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Personal Development for Busy People

One of the number one reasons we don’t follow through on something is because of the time commitment it takes to get it done. We’re all busy people, so when it comes to working out, reading that book the internet is raving about, or starting up a new hobby that you think looks interesting, the number one justification is “I don’t have time for that!”

I consider myself “busy people.” Until recently I was working 2 jobs (1 full/1 part time), helping my dad with housework at his place once a week, working out regularly, and trying to have a healthy pregnancy. When I was juggling all of those things, I did still manage to find time to incorporate personal development in my schedule. Here’s how:

Listening to podcasts. Podcasts are a great way for on-the-goers to work some personal development into their day. You can listen on your commute if you’re driving, taking the bus/train, or even walking. I also like to catch up on podcasts when I’m doing chores like dishes or folding laundry. Listening to a few episodes of “Side Hustle School” makes things feel less tedious.

Reading. Probably one of the most difficult personal development mediums for me to follow through with is a book. It’s the easiest one for me to bail out on at the end of the day when I start winding down. Do I really want to read this book that’s going to make me think more after a day of thinking, or should I just watch South Park and completely veg out? Knowing that this is the easiest way for me to self-sabotage, I started bringing my book to the gym after work and reading on the elliptical. Some days I will set my alarm 15 minutes early and spend that time reading before doing my morning routine. If audio books are your thing, you can also listen to personal development books using the same tips from the podcast section above.

Please appreciate that it was very difficult to snap a picture of me reading while also maintaining balance on the elliptical.

Online Learning. To me, online learning is anything from signing up for a 30 day course of some sort, following a certain blog/topic, or enrolling in an online class. These all have varying levels of commitment, but regardless you’ll want to have an internet connection and a computer/tablet/phone so you can participate. The next is creating the time to get online solely for personal development reasons (i.e. not Facebook). For an online course, you’ll obviously need more time than reading someone else’s blog posts, which you can do standing in line for groceries or on the bike at the gym.

Asking Other People. If you’re at a loss for what podcast to listen to or what book to read next, ask someone you know who is into that sort of thing. All of the podcasts I listen to were recommended to me by someone else. When I was looking into things like personal fitness certification and starting a blog for fun/just because, I asked for recommendations for books to read and started paying more attention to different techniques/plugins used on my favorite bloggers’ websites.

What do all of these things have in common?

No matter how you decide to get your personal development fix, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success.

  • Know your weaknesses. For me, that’s the desire to wind down at the end of the day and watch something brainless on t.v. Knowing this, I incorporate personal development time into a workout, while I’m doing chores, or by setting my alarm earlier in the morning.
  • Find something you’re genuinely interested in. If you’re already a busy person, it’s going to be even harder to motivate when you’re dedicating time to something you have “meh” feelings about. Find something that you want to pursue and it’s amazing how much harder you’ll work to make time for it.
  • Make the time. Speaking of making time, one of my favorite time related quotes is “You have just as many hours in the day as Beyonce.” Even if it’s not an ideal amount of time, spending 10 minutes on something every day is better than spending no minutes. You can also think of personal development as a way of shortcutting your learning time because you’re learning from an expert and that will save you time and money in the long run.
  • Be Organized. One of the best tips I’ve heard from Side Hustle School was that if you’re a busy person trying to work a side hustle, organization is key. If you only have half an hour of time set aside to work on a project, have an agenda before you sit down so you can get right to it instead of spending 5-10 of those minutes hemming and hawing about where to start. Making lists at the end of a work day or as you go to bed can be a great way to have ‘what’s next’ ready to go for next time.
  • Make yourself accountable. When you’re busy, it can be easy to just say “Eh, there’s always tomorrow.” The problem is when you keep pushing things to tomorrow you’ll never get them done. Find a way to make yourself accountable for personal development- if it’s a matter of paying for something because that makes you feel accountable, then consider signing up for an online course. If you’re more accountable when it comes to other people, find a friend who also needs some accountability help and make it a weekly check-in. Click here for the blog we wrote about accountability partners if this is going to be part of your lifestyle.

More reading when I couldn’t fall back to sleep on Saturday morning. Great way to start the day!

No matter what type of personal development you’re trying to pursue, there is always a way to fit it into your schedule! Try some of the tips mentioned above and find out what motivates you.

If you have any tricks for fitting personal development into a busy schedule, or recommendations for books/podcasts/etc, please comment or send us a message!

Our online course, Internet Marketing For Artists, is online and ready for you! For $30 and 30 days, you can learn the basics of online marketing, search engine optimization, and business marketing best practices for your artistic business… all in 15 minutes a day or less. Click here to learn more or sign up: http://breakingeven.teachable.com/p/internet-marketing-for-artists

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

My Five Favorite Business Books

100startupIt’s no secret that to be a good writer, it helps to be a good reader.
And when I first started this business and time was short, I decided I was only going to read business books (and occasional biography of a business person helped break things up). I now read other things for fun but someone asked me about what my favorite business books were. Here they are in no particular order (with no affiliate links):

$100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

It’s always great to think in the bootstrapping mindset because at the beginning, you want to spend time and money on everything but can’t. His ‘launch’ checklist alone is worth the price of admission but it is available on his website too: http://100startup.com/resources/launch-checklist.pdf There is an awesome amount of case studies that will make even the most hesitant person inspired to try a business on the side.

Lessons of A Lipstick Queen by Poppy King

Mainly a memoir, this book is about a young woman running a business. In a lot of ways, I saw myself and in a lot of ways, I didn’t. She has a lot of great one liners and her candidness is appreciated because so many people aren’t. It was nice to hear about someone feeling insecure, making ‘bad’ decisions, and otherwise admitting to the things no business owner ever wants to admit. Plus I love learning from people outside our industry in particular.

Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny Ditzler

If you are worried people are going to know you read self help books, this will tip them off for sure. From the clouds on the cover to the exclamation mark in the title, you know you are in for it. I do this goal setting exercise with myself at the beginning of each year (or I guess more accurately, at the end of the current year for the following year). You don’t have to read the whole book; just use if for the questions you are supposed to ask yourself (the book has elaboration on those questions, which is sometimes needed honestly).

Problogger Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

Written before social media was anything big, this is how to get blog traffic without it. A lot of what he says is still true today. If you want to use a blog as part of your business strategy (and if you want more traffic to your website or to build relationships, you might as well have a blog), this is a great book about the tech, the content, the marketing (though again, the social media piece is missing) and the money parts of blogging.

Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

The hundreds (literally) of social media case studies are great for showing and not telling. Also a great overview of each social network, its strengths, and its weaknesses. Whether you are just starting with social media or have been doing it for awhile, this will get you thinking. Content is king but context is God indeed! Enjoy all the pictures of actual posts with their own ‘how to do it better’ makeovers, I did!
I’ve certainly read more than this but these are ones I really enjoyed. What five books influenced the way you started your business/career?
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Free Reading: Why We Give It Away Online

Three years ago, I wrote a book for National Novel Writing Month. It’s been sitting in Google Drive, and I’ve been wondering what I do with it.

I’ve kind of edited about half of it but I think I’d have the motivation to finish if I knew what next. (I sometimes am paralyzed by choice. Not my best quality.)

The beginning of my terrible novel, sitting in Google Drive, wondering its fate.

The beginning of my terrible novel, sitting in Google Drive, wondering its fate.

Option 1: Do I send it to 50-100 publishers, hoping one will like it enough to rip it apart and await my rewrites?

Option 2: Do I self publish it, making my friends pay $1-$10 for the ‘pleasure’ of reading it, probably making all of a few hundred bucks?

Option 3: Or do I just format it as an ebook and give it away?

I’ve been leaning toward Option 3. Sure, it seems like the least amount of hoops to jump through but it is also the world I know best: the internet is all about giving stuff away. I’ve been writing this blog ‘for free’ since 2007 for example.

I was reading a great article about Why Give Away Your Work For Free. To paraphrase Cory Doctorow, he says people who download the free book wouldn’t have bought the book anyway. Really by giving things away for free he’s increasing his audience. To quote: “My problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity, and free ebooks generate more sales than they displace.”

It actually got me to thinking of something completely different I read from Elizabeth Gilbert (read the photo caption- it’s long like a blog entry). But to paraphrase, basically you can’t make creativity show up and earn you money. You need to give it room to breathe. To quote: “I adore Creativity. I love her. I have devoted my life to her, because she brings me joy. But I do not suggest relying upon her to pay the oil bill. She is not very reliable. Creativity has no idea what the words “oil bill” even mean.”

My whole life the last seven years has been building two businesses, in other words the laser focused pursuit of money. Creativity showed up and I have this kind of terrible, moderately personal 124 page story sitting in my files without a purpose. Do I demand it make me money… or put it out there for free?

(Aside, I get that I should stop calling my novel terrible. But I’m one of those ‘plan for rain, be happy when it doesn’t’ kind of people so I am just managing my own expectations- and yours- by doing that.)

So do I enter into a world of a million rejections? Do I ask my creativity to make me some money now with this novel (which you see doesn’t even have a title but ‘Novel.doc)? Or do I give this novel away in hopes that my ideas will get out there and in turn generate others?

Now I’d be a liar if I said this ‘give it away and get more later’ idea was a writing only idea. Musicians give away albums, companies swag… every industry has a ‘something for free’ component so this idea is far from original.

But somehow reading those two articles in a row made me realize why I wanted to give it away… and the gut instinct wasn’t one of general laziness! If you are similarly on the fence with something you’ve made, let me know if reading those two relatively short posts helps clarify what you should do like it did for me.

(By the way, if you want to read my yet to be titled novel, just leave a comment on here and I’ll make sure you get the information for it.)

 

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Five Love Languages

fivelovelanguagesI know it’s hard to believe but sometimes, I get in fights with people. Or more accurately, I get mad at them and steam silently. I know, super helpful.

One thing I’ve learned in my travels is about the five love languages: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

If you go on this site, there is a short quiz (30ish questions) that’ll tell you what ways you best appreciate having love expressed to you.

Think mine is ‘words of affirmation’? Nope, it’s ‘quality time’ followed by ‘physical affection’.

So if I’ve ever spent some quality time with you or if I’ve ever hugged you, that was me speaking my love language. (I am not at all a touchy feely person unless I am super comfortable with someone so if I haven’t hugged you yet, don’t be offended! I like to respect people’s space as a general rule.)

The idea is if you know the love language of your partner, your friend, or even your coworker, you can give them what they need to feel valued, appreciated, and, well, loved.

Sometimes we don’t feel the love from someone because they are doing what they think is a great job at expressing their love and appreciation… but if the person on the receiving end doesn’t understand what’s going on, they might not assign much value to it.

Now if you go to that website, of course there is a book, course materials, and other things but I think you can go there and not even have to buy a thing. Just take the quiz and get some of your favorite people to do the same. I bet you’ll be understanding their language sooner than you think once you do.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Why One Woman Wrote A Whole Book From An iPhone

This morning, I heard a story  on NPR about a woman who got diagnosed with ALS, a slowly degenerative disease that is eventually fatal. She spent the next year of her life living: travel with her family and doing all those other things you say you’ll do before you go.

She also wrote a book. Since at that time she only had movement in one thumb, she had her husband put her iPhobe in her non moving hand and she typed over 80,000 words with her working thumb into the Notes app on her phone (her iPad keyboard she said was too big to navigate).

I wanted to understand a bit how this felt so I typed this blog entry the same way. It was slow and I got the luxury of correcting my spelling errors, etc. on a full sized keyboard when I posted the blog.

It is amazing what the human spirit can do. Rather than seeing her limits, this woman saw her one working thumb and her still working mind and wrote the book she wanted to. Also made me realize there is more than one way to do something, even if one way takes longer and seems tedious. I thought it was the perfect thing to hear on a Sunday morning when I was feeling a bit sorry for myself feeling under the weather. Made me get up and do something with my day!

If you want to read (or hear) the interview too: http://kgou.org/post/living-life-joy-until-i-say-good-bye

Another great story about the same woman: http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/930473-her-toughest-assignment-reporter-chronicles-her-last-days

 

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

What I Learned Writing 50,176 Words In One Month

You may remember about 30 days ago, we posted that we were tackling National Novel Writing Month.

How did it go?

Alice got part way through but realized she wanted to get more organized and do this during a time of year when she didn’t have so many family obligations going on. (If you’ve ever been to the state of Maine in March, you’ll completely understand her point.)

I decided that despite missing about ten days of writing due to a business trip and Thanksgiving, I was going to do this anyway.

Consistent productivity? Nope. Got it done? Yes.

Consistent productivity? Nope. Got it done? Yes.

A few interesting things:

If you finish, you’re a winner.

One of my writer friends scoffed at the idea that you could write a book in a month. Probably at the way I would scoff at a beginner who told me they were going to design a website in a month.

Look, this isn’t Shakespeare. I know that, everyone who attempts this knows that. For about a week, you think your little book is going to be a best seller but by week two, you realize you are in the trenches and you just need to survive.

The point of an intense period with a deadline is to get you started. It’s like doing a Detox; it’s not something you are going to do indefinitely but something you do for a period of time to better yourself and maybe have some kind of positive outcome. When I submitted my word count and got my little winner badge this morning, I was pretty excited and did feel like a winner, even if I would need years of editing and rewriting before it might be finally published.

You learn to tolerate spelling and other small errors.

I’m pretty good about not letting small things bother me. A dirty mug on the sink, the idea of finishing a work project I thought I’d get done today tomorrow, I can let it go.

But when you are on a tear and see a spelling error you could easily stop and fix now get underlined, you have a dilemma: deal with the small thing now (what every productivity expert tells you to do) or keep going with your ideas and worry about that stuff later (what you actually need to do). I changed the spelling of my main character’s name and her workplace twice accidentally but that’s what ‘Find and Replace’ is for during editing. Just get it down!

At one point I wrote something terrible like ‘and there was no putting Pandora back in that box.” I rolled my eyes at myself and just kept going.

The story writes itself once you’ve helped it along.

At a certain point, you’ll notice if you get your mind in the habit of doing something (like writing 500 words in the morning before work), your brain seems to work on it on the subconcious level. I say this because otherwise how do you explain that you suddenly write a paragraph even you aren’t expecting.

An example? I was writing at one point when one of my shy characters stood up for herself and left the room full of people. I was as surprised as if I had been watching a movie… except I was actually writing this. You go Clara! I wanted to say. I was proud that she did something I didn’t expect her to be capable of doing. It was very weird. The character I didn’t like got arrested. I knew you couldn’t trust that Buffy!

I would say all this is like an out of body experience: something kind of cool but a little unsettling.

Don’t let getting behind depress you.

If you notice my graph above, you’ll see I wrote almost half the novel in the last five days. It’s amazing how motivating a self imposed deadline with a badge you get at the end can be. If you want to keep your sanity, I wouldn’t go so far as suggesting writing 20,000 words in three days but know that it can be done. It is physically possible. But they won’t be Shakespeare.

Congratulations to all the other NaNoWriMo participants. What am I going to do with all my spare time? I’m sure I’ll find something!

Curious what the book is about? It has no title but it’s about a woman who starts an anonymous dating blog and it suddenly gets national attention. Will she come out as who she really is? Or will she have to remain behind a pen name forever?

I’d like to thank J. of Blog Sexier/Budgets Are Sexy for his tips three years ago about starting a blog that made me think ‘What if I would have?” and Matt Baya for some technical tips helping me figure out how someone would carefully stay anonumous blogging. I’d also like to thank Derrick Sekulich for cooking me dinner and otherwise helping me keep life running without one complaint. I’d also like to thank several Facebook friends who contributed bad dating stories for my character to blog about. I had many in my past but apparently not enough to fill this book.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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