should have slept when in the company of the aged Boer and the defunct movie, then I could have had lovely eye candy and in-flight entertainment for this leg (both featuring Brad Pitt!). How daft am I?! Instead, I move to get an extra spare seat, stretch out and manage 2 hours zeds. (Dreaming of Brad punting me down the Grand Canal, singing something soppily romantic in Italian).

Touch down!!   I arrive at Venice airport where I am met by a Dragon Sister. We jump on a bus for the 20 minute ride (which costs E3) to Piazza le Roma, Venice’s bus station. This is the end of the line for all motor vehicles. From here on you have to get about on leg power or on various modes of canal craft.

Luggage with wheels and travelling light suddenly become a crucial for the jet-lagged traveller. I’m relieved that Dragon Sisters have factored this in and it is only a 2 minute walk over only one bridge (ponte) to get to our destination, the Sofitel Venezia.

This is radically different from the tower block Sofitel Hotels I’m familiar with in Oz. It’s a lot smaller with lots of marble, chandeliers, a curving marble staircase and other-worldly bijoux charm about it. My room is decked out in antique-style decor with an en-suite bathroom and two balconies (admittedly they are the size of airline loos) overlooking the canal and the Papadopoli Gardens and pontes.

Amazingly, all vestiges of fatigue disappear. Having briefly appreciated the merits of my new home, I dump my bags and hare out the door to explore. Ciao Venezia! Here I come!!

Nowette Awl

This article originally appeared in our Dragons Sisters Newletter 2010. The Sofitel is now Hotel Papadopoli Venezia – MGallery Collection. Nowette Awl is a fairly regular participant on our trips and a closet scribbler who keeps us entertained with her takes on the trip!

If you are interested in participating on our Jollydays, drop us an email and we’ll keep you posted of the next adventures.

Who wants Uber Marketing?

Answer: Who doesn’t?!

I got this from Powered by Oxford Dictionaries • © Oxford University Press as the definition of ‘uber’:

“… denoting an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing … ”

Maybe you are an outstanding expert in your field.
Maybe your business is a supreme example for your sector.
Maybe everything about your business is totally uber – except the un-uber state of your customer engagement.

Did you see the post we shared on Facebook this morning that digital disruption has already happened?
Old Digital Marketing(1)It’s something many B2B and B2C clients are trying to get a handle on.

We know, because they ask us to help with this more than any other single Business Barrier Busting need.

The biggest challenges are:
1. What do you put up – or put out there – as your marketing messages?

2. How do you engage the interest of prospects and customers?

3. What will set you apart from the multitude of product and service toting businesses?

The answer to this is Strategic Content Marketing. And it’s not rocket science.

We do it every day, usually in the form of ghost writing, for just about every sort of platform – articles, email shots, blogs, webinars, Snagit, LinkedIn, Facebook, newsletters, advertorials etc.

Is that an unashamed plug for one of the Dragon Sisters services? Well, I am a sales person at heart, so what do you think?

This isn’t a plug though. Rather, I am sharing what I really think is a great article by Brian Honigman which explains a lot in terms of ‘how to.’ So if you’re in the mood for a Sunday read, check it out.

Hope this helps you with your marketing.
Have a super uber Sunday!
Yvonne

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.