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Monday
Dec242012

Happy Holidays from the Rule Breaking Czar

I hadn't realized how much minimalism had changed my life until Christmas season came rolling around. This year, I successfully relinquished my attachment to things. When I really want something, I delight in being able to buy those things myself. In fact, I asked my family not to buy me anything for Christmas this year (especially not things that I didn't specifically ask for).

In November I started participating in Project 333. During the project I am allowed to have 33 items in my closet (there are a few exceptions, like underwear) for three months. Everything else goes in a big hefty bag in the back of the closet. For three months, if I decide to buy a new shirt then something else has to go in the bag. 

It's been almost two months since I started. When it began, I realized that I hated every pair of pants that I owned, so I went shopping and spent more than I normally would on a perfect pair jeans. 

Rather than owning five pairs of pants, I now own ONE pair of pants that I love and wear at least three times per week. (I do my laundry once or twice per week).

In the past two months I've realized how nice it is not to have so many clothing items. If my clothing ends up piled on the floor (which, it inevitably does because that's how I roll), the pile can't get very large. It's not overwhelming to have to wash, fold, and put clothes away anymore-- a task that used to take up way too much time and energy.

I once read that President Obama only wears grey and blue suits. He does this to minimize the amount of decisions that he has to make in a day and maximize the energy and time that he has to make important decisions. This seems like a good idea to me and I assume many busy people use minimalism in this way.

Not only do I have a small wardrobe, but everything in my closet also falls into a color pattern: black, brown, navy blue, and white. I didn't do this to be boring or restrict myself. I find those colors classic, natural, and visually pleasing. Obviously, I like other colors too (as you can see from my website). I'm all about pops of color!

What I've learned from years of reading blogs like Zen Habits, The Minimalists, Be More With Less, is that lifestyle choices like minimalism and vegetarianism (or veganism) are less about restrictions and more about making the space for what's important to you. These lifestyle choices that encourage quality over quantity. They're lifestyle choices that make you feel light, mindful, and courageous-- exactly what being a Rule Breaker is all about!

So this Christmas, I didn't feel pressured to buy a slew of gifts for everyone on my "list". I LOVE giving to my friends and family, but I choose to do so in non-material ways. I choose to give them my time, undivided attention (though now that I have an iPhone I understand why everyone is so distracted all of the time) and good conversation.

When I do give gifts, I have a rule that the gift can't be anything that could end up in the back of a closet. Instead, I give gifts that provide experiences: tickets, gift certificates to a local restaurant, cook books for foodies, etc..

I'm excited for Christmas not because I expect to open a bunch of gifts, but because I get to cook (one of my favorite things), eat delicious food, spend time with my family, and read a few good books (I hope). 

When I look back on past holidays, I don't remember everything I got (though I can't lie, I do remember a few stellar gifts). What I remember most is how I felt-- like anything was possible with the dawn of a new year and so very happy to be around the people who love me most.

Anything IS possible for you this year. May your holidays be blessed with inspiration, love, and good cheer :)

 

Happy Holidays. Happy Giving. Lots of love!

 

Court

 

Friday
Dec212012

Exhausted by Your Work But Not Making Enough Progress?

In April 2010 I had an anxiety attack.

At that time, I was juggling two part-time jobs, running my own tutoring business, and was hustling my butt off on the side to start a freelance writing career.

I’d overloaded my nervous system. I’d turned myself into a never-ending capsule of panic. I felt like I had to work constantly or nothing would get done.

I hated feeling like I had to wear all of the hats for my business: the janitor hat, the writer hat, the secretary hat, the manager hat, the marketer hat, the customer service hat.

 

“If I don’t do it no one will”, I kept telling myself.

Sound familiar?

I knew that there had to be a better way, but I felt stuck. 

 

Fortunately, there is a better way. Thank Moses. 

If you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by all of the extra stuff that you have to do with your biz other than the things that you love to do, I have the magic cure.

You need a strong dose of the following:

  1. Routines + habits
  2. Processes
  3. Systems

 Mix them together and add a spoon full of sugar. 

 

Mhmm. That’s right. These seemingly boring medications are what keep an entrepreneur sane. Actually, they won't just keep you sane, they'll help you mulitply your income. (And they're legal, don't worry).

Routines + habits, processes, and systems make sure that the boring stuff gets done so that you have time to do what you love.

Systems are especially gorgeous godsends that deserve a little more appreciation and attention. I can’t wait to tell you more about them.

 

Here’s what’s up:

 

Routines + Habits : The WHEN of your work.

Routines and habits are the things that you do every day. Your life is full of habits from the minute you hear your alarm (how do you react?) to the way you fall asleep at night. The world provides triggers that subconsciously tell you to start performing a habit. But are they the right ones?

 

How do routines and habits play out in your business/work life? Think about the following habit triggers: 

  • What do you do first thing when you sit down at your desk?
  • When you open a web browser, what’s the first url you go to?
  • How many times do you check your email each day?
  • When you think of an idea or a “to do” what do you do?
  • When you jot down a note, what do you do with it afterwards?
  • What do you do every morning after you wake up?
  • What do you do every night before you go to bed?

 

Processes : The HOW + WHAT of your work.

Processes are the way that you interact with your business. Do you have a specific process that you follow every time you write a blog post? When you go over your finances? When you contact a client?

To improve my business, I’ve implemented the following processes:

  • Steps to writing a blog post.
  • Steps to writing a sales page.
  • Steps to contacting a client.
  • Steps to writing a proposal.

 

I keep these processes updated on documents on my Google Drive so that they are accessible from anywhere). The key to writing out your processes is to write it with enough detail that you could hand the formula to someone else and they could do it exactly the same way as you (or pretty damn close).

 

Systems : The WHERE and the SET-UP.

In a world with no systems, with chaos, everything becomes a guerilla struggle, and this predictability is not there. And it becomes almost impossible to save lives, educate kids, develop economies, whatever. 
-Bill Clinton

Systems are my new obsession. Think of them like delegation. YOU SHOULD NOT BE DOING EVERYTHING IN YOUR BUSINESS. PERIOD. If you feel like you’re wearing all of the hats: the accountant hat, the writer hat, the janitor hat, the secretary hat, the marketing hat, the web designer hat, then systems are what you need.

Implementing a system often costs money, which is why many new entrepreneurs shy away from them. I did for a long time, too. But when my business even started gaining the slightest bit of traction and success, I found myself overwhelmed and unable to keep up with all of the hat wearing and changing.

 

I’m still exploring the world of systems, so if you have any advice, please do share it on the Facebook page. Here are some systems that I have implemented:

 

  • A scheduling program called Schedulicity for all of my client appointments. It takes care of the scheduling + cancelling policies for me and syncs with my Google Calendar.
  • A filing system with one drawer for personal files and one for business files.
  • The website IFTTT.com
  • Google Calendar alerts for appointments.
  • The program “Things” captures all of my ideas and “to dos”.
  • Email organization
  • Computer file organization
  • An organic produce delivery service. My mom just started getting organic vegetables delivered to our house. Now that we have this system/delegation in place, I don’t have to worry so much about what I’m going to eat (especially now that I’ve gone 100% vegan).

 

Not sure what systems you should invest in?

Make a list of all of the parts of your work (and life) that you love to do. Here’s what mine looks like:

  • Writing
  • Brainstorming
  • Editing  + revising
  • Cooking
  • Reading
  • Marketing
  • Talking to people

 

Then, make a list of all of the parts of your work and life that you hate doing. These are the things that you should consider finding systems for or delegate to someone else:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Scheduling
  • Taxes
  • Enforcing cancellation policies
  • Laundry
  • Web design
  • Cleaning

It might not be possible to afford a house cleaner, but there are many solutions for outsourcing scheduling, web design, and finances.

Don't forget! You definitely need systems to sort through these buggers:

  • Loose papers on your desk.
  • Client documents.
  • Business infrastructure documents (your website, marketing, ideas, etc)
  • Email inboxes
  • Computer files and documents

 

It’ll take time to find unique approaches to getting everything done in life, but if you do some brainstorming, you’ll surely come up with a few stellar ideas.

 

Did this post rock your world? Even just a little? Then share it, darlin'! 

Click to Tweet:

"In a world with no systems, with chaos, everything becomes a guerilla struggle"-Bill Clinton via @CourtRJ

Exhausted by Your Work But Not Making Enough Progress? http://ow.ly/gioDU @CourtRJ

In 2013 I'm gettin' organized + creating systems! http://ow.ly/gioDU @CourtRJ

 

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