Take your summer vacation!

It’s that time. Summer. If you have children at home, you are juggling. If you don’t, you are working with some people who do.  Juggling family, work, vacation, camps, conferences and life can be stressful.

Some of us will try to juggle our vacation with work while checking email and responding to stake holders while in line at Disney World or by the pool. Those that are self-employed often believe that they don’t have any choice but to juggle. I beg to differ.

If you are vacationing this summer, I highly recommend you NOT juggle vacation and work. If you are going to take a vacation – take a vacation.  If you are going to work – work.  Do you think your customer/client/stake holder takes a vacation? Probably so. If we asked him/her if they expected you to be available 24/7 and never take a day off of work, what do you think he/she would say? Really – what do you think they would say?

Studies show that multi-tasking is not as productive as focusing on one thing at a time.  This summer try something different.

Tell your stake holders that you will be on vacation and actually go on vacation. This doesn’t mean you need to book a trip to Peru, it might be that you just need to step away from the daily grind and check out for a few days. As long as you plan accordingly at work and your customers know who to contact in your absence, it should be fine. Brief your co-workers on any issues that might arise and potential solutions. If you are a one man show, like me, follow up on all loose ends before you leave. Make sure all are aware that you will be on vacation, and should only be contacted in the case of a REAL emergency. They should also know that your response time will be much slower than usual.

If you really cannot (or don’t want to) let go for the full length of your vacation, schedule designated work time during the trip. Maybe you take a 1/2 day out of your vacation to respond to emails and check in while your friends/family goes on an excursion. Just plan it so your family members know that you will not be present. After that designated work time is up – focus on the vacation.  If you are going on a long trip, you might need to schedule a few work sessions. Planning this ahead of time is helpful to everyone involved. Your family, office and stake holders will know when you will and won’t be available.

You need time to recharge your batteries as much as anyone else. You will be better at work after taking a break from the daily grind. Plan and prepare accordingly. I hate to break it to you but we are all dispensable. We can all be replaced. If you really can’t get out of the office for a few days, you haven’t prepared those around you to do your great in your absence, or your company’s org chart is incomplete.

If this is the case – contact me. Let me help you build a team or system that allows you to live a full and happy life outside of work. Since we only have one chance at life and time with our friends and family, let’s do it right.

Changes to Up a Notch Consulting in 2018

Wow – it has been a while since I have posted anything. As it is for all of us, my life is busy and working with my clients, and being mentally and physically present in my own home, have been my priorities. Since I try to schedule all of my client-focused work hours while my sons are in school, I have to do all of my administrative work in the afternoon, evening or late night. Scaling that time back has been hard and several things had to give – one was my blog and social media presence. I prefer spending time at a baseball or football field, in my home and with my family over time in front of my computer. How about you?

I learned years ago in my Franklin Covey training that you have to spend time on the business, as well as in the business. So, for the last several months I have been quietly brainstorming on a few changes that I knew I wanted to make to simplify my own business. Up a Notch Consulting has morphed into a great small business that I am very proud of and love owning. My personal and professional development coaching and training business took a strong turn toward the manual labor of decluttering homes and workspaces when I partnered with The Container Store in 2014. It is a much needed service, and I love doing it. Efficiency coaching became a free service that many of decluttering clients received just by sitting next to me while sorting through papers, clothes, toys and elementary school art work. I slowly realized that what I am doing for my personal clients is not very different from what I am doing for my business clients – I am decluttering all areas of life!

Even though I see the similarities in the 2 areas of my business, not everyone sees that as clearly as I do. Instead of trying to explain how team development and management coaching is the same as decluttering your garage, I have decided to separate the 2 areas of my business. I will pour 100% of myself into both of them as my clients dictate. The cyclical nature of my business makes that very doable, and the variety is one of the things I love most about what I do.

So, moving forward…
Up a Notch Consulting will continue to focus on providing consulting services to my business clients. My service offerings will continue to include a wide variety of group and individual Take Control coaching sessions as well as training and presentations. Management training, team retreats, goal setting workshops and workgroup coaching/mediation are my specialty. Let me help you get your team members where they need to be. Take the time, invest the resources, and commit to expecting excellence of yourself and others in your organization.
Declutter It All (my new business – yay!) will focus on decluttering homes and workspaces, efficiency coaching and space design. I can declutter your space, design new organizational solutions, help you develop new systems and create processes to maximize efficiency in your home and office. As a Contained Home Organizer with The Container Store, I am happy to provide product recommendations, as well as elfa and TCS Closets designs as a part of the basic consultation fee. Visit DeclutterItAll.com for more information and to book a consultation.

Thank you for all the support you have provided in the past.  I look forward to working with you in whatever capacity you like in in 2018. Happy New Year!

(Just in case you didn’t know, here is a little bit of history about Up a Notch Consulting…

Up a Notch Consulting was born in October 2011 after I had been tasked with shutting down the non-profit organization that I was leading. As hard as it was, it was a true example of one door closing and another one opening. My focus was to provide personal and professional development services such as coaching and training on a variety of topics. The goal was to help individuals and business take it “up a notch.” In the beginning I found myself doing a lot of efficiency coaching with my clients. They were struggling to get it all done at home and at work. It became obvious pretty quickly that it wasn’t my client that was the problem, it was their space. So, I started decluttering homes and workspaces to help create systems and processes that would allow my clients to be more productive. Then in 2014 I took an unexpected, yet exciting step to partner with The Container Store (TCS) as a Contained Home Organizer. As an independent representative of TCS, I go into people’s homes and help them declutter, organize and design new organizational solutions with TCS products. Still to this day, I love what I do for TCS and the unexpected change in my business has been life changing.)

Happy 4th Birthday to Up a Notch

Happy 4th Birthday to Up a Notch

I am  proud to report that 4 years ago this month I officially filed my business paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office and launched my website. It was an exciting and scary time.  As I look back on the last 4 years, I have learned more than I ever imagined. Most of it is good, so I thought I would share my thoughts with you today just in case you were thinking of starting your own business too.

1.  The fear of success is just as paralyzing as the fear of failure.
I cannot tell you just how many times I backed away from doing something because I didn’t want to be too busy and not be able to do it all. After all, the point of starting my own business was to better manage my family life and work while my children were in school.  I know now that was just my excuse for not doing whatever it was because I was scared to do it.  At some point I realized that I should wait to address those issues when I actually had them. Guess what?  I never had those problems because I managed my business as it came. Some times of the year are busier than others, and my family survives those seasons as well as the slow ones.

TIP: Go for it! Push yourself to do something a little scary.  Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised with what you did and what it yielded, other times you will discover what you don’t ever want to do again. Both are very valuable, and the latter actually helps you better define your target audience, business decisions and future plans.

2. You don’t have to have a formal business plan, but you do need some sort of plan.
I was not growing an empire that needed massive funding, so I didn’t have to present a formal business plan to anyone to get my business started. I did; however, need to have some sort of plan to launch my business in my little community. The thought of a giant, formal business plan is overwhelming and enough to stop some would-be entrepreneurs in their tracks. My plan just had to have enough information to give me direction.  I needed to know what I wanted to do (my goals), how I was going to do it (my service offerings) and what I was going to charge (my value). Then, I needed to know who my customer was and how I was going to reach them.  The rest just fell into place. What I didn’t realize was that my goals and plan would change quickly and often. Some of that was done for me and some of it was done by me. Regardless, it happened. I think and talk about my business very differently today than I did 4 years ago.

TIP: Don’t let perfection get in the way of getting started. At some point good has to be good enough to get you going. You can fix the rest on the fly. I often say, “It is perfect for today.”

3. It is okay to have a small business.
When I first started I believed that since I owned my own business I was supposed to grow it to something huge. Lots of employees, many different service offerings and maybe even a real “office.” That was very stressful, until I realized that I didn’t want to grow an empire. My life changed the day I decided that I wanted to own a successful small business with a hand full of service offerings. I was more relaxed and comfortable with who I was and what I was doing. I was able to develop my plan around those service offerings, focus on what was important to me and do my best work.  I own a small business and am very proud of that. I don’t want more employees or more work, but I would happily take more money!

TIP: Size doesn’t matter! Do not compare your business to others, unless you are trying to be just like them. Create the plan that is right for you and gets you to the point of achieving your goals. Stick with it, be proud of it, and then go ROCK IT.

4. Pay for help and guidance where necessary.
I am not sure if it was a lack of money thing or a control thing, but when I first started I tried to do everything myself.  I wanted to create my own website and develop my own logo, but it was very important to me that everything I did look and feel professional. I didn’t want a homemade looking website or logo. I tried, it took me forever, and then I realized that I am not qualified to do either of those things well.  I finally decided to employ others to help when and where necessary, and keep the stuff I was good at in-house.  I hired a business coach to help me sort through the should do’s, must do’s, and want to do’s of my business.   I initially bartered my coaching services with a web-designer friend to develop my website. I came up with the concept of my logo, but turned it over to a graphic designer to actually create it.  Oh how good it felt to have those things done!

TIP: Be the expert in what you do and work with other experts on the rest.  If you can trade services, that is great. If you have to pay, it is usually money well spent. Just be sure to budget and prioritize your expenses appropriately.  There are very few jobs too small to be outsourced.

5. Be true to yourself and your customer base.
If you know your goals and have your plan, you have a roadmap. The hard part is staying true to that map when you are in a group of people with different ideas.  It can be overwhelming. I remember walking away from lunches and networking meetings and replaying many of the conversations in my mind. They went something like this:
“You should…”
“Have you thought about …?”
“Do you have a…?”
“Have you tried contacting…?”
“Are you a member of…?”
STRESS!  All I could think about was that I had no idea what I was doing.  In reality, I did know what I was doing. Did I know it all? NO. Did I know enough to get started? YES. I would have to talk myself off the ledge and back onto my roadmap.  It works every time – if you have a roadmap.

TIP: Be open to new ideas that fit WITHIN your roadmap.  You will always have something to learn and should always be open to new approaches, ideas and ways of operating. Make your decisions based on what is best for you, your customers and your business, not your well-intentioned, all-knowing counterpart. If you decide to alter your roadmap, be sure to thank the one who gave you the idea for helping you grow your business. That is good karma!

Your summer to-do list

Your summer to-do list

Summer is here!

Some of us are excited because it is a time when we can tackle projects that we put off during the school year, others are more stressed juggling camps, sleepovers and work, and others are unplugging on a much needed vacation. Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, it is important to take advantage of this time. So, take a deep breath and focus on what matters most. Here are 3 ways to help you do that.
1. Pick an area of your life that you MUST improve, and decide to make a change. This can be anything: your health, your home or your relationships.  Only you know what needs to change and you have been putting it off, making excuses, and  justifying the current state of the matter for quite a while. Decide today to have/do/be something different tomorrow.  Create a plan to get you started. Make it as easy as possible and realistic so you can and will stick to it. No one else can make this change for you- get busy!
2. Give yourself permission to let go of something that really doesn’t matter. Again, only you know what this is.  It might be a negative influence, or bad relationship, or a “must-do” that is determined by someone else. These things typically sit at the bottom of our to-do lists or in the back of our brain nagging us (also know as guilt).  If it really mattered you probably would have done it by now. Let it go, and don’t look back. It feels awesome!
3. Clear your filters and refocus your perspective. Perspective changes everything, and giving yourself permission to change your outlook is critical when trying to move forward. Start everyday fresh.  My mom always said, “The difference between a good and bad day is your attitude.”  So true!
Take Control. Simplify. Make it Happen.
Need help getting started?  Contact me today.