This week a fabulous group of creative professionals from across North America joined me for our annual Creative Arts Business Summit. They spent three days working on, rather than in, their businesses. They learned new social media strategies, ideas for improving SEO, how to build and nourish customer relationships, plus lots more. By the end of the three days, they all left with a tremendous support network and a revenue plan for the year as well as a 90-day plan to move forward.
When was the last time you attended a workshop, returned excited only to get stuck with what to do first? I know it has happened to me. So much on my list and a sense of overwhelm happens. How do you figure out where to start? Here are some thoughts that will work whether it is a business workshop or an art workshop.
Make a list of the top 5 ideas you got
If you kept a list of the ideas you got at the workshop, it’s probably lengthy. We have an “Aha” page plus insight pages for each of our workshop days at CABS included in a workbook. I know everyone ended up with a lot more than five ideas.
Go back through your notes and pick the top five. This could be a simple update to your Facebook page or a more extensive technique you want to add to your tool box. Pay attention to those that will have the biggest impact on your bottom line or business growth. Once you accomplish these five, you can always go back to your notes and pick up some of the others.
Prioritize the ideas/strategies and set deadlines
You need to determine when all the tasks/to-dos need to be done for the goal you set to be completed. For example, if your idea revolves around a trade show that takes place in four months, you can create a schedule backwards showing when display materials and class materials need to be shipped. Do not forget to build in a little extra time. And, you might find out that not everything on your list will get done, so focus first on those activities that have the greatest impact on your business results.
Make a daily schedule
Take time either first thing in the morning or the night before to plan your day. Then take daily action toward your goals. How you work toward your goals will vary. You may like to work on one project to completion or divide your day into large blocks for different tasks.
One caveat. Do not give yourself so much to accomplish that you accomplish nothing or drive yourself into overwhelm. I like to focus on 3 actions each day. If I complete them, I will feel accomplished. I can go back and add more if I have extra time.
Create and use systems if possible
Some of your ideas will require repetitive work and may be perfect for a system. For example, if your idea is to finally start to send out a newsletter, look for ways to systematize it with an online mailing system and to post it in social media automatically.
Not everything on your list will get done
Remember the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your activity results in 80 percent of your results. Concentrate on work in the 80 percent — that is where your ROI (return on investment) will be.
Identify your support team
In addition to picking your top five ideas, identify five people with whom you will want to connect going forward. This may be someone who will help you stay accountable and keep progressing. It may be someone who will provide information you need to complete your idea.
Let go of perfectionism.
This is a hard one for me, and maybe it is for you, too. One of my mentors says to work to “good enough.” It might be that you set a timer for some of the tasks and what you accomplish in that time is “good enough.”
One of my favorite resources for getting things done is Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. The book’s title references a quote from Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Brian goes on to offer his own two rules about “frogs,” your most important task. “The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. The second rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” So when I have lots on my plate, I look for the frog and start there.
It’s your turn!
How do you handle all your big ideas when you get back from a workshop? You may have some tips or entertaining analogies of your own that can help us all.