Smartful Coaching

Adversity Flip™

Turn Adversity Over to Find Something Good

02 April

Making A Name For Yourself In Business and In Life

When people think of you do you know what they think? Do they think you’re a positive go-to kind of person? Do they avoid you because you’re a complainer? Do they think of you first when they have a problem to solve? What name have you made for yourself among your business colleagues and among family and friends? If your attitude is on the negative end of the scale, is there any way to flip adversity or a bad mood on its head and become more positive? Of course there is. Of course, as with any change you make, it may take time and you may have to take baby steps.

How can you be the go-to person among your friends, family and colleagues? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Be visible. Show your face at networking events and family get togethers. If you don’t show up, people won’t think of you when they’re seeking a solution.
  • Be positive. Yes, everyone had bad days and perhaps that is the day you should stay at home. But, if you’re determined to turn your attitude upside down you can project a positive attitude even if you aren’t 100% “feeling it.” Ask after the welfare of others and deflect your complaints or criticisms. Who knows, simply helping or listening to someone else may help you see, your issues aren’t as insurmountable as you’d imagined.
  • Become an expert. Regardless of your field — whether it’s a business professional, a DIY genius or anywhere in between share your expertise and the love of what you do. Your enthusiasm will be contagious.
  • Share your knowledge with others. Don’t feel you have to hoard your knowledge or your skills. Share freely with others whether in the business groups to which you belong or through volunteer organizations. What you give out will come back tenfold.

What are people thinking about you?

  Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and  speaker on time management, social media for the small business and productivity. She works with entrepreneurs providing professional writing services including: writing web copy, newsletters, guest and ghost blogging and long letter copywriting. 

21 March

Proactive Or Reactive? Which Mode Do You Operate In?

Do you react to situations or are you able to see a situation coming up ahead and formulate a proactive approach? When you are constantly reacting to life, to situations, to crises, you are operating in a high state of tension and stress and it drains your energy. And while you can’t anticipate every eventuality you can certainly become proactive to those situations you know are inevitable — a speech at a networking event, putting together a proposal for a new client, a family outing with the inlaws (!) there are myriad situations in which being proactive is beneficial to all involved.

Being proactive means you are “anticipating and preparing for events with the ultimate objective of controlling the outcome or the circumstances.” Being proactive in life and in business helps you amp up your performance and productivity and helps you better cope with curve balls that are thrown your way.

How can you become more proactive? Here are some steps I’ve been taking and maybe they’ll help you:

  1. Remember you are responsible for what happens during your day. If you can turn off interruptions, divert distractions and eliminate tasks that drain your energy you can more proactively face the day.
  2. Be purposeful. If you choose a goal (whether it’s to complete your to-do list or to volunteer for your favorite charity) you have made a proactive choice for your day. Being purposeful in your actions will help you to achieve your objectives daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Never underestimate the power of eating that elephant one bite at a time.
  3. Be organized. I can’t stress enough the importance of organization — from your desk top to your purse or briefcase to the way in which you approach work projects. Writing down your action steps will keep you on track and help you be more organized and productive. Follow up with yourself on your progression toward productivity and organization.

Strive to be more proactive and ponder how it could have a positive impact on your dealings with others and with particular life situations.

  Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and creative thinker. She works with entrepreneurs providing professional writing services including: writing web copy, newsletters, guest and ghost blogging and long letter copywriting. She is also a speaker on the subjects of time management, writing and productivity.  

14 March

How Comfortable Are You With Yourself?

I was reading an article recently that spoke to how comfortable individuals are with themselves or more to the point, how they can become more comfortable in their own skins. There are certainly times in life when you’re more comfortable than others and that can be attributed to any number of factors ranging from being happy with your physical self, being in a good (or bad) place mentally or emotionally and even feeling good about your work or career choices.

There are also times in your life when you simply need to step back and ask, “Am I in touch with my true self? Do I even know who my true self is?” Here are some items to consider when trying to reveal the inner you:

  • Take time to reflect on the items you loved, the hobbies you pursued or the simple things that just made you laugh. When is the last time you enjoyed any of those?
  • What do you do right now that completely makes you lose track of time? Gardening? Crochet? Playing or listening to music? Taking the dog for a walk? Write those down and make sure you plan to do those items regularly. Indulge yourself.
  • What is your ideal vacation? Hiking? Relaxing in a hot tub overlooking a snow capped mountain? Skiing? Exploring antique shops in quaint towns? Is it feasible to either plan one of those trips or even to indulge in those activities with a day trip?
  • When you open the newspaper what articles do you read first? When you pick up a magazine, what type do you buy and what do you read first? These activities can give you insight into long buried interests or may pique new ones.

Spend some time with your answers then put together an action plan to make them happen. They don’t have to happen all at once, but you do need to take time out of your week to simply be in tune with yourself; it will help you recharge your mental energies and make the rest of the week more bearable.

  Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and creative thinker. She works with entrepreneurs providing professional writing services including: writing web copy, newsletters, guest and ghost blogging and long letter copywriting. She is also a speaker on the subjects of time management, writing and productivity. “Helping entrepreneurs find the ‘write’ words!” 

08 March

Some Days Even a Positive Attitude Doesn’t Help: You Need To Wallow

This past week has been a series of thrilling highs and heart-rending lows. From the opportunity to visit and reconnect with friends and clients in faraway places to losing my father on March 2. I’ve never been one for roller coaster rides but unfortunately, this past week life has had me on a never ending one.

When it comes to “which member of the family is known for crying” the award is, and always has, gone to me. I pride myself on not crying in public but this week I haven’t been able to live up to my own personal standard. I find myself crying in the grocery store when I look at a box of Shredded Wheat (Dad’s favorite), looking at family photos of vacations, weddings and birthdays celebrated, and then for no reason that I can see. I’ve had to leave grocery stores in the middle of shopping because I started crying and couldn’t focus. I’d been counting down the days until my one year anniversary of being cancer-free (April 9) and was now hit with this…. truly, God where have you gone? During this time I read about a book by a Coast to Coast Radio talk show host I enjoy, Ian Punnett entitled “How To Pray When You’re Pissed At God.” I pre-ordered the book, but boy could I use its teachings right about now.

Am I making a point? Is there anyway to “flip” this adversity on its head and put a positive spin on it? Not likely. Does that make me somehow a failure in showing a positive attitude? Not at all. There are simply times in life when you need to give in and feel your pain, live your grief. I’ve discovered it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s who I am. If I find I can’t move on or can’t get dressed, or can’t go to a grocery store without breaking down I will know enough to know that it’s time to seek help. Right now though I am dealing with the stages of grief:

  1. Shock and denial
  2. Pain and guilt
  3. Anger and bargaining
  4. Depression, reflection and loneliness
  5. The upward turn
  6. Reconstruction and working through
  7. Acceptance and hope

Right now I am vacillating between steps 1, 2 and 3. While I know I can’t “power through” this I also know I am not alone in finding ways to cope with the loss and I think that just learning to cope is a step forward in the healing process.

  Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and creative thinker.  She is a speaker on the subjects of time management, writing and productivity. “Helping entrepreneurs find the ‘write’ words!” 

12 February

Manage Your Work Time, Manage Your Stress

Work is a fact of life for the majority of us, right? Because of that fact, it’s crucial that we manage the time we spend at work — whether you work in a large corporation, a solopreneur operation or anywhere in between. Feeling stressed and out of control at work will not only spill over into your home life, it will impact your attitude before you even walk in the door in the mornings.

Here are my tips on regaining control and managing your time:

  1. Do you love your physical workspace? Is your desk a mess? Even if you don’t have a room with a view, you can make your workspace warm and inviting. Take time to clean the desk if it’s a mess and create a more welcoming environment.
  2. Are you generating too many ideas? If you’re an entrepreneur, idea generation is key… but not at the expense of actually completing the tasks necessary to keep your business viable. Write your ideas down but know that you may have to table some in order to concentrate on the work at hand.
  3. It’s not the quantity, but the quality that counts. Working 12 hours a day doesn’t mean you’re productive all 12, does it? It’s likely that they are not all productive so you need to concentrate on quality of the time you spend at work. If you’re truly productive for four hours in the morning, take advantage of that time. Set a specific end time for your workday and stick to it!
  4. How much are you growing personally? Business owners know that professional growth is a given, but if you neglect personal growth, you will stagnate. Learn a new skill. Make a new habit. Take time for yourself and incorporate healthy habits into your work day.
  5. How do you tackle your weekend? Do you use your weekend to recover from the workweek? If so, this is a habit that needs to be changed and this change will come about once you harness the stress you’re feeling at work. Your weekend should be a time for family and recreation and yes a little bit of planning for the week ahead.

What will you do to take control of your time?

29 January

En-‘Vision’-ing Success in 30 Days

Is it possible to achieve a dream in 30 days? Do you have a vision of where you want to be — both personally and professionally? Does it seem a daunting task to reach that milestone? How about committing to 30 days to a more productive you? Having accomplished more and crossed more off your to do list at the end of the day, week, and month is such a heady feeling of accomplishment and it propels you toward even greater heights of productivity and vision attainment.

There are five steps that I have found beneficial in reaching my goals and which have helped me envision success:

  1. Commit to 30 days. You don’t have to wait until the first of the month to start this. Start today and commit for the next 30 days going forward. Having an end in sight may make you more likely to stick to it a goal/project. If you find the steps you’ve implemented aren’t working, feel free to toss them or look for new ones at the end of your 30 days.
  2. Make certain your goals are realistic. Yes, we’ve heard about those rare individuals that can pen a bestselling novel in 30 days or reach a six figure sales goal in a month… those individuals are few and far between. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. Remember, you’re looking to change your work habits and you can’t change yourself overnight. Don’t let a missed goal make you feel like an under-achiever; instead determine whether the goal was truly reachable.
  3. Baby steps are critical to making it to the top and achieving success with your goal. Remember, it’s easier to eat an elephant one bite at a time than to tackle it all in one meal.
  4. Find an accountability partner. Having a goal-buddy keeps you both accountable and helps you stay on task. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off of when you’re feeling stymied and run down.
  5. You need to believe in yourself, your capabilities and your skills. Be confident in who you are and what you do and that will go a long way in helping you reach your 30 day goal.

What will you set as your 30 day mile marker?

 Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and creative thinker. She works with entrepreneurs providing professional writing services including: web copy, newsletters, guest and ghost blogging and long letter copywriting. She is also a speaker on the subjects of time management, writing and productivity. “Helping entrepreneurs find the ‘write’ words!” 

22 January

Seven Steps To A More Productive You!

You love your To-Do lists, don’t you? I know I do! I also love a schedule although I had to learn the hard way that I needed to let go of schedules and learn to live more in the moment — it was a tough lesson and one that I am still grappling with. I have, however, learned a few ways to be more productive in the allotted amount of time in my workday and I’m certain you can too. Time is money but your health is also crucial; without it, you won’t be of any use to yourself or your clients.

Here are my top seven tips to getting, and remaining, productive:

  1. Well, maybe I should. But I just don’t know… You need to make decisions more quickly. Sitting on decisions means you’re having that sitting in the back of your mind taking up valuable real estate. Don’t second guess your decisions and don’t spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over a business decision. If you find out it’s not a good fit, you can certainly change your mind, right? Of course you can. Don’t wait for an epiphany – decide now!
  2. Setting up or attending a meeting? Is there an agenda? If there isn’t, call a time out and ask for an agenda. Walking into a meeting without an agenda is a recipe for spending time unproductively and walking out feeling frustrated.
  3. Hello? Can we talk? If I don’t recognize your phone number, chances are I will not answer the phone when you call. Send me an email first as a way to introduce yourself. Too many times, business owners get bogged down on phone calls that don’t come to a resolution… see number #2… and because we simply don’t know whether we can work together.
  4. Turn off email alerts while you’re in the midst of a mentally intensive project. If you’re constantly checking emails because it sent an alert, you won’t be fully invested in the project in front of you and therefore, you won’t give it your all. If you have to, let people know that you turn your email off from the hours of 9 am and noon or between 2 and 5 pm – whenever your most productive times are. Just because you get an email doesn’t mean you need to respond right now!
  5. Speaking of emails… Don’t get bogged down in emails. You need a system that works for you for not only answering messages, but for following up and for even knowing whether you need to answer, delete or delegate the message. The system you come up with is one that will be unique to your business’s specific needs. There is no one size fits all even though there are steps that can be taken to formulate a system to prioritize messages.
  6. Take a break. You read that correctly! You need to take time to get up from the computer screen and give both your mind and your body a break. Physical and mental exhaustion can set in quickly and you need to be prepared. Staying healthy and active benefits you and your clients!
  7. Step. Away. From. The. Computer/Business. Yes, you need to completely unplug from your computer (and that means Angry Birds and Words With Friends!) and from your business at least once a week. When is the last time you took an entire day off? If you can’t remember, you need to schedule it right now. Do your clients truly expect you to be available 24/7/365? If so, you may need to sit down with them and tell them you’re going to start working “normal business hours” I’m certain they will understand.

How will you step up to the plate and be productive? What will you need to let go of to make it happen? Can you start today? I’d love to hear. 

14 January

Two-Week Resolution Check In/Check-Up

Two weeks have passed into the new year and this is typically the time when resolutions and great ideas seem to slide. Have you stuck to your resolutions? Whether work or personal, resolutions give you something toward which to work, goals to attain, successes to grasp. People so often resolve to do XYZ only to see them unfulfilled.  A goal unrealized has the power to take you down a path of despair and the inability to complete other tasks on your list. Conversely, a resolution met propels you forward toward greater project completion.

Here are five ways we make resolutions we will have a better chance of keeping:

  1. What is the end goal? Write that down. Break that into smaller steps then check those off as you complete them. Set a timeline, if necessary, to keep you on task.
  2. Note a target date and chart your progress toward reaching it. Build flexibility into your plans to account for setbacks. Don’t look at a setback as a failure – it is a chance to revamp the target itself.
  3. Document daily progress. In addition to writing a to-do list, there is power in crossing items off that list. The daily progress documentation keeps you on target and is a great motivator.
  4. Accountability matters. Find a trusted colleague to pair up with and work to keep each other on track. Report in several times a week. Share successes and come up with solutions to targets unmet.
  5. A minor setback is just that — a set back. It doesn’t mean that you need to scrap the project, it just means you need to rework your timelines and deadlines and the steps you need to reach the goal.

How well are you doing with your resolutions?

 Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and creative thinker. She works with entrepreneurs providing professional writing services including: writing web copy, newsletters, guest and ghost blogging and long letter copywriting. She is also a speaker on the subjects of time management, writing and productivity. “Helping entrepreneurs find the ‘write’ words!” 

07 January

Take Control Of Your Time: Your Life Will Thank You!

Do you ever walk away from your office at the end of the day and wonder: “What did I accomplish? Or “Where did the day go?” If so, chances are you’re not making the most of the time you spend on your to-do list. If you’re wasting time, chances are you’re also losing money and perhaps even clients.

Just as dieters are told to keep a food journal so they can make note of everything they eat, time-wasters need to keep a journal and track how long they spend on specific tasks. I’ve found, when I’m working with clients, that they have no idea how much time they spend whiling away the hours on Facebook or simply surfing the internet or poking around Pinterest.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you simply don’t have the time to waste. If you do spend a lot of time on mindless tasks, you’ll find yourself working longer hours than necessary just to keep up with your client tasks.

Here are some possible time wasters you may be involved in. Make a note of these as a way to get a grip on your time:

  • Giving your clients free rein over your schedule. Block out time for client phone calls and interaction—you need to know when you’re most productive and take advantage of those windows of opportunity.
  • Do you spend hours writing blog posts? If you do, you may want to offload that task to an professional blogger and free your time for your core competencies.
  • How many hours do you spend on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+? Are you doing for personal or business reasons?
  • If you work from home, how much time is spent during your workday on home and family tasks?
  • When working with a client or your accountability partner do you tend to ramble on and the call – which was scheduled for 60 minutes – stretches into two hours?

If you find yourself bogged down in the tasks listed above (or any others that you know suck away your time) you need to regain control of your clock and your calendar and become a clock watcher. When you were in the corporate world, clock watching was not something your employer wanted to catch you doing, but as a business owner you need to do this. Here are my clock-watching tips:

  • Either use an online scheduler or a notebook to mark down when you begin a task. Estimate how long it will take you then when you’re done, compare the two. Track tasks that are both client related and personal.
  • Do you have tasks that must be completed daily? Can you streamline these? Consider using a scheduler for social media status updates such as HootSuite. You can block off a specific amount of time, blast out your social media updates then not have to worry about them for a few days.
  • If you find there are tasks that are not within your core competencies and are taking an inordinate amount of time, you may find you’ll save money in the long run if you sub out those tasks – social media updates, bookkeeping, blogging, etc.
  • Make certain you are vigilant about your time. Let friends and family know that your office hours are from 9 to 5 and that you won’t be answering personal phone calls or running personal errands between that time. Return phone calls on your lunch hour but not during your client time.
  • Setting a timer can keep you focused on a task. If you have a large project that needs attention, set a timer for 30 minutes as a way to work on it, uninterrupted for a chunk of time, and break it down into smaller bite-sized portions.

What steps can you take to regain control of your workday?

 Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and creative thinker. She works with entrepreneurs providing professional writing services including: writing web copy, newsletters, guest and ghost blogging and long letter copywriting. She is also a speaker on the subjects of time management, writing and productivity. “Helping entrepreneurs find the ‘write’ words!” 

31 December

‘Tis The Season To Schedule Success

The new year is the season of rebirth and renewal and what better time than New Year’s Eve to look forward toward success. Whether you’re self employed or punch a clock, being organized and productive releases stress and helps you face adversity and become more resilient.

Taking three simple steps to gain control of your calendar and your life will help you succeed. Here are my top three time-saving tips that will hopefully propel you toward a more successful 2013:

  1. Regain control of your email inbox. If you have multiple email accounts and get duplicate messages, email overload will soon wear you down. Knowing that when you log in you will be faced with hundreds, or even thousands of emails, take a mental toll. Take time now to regain control — set aside a couple of hours in the first week of the year to clean out your inbox. Once you have read, responded or deleted messages, you need to set aside time on a daily basis to tackle the inbox or it will become unmanageable in a short amount of time.
  2. Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. What items on your to do list can you offload? What tasks do you have on your to-do list that you never get to because they simply aren’t a priority? Cross them off. Delegate tasks to others if that is an option. Look at your tasks and determine whether you have made some of them more difficult than they need to be. If they are, simplify them and cross them off.
  3. “Yes” and “no” are your most powerful tools. Learn to use them both wisely. When you’re asked to volunteer, take on a new task, attend a networking event… take a moment and ask yourself whether this task will enhance your career or your life; will it fulfill you or drain you; does it take you further toward your path of success or will it draw you away from it?

How will you make 2013 profitable and productive? What will you do to make 2013 the year where you take back control of your life and your schedule?