Recently, I was coaching a business client, and we were having a conversation about business success. I asked her to share with me her definition of business success. After a pregnant pause, she admitted that she didn’t really know her definition of business success. Therein lies her problem — and maybe yours as well. No matter what stage your business is in, it is important to define success for yourself.

Not knowing your definition of business success is like driving at night without your headlights on! You and your business may reach your destination, but it makes it a whole lot harder to navigate, find your way, and get there with the least amount of bumps and bruises. You also may arrive in an entirely different place than the one you wanted to reach. Therefore, think of knowing your definition of success as having your high beams on at all times. It helps guide you in the right direction, and assures that you will get there safely, quickly, and in the most direct way possible.

The new year is a perfect time to reflect on your definition for success for your business. As you take the time to reflect and ponder what new experiences you want to create for your business this year, ask yourself some key questions:

  • How do you define success?
  • What is it that is propelling you forward in your business?
  • What drives you?
  • What rewards have you set up for yourself along the way as you meet business milestones?
  • What is the mission of your business?

Far too often, business owners get caught up in someone else’s definition of success. The problem with that is you can waste an awful lot of time being confused, feeling overwhelmed and hesitant about your next step or path. You also may lose faith in building a business that serves you and your unique goals.

All of the above questions are vital and should be given considerable thought. But the most important one by far is, What is the mission of your business? By mission, I don’t mean the Mission Statement that you post on your website for clients and all of the world to see. I mean the internal one that is the driving force behind your business.

For example, my mission is to marry my passions with my profits. In my opinion (and experience), the greatest businesses are created out of passion and knowledge packaged together in a way that others see it as a value. Therefore, I’ve made a conscious choice to step into a bigger purpose to help people around the country and world through my organizing, coaching, speaking and writing. Success to me means taking my business to the next level to reach a wider audience, establish a strong online presence, and to do it without any full time employees.

You can make your business be whatever you want it to be. But first, you have to know what it is you want, how you define success, and what steps you need to take to achieve that success. I challenge you to create a definition of success that truly works for you. And when you do, be sure to share it with someone that will hold you to it, and serve as a powerful accountability partner. You can email me if you’d like. I’d love to see what you come up with.

Ah, New Year’s Resolutions. They come but once per year, and cause quite a stir. Indeed, people talk about their New Year’s Resolutions quite freely. A small portion of people even write them down. But how many truly achieve them? The number is probably dismally small. Why? Because most people do a great job of talking about their resolutions, but don’t do such a great job of taking action on them. They often set themselves up for failure by biting off more than they can chew!

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Lisa Montanaro, Certified Professional Organizer® and owner of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC in Warwick, NY, has been chosen as the moderator of the Golden Circle Ask the Organizer Panel for the 2011 National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Conference to be held in San Diego, CA from April 7-9, 2011.

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Last chance to join the DECIDE to be Organized Group Coaching Program. It starts this Tuesday, October 5th so don’t delay!

Many people say they want to get better organized, but in order to act upon that wish, you must deeply examine your motives for wanting to do so. Your motives must be strong enough to sustain you through the change process. DECIDE is an empowering process that leads to change. It will assist you in achieving results at home, at work, and in life in general. While the process guides a person in making decisions that lead to a more organized state, it is itself a decision; a decision to take control. How do you do that?

The DECIDE to Be Organized Online Group Coaching Program

  • Dates: Tuesday evenings, October 5 to November 9, 2010
  • Time: 7:30-9:00 pm EST
  • Investment: $249
  • Bonuses: Includes MP3 recordings, the DECIDE to be Organized 58 page e-book, email access to me, and more!
  • Click here for Details and to Register

If you are ready to change and need help with any of your organizing or time management projects, then join me for the DECIDE to Be Organized Online Group Coaching Program, a 6-week teleclass program that allows participants to be guided through the entire DECIDE process in a group coaching environment.

During these teleclasses, I will offer guidance, support, and expertise as you embark on this empowering process for change. Through DECIDE, you will learn the tools needed to get better organized, take control, and make positive changes.

Listen to my message about this exciting program AND a free 10 minute audio about the DECIDE process.

If you are interested in having your very own organizing coach, but aren’t able to invest the money to work on a one-on-one basis with an organizing expert, this affordable program is the answer!

Take a look at the program details and “decide” for yourself!

Organizers Take Note: If you are a professional organizer looking for organizing education, the DECIDE group coaching program is perfect for you too! You can take the program to learn a great new organizing process that you can use with your clients. I will issue a Certificate of Attendance at the end of the program that you can use to support 9 hours of continuing educationcredits. In the past, organizers have have taken the program along with non-organizers as a way to further their organizing skills and add a new process to their repertoire. You can too!

Referral Program: If you are a NAPO member and bring in a participant, you will either receive 15% off of your own registration if you take the program, or a 15% referral fee if you are not enrolled yourself! Just let me know the registrant’s name(s), or have them tell me they were referred by you.

For most people these days, keeping up with the daily onslaught of email is a major challenge.  In fact, experts estimate that e-mail has added an extra 1.23 hours to the average person’s workday (E-Writing: 21st Century Tools for Effective Communication by Diana Booher; Managing Your E-Mail by Christina Cavanagh).  If you multiply 1.23 hours by 5 days for 52 weeks, the average person is spending 320 hours per year of extra time handling e-mail.  Wow! That is a lot of time spent on email. And experts estimate that the time lost to email has caused workers to shave time elsewhere, causing a productivity crunch.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the average U.S. worker spends up to four hours a day sending and receiving e-mail. Of that four hours, it is estimated that one hour each day is spent on the 36 percent of e-mail messages that are either irrelevant, or relevant but do not require a response.

So how do your survive the daily email attack? The following tips will help you manage the flow of email:

  • Turn off e-mail alarms and prompts through your e-mail preferences tool. Many people have alarms and prompts set to go off every few minutes upon the arrival of e-mail in their inbox.  These continual interruptions make people respond like Pavlov’s dogs every time they hear the “you’ve got mail” chime. Turning off the chime will keep you from interrupting what you were doing to read e-mail in the midst of other projects.
  • Plan for the reading and response of e-mail in your daily schedule. Create a proactive method of managing e-mail by setting up time in your day dedicated to e-mail.  Do not check e-mail the first thing in the morning, or you risk becoming reactive.  Instead, spend the first hour working on the most important project or planning your day out.
  • Estimate the amount of time you are spending on e-mail now, and cut that time in half. Deadlines usually make most people more efficient.  You may want to spend half of your allocated email time in the morning, and the other half after lunch or before you finish working for the day.  The time constraint forces you to prioritize.  The e-mails that do not get answered are probably not that important and, thus, deleted, or archived in file folders for future use.
  • Create e-mail folders, and direct the flow of e-mail. Create folders in your e-mail system that mirror your paper filing system to reinforce storage and retrieval of important information.  In addition, create the folders to reflects your active projects and change your e-mail settings to direct e-mail that contains project-related language to those folders within your inbox. Added bonus: many e-mail systems impose limits on inbox size, but not in a folder.
  • Use computer storage folders. For e-mails that need to be kept for a longer period of time, create an electronic filing cabinet, with electronic folders for category names that match the physical files.  Use Word or any system your company utilizes and backs up often.
  • Save the most recent only. Delete the earlier string of emails and just keep the most current one to avoid saving redundant emails.
  • Just save the attachment. If e-mail has an attachment and that is all you need, only save the attachment.
  • Control the flow of the e-mail exchange. People often feel they must respond to email instantly. Take time to consider your response and slow the flow of email when an immediate response if unnecessary.
  • Refrain from sending irrelevant e-mail. Be careful not to send e-mail just because it’s quick and convenient.  The same rules apply to e-mail as regular correspondence – if it doesn’t have to be said, don’t say it.
  • Create templates. If you frequently send the same types of emails, create templates that you can use over and over (changing only the specifics each time).
  • Create an e-mail ritual. Every Friday before you leave the office, be ruthless about deleting e-mails no longer needed, saving those you need for a week or longer to personal folders, saving those you need longer to Word, and reviewing those in the personal folders to delete any no longer necessary.  Make this a weekly habit and your e-mail will be a lot more manageable. You can also do the same thing at the end of every day if you so choose.

Many people are familiar with the above tips, but few actually implement them, leaving them to be reactive instead of proactive.  Organizing your e-mail, like any other organizing behavior, allows you to be more productive and better utilize your time and energy.  So stop the madness, and do what it takes to take control of your email. Remember, e-mail is supposed to be an electronic communications tool to assist you, not drive you crazy.

Good luck!