This is the third in our series of “Do Something” blogs.
One of the biggest excuses we hear from people about why they can’t do something is that they don’t have time. I can’t help because I’m too busy. I can’t start a business because I have kids. I can’t make it to the conference because I have so many other errands to run.
To this we wave the bullshit flag.
These are excuses. People love to make excuses because excuses are easy. Excuses mean you don’t have to be accountable for anything. Excuses mean you don’t have to try, and if you don’t try, you can’t fail. (Of course, you can’t succeed, either.)
How busy are you, really? I’ll bet we can find two to three hours in your day where you could be doing something important but aren’t.
No way. It’s not going to happen. I’m busy all day long.
No you aren’t. You just think you are. But you’re fooling yourself. How much time do you spend on Facebook? How much time do you spend pinning photos on Pinterest or sharing Instagram photos? Texting? Watching videos? Watching TV? Chatting on the phone? Surfing the Internet?
Do you see what we’re getting at here? Let’s check out this Statista chart on how hooked into our electronics we are.
You will find more statistics at Statista
Let that sink in for a moment. Americans use electronic media over eleven hours per day. Sure doesn’t sound like people are so busy, does it? Especially when you take into consideration that we’re sleeping at least seven hours, too. I guess that means we’re only doing two hours of real work per day!
Let’s take Smartphone and Internet usage from the chart. It’s about two and a half hours of time. (See, we told you that we’d find two to three hours in your day!) I know you’re thinking that you don’t believe you spend that much time on your phone or using social media - but you’d be surprised.
Now, I know it’s fun to be on social media and to catch up on what everyone’s doing. We use social media - we like it and we like to be able to share things happening regarding the work at home lifestyle with you. But really, how much time are you spending just sharing silly cat pictures and dancing unicorn gifs?
I’m too busy. Let’s reword that statement to say what it really means: I’m too busy doing unimportant things. Think about this. If you took just 15 minutes per day away from your electronic media interactions (distractions) to focus on a specific goal you have like writing a book, or working on a new, amazing recipe you think you could sell, or begin building that “thing” you know will help millions of people and you can’t wait for it to be sold on QVC, you’d claim one hour and 45 minutes in a week. That’s 91 hours in a year. Just by not being distracted for fifteen minutes in your day.
Don’t think you spend that much time online? Take this test. For one day, do not visit any social media website or any pages (even ours!). Don’t mindlessly surf, or share photos or memes or whatever silly, non-productive things we all tend to do once we open our laptops or phones. Also in that day, put down your phone. If it rings, answer it. If you need to make a phone call, make a phone call. Don’t use it for anything but a phone.
See what happens. See just how much of your day opens up doing those two simple things. It won’t be easy disconnecting yourself, but it will be more productive. When you feel yourself saying, “oh, I’ll just check…” DON’T. Instead, do something meaningful instead.
This is our second blog in a series of "Do Something" blogs.
It seems like all I hear about on the news lately or in social media is some story or post or article or Tweet about someone paying it forward. It's never happened to me, but I still get the feel goods when I hear or read about something like that happening. But, I wonder, do people "pay it forward" because it's an easy, impersonal way to make themselves feel better and a little less guilty about all the starving kids and animals around the world? Is it just a way to clear their conscious for a little while? Something happened to me at the grocery store that makes me think that's exactly what it is.
It was Saturday morning. All I wanted to do was stay home and relax. I'd had a rough week and wasn't feeling great. Curling up on the couch with some Saturday morning cartoons seemed like just the ticket, but that wasn't to be. We needed groceries and my husband (who, by the way, usually does the grocery shopping for me) decided that this day was not his day to brave the aisles. He refused. And even though we probably could have made it another day without milk and bread (you know, it wasn't like we had snow predicted or anything), I decided that a trip to the store just couldn't wait. So, off I went all by myself.
Maybe it was because I forgot to eat breakfast, maybe it was because I spent 3 hours in the store, maybe it was the florescent lights that were trigging a super migraine, but for whatever reason, as I was turning to go down the bread aisle (ironic, huh), I started spinning. I mean, I wasn't really spinning, but my head was and then it started getting dark and then I opened my eyes and I was on the floor. My head was still spinning so I couldn't get up. I took out my phone to call my husband (this is how I know how long I was on the floor), and of course he didn't answer. I sent a text and kneeled there and waited.
What was I waiting on? I was waiting for my head to stop spinning so I could get up. I was waiting on my husband to call so I could have him come get me. I was waiting on somebody, ANYBODY to stop and ask if I was okay. I waited for 30 minutes on that floor. My husband didn't call. Not one person stopped to ask if I was okay. A few even moved to the very edge of the aisle to avoid me. I think what finally helped me get myself together and get up off that floor was rage. Pure, simple rage. I absolutely could not believe that no one so much as looked my way in the 30 minutes I was down. I got up and shakily and very slowly made my way to the checkout and then thankfully, home safely.
So, what was wrong with all those people? Why wouldn't anyone do something? And there were a lot of people in there. Remember, it was Saturday morning. At Walmart. It was packed. Was it too personal? What if they stopped and asked me if I was okay and I said "no." What then? Would they have to go outside their comfort zone and do more? Maybe help me up or call someone for me? Oh, God! What if I wanted to know their name or they had to find out my name? I guess we're all for paying it forward when it isn't really personal. When you can just slap some money down and go your way, you don't feel obligated and your guilt over whatever petty little thing is bother you is appeased without you having to really give anything of yourself. Ah! I get it.
You might think this experience left me bitter. It didn't. I would stop to help someone if I saw her down. Even if she was just tying her shoe, I'd still probably ask if she was okay or needed any help. I don't do it to make myself feel better or to ease my guilt over anything. I'm a mom. I never feel like I do enough ☺. I do it because that's who I am. It bothers me to see someone in need. If there is something I can do, I'll do it. It is personal to me. I guess that's the difference. It is personal.
Do something. Don't just "pay it forward." Make it count. Make it personal. And rest assured, if I see you bent down tying your shoe in the grocery store, I'm going to stop and make sure you're okay.
Each week we try to publish some little story, or inspiration or message that will keep you focused and motivated, or make you think, or just to make you laugh. Some days it’s completely impossible to come up with something to write about. Let’s face it. Inspiration isn’t always there.
I remember having a poetry assignment in college and I stared at a blank piece of paper (yes, in those days we used paper!) for days. It was horrible. I had complete writer’s block and really couldn’t come up with anything. In a last ditch effort I wrote a poem about having writer’s block. Yes, it was a terrible poem. Yes, my professor told me it was a terrible poem.
The point is, I still had to do something. I still had to put in the effort. I still had to turn in an assignment. And that’s what I want to talk about today. Doing things when you don’t think you have anything to do.
Did your mom ever give you the line, “Go find something to do or I’ll give you something to do?” Because she knew that there was always something that could be done. Sure, it may not have been something you wanted to do, but she would be able to keep you occupied from then until you graduated. And sometimes it was nice (in a way) to be given something to do because it got you out of your slump, or boredom, or moping about, gave you something to do, and allowed you to look forward to finishing so you could go do anything else.
The same is still true today, especially when it comes down to working at home. There is always something you can be doing. This week I struggled with the blog. Couldn’t think of a damn thing to say and I had no inspiration. Now, I could have just sat around sulking (and to be honest, I did flop down on the bed and stare up at the ceiling for a few minutes), but what would that accomplish? I’d still be without a blog and I’d be even further behind in all the other things I could be doing.
You shouldn’t just be sitting around waiting until it’s time to do the next thing. The next thing is right now. Write a blog post. Don’t have a blog on your website? Set up a blog. Don’t have a website? Set one up. Post to your business Facebook page. Don’t have a Facebook page? Make one. And start writing and scheduling posts. And do it for Twitter, too. And any other social media you like or want to try out. Don’t know how to do any of it? Google it. There’s a ton of helpful advice to get you going.
Research fairs and markets to sell your product at. Search for (and apply to) jobs online if you’re a virtual assistant. Clean out and organize your email to get rid of the junk and focus on important communications. Read a book that will help you in your business life. Learn more about taxes. Clean your office space.
There are so many things that you can do when you think there’s nothing to do. So let’s get at it!
_Last week I followed a link in an email which led me to a link which led me to another link. (Damn you, Internet, for being so distracting!) Eventually I ended up on someone’s page who was telling me that through this magical, mystical path (a formula, or a system, or a program, or whatever the term is that they were using), I would be able to easily quit my job and make tons of cash working from home.
I was angry. Because that’s a lie. No, it’s not a lie that you can make money working from home. And yes, it is possible to make tons of money. But it’s not easy. And not everyone is going to make a lot of money. At least not immediately. (And maybe not at all - such is the nature of business.)
I showed Frankie the web page. She was a bit miffed by it, too. And the rates this person was charging for services? UGH. Of course I could be a millionaire in a month if I was to start charging people $1000/hr or more for things that should only be $25/hr.
Our point here is a simple one. We hate these liars we see all over the internet touting how easy it is to become an independent, freelancing, money-making machine. And we don’t want you to get suckered into that hype.
It’s very simple. Let’s say you are an app developer working at some famous app company. You decide to go out on your own. So you start your own app company, and work from home. You’ve had years of app-making experience, so you turn out your first five apps quickly and you’re making cash, hand over fist immediately. Because you have a lot of experience, you have connections, and you know what you’re doing. So yes, it’s easy to make money.
Now let’s say that you’ve been a stay-at-home parent your whole life. You had a couple jobs working at your local market part time, but you haven’t really gotten any thorough experience. You have some skills and talents, but you’ve never had a chance to apply them anywhere. Now I want you to go out and start making fat wads of cash immediately. Go ahead. All sorts of people say you can do it. You see them post pictures of all the deposits they receive.
I’m waving the BS flag. Because it’s a big lie to get you to invest in things that make you believe you’ll be making $10,000 a month in the next 60 days. Can that happen? Sure. Of course it could happen. And you could win the lottery tomorrow. And some anonymous, generous person could leave a million dollar check in my mailbox today. Anything is possible.
But we don’t want you to believe that it just takes a couple of days and voila! You’re rich and independent. Because, if that was the case, we’d all be rich and independent, wouldn’t we? The fact is, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to strike out on your own, no matter what you want to do. Ever watch the show Bar Rescue? (Yeah, I’m a geek for shows like this.) So many of these people are “I just loved the idea of owning a bar!” But they didn’t know how to manage a bar, which is why they’re ending up on a TV show about how they're in debt and their bar is a wreck.
It takes time, effort, dedication, planning, and lots of work, some of which will be hard. But it’s rewarding work, because it’ll all be for you. If you want to know more about how we can (realistically) help you, check out our coaching page.
Frankie and Andrea take turns sharing stories. Just good talk over a cup of coffee.