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Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

Focus on the Three S’s in Success

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
You might know that I’m a word person. I love good writing, I worked as a journalist, and I love word games. I looked at the word “success” recently and thought about what the parts meant. Success has 3 S’s, and I decided that the keys to success are Self, Systems and Support.

How do you define success? Webster’s defines it as a favorable or desired outcome or the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence. The bottom line is that success relates to achieving goals. You set the goals and you determine whether or not you are successful. Here are some tips to help with your journey toward success.

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Do You Suffer From Smorgasbord Syndrome?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Someone recently shared in one of our ICAP Facebook groups that she was trying to tackle too many tasks in one day. She added that she tended to overestimate her available time. That meant she was moving uncompleted tasks from one day into the next day’s list. The end result was making new lists and wasting time and energy. She was not alone with this confession, confusion, and remorse.

I refer to this as the “Smorgasbord Syndrome.” As a child, I can remember my parents saying that my eyes were bigger than my stomach when we had big family celebrations. I didn’t want to miss out on anything that might be good. And, of course, even though I probably left little room for dessert, I didn’t want to miss out on any of those, so I added more to my plate when dessert rolled around. You can guess that I probably had my share of stomach aches.

It’s easy to see how this approach translates into your life and business. You think you have more time to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. You keep saying, “yes, pile more on my plate.” Whether you say that to someone who asks you to do something or just to yourself, the end result is the same. Your life and/or business plate is overflowing.

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Do You Have a Don’t-Do List?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

It’s January. A New Year. Open to lots of possibilities.

I know you are as excited as I am about those possibilities and all that you are going to create this year. If your list is like mine or my clients, it’s lengthy. And you are excited about tackling all of it — right now. You want the rewards and the feeling of accomplishment. To do that you probably have lists of all the action steps and milestones for each goal. And you are ready to dive in.

Stop. Ask yourself what is standing in your way to accomplishing those goals in the time you want. I know we all sabotage ourselves with our mindset. I’m talking about more concrete, every day ways that stop us. Here are some examples. Checking Instagram about 10 times a day rather than sticking to your time block for your next design. Snacking on sugary treats when you get bored. Checking email every 15 minutes, or even more often. Not making time for self-care, including exercise, so you have energy when you need it. Can you imagine what you would accomplish if you didn’t have your smart phone sitting right next to your desk?

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Do You Have Gotta-Do-It-First-itis?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016



Can you picture yourself here?

* Headed to the office or studio passing through the kitchen only to see the dishwasher needs to be emptied. Well, it won’t take that long. Let’s do it first and just get it done.

* Back on track headed to the office or studio only to be distracted by the laundry basket. Well, let’s just throw that one load in. It will only take a minute or two.

* Looking at the messages that came in the night before. One was from a friend down the street. Well, what could she want? It’s just a quick phone call, and it will be out of the way.

* Now you are in your office and ready to get to work. Wait, let’s just check the email. Oh, some of these look really quick to answer. Let’s just do them first and get them out of the way.

Did you just lose half your day because you had what I’ve termed “gotta-do-it-first-itis”?

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The Myth of Multitasking

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016


As I came back to work this morning after a two-week vacation, I faced a mountain of things to do. Where to start? Maybe I could manage to do more than one task at a time. You know, answer email or scan Facebook while listening to an online class, or straighten the studio while making a phone call, or quickly check the calendar to see if an appointment is scheduled while in a phone conversation. Quite the picture, isn’t it?

Yes, I am talking about multitasking and it does not work! According to Harvard Business Review blogger Paul Atchley, studies show that multi-taskers are less efficient, perhaps by as much as 40%, than they think. He says that it takes an average of 15 minutes – and I have read numbers as high as 40 minutes – to reorient oneself to the main task. Wow – 15 minutes! Can you imagine how much time you waste on a daily basis trying to get back to the task at hand?

Many people dispute the fact that multi-tasking doesn’t work, citing their own experiences. Not true, as research shows again and again.

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Get Off Your But!

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016


Some time ago I read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. It’s a good read about why right-brainers will rule the future.

The future, really today, is the “conceptual age.” Pink discusses the “six senses” that one uses to build a whole new mind to thrive in this conceptual age: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. While I do not necessarily subscribe to his premise in total – I believe we need to engage both parts of our brain – he offers lots of great exercises to get your right brain working. And even though many artists are right-brained, you will find the exercises fun and expanding.

Onto ifs, ands & buts. In his discussion on meaning, one of Pink’s suggestions for creating more meaning in your life is to replace the word “but” with “and.” He says that “buts” can create roadblocks for creating more meaning in your life and suggests creating a list of what you are trying to accomplish and what is in your way.

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Move the Needle in Your Creative Arts Business

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016


For many of us, moving the needle may have different connotations, especially since so many who read this blog sew. Today I want to talk about moving the needle forward in your business. All of us get stuck. Sometimes it’s just a simple tweak that can get the machine moving again. Sometimes it is something bigger that you need to do to move your business to the next level. Here are nine ways that will help get you moving and bring in cash to your business:

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Avoid the Comparison Trap

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Comparison Trap

Do you ever get that sinking feeling when you look around and start to compare yourself to others — their art or their business success?

You start to think that no one will every want what you have.

And, then you start to believe the one or two people who have ever commented negatively on your work.

And, then the spiral starts. Really, who are you to do this anyway?

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5 Steps to Getting Your Work Done

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

5 Strategies to Get Your Work Done

Have you ever found yourself procrastinating, overwhelmed or just plain stuck when it comes to getting your work done. Last week I did a free webinar called “From To Do to Ta Da Done!” about how to get more — and the right — work done. I think of it as a simple five-step process. Of course, simple does not always make it easy.

Step one is all about clarity. Are you clear on the big picture?

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Leverage to grow your creative business

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016


You’ve probably heard people talk about leverage. And not the TV show of recent years. Leverage is about using a resource to its maximum advantage.

When I think of leverage in your business, I think of it as a triangle with Time, Money, Knowledge + Talents + Passion as the three sides. When you start your business, you have all these elements in varying degrees. And likely some are limited.

TIME (1)

As you grow your business, you begin to have more of each and can use each to its maximum advantage. And, you can leverage other people’s time, money and knowledge, too.

Leveraging Time

Everyone has the same 24 hours in the day. You can’t create more or save it for another day. And, you have no clue how much time you actually have in the end. One of the keys to being able to leverage your time is to surround yourself with great people. Here are three ways to leverage time.

1. Learn to use other people’s time. This could be hiring people to lighten your load. It could be bartering tasks. It could be creating win-win opportunities with other partners.

2. Look for ways to serve more people at one time. You may already be doing this, only not thinking of it as leverage. If you teach classes, either online or offline, you are reaching more than one person at a time. If you create patterns, you create the pattern once and reach many people.

3. Create systems for tasks. When you have a task you do more than once, create a written procedure for it. This way someone else could do the task and you’ve gained the time. A great example of this is in the franchise business. The franchisor has created systems that are followed by all the franchisees. That’s why you can go into a McDonald’s anywhere in the world and get the same good tasting fries.

Leveraging Money

For some of us the money side of the triangle is particularly short when we start our businesses. I like to say I started mine on a quilting thread! For others with corporate or other full-time jobs, money may not be the short side of the triangle, and you may be able to leverage money to a greater extent.  Here are three ways to leverage money.

1. Reinvest what you make in your business. It’s about growing the size of your business and you will need money to do that. If you reinvest what you make rather than spending it all, you will grow at a faster rate and leverage more.

2. Borrow from family and friends. Many small business owners, especially those starting out, may not be able to get a bank loan. Look to borrow from your family or perhaps your friends. If you do this, be sure to draw up some type of agreement so that they get their money back with interest. As your business grows, so do both of your investments.

3. Look outside your close personal network for crowdsourcing. You may be most familiar with Kickstarter. Other options include Indiegogo, Smallknot, A google search will yield others.

Leveraging Knowledge

The amount of knowledge available today is more than any one of us could ever take in and understand fully. With technology today, there’s literally no end in sight to the amount of knowledge you need or can gain. Your specific talents and passions also play into this part of the leverage triangle. It’s important to dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. Look for courses to take and books to read. Here are three more ways to leverage knowledge.

1. Look for mentors to shortcut your learning. Study what they have done and model them. Look for ways you can work with them one-on-one.

2. Build a team. You can’t possibly know it all, and the easiest way to supplement your knowledge is with a team of advisors, affiliates, and employees who support you.

3. Harness the power of the Internet. This might be through search engines or programs that let your own knowledge go further.

How are you leveraging your time, money, and knowledge? Maybe you have some ideas you would like to share, if so, I would enjoy hearing them. Would you share them below or on our ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

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Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at



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