Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category

7 Easy Steps to Get Your Calendar Ready and Rarin’ to Go for 2014

Get Your Calendar Ready for 2014

Have you gotten your calendar ready for 2014?

It’s not too late. In fact, if today is an admin day for you like it is for me, this is a perfect time to get ‘er done and only takes a few minutes.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Block out all holidays for the year. Be sure to block out any extra days as well (e.g., two days for Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve).
  2. Block out all personal days for the year that you plan to be closed (e.g., birthdays, anniversaries).
  3. Block out known vacation dates (or weeks that you intend to take off).
  4. Block out any known business events, trainings, conferences, etc., you plan to attend. Steps 1-4 before anything else is important because taking care of you and your business is always first priority. You can’t take great care of anyone else unless you first take great care of yourself. I’m also an advocate for taking plenty of time off from your business. The more time you take to recharge your energy and creativity, the better your business and clients are for it.
  5. Next, block out your Admin Days for the year. An Admin Day is the one day of the week you devote strictly to your business and personal development.
  6. Then, block out your Client Meeting days/times for the year. For example, Tuesday is the day of the week I use for my weekly retainer client meetings. Each client gets a one-hour time slot, same time each week. I established this practice when I realized how much more difficult it was for me to dive into work as well as maintain work momentum when I had meetings scattered over the course of the week. I’m much more productive when I know I don’t have any other appointments looming over my head and won’t be interrupted.
  7. Rinse and repeat for your clients (if you happen to help organize their calendars).

Standards Are Determined by You, Not Anyone Else

Standards are determined by you, not anyone else.

It’s pretty presumptuous and egocentric of someone else looking in to question why you’re working when they think you shouldn’t be.

As long as you are working on YOUR terms, by YOUR choice, it’s none of anyone else’s business when, where, how or why you are working.

Take the single mom. I can’t even imagine anymore (since my own daughter is grown now) the difficulties those with little ones still to raise have in growing and operating their business. Mad respect to her because she has responsibilities and timing that can’t be moved around at whim or done according to when someone else says she should or shouldn’t be working.

So, someone in that position might find, in the course of making it all work in her family, that she just does better working predominately at night or on the weekends. Hey, it’s not forever and no one ever said building a business would be easy or that you wouldn’t have to make some sacrifices along the way.

And that’s okay if that’s what she is doing by choice and what works for her.

Now, on the other hand, if you do find yourself feeling compelled to work beyond what you would choose to (long hours, nights, weekends, all your free time) due to extrinsic forces, and your business is running you instead of you running your business, that’s when an examination of your standards, boundaries, policies and operations will help you reclaim control of your life and become more at choice.

For example, you may be taking on the wrong clients and kinds of work.

You might be trying to be too much like an in-house assistant and working with clients like an employee instead of providing strategic—not daily—support as an independent consultant.

Perhaps your policies and procedures are not well-developed and you are letting clients determine those things instead of you.

Perhaps improving the communication about your standards, protocols, boundaries, the way things work and what procedures they should be following, etc., (such as with a client guide and/or new client orientation) and being more deliberate in communicating those things would help your client relationships and work go more smoothly.

Perhaps you are not charging enough which is forcing you to take on too much work in order to make ends meet, which in turn is taking away time for your life.

Perhaps you need to simplify and uncomplicate your administration and operations so that those things don’t overburden your time and attention.

Maybe you like working nights and weekends because it’s when you choose to on occasion, but sending communications at all hours is giving clients the wrong impression that they can impose on you beyond regular business hours. If that’s the case, making adjustments such as when you reply, scheduling your replies for certain hours, or even delaying replies a certain amount of time so as to manage their understandings and expectations will help keep clients from crowding you and overstepping boundaries.

It doesn’t matter when you work. Productivity and inspiration can’t be imposed or “managed.” They can only be facilitated.

What matters is that you are at choice and have the infrastructure and flexibility that allows you to follow your own energies and inspiration and harness them most effectively for you.

3 Simple Things You Can Do in a Day to Get Your 2013 Off to an Organized Start

Three easy things you can do in a day to get your 2013 off to an organized start:

1. Get your calendar (and/or that of your clients) in order. Add holidays, vacations and other planned or desired days off. Mark off your Admin Day, Meeting Day and/or any other regularly scheduled meetings for the whole year. Add any known events (e.g., conferences, trade shows, seminars, trainings, etc.) that you’d like or are planning to attend. Mark off anything else that you know off that you need to reserve or create time and space for and that you don’t want anything else conflicting or interfering with.

2. Clean out your emails and folders. Archive old messages and folders. Create new folders for 2013. (Tip: When in doubt about whether to delete something, think of it like this: If you haven’t dealt with it for nearly a year, you’re never going to look at it again so just purge. You’ll never miss it and you will feel LOADS lighter.)

3. Clean out and organize your paper file drawers and computer files. Create new folders for 2013. Get rid of as much paper as you can, only keeping what really needs to be printed and/or what is most convenient to be read in printed form.

Bonus Tip #4:  Add this to-do to your calendar in November or December so you’ll be sure to have this done again before 2014 comes around.

Today Is a Great Day to Prep Your 2013 Calendar for Freedom and Success

One of the ways to facilitate your freedom and success is to be prepared for it. That means taking charge of your time by being conscious about all that you have on your plate and creating space for important actions, events and goals. Your calendar is the starting point for this and now is the perfect time to get yours ready for 2013!

1. Block out all your “off” days. For example, Mondays are my “business days” where I am officially closed. I don’t do any client work; instead, I focus on taking care of my own business and use that time for administration and planning. I shade out that time because it makes me conscious about not making any appointments on that day.

2. Block out holidays. Go through the year and block out any holidays you plan to be closed.

3. Block out vacations. If you know in advance of any vacations you plan to take off, block those out as well to ensure you don’t schedule anything on those days.

4. Block out your breaks and lunches. This might seem silly and unnecessary, especially since we business owners can eat or take a break any time we like. But if you are someone who has difficulty maintaining boundaries, these can serve as daily reminders to be conscious about taking care of yourself. It’s important—you can’t take excellent care of others unless you first take excellent care of yourself.

5. Carry over regular meetings. Review this year’s calendar. If you have regular weekly or monthly meetings, be sure and carry-over and repeat them through 2013. Perhaps you have a weekly call with your business coach on Tuesdays at 3pm and a monthly board meeting at 1pm on the third Wednesday of every month. Get all of these regularly scheduled appointments on your calendar for the entire year.

6. Add known events
. Are there trade shows, conferences, training or other events you plan to attend? Be sure and add them to your calendar and it will help support your intention.

7. Mark important dates. Are there client birthdays, anniversaries or other important dates you want to remember on a regular basis? Add them to your calendar!

This article was originally published in our weekly ezine on December 21, 2009.

Want to Be a Lean, Mean, Client-Supportin Mo-Chine?

All the money in the world is no good to you if you’re working all the time to earn it and have no time left with which to savor and experience life and LIVE.

Guess what? You don’t have to work from sun-up to sundown just to earn a living.

Let me show you how you can have a financially successful business with breathing room AND time for a rich life working a 3-day week. I’ve just released the self-paced, “home” version of my latest class Power Productivity and Biz Management for Administrative Consultants.

But don’t let the name fool you. This is NOT another “how to stuff more hours and more work into your already over-stuffed, over-crowded, overwhelming day” productivity courses.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Instead, I show you how to do LESS so that you can not only provide BETTER support to your clients and earn better doing it, but also how to have more time for your own life.

One of the reasons I gave the class originally and subsequently now provide it as a self-study system is because over the last year I was hearing from countless people in my Laser Mentoring Sessions about how they were working round the clock, often with tons of clients, yet still barely earning a living.

And life? What’s that? lol. They had absolutely nothing left for themselves much less time to live or experience any of the reasons they went into business in the first place.

The strategies, concepts and step-by-step systems in my new guide are the same ones I use in my own practice and teach others about in my laser mentoring sessions.

Just the other day, I heard from one woman I started working in my Laser Mentoring Sessions several months ago:

“I wanted to connect with you and let you know that because of you, I am a much happier person. You remember how ragged, tired and worn out I was when we had that interview a few months ago? Well, I am now working about 1/3 the time, if that, and making more money (not at 6 figures yet, but have that goal in the forecast). I am more confident (still have a ways to go, of course), but I am seeing some successes and feeling great about the direction that my business is taking! I have goals and plans to do more, but I’m baby-stepping for now. Don’t want to take on too much, too fast, and wind up right back where I was. I hope you can feel how appreciative I am!”

You, too, can get the simple systems which you can implement QUICKLY and EASILY to transform your business into a lean, mean, client-supporting mo-chine that takes better care of clients and creates more value while allowing you to work only 3 days a week, making more money and having more time for life.

Check it out here >>

Do You Never Have Time for Your Life? Want to Stop Being a Substitute Employee?

If you are so deeply involved and entrenched in managing your client’s day-to-day business, you will never have time for your own life, much less your own business and working with other clients.

Even if you’ve been conned into believing that’s the only way to charge higher fees, who gives a crap if you will never have the kind of freedom and flexibility to enjoy it!

The thinking that you aren’t valuable enough being an administrative expert and strategic partner to clients (and not a substitute employee they don’t pay taxes on) arises from a deep-seated lack of professional self-esteem. The sharks in our industry who want you to buy into their certification programs and clients who want to take advantage exploit these self-sabotaging beliefs for their own gain.

But you don’t need to take on a bigger role to be valuable (especially roles that aren’t your place to be taking on anyway as an independent professional).

What you need is to improve your professional self-esteem, learn to better understand and articulate your value, and for God’s sake, stop working with clients who are just trying to turn you into an employee they don’t pay taxes on. (The coaching, Internet marketing and real estate industries are notorious for this.)

You’re probably thinking “that sounds wonderful, but how on earth can I stop working with clients at their daily beck and call and still HAVE clients and make money?”

Oh, my dear, you’ve been fed such a load of BS by this industry. What I could show you will spin your world right around!

It all starts with how you manage your business and workload. Let me show you how you can work with clients as a strategic partner ( NOT a substitute employee), take fantastic care of them AND have more time for your life while doing it.

My class on August 22 will show you exactly how to manage your clients and workload so the right understandings and expectations are set right from the get-go, and you have more space around the work and more time for your life on a daily basis. Check it out here.

POLL: Would you like more free time in your business and life?

I have a new class coming up in August on the topic of biz management and productivity. I’ve set up my business in a way that not only allows me to provide fantastic client support, but I always have time for my life. With rare exception, I’m never working like a slave everyday, I’m not scrambling to get things done or keep up with my workload, and I have a tremendous amount of time for my life, vastly more than I see most other people in our industry having. I make more money than 90% of those in our industry AND I’m not working with clients like a substitute employee to earn it.

So, this class is a way to share with others how I have things set up so that they, too, can have this kind of biz and lifestyle… so they are working to live rather than living to work.

As a follower of my blog, you know that I give a ton of information and mentoring away for free. So I’d like to ask you for a favor in return. Whether or not you plan to attend this class, I’d like to know if this class piques your interest or not and whether it’s a topic you are interested in.

This is a completely anonymous survey so I don’t know who answers what. However, if you wouldn’t mind sharing with me where the trouble spots are when it comes to productivity and managing your biz and client expectations and the like, it would be very helpful to me as well and I would very much appreciate your assistance (I won’t post your comments so you can share freely). 🙂

Power Productivity and Biz Management for the Administrative Consultant

Okay, gang, class is ON!

I’m holding the Power Productivity and Biz Management for the Administrative Consultant intensive clinic on August 22, 2012. This will be a one day, two hour session where I’ll share with you all my tricks and tips for effectively managing a full retained client practice for FANTABULOUS client care and greater freedom, flexibility and time for your own LIFE.

Registration is $147, but register now and you’ll pay only $97.

Check out the registration page for the full details!

Being of Service

What does being of service really mean?

So often, I see Administrative Consultants thinking it means being “instant assistants” and working with clients as if they were employees. They make unrealistic (and ultimately undeliverable) promises of “24 hour” and “on-demand” service.

Being of service—true service—means being able to deliver consistently and dependably at a humanly sustainable pace. Listen, you aren’t going to be of service to anyone running around like a chicken with its head cut off, all stressed out and making mistake after mistake due to being hurried and harried and not giving yourself enough “space” to breathe and think clearly.

That’s exactly where you’ll end up attempting to be an “instant assistant,” bending over backwards trying to impossibly meet every constant demand. That thinking lacks foresight, business sense, and just plain doesn’t work.

What does work is being intentional in your business. What does that mean? It means examining your business, bringing every process, system and action to conscious thought, and making sure each contributes to your ability to deliver long-term, value-rich, purposeful, consistently reliable service.

Why are you doing things the way you do? What are your systems? How do your processes facilitate your workflow? In the big picture, do they allow you to run a dependable, sustainable practice? Do they contribute to your service and consistent dependability to clients? What systems, policies, processes and flows will? What ineffective policies and processes do you need to say “no” to in order to deliver bigger value and superior long-term service?

Being a great service provider doesn’t mean killing yourself. Being a great solo professional service provider means being a conscious business owner and effective (not instant) manager of your client workload.

(originally posted February 24, 2007)

Dear Danielle: This Client Just Won’t Change

Dear Danielle:

I’m wondering if you have any ideas on how to work with clients who are resistant to the changes you want to implement. I have a great client (also my biggest client) who seems to want to stay on an hourly model where I feel like an employee (which we all know is not the ideal arrangement). I keep trying to implement systems to make billing more efficient so I don’t have to hunt down piecemeal information from him on a constant basis just to generate some client invoices for him. He just will not do it. Aside from that, we have a really great rapport so even though he’s getting to the stage where he will need to hire an in-office assistant, I’d like to keep our relationship for the bigger items that help him run his business efficiently. I just can’t seem to find a way to get him to see my point. —KI

Omigosh, I can so relate to your question. I’ve had clients like this myself. I think we all have at one time or another. The signs aren’t always obvious, no matter how well we conduct our consultations. Sometimes, it just takes working together a bit before this kind of issue becomes more clear.

This is an issue that really boils down to growth, fit and working with ideal/unideal clients.

If you will indulge me for moment, I’d like to muse just a bit.

When we’re new in business, we often take on any clients we can get.

As we grow in our business, we begin to learn and become more clear and conscious about what we like and what we don’t like, as well as who we like to work with (and work best with) and who is… uh… more challenging, shall we say, lol.

As a result, the clients we take on later in our business look very different from the clients we had back when we were just starting out.

Sometimes those early “starter” clients stay and grow right along with us through the years. This is always awesome!

And then there are some clients we outgrow for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s because we brought them on with unsustainable practices and expectations and as we improve upon our operations, policies, standards, boundaries and raise our rates to be in more alignment with our value and financial needs, those clients balk, resist and leave.

That’s perfectly fine. I like to call those “practice clients” and they really did help you learn more about yourself and your business and to grow. So bless them and let them be on their way (or, ahem, be proactive and politely show them the door) because when you hang on to clients who no longer fit, they take up double, even triple, the space and prevent your more ideal clients from coming into your life.

This client is sounding like someone who is no longer a fit, no longer ideal for you. I have had clients like this myself. They say they want and need the help and are open to your ideas, but then never want to implement any of them or refuse to make any necessary changes. This, of course, makes things more difficult and time-consuming (not to mention, frustrating!) when they abjectively refuse to use better or even proper technology tools or make shifts in how they do things.

As a consequence, they also just never seem to grow or evolve. It’s extremely difficult to be or stay energized with clients like that. They just keep doing the same old things and getting the same old results.

If you continue working with that kind of client, it really just becomes an exercise in treading water, going through the motions. You lose all motivation for looking out for improvements or contributing ideas for their business because they have shown that they just aren’t interested. Why should you keep wasting your time and energy, right? It’s de-energizing and demoralizing and you get no joy or satisfaction when you are deprived of being able to contribute in these ways.

It’s always a delicate dance we have with clients. We want to care and help our clients do amazing things or make amazing strides. We’re just wired like this. But you can’t care more about their business than they do themselves. We can offer ideas and make suggestions, but ultimately, it’s the client’s business, not ours, and they are the ones who get to decide what they want to do and what they don’t. If someone is just not interested in changing how they do things, there isn’t anything you can do to change their mind. And it’s just not worth the aggravation trying, trust me.

And, to be clear, these aren’t awful people. Like you say, you two have a great rapport. It’s entirely possible to have a client with a great personality and with whom you get along great, beyond their stubborn inability to make improvements or do anything differently. I’ve had clients like that as well. What we didn’t have was a business relationship that energized me and made it a joy to work with them. It’s not all about the money, as we all know.

This is why it’s always a good idea to choose clients carefully through our consultation process and to let clients go if/when they are no longer a fit.

So, you have to let go of the idea that you are going to change this client. It just isn’t going to happen. And you need to decide if you are okay with that and working in your current “comfortably numb” going-through-the-motions kind of way. If it wasn’t bugging you, though, my guess is you wouldn’t be writing this question to me. My guess is you also need or are afraid of losing the income, which is why you haven’t nicely let this client go yet.

It’s all well and good to tell people to let go of clients who are no longer a fit. And that’s absolutely my best advice. But I know that it’s easier said than done. You have bills to pay and mouths to feed, after all. I get that. So here’s a practical way to grow toward that conclusion if that’s the direction you want to take.

  1. Continue to formally document and get conscious about your standards, policies, boundaries and ideal/unideal clients. Put those things in writing. Keep honing and adding to them (this will be ongoing throughout the entire life of your business). AND be sure to INFORM clients what those rules, boundaries, policies and procedures are. This is where your New Client Welcome Guide comes in.
  2. As you grow, you can implement those new standards and policies incrementally. Send out a blanket email to all your clients, informing clients as soon a possible about any change. People do much better with change when they are kept informed. But do not overly explain or have belabored personal conversations with each individual client. Simply inform and let them know you look forward to continuing to work and grow together. The choice is theirs beyond that. When you take out the invitation to conversation, clients actually react better to these changes and accept them as a matter of course. It’s when we think we need to overly explain things that they (perhaps unconsciously) get the idea that your changes are open for debate.
  3. Whenever you up your game, elevate standards and make changes, expect that you will lose some clients. You will never grow if you stay stuck doing things or working with people who don’t energize you. What may surprise you is that many of your clients will congratulate you and wonder why you hadn’t done this sooner. 😉
  4. When it comes to things like pricing, give clients plenty of notice (30 to 60 days days minimum). This gives you time to gauge which clients might be considering leaving, and put additional effort in bringing on new clients to replace any outgoing ones. And, of course, bring on all new clients at your new fee levels, standards and policies.
  5. Fear-based decision making is never a good idea or good advice. But that doesn’t make it any less of a reality. So in a worst case scenario, when you absolutely can’t risk losing the income and you have the room, there is always the option to maintain the status quo with current clients and instead put all your focus and energy into bringing on new, ideal clients at your new standards and rates. This will put you in more of a position of financial choice. Then, for each new client you bring on, let go of an unideal client. Do this one by one until you have replaced your roster with more ideal, better-fitting clients.
  6. I also suggest you purchase my Value-Based Pricing & Packaging Toolkit. In the videos and the workbook, I show you how to talk about value-based fees and what to point out to clients so they see and understand the benefits to them of working this way.

And moving forward:

  • Stop calling yourself an assistant. Another of the benefits I’ve found since using the term Administrative Consultant is that there’s more of an immediate respect, openness and even an expectation for my ideas and directions. As a consultant, people inherently understand that you have expertise and therefore expect that your suggestions are valuable contributions to make their business better. It’s a completely different framing and context they have as opposed to how they view you when you call yourself an assistant. And as a business owner, you aren’t an assistant anyway. 😉
  • Along with being a business owner and not an assistant, understand that there are some things in your business that you get to tell clients. You can’t be in business to use old, ineffective, archaic methods and technology or do things in the most difficult, time-consuming, inefficient and complicated ways. That’s counter-productive to your business and the other clients you serve. So remember, that you always get to inform clients that, no, that’s not how you do things in your business or for clients. There are going to be some tools or ways of doing things that aren’t negotiable, that you get to direct. For example, does a client get to walk into a print shop and tell them what tools they are to use, how to do the work or what information they will supply? Of course not. Every business, including yours, has ways of doing things, has certain information they need from clients, certain current methods, systems and technology they use to be most productive, efficient and effective and so they can do their best work and achieve the best results. You can’t start working in the dark ages just because one client can’t adapt. Clients can either get on-board with progress or find someone else. 😉

Remember, too, that your growth in business is always a good thing for clients because ultimately it helps you help them better. And your positive growth in your standards, policies, systemization, etc., is actually a model and encouragement for those clients who are stuck themselves in their businesses.