What!? No Email!?

Although I’ve been writing all of my life, I am a relatively new blogger.

As it is with any new adventure, I’ve come across some challenges. In the entrepreneurial blogging world, my main challenge (er, so far) has revolved around time management.

The first hurdle I’ve had to overcome is one of discipline. It’s been hard to make time to sit down and write. It took speaking with one of my mentors to get me over the hurdle. He told me that he blocks out days every week to do certain tasks: if he has to travel, for example, he tries to do it Tuesday through Thursday. He has focus (/task/desk) time on Mondays and networking on Fridays. I’ve also read that Jack Canfield sets aside a large chunk of time every week to write. No exceptions. So I sat down with a blank calendar and mapped out what a perfect week would look like. After one week of realizing that I can’t possibly schedule every minute of every day and expect to follow it consistently (talk about blocking creativity!), I opted for designating chunks of time and subjects for days. For example, I write on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and try to limit networking to Wednesdays and Fridays. So far it’s worked really well for me.

After conquering one obstacle, I soon realized that although I had dedicated time to writing, I was easily distracted by the *ding* of my email. And then there’s that pesky little yellow notification envelope that stares at me, daring me to click away from what I’m doing so I can see what turns out to be the mass-sent solicitation email that I just couldn’t live without. By about the second day of this, I did something bold…. I turned off my email. Yep! I completely shut it down. Gone were the dings and the taunting yellow envelope. Present was my state of mind and focus on the task at hand. I realized that the solicitation email was still there two hours later when I opened my email back up. And, even more surprisingly, the world was still functioning just as effectively without my constant checking of emails as it was before. Amazing. And as a side benefit – I’ve found myself coming alive with the creative process of writing. I’ve unearthed a side of me that has been dormant since my college days.

Time management is one of those things that I believe each of us struggles with in our own unique ways. And there is no one “cure” for this ailment, as we all think and process in different ways. I’d love to hear your comments – what has worked for you as you’ve learned to manage your time over the years?

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Getting Started

Tick Tock.

Stare at the blank screen.

Switch over to email to see who the new message is from.

Remember you were starting to write, switch back.

Tick Tock.

I’m hoping that as you’re reading this you’re nodding your head, thinking, “Oh yeah, I’ve been there.” Sometimes we have the best intentions in the world to make it there on time, to start that new project, or to write that blog. Unfortunately, it’s not the thought that counts. It’s the execution.

What is it that keeps us from starting? With me and my blog, it’s fear. Fear that I’ll write something uninteresting. Fear that next month I’ll learn something that will make this post outdated. Fear that someone will question my ideas or flat out won’t like it. Fear that (*gasp!*) I’ll publish something with a grammatical error in it! (No, really. That’s an English major’s worst nightmare.) Do any of these fears sound familiar to you?

But the truth is, all of those things are going to happen. Some people will find my writing uninteresting or factually ill-conceived. Things will continue to happen and I will continue to learn, making my material out of date. And yes, even English majors make grammatical errors from time to time.

So now that I’ve identified my fears and realized there’s nothing I can do about them, I have a choice to make. I can leave my words inside my head, where they don’t help anyone but me. Or I can acknowledge the fact that I read blogs every day written by people who probably (since they’re people) have (or had, at one point) the same fears that I have. And I can acknowledge that I learn a lot from those people – from the things they choose to write about, from the knowledge they impart, or simply from embracing the diversity of a viewpoint different from my own.

Are there people like me out in the world? Are there people who could benefit from my words if I put them out there instead of keeping them in my head? I think so. So I’m going to, as Nike says, Just Do It.

Here it is, friends. Here is my first blog. You may not like it, it may be outdated, and there may be a tiny error in it, but that’s OK. I did it. Columbus wouldn’t have found the New World had he not set sail, and I won’t be able to reach my maximum effectiveness if I keep all my ideas in my head. I’m putting myself out there and opening myself up for criticism and ridicule, as well as praise and admiration.

But that’s not my motivation; it is this: I hope that by reading this, my first blog, you are encouraged and empowered to do something for the first time too. Dust off that thing you’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, and take the first step. We can take this journey together.