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What’s Your Planning Style?

Are you like me and the idea of resolutions makes you a bit queasy – especially talking or thinking about them before January? Join the club – and celebrate that January is just a month like any other. If and when you are ready to make some plans for your new year, then take a look at some of my favorite resources and experts below.

I basically take a little bit from each one of these approaches to mosh up “my plan” that feels good and aligned with what I want to accomplish and how I want to feel at the end of this year.

Kate Hanley / Better Than Resolutions Week – check out her episodes 89 – 94 of her “How to Be a Better Person” podcast. Each less-than-5 minute episode gives you an easy task to get started on planning and goal setting.

One Word – yes, there is actually a book and helpful approach to finding your “one word” for the year. I always think I know what it is going to be until I actually go through the process and then I am always surprised when my word finds me. The year it’s PRESENT.

Laura Vanderkam / Best of Both Worlds: Goals 2020 – This annual episode provides helpful insight on how to map out what you want to and actually put some time frames and accountability around it. Laura’s approach also helps to prevent the overwhelm that comes when you front-end your goals, but instead shows you how to pace them out over the year in simple categories.

Patty Lennon / Marketing Planner For Coaches & Consultants – If marketing is where you get stuck, then check out Patty’s easy and simple 5 Step Planner to take the overwhelm out of promoting yourself and your business.

Miriam Schulman / Art Journaling – Call all creatives who hate the idea of planning. Take advantage of Miriams’ FREE (for a limited time) Art of Journaling video series. Yes, doodling really can make you productive.

Jen Lehner / Content Planner – Another favorite of mine is Jen Lehner’s Content Planning System. Her holistic yet very tactical system ensures your content actually sees the light of day. It’s one of the many many overwhelmingly valuable tools she shares with her Front Row CEO group.

Nancy Sheed / Content Planning templates – I also have simple, customizable content planning templates to help you bring structure and schedule to your content and marketing planning. You can download them for free here – and learn more about how use them here and here.

Happy purposeful and productive planning!

Top picks for best planners

Planners, Calendars & Journals, OH MY! (Top picks for planners)

This timely guest post comes from my uber-organized, proficient planning, brand-strategizing friend Victoria Vitarelli and originally appeared on her website, V Dot V Marketing.

A hope is a dream without a plan.

I often get asked, “how do you keep track of your ‘EVERYTHING’!?” Juggling my clients, my kids, my mom and life in general. I’ve gotten to the point if it’s not written somewhere, it ain’t gonna happen.

I have notebooks, whiteboards and paper scraps all over for the urge to list and do a brain dump. I have figured out over the years that I need to be disciplined every day and keep one main repository as an extension of my memory. Journals for different topics or goals do not work for me because the arteries of life often bleed into one another.

So I keep my system to a family whiteboard, google calendars merged together and a paper planner – currently diving into Self Journal.

Since my very first job out of college, I’ve kept a notebook to write down my notes – from meetings, calls, thoughts, ideas. I had a plain spiral notebook to “get the job done” and a de rigueur Filofax.

Today there is an onslaught of planners, calendars and such! For me – a lot of fun! However, I have a friend who is paralyzed by the choices to make the purchase. Here are four questions I asked her to help her with her decision.

  1. Do you want to fill in the blanks or have a white canvas? How do you set your goals? Best practices say to write out your big goals; distill them down into weekly and daily to-dos. Depends on your style and what makes you productive vs busy. There are planners that have the year/day date written out and are very structured. They are designed to deliver the general best practices in keeping a goal and getting it done so you don’t have to think about that aspect. There are journals for very specific goals e.g. fitness, business, parenting. Daily Greatness has many specialized versions. If you have your own structure or want to be more creative about your pages, try the Bullet Journal system. You make the rules, but there is a system to writing it down. Here is a video. Bullet journal “porn” is all over Pinterest and Instagram. There are some beautiful, truly amazing works of art out there!
  1. Are you carrying it around everywhere and anywhere? Weight matters!  Certain paper stocks can get heavy and depending on what you use to write with, the ink can bleed through light paper. Details…Details…Most planners have the weight listed on their respective websites. And depending on if you want a defined calendar style e.g. 30 days or week at a glance, full year by the day, quarterly etc. this can make a big difference in weight as well. Also there are various sizes from 8.5″ x 11″ pages to small pocket styles. Think about what you will be carrying this in – purse? briefcase? pocket?
  1. Does brand/color/style matter to you? Once you decide on white canvas or fill in the blank style and weight- the search narrows down. There are hundreds of journals out there by designers, planner brands, etc. I found a Lily Pulitzer planner with every page in her signature style. Some white canvas, purists will stick to a classic marble notebook or the ever-reliable Moleskin.  Both are sold in all kinds of stores in addition to online outlets e.g. Staples, bookstores, Target and boutiques.
  1. How much “woo-woo” factor? We use this term affectionately. There are some that have messages of inspiration and faith as well as planning out your dream days and life. An example is Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map Planner. Per the description, “This planning system incorporates your inner and outer worlds; your gratitude and your goals; your Core Desired Feelings into your daily regime”. Personally, I enjoy seeing a good Zig Ziggler or Aristotle quote to inspire me. And then there are days when it’s just about checking the box and getting stuff done without guru sounding pep talks. This one is very interesting, The Sacred Circle Planner – starting on December 18th, the Winter Solstice. Per the description, “Through the use of Divination, Affirmations, Archetypal Wisdom, Goal Manifesting, and specially designed Spiritual Practices that keep you in sync with the seasons–you have the opportunity to craft a whole new you this year!

As you go through the many other lists and ideas the key is to start somewhere and think about how you get stuff done NOW! You can always shift or try new styles or methods as the year goes on. The key is to find something that is going to support your goals and motivation. These are tools to help us get the job done and get to our destination! The discipline to follow a system is KEY no matter what you use. Happy goal setting and getting stuff done!

Check out Vicky’s video where she test-drives some of the best selling planners and journals.

Also, tune into this recent Plannerpalooza podcast from the “Best of Both Worlds” team of Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger who take planner enthusiasm to a whole new level.

Are you a planner perfectionist? Which one(s) do you use? Please share in the comments.

Nancy Sheed 5 Social media hacks to save you time

5 Easy Hacks to Cut Your Social Media Time in Half

Save time and still look like a social media superstar

There are two types of social media users. Those who love it and those who consider it a necessary evil. Social media is important but it doesn’t have to take all your time. Here are my go-to shortcuts and hacks that will have you sharing your social media in record time with consistency and ease.

Tip one: Turn off notifications

You do not need an email, ping, and pop-up every time some action is taken on your social media platforms. These notifications are distractions and killing your time for productivity and creativity. You should be in charge of your time, not the other way around.

  • Turn notifications off on your phone (settings tab)
  • Turn them off in settings on computer/laptop as well
  • Turn off all notifications about email list updates, a daily summary will do
  • Schedule specific times to check comments, post and reply

Tip two: Create a portfolio of your social media assets

This includes images, content, hashtags, brand elements, style guide, boilerplate, bios and mission statement info. With everything in one place, you won’t spend hours tracking down all your stuff, every time you want to post on social media. Put it into one easy accessible location. If you don’t have an easy-to-find folder on your computer, then put it in the cloud, so you and your team can access it.

Here are popular apps for storing and retrieving images and information from anywhere:

Tip three: Develop a content calendar or checklist

This is ideal to have so you know what’s coming and you have dates and deadlines built in (free one here, for you!) With a plan in place, you will no longer be scrambling trying to figure out “What will I post today?”

A social media post checklist means you won’t forget anything and it provides you with a process for getting things done and leads to consistency across your platforms, which most certainly leads to better engagement.

Tip four: Batch your content or posting

This is big, so don’t skip it. Use focused blocks of time to knock out multiple versions of the same type of content.

  • Write 3-4 blog posts – then you are done for the month (if you are weekly)
  • Record 3-4 podcasts and schedule them for weekly release
  • Pick a time every week in which you schedule the bulk of your social media posts
  • Use posting tools to help you with your scheduling and management: Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social are a few I like to use

Tip five: Hire someone

I promise, this is not a shameless plug! If you are stuck, uninterested, or truly don’t have the time for this, then figure out what would help you the most, and start there. Don’t waste time on projects that aren’t your “zone of genius.”

If a $20 an hour task is keeping you from doing the $100 or $1000 an hour work, then hiring someone else is a no brainer.

  • Need help organizing everything – hire an assistant (or VA)
  • Need help making things look pretty – hire a designer
  • Need help figuring out what the best content is – hire a strategist
  • Need help with Facebook ads – hire an ad specialist
  • Need help posting it all – hire a social media manager

What’s giving you fits today? Start there. Find out how to batch it, automate it or outsource it. You’ll love seeing these tasks off your to-do list and know they are still happening and helping you grow your audience reach.

Need specific help with these tips, tools or a strategy to make it work? Happy to chat about how I can help. Schedule a clarity call here.

3 Ways to Simplify Your Online Marketing [+ FREE Content Calendar]

Raise your hand if…

You’ve written a blog post that never saw the light of day. How about an email promoting an event that came and went without getting sent? Ever spend time creating great content and then watch someone else’s info (that wasn’t as helpful) get lots of praise and engagement?

Me too. Which is why I created the Content Calendar Template – to help ensure great content gets out!

You need it. I need it. My clients need it. Plus, it’s nice to share.

We cannot allow you to let your content stay in hiding any longer. It’s time to let your light shine, tell your story, and get your message(s) out into the world.  People want to hear from you, so let’s get moving.

Step One – Create a content calendar

(download your very own customizable one below).

Think of this like planning for a vacation. You don’t wait until the day before to book the flights. You don’t wing it when it comes to reservations. If a week-long vacation with the kids gets you several hours of research and planning time, then certainly, the content that drives your vision, mission, and business deserves an hour or two – right?

So think about:

  • What posts will you create?
  • Who on your team does that?
  • What are the deadlines?
  • What images or design help will you need?

Your plan needs to serve you and your team. Make changes as you go – but if you know everything you want to share for the entire month, then guess what? It will happen, your tribe will be served, and your fans will wonder how you manage to create and share so much awesome content.

 

Step Two – Use social media management and scheduling tools.

No one has time to be hanging out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all day.

“Oh look. A cat video!” – said no one who is crushing their content plan. Stay with me.

Take advantage of technology so that relevant posts, pictures, and links show up like magic. Use these tools to share not only your new content, but also your evergreen and most popular posts.

Pop in (or have your designated team member) reply to questions, thank people for sharing, and let the world know that real people are behind the cool info you’re sharing.

A few of my favorites are:

Also, use automation and cross-promotion tools (within your blog and email marketing platform) when possible. For example, set up your blog so that it automatically emails your list and posts to social media every time you post. Seriously, take advantage of technology.

 

Step Three – Get help.

If writing isn’t your thing, then have a team member help or hire someone to do it for you. If you have no problem creating and coming up with ideas, but hate technology, find the resources that will help you execute the plan.

Like many things in business (and life) when you have a system and support, things get done. Your content soars and new fans and clients find you!

It’s not magic. It just feels like it.

 

Get started with a Content Calendar Template now!


 

Need help getting started? Let’s schedule a clarity call and get your content plan in place. The world needs to hear from you!

3 Super-Simple Marketing Planning Steps (and free templates)

 

Embrace simple and get it done. That’s the best advice I have when it comes to creating and executing your plan for marketing your business. While there are tons of ways to complicate this, there are a few easy steps to follow when “simple and done” are the goal. If you’ve been overwhelmed (and who hasn’t?) by all the options and to-do lists, you’re going to love this approach.

I promise.

Disclaimer: This process is super simple. That doesn’t mean it won’t take some focus and time. Put 30 minutes on your calendar at least once a week and make this a priority. Simple? Yes. Magic? No. At least, not yet.

Super-simple step one: Get your ideas out of your head. Many of us are idea machines. We think of so many things that we don’t know what to do first. If that’s you, then the first step is getting the ideas for your marketing out of your head and into a format you can refer to later and add to often.

Use the “Your Ideas” template if you’re a pen and paper person, or use your favorite app. The technology doesn’t matter.

If you fall into the “I have no ideas” category, then use your first 30 minutes to brainstorm.  Start here:

  • What would you love to tell people about your industry?
  • What are common myths or misconceptions that need busting or correcting?
  • The last time you were inspired—what did you do, and what happened next?
  • What have your learned from your clients/customers?
  • Where is the best way to meet/reach your ideal clients?
  • What events are strategic for you this year?
  • What trends are you loving/sick of?  

Super-simple step two: Create a plan. Since we’re not going to complicate this, I’ve made a “Your Year” template you can download and keep handy. Start filling in the months with events, promotions, and campaigns. Don’t forget any seasonal times that occur in your business.

Some of you may be thinking…

“That’s all fine and dandy, but I don’t have campaigns; I’m not sure what to promote, and don’t even get me started when it comes to events!”

I hear you. Since we’re all about simple, just start with the next month or quarter. Is it back-to-school time, or the snowy days of winter? What events are happening that drive activity? If you’re still stuck, just look at the next month and start there. Review your idea list and find something that resonates with you. Use that as your focus for the month. (If you are feeling extra organized, then you can go a step further by mapping out your weeks in detail using the “Your Month” template here.)

Super-simple step three: Now that you’ve got a focus, it’s time to execute. How do you reach your audience? By sharing information where they are. Showing up in their email, their Facebook feed, at events they attend, etc. Write a blog post, tape a video, record a podcast, attend an event, or even better, be the speaker at the event.

Hint: It’s not necessary to do everything. It is necessary to do one or two things really well – and BE CONSISTENT!

Do what’s natural and easy for you. Not a writer? Then use voice-to-text. Don’t let technology (or lack thereof) keep you from sharing the information with your audience. I know someone who launched an entire business writing advice in Facebook posts. It’s not my go-to recommendation, but if that’s all you’ve got right now, then use it!

Rinse and repeat. It really is that simple.

Like most things in life, it gets easier when you know how. It also becomes part of your daily flow if you schedule the time to get it done. If you need more customers, you can’t NOT do this. If you’ve got more clients than you can handle, then hire someone to do it for you.

Ready? Let’s go!

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