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If you have a new business, a side business, or just a little extra hobby hustle having a plan is important. There are a ton of places on the web that offer great ways to spread the word on your new venture and to bring eyes to where ever that venture lives on the web. Spreading awareness on what you do is really a top priority but it shouldn't be the only priority. I recently spoke on a panel about financial issues and small business for the Western Mass Coaching Alliance (you can check out the info
on it here) and something that I talked about were activities or actions taken by you for the benefit of your business that is the income generating equivalent of washing your socks. To be fair I did not coin this term, it came from an old VP of mine back when I worked under the umbrella of a larger financial services firm - a lifetime ago, but it stuck.
We all have to wash our socks right - no body wants or wants to be around someone with bad feet. In business washing our socks relates to the stuff we have to do everyday, on good days and on bad. It's the minutes we spend checking and responding to emails, it's the scrolling through our rss and news feeds, and it's even filing the paperwork from yesterday. What it's not are the interactions or the direct events that lead up to the actual sale or generation of income. This is where a iron clad strategy comes into play. Washing our socks is the easy stuff and, I'm guilty of it too, sometimes the stuff that we get caught up in. It can be because we are procrastinating, maybe there is nothing new in the proverbial hopper, or maybe it's just a tough day and you don't feel like talking to anyone. You can't spend all day washing your socks though!
Compartmentalizing your day is what I use to help me stay focused and it can be as easy as an excel spreadsheet (email me if you want a free copy of my Daily Activity Tracker). I know what you are thinking, you are thinking that you already have a plan. It may even be written down and you may even be following it...kind of. Well I ask you this, for all you plan-havers, what are you doing to keep yourself from losing hours staring at the washer (your computer) and just watching your socks tumble round and round. It's more than just a plan - it's an engaging strategy you should be employing. Literally starting to keep track of everything you do during the time you allow yourself for work. After a few days, line up what your doing with our plan then you can start to see how much sock washing you are doing.
Then you can move on to bigger visual aides. I really like in your face type visuals because it forces me to stare at what I need to do and it helps to keep me honest during the day. I just made a great big blue Post-It board. It has columns for the different times I need to have tasks done: urgent (always full), short, mid, and long. It's blue so I can't miss it walking into my office and it matches the calendars I use on my phone and on my computer. That way I can never ever escape it's awesome power to keep me on task. Feel free to get creative with your own big visual aide - white boards are great for this stuff too.
My Top 5 For Getting and Staying Productive:
1. If you don't have an action plan - get one!
2. Start keeping track of everything you do during the work day. I mean everything and document times!
3. Get visual and get visual in lots of places. Big vibrant colors, smartphone calendars, even a Post-It Note on the bathroom mirror.
4. Get organized - set up times for checking email, filing, and activities relating to bringing in income and don't forget your break times.
5. At the end of everyday make time to re-cap what happened that day. Debrief by yourself or with a team - what works, what didn't, and what needs to be worked on tomorrow.
If you don't have a business plan there's no reason not to get started here. Just focus on what your mission is or what your goals are at the highest levels are. Why are you doing what you are doing? Then start to break out what you need to do every day to get you where you want to to be. Make sure you put time in for all you PR and Social Media, the washing of your socks, and most importantly those things that directly generate income. No one likes stinky feet so make sure you don't lose hours to the interweb distraction monster.