Let’s Get ANTI-social! Remove distractions so you can get in your zone.

The 15 Day Freedom Blog Challenge for today is to block distractions! Wow, that’s a hard one. Let’s see…my biggest distractions are the husband, the kid, and the dog. I don’t think there’s an app for any of those distractions! LOL

I already use noise-cancelling headphones to get in my zone with Spotify. I spend my days working hard while jamming away to Lecrae, Toby Mac or the Newsboys usually. That helps to block out most of the distractions around me that I can’t otherwise control.

The dog needing to go outside is ok, because that forces me to take a break now and then. When he gets in a “let’s bark at everything” mood the headphones again save the day.

So the one big distraction for me that CAN be controlled beyond that is Facebook. I don’t know how many times I am truly in the zone and all of a sudden I realize I have just wasted 20 minutes on Facebook. Then I’ll stop and ask myself WHY was I even there? Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don’t. Usually its because I wanted to share something cool, or often because I needed to go to Facebook for a client, either to send a message or to log in as them or post something to their business page. Instead I spot the top item on my newsfeed, and I like it or comment on it or scroll down… well you know the rest of that story!

Facebook distraction

Hmm…so I can probably find a way to prevent myself going to Facebook at all. Heck, I could do like some folks and just delete my whole account. Lol But that’s not a very good solution when you work online, network with business people ON Facebook and manage dozens of FB business pages like I do! So I guess I should just schedule it all for specific times.

In Natalie’s day 4 video today she mentioned a couple of apps that will block access to social media sites for a set period of time that you decide. I am going to check those out.

1st up is MacFreedom, which works on Windows and Android as well as a Mac. Looks like it blocks ALL of the internet. Well, that’s not going to work for me at all. So their site says Anti-Social does the same thing but only blocks out social media sites. That may just work!

What distractions keep you from being productive during the day? Even if you are like me and have managed to block out most of the distractions, there is likely still something. What is it and what are you going to do about it?


Using apps in your business and life to improve your productivity

I make pretty good use of apps already. I currently use Gmail for “everything;” even my professional email accounts pull into it. I use my Google calendar for organizing my life and it is synced to my mobile phone because otherwise I will totally forget. My phone is also synced to Facebook events, so if I have said I am going somewhere it puts it on my Google calendar and reminds me!

For my business I use TeamWork. It allows my business manager or me to add and assign tasks, track time, and get reminders when something is coming due.

And of course, my business manager is my greatest help, although she is not an app! Lol 🙂 But she is such a life saver at times.

So after watching today’s 15 Day Blog Challenge video which was all about using apps in your business, I got to thinking it would be nice if TeamWork would sync to my Google calendar, like Natalie’s project management software does. So I got to looking. Sure enough! Not only can it sync to my calendar, but it can also sync to Freshbooks which I use for billing and accounting purposes.

So today’s step is to assign to my business manager the task of helping me get this hooked up. That way the items in TeamWork are being added to my calendar AND sending me reminders on my phone! Win win!

What app are you using or what app will you start using that increases your productivity? Leave a comment below!


What are your most important actions for each day?

I am working my way through a couple of challenges. One of them is the 15 Day Blog Challenge. It’s not your usual “just write a post today” challenges. Natalie Sisson gives specific steps for each day that are not only getting me to write a blog post, but are also giving specific steps to building the whole business.

Today’s challenge was on MIA, Most Important Actions. The point was to ask yourself what is the number one most important thing you can do to for your business or your life each week and make that the first item on your list of to-do’s for your work day or any day.

Woman typing

My mind instantly bounced all over this client’s website, that client’s telesummit, and more. BUT it was for MY business…so at this point that is probably just continuing to develop this habit of writing and communicating with my clients. That doesn’t take an hour a day, so I feel like I should add a couple extra items to fill in that hour. So here goes…

My MIA for this week is to spend one hour each morning writing on my blog, working on my newsletter, and/or updating items on my website.

That means a blog post every single day. One newsletter a week. And updates to my website, whether it be contemplating my overall design changes or making changes to copy and adding services.

What is your MIA for today or this week or this month? It’s a vitally important step to getting yourself and/or your business organized. Leave a comment below.

I also challenge you to jump into this 15 day challenge, even if you are doing another challenge as well. We are just a few days into it and there is plenty of time for you to catch up! Even if you take it day by day, you will only benefit yourself and your business by taking on a few of these daily steps. Click here to learn more.


The value of a daily routine

A vitally important part of getting your business and your life organized is to start your day off right with a plan and to establish a daily routine!

I’m a bit of a morning person, and I get up before the sun, so my morning routine may not be ideal or normal…but it works for me. I thought I would let you know how my day goes. Just in case you ever wondered. 🙂

First thing I do is drink some water! I read a while back that water wakes up your organs and your body much better than caffeine ever would. So I start by finishing off the bottle of water that I have beside my bed or I fill a glass and drink it down. It works too! I am almost always wide awake within a couple of minutes.

Most people suggest you exercise and do all of these various things early in the morning, but I actually find my day goes best when I get right to work. Otherwise I get overwhelmingly stressed out with thoughts of all I need to be doing. I love to just jump right in early in the morning before the family wakes up. I enjoy the silence that rarely exists in my house at other times.

So I open up my laptop after I get settled in my favorite chair, with my feet on a footstool. (And my dog usually curled up on my feet. 🙂

First thing I do is visit my email inbox. I quickly scan for any urgent overnight messages. Barring that, I go down one by one and delete all the stuff I don’t want to be bothered with opening. That cleans up my inbox A LOT! There is no reason to let your day get bogged down with all the emails you are always signing up for. Some are important, and those will stand out. (So don’t delete them.)

Then I look for (and read, meditate on, etc) my daily scripture emails and the Proverbs 31 Ministries email devotional that are usually waiting for me at that time.

I check out any emails that have subject lines written well enough to actually grab my attention and were not banished immediately to the trash. (See, it IS important to write your headlines well!)

Then I begin to open client emails, responding where necessary, forwarding to my business manager as necessary, etc. In the process of this I am mentally organizing my day.

Some mornings I have a few quick tasks to do for my clients, so I get those out of the way right away.

If I have time, I start thinking about my blog post for the day and begin to draft that.

Or I will start working one of my day’s projects.

Around 7 am it is time for my son to get up and the daily argument about “yes, you DO have to go to school” begins. Sigh. This is also the exact time that my dog decides he needs to go outside. So work gets set aside, my son begins to wake up, I take my doggy out, admire the sunrise, pray, relax, and just generally enjoy the fresh air. (In the winter anyway…it’s much earlier in the summer that we go outside.)

Sunrise in my backyard
Sunrise in my backyard. 🙂

We are usually walking out the door to take my boy to school around 7:40 or so. We drop him off and then many days my husband and I go out for breakfast together. We relax, talk, laugh, and have a “morning date” almost every day. It’s nice. 🙂

Then it’s time to get back to work. By this time, my inbox has filled back up, so I sort it out again, respond to what needs responded to, etc. I wipe out any small tasks, then start on my big project for the day. Today, for example, I am working on some LeadPages sales pages and autoresponders for one client and a telesummit site for another.

I usually work through till 1 or 1:30, with a short break or two in there sometime whenever my bladder or my dog dictate it. 🙂

Then its lunch time, take the dog for a walk time, etc. That usually ends the bulk of my work day until later in the afternoon. Sometimes my hubby and I will go out for lunch, but usually we eat a sandwich or something at home. We may go wander through a thrift store, or work on some projects around the house.

Keeping this sort of routine keeps my day grounded and keeps me focused. There is always room for flexibility of course. Some days I am just so tired, so I sleep in till almost 7. Other days I have a non-profit meeting at noon. Or there is an appointment of some sort. But you know what, that’s part of the reason I love being self-employed at home…and yes, that’s a whole other blog post!

So what is your daily routine? Share it in the comments below! Or better yet, write your own blog post about your routine and leave the link in a comment for others to read and learn from. 🙂


What to do with your old domain?

With the New Year and all the organizing and business planning that goes on, many business owners make a decision to change their website from an old URL to one that better reflects their current business model. This is a great idea, but there is always a question about what to do with that old URL.

URL bar on virtual screen

Your gut instinct might be to just toss it out, let it expire, and start fresh. If you never did anything with it, then that is a perfect option. But what if you did? What if you worked hard to post your old blog posts to your social media sites? What if your old URL is listed on some directories or blog comments that you can’t even remember anymore? What if your old URL was actually ranking decently on Google? What then??

I made a change from my previous business name VaVaVoomph a few years ago. It reflected a direction that I no longer am going. But I still own that URL. If you were to click on it, you would find yourself back at KimScottWebDesign.com. I still own it, and plan to own it for at least the next 5 years.

This serves multiple purposes.

First, the most obvious, is that you redirect your old URL to the new one so that anyone who happens to follow that old link will still find you.

The second reason is so that nobody else can pretend to be you, on purpose or by chance. Now the chances of that being on purpose are pretty slim if you have a fairly small business. But let’s say you did some business here and there and a few people remember you by your business name. So they google that, and wind up on “your old site”. Except it’s NOT YOUR old site, it is now someone else’s site. They may or may not be in the same business as you, but they just got the customer you worked so hard to contact a few years ago.

So keep paying for that old URL, redirect it to the new site, and rest assured that all of your previous link building efforts will not be in vain.

One more tip! If you redirect it with a wild card redirect, it will send people to the new URL that has the same page name. Example, on my old website I may have had a page called Web Site Design. If the url was VaVaVoomph.com/Web-Design-Services and you followed that link, the wild card redirect will send you to KimScottWebDesign.com/Web-Design-Services. Pretty nifty for those old deep links you had made! Otherwise they will just land on your new home page. Not bad, but certainly not perfect because then they will have to hunt for what they were needing.

Confused about how to do this redirect? We can handle it for you! Click here to schedule a free consultation to explore this or other services we offer.

Update! 11/21/2015: Case in point: I recently decided to rebrand, again, and I chose to go back to an old brand and URL that I had not used for several years. And since I still owned it, and it was still sitting there in my GoDaddy account, I was able to just slap it back into use. 🙂


Organize your office space to suit you and your business, and dream a little too!

Office styles vary as much as business types do. But the one thing that they should all have in common is that they fit the owner’s needs and business. Since we are talking about getting your business organized this month, your office is something that you may need to organize as well.

Let’s start with the question “What does your ideal office space look and feel like?

Mine would include a wall of windows looking over a beautiful landscape of some sort. (Trees, hills, mountains, beach…I’m open! Lol) It would also include a large desk with plenty of storage positioned so I am seeing the beauty outside the window. A wood-burning fireplace for days when the windows just aren’t working to keep out the winter chill. Windows that open to a nearly screened-in-porch feeling when the weather is perfect. Not only ergonomic seating at the desk, but comfy living room style furniture because I rarely like to sit at a desk. (My preferred work seating is a comfy rocking chair with a foot stool. Perfect for laptop use.) A surround sound stereo system is a necessary part of my dream office as well. And, while my son is still young enough, a small table for legos and other activities.

Ahh…ok.

Modern office interior

So now that you have thought of your dream office, the next question is…

What is your REAL office situation?

Mine…is that it’s pretty much non-existent. Terrible. Inexcusable. But the way it is. Been living in this too-small house that is in a constant state of upgrade for too long and there is just no space I can call my own. One of these days I may take back the space that was intended for my office when we moved in. But for now my office is officially in my head and in my favorite chair.

How about yours? Do you have a real office but its piled high with unfiled papers or craft project “to-do”? Are your work materials just strewn around the room or organized nicely where they are easily retrievable? Is it an area where you can free your mind or an area that brings you constant stress?

Now we need to ask ourselves what can we do about our situations to get organized?

If you need an office space, like I do, take an honest inventory of your house. Is there a guest bedroom but never any guests? Is there a playroom that is only collecting dust bunnies? Is there a sunny glassed in porch? What space can you turn into your office?

If your office is a shambles, not just disorganized but missing major elements like a desk and shelving, then take measurements and do an honest inventory of what you NEED and also what you would like to have. If you have the money, head on out to the nearest store that carries these items and have fun shopping. Recruit your spouse, friend, grown child, neighbor or some stranger off the street to help you get it all put together in your space. (Just kidding about the stranger.) If you can’t find anyone to help you, try calling your local homeless shelter or food pantry. They often know people who are willing to do “spot jobs” of a few hours or a few days for a few bucks an hour.

Messy deskIf you just need to get organized, try the 15 minutes a day approach. No matter you have planned for the day, you can spare 15 minutes. Spend those 15 minutes sorting through one small space. A drawer, a shelf, 2 sq foot corner of the floor. Whatever space you pick doesn’t matter, so just pick one.

  • Have a box for stuff to give away or sell, a trash can, and a box for things that belong somewhere else.
  • Take everything out of the space you are organizing (dump the drawer, empty the shelf, etc).
  • As you pick up each item that came out of it, decide which spot it belongs. Do you need it or truly want to keep it? Then put it back in the drawer neatly. If its trash, toss it. If someone else could use it, then give it away or sell it. If it’s the missing blender beater from the kitchen, then put it in the box to put elsewhere.
  • Don’t stop until you have touched and sorted every item. As you put things away in the space, be sure they are neatly organized. If you think some kind of organizational tool will make it better, then put that on your shopping list and make it be a 15 minute project for another day.
  • Take the trash out.
  • List the for sale items on Craigslist, store them with your upcoming garage sale items, and stash the giveaway items in your car so you can drop them off next time you go out.
  • Take the box with items that belong elsewhere and put them away.

If you move quickly, with some upbeat music playing, you should be able to do all of that in 15 to 20 minutes or less. Just do not allow yourself to get distracted! Found a novel you half finished? DON’T finish it right now! J

Now its time for me to take my own advice. Ha!

What needs organized in your home office space?


Warning! Web hosting domain expiration scam circulating!

One of my clients received a very real sounding email that claimed to be a last chance warning to prevent her domain from expiring. She asked me about it because she had just bought the domain a few months ago and it was purchased for at least a year.

Masked personA little bit of research showed this email to be a phishing scam.

According to Scam.com, it goes something like this:

  • The owner of this “company” has looked up your domain registration info.
  • They send you an email that is nicely crafted to sound like your domain is expiring, but it actually does not.
  • You pay something to the tune of $50 to “keep your domain registered” which actually does nothing for your domain registration.
  • Instead you are apparently signing up for some other service. In this case it appears to be SEO services which are likely a complete farce.

This particular email purported to be from a DOMAIN REGISTRATION SEO SERVICE Corp. The name of the email is the URL + EXPIRATION! The body of the email says: (I have marked in red the places that show what it is really about.)

This important expiration notification notifies you about the expiration notice of your domain registration for abc.com search engine submission. The information in this expiration notification may contain confidential and/or legally privileged information from the notification processing department of the Domain Registration SEO Service to purchase SEO Traffic Generator. This information is intended only for the use of the individual(s) named above.

If you fail to complete your domain name registration abc.com search engine service by the expiration date, may result in the cancellation of this domain name notification offer notice.

See, it’s completely not what it is written to sound like.

What I find to be the funniest part is in the footer area it says that it is CAN-SPAM compliant. Really? How exactly can that be?

If you get this email, please be sure to mark it as spam and if you happen to be in Canada, please report it to whatever government agency is regulating your CAN-SPAM compliance.

If you’re ever in doubt as to whether your domain registration, or any other service for that matter, is expiring or having other problems based upon an email or phone call, always log in to your account where you know it is housed and double check. Never ever click on links in emails that even appear to be from your provider unless you know for a fact that it is legit.

It’s always best to go straight to the source. Just like if you receive a phone call asking you to pay with credit card right now, you would be better off hanging up and calling the company back at the phone number you typically use.

There are a lot of bad people out there who spend their time trying to make money by stealing yours. Don’t be a victim.


One of the hardest things to let go of in your business is one of the first things you should

I’ve been there. Actually I’m still kind of there, just trying to really find the right fit right now. “There” is that wonderful but terrible place where business is booming and you have clients starting to pour in…but you only have so many hours in the day (and night) and your kids and spouse are beginning to think your laptop is permanently attached to your body.

Falling asleep at computer

It’s a crossroads where you wake up one day and realize that you are either going to have to start telling potential clients no or you are going to have to build a team to support you and your clients.

It can be daunting, that’s for sure! But it’s a wonderful problem to have. Just don’t stay in it or you will wind up ruining your business. The first step you should take if you are finding yourself in this situation is to evaluate your goals.

I sat down and asked myself if I was content where I was at, if I wanted to build this business bigger or maintain it as-is, and you know what? Fear tried to tell me that I was ok as-is. Fear tried to say “Who do you think you are to think your business warrants a team?” “You aren’t like those other people who run big teams of virtual assistants.” “You just need to find a few clients and be happy with the status quo.” And best of all… “You know you don’t deserve to do better than this little bit of success.”

But I have known for some time that I couldn’t keep up the pace I was working at by myself. And I have this crazy drive to always build it bigger and do it better. (If you are a true entrepreneur, I’m sure you understand!)

I first tried hiring a virtual assistant about a year ago. That didn’t work out. I really couldn’t tell you why, it just didn’t. Then a few months back I decided that hiring a business manager would not only help me manage myself, but would also help me manage any assistants I hired. And that was just what I needed to do.

Not only does she keep me in check, but she has taken over the burden of finding people for my team. Now I can tell her “I need someone who can help me publish ebooks,” or “I need someone who can do the basic installation and setup for a new WordPress website.” And she runs with it. I don’t have to spend hours of stressful contemplation reading through responses from HireMyMom.com or Facebook VA groups anymore. She finds them and screens them, I interview them, I tell her I want to bring them on board or not, she sends them the contract and gets them all hooked up with our task management system. When I have a task for them, I forward her an email or message her on Skype and she gets it assigned and makes sure it gets finished.

Saves me so much time!!

Now I need to let go of some other mundane tasks since we just brought a new virtual assistant onto our team to help with newsletters and social media. I’m excited but it always scares me to just “let it go”. What do you struggle with letting go of in your business? Do you try to “do it all”? Leave a comment below!

 

 


Does your business bring you happiness or frustration? Maybe both?

It’s just about time to get back into the swing of business things. The winter break for the kids is all but over and those of us parents with a home based business are looking forward to having the quiet time that school creates for us. While we love having our kiddos at home, its can be next to impossible to get in and stay in the work zone when someone is constantly wanting to tell you about what they built on MineCraft! (Um hum, can you tell what my 7 year old enjoys?)

I’m sure you have been giving great thought and planning to your business goals for 2015, as have I. And I have no doubt that increasing your business in general is one of your long-term goals. But have you thought about implementing systems to improve the efficiency of your business, thus freeing up your time to focus on the money-making aspects and even more personal or family activities?

Over the next few days I will be exploring some areas of systematization that you should consider implementing.

The first thing to realize is that once your business gets to a certain point, where you are making a couple thousand bucks a month or so, you cannot and should not try to do it all by yourself anymore. Believe me, I understand the stomach wrenching anxiety that can come from turning over your “baby” to strangers with good resumes. But you are going to have to take that step, unless you are content with things as they currently are.

Working lateHere are some questions to ask yourself today:

  • How many hours a week are you working on your business? (Include it all, even if its cleaning the toilet of your store or clearing out the junk in your email inbox.)
  • Are you beginning to feel frustrated, even just occasionally, from time constraints or overwhelm?
  • Do you find yourself constantly telling your kids or your significant other “no, not today” when you really do want to do what they asked but you just don’t have the time?
  • Do you wonder how you will ever keep that fitness resolution when you barely have time to shower let alone get to the gym?
  • Is every meal you eat prepared by a restaurant of some kind? Or maybe you “cook”, but it always involves opening a cardboard box and pushing buttons on the microwave.
  • When you do hire someone to help you, do you find yourself spending even more time telling them the right way to do it or fixing their mistakes?
  • What do you do day in and day out that bores you to the core that you would really love to have someone else handle for you?
  • What would you do to increase your business success if you had just 5 extra hours a week?
  • How does your website look? Does it have a modern design with responsiveness for mobile phones? Does it grab your viewers attention or make them cringe? Does it capture their information in the most efficient and compelling way possible?
  • How is your social media presence? Many business owners think they don’t need to be bothered with this, but unless your target market is living in a 3rd world nation you should seriously consider it. Almost everyone is on social media these days, from young teens all the way up to senior citizens. I volunteer with a homeless shelter, and let me tell you, even many of those people have a cell phone and a social media presence!

Chances are if you are reading this then you are a business owner of one kind or another. There are steps you should take to increase your efficiency, decrease the time you spend working on your business, and increase your income. Check back tomorrow for some ideas you can start doing immediately.

 


Remembering 2014

2014 was a big year of transitions for me and my family.

My oldest son, who had moved back home after a severe injury a few years ago, got his own place and has now established housekeeping with the lovely lady in his life.

My 2nd oldest son made the transition from teenager to 20-something to being a brand new daddy. A few weeks after turning 20 he welcomed his first born into the world. And such a doll that little baby is! His birth also marked my transition from “mom” to being a “grandma”.

baby

My 3rd oldest son graduated from high school and is now working a full time job that has him seriously realizing that he needs to get that college degree! 🙂

My 4th son played a successful sophomore season in both JV and Varsity football at his high school and has made the transition into Wrestling for winter. Both sports he adores and excels at.

Ok, my 5th son didn’t do anything particularly special this year. He is just a happy 2nd grader who loves to play with his dog and his toys.

And of course, all 4 became first-time uncles! My youngest thinks that is especially cool since he is only 7 year old.

Myself, I was focused in especially well on my business and managed to double my income from the previous year. Still very far to go to achieve my business goals, but I think that is a very good start. And with the boost I expect to get from the group coaching I have joined this year, it should be very good!!

I’m not using a team model to run my business, which means there is “me” who does the bulk of the tasks, but I also have a business manager and a couple of new team members who handle some tasks as well.

How has your 2014 been; amazing or otherwise? Any big transitions in your life or business?