Maintain You

maintain - Emilymarko.com

Just over a year ago, I was writing about throwing out my bucket and realizing the importance of life maintenance. Although, that was clarifying, I still don’t necessarily feel like I am in control of the daily maintenance of my life. It is sneaky – the gradual build up of ‘stuff’ or things to-do and then BAM! – I have slipped into a state of scrambling. Until I fall behind on the dishes or making time for myself I don’t notice the benefits. Maintaining doesn’t seem super fun – it is redundant work and not immediately rewarding, but it is key to living a proactive life.

So how does one remain in control of the day-to-day? It seems easy to do something just once, but how to infuse into your daily life is tricky. I think it is a balance of focusing on the present and making choices for the future. The best way to do that, is to focus on what is most important to you.

I really like the term from this article about channeling your inner “CEO of Self.” We should focus on the tasks that only we can do. While we are maintaining we should also be delegating. I find this to be an excellent reminder to not do the easy or quick things – if I am always focusing on that type of task I will never get to the “Great Work” – like writing my newsletters and other business.

This month I am going to practice doing what I do best and being sure I make proactive decisions so I can have the time and space for the practice. I will let you know how it goes.

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How do you stay on top of maintaining your day-to-day life?

Please share your suggestions here!

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Focus on the Inner Business

BizFocus- EmilyMarko.com

As an entrepreneur, I feel like I am always thinking about my business. That does not necessarily mean I am focusing on the correct things though. Since I am a sole-proprietor, I take on many roles. Those roles require my focus to be in several different places – normally all at once. It is always a challenge for me to allocate time for both project work and the internal work of my business. Since the customer is waiting and paying, project work seems to often take priority.

Focusing on the internal business can seem daunting at times. There never seems to be a shortage of to-do’s, from writing a blog post to paying quarterly taxes to creating marketing materials. It actually seems easier to stick with the project work sometimes!

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I started using a simple model to keep track of the internal workings of my business. Of course, I created a template to help me simplify the inner business. Each category is equally important and they all rely on one another.

FINANCES
Sometimes it can be painful to look at business finances – especially in the early phases of starting a business. BUT you need to know where you stand financially, so you can plan for tomorrow and feel secure in today. Even if its simple tasks such as following up on an unpaid invoice or budgeting for a new color set of your favorite markers (they were so pretty, I had to get them!)

MARKETING + SALES
Having a great product or service is only half of the equation. The other half is putting it into the hands of potential customers. If they don’t know about you, how can they buy from you. This category is a challenge for me which means I normally have a long list of to-do’s in it!

OPERATIONS
Operations is really about the processes and resources necessary for you to do your work. Do you need new software or equipment? Are you clear on your processes? Is everyone else? How many people does it take to run your business and what are their roles? What are the day-to-day tasks that need to happen to keep you in business? List them all here!

STRATEGY
Core values, goal planning, mission statements,  Oh My! If you aren’t clear on the direction your business needs to go or what it stands for – how can you hire new employees, project financials or even sell your product/service?! The answer is: You can’t. Being very clear about your business strategy is a key to success.

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Try out this free template and Get.To.Work – on your inner business!
Leave a comment and let me know how its working for you.

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Interested in receiving updates about how you can become a Passionate Do-Gooder – Sign up for the e-newsletter here.

Park It

If you have ever attended a formal meeting – in the corporate world or elsewhere – the term Parking Lot is probably familiar. Parking Lots are used as a way to capture ideas, issues and comments that surface during a meeting. They are documented in some way so the information isn’t lost and action can be taken after the meeting. It is a great way to stay on track with agenda items so the meeting can end on time.

I was recently working with a client on a project we are both super excited about. When we get in that creative thinking mode there are ideas bouncing all over the room and we can go off-track quite easily. We definitely do not want to lose the ideas, but if we take time to discuss them further then we run the risk of the session goals not being met.

So I created a Parking Lot to capture all our awesome ideas that have nothing to do with what we are meeting about. Now we can reference and build an action plan for each item.

This past week I was sitting at my desk and totally off-track (okay I got sucked into Pinterest again) from what I planned to do when I noticed extra print outs of the Parking Lot. So I started to fill them in and WOAH! Before I knew it, two pages were filled. They have categories and subcategories – one for business, one for home and I think I will create another for family members. Now I can leave them at my desk and quickly capture my thoughts so I can get back focusing on the task at hand.

Do you ever get off-track during meetings or LIFE?!
What do you use to document your ideas and regain focus?
Feel free to use this one if you like – there is even a spot for a category name.

park idea

Zentangle

Zentangle – have you heard of it?! Apparently I have been living under a rock because I knew nothing of its Awe.Some.Ness. Until a few nights ago that is – when I attended a Zentangle workshop at my local library.

What is Zentangle?
I call it meditative doodling. Jen Kwiecien, the engaging workshop facilitator and Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), describes it as “yoga for the brain”. You basically draw patterns of lines and shapes on a 3.5 inch square paper – really that is it.

So why is Zentangle so great?
1 – Anyone can do this – even all those people out there who insist they cannot draw. My 4-year old son was even doing it this morning!

2 – It turned my brain off! I have REALLY been trying to meditate. I understand the benefits – I want the benefits, but my brain hasn’t resigned to this quite yet. I am now on my second Oprah and Deepak 21-day meditation experience, I have countless meditation apps on my phone, a new meditation cd – all great resources that are helping me…slowly. But I created a Zentangle for an hour last night and DID NOT think about anything except for what was in front of me.

Hello Focus! I will definitely still continue my different meditation methods, but I feel like Zentangle has taught me a different way to relax and focus. I hope to merge all of these resources and be able to hit pause on my thoughts when I want/need to.

You can find out more information about Zentangle here at zentangle.com.
Jen Kwiecien, CZT can be reached at doONEnow@gmail.com.

Here are my first two Zentangles!

My First ZentangleMy second Zentangle