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my thoughts on making the most out of all of life's minutes…


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I took the risk….

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my professional life that rolls over easily into my personal life is to “trust your intuition“.

One time…

One of my first jobs when I was newly married and still in college was working in a local bank as a teller.  And one of the things that I was trained on was to “trust your intuition”.  If there was a time when we felt something wasn’t right about a transaction,  we were told to trust our feelings and get a second opinion or deny the person the transaction all together.

I remember once I asked for identification from a lady who wanted to do a withdraw from “her” account.  When she handed the ID to me, I didn’t feel 100% about the photo matching the person in front of me.  So I stepped away and asked the head teller for her thoughts.  While she and I were talking, the lady ran off.

Something in me told me to question the transaction and when I did – we discovered that the lady wasn’t the owner of the account.  We later called the owner and she didn’t even realize her ID was missing.

Then this other time….

Another time, when I hired a new employee for my pet sitting service, I didn’t listen to my intuition.  This new person I was interviewing was fine, he had all the qualifications and he seemed fine.  There was nothing wrong with him.  But I just didn’t get a warm and fuzzy from him.  He was just fine.  Even though I offered him the job, many of clients felt the same way – he was OK but not what we wanted as a pet sitter.  I ended up having to let him go.

In this situation – I should have listened to my gut when it was telling me  – “yes, there is nothing wrong with him, but that doesn’t make him right for the job.”

And finally, last week….

Jump to this past week where I had a successful listening to my intuition experience.

My friend Maria is a huge plant lover.  And not just like an “oh, that’s a pretty flower” sort of person (like me).  She dives into the life of a plant, knows their botanical names, writes poetry about plants.  She is a plant.  OK – that might be too much – – but you get my drift.

Do you remember Elizabeth Gilbert?  Come on – – where have you heard that name before?

She wrote – Eat, Pray, Love!

Did you love that book?

She has come out with a new book that was released earlier this fall.  This one is fiction, titled The Signature of All Things.

The signature of all thingsThis novel is about a 19th Century woman named Alma who becomes a botanist, which happens to be one of the only scientific fields women of that time were allowed to be in.

I’ve read the comments and reviews about this book – all talking about the way Gilbert describes Alma and her love of plants and their beauty.  All I can think about whenever I have read any of these comments was – “Maria would love this book.”

BUT – – Maria – HATED  – Eat, Pray Love.  H.A.T.E.D. I.T.!!!

How can I give her a book by the same author?

Now, in all fairness – Eat, Pray, Love is a totally different book.  It is a memoir.  And truth be known – people either loved it or hated it.  So – Maria is not alone in her disdain.

OK, so here’s what happened….

So, last weekend, Maria and I met for lunch.   After we caught up and finished eating, I pulled the wrapped book out of my bag and handed it over to Maria. This was my Christmas gift to her.

I had an entire speech planned on how even though she hated Gilbert’s other book – this was different, and please give it a try.  I was prepared to call up Amazon and read her reviews.  I even had the gift receipt ready to go in case she hated it.

Well – she unwrapped and squealed!

“I’ve been wanting this book!!!”

Success!!!

My gut feeling was right – – this was a perfect gift for her.

How about you – do you have a story when your intuition proved you right or wrong?  I’d love to hear it!

~Amy

PS – if you like this post, please press that like button on my Facebook page and share it with your friends too.


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Word Up Wednesday – – Delegate

It is interesting when I looked up the official definition to this word….all I found were links to the upcoming elections.  Well – DUH – Amy – we are in an election year and there is lots of talk about delegates.

But I’m looking at this word as in – delegate – – like to assign part of your workload to someone else.

Delegate: v;  to send or appoint (a person) as deputy or representative.

I think one of life’s most valuable lessons to learn how to delegate.  Yet, I feel , for small business owners, this is probably one of the hardest things to learn and to do.

For me, when I was running my own business I had a couple of issues that set up hurdles for me to delegate:

  1. I was very independent and felt as most small business owners, that I was able to perform every task needed for my company.
  2. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to afford delegating my workload to others.

Both of these situations are very common lines of thinking when I talk with other small business owners.  And one of the things I like about being a small business owner myself and now consulting with small business owners is the “I can do it” mentality.  But careful to not let this get in your way of yourself.   Yes, it is probably true that you can do “it” – whatever it may be.  But too many “its” and the service or product that you offer will begin to suffer.

It is important to take stock in the things in which you excel, the things  you with which you struggle and the things which you don’t like doing very much.

For example: when I wanted to convert my business from a sole-proprietor to a Corporation, I know in my heart and my mind that I would have been able to figure all that was needed to do this.  I mean, I have a BA in Business.  Surely, that should give me a leg up on knowing what to do.  But, I also admitted to myself that:

  1. I am not a lawyer, and
  2. I didn’t have the time to learn what was needed. Even from all I learned in college, I didn’t learn the intricacies of setting up a corporation.

So I allowed myself to hire a lawyer to handle this part of my company.  That was probably the best idea I ever had.  Not the becoming incorporated part (although that was pretty smart too), but the hiring a lawyer part.  He told me things about what was required that I didn’t even know I didn’t know.

A client of mine hates to do invoicing for her company.  I suggested she hire a bookkeeper to come in and do all her financials once or twice a month.  She did so and now she doesn’t put invoicing her clients off until the last-minute.  She saves herself many minutes each month not to mention the headache she doesn’t get anymore.

For personal or home management, it is important to realize where you can delegate certain tasks too.  Delegating household task can be to hired help, like a babysitter or a house cleaner.  But it can also roll into your kids.  Heck I’ve even delegated mouse patrol to my cat – – I mean – there are just some things I won’t do!

Seriously, there is no reason our kids can’t do household chores these days and I’m always amazed at parents whom I talk with that say “Junior can’t do that”.  And I ask…”have you had him try?”  I think kids as young as three should be delegated things to do.

WORD OF CAUTION!  I have learned it is best not to “delegate” household chores to your spouse or partner.  This gives the wrong impression that you are really in charge and/or have some superiority over your significant other.  It is best to use words like “share” or “let’s combine our efforts”.

One last thought – – trust.  It is important to trust the person to whom you delegate jobs.  Whether it is a co-worker you are asking for help on a project, an employee or a contractor…if you don’t trust them, they will fail.  And – it is oh so important to be specific in what you are looking for and when giving the details of the assignment.

Did you know I can help you with finding ways to delegate some of your tasks  – – and we’ll find more minutes in your day!  Give me a call…I’d love to chat and get things rolling.

Happy Wednesday!

~Amy

PS – we had a pretty good day, yesterday,  on our 100 for May challenge….will you help me sell 100 copies of my eBook, Making Time for Dinner this month?  Buy your copy today and ask your friends to do the same.  And thanks!


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Not Me Monday – Amazon Reveiws

Hi Everyone!

I’m back from vacation.  Rested, rejuvenated and ready to go.

So tell me – – how did last week go with the substitutes?  Did you like having subs?  Did you not?

This week’s Not Me Monday talks about the Reviews found on Amazon.com.

 

Of course, this particular review (above) is meant to be funny.  Here’s another example.

I have found the reviews that are written for any product to be really quite helpful.  And helpful not just in the sense of “should I or shouldn’t I buy” this product.  But they are also helpful in offering personal and detailed experience.  Many offer tips and hints on how to use the product better.   (See above).

I also really appreciate the star ratings and the ability to go directly to any level of review.

It is sort of like the Consumer Reports for all the rest of the products.  I recommend reading through at least five reviews and pick a variety of review levels so you get the whole spectrum of a product.

Do you ever use Amazon’s Reviews to help with you purchasing decisions?  Do you use another source?  Please share!

Happy Monday.  It’s so nice to be back.

~Amy

 

 


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Not Me Monday – Pinterest and business

Good Monday Morning!

I hope you are doing well with the time change.  I’m feeling pretty sleepy this morning.  Hoping the tea kicks in soon.

Today’s Not Me Monday is all about Pinterest and how it can work to drive traffic to your website.  But I think these tips can also be used to drive traffic to your blog.

Check out this article to read on: Why Pinterest Should Be of Interest to Brands and Small Businesses

I certainly don’t think that you should rely solely on Pinterest to drive traffic.  But I do feel finding new and different ways to link to your site or blog are good things.  Not to mention, Pinterest is pretty darn easy to use.

Just be careful, like most social sites, it is a bit of a time suck.  And with all those photos, it is really easy to get swept away.

Happy Monday!

~Amy

PS – I’m looking for guest bloggers to cover me while I’m on vacation later this month.  Shoot me an email if you are interested in sending me your thoughts.

 


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Word Up Wednesday! Economies of Scale and Scope

Happy Wednesday!

This week’s Word Up is two words actually.  They have a similar concept so I thought I would present them at the same time.

Economies of Scale: The increase in efficiency of production as the number of goods being produced increases. 

A basic form of Economies of Scale is buying in bulk.  When you buy in larger quantities, the price per unit decreases.  Thus, you can create one unit of your product for less.

Beware: there are concerns of buying too much and having the supplies go to waste or spoil.  Think of a small cookie store.  The owner can buy her materials in bulk, thus reducing her costs in the long run.  But she needs to take into consideration shelf life of the supplies as well as the amount of cookies baked compared to cookies sold.

This concept can be used for a home situation as well.  Costco and Sam’s Wholesale Stores are great places to stock up on bulk items – if your family consumes them in the appropriate amount of time.  If you won’t consume the items, it will probably save you money to buy in smaller quantities.

Economies of ScopeAn economic theory stating that the average total cost of production decreases as a result of increasing the number of different goods produced.

Example: I always remember the example we learned in college for this concept.  Think Boeing.  They produce airplanes.  But a similar product that would use a similar technology and production methods would be if they added producing rockets to their platform.  Producing dog food would not be a good example of  Economies of Scope for Boeing.

If you think in terms of a small business – whether you produce something or offer a service – let’s consider a massage therapist.  She could offer to sell the oils and candles that she uses during her massage sessions to clients.  Maybe even the music that she plays too.  But getting into selling yoga mats and self-help books might be pushing the boundaries of Economies of Scope.

This one is a hard one to apply to a home situation – although I do like to believe most business principles can be applied to the home.  I’ll keep thinking on this one.

Do you run a small business? I’d love to talk with you about how you can implement the concepts of Economies of Scale and Scope into your business.  Let’s chat!

Thanks for reading!  Amy


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Word Up Wednesday – The Law of Diminishing Returns

The Law of Diminishing Returns – – da da daaaaa (dramatic music plays). What in the world is the Law of Diminishing Returns?

Actually, it is a pretty simple concept, it’s the finding of the balance that is the hard part.

Definition: The Law of Diminishing Returns – (n) – The tendency for a continuing application of effort or skill toward a particular project or goal to decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved.

The most common example of this law is that of fertilizer.  Imagine you plant corn  in a 200×200 plot.  You plant the appropriate number of seeds per row and appropriate number of rows per the plot.  You tend to it by watering it, keeping it free from weeds and birds and  your payoff is a modest yield of corn.

The next year, you do everything the exact same way, but also add 1 part fertilizer to the mix.  You see your yield double.

The following year, you increase your fertilizer by one additional part, your yield triples from the first year.

The following years, three, four and five, you incrementally increase the amount of fertilizer you put on the plot, but now your overall increase starts to decrease from the first year.

Here’s the point – keeping all things equal and only increasing (or decreasing) one factor, there is a point at which the output will level out and eventually start to decline because of this increase.

 

Let’s say you are a small business owner, you are a marriage counselor who sees clients on a weekly or monthly basis and you are trying to increase your gross income.  The obvious way to increase your income would be to increase the amount of couples you work with each week or month.  And while this works for adding one or two more clients each week, BEWARE – there is a point when the increase outweighs the income.

Things to consider – are you physically capable of adding more and more clients to your daily schedule.  What sort of price does doing so cost?  Consider your overall health, your required rest needed to be fresh and mentally alert for each client meeting.  Don’t forget the added work that needs to be in the form of reports written, insurance claims, invoicing, etc.

The important thing about the Law of Diminishing Returns is to find the balance of where the maximum amount of input produces the maximum amount of output. Just remember – adding more and more to your plate, won’t always produce more and more income.

Because I like to apply business terms to your home management system, how’s this example.  

Imagine you do laundry every week (or maybe this is your reality and no imagination is required).  Every week you do laundry for your family of five and it breaks into 15 loads.  Finally, you are able to upgrade to one of the new fancy and extra-large capacity washer and dryers.

With these new machines, you are able to increase the size of the loads and cut that amount down by a third.  But you didn’t figure out the magic number was ten until you tried increasing the size of the loads so much that at some point the washer was shutting down or the clothes weren’t getting as clean – merely because the washer was packed too full.

Just like at home – it’s all trial and error and that’s what makes running your own business  or managing your home so exciting. You have that control over  your destiny and the fun and challenging part is getting to figure it all out.

One last important reminder – don’t be afraid to try things, just because you are afraid of diminished results.  For our counselor example – OK – so he overbooked himself one month and had a crazy/ultra hectic month.  Lesson learned – too many clients makes him cranky and overwhelmed.  Next step, reduce by 10% and see how that works, and again and again until he finds the right balance that works for him.

Good luck.  Are you struggling with ways to make adjustments to your business to find ways for increasing your income or decreasing your workload?  Give me a call – let’s chat about it.

Thanks for reading – Amy

 


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Tips on Tuesdays – Themes

If you asked me ten years ago I would say I didn’t believe in color coding and if you asked me a couple of years ago, I would tell you that I thought themes were silly.

But as I get older, my family gets busier, my job(s) become more demanding I find these simple tools are really quite helpful.

I have written many times about color coding my calendar and assigning each project or person a different color.  As I continue to do this, I now notice when I forget to assign a specific event or appointment without its color – it looks so out-of-place, that I immediately will categorize it.  And while I used to think that it looked like a confetti mess on my screen – I know could not function without my color coding system.

I recently texted my BFF from high school something.  She and I also roomed together our first semester in college and all throughout high school she never knew something about me that she only discovered once we moved in together.  She found it so odd that I color sorted my closet – from my hanging clothes to my shoes – everything had a place and they all fit in a rainbow color scheme.  I reminded her of this via text the other day when I was cleaning out my closet and she still thinks I’m a “freak” (her words)  for organizing my closet this way.

Recently, as I’ve been talking with friends, I’ve discovered and now I have worked into my own systems – THEMES!  I hope you’ve noticed my themes for my blog that I implemented this year.  So far – it is keeping me much more focused on my weekly writings and creating a deadline for me to get something out there for each assigned day.

I’m starting to see the value in these themes, where I had once poo poo’d them.

Here are a few points as to why I think Themes are helpful:

  • They take the thinking out of a situation. – for example – if you have Taco Tuesdays as part of your dinner theme for the week – your answer for Tuesday’s dinner isn’t to the question “What should I make for dinner” – it is “What sort of taco should I make”.
  • It opens room for more creativity.  Let’s go back to Taco Tuesdays – since you are confined to the restrictions of just Tacos on Tuesdays – you can get really creative with those tacos.
  • It helps others in your family, in your work groups, etc keep track of what is expected of each day.  Try wavering from Taco Tuesdays from a six and nine year old.
  • It builds stronger teams and forms a sense of connection.  Keeping everyone engaged with the theme helps builds the enthusiasm and builds a culture that is unique to just your situation.

I can see using themes in every area – business, family, household, personal, etc.

And I can see using themes for more than just daily – but weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.

Here are a few thoughts on some themes:

  • For menu planning – just like I used in the example above – Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Sandwich night Thursdays
  • In business to keep you on track of those “other tasks” that need to be done in addition to the actual business tasks– Marketing Monday, Communication Tuesdays, Billing on Thursdays
  •  Workouts – giving yourself a theme keeps your workouts fresh and can provide more motivation – Treadmill Tuesday, Free Weights Friday and Stretching Saturdays.
  • Keeping the house clean – by tackling one task a day, you don’t have to spend on giant chunk of time cleaning, instead it is broken up into smaller jobs.  Mopping Mondays, Toilets Tuesdays, Vacuum Vednesdays (see what I did there – clever huh?)

Pick a theme for a week or month that goes along with Holidays or the seasons.  Spring cleaning in March, First week Communications, etc.

I really think the possibilities are endless and can be created to your specific needs and goals.  I can see this being a very motivational tool, one that keeps you on track of what to do for each day, week or month.

I do tend to get caught up with having to have the alliteration to make the theme work for each day or month.  But that is just a hurdle that needs to be jumped or with the help of a thesaurus – some creative can be conjured up.

I’d love to help you come up with some themes for your situations – shoot me a comment and let’s see what we can come up with together.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

~Amy