Message from the Marketer

When I'm not writing content for clients, I'm taking care of these cuties.

When I’m not writing content for clients, I’m taking care of these cuties.

I’m not going to pretend that it’s OK for a company to get lazy about sharing content. IF you want to attract and retain customers, stay relevant, or work toward anything like a goal. But in my case, as the lone ranger of my consultancy, I’m perfectly OK with not developing my own content: blog articles, social media posts, etc. You know why? Because I am so busy developing content for my clients!

Does this excuse me from walking the walk? Probably not. I’m not interested in excuses. I can explain it a little, though. I’m doing what many other small business owners do: keeping so busy with my day to day operations that I’m not spending any time on marketing, despite my best intentions. And a sizable portion of my operations include taking care of two toddlers! If I have the choice between blogging for my website or taking my kids to the park…well, I think it’s pretty clear what takes priority.

While I may not be focusing on my own business development (through content marketing, that is), I’m helping my clients reach their goals. The companies I work with (and in the case of marketing agencies, their clients) have amazing marketing plans and they’re pursuing real-world content marketing strategies. I love being a part of their journey and seeing how their efforts come together to better serve their customers and prospective customers. These companies are basically taking me along for the ride–I’m learning a lot about marketing and what goes into making high-level business decisions.

This is really, really exciting to me, because this exposure will help me be a more experienced and informed marketing consultant, let alone writer/content developer. My “10 year plan” includes getting both kids into grade school and expanding my business. I’m not sure exactly what this means quite yet, but I do know that working as a freelance copywriter for a wide range of companies is giving me absolutely priceless experience. For now, that’s good enough for me, and I’m so grateful for every opportunity I have to work with a marketing team (internal or agency-based).

To prove my point, I’ll admit right now that I’m ignoring some client work I really need to do. I’m also ignoring my 2 year-old, who’s now in the other room, leaving me alone with Curious George. My little guy just said “uh-oh,” so with this, I’m signing off!

Information OVERLOAD!!!

I am so overwhelmed!

A typical 5 minutes in my day: Bzzzz…new text message. Bzzzz…incoming cell phone call. Ding…e-mail newsletter with 47 links to click. Ding…webinar invite. Ring…mom’s calling. Ding…e-mail from client. Purr…cat climbs on me. Clink…Reminder to call Bob for article interview in 20 minutes. Wonk…Skype call. Ding…e-mail confirming conference call. Knock…brother holding baby in doorway because baby is ready for mommy time.

The typical next 5 minutes: Reply to text message, let cell phone call go to voice mail, delete newsletter, register for webinar and add it to iCal, answer mom’s call with unfairly annoyed tone of voice, read client e-mail, pat cat, “snooze” reminder for 5 minutes, ignore Skype for the moment, reply “yes” to conference call and add to iCal, situate baby on my lap…

What’s funny is I know I’m leaving stuff out.

God, I am so tired. And did I do any actual WORK in this 10 minute period? Yeah, I guess so. I don’t know how to measure it. I answered phones, messages, talked, got irritated with a loved one, set up some appointments, got an educational opportunity on the calendar, and fed my baby. I suppose this is progress. But is it effective?

Since I started my business, I’ve been going crazy with the amount of information I need to process – and a lot of it is my doing. To learn new things and stay on top of industry trends, I’ve subscribed to a number of newsletters, joined several LinkedIn groups and a few meet-up/networking groups. I’m on 50 e-mail lists, including those of vendors I work with, and most of these deliver information I actually value and WANT to receive. But I’ve learned that I can spend more than 24 hours a day sifting through it, organizing it, responding to it, talking about it…waaaah!

And for the record, the work-related information comes to me on top of that from my friends and family and I don’t do much censoring of their information! Relationships are important and are the reason I’m doing any and all of this.

A great blog came to my attention today: Data Sort – Finding Inner Peace When There’s Too Much Information. GOOD STUFF! It’s written by a woman in my Founding Mom’s meet-up, and I’m so grateful she encouraged us to check out her blog today. She understands how I feel and reminded me that most of us are overloaded–but that we can choose to be grateful for the opportunities we have to connect with people, stay active with our families, take on work, etc. And really, that we can laugh about it.

We all need to learn how to manage all the information that comes our way. My life has changed a lot lately, and I’m learning new skills every day. I’ll get the hang of it. I’m in the thick of things and I need to learn how to quickly identify what’s most important, what has to be addressed immediately and what can wait. I’m sort of impatient, though, and I am really looking forward to having it figured out. (I do realize no one ever figures it out, though!) See, I’m my own worst enemy. 😉

Uh-oh! I just heard The Office music coming from the TV in the livingroom. I have to wrap this up so I can watch it…if I don’t get an e-mail, phone call or text in the meantime!

Becoming a Time Management All Star

Achieving all-star status as an athlete, entertainer, or chef may mean you’re the cream of the crop, worthy of the special attention and accolades reserved for the “best.” But those of us seeking all-star status as a “time manager” are not in it for the glamour (although some free swag and a devoted fan base would be nice!). We’re in it so that we can do what we want to do – all that we want to do! Even if that means we have to sacrifice some comforts, drink some extra coffee, and lean pretty hard on our support system.

I thought I needed time-management skills when I worked full-time in a busy marketing communications department, or when I was in college or grad school. Now, with a 6 month-old baby, freelance work, household duties, personal relationships to maintain…oh gosh, there’s more on my plate than ever.

What does it take to be a Time Management All Star? To be really savvy with schedules, to cross things off the to-do lists, to have time to just do nothing? While I might have a better answer in about three years, and I’m clearly no expert on the subject, I’ll share what I think it takes…

Desire. Indeed, we must want to improve, maximize, and learn. I think a basic willingness to move out of your comfort zone, come up with strategies to improve your daily processes and communications, and rework old systems and schedules to work more efficiently is absolutely critical. You have to want it badly enough to make the necessary adjustments. I’m so motivated to tackle it.

Realism. Along with the willingness to push ahead to make it all “work,” it’s inevitable that some things will be compromised – and we’ve got to accept this if we want to manage our time better. While I don’t want to re-structure my values (my top priority will always be my family, for example), I may have to reframe some of my expectations. I may need to get to bed really late or spend less time cooking dinner some nights. My efforts to make time for more things means some things have to “give,” and it’s not always going to be easy.

Family. To help me get it all done, I really have to depend on my family. My husband supports me in every way, and my brother has been babysitting whenever I need him – and I am so thankful. I’m getting better at asking for help and accepting it. My entire family and all of my friends support me, too, but the people who can be here in person to help me take care of my daughter while I work on my 1,476 tasks are really making the wheels turn!

Professional Network. If it weren’t for my friends, friends’ referrals, former coworkers and their referrals, business associates, LinkedIn, Facebook…I’m not sure I’d be making the connections I need to get the work I need when I need it. These resources have saved me time and have taught me so much about freelancing (and/or parenting!) – and have made it easier for me to work quicker and smarter. I hope that as opportunities come my way, I can send them back around again!

Organization. I’m still working on this one! I need more of it.

The Little Things. Caffeine, short naps, iPhone apps and games, the DVR, grocery delivery, a nice walk…just a few of the little things that help me keep on keepin’ on!

Have I succeeded with time management today? Actually, no. I spent too much time on this blog post, too little time on actual (billable!) project work, and spent more time following up on odds and ends than I should have. But I’ll stay up late tonight and try to organize my day better tomorrow. I’m learning, and I’ll become more efficient as I go. Someday, I may be a time-management All-Star; in the meantime; I need some more coffee and some multi-tasking skills.

Actually, maybe what I really need to become is a Multi-Tasking All Star…?!