It’s that time of year again! For the thirteenth consecutive year I’m hosting my popular Challenge, and the 2022 Productivity Challenge is shaping up to be the most effective and helpful one ever. If you’re an entrepreneur, author, marketer, blogger, consultant, solopreneur, coach, or someone interested in increasing your productivity for any reason at all, you’re in the right place!
I’ll be sharing lots of actionable information with you, along with resources, both complimentary and for sale so that you can make the most of the time you spend with me here.
During the twenty years I worked as a classroom teacher, as well as a real estate broker and residential appraiser, it was as though every year was a repeat of the one before. In other words, I was not making progress in most areas of my life, and in some years I was either stagnant or moving backwards. I was not mentored at that time, and believed that’s how life was meant to be…
Not true! You can “uplevel” your life on a daily basis. I was forced to learn this as a new entrepreneur in 2006 and once I got on board there has been no stopping me! It all starts with developing some productive habits. Here’s one I’ll share with you today… Figure out when you “prime time” hours are each day, and block off that time for the tasks and activities that mean the most to you.
For me, these activities include writing, creating, mentoring, and marketing. I am most alert during the earlier hours of the day, with the sweet spot of my productivity occurring between the hours of five and ten in the morning. Consequently, those are the hours I tend to work each day so that I can maximize my output and enjoy a productive and profitable day as a result.
When are your “prime time” hours? Please leave a comment to share and to begin building a relationship that could be life-changing for both of us!
Day One officially begins tomorrow… Please return to this post on a regular basis to start upleveling your life and business to reach your full potential in every area of your life experience. And, if there are specific areas or topics you would like for me to cover during this year’s 2022 Productivity Challenge, please let me know in the comments as well. To Your Massive Productivity!
Day One has arrived! Today I want you to think about everything that’s on your “to-do” list. Go ahead, dig it out and take a look. Have you given up on completing everything, or most things on your list? Good! Why do I say this? Because a to-do list is simply a place to list what you intend to do in the future. When you’re ready to take action and complete something during a specific period of time, simply transfer it from your to-do list on to your schedule.
Most of us got this wrong for years – decades, in my case – before figuring out or having a mentor teach and explain to us how to be productive each day with a schedule. Also, keep your schedule to no more than three or more items each day for best results. I wrote a post about the difference between to-do lists and schedules that you may find extremely helpful.
For example, on my schedule for tomorrow I have four items… 1) taking a family member to a medical appointment; 2) hosting my weekly “Ask Connie Anything” call; 3) presenting to the Foundation Board of my Rotary Club; and 4) consulting with a client. I can’t imagine having much more on my schedule than this. Also, I write throughout each day, so this is no longer an item for my to-do list or my schedule because it has become a habit I look forward to each day.
Day Two: Decide on a Niche Topic for Your Business
Before you can get started as an online entrepreneur, you’ll want to spend a full day – this is sufficient – conducting a bit of research. Many new marketers unfortunately rush into the process of launching their business and website/blog without putting much thought into it.
The first thing you want to do is make a list of the potential niche topics that you want to cover on your blog. It should be broad enough to give you plenty of content opportunities, yet narrow enough that it has a specific concept.
You don’t want someone to land on your blog and not immediately be able to tell what it is about. If you have everything from cooking to pets, gardening to beauty, then it might be more of a personal life blog than it is a niche topic blog.
Your goal with a blog as an entrepreneur is to position yourself as an expert for that one topic. Jot down a list of topics that you would not mind writing content about day after day for a number of years.
Ideally, this will be something you have a personal passion for or life experience with over time. It might be something enjoyable like a hobby or something you have to deal with such as a health issue. Once you have a list of possible topic ideas, you need to take each one and conduct some research into them.
Make a mind map or brainstorm a list of subtopics for each of your ideas to ensure that you will have enough content to carry a blog over time. If you go too narrow with your topic, and don’t have many, if any subtopics, then you will struggle to come up with content and your blog will grow stagnant.
Google, Bing, and other search engines like to see a steady stream of content being published so they can present your blog as one of the first results to people searching for your topic.
They are not going to send people there if their search bots crawl your site and see that it hasn’t been updated in awhile. So today, choose your blog and overall business topic carefully and make sure you’ll have ample content ideas to last you over the course of months and years.
The 2022 Productivity Challenge is designed to take you from where you are right now to closer to where you’d like to be in thirty days, or perhaps a little longer. Let the games begin!
Day Three: Why You Need a Blog
Whenever someone is launching a career as an online entrepreneur, there will be many people giving you advice about what steps you need to take in order to succeed.
You’ll find differing opinions for traffic and monetization strategies, but one thing most can agree on is that a blog is one of the most fundamental tools a marketer should use to build a brand and see their profits soar.
The first reason all online entrepreneurs need to have a blog on their own domain and not a third party platform is that it allows you to showcase your expertise as a niche leader.
Here, you can post as often as you want to on whatever topic you feel will put your best qualities on display. You can nurture and guide your audience, or take a more tough love stance where you push your followers into being proactive in achieving their goals.
You’ll be able to talk about your niche topic as broadly or as narrow as you want. Some people write books in an effort to showcase their knowledge. You can do that, too. But with a blog, you can have thousands of posts spanning over the course of years and you won’t have to go through the self-publishing process and work to market your book each and every time.
With a blog, your domain will gain momentum the more you post. You can take ideas you find in the news and immediately publish a post about it, keeping your reputation intact as a cutting edge authority figure.
A blog allows you to quickly and easily go in and update outdated information, including your links to products, so that you don’t miss a sale or commission. But when someone is able to land on your blog and see categories and hundreds of posts by you about a certain topic, it gives them a sense of peace that they’re tuning in to the right person who will keep them informed.
You will be able to reference previous posts and link to them from more current ones so that your readers get a comprehensive and thorough understanding of whatever it is you want them to learn.
There is no degree required or any prerequisites involved in operating your own blog. You simply create it and share what you know with your audience. It’s a mutually beneficial resource that people will appreciate.
Day Four: Your 2022 Productivity Challenge continues!
Today I want you to think about the impact you’re having on the world. I’m not talking about seeking world peace here, but instead the way that you are interacting with the people and situations around you. What do you care deeply about? Where do you go, what do you do, who do you serve, and how do you make a concerted effort to make the world a better place on a regular basis?
The answers to these questions will make a difference in how successful you can become. Think about the way you show up in the world… Are you someone who turns away from people and situations where others step in and lend a hand? That was my story for many years. I told myself that if or when I had the time and money to volunteer and help others I would, but until then I couldn’t take the time, make the effort, or spend the money for causes not related to me or to my family.
This all changed when I came online in 2006. I had given away my best real estate clients and resigned my classroom teaching position in favor of starting a business I could run from home, or from anywhere in the world with only an internet connection.
Simultaneously, I had moved to a new house in a city about 30 miles from where I had lived during the previous fourteen years. All of a sudden I was alone in my home office, attempting to figure out this online marketing world. After a few weeks, I decided to look for volunteer opportunities in my area. Rotary, an international service organization came up in my Google search results and I went to their next meeting.
My life would be forever changed by this group. These people were so out of my league when I first arrived: doctors, politicians, business owners, philanthropists, authors, and people who had accomplished more during their lifetimes than I thought possible. But they welcomed me with open arms, always including me and never making me feel that I was less than them in any way. Within a couple of weeks, they had me volunteering on local projects and I was working with my hands beside people who had done this for decades.
I challenge you to find a group or a cause that you care deeply about and get involved. Perhaps you are already doing this and need to look at it with a fresh perspective. How can you serve in a bigger way? Do you have more time or money right now? What do you do in your business that could be beneficial to others in your community? Answer these questions with action and your business will grow, I promise.
Day Five: Create a Simple Information Product
Please believe me when I say that I know how outrageous it feels to read the topic for today. My first year online, multiple people told me that I needed to start creating my own products and online courses in order to make a name for myself and find my first “raving fans.” I would nod in agreement in front of them, then scratch my head later because I had no idea what type of product to create.
The answer came to me after working with two mentors simultaneously, Raymond Aaron and Alex Mandossian. They would ask me what I was doing to grow my new online business, and how I was doing it. They were able to pull the strategies that were working for me, out of my head and on to the paper in front of me. The result was that I created simple information products that allow me to share my ideas and accomplishments with others who would benefit.
This worked! I showed others how I was blogging, publishing articles, connecting with people locally through volunteering and service projects, and more. The most effective product I created chronicled my journey of learning to write, publish, and market my first eBook to earning six figures by licensing this content to my local real estate board.
Have you thought about writing an eBook you can sell online? Jim Edwards has an excellent training on how to write and publish an eBook on your niche topic in as little as seven days, and it’s quite inexpensive!
What simple information product or course have you already created, or will you create now that you can see it isn’t as difficult or confusing as you may have previously believed?
NOTE: I’ve created blog posts that serve as a simple product, including ALL of the Productivity Challenges I’ve created over the years! Also, here’s a post on the topic of the Blueprint for Entrepreneurship that gives you an idea of how to be creative with this.
Day Six: The Importance of Outsourcing to Protect Your Time
I was reluctant to outsource anything early on, as I honestly believed I did not have the money to pay others for something I could learn to do myself. What should you outsource? There are several ways to decide this:
- Activities and tasks you dislike doing
- Activities and tasks you aren’t good at
- Activities and tasks someone is better at
Life as an online entrepreneur is supposed to be enjoyable and leading you to both time freedom and financial freedom, so if you hate doing a specific task, by all means, outsource it to someone else. If you aren’t qualified to create graphics, don’t make it worse (like I did for awhile) by doing it yourself and creating poor visuals for your products, courses, and more.
Even outsourcing things you enjoy and that you can do yourself is sometimes a smart move – if someone else can do it better. Like sales copy – if someone else’s sales pages converts at twice the rate as yours, then it makes sense to hand that task over to another, more qualified professional.
Day Seven: Seeking the Ever-Elusive Life and Work Balance
If you’re starting out as a part-time online entrepreneur, you’ll want to think about balancing your life and your work. Unlike a job, where the tasks and activities are pretty much spelled out for you, entrepreneurship can go on 24/7/365, much to the dismay of your family and friends.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle any work at home man or woman faces is the balance of life and work. You have to eliminate distractions – whether it’s the television or a family member – and get things done with the few hours you have to invest in your business.
Make sure your loved ones understand what it is you need to do during your work hours. Sometimes family gets confused because they see you home, yet you’re saying that you’re working. It may appear to them that you’re simply “surfing the internet” when in fact you’re engaged in valuable research and development of your next products, courses, blog posts, and joint ventures.
Any interruption is a pull on your resources that contribute to your profit plan. But of course, working from home is also a perk. If your whole reason for doing this is so you can enjoy more time with your kids, for example – then by all means, put the keyboard down and hold them or play with them for a few minutes if they need you!
You’ll need to make sure that you get plenty of sleep and keep yourself from becoming run down. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew and you end up exhausted and uninspired to work on your business.
Day Eight: Choose Your Business Model
I began with affiliate marketing, as do most of the people I work with in my Mentor program and online courses. My experience came as a result of not knowing what type of product I could create when I had no real world experience as an online entrepreneur. I knew I could “earn while I learned” by becoming an affiliate for the people and products that were beneficial to me.
Purchasing so many products and courses and tools and software during my first few months online, I decided to become an affiliate for and promote the ones that were working for me to others who would appreciate my recommendations. But my first affiliate sale came in a different way altogether…
In the beginning I set up a variety of blogs to practice writing about the topics and niches I was interested in at the time. I had blogs for walking, the Law of Attraction, a “dog blog” to talk about my little dogs, one for reinventing your life, another for writing eBooks, and a few more.
I purchased a product from a site called Clickbank (still a top-rated site) where I had found a product on dog training by signing up for a membership at Clickbank’s search engine.
One day in April of 2006, I received notification that I had made a sale! I remember being so excited that I danced around the room and thought about what had occurred. I knew that if one person had purchased a product through my recommendation – I’d written and published a blog post about training my small dogs – that many more would follow.
Be sure to go through my zero cost, 10-Day Affiliate Marketing Challenge to get started right away!
This was proven when I began making sales regularly, mostly from the products and courses and other things I was was buying to help me get my new online business off the ground. My recommendation is that you monetize one business model before engaging in another, but that’s entirely up to you, of course.
For the record, my second business model was marketing for local businesses, and you may want to check out my book, Local Business Marketing: Making the Phone Ring for Businesses Everywhere , on this topic. I was completely honest with the businesses I worked with during those early years, in terms of how long I’d been online and what I was doing to build my own business.
I no longer work with small businesses as a service, but I highly recommend you consider it to learn as much as possible about how to succeed as an entrepreneur. You’ll be using skills like blogging, search engine optimization (SEO), video marketing, and social media to help them get more business, and they will pay you well to help them in this way.
Additional Online Business Models That Work Best for Part-Time Entrepreneurs
There are so many options to choose from. Is one better than another for those who only work on their business part time? Not necessarily. But sometimes it can interfere, depending on the business model and your schedule.
For example, you might not be able to pursue a service-oriented business life ghostwriting or graphics or web design if you never know exactly how much time you’ll have to work on your business.
It’s possible that your life is hectic and you are pursuing this as a “when I have a few spare moments” goal. That’s perfectly okay, too! You just need to find something that fits your schedule so that you don’t wind up with angry clients and customers because you failed to meet a deadline.
If you do have set hours and you know that you have exactly two and a half hours a day to put into your business and that you can write 5 pages of content, then you can figure out a delivery schedule for tech work or writing, for example – and you wouldn’t be putting your business reputation at risk.
You also want to allow for physical and mental exhaustion. If you are already stretched to your limits with work and life and trying to supplement your income with a part time endeavor online, then you might want something where it comes more easily to you – not something that you struggle to learn and master.
Blogging is a great business model because it enables you to work when you can and pull in a variety of profits. For example, your income can be derived on a blog from:
- Tangible affiliate reviews
- Digital affiliate reviews
- Your own information product creations (like eBooks)
The great thing about schedules is that blogging allows you to schedule blogs ahead of time, so if you have more time on one day, you can queue up a few days’ worth of blog posts and let them automatically go live without you having to log in and publish them.
Coaching may or may not be a good business model for you because it requires you to be available at certain times of the day. If you’re a day worker planning to work on your part time business at night, that may not work for your clients – or it could be perfect timing, depending on the niche and each individual’s needs.
A membership site can pull in quite a bit of money for you – and it doesn’t require you to be there daily except to make sure things are running smoothly. You can create an entire membership ahead of time that drip feeds to your customers when they sign up. Then you can spend the bulk of your work hours on marketing and promotion.
Things like affiliate marketing and info product development are all easy to pursue as a part time work at home individual. You write (or record) when you can – even on your lunch hour at work – and publish whenever something is completed.
Day Nine: Managing Your Time
Time management and productivity go hand in hand, and I have become an expert in this area over the years. This was not the case during my twenty years working as a classroom teacher and part-time in real estate before coming online. I was punctual, but my time was not my own and my productivity level was almost always below average. Then I learned about using a schedule instead of working from a to-do list early on in my journey to online entrepreneurship and everything turned around for me.
In fact, my very first Productivity Challenge was based on my goal of sharing the strategies I was learning, implementing, and refining in the area of time management and productivity. The people I mentor and work with closely over a year or longer were making great strides in their online businesses and attributed what I was teaching them to making the difference for them.
Did you know that I’ve published a book on “Time Management Strategies for Entrepreneurs: How to Manage Your Time to Increase Your Bottom Line“? There’s gold within those pages, I promise!
What about you? Are you sabotaging your productivity by working from a long list of to-do tasks and activities, or do you add a few things from your list and set the intention to complete those before the end of your day, if at all possible? How may I serve you in this area?
Day Ten: Write a Book! Or At Least Start Thinking About It
Writing a Book Will Teach You Time Management and Productivity
Writing a book can be an intimidating task. Blank pages can stare at you mockingly for long hours that turn into days, weeks, and months before you make headway in your next chapter. But I’ve done this – write, publish, and market a book – more than twenty times, so I know firsthand the value of becoming an author will have to you, both personally and professionally.
That is, of course, unless you work out a plan that has you making progress daily on your book. In fact, writing a book, or even writing an eBook can help you manage your time more wisely and encourage productivity on multiple fronts. Here are a few things you can do to make more progress in shorter time when writing your book:
Consider Using the Pomodoro Technique When Writing
The Pomodoro technique is one in which you set a timer to promote short bursts of intense productivity. This method is effective because you operate in 25-minute increments. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
During that period of time, focus on one single task. In this case, that task would be writing your book. Whether you’re blocking out a chapter or simply writing an outline for the next chapter(s). You don’t stop for anything other than house-fire types of emergencies until the timer rings.
Then you take a five-minute break before moving on to the next task, or chapter, as the case may be. After every four short breaks, you take a longer break. This gives you time to clear your mind, charge your battery, and refocus on the work ahead of you for the day.
This is a key component in your efforts to stay focused on writing your book and stop splitting focus by multi-tasking and otherwise spinning your wheels all day long.
Prioritize Your Tasks
You have a lot on your plate on any given day. It can be easy to get caught up in minute tasks and quickly lose time to write during your day. The longer this continues, the more time you have to forget what’s going on with your book or abandon your book altogether. Steady progress is a much better way to go. Accomplish this by doing the following:
- Give up television time to write.
- Cut out unnecessary social media socializing. While some is necessary to maintain relevance with your audience, give yourself time limits for your favorite social media platforms each day.
- Get up early or stay up late to make time for writing.
- Set deadlines for getting specific writing done, then adhere to them. This can include deadlines for chapter outlines and chapter delivery. Editing deadlines. First draft. Second draft. Publishing.
You get the picture. Decide how important your book is to your professional future and consider prioritizing your writing over some work functions by delegating or bringing on another team member to help take care of tasks that take you away from writing.
The reward for all this time management and productivity-enhancing effort is that you will discover you can write a book. How do you know? Because you just did. Now, it’s your turn to take a look and see what else you can do! I bet you didn’t think I’d even suggest that you get started with writing a book during this 2022 Productivity Challenge! I believe you can accomplish this goal. If I can do it, you can do it as well. See all of my titles here, and please let me know if you’d like for me to make any one of them a free digital download for you.
Day Eleven: Be Willing to Give Up Thoughts of Perfection
I am a recovering perfectionist, so I know of what I am saying here in a very personal way. As far back as I can remember, I believed that the goal with everything I touched was perfection. Whether it was a spelling test, making a card for someone’s birthday, or doing the dishes and putting them away in the cupboard, if it wasn’t done to my acceptable level of perfection, then I had failed.
This obsessive compulsion followed me through school, into college and graduate school, to every job I took, and with relationships of all kinds. It was expensive, exhausting, and debilitating. No wonder my life wasn’t going the way I had planned; I had set expectations for myself and others around me that were unrealistic and unobtainable.
When I left my job as a classroom teacher, as well as my business with real estate sales and appraisal to come online in 2006, I was ready to surrender my ideas and beliefs that were not working for me. Soon after, I encountered a world where entrepreneurs were creating a lifestyle by design, with time freedom and financial freedom and creativity.
This was the quote that stuck with me and allowed me to begin moving forward in a joyous and productive way…
“Perfection is the enemy of profitability and success. You don’t need to be perfect, because nobody is.” ~ Mark Cuban
I had so many questions. How could a business be successful unless everything was done, well, perfectly? And what about people working with numbers, wouldn’t each item need to be perfectly correct? And how could I possibly expect someone to spend money on an information product I created, unless it was complete and researched, and organized… in a perfect manner?
I’ve come to the conclusion that Nature is the only thing that comes close to perfection, and even in this area it’s the imperfections that keep everything spinning. Once I was able to acknowledge that I had been focusing on perfection and wasting my precious time in so doing, my creativity began to emerge and my life changed for the better. Really, truly for the better.
It began with my writing. I was blogging in order to make a name for myself and to get my new online business off the ground, yet I was not a writer. I would struggle for hours to get a 250 to 300 word post ready to share with the world.
One day, when I was at my wit’s end with the researching, editing, rewriting, formatting, keywords, and everything else that I believed needed to be a part of the perfect blog post, I sat back in my chair and allowed my right index finger to lead the way. Even though that post was not finished and needed so much work to meet my stringent requirements, I went ahead and…
I hit publish!
What would they think, what would they say, how would I be able to continue with this online business? All of these negative thoughts swirled in my mind and I had to make a choice: Do I delete the post completely and start over the following day, or do I get up out of chair, go downstairs, and take my dogs out for a walk? Yes, the dogs and I enjoyed a leisurely walk through the neighborhood, and when I returned I actually turned off my computer and unplugged it from the wall.
I would love to tell you that my perfectionism had been cured by that single act, but the truth is that the following morning all of the doubts about my ability to do anything right were right there waiting for me. My new goal was to ignore the self-destructive voices in my head and to replace that cacophony with the sweet tones of positive self-talk. It took a few years, but at this point in my life I know when to publish or ship what I have created.
It is my hope that you take what I’ve shared with you here to heart, and to find a typo or two within this post that tells you I’m walking my talk. You can get to a million dollars by remaining a perfectionist, but that is contingent upon selecting the right numbers for your lottery ticket.
Instead, have faith in your ability to do well enough to publish or ship. Get into the habit of focusing on increasing your skills one percent each day, and it won’t be long before the quality of what you are creating improves to the point where it even surprises you at how excellent (not perfect!) it is. I believe in you, and now it is simply up to you to believe in yourself as well.
I’ll bet you didn’t think the 2022 Productivity Challenge was going to be this awesome, did you?
Day Twelve: Create an Online Course!
Early on, I realized that my online business could consume every waking moment. I wanted to share my thoughts, ideas, experiences, and strategies with those who wanted to follow along in my footsteps, yet I knew that any live training, teaching, and mentoring had to be limited in some way.
The solution came quite by accident; I could teach a topic live the first time, and then put the replays and other materials into what I refer to as “Home Study” and continue to make sales. If and when I teach the program live again, everyone who is already a member (everything I create is added to its own membership site, using a paid WordPress plugin called Wishlist) is included the next time – and beyond – at no additional investment.
I’m defining an online course as one that is delivered entirely online, through videos, webinars, written materials, audio recordings, and more. Occasionally I include a live component, such as a ticket to one of my live marketing events.
Remember that your online course is an information product that can stand on its own. Also, your online course can be one of a series of trainings that follow a branding, like I’ve done with my “Really Simple” series of courses. Really Simple Online Courses is an example, and please reach out to me if you’d like a substantial discount for that one.
I believe online courses are the best product for you to create right now, and you can achieve this goal in record time. Here’s a strategy and plan you may wish to follow:
Begin with a blog post: Everything I create, including my books, courses, live events, and more begins with a blog post. This is how I get my ideas out of my head and on to the page, where I can work them into the format(s) that will best meet my goals.
Divide your topic into five parts: Think about the person you are creating this for (your target prospect) and then write down these five questions…
What is (your topic)?
Why is (your topic) important?
What if someone follows your recommendations for achieving success with (your topic)?
How do you succeed and what are the steps with (your topic)?
What’s next with (your topic)?
Look for resources to include: I love sharing the people, programs, products, books, and more with my community. You can do this as well, by reaching out to the people you are building relationships with online and in person. A recent example I’ll share with you here is the Optimize program, where you may come aboard at no cost through me.
Begin writing your sales letter: I begin writing headlines and bullet points for my online courses and products while I am still in the initial outlining stage. This prompts me to include everything I believe will be relevant and helpful to the topic I am working one. Right now, I’m creating an online course on writing, marketing, and profiting with short reports. My sales page inspires me to make the course better each time I go back to it.
Look for Beta Testers: These are people who know and love you and will help you to succeed. Practice with them and be open to their constructive feedback. be willing to spend the time necessary to make your online course the best it can possibly be.
Ship It! This is the final step in the process of creating an online course. It may feel scary, but once your course is complete it’s time to offer it for sale. There is nothing like having paid clients to work with, and your topic is sure to enhance their life and business in a meaningful way.
This simple outline has been the basis and starting point for everything I have created for well over a decade now. I’d love to know how you will use it to create your first, or next online course, or anything else you wish to create for your business. Allow this 2022 Productivity Challenge to carry you to new heights, and take action each day with what I am sharing with you here.
Day Thirteen: Create Your Ideal Day
Let’s get back to our discussion around productivity again, as this is the 2022 Productivity Challenge, after all.
5 Ways Make Everyday Your Ideal Day
Quick question: What does it take to make every day your ideal day in terms of productivity? Here’s a hint:
- It doesn’t involve getting up early.
- It doesn’t require using the latest productivity tool.
- It doesn’t even have anything to do with how many hours you work a day.
- Instead, all it takes is optimizing your morning and getting your day off to a great
Let me make my point clear:
I am NOT talking about having a productive day! Remember: Even a broken clock is right twice a day; likewise, almost everyone will have a good day every once in a while.
What I’m talking about in this lesson is making EVERY DAY your ideal day. And the answer lies in starting your day right. But how?
Below are my five ways for making everyday a super-productive day by optimizing your first hours:
1 – Plan Your Day Ahead
One of the most crucial parts of starting your day off right is planning your day ahead of time. As Seneca said a long time ago, “If one does not know which port one is sailing to, no wind is favorable.”
Similarly, if you don’t know what your plan and purpose is for that day, even working many hours will do you no good.
While I always advise people to be flexible enough to adapt to changes, I strongly believe in having a pre-defined plan for each day.
That’s a habit that I developed in my early 20’s while I was working at IHOP (that’s the International House of Pancakes restaurant chain) during night shifts. (The night manager was handing me a checklist for each day), and I turned it into a lifetime habit.
Planning your day on-the-fly is the surefire way to kill your productivity and to make your mind wander. Instead, plan for the day ahead by reviewing your plan either right before you go
to bed or right after you wake up in the morning.
2 – Focus on Your Most Important Task(s)
This one goes hand-in-hand with the first tip. While you’re planning your day, put your most important task at the top of your
“How do I know my most important task?” you may ask. It’s the one that creates the most value for your business and/or personal life.
Example: If you’re in business, product creation, marketing, and sales will probably be your most important activities. They create the best ROI for your business.
Look at all of the tasks that you need to do that day, define the most valuable one (or two), and start planning your day with these tasks first… even before you check your email, take a look at your social media accounts, and so on.
3 – Take Control of Distractions
In this day and age, another VERY important part of starting your day right is taking control of the usual distractions and interruptions (as opposed to them taking control of you).
Email, social media, mobile communication, and instant messaging are all common distractions… and they’ll take control of your day if you don’t first take control of them.
The solution? Plan for those distractions ahead of time. If you know that you are going to spend some time answering email, checking your social media accounts, and text messaging friends on your smartphone, determine how much time you’ll need to do those tasks and budget them accordingly into your schedule.
Keep in mind that you should only allocate a REASONABLE amount of time for those activities; you can’t be spending all day with them, as you have more important tasks to complete.
Still, take a reasonable amount of time to include those activities in your day, and then stick with that schedule… and preferably, schedule them later in the day or during your down times.
4 – Clear Your Mind
Aside from getting away from common distractions – at least early in your day – you may want to work your way to clearing your mind – intentionally.
I advise you to do that right before you start working on your most important task (see tip #2) or during your breaks. Here are some things you can do to clear your mind:
- Go for a short walk. I like to take one of my little dogs with me.
- Pray. This is a personal activity that may take many shapes and forms.
- Meditate. I use the “Balance” App on my iPhone for this.
- Repeat an affirmation.
- Do breathing exercises.
- Sit silently and enjoy your morning coffee/tea.
Pick whichever fits your lifestyle best. You’ll be glad you did.
5 – Get excited about something!
Another important aspect of starting your day off right involves a positive mindset.
So, in the same way I advise you to intentionally clear your mind, I recommend you get excited about something by planning ahead for it. Getting excited about something always gets your mind more focused on the task at hand. This is because you need to complete the task at hand before you can get to the exciting activity you have planned.
The sooner you complete the task at hand, the sooner you can enjoy the activity you’re looking forward to. Here are some of the best ways to get your mood up:
- Read a motivational piece.
- Listen to music which you love.
- Watch a movie which is proven to make you laugh.
- Do some writing or journaling, using the “free flow” process.
- Call a friend who always makes you happy.
- Think of the positive results that you’ll achieve at the end of the day.
Even if that “positive thinking” sounds too woo-woo for you, just give it a chance first. At worst, you’ll have a few minutes of enjoyment.
Day Fourteen: Brainstorming to Make Progress
To make progress as an entrepreneur and/or author who may still be dealing with perfectionism (See Day Eleven), you need to find ways to circumvent the inner critic that lives inside and is so hard on you. You’ll eventually silence the critic using some of the methods we’ve already discussed, but that takes time, and in the meantime, getting around said critic is a good way to also make progress.
Brainstorming is a great strategy for doing just that. It’s a method of problem-solving and generating ideas that is judgment-free and creative, both of which get around the critic’s defenses. Here’s how to practice it, by yourself or with other people.
1.) Define the Problem/State the Goal
What are you trying to do? Solve a problem at work? Figure out how to save enough money for your vacation this year? Write it down on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. The latter is particularly useful for brainstorming.
2.) Set a Timer
Choose how long you want your brainstorming session to last and set a timer. Ten minutes is usually plenty. Less than that can be enough if you’re doing it by yourself. But set a timer and don’t stop until it goes off.
3.) Write Down Ideas
During the time allotted, write down every idea that comes to mind. Don’t judge it or think about if it’s reasonable, doable, or anything else. Just write it down. Write down serious suggestions, fun suggestions, ridiculous ones -it doesn’t matter. They all get written down. I did this when I wanted to build a new home!
4.) Evaluate the Ideas
Once the timer goes off, you’re going to have a whole sheet of paper or whiteboard filled with ideas to evaluate. In any good brainstorming session, about a quarter of them will be impossible, a quarter will be impractical, a quarter will be silly or given in jest (no, you are not funding your vacation with a bank robbery but writing it down as an option can be pretty funny), and roughly a quarter of your brainstormed ideas will have actual potential.
Some of these latter wouldn’t have made it past your inner critic if you hadn’t done a brainstorming session. That’s the power of brainstorming… it makes an end-run around your defenses and gives you new ideas.
Brainstorming isn’t a perfect strategy, but it is a great way to increase your creativity and help overcome your perfectionism. You can use brainstorming to solve just about any problem or come up with creative ways to reach a goal. It’s one of the most powerful strategies you can use, both by yourself and with other people.
Day Fifteen: Start a Side Hustle You Can Profit from Online
For decades, men and women of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life have looked for ways to make a little money on the side. Sometimes, it was as simple as recycling aluminum cans. Other times, it may have been getting a second or even third job to make ends meet.
It was just my mother and I growing up, and she had a side hustle one summer managing the apartment building where we lived. My first side hustle was scraping barnacles off wooden boats at the harbor near us so I could buy new clothes for the upcoming school year. I’m not necessarily recommending physical labor to that degree, but I did want to share my personal experience with you.
Luckily, in today’s world, you don’t have to spend a lot of time or secure work offline in order to add extra income to your finances each week. There are numerous online opportunities that are legitimate that you can tap into for extra profits.
Whether you need a little bit more money in your pocket for bills (or even just to enhance your lifestyle), or you are someone who is out of work and looking for a career that will support you and your family, the 30 side hustles found in this report can be expanded into full time work if you want them to provide even more for you.
With the current state of the economy, and predictions that it will only get more precarious, many people want to shore up their finances and begin generating an income online in their spare time.
All you need to begin is access to the Internet, in most cases. In others, you may need to use a certain digital tool, but there are many free versions you can utilize as you launch your new side hustle on the Internet.
Instead of getting roped into one of the many scams people try to get you to pay for online, you’ll be building a business that you’re in control of. There’s no scheme you have to involve yourself in – just work for pay, and it has unlimited potential to provide a nice revenue source for you.
These side hustles work for men and women of all ages. Many senior citizens supplement their retirement or social security using these side hustle ideas, and you can work as many or as few hours as you want to.
Pick one to start with and if you find that you want to try something new, simply add it on as a business branch to increase your earnings. There are many ideas where you can outsource to others and profit from the work they do, too! Here are two ideas to begin thinking about…
#1 – Offer Services as a Virtual Assistant
When it comes to making quick and easy money, one of the best things you can do is offer services as a virtual assistant online. Many companies, as well as individual entrepreneurs, hire people to handle the administrative tasks they need help with.
Virtual assistant position is typically paid on an hourly basis, although many solo entrepreneurs prefer to pay by the project. You might be handling things such as responding to emails from customers, uploading blog content, updating plugins, themes, and other things on their blog, etc.
Sometimes, a virtual assistant will be managing the personal business affairs of an individual, such as their travel arrangements or appointments they have online or offline. You can start your own site where you offer services as a virtual assistant, or sign up on freelance platforms and bid on projects people post.
You might be transcribing videos podcasts into text format so that the individual can use the content in a repurposed method. They may also need you to conduct some niche research for them, or handle small tasks such as uploading files and setting up product listings.
Most of the tasks you will be asked to do can easily be learned by watching simple YouTube videos or reading instructions that are already online. For example, if you are hired to queue up emails for a marketer, you will find a database on most autoresponder sites that tell you exactly how to do it.
#2 – Start a POD Business Online
There are many individuals who like to order tailor made items for themselves, or for people who are attending something like a baby shower or bachelorette party. You might have a business that needs several products created for their employees.
Sometimes, a brand will need swag produced for them, such as tote bags with their logo or tagline on them. Even authors like to hire print on demand (POD) companies to create things they can give their readers, such as bookmarks, tote bags, and more.
A print on demand business is perfect for those who don’t want to house a bunch of inventory. You will simply create the designs and list them on a platform of your choice. Customers can then purchase the design to be placed on an item of their choosing, such as a tumbler or t-shirt.
The company that owns the platform will then take your design and place it on the product before shipping it out to the customer on your behalf. This is a lucrative business for those who love to create designs and quotes that can be placed on things like coffee cups and more.
We are halfway through the 2022 Productivity Challenge! I sincerely hope you are finding this to be a fun, productive, and insightful journey as you build your online business.
Day Sixteen: Think in Terms of Multi-Media Marketing
In order to be a productive and profitable marketer in 2022 and beyond, you must allow people to connect with with you in a way that makes them feel like they know you personally. Blogging and email marketing are an excellent way to begin, but without additional strategies that “flesh you out” in three dimensions, you will remain flat and one-dimensional in their minds.
Beginning in 2007 and until the pandemic began in March of 2020, I was used to traveling all over the world to speak at and attend live events of all kinds, both ones that were directly related to my business, my own marketing events, and those events related to the people and activities I am actively engaged in as a part of my personal life. Even with this willingness to travel the world and connect with as many people as possible, it was still just a drop in the bucket compared to my following and connections online.
What I’m saying here is that we must give people the opportunity to hear our voice and to see us virtually in order to stand out from the crowd and make a name for ourselves in our chosen field and niche.
When it comes to audio, I began by recording regular calls I call “Ask Connie Anything” and answering questions on the topics I have experience and expertise in, for those who want to know more. You may listen to the most recent of these calls here, as well as another teleseminar series I’m doing right now here. I’ve also done several podcast series, and my current podcast is Praestabilis: Excellence in Marketing. The word praestabilis is Latin for “excellent, outstanding, or extraordinary.”
I have a YouTube video channel where I record short – less than five minutes in length – videos about various aspects of my business. I record all of these using my iPhone, along with a portable tripod and wireless remote shutter device that sells for less than twenty dollars.
As you read through your emails next time, think about each person whose list you are on. If you’ve never met them in person, seen them on video, or heard their voice, they are one-dimensional in your mind. Those who are using multi-media marketing will jump out at you in comparison. Which people make you feel more connected to them? Who are you more likely to purchase from.
I highly recommend that you use writing as your foundation for your business, then sprinkle in audio and video for optimal results.
Day Seventeen: Limiting Beliefs That Sabotage Your Success
It’s Too Hard to Understand This Business is the most common limiting belief I hear from people who connect with me online or in person.
One of the most common limiting beliefs as an online entrepreneur is that the business will be too difficult for you to understand. It’s no wonder many people feel overwhelmed due to the number of options they have available to them.
As an online marketer, you are tasked with choosing which niche you want to pursue as well as picking from a myriad of business models that you may want to implement for profits.
If you come from the corporate world, where you may or may not have been given a set of standard operating procedures, you may find yourself feeling worried about having to learn as you go.
The fact that you are able to do things your own way, and that there is no set standard to go by, can make you feel unsure of yourself. Add to that the fact that even your options have options and it becomes even more intimidating.
For example, you may be fine choosing between utilizing paid advertising versus free advertising. But then, you realize that even for paid ads, you have more choices to make such as Google ads, Facebook ads, or solo email ads.
Not only that, but you also have dozens of experts to learn from. Some sell courses in the form of eBooks and some sell video courses. Some even have coaching programs or you can hire them directly to guide you along the way.
You have to figure out what an actual on line marketing schedule looks like. Do you work four hours per week for over 40? Flexibility can sometimes be a burden because it frees you up to make mistakes and time management.
In addition to learning the actual marketing tasks you will need to understand, you also have to figure out how to have good work life balance. You have to find time for family and your ability to shoulder 100% of the responsibility for each and every work task within your business.
If you struggle with the idea of having to understand this business as a whole, then work out a strategy where you feel more sure about your efforts. Start by educating yourself first about whatever task it is you want to work on, and know that you can easily outsource almost any task or activity in time.
Then, start somewhere. Anywhere. It doesn’t exactly matter where you begin the learning and implementation process. The great thing about this career is that you can always change course if you become dissatisfied or even realize you should be working on something else first.
Day Eighteen: Daydream Your Way to a Profitable and Productive Online Business
Daydreaming is underrated. As a former classroom teacher over a twenty year period, I am proud to say that I never told a child to stop daydreaming. There were teachers who would snap their fingers in a child’s face and demand they pay attention to what was going on around them, but that is missing the point of life itself, in my opinion.
We must make time every day to float away to the clouds, or an ocean breeze, or to a fantasy world of our imagination. If we don’t dream while we are awake, how do we know what are deepest joys and passions are in our hearts and minds?
On Day Thirteen I shared about creating your ideal day. That is best achieved by letting yourself go and dreaming while awake about the goals and achievements you wish to pursue. I can remember daydreaming about being a published author for years before I took action and made that a reality. I had visions of placing a copy of my book in my mother’s hands and hearing her questions for me about what I had written. That is just one example of my daydreams that have manifested as a part of my reality.
Make an appointment with yourself to daydream each day. Start with five minutes at first, and then expand your practice to longer periods of time. I do this sometimes as a part of my daily meditation practice, and other times while I am driving or walking or doing something else in my day-to-day life.
You’ll be amazed at what comes up for you, and soon you’ll experience what it’s like to turn your daydreams into your reality.
Day Nineteen: Ask for the Sale!
As an online entrepreneur, marketer, and/or author, you are a salesperson. You most likely have not been thinking this way, so far, so let’s discuss some reasons why you may be reluctant to ask for the sale when it comes to what you have to offer as a part of your online business.
We’ll include your own and affiliate products, courses, programs, books, physical products, memberships, coaching/mentoring/consulting, and anything else that I may have not mentioned here that is applicable to your business.
#1 Fear of Rejection
The most common reason entrepreneurs and marketers are reluctant to ask for the sale is a fear of rejection. No one likes rejection; however, when a buyer says no it only means that the buyer doesn’t want your product or service now. It does not mean that the buyer rejects you as a person. In other words, don’t take it personally. Also, remember that price is seldom the true reason someone doesn’t make a purchase. We’ve all been in the position where we wanted something so badly we found a way to pay for it.
#2 Lack of Confidence in Yourself and Your Offers
Some people are reluctant to ask for a sale because they lack confidence in their own solution. For example, they convince themselves that there is no difference between their own product and a lower-priced competitor, or that the competitor’s solution is somehow superior to their own solution to the same, or similar problem.
Here’s an effective way of building confidence in your own solution before asking for a commitment: Ask yourself how will the buyer benefit from my solution? What makes my solution unique in appeal? By focusing on how your solution will benefit the buyer, you will increase your own confidence.
Believe That Your Solution is the Right One for Your Prospects
People can sense when you lack conviction in your proposal. You must know, without doubt, that your solution meets the customer’s needs at this point in time, and that it will benefit them in a way no other competitor could come close to matching. By focusing on how your solution benefits the prospect, you will increase your confidence. You must be so in love with what you do and the solutions you offer, you feel guilty not asking for their business. When you believe your solution is the best, there is no room for anything or anyone else to compete.
#3 Fear of Damaging the Relationship
Strong business relationships are the foundation of successful selling. A strong relationship increases your influence because the buyer respects your experience and advice. But entrepreneurs can confuse strong business relationships with their prospects for friendship. If this describes your experience, you may be reluctant to ask for a commitment because you fear that doing so will somehow jeopardize your relationship with the potential client.
But nothing could be further from reality. According to the Harvard Business Review, buyers expect three things from a sales professional: product and industry expertise, professionalism and for the sales representative to ask them to take a specific action. Remember, the buyer knows that you’re a professional in your niche and that your job is to ask for a commitment, so they are expecting you to ask for the sale.
Over the years I have refined my sales skills and my results show in my bank accounts. When I create a product, course, or program, or come across something I can be an affiliate for, I am likely to reach out to people individually or in a small group setting and ask them to come aboard. Once you release your inner salesperson, your confidence will soar and you’ll add zeroes to your bottom line.
Please leave a comment to let me know you’ve come aboard or to ask me a question for this 2022 Productivity Challenge and I will mention you within what I’m writing here.
I’m bestselling Wall Street Journal and USA Today author, marketing strategist, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you to help you to achieve your goals. If you are interested in learning how to optimize the syndication of your content, please take a look at my popular Syndication Optimization training course and consider coming aboard to increase your visibility, credibility, and profitability.