7 easy ways to avoid shiny object syndrome and increase productivityGood ol’ shiny object syndrome…

That thing that keeps us hunting for the perfect idea that’s going to change the world and help us make the impact we KNOW we were born to make…

(Hit me with a “right on” if you know what I’m talking about)

Problem is, all those perfect ideas can trick us into thinking:

This one’s gonna be easy.

It usually happens when we’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or just plain tired. That’s when you want to turn around and head back to the daydream.

It’s easy to binge-dream on ideas, too. We can come up 25 new ones right in our head…anytime, anywhere. Just like Netflix.

Still, ideas are why we’re entrepreneurs in the first place.

We’re over here solving problems and creating new opportunities!

The question is:

How can we distinguish good ideas from downright bad ones and great ideas from “meh.” Most importantly, how do we know which ideas merit attention right now so we can steer clear of bright shiny objects?

That’s what I want to figure out in this post.

Wish me luck, I’m goin’ in…

First, here’s why we get distracted.

1) Things get murky in the middle

The beginning and the end of anything is easy. It’s the long stretch in the middle that gets fuzzy.

When you can’t see the finish line and things don’t come together as planned, your goals start to fade away.

See:

We’re human beings. We want things to be easy. We’re always going to be drawn to the path of least resistance. It doesn’t matter what the other idea is, we’ll glam it up and make it seem sexy.

(Thoughts on this?)

2) We have competing goals

You know that feeling…

Like, the train left the station and you’ll never catch up?

WITH EVERYTHING?

It can make you feel depressed and overwhelmed, and you won’t even know why.

I think I figured it out:

When you have too many goals competing for your attention, you can’t focus.

There’s something calming about putting your blinders on, keeping your head down, and giving yourself the freedom to  pay 100% attention to what’s in front of you. You can only do that when you focus on one goal one at a time.

That’s why it’s super important to identify specific milestones, commit to them, and follow through.

3) We look for distractions

I’m just gonna say it: Sometimes we like shiny object syndrome.

You sit down to create a webinar outline and don’t know what to write…

So you catch up on the news real quick…

Then you log in to Instagram…

Then you check your junk email…

Sometimes finding your focus to work is harder than actually doing it, and you can almost feel your brain shutting down.

Deciding if you want milk in your coffee is like, What’s milk?

When that happens, take a break. Go for a walk. Watch Real Housewives. We won’t tell. ?

Try to be aware of trivial distractions that steer you off course. If you start Googling stuff you KNOW you don’t care about, shut it down! You’ll be amazed at quickly you can increase your productivity.

Here’s how to avoid shiny object syndrome.

Shiny object syndrome is the tendency to chase new ideas, and it affects entrepreneurs because we’re highly motivated and love to try new things.

Those qualities can backfire on us, though. Here’s how to beat it:

1) Create an idea library

It’s a buzz-kill to slay every idea that pops in your head, right? We need that spark that comes from big-picture dreaming and brainstorming to keep our momentum going when things get tough.

At the same time, it’s important to manage your ideas.

Here’s what I do:

I tend to go through long “sprints” of action followed by a review period when I’ll evaluate my progress and what I’ve accomplished. There’s no action happening during this period, and it usually lasts about three days.

I use this downtime to reconnect with my mission and why I’m an entrepreneur. And I let new ideas gobble up my head and make me feel all woozy and excited at the same time.

Then on day #3, I start editing. I toss out the bad ideas and add the good ones to an idea library.

An idea library is simply a place to stick all your great ideas so that you can refer back to them when they align better with your big vision. It can be a Google Doc, Evernote file, or a physical notebook that you carry around with you. Whatever works best for you.

The best part is, you can add to your idea library when you feel inspired. And you’ll have confidence in knowing that your ideas are right there at your fingertips, ready and waiting for you.

2) Pick three goal themes to focus on

Ever notice how successful people are crystal clear on their essential priorities? And how incredibly masterful they are at ignoring everything else?

They stay intensely focused and don’t let anyone, or anything, steer them off course.

That’s what we need to do.

One of the best ways to develop habits that support your creativity is to pick three big “goal themes” and say No to anything else that comes up.

Don’t be afraid to let go here!

When you give 100% of your resources, time and energy to your biggest goals, you will achieve them. Just make sure you start with the right goals.

See:

There’s this sneaky disease called “the planning fallacy” (it’s contagious, and we all have it!). We tend to be overly optimistic and trick ourselves into thinking that we achieve a lot more than we can in a day, a week, a year.

According to Wikipedia:

The planning fallacy is a phenomenon in which predictions about how much time will be needed to complete a future task display an optimism bias and underestimate the time needed.

Think long and hard about your goal themes and what it will take to achieve them before you commit:

  • Do you have enough time?
  • Do you have the right resources?
  • Will you need to build a team to help?
  • Does the time frame seem accurate, or too ambitious?
  • Most importantly, is this really what you need to focus on right now? 

When it comes right down to it, there are four primary phases of building an online business, and each phase has specific milestones you should reach for. I drill down on the four phases in this post.

Once you’ve decided, it’s Go time.

Slap posts-it notes everywhere, baby! On your laptop, computer, refrigerator, iPad, phone, and any place else so that you can see them front and center.

Trust me, you’ll stay focused!

3) Stick to a three-month plan

Remember that long sprint I mentioned in step #1, above? It only lasts for three months.

The reason is that when it comes to planning, a year can be deceptively long (and short). The planning fallacy thing kicks in, and you think, In a whole year? I can bang out five courses, create a YouTube channel, host a podcast, be killin’ it with webinars and Facebook ads, have tons of traffic rolling in, and make six figures.

Ha! If only…

More likely, you’ll lack a plan to reach your goals.

The other reason I like to keep the time frame short is, your business will likely shift as you learn more about it, and you’ll need to set new goals accordingly.

With three months, you can get very specific, right down to the daily and weekly activities you need to be doing.

Bonus: If you want, you can use the 90-Day Planner I created for you. Use this to identify your goal themes for the next three months and create a weekly plan. Click on the image below to access.

Use the 90-Day Planner to create goal themes and weekly activities to achieve them.

4) Block schedule your time

If you’re serious about developing habits that support your big vision, you can’t “find” the time to reach your goals. You have to MAKE the time. Structure your days and weeks around key activities and tasks.

(you know I’m about to drill down on time blocking!)

Time blocking is a method of planning your week by turning your to-do list into a visual calendar. Every day has specific times blocked off for specific tasks – right down to the hour and minute.

It’s the fastest approach to achieving your big goals, in my book.

Most of us have amazing ideas we’d like to pursue, but months and years go by without actually bringing that idea to life. This is a way to make them happen! You start seeing what you can really get done in a week (spoiler: it’s less than you think).

Back in the day, I was trapped in this loop of revolving goals.

Every month I wanted to:

  • Host a webinar
  • Create a course
  • Win my first $30K client

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t achieve them. Then I started time blocking and everything changed!

I was able to see my progress as I worked toward my goals each week. I knew where to place my focus so I didn’t get distracted. And I knew exactly what I was going to work on every single day.

Want to grab my Time Blocking Template? Just click the image below.

Download my Time Block Template to help you increase productivity and get even more stuff done each week!

Super simple. Super effective.✌️

5) Switch to just-in-time learning

Who doesn’t love reading posts from your favorite bloggers, or signing up for exciting new courses and trainings?

The truth is, most of us spend more time than we should learning about the latest tips we find on Instagram. And it can lead to overwhelm and shiny object syndrome, fast.

We get caught in a trap of just-in-case learning, hoping THIS tactic or THAT strategy might work for our business. So we buy ebooks and courses that sound amazing. But we never get past the first lesson.

It happens when you lack a clear strategy and purpose for your business. And when your daily activities are based on tips you find instead of a bigger vision.

If you really want to increase your productivity, there are two things you can do:

First, limit just-in-case learning to 5% of your time.

There are gems to be discovered out there, for sure! Just don’t go down a rabbit hole with Google. Instead, set aside 5% of your time to poke around and check out the latest and greatest strategies and techniques..

Save just-in-case learning for your least productive time blocks. For me, that’s right before I go to sleep (I’m out in 15 min, haha).

Next, focus on just-in-time learning.

Just-in-time learning is the opposite of just-in-case learning. You only learn what you need to know right now to achieve a specific goal in your business.

For example:

I spent the better part of six months learning sales funnels because that was my focus. I spoke to everyone I knew, consulted with experts, and researched the heck out of simple, complex, two-step, sideways…every kind of funnel you can imagine. Then I kept my head down and created funnels for my products.

What I didn’t do is…write blog posts, run Facebook ads, create a new course, or even post to my Facebook group.

Listen:

There are only 24 hours in a day. We have to set priorities for what we consume each day, the same way we prioritize our goals.

Just-in-time learning works best when you have clear milestones in place. Use my DIY Your Biz Blueprint if you need help here!

6) You can do anything for a day

Raise your hand if you think about all the things you’re not doing while you’re working. I know I do! ?

It can mess with your head faster than you can say FOMO. As if…some time machine is going to whisk us away from everything and we’ll something really BIG. It’s crazy!

Here’s what helps me get past it:

I remind myself that it’s not a month, a year, or the rest of my life. Just like when I hit mile 7 on my runs (and I really, really want to quit), and I think…

You can do anything for five more minutes.

You can do anything for a day.

No matter what you’re working on, Instagram and Facebook and emails and texts and Google will all be there tomorrow, *sigh. ?

7) Review your progress daily

Projects that take too looong can throw you off track faster than anything else.

Sundays you get we’re super pumped thinking about everything you’re going to get done. Then it’s Monday at 2:00pm and you haven’t touched ANYTHING on your list. By Tuesday, you’re already flustered and wondering what the heck you should be working on.

So what’s the solve?

Bake *forgiveness* into your schedule. Keep it lean and flexible.

Here’s how:

Spend 15 minutes at the end of each day to review what you accomplished and reschedule things you didn’t get to. Then update Tuesday’s schedule based on Monday’s progress so that you feel refreshed and focused instead of all over the place.

Rinse and repeat for the rest of the week.

Real quick, before I forget…

You’ll start to notice that certain tasks take a back seat every week.

Those are ones that probably still need to get done, just not by you. Try to find someone who can help.

And whatever you do, don’t stress when your week comes undone and everything gets rescheduled (oh yeah, been there!).

Productivity is one big game of shuffle board, if you ask me!

It’s NOT about getting everything done…

It’s about prioritizing your time, getting clear on what YOU need to do to move your business forward, and learning to delegate other tasks.

Now, I’d like to turn it over to you. What helps you avoid shiny object syndrome?

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email marketing tips and tricks for entrepreneurs
email marketing plan

5 Ways to Turn Subscribers into Customers | Want an effective email marketing strategy to make sales from your list? You're in luck! This post includes email marketing tips and tricks to convert subscribers into customers. Click through to see all the tips!You already know that email marketing is powerful. And you know that you can generate more sales from your email list than social media.

The question is:

Do you have an email marketing plan to turn subscribers into customers? 

If you’re building an online business, you need a system to follow up with subscribers and get them excited to buy your products and services.

Follow these steps to create an email marketing strategy that makes sales:

1) Choose the right email marketing provider.

If you want to elevate your personalization efforts, choosing the right email marketing service is crucial. Think about the features you want in your email marketing software, including:

  • Integrations. Some email marketing providers give you the ability to export and use important customer data. Having easy access to your subscriber’s name, purchase history, and location will simplify your email marketing plan.
  • Ready-made templates. Choose an email provider that has a wide range of mobile-responsive and customizable templates. Building an email should be quick and efficient, and templates are the first step to this end.
  • List segmentation. An email provider with intuitive segmentation enables you to quickly create different campaigns based on subscriber data you’ve collected. This will allow you to send relevant emails to your subscribers.

When deciding which email marketing service to use for your brand, keep in mind there is no perfect choice. It all depends on your budget, the different functionalities you are looking for, and the number of emails you want to send.

2) Optimize your signup forms.

Try to gather as much information as you can about your subscribers when they opt-in. This way, when you segment your list (step #3 below), you can tailor your content and offers.

Here are a few tips to help you create effective signup forms:

  • Use double opt-in. Send emails to new subscribers to confirm their subscription. Double opt-in forms prevent invalid email addresses from appearing on your list.
  • Keep it simple. Simple forms are easier for people to complete and sign up. Only ask for name, email, and any other information you really need.
  • Include a call to action (CTA). Use persuasive call to action buttons instead of inline links. Make sure your button copy focuses on the benefits and avoids selling. For instance, say “Get the Templates” instead of “Buy the Templates”.
  • Multiple signup forms and free offers. Give website visitors plenty of opportunities to subscribe. Place signup forms on several pages of your website, including the Home page, About page, and Blog page. Create multiple lead magnets and place them in your blog posts as content upgrades.

Bonus: If you want, you can use this Lead Magnet Checklist to create high-converting opt-ins. Click the image below to download.

Create Lead Magnets that Convert Download the Lead Magnet Checklist

3) Segment your list.

Through a combination of time, hard work, and sheer force of will, you’ve been able to build a sizable email list. Now it’s time to create segments based on what your subscribers opted in for.

All effective email marketing plans use segmentation. You’ll be able to send personalized content, offers, and updates to help subscribers take the next step and close the sale.

You can also create segments based on:

  • Gender
  • Location
  • Age
  • Past engagement
  • Purchase history

Depending on your type of business and the products or services you offer, you can also segment based on a subscriber’s job title. The important thing is that you leverage the data you captured during signup.

Related: A Killer Facebook Ads Strategy for Your Email List and Products

4) Personalize your emails.

Did you know that personalized emails are six times more effective than generic emails. Once you’ve segmented your list, it’s time to start getting personal. Here are a few ways to add personalization to your email marketing strategy:

  • Email copy

In an age when technology rules, customers look for more and more personal communications. From the subject line to your core message, make sure you speak to your subscribers in a friendly, conversational tone.

Including their first name in the body of your email can improve your open rates by 26%.

  • Your offers

To encourage subscribers to make purchases, personalize your offers. If you sell sporting goods and a male customer purchased a tennis racket from you, send him a personalized offer for men’s tennis shoes.

  • Sender name and email address

Make your customers feel like a real person sent the email by using the name of an actual person within your business (e.g. kate@mybusiness.com). Avoid using email addresses like sender@mybusiness.com or email@mybusiness.com. Email addresses like these not only make your messages seem impersonal, they also trigger spam filters.

email marketing plan

Personalizing your messages is one of the best ways to make customers feel like you care, maintain the relevancy of your campaigns, foster customer loyalty, and increase conversion rates.

5) Automate your email campaigns.

Your email list is made up of hundreds or thousands of subscribers divided into a wide variety of segments. This makes it impossible for you to craft and personalize individual messages for each subscriber.

This is what email marketing automation was made for.

Simplify your email marketing strategies by taking advantage of automated sequences that send emails to subscribers based on their behavior.

For example, when a website visitor subscribes to your list, send an automated welcome email that contains an exclusive personalized offer.

Here’s another example:

A customer makes a purchase on your website. This action can trigger an email with a personalized product recommendation email to be sent after a certain amount of time has passed, say 60 days.

To automatically send these emails, you just have to craft them in advance and set up the specific workflows through your email provider. Whenever customers meet the triggers you define, your provider will automatically send them the email according to their action.

Once you’ve created all the possible automated journeys for your subscribers, you no longer have to worry about spending a significant portion of your day just sending emails. You can focus on other, more important tasks, like growing your audience and creating new programs.

Wrapping it up

When you put in the hard work of building an email list, you want maximum results. Email marketing tools will help you automate campaigns so you can free up your time to focus on other things, knowing that you are generating sales on autopilot.

Just choose the right email marketing service and follow the steps above, and you will see a huge increase in your engagement and conversion rates.

Ready to build your email list? Click the image below to download the free Lead Magnet Template Pack.

Download the Lead Magnet Template Pack
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When it comes to email marketing, there are so-so subject lines and then there are killer subject lines. Ya know, the ones that have people clicking like crazy to get to your message. Here are 4 ways to turn “meh” email subject lines (that people glaze over) into irresistible ones that get noticed and clicked. Ever been to a speed-networking event where you had 30 seconds to make your pitch? How’d you do?

It’s hard, I know. Taking an involved topic and turning it into a tiny bite-sized chunk is a challenge. And it’s one that marketers face every day with email subject lines.

Email subject lines are like pitches on steroids. Only you don’t have 30 seconds and you can’t use facial expressions and hand gestures to get your point across. Instead, you’ve got 10 words on a screen – and more like 3 seconds – to get the click.

Subject lines have a lot of power to make or break your entire campaign. If you can’t convince people to click, they won’t read your email. So how can we understand what constitutes a good subject line to get better conversions?

Here are four common email subject line mistakes that are hindering your email open rates and simple ways to turn them around and get more people to read your email.

Mistake 1: Asking a Yes or No Question

Everyone scans their inbox the same. We all want to know who is emailing us, what they want and how much time it will require.

The problem here isn’t really with the question. Asking questions can be a good thing, if you can get people thinking about something in a way they hadn’t before.

But a question with a simple Yes or No answer is dangerous. Chances are pretty good that your email is headed for the trash. Why? Because Yes or No emails don’t add any value. Readers already have the answer: either yes or no. Why should they click to read more?

Let’s take this example subject line: “Missing Too Many Project Deadlines?”

First off, my immediate response is “No”. Even if I say “Yes”, there’s no incentive to go for the click. Yes, I’m missing deadlines, and reading this email will make me miss another one. Delete.

The Solve:
Turn the subject line into something that makes readers ask a question instead of answer one. It’s much better to create a question in their minds than to make them answer yours.

For instance, try replacing the subject line above with “Idea to nail every project deadline”.

There’s no question with this subject line. Instead it raises a question: What idea? How can I nail my deadlines? Even using the word “idea” will get readers thinking about the possibilities.

It also identifies that a problem exists, and then hints at a solution. All it takes is one click to find out.

Let’s take a look at some other subject lines that create knowledge gaps:

  • Now that you’re settled in…
  • An Amazing Opportunity!
  • Quick request

What’s this amazing opportunity? Now that I’m settled in, what’s going to happen? Quick request for what?

I want to know, and so will your readers. All you have to do is follow these examples and use subject lines that raise a question, rather than ask one.

Mistake #2. Giving it all away

Did you ever watch the game show “The Price is Right”?

Contestants try to guess the price of some household item so they can win a prize that’s hidden behind a door. What makes this show work is that nobody knows what’s back there. It could be a big prize or it could something small. The magic is in having to guess prices in order to find out.

Like the game show, the inherent role of subject lines is to act as a teaser. You want to keep readers guessing about the longer message that lies inside.

If you tell them everything right up front, you leave no more surprises. What incentive do they have to click through if you’ve already told them everything they need to know?

The solve:
Tell readers just enough so that they know what to expect when they open your email, without saying everything right up front. Be careful not to over-promise. Your email should clearly follow through and deliver on the subject line so that it doesn’t backfire on you.

Take these examples:

  • “The Guide to Staying Fit This Summer”
  • “How Healthcare Companies Can Stay Ahead of the Competition”
  • “At a stand still? Here’s how to get started with Canva”

All of these subject lines work well because they create anticipation. If you create subject lines like this readers will know what to expect, and want to click through to find out more.

Mistake #3. Making it too long and formal

Subject lines that capture peoples’ attention are ones that are short, friendly, and informal.

What happens with subject lines that are too long is that they start sounding like a newsletter title or some technical mumbo jumbo. Long subject lines, especially ones that ‘Capitalize The First Letter‘, tend to sound formal and distant.

People want to feel special and important. Nobody wants to be another number on your list of contacts. Using long subject lines that are formal and impersonal can encourage this impression. Remember that you’re speaking to a real person at the other end of the email.

Long subject lines also put the onus on the reader. By their very nature they make readers work harder to uncover the value. After about the 10th word, “Increase Your Qualified Leads” becomes “blah, blah, blah”. With the hundreds of emails people receive, it’s easy for people to glaze over messages, and the harder you make them work for it upfront, the harder they’ll think they have to work if they accept your click.

The Solve:
The trick here is to make your subject lines long enough, without being too long. Try to write in a tone that’s warm and inviting, as if you were a friend or family member.

Consider these two examples:

  • “How To Use Canva To Create an Infographic That Goes Viral”
  • “Make your first infographic”

The first example does a good job of communicating the value that’s inside, but the use of the initial capital letters, the mention of Canva early on, and the promise of contagious content make it sound stiff and self-promotional. It also sounds too good to be real. This subject line is about Canva first, and the recipient second.

The second subject line makes a personal connection. It comes across casually and puts all the attention on you, the reader. It reads like you’re quietly jabbing a good friend: “Come along with me and let’s have some fun” It gently urges the reader to open it.

Mistake #4. No follow-through

Even though this point has to do with the body of your email, it’s worth mentioning that the content of your email and your subject line should fit together like a hand in a glove. In other words, deliver on your subject line’s promise.

The need to be unique can have marketers really stretching to push the envelope. I mean, we all want the perfect subject line that gets the click, right? The problem is you’ll have a hard time keeping readers engaged if you set the wrong expectations for what comes next.

Just remember that if you promise people an apple, they’re expecting an apple and not an orange. Even the smallest mismatch will create confusion and cause people to unsubscribe.

The Solve:
Subject lines and email messages are like landing pages and ads. If you want to make them work, they have to work together.

For instance, if your subject line is “Best color trends for fall”, people are expecting an email that talks about new fall colors, not “the latest color trends” or “how to work make color work for fall”.

Even the smallest details make a big difference. If you use the word “tips” in your subject line, make sure you use that same word in your email, rather than “guide”, “pointers”, or “ideas”.

Once you’ve written a handful of intriguing, click-worthy subject lines, give your email another read to see which one sets the right expectations for readers once they accept your click.

(NOTE: Being clear on who you’re selling to is the fastest way to boost email conversions. Get my 3-step Customer Avatar Worksheet to make sure you’re saying what people need to hear.)

Download the Customer Avatar Worksheet to get clear on who you're selling to.
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