This is the fourth installment of Christine and my monthly Peer-to-Peer Mentoring series. On her blog, I answered her question:
“What methods do you have in place or have made use of that allow you to obtain objective feedback on your web-design to be sure you’re reaching your target markets? Do you have anybody who specifically markets in your field or perhaps an un-biased colleague who helps ‘test’ your site to be sure that they would ‘buy’? Please share how you research and refine this topic in your work.“
My Question to My Mentor:
“You’re a multi-talented lady, and I fancy myself the same. You’re baking a number of very interesting pies at the moment. How do you ensure each pie (i.e., each interest/passion/business/avenue of expression) gets adequate attention? How do you make the time for everything you do and still do your best? I am in a constant struggle with making more time for my writing… and, less imperatively, my cross-stitching, and I want to learn from your ability to manage multiple interests.”
Great question, one I’m constantly re-visiting in my own work! But wait, you didn’t get an intern yet so you can go out joy-riding? Just kidding…
Entrepreneurship is about transformation, flexibility and openness to try new things. Multi-talented business persons are great at creating activities and projects, but sometimes develop a tendency to become over-committed. Despite this, as talented as you are at creating projects, so are you smart enough to create time for your cross-stitching my multi-talented friend!
How Do I Identify & Measure My Return On Invested Time?
This is a no-brainer, but ask yourself how your commitments originated? Was there a paycheck in sight? Did I agree to offer that lecture because it would transform into a great networking opportunity? Asking these questions allow you to measure your return on invested time. Try these self-check in steps every six months to be sure your work is creating a valuable investment. A great way to start framing how you’ll think about this is by developing your own personal meanings of need, time, fulfillment, investment, passion, work etc.
I like to use this little equation to enact the process: need = an activity you intentionally attached meaning to and that has value measured by a return on the invested time.
1. Draw an investment tree. This is kind of cool and a great “natural” way to visualize your return. Along the length of a paper, write all of your endeavors along the bottom side by side. Above each endeavor, start writing as many things that come to mind that represent a return on the time you’ve invested into each one. Now look back- if you didn’t write at least three valuable returns on your invested time, start pulling the weeds and nix those non-returnable activities.
2. Remember, time is money. Not that you always have to measure time in dollars and cents, but if you’re trying to re-arrange your schedule, free-up or create more time for passions and interests such as your beloved cross-stitching, it can’t hurt. If you’re making 100k a year, but working 90 hours a week, you’re working for less than minimum wage. This might persuade you to ditch said activity for another more financially rewarding one.
3. Don’t Re-Invent The Wheel. Ever tried a mind-map? I love them. I find traditional top to bottom lists lame. They don’t allow the brain to understand how several activities feed into one another. Now, let me clarify, I’m not suggesting that you multi-task, I’m suggesting that you let the work you’re doing serve double and triple purposes.
After you’ve created your investment tree, research which activities tend to require more time than others. Look back at your tree to see what similarities these have with other items. Know those to-do lists you’ve created based on last month’s series (wink)? Compare your to-do lists and circle duplicates. If you’ve kept good notes, you’ll see which tasks you’re doing over and over again that you might only have to do once or twice.
4. Harness your time (& write with more focused creativity). Try developing intended activities and watch how well you begin to naturally allocate your time. You need to exercise and you need to write, right? Pick your writing topic for the day and visualize the topic. Toss the journal or the word processor in a backpack, put on the cross trainers and get your walk on. Want to make those creative neurotransmitters start working double time? Walking at a brisk pace will not only be great for your heart, but the environmental cues along the way will spark a connection to your topic. End your walk and start your writing at your favorite cafe.
Say it With Me… Ommmmmmmmmm
And, remember, live in the clear and present moment. Feeling anxious, feeling overwhelmed, stop doing whatever you’re doing, get up, close your eyes, take a deep breath and say ommmmmmmmm. Remaining focused in the moment allows you to create your very best work. Tomorrow is another day, just waiting for you to fill it with more of your abundant creativity!
How do I really make time for everything? I continue to self-actualize and critically think about how I’m changing and what value my activities hold. The way I spend my time affects my relationship, financial and mental security. Too many commitments, projects, work, hobbies and I go to shit if I don’t sort it out. I’ve learned that it’s always more graceful and fulfilling to politely say no rather than compromise my precious time. Because if there’s one thing I know, life is about creating YOURself. Be true to your own expectations.