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Posts Tagged ‘getting back on track’

Making Procrastination Work FOR You

Positive procrastination

Be honest: how often do you find yourself with too much to-do list at the end of your day? I think this happens to a lot of us. And, according to Jon Acuff, author of Finish, it’s one of the things that keeps us stuck, prevents us from finishing the important things – large and small – in life. We started, but we didn’t get it done – on time, perfectly, as well as our sister-in-law would do it – so we quit entirely. Throw in the towel. Well, I’ve failed again. Why even keep going?

Just in case you’re wondering – this is a bald-faced lie your ego tells you to keep you safely inside your comfort zone. Because guess what – growing is uncomfortable. Progress is challenging. Finishing stretches muscles we may not have used in a long time. And our ego is right there to reassure us that giving up this time is OK because we really didn’t want to write that book, get that speaking gig, or plant that garden anyway. We can always get overpriced organic food at the store.

In Finish, Acuff recommends making procrastination our friend. If your goal is to finish your novel by the end of the year, you’re probably going to have to give up – or put off – some stuff that you’ve been doing while you’ve been not writing your novel. They could be smallish things – like turning the TV off – or they could be bigger things like stepping back from your leadership role – or membership in – a favorite group or club.

This doesn’t mean you’ll never do these things again, just that you’re not doing them – or as much off them – right now.

Acuff’s term is bombing some things to make way for other things. I think of it as leveraging procrastination as a tool for the good! Here’s an example. Our car was a mess. Almost-rainstorms in Phoenix create a muddy muck on the exterior of any car not garaged when the mist that spits from the sky is followed by a fine dusting of desert sand. Bonus design points when your cat walks all over the car leaving a mad paw-print motif.

catprints on car

I asked my husband to take responsibility for getting the car cleaned and replacing the windshield wipers today. He told me last night that that sounded like a reasonable one-day to-do list. Then he woke up this morning not feeling well. So I offered to go get him some grapefruit juice and chicken noodle soup. It just so happens that the auto parts store and the carwash are on the way to the grocery store. So I stopped, thinking, Since John’s not going to get this done today and I’m right here, I may as well just do it myself. Mind you, the whole reason I asked him to do these chores was to take some of the load off of my plate so I could get other things done.

This is a scenario where employing procrastination would have really worked in my favor. Could I live one more day with a dirty car? Of course! Did the windshield wipers need to be replaced today? As far as I’m aware, we’re not due a torrential monsoon storm tonight – so, no. The wipers weren’t an emergency. Oh – and while I was at the carwash, I decided to vacuum out the back because I was already at the carwash, right?

I think there’s a fine line between overcoming procrastination of the lazy, “I’ll just do it tomorrow” variety – and knowing when the thing you’re taking time to do today is actually a distraction or hindrance to your progress and process and would better be put off till another day or time.

How can/do you use procrastination as a tool for the good in your life? We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

Laura

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Building a platform from the ground up

OK. You likely noticed that I’ve been away for a while. Turns out two blog challenges in a row – one as a participant and one as the host – kicked my ass. I was a little tired in early July and just decided to take a couple weeks off. Then, I had a wholly unexpected allergic reaction to some lavender oil, and it set me on butt for an additional month. Headaches. Very pretty bumps on my face. Sleeplessness and ensuing exhaustion. I did just enough work to meet client needs, and even that was slow and cumbersome. I don’t recommend such an experience to anyone.

I’ve been touching my toes back in the social media waters these last couple weeks and finally feel it’s time to get back to my blog – which I love. I have missed being a part of things! So, here’s the first thing to come to mind.

Laura

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I have a new client who came to me as a referral – a new author. Her book is a 122,000-word World War II romance. She was seeking information/help with publishing it. In our first conversation, we discussed print options as well as eBook distribution. Since her primary goal was just to “get the book out there,” she decided to go for the simpler eBook option to start. To save her the money and effort involved in formatting/layout for each individual platform, we went with the one-size-fits-all Smashwords for distribution.

Smashwords is a good solution for an all-text book like a novel. It does not work as well, however, for books that incorporate any sort of graphics or variation in headings/font sizes. All we had to do was design a cover, fully justify the text, remove the page numbers, slip it into a Word ’97-2003 doc format, and it was good to go. Uploading it to Smashwords took a matter of minutes, and voila – there it sits. Ready and waiting for people to come and buy it. Keyword: WAITING.

This is virtually every new author’s dilemma. The book is done – now how the hell do I get the readers-cum-buyers to show up?

It was an especially challenging question for my client, because she had zero  online presence. I am NOT exaggerating. No mailing list. No blog. No website. No Facebook. No Twitter. No LinkedIn. No social media of any kind. She has a computer which she used for writing her book, and she has email. That’s it. So we are literally starting at the bottom to build her an online presence.

While there are many different paths to the same end goal – marketing her book – it was her choice to begin with blogging. I believe every author must start with the thing that is the most comfortable for them. It’s not going to do you any good if I help you build a Facebook fan page but you just don’t want to be on Facebook because you’re so uncomfortable with it.

So we set up the blog. It’s called Fox Tales, if you want to check it out – but don’t expect any posts yet. Baby steps … did I mention we’re starting from the ground floor?

Next she’ll start exploring the blog. Practice posting. And begin writing. She plans to follow my recommendations for the 6 steps to blogging success:

  1. Writing 40 to 50 posts in a ROW (weekends included) from the date of her launch.
  2. Writing quality content that is of interest to her targeted readers: lovers of historical fiction and romance.
  3. Using an image with every post.
  4. Selecting good keywords for every post.
  5. Posting on a regular schedule after the initial 40 to 50 posts.
  6. Commenting on other blogs on similar topics, and being generous with her feedback to commenters on her blog.

Will it be an uphill battle? Sure. Is it going to take a while? You bet. Can it be done? Of course!

Regardless of where you are in terms of writing or publishing your book, it’s not too soon to be thinking about marketing it! Take an honest survey of your online presence. How big is your platform, really? Your email list? Your social media contacts? Your speaking gigs? Your networking circles? Who will be clamoring to buy the book the minute it goes on sale? How excited will they be to share it with the others in their circles?

If this all scares you just a bit, that’s OK. No need to panic. Just pick up the phone and give me a call (602.518.5376) or drop me an email. The initial consultation is complimentary.

You wrote/are writing a great book. It deserves a great readership. Make sure your prospective readers have the chance to become actual readers!

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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7 tips for getting back on track after a diversion

I have a friend who recently returned from a month-long spiritual retreat in New Zealand. We met a few days after her return, and she apologized on several occasions for being a bit spacey and disconnected in her conversation. The retreat was an incredible experience for her, but returning to her busy entrepreneurial life in Phoenix was taking some adjustment. “There’s definitely a transition process – time needed to readjust and recondition myself to being here,” she explained.

Diversions are an inevitable part of life. We may have a goal (like publishing or marketing our book) and be moving along toward it quite swimmingly. Then something happens – either through our choosing or otherwise, we find ourselves going in another direction (like a 28-day blog challenge). So how do we get back on track?

Here are seven ideas that may help you refocus and get back in alignment with your original path.

  1. Reassess your goals. Perhaps in the diversion, you’ve found that you want to realign your goals. Maybe on reviewing them, you see that a few need reprioritizing. Just as it’s hard to get where you’re going without a map (or GPS), you won’t meet any of your goals if you don’t know what they are. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with changing them!
  2. Take it slowly. Don’t expect to be back up to full speed in an instant. Give yourself some time to get back into the swing of things.
  3. Give yourself a break. It’s really easy to become our own worst enemy by setting unreasonable expectations and then dumping on ourselves when we don’t achieve them. Yes – there’s a difference between stumbling a little to get back on track and simply avoiding the track altogether. As long as you’re making an effort, give yourself the credit you deserve.
  4. Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating properly, sleeping enough, and getting regular exercise. It’s unreasonable to demand superior performance from a body that’s receiving shoddy treatment, so make sure you do the things your body needs to stay healthy.
  5. Create – or review – your vision board and affirmations. Images help anchor your goals and make them immediately real. If you’ve already got a vision board, take some time to look it over and let it reenergize you. Review your affirmations. All those dreams are still waiting – they just need you to reconnect with them to get the energy flowing again.
  6. Ask for support. Accountability is one of the best ways to see your goals through to completion. First set realistic deadlines for them. Then find someone who will check in with you periodically to make sure you’re staying on track. Whether that’s a life coach, a fellow author, or your best friend – knowing they’ll be asking about your progress is sometimes all it takes to reignite the success fire.
  7. Celebrate the victories. As you begin to cross things off your to-do list or make progress with your micromovements, celebrate each one! Little victories pave the way for bigger, better things to come.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts July 18 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (7/18/12); Week 2: Twitter (7/25/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (8/1/12); Week 4: Pinterest (8/8/12); Week 5: SlideShare (8/15/12); Week 6: YouTube (8/22/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (8/29/12); Week 8: Ning (9/5/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (9/12/12); Blogging 2 (9/19/12).

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