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Screen shot 2012-12-16 at · Dec 16 @ 4.39.32 PM

This weekend feels so strange… not really the weekend before Christmas but I am definitely feeling the pressure of heading into the week before Christmas. Because let’s be realistic; there will not be a lot of people working next Monday. It is basically an upcoming 4-day weekend with the celebration of Christmas. In fact, each time I look at the calendar, I think, “gosh it is almost Christmas!” It is coming so quickly!

Have you been feeling this, too?

Therefore, this was a weekend of preparation. That is how I spent my holiday celebration time of which I have been blogging for the past 2 weeks.

Day 14: Friday: Made plans for Christmas Eve. Wanted to be certain I had a plan. I will be staying in the city this year and not returning to Rochester to my family’s so for me it was important to have a plan. Which church service was I attending, what volunteer work would I be doing, where would I celebrate with friends before church? All the details got worked out. Plan in place.

Day 15: Saturday: A beautiful day in NYC. Warmish for this time of year and a day that I had set aside entirely for fun. No work. Just “me time”. That “me time” included the most relaxing walk through NOHO and SOHO- looking in store windows with all holiday items displayed in the window. So much creativity and happiness everywhere. Plus, the walk was with my best friend who I had not seen since before the Hurricane due to all kinds of obstacles so this was just a wonderful, leisurely holiday celebration.

Day 16: Sunday: Since I decided not to send all my hundreds of holiday cards this year, I wanted to make a mini-plan for holiday greetings and beyond. Sitting quietly with a cup of coffee, I wrote a mini-list of family members who deserved a holiday greeting from me- regardless of the fact that my work life is so uber-busy that I determined that I would not be sending out cards.  I decided that family members would be the exception.  I then made a list of friends and clients who I wanted to be certain to celebrate. That list will be tackled after the New Year with a deliberate sit-down in a coffee shop to write individual notes to each one. I would rather sent a heart-felt note to wish them a Happy New Year than a generic holiday greeting just to get it in under the wire of December 31. Hopefully, they will all feel the same!

Now, we head into the week before Christmas. Wow.

Be Merry and Bright!

Screen shot 2012-12-16 at · Dec 16 @ 4.39.00 PM

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  • How do you currently use your calendar?
  • What categories do you prioritize on your calendar?
  • How often do you update them?
  • Are there areas of your business where you feel you are just losing time?

Keep these answers close because over the next 5 weeks we are going to focus on 5 main areas of calendar planning: Client Time, Sales Time, Promotion Time, Networking Time and Personal Time. But you will want to use this process for other categories we don’t discuss and these answers will be critical to your success.

So take out your calendar- paper, electronic, wall, flipchart or blank piece of paper and get ready to plan! You cannot do this wrong and PLEASE whatever you do, don’t wait for the perfect calendar before you begin.

This week, we start with Client Time!

When I define “Client Time” I mean time spent in appointments with paying clients or time spent working on paying client projects- depending on your business model. Notice I said paying clients. This category is not about complimentary sessions, probono work or pre-work you are doing for clients in hope that they will sign with you.

Very clear cut, right?

Now here are a few questions that I want you to answer honestly.

  • How many clients do you have currently?
  • How many hours a month do you devote to each client?
  • Is that broken into phone sessions, project sessions, in-person meetings or some other form of work time?
  • How many clients is a “full practice” or “full slate”?
  • Where is the gap?

You will want to plan your calendar for the number of clients you plan to have when you are at full capacity. NOT for the number you have now. Our goal is to block out time on your calendar to service those clients—all of those clients- even the ones you do not have yet.  But first, a few more questions:

  • What time of day is the best time to reach those clients? Daytime-evening-early morning?
  • What part of the week is best? Weekdays, Weekends, Mondays?
  • Are your clients spread out amongst many time zones?
  • When do YOU like to speak to clients?
  • When do you feel most focused and effective at your client work?
  • Are their deadlines or meetings that have to be accounted for because they affect the client work?

At first you might need to try various combinations of time blocks to settle into the one that works best for you. In fact, I can guarantee that you will need to.

For example, early on in my business I put time on my calendar every day to work with clients. They were spread out throughout the week and I did not have enough clients to actually fill all the time. The result for me, and of course this is just for me, is that I felt unfocused. I never got on a roll. Now, I create chunks of time three days a week to speak to clients.  When I am speaking to them, I am on a roll… talking about planning and strategy.

If you have client work to do- copywriting, project planning, graphic design, etc- choose a time when you can remain focused and ideally this is NOT time when you could be on the phone with potential clients or clients. (You’ll learn more on that next week.)  I use the early mornings and block off a large chunk of time (ex: 6 am to 12 pm) a couple days a week based on how many projects I am tackling. From a creative standpoint, I am fresher in the morning, can work faster and more effectively and can get a lot done before my west coast clients ever hit their desks. For some of my entrepreneurial friends, they get started with all that creativity after dinner.

Tip: I put a little time between clients on my calendar in case I run over. But more importantly, so I can breathe a little and clear my head between each intense session. This was learned the hard way. Believe me! And it works wonderfully for client work in addition to appointments.

Tip: All that time you created for the full practice but are not using? No worries. Next week when we talk about “Sales Time” we will find a use for that time.

 

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I’ve been duped!

Okay, not really. And it was certainly not intentional. However…..

One of the secrets to the business planning and calendaring system I use for my business and of course, share with my clients is to have several days a week set aside for focusing solely on my writing, client work, sales calls and client calls. Then, there are days that are jam-packed with face-to-face encounters, cups of coffee and client meetings.

Bryn’s Translation: Days I need to get out of yoga pants, shower, put on makeup and fix my hair and days that I do not.

Now taking a step back, I will tell you that I have operated this way both as an entrepreneur and a corporate executive. On the last 2-3 years of my corporate life, I had an office in Manhattan about 100 blocks from where I live but I would often (alright, almost always) work from home anyway. A kind of reward for all the crazy,  “road warrior- style “ travel I would take on most of the year. When I could be in NYC, I would rather be in my apartment multi-tasking, conducting endless conference calls until all hours of the night and YES- wearing yoga pants.

The running joke amongst a few of my similarly-situated corporate girlfriends involved a comparison of how late in the day we actually showered (if at all). It was a “roll out of bed and get working” situation that usually ended with the sun going down while we were still running our multi-million dollar projects. I called that freedom.

Well, here I am running my own business. I am CEO, CTO, CMO and CAO all wrapped into one. And it is fabulous! In my company, the dress policy for those writing/phone call days is yoga pants, t-shirts, and colored pumas. It is again that “roll out of bed and get working” sort of creative environment that I thrive in!

One day last week, I planned to meet face-to-face with a client to work on his career strategy (a real passion of mine- because I get to combine years of recruiting knowledge with social media and networking strategies!). I jumped out of bed super early, wrote three social media plans for other clients and then hopped in the shower to get ready for our meeting. Dressed and looking pretty darn put together, I got back on the computer to find that my client is sick. Poor guy.  Time to reschedule because he is kind enough not to spread his germs to me.

But wait! I was all dressed with nowhere to go. Gosh it felt strange to be sitting there at my desk with no face-to-face meetings to attend and yet hair done and make up on. So I decided to make connection calls-connection calls that turned out to be fabulous connection calls.

Oh… you can see where this is going….

Yes, I felt animated, pretty and put-together (and could it be… a little more confident?) showered and dressed in my “client clothes” and not my “writing clothes”.  Darn. I operated for so long believing that jumping out of bed- not bothering to shower for many hours- just producing work at the speed of light as soon as coffee was in hand and feet hit the floor was what really worked for me. But I now see that my ways of operating may need to change.

I still 100% believe in categorizing activities and clustering them so that you remain on a roll creatively. And I still believe in the comfort and creativity that yoga pants and fun colored pumas allows me.  However, maybe jumping out of bed and starting to work without showering, makeup or decent looking hair is not the optimal motivational situation in my business.

The only thing we can count on in business is change, right?

I never would have guessed the power of the shower

 

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