Best Time-Tracking Web Apps

Where does the time go? If you work from home, you’re all-too-familiar with that sinking feeling you get at 5pm (6pm, 7pm or 11pm) when you realize another day has gone by and you’re not totally sure what you’ve accomplished. Often, it’s not the obvious time wasters that suck your time, it’s those sneaky this-is-kind-of-productive activities that are the most sinister. After all, they aren’t unproductive, right?

If you want to take back your day and find out where the time goes, I’m going to give you three of my favorite web apps for tracking and managing your time.

 

Passive
RescueTime.com

This one is awesome because it’s totally hands-off. Once installed, RescueTime just hangs out in the background and tracks how much time you spend on different computer activities (and websites). There is a little bit of management on your end (you sometimes need to re-categorize activities), but for the most part, it’s “set-it-and-forget-it.” After a week, take a look at where the time has gone. I mean, facebook is great, but is it 20 hours a week great?

 

Active
SlimTimer.com

This sweet app is a skinny little timer you keep open all day to track how long each activity takes. It’s definitely more hands-on and the benefit here is that you have to consciously switch between activities, instead of just slipping into the blogworld vortex unawares. You can create your own categories so it’s very personalized. I recommend keeping it simple – sticking to, say, four categories. Maybe even the four quadrants from the self-development classic, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

 

Proactive
e.ggtimer.com

Once you have a good sense of where your time is going, you can take control of how you spend your time. This web app is simply a digital kitchen timer. The cool thing is that you can quickly set it by entering the amount of time after the url (for example, http://e.ggtimer.com/20min will take you straight to a 20 minute timer and starts the clock immediately). If you know that writing that blog article should take you 45-minutes of totally focused productivity, set the timer at e.ggtimer.com/45min and get crackin’!

These are my top picks. I hope you find them helpful as you take back your day. Remember that to make the most of your day, you need to sacrifice the good to focus on the great – those super-effective tasks that make you money and grow your business. Please share your favorites and how else you keep the day from slipping away.

Getting Better Results in 2012

How are those New Year’s resolutions coming? After a couple of weeks, most people have already given up. Are you tired of setting goals but not achieving them? It’s not your fault. We don’t exactly teach kids in school how to set and achieve goals. Though the work that I do is more focused on helping entrepreneurs break through road blocks, we almost always spend some time getting really clear on what they want. Here are some tips to getting better results by setting better goals in 2012:

Set SMART Goals
This is basic, but essential. You’re not going to achieve your goals unless the goal you’re setting is Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Realistic and Time-based (has a deadline). Ask yourself, “What exactly do I want and how will I measure success?” and “When exactly will I have completed it?”

Think Big
Believe it or not, you’re more likely to achieve your goal if it’s something big and worthwhile than if it seems too small. It can’t be totally unrealistic, but setting a huge, meaningful goal will help you stay motivated when the initial enthusiasm is gone. Small goals will leave you thinking, “Why did I want this again?” or even “Meh, it’s not really worth it.” So think bigger!

Write it Down
I’ve read a ton about goal setting and this one is non-negotiable. If you are serious about making more money or losing weight or getting out more, it’s not enough to just think it. Write down your goals and put them where you will see them everyday.

Pick Four
Zig Ziglar, the deep-voiced sales guru who was popular in the 90s, has a goal-setting system I love. He recommends paring down what you want to achieve to just four things. I think it’s a great maximum. And if you get really honest about all of the things you want, narrowing it down to just four is flat-out painful. But having that kind of clarity on what you really want can make all of the difference.

Keep Track
Zig Ziglar (fun fact: his real name is Hilary Hinton, no joke) also has a system for keeping track of his goals. You can buy his Performance Planner (I definitely don’t get paid, but figure I at least owe him a link), or you can create your own system. I personally love www.joesgoals.com for a super-simple online system.The idea is to remind yourself regularly of your goals and check in daily on your progress.

Make a Quick-and-Dirty Plan
So often, people set goals, thinking they have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done, and then nothing happens. Maybe you fall into the camp where you spend ages creating the perfect plan, you just never get to the “action” phase. I’ve been guilty of that one a few times. My clients find it really helpful to make a super quick-and-dirty plan in 5-10 minutes. It outlines the major benchmarks and what it will take to realize their goal. They can add more detail where they need to. If nothing else, they have broken their goal down into more manageable steps and are less likely to get stuck doing nothing.

What are your goals for this year? Maybe it’s to make more money, work less or to have more fun. Maybe it’s simply to be kinder to yourself. I hope you find these tips helpful and I hope you get everything you want, and more, out of 2012. If you’re serious about getting better results in your business and your life, invest in yourself with Cake Coaching. Coaching is my calling, I can’t wait to hear about yours.

De-Stressing the Holidays

Well, Christmas is finally here. With an unexpectedly busy December, it pretty much snuck up on me. Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year to be thankful, and this season, I’m thankful for a lot. I’m thankful for you. It’s been a really amazing year, including some crazy medical emergencies and pug-acquiring. That doesn’t mean I’ve totally avoided the annual holiday stress machine. Let’s face it, this time of year can be really stressful. From dodging pepper-spray-weilding “competitive” shoppers to battling road rage and encountering bad (or at least cold) weather, it’s hard for anybody to make it through December without losing that elusive “Christmas”spirit and giving someone the bird.

If you’re planning to hit the roads and see family this weekend, and that usually comes with some stress, I want to offer you a (helpful) challenge: Let it go. If someone cuts you off in traffic, let it go. If you end up doing all of the dishes after dinner while everyone else guzzles eggnog, let it go. And even if no one remembers to get you a present or say “thank you,” let it go. Lastly, if you don’t let it go and you get really upset, let that go, too. Be easy like Sunday morning. It’s a tall order, but letting go of the need to judge (others and ourselves) is the best way I know how to raise our own consciousness, experience more peace and enjoy life more.

After all, when you hang on to anger or self-pity, you’re the one who suffers first. Then it affects those closest to you (and the people you run into with your car). One thing that helps me to “just let go” of things I really, really want to hang on to is remembering some of the good things in my life. After all, I live in America. I haven’t had to wonder if I would eat in any given day or even how I would pay rent. I have a job (I have a couple). There are a bunch of people I care about and a bunch of people who care about me. The list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Emily, the love of my life, and Roscoe and Relvis, the pugs. And when I remember that there’s a huge part of the world that doesn’t enjoy some of those things, it’s hard to stay upset about Aunt Judy eating all of the pudding.

How do you keep stress at bay during the holidays? I’m sure you have some great ideas about how to keep the holiday stress-free and filled with gratitude, so please share on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cakecoaching. Thanks for being who you are. Thanks for reading. Be good to yourself this week. Happy holidays!

Jeff

Vampire Brides!

Are You A Victim of Vampire Brides?

Am I a victim of what?

You heard me. Vampire brides. Those pesky, difficult, cheap, frustrating brides. I call them vampires, because they suck… your time, money and energy. Most of our clients are wonderful, but today we’re talking about the bad ones.

How much do vampire brides cost?

In short, way more than you think. Vampire brides are cheap and they always leave unhappy. Some of them will even try to get their money back after you worked so hard to please them. They’re needy. So don’t be surprised when they call you at two in the morning or expect you to respond to an email with eighteen bullet points in less than ten minutes. That’s not to mention the hours they keep you up at night, worrying about what they’ll think or how to do the impossible: make them happy. Clients that drain you take more than your time and money. They suck the life right out of you. How do you feel when you think about a really difficult client? Sick to your stomach? When a vampire bride drains your energy and makes you dread going to work, everything suffers: your creativity, your passion and your ability to get new (non-vampire) clients.

Most entrepreneurs deal with bad clients at some point and you’re definitely not alone. So how do you de-fang the vampires?
Continue reading

Why are you doing this?

Natalie on her big day, photo by Jeremy Lawson Photo

You work way too hard as an entrepreneur to be in it just for the money. If you’re reading this, it’s pretty much a guarantee that money isn’t what’s most important to you. So why are you doing this? Why go through all of the hassle of starting and running your own business? Most of us are tired of bad bosses or we want to be able to pick our own hours. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m digging deeper. Time for the big question: what is your purpose?

Your faith might give you some direction. What is your unique legacy, the gift that you leave the world? We all make an impact, whether we want to or not. I’m asking you what kind of an impact you want to have.
A case study: Natalie Willett, owner and flower goddess, Zuzu’s Petals
I met Natalie years ago through my work with The Traveling Photo Booth. At the time, her business was established, but hardly running smoothly. She had just made the leap from a home-based business to having the luxury (and overhead) of a studio space. In the time since, she began working with me as her coach and made some big changes even before that.
One of the things we talked about in our coaching sessions (she’s given me permission to share her story, of course) was how some of her sales meetings were totally draining (sound familiar?). Brides would come in asking for the world with no budget. We explored some alternatives to her current line of thinking. During the call, she realized that her own interpretations were making the meetings no fun (and unprofitable). Natalie decided to get creative instead of upset. Once she changed her perspective, she noticed an almost immediate shift. She had way fewer “bad” meetings. But it wasn’t just that. By making this and some other changes, she found that the meetings weren’t just more fun and more profitable, she began to really connect with more clients in a deep and meaningful way.
The past year has been totally incredible for Natalie and Zuzu’s Petals. Natalie has emerged as an industry leader, but more importantly, she is loving her work and the people she’s working with. She laughs, as she tells me during a call how many hugs she’s receiving from clients. I can hear her smile over the phone as she describes the joy of creating a floral masterpiece she’s intensely proud of, being able to deliver the gift of stunning flowers for clients, and hearing how happy she’s made a girl on the most important day of her life.
What I admire about Natalie is that she’s not just spreading joy through flowers. She tells me about how much fun she and her potential clients are having in sales meetings. Just from how she talks about it, and knowing Natalie, it’s clear that her clients’ lives are that much brighter just for knowing her.
That’s Natalie’s legacy. And it’s that joy that she brings to clients and even to potential clients that make it all worth it for her.
The icing on the cake? Having more fun and enjoying her work more than ever have allowed Natalie to grow her business faster than ever before. She’s gotten rid of vampire brides and her favorite brides are dying to work with her, budget-be-damned.
Thanks, Natalie. I love seeing a client transform her business and her life. After all, that’s the reason I do what I do.