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A Time to Harvest: Gathering, Preparing and Then Executing

A Time to Harvest: Gathering, Preparing and Then Executing

Beyond • October 15, 2013

At a recent event to celebrate the Harvest Full Moon, a story was told about the squirrel that spends many months gathering and preparing for the long winter months. At some point, the squirrel instinctively stops gathering for those cold months. During the winter the squirrel draws from the nuts that were collected. This story made me think about how busy we are in the spring and summer ... the months when our energy is at its highest and we are busy gathering and collecting in our own lives. What happens if that gathering cycle never ends? In reality most people are on a continuous gathering cycle. Yet we wonder why we are so tired and never seem to be going anywhere in our life, careers, business and relationships. The seasons and creatures on this beautiful planet are here to teach us, and this particular event has left quite an imprint on me. I have been gathering most of my life and never really stopping to enjoy what has been accumulated. I would like to change that and have come up with a few steps that I am going to set in motion and I hope they will help you to reap what you have sown. Review what has been gathered You registered for that program, purchased those books or made plans for the future... It seemed like a good idea at the time but does it feel right ... right now. How do you know what you need to keep and what you need to get rid of? Be honest about how you feel about each thing you have gathered. If your first instinct is good then keep it, if it makes you feel tired and de-energized then it is time to let it go. Harvest the ideas, programs, and move forward The time of harvest is about prosperity and abundance. What do you want to put your attention energy and focus on for the months of this season of Harvest? If you could only work on a couple of projects that will make you come alive and move you forward in a direction that will bring you joy and joy to the people around you, what would it be. Fall, autumn, harvest ... no matter what you call it, this is the time to reap what you have sown and to enjoy the abundance of the harvest in your own life!


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September is the New Year?

September is the New Year?

Beyond • September 10, 2013

Happy New Year! Technically, the New Year starts on January 1st. For people who spend the months from June and August enjoying the lazy days of summer, then September really is the New Year. It is the time of year when the kids go back to school. Yahoo! It is the time of year when skimpy summer wardrobes are switched out for those cozy fall sweaters. It is the time of year when the leaves turn crimson and the transition to a new season is evident all around us. This all leads to a time of change. A time of renewal and an energy that comes after a long vacation. This energy is the kind that can propel new ideas forward. It is also a time when you are hungry for connection. You are excited and you want to share that excitement with your clients, your co workers and your business associates. All of this being said, perhaps it is time for you to take advantage of the opportunities that September has to offer and create a New Year plan that starts when the first school bell rings. It is time to revisit those New Years goals, aspirations and resolutions that got left by the wayside back in the short winter days of January. Here is the traditional version of a SMART Goal: Specific (rather than general or vague) Measurable (so you know once it’s achieved) Attainable (make sure the goals are realistic!) Relevant (make sure there is a connection with your bigger goals) Time-bound (there’s an end point, or a ‘deadline’ for it to be accomplished by) Does the traditional SMART system for goal setting work? For many it does. Never one for following rules, I have created my own version that speaks to where I am in my business and life. I hope it can help you to build momentum around your goals with and tiny bit of structure. Simple means that the goal is attainable. So many people set their goals so far above what they have the skills and capacity to do that they automatically set themselves up for failure. Remember that simple is not always easy. Think of dieting, it is simple ... but is it easy? Meaningful means that the goal has some heart. It has your heart which means that you are engaged and invested in the outcome. Aspirational means that goal is inspiring to you and to others that will be impacted by your goal. Relevant to your life. Have a look at who you are right now and what is important to you. What you are passionate about? What gets you jazzed? The goal gets you excited! Timely meaning, does it fit into your current schedule and lifestyle? All projects or initiatives have different time requirements. Do your planning based on time available and time needed. While you are enjoying the last few dog days of summer, set aside time to think about the coming months, the journey and the direction you are on and how you can add energy and create momentum in your projects using your SMARTs.


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We Live in a World Full of Distractio…

We Live in a World Full of Distractio…

Beyond • July 30, 2013

We live in a world that is full of distractions. Distractibility is not just for people with ADHD is seems to be the plague of our time. We see it in our schools with children texting in class, workers carry mobile devices with them everywhere and are accessible to everyone and everything virtually through these devices, at home the age of the disconnected family has arrived with computer screens in every room and conversation is at an all time low. Distractions are things that prevent us from giving our full attention to something else. We have so many distractions to choose from and the list becomes longer every day: Our mobile devices can provide us with IM, texting, the internet, Facebook and hours of TV and video. We are always checking for messages, comments and yes ... emails. Television is still a part of our world and can be a great form of entertainment or another reason to zone out. You can spend hours in front of the TV and not even realize it ... the networks count on it for their advertisers. People can be a distraction, they are all around us and at any given moment someone is distracted and is looking for someone to be distracted with. Respect for people’s time is at an all time low. It sounds a bit bleak, however the ball is still in your court and you do have control to a certain extent. Some creative solutions to eliminate or at least tame the distractions in your world: Turn off all the alerts, noises and flashing images on your electronics. With PVR technology you can record and watch your favorite programming when you want to, not when the broadcasters think you want to. Set up boundaries with the people in your life and let them know when you WILL be available and when you are not available. This is especially important for people that work from home. Creating an environment where you can work with less distractions and more focus is critical. How do you stay focused and not distracted by the fact that you want to check the texts, IM’s, comments and emails? By scheduling ‘technology breaks’. This is something that you will have to work on like any habit and building up to longer times between breaks. At the beginning it may be difficult so work for a few minutes and then take a quick break to check your device, computer and the people you work with. Over time and with practice you will be able to lengthen the time between breaks. On a personal note I admit that I have reached epic proportions in my own distractibility. I use social media for my business and it has gotten out of hand. I am speaking from experience here and I am working on this habit building exercise myself. As you move forward the key is knowing when you need to focus and when you don’t and having the tools to help you to be successful in a world that is always on and ready.


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Removing Obstacles to Wellness

Removing Obstacles to Wellness

Beyond • May 28, 2013

Obstacles. They are everywhere. In our offices, our homes, our relationships, our body, our time. They prevent us from moving forward. They cause stress. These obstacles get in the way of our success. How do we eliminate the OBSTACLES? With knowledge, awareness, clarity and ACTION. At a recent workshop I was asked to share some information on how to eliminate the obstacles in one of the key areas in the home, the Kitchen. It is the heart of the home and the refueling station for our bodies. We get out what we put in, and when we pay attention to this aspect of our wellness it really does change everything else. Eating better results in more energy, focus and vitality. Which at the end of the day brings out the best in what we have to offer. By handling the kitchen obstacles with some de-cluttering and organizing you will be able to find things easier and add functionality to this key area of the home. It is impossible to even think about healthy meals when you can’t get to your countertop. When it comes to getting and staying organized there are some specific steps that will make the job at hand easier. Figure out what you want Going on a trip without a road map may be exciting but it will take much longer to reach your destination. Take a few minutes and decide as a family what you want from this room that nourishes and brings people together. Make a plan. Figure out who will be involved in the de-cluttering and organizing. What the time frame for the project is and how it will happen. Sort and Purge Sort through the kitchen items, this includes the food. Let go of anything that you have not used in the past 12 months or is not part of a wellness lifestyle. These unused items are taking up valuable space and preventing you from moving forward with new healthy habits you can immediately see the BEST options. Set up your kitchen for success. Donate what you are purging. Limit sometimes foods, and place them in a cupboard out of sight…and perhaps out of mind. Now you may be asking what is a sometimes food. As my youngest would say; things that we can eat sometimes but not all the time. Maintenance Three tasks that use up a great amount of time and energy each week are grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation. This is probably the most dreaded of all family tasks and has caused more than one argument over who is going to do it. Streamlining these tasks can go a long way to giving you more control over your time and can save you a few dollars at the same time. We used the kitchen to demonstrate removing obstacles with de-cluttering and organizing, however these actions would apply in any area of your life that has a few obstacles that need removing. \"Obstacles don\'t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don\'t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.\" -Michael Jordan ... or, \"de-clutter it.\" – Elaine Shannon.


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Home Office Strategies to Help You Thrive Instead of Survive

Home Office Strategies to Help You Thrive Instead of Survive

Beyond • April 15, 2013

The lines between living your life and doing your work have been forever changed with the technologies that allow us to stay connected 24/7 on devices so small that they can go anywhere with us…yes, even to the bathroom. For many companies it is a matter of economics to make a shift in how we work. Commute times in large cities are becoming longer than the workday itself. The expense for companies to maintain offices that are sitting empty and idle for more than 15 hours a day does not seem to make sense anymore. This is even more critical when you factor in the state of our economy and the environmental impact of these expensive empty buildings. What this is leading to is a shift from work at work to work at home. Off site workspaces, telecommuting and flex hours are the evolution of the new workplace. Here are some home office strategies to help you thrive in your work at home setting: Stay Connected Dealing with isolation in a home office setting is usually the first challenge that arises. When I left my office job 15 years ago and started my own home based business Social Networking was unheard of. It was a very lonely time. Now with technologies like Skype, Google hangouts and Facebook chat connecting is quick and efficient. Work Effectively The work at home environment needs to accommodate the work that is performed. Space planning is critical. If you have to tackle projects that involve intense concentration a quiet environment with minimal interruptions is a must. If you are dealing with large blueprints and reams of paperwork, adequate space for the tools to perform the work are mandatory. You can’t just make do! You will suffer. Stress will accumulate, resulting in a compromise to the quality of the work produced. When I first set up my home office I occupied a very large room in our home, recently the room was needed for a bedroom. I am now in the main part of the house with a desk that looks great and provides the space I need to do the work, while keeping me connected with the family. I also invested in a proper chair which makes sitting for hours possible and pain free. Maintain Focus When you are immersed in the buzz of activity in a busy office the pace set by the people around you can be enough to keep the work flowing….fast forward to a solo office at home. Managing the free flowing schedule of an offsite workspace can be tricky if you have trouble staying motivated and on track. Having a plan for the day/week and following it are the first steps to staying on track to complete the work at hand. The flexibility of the work from home arrangement allows you to work at your own peak times of the day, and with this uninterrupted flow of work you may be surprised that what may have taken all day at the office can be completed at home in only a few short hours. Some of the benefits of this new way of working may be increased employee loyalty and retention. Happier employees are usually healthy and well employee…which leads to reduced overall company costs. These strategies are not just for the work at home employee. They are for anyone who is working from home. Despite the challenges that come with this type of work environment, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. It is rewarding and opens the door to a lifestyle that only those who work this way can know and understand.


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Bookend Your Day: How To Get Rid of Entrepreneurial Night Terrors

Bookend Your Day: How To Get Rid of Entrepreneurial Night Terrors

Beyond • March 18, 2013

You wake up in the middle of the night filled with fear. Did you respond to that email? Are there unanswered phone messages? Invoicing...did I send the invoices? The fact is you don’t know most of the time. Why don’t you know? It’s your business, and it is your business to know what is going on in your business? Most people by nature are tired by the end of the day and the last thing anyone wants to do is go through that pile of papers or check the emails because someone may want you to do one more thing and to be honest, you just can’t handle one more thing. This whole cycle of avoidance and exhaustion is actually causing more harm than good. It is affecting your health whether you realize it or not. Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. Stress is also associated with binge eating, obesity, and diabetes. So, how do you get rid of the entrepreneurial night terrors? You make an appointment with yourself at the end of every day…not some days, every day. This 10, 20 or 30 minute appointment really is the most important part of your day. It is the time when you: Look back at the day and record any follow up action required from the current day’s activities. Check all the phone messages from the day. Return any phone calls from the day with an e-mail if appropriate, it is the most efficient use of your time. Unless the call needs a return call…so just do it. Thanks to social networking you must check Facebook messages, twitter conversations, linked in connections, YouTube comments and yes the email too! Speaking of emails…have a look at your e-mails and deal with, delegate or delete all the e-mails from yesterday. Yes, you heard correctly. That list is fixed, it can’t be added to and you have all the control over the amount you leave in that day group. Clean it up. Paperwork, yes we still have some of that. Go through that pile on the desk and reorganize in the order of importance from most important to least. Most important being the stuff that brings in the money. Deal with each paper item if you can in this short time. If you need a longer time frame put it aside for tomorrow. Delegate what needs to be delegated. File away what is obviously filing and please recycle the paper trash. Have a look at your schedule for tomorrow. What is on the agenda? It could be a presentation you need to do, client meetings, research or goal work. Whatever it is, have everything you need organized for the next day. Right now you are saying, “This chick is crazy! I can’t do all this in 30 minutes.” No. You probably can’t, if you add the entire backlog from yesterday, last week and last month. We will save cleaning up the carnage of the past for another post. For now you are moving forward and that means taking one day at a time. Let’s get back to the strategy of bookending your day. With the emphasis on ending, because it really needs to happen at the end of the day. When you leave for the day you will have a sense of control over what is happening in your business. You can make the shift to BE-ing at home with a clear mind and confidence knowing that tomorrow is taken care of today! And you might just be able to stop the night terrors. As you begin each day, you will do it with a clear picture of what the day holds so when the inevitable urgent issues arise you can handle them with confidence knowing that the rest of your work is ready when you are. This is a concept that has worked very well over the years for myself and my clients. I challenge you to do this for the next 21 days. Create a habit that will pay off immediately and with benefits that will change the way you work and how you feel.


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Priority Management, Not Time Management

Priority Management, Not Time Management

Beyond • February 18, 2013

Ahhhh....the life of an entrepreneur. Working when you want to work, making your own hours, doing what you want, having all the freedom to choose everything, lots of money and the time to spend it with family and friends, a never ending list of clients that are always happy with what you are providing...said no entrepreneur ever! Perhaps some entrepreneurs do say these things, but not nearly enough of them. But wait...isn’t that why you got into business in the first place? The dream of a better life. Sure you did, but no one told you about all the other stuff. The administrative duties aka paperwork, the accounting, the sales and marketing, clients who need help 24/7 and yes... cleaning the toilets. You probably started your business because you loved to coach people or fix computers or [insert what you do here]. You did not sign up for the other stuff but there it is, in front of you every day. You Wanted Control Over Your Time, Your Career, Your Life! Now everyone else has control over every aspect of your life...or do they? Perhaps it is time to take back control, kick those time hijackers off your plane and course correct. I call this Priority Management. Some people like to call it Time Management but really, you can’t manage time. It keeps going on and on. Priority management is different. It is all about figuring out what is important to you and managing how you use your precious 168 hours every week to support these important things. Priority Management How To: Make a list of what is important to you. Some people use the wheel of life for this exercise. Consider things like family, friends, career, health, spirituality or contribution, fun and playtime or anything else that is important to you. Rate each area on a scale of 1 to 10; 1 being low and 10 high. Does your wheel still look like a wheel or are you coming up flat in some areas? Consider your current schedule and those things that you have deemed as important. Are they in your current schedule or not...if not, why? De-clutter your schedule and make room for what you have deemed important by eliminating things that are not important to you. This is what I call weeding the garden of your life. Think of people that drain you every time you are with them. Why are they still in your precious schedule? Activities that have lost their lustre; if your heart is not in it why are you doing it? Consider the clients that take up too much of your time that you will never make happy. Remember the cream rises to the top; you earn 80% of your income from 20% of your clients. These are the people you want to give your valuable time to. Awareness Is Everything If you say your family is important but you never see them then let’s be honest...they are not a priority for you. If your health is at the top of your priority list but you never move your body outside your office and fast food cartons are spilling out of your garbage can, it is not a priority. Here is where my journey and your journey intertwine...I was on the road to some major catastrophic events and my life was not pretty. I woke up one day and I did not like me or my unhappy life and I wanted a change. I spent most of 2012 weeding the garden and making major changes that created space in my calendar and my life for a marriage that I never imagined could happen, new amazing friends, great adventures and a new project that happened because I made space in my calendar and my life. Part of that project is a commitment to helping others see that there is another way to live, thrive and to be well. Knowledge is power... acknowledging the current situation in your life and making a commitment to change is the first step in the course correction of this journey of your life.


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Reel Marketing: Not Just for Hollywood Anymore!

Beyond • August 15, 2012

With the advancements in technology and access to the internet, everyone from kids to grannies are filming and posting videos to YouTube daily. Videos are not just for YouTube viewers, over 500 years of YouTube videos are watched every day on Facebook. So the question is: Why aren’t you using videos to promote your business? To find out what the biggest challenge or barrier is to making videos I went to Facebook to find out why. Christel said... “I have the ideas but no ability to execute, I have video-dyspraxia.” Kim said... “the ‘Guts’ to get in front of the camera.” Patricia said... “knowing how to make appropriate, professional videos.” This is only a small sample, but probably an excellent summary of the fears that come to mind when thinking of Video Blogging. wistiaEmbed = Wistia.embed(\"k34lgnlzgw\", { version: \"v1\", videoWidth: 640, videoHeight: 360, volumeControl: true, controlsVisibleOnLoad: true, playerColor: \"4083a9\", autoPlay: true }); Wistia.plugin.postRoll(wistiaEmbed, { version: \"v1\", link: \"http://www.benchmarkemail.com/register\", image: \"http://embed.wistia.com/deliveries/8447200d3b3d72ee6f7c1d11c8b3aa7309d66f37.jpg?image_crop_resized=640x360\", style: { backgroundColor: \"#000000\", color: \"#303030\", fontSize: \"36px\", fontFamily: \"Gill Sans, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif\" } }); So how do you get past the fears! You Get Creative. Break the whole process down into these steps and you will be uploading your videos in no time at all. Document what you would record if you were not afraid. Write down the subjects of the videos. What they would look like? Who would be in them? How would you present the story to the viewers? Connect with people that can help: Clients that LOVE what you do for them. Perhaps they are ready, willing and able to get in front of the camera and share a testimonial. There could be a co-worker, family member or friend that can help with the piece and you could do an interview type of video. Get the technology to do the job. This will be determined by your budget and level of experience. Personally, the easier the better; the Flip video camera I use makes it simple for me to create, edit and upload videos in no time at all. With your smart phone you can also make great quality videos. Play, Practice and have FUN. Be creative and yes you will make mistakes. Perfection paralysis be gone...be real. This is what your customers want: more of You! Put Elaine\'s tips into action and win a GoPro HD Hero to get your video blogging efforts started. All you have to do is subscribe to the Benchmark Email YouTube channel and you’ll be entered to win. We will pick one of our followers and announce the winner on Monday, August 20th at 9:00 AM PDT.


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