The Writing Mistake That’s Slowing You Down

THE WRITING MISTAKE THAT'S SLOWING YOU DOWN

I’ve got a super juicy writing tip for you today.

Juicy. I kinda hate that word, but that’s an interesting adjective I don’t use very often, and sometimes it’s good to branch out, ya know?

Anyway, it’s a simple tip that will help you write soooo much faster. It’s not always easy, because it requires you to fight a very natural impulse.

Let’s back up for a second:

One of the biggest complaints I hear from entrepreneurs about writing blog content is that it takes forever. They might spend hours drafting a single post. They’ve got other stuff to do and no everyone likes writing. I get it.

When I ask about their writing process and what slows them down, they usually say something like “I’m just such a perfectionist. I have to rewrite every sentence 8 times, then I’ll delete half the post and start over, and before I know it, a day’s gone and I have 3 paragraphs.”

And here’s what I tell them: Nothing will slow down your writing more than editing as you go.

This goes for any type of writing, not just blogging.

The other day, I saw an Instagram story from one of my favorite entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires who was working on a book, and she said “It takes me SO LONG to write a book because I have to rewrite each sentence a dozen times before I’m satisfied with it.”

And I was like “No, no, nooooooo.”

If you’re of the “I can write, but it takes me FOREVER” types, listen up.

DO NOT self-edit while you’re drafting. Just don’t. Pretty please.

Back when I was tutoring high school English students full-time, I told them all the same thing.

The drafting phase is your chance to get your thoughts out, judgement-free. Drafts are supposed to suck. You’re just dumping clay on a table so you can sculpt it into a beautiful piece later, but you have to start with raw material. Don’t interrupt that flow.

Trust me, drafting without judgement is powerful stuff. Just write your thoughts without editing and clean them up later. (Or send to a content writer/editor to clean up.)

 

How to Make This Work for YOUR Business

 

I have one client who hates grammar and spelling, but she actually writes well and her voice comes through strongly in her words.

She sets a timer for about ten minutes, types a bunch of stuff on a topic as fast as she can, then sends me her messy notes. I take care of the spelling, grammar, and then organize and fill in the gaps in her thoughts. Super simple.

And she used to spend hours on a single draft.

Yes, there are people out there who can do that for you. (If this sounds like a blogging match made in heaven, here’s how I can help!)

 

If blogging usually takes your forever, here’s a challenge.

 

I double dog dare you to set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and just write. It’s okay if it sucks. Just think of a topic you want to write about, set the timer, and go. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, organization, or typos.

You are unauthorized to edit or change a thing until that timer goes off.

You might be surprised with how much you can write in a short amount of time!

You can also make an outline if organizing your thoughts takes too long.

After that, walk away, do something else, maybe even leave that writing to simmer overnight before you go back and edit. Then, try moving things around, fill in some gaps in your thoughts, cut out the unnecessary stuff, and fix the spelling and grammar.

This process will save you a ton of time. I promise.

Speed comes with repetition. I can chug out a 500 word blog post in 15 minutes if it’s a topic I’m familiar with, but I’ve had LOTS of practice. (Full disclosure: I drafted this post in eleven and a half minutes . Yes, I timed myself.)

You can also outsource the bulk of your writing and just come up with topics and outlines. If you like to talk but don’t want to do videos, some content writers will have a conversation with you over the phone or web chat and turn that into a post for you.

Whether you think blogging is dead or if you want to do it but just have obstacles, you need to publish content regularly.

Your blog is a great place to do it because you own the platform, and it makes it very easy to grow your list and get people into your sales funnel because you’re already on your site.

So what are you waiting for? What are your biggest obstacles to blogging?

Want to speed up your blogging process even more? Get your free checklist so you’ll have a list of things every blog posts need to turn readers into customers.

 

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Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Business?

Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Business_

Perfectionism is a dirty word in the personal development world, and with good reason.

Perfectionism, or the notion that we must be perfect and do things perfectly or it’s not worth doing at all, is poisonous.

It stops us from starting projects, finishing projects, trying new things, or putting our stuff out into the world because we think it’s not good enough.

Most of us know about the dangers of perfectionism and we’ve learned to recognize it in ourselves. But…have we conquered it? Or does it still sneak in where we least expect it?

When I was a creativity coach, I worked with this a lot. From my own observations and anecdotal evidence, perfectionism is the #1 killer of creativity and new ideas.

A lot of us are trying to rise above this impulse and remind ourselves that it’s okay to do things imperfectly.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best and strive for excellence, of course, but most of us don’t have a problem with that. We tend to swing to the other end of the spectrum. Perfectionism is a problem when it prevents us from trying and doing.

It’s okay to be a beginner. It’s okay to suck, because that’s how you learn.

This mindset is Level 1 of perfectionism rehab.

 

How I realized I was still stuck in perfectionism, and why you probably are too.

 

For years, I thought I’d recovered from perfectionism, and I was even helping others do the same.

I learned to talk back to the voices that told me my work wasn’t good enough or that everything I made had to be perfect, which was super helpful for my art and writing.

I started putting things out into the world. I experimented with my art style. I started a new business. I published a novel.

I thought I was fully recovered until I listened to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Unf*ck Your Brain.

If you haven’t listened to Kara and her amazingness, you should. Go subscribe right now. I’ll wait.

Anywho, she did an episode on perfectionism and dropped this bomb: “Part of perfectionism is making a perfect plan and then beating ourselves up when we can’t follow it.”

(I’m paraphrasing a little, but that was the gist of it.)

Talk about a wakeup call.

I thought I was cool with perfectionism, but then I realized there’s another layer.

Perfectionism isn’t just refusing to try or release something if it can’t be perfect. It’s also wishing you could be perfect and feeling bad when you’re not.

I’m the queen of making perfect plans and then feeling horrible when I can’t do them.

Those outlandish goals don’t seem outlandish at the time because I should be able to do 30 things per day, right?

Sound familiar? Let’s see if you’re still stuck in perfectionism.

 

Signs You’re Still Stuck in Perfectionism

 

  • You still wish you could be perfect.
  • You compare yourself to others who look like they’ve got it together.
  • You make ambitious plans you can’t stick to because there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
  • You set huge goals and feel horrible when you don’t quite reach them.
  • You beat yourself up for every little mistake.
  • It takes you hours to write anything because you can’t stop self-editing as you write. (I see this in my clients a LOT.)
  • It takes you forever to create and launch anything because you’re stuck in endless revisions
  • You feel exhausted, run down, and like you’re always failing

Are you nodding your head “yes?” Then you’ve got another layer of perfectionism to work though.

 

How to get out of the perfectionism trap

 

I’ll be totally honest: I’m still figuring this out myself. But here’s what’s helped me so far.

 

Plan for wiggle room.

Your plans won’t go perfectly. They just won’t. Expect that things will come up, that some things will take longer than you originally planned, that you’ll get ideas along the way, and don’t feel bad when progress doesn’t look perfectly linear.

By all means, set due dates for tasks, get an accountability partner, and do whatever it takes to stay on track, but don’t harangue yourself for little slips here and there. Just readjust and move on.

 

Think “possibilities” rather than to-dos.

I tend to overload my to-do list with WAY more tasks than any human can accomplish in a day. Instead, I’ve been trying to see those items as POSSIBILITIES rather than things that HAVE to get done.

Of course, there are some items that need to get done that day, so I’ll prioritize those.

But the other things? Those would be nice, but I won’t feel bad if I don’t clean the bathrooms today or do that extra abs workout, or if I only draft 2 articles instead of 4.

Give yourself a break.

 

Play with your goal setting practices.

Maybe have a minimum goal and a “Wow, that would be so freaking awesome if I did that!” goal. Set a goal that’s a stretch, but not too far out of your comfort zone. Look at how far you went and how much you grew, even if you didn’t meet your goal.

I didn’t quite meet my January income goal. I’d made a plan to reach that goal. As I acted on it, though, I realized that my plan required me to work way more hours than I had the capacity for.

I realized I had to make some adjustments to my business that wouldn’t pay off in time for me to make my goal, but that’s okay because I learned something.

I felt bad at first, but it still ended up being a good month. So I felt good about it, celebrated it, and moved onto the next thing.

 

Don’t self-edit while you’re creating

This one just KILLS me.

Many of my blogging clients struggle with perfectionism in their writing, which is why they hire me to help with their content. Before working with me, a lot of them were spending hours on a single blog post, even the draft. (Drafts are supposed to be imperfect, btw).

Drafting goes very quickly for me because I’m not concerned about it being perfect or even good while I’m just getting my thoughts down. I’ve overcome the lower barriers of perfectionism.

I drafted this article in about twenty minutes. Did it suck? Yes. Did I edit it and make it better? Also yes.

Whether you’re writing blog posts, creating video content, or just brainstorming, don’t judge or edit your ideas as they come out. You can always fix and edit later.

Perfectionism is sneaky, and it can mess up your business and your sanity.

Give yourself a break. Notice where you’re still getting stuck, and practice a mindset of flexibility.

It might save your business!

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Why Rest Should Be Part Of Your Business

Why Rest Should Be Part Of Your Business - The Cafe Wordsmith

I’m going to switch gears for a minute and take a break from the usual posts about blogging and productivity tasks. Why? Because I need a break.

Guess who else probably needs a break? You!

We entrepreneurs are a busy bunch, whether we’re busy with our own business stuff or with client work, and too often we forget that we are actual human beings with actual needs, including the need for rest.

We resist it. We keep going, keep growing, keep hustling, keep pushing through tiredness and brain fog. Eventually, we burn out. Our bodies go “HEY, REMEMBER ME?” and force us to stop. We get sick. Our brains crash so hard that we can’t crank out even one more blog post, coaching session, interview, email, or social media update.

That’s what happens when we don’t rest. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been through the hustle/burnout/rest cycle many times, and I’m finally starting to wise up and realize that I can avoid that whole burnout part by taking breaks from the hustle.

 

Why We Need Rest

If you don’t rest, you will burn out. The longer you try to push through your tiredness, the longer and more severe that period of burnout will be, and the more productivity you will lose.

Growing a business and learning to be a more awesome entrepreneur is like building a muscle.

Think about working out. If you want to make some serious gains, you work out, lift your weights, then you nourish those muscles by eating, then you rest. You don’t actually grow while you’re pushing and working out. You grow while you’re resting, because those muscle fibers need to heal.

When you’re growing in business, you need downtime to digest everything you’re learning so you can more effectively implement it. You need space and quiet time away from your computer so you can come up with new ideas and gain new insight into your business (and other areas of your life). You need to rest so you actually have the juice to work on your business. Trust me, you will be so much more effective when you’re well-rested, well-nourished, and happy than you will be when you’re sleep-deprived, grumpy, and running on coffee and Funyuns.

You need to eat well, sleep, go outside, read a (non-business) book, be creative, spend time with loved ones, laugh, watch a movie, play with your dog, watch the sunset, sleep in, play a game, whatever recharges you. It’s part of your job to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape so you can be the effective in your business.

Also, don’t put off rest thinking that you’ll get to slow down “when”; when this launch is over, when you’ve hit your income goal, when you’ve finished your book, when you finish this client project. Trust me, “when” never comes, because something else will always pop up and demand your attention. Rest when you need to. Rest as you go along, and you will be so much more inspired and clear-headed and ready to tackle your business tasks in half the time.

 

Time to Rest

In my life, rest means taking it easy during the holiday season. This is a slow month for me, and I’m okay with that this year. I’m okay with spending a little less time working and a little more time reading, working on my own writing projects, hanging out with my family, or sleeping in a little later. Instead of doing a butt-kicking workout every day, I’m doing a lot more yoga. I’m holding off on new offers and most marketing stuff until January, because this has been a crazy year and I just need to rest.

For you, resting might mean logging off an hour early for a week or two, or logging on a little later. Maybe you rely on your team to pick up the slack so you can take a breather and get clear on your direction for the new year. Maybe rest for you looks like building up passive income or business savings throughout the year so you can take the whole month off. Maybe you need a vacation.

Whatever rest means for you right now, I encourage you to give yourself some space to slow down, especially if you live in the northern hemisphere where we’re experiencing the darkest month of the year and our bodies naturally want to slow down. We weren’t made to be productive all the time. Nature has seasons, and so do we.

Rest is crucial for growth, and I’m embracing it this holiday season.

How are you resting right now? How would you like to rest? Leave a comment and let me know!

How Successful People Find More Time

How Successful People Find More Time - The Cafe Wordsmith

It might seem obvious, but I was shocked when it actually dawned on me that all these super productive and successful people I looked up to had no more time in their days than I did.

I mean, duh, right?

For some reason, it just hadn’t occurred to me that they had the exact same 24 hours as everyone else. So how on earth were these people getting so much more done? How do people build successful businesses, complete massive creative projects and still have a life?

Then I realized this: The people who are kicking butt in their lives and businesses aren’t wasting time on stuff they don’t actually have to do.

The issue isn’t a lack of time; the issue is that too many of us are doing stuff that isn’t moving us forward.

Successful people ruthlessly audit their time and make adjustments when needed. They know how to get things done and what’s important to them.

 

How successful people find more time (and how you can too!)

They prioritize

They do the important stuff first. They figure out what’s important and what’s not, and they organize their lives around it.

Try it: What three things NEED to get done today? What would improve your life and move your business forward? Make those your priorities for the day, and finish those before you do anything else.

They eliminate

If it’s not important and doesn’t actually have to get done, they don’t sweat it. I mean, it’s okay if they bring chips and store bought hummus to a potluck instead of spending hours on a homemade appetizer. It’s okay if they decide to quit Twitter because they hate it and it’s not bringing in much traffic anyway.

Try it: What’s one thing you’re spending time on that isn’t yielding results? Is it a social media platform, a commitment, a marketing technique, or some tiny little timesuck that just isn’t pulling its weight? Find it and eliminate it. You have better things to do.

They don’t insist on perfection.

There’s a big difference between having high standards and being a perfectionist. Perfectionism wastes time, because you get caught in the tiny details that don’t really matter while missing the stuff that does matter. Successful people don’t endlessly edit and revise their awesome ecourse to avoid releasing it. They meet their deadlines.

Try it: Do you have a project that isn’t moving forward because you can’t stop messing with it? A blog post that you haven’t published because it isn’t perfect? Let go of perfectionism today and put it out there. Make sure it’s free of errors, sure, but don’t worry if it isn’t the next Canterbury Tales. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be awesome. 

They say NO.

We all have requests and commitments flying at us from all directions, but people who know what’s important to them know how to say “no” to anything that doesn’t feel right to them or that they simply don’t have time for. I get it, it might feel selfish to turn someone down for something, but remember this: your time is best spent on doing what you do best, on sharing your gifts with the world.

Try it: Say no to something today. Say no to that interview that you know won’t grow your business. Don’t volunteer to drive carpool next week when you really don’t have time. It’s really okay.

They delegate.

The hire someone to clean their house so they don’t have to. They hire help in their business to do the tasks they don’t actually have to do, and this frees them to do the stuff only they can do.

Try it: What do you need to outsource in your life or business? Is it cleaning? Blogging? Sending emails? Managing your social media?

Seriously, hiring a VA is one of the best things you can do for your business, and I’m not just saying that because I am one. I’ve seen businesses go from struggling to booming once they hired a team. The more you can take off your own plate, the more time you’ll free up to do the stuff that will actually grow your business!

Ready to end the stress and take back your time? Check out my services here.

I have some availability for a new client or two and I’d love to talk to you! If you’re drowning under the weight of your business and need someone to help you get organized and publishing content regularly, hit me up!

Remember, successful people are just people. If they can do it, so can you!

 

 

 

The One Productivity Tool I Can’t Live Without

The One Productivity Tool I Can’t Live Without - The Cafe Wordsmith

 

Everyone has their favorite productivity tools and techniques. Some people are into apps, fancy planners, or workflow programs.

All those things are awesome and I definitely use them, but do you really want to know the one tool that helps me buckle down and get things done?

The humble timer.

And no, that’s not an app called The Humble Timer. I mean the timer on my phone. Or an egg timer. Or the kitchen timer on my microwave.

It might sound too easy, but trust me, when that timer is running, my brain focuses like a laser and blasts through tasks like you wouldn’t believe.

 

How This Productivity Tool Helps Me Get Things Done

Think about it:

You’ve probably noticed that work expands to fill the time allotted for it. If you give yourself a week to do a project, it will take you a week. If you give yourself a day to finish, it will take a day.

It’s crazy how this happens. When we have more time, we find ourselves waffling around, playing with Slinkies at our desks, checking Facebook or email when we should be working, and doing a lot more messing around than if we’d given ourselves a tight deadline.

This is how the timer works for me.

If I have a task to do (like batch writing blog posts), I’ll set my timer for an hour or two and buckle down. I know that when that timer goes off, I’ll have to stop and move onto something else, so I have no choice but to focus and bust out those blog posts like there’s no tomorrow. So I do.

I use a timer for writing, housework, business tasks, you name it. And you better believe I have a timer running right this second while I’m writing this post!

The timer also helps me with hourly client work. Instead of starting my day with a to-do list for each client, I’ll chunk out my day into hours. I’ll set my timer for an hour or so to work on one client’s tasks before moving onto another. When I only have an hour, I immediately prioritize and get tasks done that need to happen that day.

This also helps me manage my client hours to make sure I get them all done during the month (because it’s not fun to end up with a pile of unfinished hours at the end of the month.)

 

Try it!

Try switching from a to-do list mindset to a time-based mindset. Keep your tasks in one place (like Teamwork or Asana), set your timer, and get to work. You’ll be amazed by how much you can do!

Looking for more ways to streamline your business? Grab my free blog post checklist to make sure your posts are scannable, engaging, and converting!

 

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How To Stay Healthy (And Sane) As An Entrepreneur

How to Stay Healthy and Sane as an Entrepreneur - The Cafe Wordsmith

Entrepreneurship is an amazing journey. There’s nothing more satisfying than building a business from nothing, setting your own schedule, starting each day with the question “Should I wear pants today?” and answering with a resounding “nope!”

Entrepreneurship can also be one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. You might be your own boss, but there’s no one walking into your office at 10 pm telling you to go home and take a shower. You are the CEO, the marketing director, head of the creative department, the IT crew, the customer service hotline, and the janitor all at once.

There’s no punch card, no paid 15 minute breaks, and no pretending to work for the last hour while you watch the clock for quitting time. You get to/have to create your own schedule and your own structure.

As awesome as being a business owner is, it can be really stressful and crazy-making. You’ve probably figured out some tricks for keeping it together, but here are some of my favorite ways to maintain my status as a functional human being while building a business.

Tricks for Staying Healthy as an Entrepreneur

Guard your office hours

Set boundaries around your time. Have a bedtime and stick with it. Stay away from your email on the weekends and after certain hours at night. Have a designated unplug day (that’s Sundays for me). Eat at least one meal per day far away from your computer. Hustling is great, but don’t forget to live outside your business too!

Leave the house

Sometimes I like to take my laptop and a notebook to a coffee shop for a change of scenery (I am the Cafe Wordsmith, after all!), or I leave the computer altogether and go for a walk. If I’m stuck on a project, I take an hour to browse a bookstore, take myself to lunch, or maybe take a whole morning off to visit a museum or something.

Go out with friends in the evenings. Schedule a date night with your significant other or best friend every week. When you work at home, it’s really easy to become a hard-working hermit in pajama pants, but you’ll feel more creative and balanced if you take time to get some sunshine and social interaction.

Work in short bursts with breaks in between 

Our brains can only concentrate on one thing for 45 minutes or so before we start thinking about what to have for dinner. Try working in concentrated chunks of 45-55 minutes and taking a 5-10 minute break between bursts. Active breaks away from the computer are best.  I like get up and fill my water bottle, go outside for a minute, or even hula hoop in between work bursts. When you let yourself focus and rest, your productivity will skyrocket.

Pay attention to ergonomics

Back problems, sore necks, and carpal tunnel syndrome suck, and unfortunately, they’re very common among entrepreneurs (and anyone else who works at a desk). Prop up your laptop so you aren’t hunching over to see the screen. Get an ergonomic mouse if your wrist is acting up. Try a standing or even treadmill desk if you can. Make sure to get up every once in awhile so you aren’t in the same sitting position for hours and hours. You’ll have fewer aches and pains and feel more energetic too!

Prioritize

It’s a hard truth, but here it is: It won’t all get done.

When you have a zillion little things on your to-do list, it’s so easy to get stuck in the piddly little tasks that ultimately won’t move your business forward. Instead of going for the little things first, start with the important things that will make the biggest difference.

I like to start my day by doing something that will help my business grow, like writing a blog post or sending an email pitch. Once that’s done, I move onto client work, because I’m held accountable for that and I know I’ll defy time and space to get it done on time.

But the other really important stuff no one’s checking up on me for? I’m more likely to blow that off. So I get it done first. Try it for a week and see what happens!

Prep some healthy meals

We know we feel better when we eat well, but when we’re on a time crunch it’s so much easier to nuke a frozen burrito than put together a beautiful, nourishing salad.

The solution? Do as much as you can ahead of time.

When you bring home your groceries, chop veggies for snacks and salads so all you have to do is open a container. Premake some sauces or dressings, cook up some healthy proteins, and put together some grab and go snacks. Learn about the wonders of crockpots and quick dump dinners if you haven’t already.

Healthy food can make a huge difference in how you feel, think, and work, so it’s worth it to put in a little time to make healthy eating easier when you’re busy, because that’s when you need that energy the most.

Delegate

You can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t for a few different reasons. First, it’ll wear you out and you won’t be able to give your all to the parts of your business that only YOU can do. Also, you might not be that good at everything, which is fine! Not everyone is amazing at all aspects of running a business, so don’t waste time on things that aren’t your zone of genius when you can hire someone who enjoys it and might actually do a better job.

Looking to outsource? Check out my services page.

Entrepreneurship takes a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to run you into the ground. Burnout will not grow your business or make you a happy person, so make sure to take care of your health and your precious brain while you turn your business into your dream empire!

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