If your to-do list looks like mine it is long, varied, and never-ending.
In fact, I recently spent the better part of a week completely stuck because I had so many items on my to-do list I couldn’t even start.
I’d try to start one task but be unable to focus because of the other tasks not-so-quietly muttering in the background. So, I’d put aside the task I was working on and pick up another. And, you guessed it, more muttering and grumbling from the rest of my to-do list.
Let me tell you, it is hard to concentrate with an overstuffed task list full of cranky items impatiently waiting their turn! I felt as if I was trying to go in eight directions at once, absolutely everything was distracting, and I ended up just vibrating in place. Which, as you can guess, isn’t super effective for getting work done!
It finally occurred to me that one of my blocks was expecting myself to do too many tasks in a single day.
If I have six blog posts I need to write is it reasonable for me to expect that I can accomplish all six on a single day? Possibly. If things go well, nothing topples unexpectedly, and I am left alone for the entire day with no other expectations, I could make six blog posts happen on a single day. Maybe.
However, being left alone all day is not my life – is it any one’s, really?
So, no. It is not reasonable to expect myself to write six blog posts by the end of the day. Maybe one per day if I pushed it, but I’d also need to consider what else was on my to-do list.
But do you know what I’ve done more than once? Yup. I’ve put “write six blog posts” or something equally unattainable on my to-do list more than once. I even, routinely, put multiple huge tasks on my to-do list and then wonder why I can’t ever seem to get to the end of my list!
So, let’s look at "reasonable goals" and define them as “Stuff you'll actually get done” because writing down big goals feels good, but actually getting something done feels better, right?
What does your time and schedule look like. Your REAL time and schedule, not the imaginary, ideal one you’d like to have.
Where can you fit marketing tasks into that schedule?
If you say you don’t have any marketing time at all in your schedule…do you truly not have any time, are you stuck around how much time you need, or do you not want to do any marketing tasks for some reason.
Why make the distinction? If there is absolutely no time, then you may need to re-evaluate how important your business is to you. If I can get botanical for a moment – your business is a flower and you have to water it (at a minimum) or it will die.
If you don’t know how much time to allot for marketing, let’s look at how long an average task takes you and build some time expectations from that. If it takes you five minutes to schedule a Facebook post and you need to do five in a week, then you’ll need around 30 minutes to schedule your Facebook posts. If, however, it takes you 30 minutes to schedule a Facebook post, consider why it is taking you so long – sometimes nerves, self doubt, and other gremlins can pop up during these tasks. Or maybe it takes you a long time because you’re starting from scratch each time and don’t have an overall plan. Creating even a loose content calendar can help you streamline tasks because you’ve already done some of the work.
If, on the other hand, you don’t want to do any marketing tasks at all, let’s look at why. What is scary, hard, confusing, frustrating, or any of the other emotions I hear when people talk about their marketing? Yes, you have to answer that question. Maybe it is several things, maybe it is one thing – but whatever is holding you back, you must address it.
Does it mean you’ll love marketing your business? That you’ll jump out of bed every morning eager do your marketing? Probably not. But knowing and naming what is stopping you gives you a chance to make peace with it and, hopefully, move past it.
I make marketing not scary – that’s the core of what I do. Whatever your hang up around marketing is, I’ve heard it and likely helped someone move past it to grow their business.
And speaking of growing your business, if you’re stuck around what task to cross off your to-do list next, look at what will bring you money. Whether that is outreach, sending out an email, sharing information about what you do, going to a networking event, or sharing a new product – staying focused on your next income opportunity keeps your business’ needs at the front of your to-do list.
If you feel a little weird about focusing on money, that is normal – especially for women business owners. But I’ll point out that at least some part of the reason you’re in business is to make money. Otherwise, you’d do what do you for free and not have to worry about marketing yourself!
Finally, look at what you are actually willing to do. If you absolutely hate writing blog posts but want to use blogging as a part of your marketing strategy it may be time to look at outsourcing. If grocery shopping is something you dread, look at something like Instacart or Click List to remove grocery shopping from your to-do list.
You may be at a point where you can’t (or won’t) outsource anything. In those situations, look at how to make your most hated tasks less awful. Shop without kids and at an unusual hour to avoid lines. When my oldest was a baby, I’d shop at 11pm and enjoy the quiet! Break blogging tasks into segments instead of trying to do it all at once. Use voice to text if you hate to type.
The next time you are feeling stuck around what to do next, pick the three tasks, JUST three, that are likely to bring you the best return on your time investment – usually that means “do something that will bring you money” but it can also mean doing something that will bring you exposure, increase your reach, or help you connect with your audience.
When you are done with those three tasks, pick another three. Think consistency and baby steps.
Stuck on blogging? Check out my blog post guide.
Need help with overall marketing strategy so you know what to work on when? Get in touch!
Musings about marketing, social media, and small business.