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What to do when you lack motivation

I’ve been a life coach since 2006, but until late 2009 going into 2010, I treated my business like a side hobby. After I got serious about marketing and started to do daily, consistent things to grow my business, I hit my first patch of burnout.

Burnout: It looked like a lack of motivation, a resistance to completing tasks, and questioning whether or not I should have ever started to build my business.

An important point about that last one: I questioned myself about whether or not I should have started a business. I questioned whether I was in the right line of work. I, someone who had loved coaching, thought it was possible that I wouldn’t do it, anymore.

I call that out because when you’re feeling burned out, or you’re scared about money, or you’re trying to figure out how to make all the pieces of life and business-building work and there’s a pile of laundry on the floor and you haven’t gone grocery shopping in who knows how long, overwhelm hits. When overwhelm hits, it can make you question everything.

Truth #1:

You’re going to have days, weeks, and months in your self-employed life where you don’t want to do what needs to be done.

The fallacy of being in business for yourself is that absolutely every day will be a whimsical adventure and that absolutely anything you do in the name of entrepreneurship is going to be better than a soul-sucking salaried job. That’s not the case.

Questioning everything in the midst of overwhelm isn’t a sign that you’re doing it all wrong. It’s just a sign that you’re feeling burned out and overwhelmed.

Truth #2:

When you lack motivation , the first step is always to take a breather.

My favorite form of taking a breather is a digital sabbatical. Pick two weeks on your calendar (yes, that’s right, two weeks!) and prepare in advance. Pre-schedule blog posts, newsletters, and social media. Put up an auto-responder. Let clients know that you’ll be gone.

Then, on the appointed day…
do not answer email.
Do not look at Facebook.
Do not look at your newsletter service.

Do not touch your computer for a full two weeks.

Truth #3:

Everyone’s got something they don’t love.

Again, there’s this myth that you’ll always love the hustle of entrepreneurship. Most people, when they first begin working for themselves, do love it. But the daily grind will hit, and with it, there will be tasks that you don’t like to do.

Because it used to annoy me to hear people suggest the simple solution of “hiring a VA!” when I was first starting out and couldn’t possibly afford to hire a VA, I’m not going to suggest that, here. I’m assuming you already know that it’s an option.

But I will say that it’s a good idea to actually sit down and list out all of the things that you for your business. Don’t just write “send out my newsletter.” If sending out your newsletter entails writing out a blog post, creating a graphic, and shortening a link with a link shortener, make sure that those are all listed as separate items.

When the list is totally complete, identify the things that you don’t love doing, and decide which of them you can stop doing and which items you don’t love doing, but for the sake of running your business, you’re going to keep on doing them.

Truth #4:

There’s always a way to consolidate.

Review your list again, looking for ways to consolidate your time. For example, many social media accounts are integrated. Pinterest will post a graphic straight to Pinterest, with boxes that you can check that will also share with other social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. Is the solution here for you to initiate the posting of a graphic through Pinterest, and ticking those additional boxes?

Do you need to get rid of extraneous email accounts or ways of contacting you, so that you have fewer things to check?

Do you need to batch process some tasks–in essence, getting a bulk of something done on one day instead of doing a little bit over the course of several days? While that one day of action would be a busy one, if it would free you up over the course of several more days and give you the time you need to read, chat with a friend, or relax, it’s well worth it.

Consolidating the tasks that you don’t like to do, or consolidating your time to be more efficient, can get you an extra five minutes here and there. That extra five minutes can be used to get outside and take a walk, grab an extra cup of coffee, meditate, do some yoga poses.

Believe in the power of five minutes.

Truth #5

Everyone hits business slumps.

At least once a year, I hit some kind of period where all I fantasize about is going to the library, getting a big stack of books on subjects I like to geek out on, and bringing them home with a chai latte, where I do nothing all day long but read.

That doesn’t happen because I’m doing something wrong in my business or because I don’t like running my life coach training program, or because I’m frustrated with clients. This isn’t happening because I deny myself reading time or drive myself too hard.

This happens because I like taking breaks to read. This happens because I’m human and sometimes I want an extra vacation. This happens for a whole host of reasons that don’t need analysis, because there’s nothing there to analyze.

Everyone has moments where they wonder what to do when they lack motivation because at some point, everyone experiences a lack of motivation.

The big take-aways

You’re not doing it wrong.

You’re probably in the exact perfect line of work, but you’re just tired or over-worked or frustrated or uncertain about what the future holds.

The people who promise fast and easy fixes where all of your business income issues are solved in weeks or months are probably, uh, lying. Coaching is a business like any other. You build it through consistent effort, over time. That’s why the Coaching Blueprint talks about creating a “blueprint” for your business, done your way.

You need to actually take time off–a 100% break from your business–if you want to get clear on your next steps.

Long-term happiness in business means finding out what you don’t like doing, and trying to do as little of it as you can get away with, so that you can amplify doing more of what you love.

 

5 Guidelines for Breaking up with Your Virtual Assistant

5 Guidelines for Breaking up with Your Virtual Assistant

Ending any kind of relationship is never easy, even a working relationship. Perhaps you no longer need a product, maybe you have found a better product, or perhaps the person’s quality of work has been weaker lately. Whatever the reason, breaking up with your Virtual Assistant (VA) can be a daunting task, especially if you have worked with them for years.

If you are ending a relationship with your VA because you are dissatisfied with their work, make sure you have documentation and that you have talked to them previously about the poor quality and improvements that were expected. That way, if there is any confusion at all, you can have proof to back up your criticism.

Here is some of my best advice on how to end a relationship with your Virtual Assistant, whatever the circumstances.

1. Check contracts. If you signed a contract with your VA in the beginning of your relationship, be sure to check and make sure what the terms are for ending the relationship. Some VA’s have a fee if you end the relationship before the contract has expired, others require a 30 day notification. Whatever the standards are, make sure you understand them before prematurely announcing you want to end it and possibly creating testy waters before absolutely necessary.

2. Train yourself on what your VA does. I have a client who had a VA prior to myself but due to some misunderstandings, the VA left them before being able to train me on their systems. It left me in a horrible spot because my client did not know what the VA had been doing! They had hired the other VA to run the administrative side of the business and worked with her for four years. Like any good VA, she had created organized systems so that everything ran smoothly, but my client never bothered to learn it, which resulted in a lot of stress for both of us as I had to learn everything on the fly. I cannot stress how important it is to make sure you understand everything your VA does before you end your relationship, which is also why a manual (as I mentioned in my previous article) is also vital for your business. Unfortunately, sometimes endings don’t go smoothly, so being able to understand everything your VA did can save yourself some headaches further on down the road.

3. Break the news with your VA over the phone. Everyone has heard a story where a teenager will break up with their significant other via text. Breaking up with your VA over email is similar, even if that is the way you communicate with them most of the time. Not only is talking about it over the phone professional, but it also helps clear any misunderstanding that could happen over email.

4. Tell the truth to the greatest extent possible. While on the phone with them, tell the truth on why you are ending the relationship, if it’s wise to do so. Be professional about it and try to stay clear of an emotional overreaction. I once had someone work with me for my trial period and then tell me they did not need a VA and that their business could not sustain one at this point. I believed it to be true, but a week later logged onto Virtual Assistantville to see their posting looking for a different VA. Needless to say, I was baffled because he said I had done a great job. After inquiring over email on why my services were not satisfactory, I came to find out that he was looking for a VA in a different niche than what I offered. The uncomfortable situation of calling him out over email could have been avoided had he just been upfront and truthful with me. Whatever the reason is, be professional about telling the truth as it is valuable for your VA so that they can take the proper steps to offering better services in the future.

5. Change your passwords. As soon as it is appropriate to do so, change any of the passwords the VA may have had access to. Perhaps this is after you have trained yourself on the systems with them, and sometimes, it may have to be beforehand. If the VA is unprofessional about ending the relationship, it’s better to change the passwords as soon as you can. Some people take rejection harder than others, and you don’t want to be stuck with a situation where your VA has access to your PayPal, email, or other sensitive accounts. If they had access to your credit card number, be sure to keep a close eye on the account and shut it down as soon as you notice any unusual activity.

In a perfect world, ending the relationship with your VA will go smoothly. If you’re lucky, your VA may have a recommendation for someone more suited for what you need. Even if that is not the case, by following the tips provided, you will at least have a thorough understanding of what you need going forward so that you can continue to run your business successfully without them.

Kiri has been working in the administrative field since she was 15 years old. What started off as a part-time job after high school blossomed into a full-time business when she realized she loved supporting people but wanted more flexibility than corporate America provided. Currently a Virtual Assistant for almost four years, she is constantly striving to figure out ways to make other people’s lives easier. Kiri is a Mount Holyoke College graduate and currently lives outside of Boston, MA with her family. In her spare time she blogs about Star Wars, drinks tea, and eats olives.

Setting the Mood for Success in Business

Setting the Mood for Success in Business

 

When you are planning a romantic night with your beloved, it’s very likely that you will go the extra mile to set a proper mood. That might mean flickering candles, spicy incense, soft piano music, and a fabulous bottle of wine. (Think: Casablanca.) Hubba hubba, right?

But about your work life? What kind of mood are you creating in your office? Is it a gorgeous oasis? Is it functional? How does it make you feel?

In most cases, people rarely think about the mood they are setting at work. A desk piled to the ceiling with papers, a chair that aggravates your sciatica, and a constantly ringing phone are more draining than inspiring.

No wonder so many of us feel burned out and bummed out at the beginning and end of our work day!

When you take the time and care to create an inviting mood for your work, you are more likely to become a more creative, productive, and happier entrepreneur.
 

Getting your work mood right for success in business requires three things: external, internal, and ritual. Here’s how to get all three aligned for the best working conditions possible:

External

Create an environment that makes you happy to be there. Your workspace should be clean and orderly. Make sure you have a regular cleaning schedule to stay on top of this.

Pretty office supplies, a lovely scented candle, and a coffee mug that makes you smile keeps your environment cheery.

Invest in good furniture. Get a desk and chair that are ergonomically correct. This will save your back and wrists – plus help keep your energy up.

An organized calendar and to-do list helps you stay on track. Keep these in a place where you can easily see them.

Shut out distractions while you work. Turn off your cell phone notifications, shut down social media, and put some soft music on in the background. The less things competing for your attention, the more efficient and effective you’ll be.

At the end of each work day, tidy up your desk. This way, when you come to work the next day, you’re not walking into chaos.
 

Internal

If you come to work tired and cranky, your productivity will tank and your clients will feel unhappy too. A well-rested night allows you to be present without having to down tons of coffee. Make sure you are in bed at a reasonable hour every work night.

Positive affirmations help to foster a good work attitude. What is a positive affirmation? It’s a positively-worded statement that creates a desired change or mindset. For example, repeating something simple such as “I expect miracles” on a regular basis helps to get your mind programmed for success. A good practice is to find a few that you like and put them on sticky notes that you can post around your office. Seeing them often helps to reinforce that good energy.

Take some time off. This is essential for your creativity and peace of mind. Make at least one day a week a “no work” day.
 

Ritual

Simple rituals to start and end your work day let you know when it’s time to get down to business and when it’s time to shut down the business for the day. Create little rituals that say “I’m ready to work” and “It’s time to close up.”

For example, you might want to close your office doors (important if you work at home), light a scented candle and put on some soft background music before you begin your day.

At the end of the day, check your calendar for the next day and write a to-do list. Tidy up your desk, blow out your candle, and turn your computer off. Find an activity to do that puts your mind “off work.” This could be a brisk walk around the block, a quick chat with your partner, or a curling up with a good magazine for a bit (my favorite thing to do is cook dinner). Above all, resist the urge to check your email or social media. When you are done, you are done for the day, period.
 

These simple, mindful strategies create a harmonious environment, inside and out. Make these practices a part of your daily routine and you’ll always be in the mood for work.

“If you’re not in the mood, you can’t do that stuff right.” ~ J.D. Salinger

Blessings!
 

Theresa Reed (aka The Tarot Lady) is an intuitive Tarot reader, teacher, mentor and yogi on a mission to take Tarot from hippie to hip. When she’s not reading tarot, she’s busy helping broke-ass mystics learn how to create sustainable + profitable businesses. If you are ready for straight talkin’ tarot and a side of biz whizz, get to her online hood: The Tarot Lady or follow her on Twitter @thetarotlady.

Finding time to run your business

Finding time to run your business

Finding time to run your business is no joke: the other day, I saw an ad on Facebook. It claimed to teach people how to find thousands of followers on social media. The picture they chose for the ad featured a mom on a computer. Her docile little toddler peacefully sat on her lap while she worked.

Um… “As if.”

How do I run a business with a nine-month-old? Very carefully. It requires some serious time hacking, and in this free audio training I share with you how I update multiple social media accounts at once–saving me tons of time while marketing my business.

 

5 Guidelines for Breaking up with Your Virtual Assistant

5 Best Tips When Working with a Virtual Assistant

 

Working with a Virtual Assistant (VA) can mean saving yourself from administrative headaches and freeing up your time to focus on important aspects of your business. Once you have found a VA that could be a good fit with your business, it’s still going to take some time to figure out each other’s working style.
 

Below are the five most essential tips when working with a Virtual Assistant so that your business runs as smoothly as possible.

1. Start with a trial period. Even if you think you have found the perfect VA, trial periods are so important for both of you. You learn their quality of communication, their grammar when writing, how often they check in with you based on projects, etc. I always offer a 30-day trial period before signing any client on to a contract, but some VA’s offer trial projects, etc. If you found a VA that does not want to consider a trial period, study the pros and cons before working with them. Do they have shorter length contracts or none at all? Are their prices more reasonable than others?
 
2. Write a list of all the tasks you want done and know how to do them yourself. I mentioned this in my last article, but I can’t stress enough how important the second part is. A Virtual Assistant is great at thinking up new ways of streamlining your business and making it more organized, but they need to understand the basics of what you want done thoroughly. There will be questions in the first few months and if you know the answers off the top of your head, it’s easier for the both of you. As you continue the relationship and both of you get more comfortable, suggest they create a manual of the administrative side of your business and openly share it via Dropbox or Google Drive. That way the information is always on hand and you both can refer to it when needed.
 
3. Communicate. Every VA has a different style of communication, but unless you have specifically hired a VA who offers phone services, most VA’s like to communicate via email. However, I believe that every working relationship should have check-ins via phone or Skype as well. It lets you hear their voice and confirm they are a real person, which gives this extra feeling of security within the relationship. Some people do not like Skype for various reasons, but at least insist on a phone meeting every once and a while. Make sure you have a list of things to talk about and if there are problems in their methods or an issue that did not work out the way you hoped, be sure to bring these up over the phone as well. Emails can be misinterpreted, whereas it’s easier over phone to clear any misunderstandings.
 
4. Be specific. This ties into my last point on communication, but due to the fact that you are working with someone outside of your office (and sometimes on the other side of the world!), you need to be able to clearly share what you are looking for with your assignments. Deadlines are also very important. Even if the project is due for you in a vague “few months”, be sure to convey with your VA that it is due by a certain date. This will help them manage their time better and won’t leave you stranded when you all of a sudden realize that your few months have gone by and you need the project done by tomorrow.
 
5. Review the VA’s work. In the beginning of the relationship, it’s crucial to review and confirm all of your VA’s work. Not only does this help you learn how they work, but it also helps the VA understand if they are on the right track. It’s very frustrating to be working with someone and be turning in results for a few months only to find out they would prefer the results in a Word document instead of an Excel spreadsheet. By reviewing what they do early in the game, it helps prevent problems, misunderstandings, and mistakes later down the road.

Working with a Virtual Assistant is an exciting step for your business and it shouldn’t be a headache. By keeping your work as organized as possible and making sure you communicate effectively, your relationship with your VA will create hours of free time so that you can focus on getting your business to thrive.
 

Kiri has been working in the administrative field since she was 15 years old. What started off as a part-time job after high school blossomed into a full-time business when she realized she loved supporting people but wanted more flexibility than corporate America provided. Currently a Virtual Assistant for almost four years, she is constantly striving to figure out ways to make other people’s lives easier. Kiri is a Mount Holyoke College graduate and currently lives outside of Boston, MA with her family. In her spare time she blogs about Star Wars, drinks tea, and eats olives.