Lacking Motivation? 4 Tips to Pull You Out of the Rut

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file9311239553069Most of us are susceptible to the temptations that bog down our momentum when it comes to starting or growing a new business.

Poor time management skills, procrastination, and self-doubt creep all around us. Before you know it, you’re paralyzed, de-motivated, and your great plans for a creative project or a new business endeavor are dead in the water.

Do you look around and mutter, “I should be doing that” or “I need to get going with my next project”?

Here are some practical tips to get you moving again so you can get back to productivity and enjoy some progress:

1. Discover (or re-discover) your passion.

If you aren’t usually living/working/playing in environments in which you love, you’ll quickly become bored and apathetic. Doing what makes you feel alive is crucial to productivity.

Get started ===>> Download my free ebook, 5 Easy Steps to Discover the Home-based Business That’s Perfect for You, for help.

2. Learn something new.

Read a book, take an online course, or attend a class at your community college. Regardless of what you learn, I promise it will spark something inside of you.

Get started ===>> Join Kelly McCausey for any of her amazing online courses, including the Stretch Yourself Challenge, which begins May 1. (I just completed her Power of a Focused Business course and I learned so much. I am now going to be working with her as a blogging intern during the next three months—which brings me to #3.)

3. Find a mentor and/or mentoring group.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve benefited from the support of online friends who have the same goals as I do. Whether it’s been maintaining a workout routine or learning about blogging best practices, my online groups have motivated me and propelled me forward. In fact, I was able to apply for the upcoming internship with Kelly after having participated in a group coaching opportunity this spring.

Whether you want to move ahead with a hobby, a business, or a new skill set, find someone who is a few steps ahead of you and soak up everything you can from that person. Barter with them: trade their mentoring for your skills.

Get started===>>I wholeheartedly recommend the Solo Masterminds group. Lots of smart business women hang out there. It’s a terrific place for asking questions, getting guidance, and making valuable connections.

4. Make sure your spiritual house is in order.

I know that God takes us all through various seasons for only his reasons. Our family has been on a “wilderness wandering” for about three years now. Our beloved church of ten years closed in 2010, and the church we attended since then was never a good fit. Because of scheduling conflicts, I had dropped out of my women’s Bible study, and my own personal study and prayer time had become quite neglected.

At the beginning of 2013, we finally sought out a new church and have been attending there since the first of the year. Being back in a truly spiritually-edifying environment weekly has drastically improved all facets of our family life—inlcuding my renewed energy around business and creative projects.

This point is not something mechanical or something that I can explain from a technical perspective. It’s faith, of course, but, I believe it’s absolutely vital to operating a successful business.

Get started ===>> Make sure you’re worshiping weekly in a biblically-sound, gospel-centered church. Pursue God daily with personal Bible study and prayer.

What gets you moving again when you’re in a rut?

The “Look Inside” Mentality Will Change Your World

What’s In Your House? Weekly Link-up

Oh, friends.

I’ve been doing a lot of “looking inside my house” lately.

I made a commitment at the beginning of the year to change some things that I didn’t like about the way I was living life. Primary was to strengthen my relationship with Christ and pursue him more doggedly. I was also determined to find ways to feel better and work smarter (within the framework of God’s will and guidance).

Have I perfected this? Absolutely not!

Have I persevered and am I making baby steps every day? I think so.

I’ve decided to slightly change the direction of the weekly link-up. I still want you to link-up (if you want to), but just write about whatever you wish. Look inside your house, your heart, your garbage can—whatever.

This “look inside” mentality is changing my world. That’s why I want you to try it, too.

A look inside my heart reveals a deepening need for my Savior. A look inside my pantry reveals too much junk food. A look inside my computer reveals a love and zeal and gift for the written word.

I hope you get the idea. Looking around, inside, and up and down is something I don’t often stop to do. I’m way too distracted with “junk” to actually notice what makes me feel good, productive, and helps me meet my goals. I’m way too satisfied with cheap imitations of happiness to pursue something deeper, more meaningful, and more glorifying to God.

So, each week, I’ll simply challenge you to “look in your house” in whatever way works for you. Just take inventory, dig deeply, sit quietly. Listen to God. Listen to your body. Listen to your family.

Are you really and truly “stuck” in a rut? (I have been.) Do you feel as if you’ll never break free? (Yep. Me, too.) You know what?

Life doesn’t have to be a rut.

I have been taking an online whole life cleanse course from Lisa Byrne. I signed up almost as an afterthought. Thankfully, God prompted my husband to encourage me and assure me that though it was a monetary investment, it would produce results that the whole family would enjoy.

It has been incredible.

Once I’m finished with the course, I’ll post an entire review for you and instructions about signing up for Lisa’s materials. She’s a busy mom, so she knows how to teach to busy moms.

One of the main benefits of taking the course has been learning more about how inundated my life—physically, emotionally, spiritually—is with “junk.” Noisy, useless, bankrupt, deceptive garbage. It poses as nourishing and satisfies for a short time but then leaves me hungry and tired—whether it’s food or media or culture or self-seeking efforts.

For me, the real way and best way to a healthier and more satisfying experience is by Christ. Through that filter of Christ, then, I’m liberated to explore ways to break through the bondage in the other areas of my life.

So, take a look inside, write your post, then link it below.

What’s in your house that’s informing you?

_________


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What Do You See In Your Vehicle?

What’s In Your House? Weekly Link-up

This week’s writing prompt for the weekly link-up:

What do you see in your vehicle? What’s the potential for creativity there? How might God use your vehicle for great purposes?

My response:

Oh, my vehicle. My van limps along. I love her—the Green Dinosaur, as I call her—but she’s on her last wheel. Still, she serves many purposes.

I think of the blessings of having (fairly) reliable transportation and a vehicle that’s big enough to hold several kids or lots of stuff. My vehicle could be used for helping, serving, cleaning, and toting.

Some people may look at their vehicles and see opportunity for an auto detailing business or an auto mechanic service business. I just don’t love my car that much. Cars are simply modes to get from here to there for me.

I do use my car for one very special thing, though: creative and prayerful brainstorming. The FM radio no longer works, and I only pick up a few AM stations on a clear day. So, I have a lot of quiet time in my van as I drive a 25-minute commute both ways, three days/week.

My brainstorming is a mish-mash of prayer, reflection, and action items. I use the voice memo button on my iPhone to record my stream of conscious thoughts. These may be potential blog posts, business ideas, or to-do lists. But that “down time” is vital to keeping me sharp.

Your turn now …

  • Post your link to this week’s writing challenge below.
  • Link back here on your blog.
  • Visit some of the other posts and leave some words of encouragement for the writers in their comments’ sections.

Thanks for participating!

Writing prompt for next week:

What do you see in your bathroom? What’s the potential for creativity there? How might God use what’s in your bathroom for great purposes?

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Find Online Success Through a Support Group

I spent several hours on Saturday with the Nashville Women Who Blog, a group of women who blog and live in and among the Nashville area.

I was first introduced to this group in the fall of 2009. I had been blogging and feeling my way around the business side of blogging for a few months, rather clueless about all the ins and outs of websites and writing for the web.

The women are super-savvy, creative, and business-minded. These bloggers use their online platforms to promote their small businesses, writing endeavors, and creative endeavors. I am always encouraged and inspired after spending a few hours with these gals.

Find Your Own Small Group for Encouragement

Regardless of your creative or business niche, you, too, should find a group for support and encouragement. I can’t over emphasize the importance of meeting regularly with others.

If you don’t know of a group already in existence that you can join, why not start one? Use Twitter, Facebook, and Meet-Up to find other similarly-minded folks in your vicinity who may like to meet on a regular basis.

Just put it out there and see what happens.

Being a member of a group will offer you:

  • Insight, tips, tricks, and knowledge for your business or craft.
  • Moral support, encouragement, and shared experiences with others who have similar interests.
  • Launching pad for partnerships, which can be mutually beneficial to all businesses.
  • Accountability and assistance with all those “business-oriented” tasks, such as goal-setting, determining vision, and making action plans.

In the spirit of blogging love, I’m giving a shout-out to the gals I met with on Saturday. Go visit their blogs and tell them I sent you!

Carrie from Tiki, Tiki Blog and Bilingual in the Boonies

Rowena from Romesticity and Rostitchery

Brigid from BrigidDay.com and Sweet Pea Embroidery

Jena from Southern Joy

Tanna from Complete Organizing Solutions

Sami from SamiCone.com

Scarlet from Family Focus Blog

Leisa from LeisaHammett.com

Do you have a group for support, encouragement,
and ideas for your business?

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Is Multi-tasking Actually Hindering Your Productivity?

Is Multitasking Actually Hindering Your Productivity?

4 Tips to Increase Productivity Stop Multitasking and Get More Done Multi-tasking

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s multi-tasking. I can drive, talk, listen, drink, eat, and chew gum. I can watch TV, blog, monitor Twitter and Facebook, and check emails. I can referee fights, cook dinner, and do laundry.

I’m really good at multi-tasking. But I’m not so sure if it’s really good for me.

In trying to squeeze more work and more activity into the same eight hours, my multi-tasking is actually creating habits that cause me to mismanage time.

Multi-tasking’s Negative Outcomes

  • Mistakes. How many times have you missed something or done something incorrectly, simply because you were too distracted with other tasks?
  • Fatigue. Dealing with constant diversion and ball-juggling makes me tired. When I’m tired, I make mistakes.
  • Creating a time-drain. More time—not less—is needed to over-correct and compensate for the detriments of multi-tasking.

I’m going to try using some tried and true time-management principles during the next few weeks, especially since I have some work deadlines and project deadlines that I’d need to complete in a timely manner.

Increasing Productivity

1. Rely on an updated daily calendar.

I have a small calendar book I carry with me and one large one for the fridge. I have invested oodles of dollars over the years on planners, systems, and the like. My small calendar cost $1 at The Dollar Tree, and I got my fridge calendar on clearance at Michael’s the week after Christmas for 50 cents. Seriously. It doesn’t matter what you spend; it matters that you use the calendar and update it daily.

2. Divide project or jobs into smaller tasks and list each task, working backwards.

First decide what the end result is, then figure out what you need to do each day (or week or hour or whatever) to reach that goal. For example, if you need to write 1000 pages in five days, then you need to write 200 pages each day.Depending on the project, you may discover items that you can delegate to others. The project planning approach gives you an idea of how much time each task requires so you know what time to estimate for completion of the project.

3. Work on one project at a time.

In the construction or creative process, your attention must be on one thing at a time. Undoubtedly, this is the hardest for me to do, but for ultimate productivity, I must find a block of time with as few interruptions as possible. This is also the time to close out my email inbox, Facebook, and Twitter.

4. Work a project from beginning to end until done.

I recently heard about a productivity study that revealed that people got more products completed when they worked each one to completion and then began the next one. Our natural inclination is to work on like items in an assembly-line fashion, doing all the same tasks together then compiling the pieces for the finished product.

But this new information says that when we complete the finished product, it helps us actually get the work done more quickly. I’ve tried this with laundry—instead of doing all the washing, all the folding, and then all the putting away in phases, I’ve washed, dried, folded, and put away one basket at a time. I did feel more productive and there’s something about the sense of accomplishment, plus I wasn’t distracted by piles of “undone” work that I couldn’t get to.

What about you? Are you a hopeless multi-tasker?

Can you stop the multi-tasking over the next few weeks and see what happens to your productivity?

What Do You See On Your Front Porch?

What’s In Your House? Weekly Link-up

This week’s writing prompt for the weekly link-up:

What do you see on your front porch (or main exterior entryway) of your house? What’s the potential for creativity there? How might God use your front porch for great purposes?

My response:

I managed to pick a super-hard first writing prompt for my very own first meme link-up. I chose the front porch for us all to examine and upon which to write.

This space “in my house” is hard to write about because, well, when I look at my front porch I see—literally—decay and neglect.

The pair of urns are still sitting in the same spots from last summer with dead leaves and vines crawling down their sides. They look horrible. I have dead leaves piled in the crevices of the corners of porch and cobwebs lining the small window panes that frame the front door. A neighbor pointed out the other day that we also have two wasps’ nests in the upper corners of our porch roof.

Doesn’t it sound lovely? Don’t you want to pay me a visit? :)

Nevertheless, I must examine my front porch in the spirit of this meme.

What in the world does my disgusting, neglected front porch tell me about God’s purposes for me? What about my front porch inspires creativity?

Front porches are symbolic of hospitality. A welcoming front porch, stoop, and door seem to beckon the outside in. We can all picture in our minds the front porch of homespun tranquility with waving flags, creaking rocking chairs, and crisp, white railing.

Yet my disheveled front porch is a more authentic display of who I really am.

I’m a mess. I struggle with the effects of decay. I suffer from “parched foliage” due to neglect of soul-feeding yet overstay my usefulness and wallow in past failures, just as those dead plants parked on my porch.

I love bright, cheerful porches with pots of geraniums and ferns announcing a welcome. I want a stand-out front door in an unexpected red or yellow or green. I want to be hospitable and open and inviting.

I’m not sure exactly what about my front porch inspires me to creativity or sparks a business endeavor. I do know this, though: I want to work hard enough at the things I’m good at so that I can either free up an extra hour in my week (or pay someone for that hour’s work) to keep my plants alive and make them look pretty.

Regardless, I want the front porch of my heart to be always ready to receive what God may give. I want to experience the new fruit of life and the freedom from dead vines that easily entangle. I’m ready to move out the dead potted plants so that God can create in me a hearty, new flower garden of vitality.

Your turn now …

  • Post your link to this week’s writing challenge below.
  • Link back here on your blog.
  • Visit some of the other posts and leave some words of encouragement for the writers in their comments’ sections.

Thanks for participating!

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Writing prompt for next week:

What do you see in your bank account? What’s the potential for creativity there? How might God use your bank account for great purposes?

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Freedom to Be the Woman God Made You to Be

When I was 20, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I wanted to have it ALL. I wanted a successful career and a large house, full of kids.

God has taken me on a circular journey of sorts: dashing my dreams of what I thought I wanted (in my 20s, I thought it was career and financial success; in my 30s, I thought it was full-time homemaking and homeschooling) and bringing me to a place of total dependence on his plans for me.

This is a hard post to write because I have spent the last two decades chasing after something I wanted with my whole heart. And therein lies the confession and the stumbling block: my whole-hearted devotion has been focused on the wrong things.

Why did I want to become a famous newscasater? Public adoration, praise, and accolades for my talent and skill. Why did I want to become a full-time, academically and theologically rigorous homeschool mom? Public adoration, praise, and accolades for my “obedience” to God and subsequent churning out of great kids (though no guarantees, you know).

Within the last two years, though, God has brought me to the end of my assumptions about his plans for me.

I’m discovering the freedom in Christ that allows me to be the woman God made me to be, and I’m realizing she’s not much like the woman I had been pursuing.

That’s because God has called me to something else—a hybrid of all those characteristics. God has made me an entrepreneurially-minded, creative woman. I love my family to the extent I’d throw myself in front of a train for them, but too much “togetherness” and I begin to disintegrate. I despise housework (and am not good at it, to boot), but I love reciting the Catechism with my kids. I don’t have the affinity nor the attention span to glue together popsicle sticks to make wooden replicas of historic buildings, but I love navigating the hard topics of religion, politics, and—yes—sex, on a second-grade level with my daughter. I hate playing outside, but I love encouraging my kids in how to confidently shake hands and speak to adults.

The women of the Bible possess these types of complexities, I believe. I see the widow in 2 Kings 4 as having these various complexities: interests and abilities that are both creative and entrepreneurial. God meets this woman in her time of need by revealing his power through his prophet and through her.

How has God gifted you?
How has God used your gifts to meet your needs and bring glory to himself?

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Photo credit: dee from morguefile.com