April 1, 2019 Episode – New Beginnings
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[00:15] Today is an exciting day for those of us who enjoy productivity. It’s Monday, which is always great. It’s the first of the month as it is the beginning of April. It’s the first day of the second quarter and spring has just begun. And I’ll explain more in a moment about why all of that is amazing for you. My name is Sierra Bailey and this is Doers Shakers Makers, a podcast for go-getters to inspire you in your business and life. So as I said, today, it’s a lot of firsts. Why is this a good thing? Because it has been proven that on firsts we’re all very familiar with our of New Year’s Day and setting resolutions. We do feel a lot of inspiration to have a little bit of a renewal and restart. It also happens around the first day of school in August and September every year. I know that many of us feel that we can conquer everything in the fall because we do have time for a fresh start.
[01:13] So, something that I have read a lot about in productivity is that you need to take advantage of firsts. A Monday, first day of the month, first day of a quarter because your brain automatically will, it sees it as a marker. So you will be able to take that kind of timeline that’s happening and use it to your advantage to set a habit or an intention or get something going. I’m not saying this to put pressure on everybody or say that you have to go do something today because it happens to be a lot of firsts. I’m just saying if there’s something that you have been really wishing you are working on, now might be a great time to get it started. I’ll give you a little example in my own life. Oh I go back and forth on resolutions. And if I like them, if I want to set them, all of that, I decided this year, I like to set habits as my resolution and kind of use the blank calendar as an inspiration because like I said, those firsts can really get you going.
[02:11] And I set out to write a thank you note every day and I went really well for I think about six weeks. And then, I mean, I haven’t written a thank you in six weeks. It’s horrible. I completely have fallen off, but I don’t think of it as necessarily stopping. Um, and I think failure is good. We all need to have failures. So I have been regrouping. I also have read a lot recently about, I’m gonna kind of go a little off topic or into another topic on this. About the, power of giving. I just read, Give and Take by Adam Grant. It’s a great book. If you go to the blog, MsSierraBailey.com and look through the blog posts, you’ll see I wrote a one-pager on it. If you want a quick summary of the book to see the idea.
[02:59] He talked a lot about the importance of givers not selflessly giving in order to preserve your energy. So, I am one of those people that tends to volunteer a lot and give my time a lot. And I have also gone through burnout in work and I know many of you have been there too, especially those that are in the fields like teaching or social work. It’s a really, those are areas where it’s really easy for you to give and give and give and not really be feeling like you’re necessarily making a difference, which can definitely be something that can lead to burnout. So in this book, Grant talked a lot about how you need to be doing the things that you were into doing to kind of refuel yourself. So an example that he gave was a school teacher who was feeling very unfulfilled and was starting to burn out.
[03:54] And then she started volunteering in something unrelated on the side. I think it was still in education, but it was not in the classroom with teaching. And within a few weeks she was already feeling rejuvenated and reenergized and really feeling like she could give it her all again. So this led to some looking into the power of volunteering and to helping people. And there happens to be a magic number for volunteering, which is 100 hours a year, breaks down to about two hours a week. That makes you feel better, creates more happiness, makes you feel like you’re making a difference, fulfilling things, all of that. What was interesting is that when this study took place there in volunteering 100 to 800 hours still has a positive effect on people. However, there’s no difference over 100 hours. Like there’s, there’s no, there’s nothing that says, oh, you should do more than 100 so it will be even better.
[04:49] It seems like 100 really is the magic hour or excuse me, magic number for how many hours that you volunteer in a year. And on top of that, it was that you should batch your giving. So don’t volunteer for like 10 minutes every couple of hours let’s say. But instead, volunteer for like two hours at once per week or even eight hours, let’s say on a Saturday. And by doing that you actually are really feeling the effect, more of the volunteering of the giving and you’re not, when you’re like piecing it out during the week, it really has an effect of course, but it doesn’t have such an impact. So going off of that, when you have something like a habit that you’re trying to establish, let’s say by like a thank you note in my instance, you feel the effects more of the giving by doing them on let’s say on a Sunday and writing all seven for the week instead of writing one per day.
[05:52] This is a long way to say that I have failed at my resolution, but I’m okay with that. I’m going to get back on that horse and keep going. So I love the firsts, the Mondays, the first days of the month, the first days of the quarter to kind of look at in your life like what are you feeling you’re really wishing you were doing? What were you doing that you loved? Like, I loved writing thank you notes every single day. I’ve always been a thank you note writer so it wasn’t completely out of my character to start writing them, but I really enjoyed what was happening when I was writing them often and for all the little things in life. That’s actually what got me into it. I read something that was saying when you write thank you notes like yes, you can, of course, write thank you notes for gifts for you know, interviews, somebody that has graciously given you their time.
[06:38] Let’s say somebody took you out to dinner, hosted a party, those are all your traditional thank you gift areas. But then there are some others that we don’t really think about and examples of those were: do you have a restaurant that you go all the time? Have you ever thought about sending that chef a thank you note? I thought that was pretty cool. Other things that I have sent thank you notes for are, people that are leaders in groups that I participate in and I am a leader in a group that I participate in. So I know the amount of work that goes into it. I know that it doesn’t always make a difference in people’s lives, but when I feel an impact by a group that I’m in, I send a thank you note to the, you know, let’s say the president of the group.
[07:21] Usually it’s a volunteer position and I know that it, mainly because they’ve reached out to me, I know it makes a huge difference to them to be told that what they’re doing is having an impact on somebody’s life and is making somebody’s day brighter because really that’s why they’re in it. Uh, as a, as a person who definitely gets involved in many different things, I know that just like we talked about, you can burn out of your volunteering too if you feel like you’re not really making a difference in people’s lives. But anyway, we don’t need to just talk about my thank you notes all the time. The point of this is if there was, let’s say maybe a resolution, if you’re into those, if not hey, no pressure, not everybody is. Maybe just a habit that you’ve been trying to either establish or maybe break.
[08:06] This is a great time to do it. And I will say that that is another thing that I want to kind of touch on. That not all habits are things that you need to necessarily add on. Sometimes they’re habits that you need to remove. And think of it that way. Don’t think of it as like a bad or a good habit. Just think of is sometimes you want to start them, sometimes you want to stop them. Uh, both difficult. I think it’s proven that bad habits are harder to stop than establishing good habits. Again, I just used good and bad, so I’ve already broken my own rule. Apologies on that. So let’s talk about some things that you may want to think about, which besides habits to use, the beginning of a week, a month, a quarter, season for. One are editorial calendars. I am a big fan of editorial calendars and try to get all of my clients to use them because I started using them back in the day when I had a product based business and was pitching a lot.
[09:05] And editorial calendars are very regular in the publishing world of magazines and now blogs of putting out content and organizing that content. Not only knowing what you’re going to put out on what days, but making sure when you look at the big picture that it makes sense cohesively as an entire overview. So for example, a magazine puts out their editorial a year ahead, you can look these up on their websites, they are actually a good way to kind of understand how an editorial calendar, the idea behind it. So if you look at an editorial calendar, let’s say Vogue, they’re going to have a theme for each month. So all of the articles in there are going to touch on that theme in some way. And they will have maybe what the columns will be on, what they’re looking for. They might have some of the articles, they’ll really lay out in the theme, depending on how in depth they share.
[09:59] I’m sure in their own offices they’re much more in depth than what they’re putting online. But they do this so that people that are advertisers or in product based things that are pitching to them know not only what they’re looking for, but they know that if they want to participate in that. So for example, if somebody is an advertiser who wants to spend a lot of money on a magazine, granted they usually don’t advertise for one month. They do at least a quarter. But they would look at that and say, Oh, well let’s say we sell swimsuits and it’s going to be the swim issue. We want to make sure that we’re advertising heavily in that issue. So that is the background of editorial calendars. What can you use some for now in a word, social media. That’s two words. Still, when you are putting together your social media plan and if you create any content like what I’m doing right now is creating content, so if you have a podcast, if you have a blog, if you have Facebook, if you have Instagram, if you have LinkedIn, if you are somebody who wants to be making an impact with your work. Perhaps you’re not even a business.
[11:00] Perhaps you are just somebody who wants to talk about something that you’re passionate about. Maybe that’s what you wear every day on social media. You still could have an editorial calendar and benefit from it because what you’re going to use this for is to map out the theme for the month. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Don’t get scared and nervous that you have to put a lot of thought into this and then what you’re going to be posting each of the weeks and each of the days within the weeks. This includes how many times you’re going to be posting. If you are a planner it would probably include some of the words and the pictures that you’re going to be using for all of these things, but most definitely it would include the topics and this starts to bring, this is really a wonderful way to start to hone down on your branding too and to get your message across correctly because you are spending so much time actually looking at the overview and looking at the big picture and that makes you see a lot better how the content that you’re creating place into your big picture and what your mission in your randomness. That’s, we’re opening like 18 cans of worms in this conversation, but what it all comes down to say is an editorial calendar is a great thing to have and to get into the practice of.
[12:18] I do this with my clients, if they are in business, not everybody wants to use it, but I really encourage people to use it. You always, of course, can reach out to me if it’s something you want to get started, but you also can reach out to Google and look at what editorial calendars are. You can download templates, you can get free ones, you can pay for more fancy templates. But it will just give you an idea of kind of what it is and how to start to lay it out. I have ways that I like to do it and I, of course, am always trying new things as well because I continuously try new things. You’re getting inspired to, of course, you know, improve or change. Change is great, improving is great. But sometimes we do need a little kick in the butt to get that inspiration going and to get those changes happening.
[13:06] All right, so what else? We have habits. We have editorial calendars. That’s really for the more business-minded of you. What else can you do at the beginning of a quarter? Well, we haven’t talked about, I guess that’s still a habit, but there are, let’s say like a lifestyle change and I’m going to say that it’s beyond a habit. I think that starting to use something like a calendar or scheduling tool is beyond a habit. I think a habit is a very small item that is not requiring much effort and thought day to day, but starting to use a more involved, let’s say like scheduling app or a calendar system or a to-do list system does take a little bit more thought and effort to get into that and it’s very overwhelming to a lot of people. But I know that a lot of people who are overwhelmed, the problem is that they don’t have a consistent, and I won’t say easy, but a consistent and reliable method to track their, not only things on the calendar but what they’re putting their time into and their really productivity.
[14:11] Another great example on a personal level is my husband who can’t seem to remember anything outside of work. He has a great system when he’s at work, but if it involves personal life, can’t remember anything. Like I, unfortunately, have to be the reminder for many things. Usually, it involves me irritated because let’s say that’s a dinner that we’re supposed to go together and I’m ready and he’s not. But what can you do? You all have to love each other for your strengths and your weaknesses. So let’s say you are somebody like my husband though that you can’t seem to remember these things. What should you do? I go back and forth between paper and digital and I, it depends on what my lifestyle is looking like at the time. Right now, if I am using a paper calendar, I tend to be at an appointment trying to make another appointment and then realize that I don’t have my planner.
[15:04] So I have gone digital again because just due to my lifestyle and where I’m making appointments, I’m out and about. It’s much easier to be able to use my phone to be able to delete things easily and all that. So I personally am in love with the Google calendar. It works beautifully between my computer and my phone. It syncs seamlessly. It also is very cooperative with a lot of different things that I use for business, like my Calendly scheduling and things like that. So I do enjoy that. I also color code it. I put in work blocks, I use multiple levels of calendars. So I have one that is my regular calendar and then like I have another layer and another color of work blocks. I have a travel one, all things like that. So for those of us that really like to get in there and change things and all of that, I think Google calendar is really the easiest one to use and use with other things.
[16:01] I also use that with Todoist, which is an online to do list type app thing. I use it on my phone and my computer and I actually pay for this one. I pay annually. It’s much cheaper that way and I really enjoy the Getting Things Done method and it lets you get in there and really make things very specific to what you want. So I pay for the pro version or whatever you call it because of the amount that it lets you like change colors and change names and things like that. But I think most people absolutely could use the free version of it and I think it’s like $35 a year or something so it’s not very expensive but the free version works great. And I also use Evernote, the free version less and less though I really enjoyed to do this and it works well with my brain so I find myself sticking with todoist and putting everything in there and I really enjoy it.
[16:54] But anyway, we’re not, this is not a whole podcast about productivity today. I could go on and on and if you’ve ever talking to me, talking to me, I don’t even know what word that is, if you’ve ever spoken to me in person, you know that I get really excited about this subject. But this is a great time, I don’t care that it’s not the beginning of the year. If you are finding that whatever you’re using for your calendar app or whatever you’re using for scheduling is not working. Hey, take advantage of these firsts today and maybe dip your toe into something like an online calendar or an on your phone calendar and see if that helps you. It’s all about constantly trying new things, seeing what works for you, and moving on if it’s not that. If anything that I can get across to people through this podcast, it is to keep trying things, always try new things, leave behind the things that don’t work well.
[17:43] There is a really brilliant, we’ll say a productivity tip that I know a lot of people are very into and that is the stop doing list and I’m a big fan of the stop doing list. It’s a good reminder in general that if something’s not working, stop doing it. If it’s wasting your time, stop doing it. Growing up, my sisters would always be like, you do so much busy work. A lot of that busy work you can stop doing and it’s hard for me. I get a little, uh, I get a little into the busy work and sometimes I’m like, what on earth am I doing spending my time on this? It is no benefit. It’s one thing if it…I’m a jigsaw puzzler, there’s really nothing, you know, when they’re done, they’re done. I just take them apart. I don’t record them.
[18:24] It’s just like my sort of meditation, me time. If you have something like that, that’s great. But there are some things that would stress me out and I would feel like I had to do this thing and then I’d look back and be like, why am I even doing this? I started this years ago and I don’t know why. I used to keep these like notebooks with pictures from magazines that I’d rip out and glue in. I mean it took hours and this was in my early twenties I’ve learned a lot since then. But please, if you are doing something that stresses you out, that has no benefit, you have my permission to stop doing it. So anyway, stop doing the things that are not working. I have probably laid so much information on you in this last 19 minutes that I’ve been talking. I hope you’re not overwhelmed.
[19:07] I’m going to stop talking for the week now. Let this all sink in and hope that you enjoy this quarter, this week, this day, this month, all of these new firsts. If you don’t get something new, done, no big deal. There’s always the next one. The whole point is to like I said, keep trying, keep changing, and as we all try to remember, it’s just to live today as our best selves. Thank you for joining me today. My name is Sierra Bailey. This is Doers Shakers Makers, a podcast for go-getters. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe. If you use iTunes, hey, throw some stars up there! Give me a rating, it just makes people find it better, and I’ll be back next week to keep you inspired and keeping you doing shaking and making