Blend- Don’t Balance- Your Work and Your Life

Everyone talks about the importance of work/life balance but balance, by nature, is very precarious. Tension is inherent in this idea of spending 50% of your time on work and 50% of your time enjoying your life. Picture a see-saw. Lean back or lean in on either side of the see-saw of work and life and you’ve tipped - there goes your perfectly balanced life.

Not to mention, if you are a solopreneur, is this really even possible?

Instead of trying to separate, and then balance, your personal and professional lives, we at Live in the Grey have a different approach. We advocate tossing out the idea of a black-and-white existence and blending these two important aspects together. No more black-and-white. Living in the grey means loving what you do and living what you love.

Did you realize that you are already living in the grey?

Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart. Since you’ve signed up for this awesome roller coaster ride, it’s safe to say you’re in it because you are passionate about what you’re doing. You’ve already taken the first step to #LiveGrey: you know what makes you happy, and you’ve found a way to fold it into your daily life.

Our challenge to you is to look for other ways in which you can actively blend your personal and professional. Are you making work playful? Can you find meaning when you play? Have you made your friends your colleagues? Are your colleagues your friends?

We believe that actions trump intentions so we’d like to leave you go-getters with a small challenge (a fun to-do to add to your list!):

We’d like you to do at least one of the following three things in the next seven days to make your life a little more grey.

1. Create opportunity. Think of two people in your life - from either your personal and/or professional network - that should meet each other. Look for people with common interests or similar goals. Shoot a quick note to each explaining why they should meet the other. Introduce them and see what happens! When you add value to the lives of people in your world, it comes back around!

2. Share your aspirations. Tell one of your friends or family members about a business article you’ve read or why you love a certain brand. Seek out their insight on the topic and engage them in conversation that you might not have otherwise had. This is a great way to nurture your (healthy) obsessions, name your aspirations and share them with the ones you love.

3. Make your colleagues your friends. Make a lunch date with the freelancers, contractors, peers, and mentors that are helping you build your business. Celebrate your collaborations by getting to know each other in a non-work way. Talk about hobbies, travel, pets, etc. Anything that will help everyone get to know each other on a deeper level. Just make sure there’s no work-talk!

Challenge extended! Share your results with us in the comments below. And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at [email protected] or find us on Twitter, @livegrey.

Introducing: Productivity E-Course

Note: this e-course is now being offered to our members as one of five yearly e-courses included in membership (along with tons of other perks!). For details and to apply, visit our membership page!

This Productivity E-Course is brought to you by Cristina Roman, founder of One Woman Shop and CMR Strategies

You're busy- you don't have time to find and test-drive new digital tools and come up with time-saving strategies. But we all know that having streamlined, tailored systems for your life and your business is important for being productive and efficient.

Luckily, I'm doing the work for you. For $50, you'll get a weekly email from me over the course of 16 weeks detailing a strategy or tool that will save you time, get the answers you need, and help you maintain your sanity in your life, career, and business. Sounds good, right?

productivity e-course

Here's a sample of the things you'll learn in this e-course:

    • Simplify your process for booking client meetings, coffee dates, coaching calls, and even friend get togethers
    • Streamline your work and notes across all your devices so you never wonder "Where did I write that down?!"
    • Ensure that you are effectively using your email inbox- not avoiding it or overusing it
    • Save time by incorporating small tricks that make your Google searching more effective
    • Easily find awesome people to collaborate with online to amp up your business or career
    • Save a few minutes here and a few minutes there (it adds up!) with some simple strategies

And here's what people have been saying about it:

Cristina shares great tips. I thought I knew a lot of productivity tools already, but her emails always introduce me to at least 1-2 new things each week. This might include a new tool or advanced ways to use existing tools more effectively.

Karl Sakas, Owner, Agency Firebox 

Cristina has an exceptional knack for working smart. She is acutely in tune with emerging technologies, and puts them to great use in her daily work. The tools and tips she shares here are essential for any professional on the go, who is looking to increase the efficiency of their work output!

Pete Radloff, Talent Acquisition Consultant, NPR 

I'm so glad I signed up for Cristina's productivity & efficiency tips. I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to productivity tools, but Cristina shared tons of new information and strategies each week that I'd never heard about. I'm already noticing an increase in my work output each week and I can't wait to see how much these tools improve my business!

Ashley Wilhite, Life Coach, Your Super Awesome Life 

I think that this productivity email series is perfect for individuals just starting up who are trying to figure out "best practices" for maximizing their time. It is also great for people who have been doing this for a while and may be stuck in their ways of doing things. Always great to hear what is working for other people and try it out in your own business!

Corey Woodard, Executive Director, Change the Triangle

productivity e-course

If the price is a concern for you, think of it like this: let's say your hourly rate is $20. Over the course of the entire course (and afterwards, when you're still using the awesome tips and tools), you'll only need to save 2.5 hours to pay off your investment. That's less than a minute per day to make the investment worthwhile.

Since I believe so strongly in these tips, tools, and strategies, I'm offering a money back guarantee- find out more about my return policy here.

Questions? See some FAQs or email me!

productivity e-course

One Woman Experiments: Testing Out Facebook Ads

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these mini-experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

Ah, Facebook- as business owners, it's our best friend and mortal enemy. With the changing algorithms, it's getting more and more difficult to build traction without paying for Facebook ads. So, Laura C George, a consultant who works with artists, decided to test-drive Facebook ads and report back with her results.

What is your experiment and why?

I tried out Facebook Ads to promote a webinar. I've heard some good things about these ads like the fact that you can set a reasonable price to spend, whatever reasonable means to you. And I heard they're really effective, generating more Facebook likes or business leads. So I decided to test drive a Facebook Ad.

Tell us your methodology.

I used a great LKR Social Media article to devise my master plan. First, I designed a regular post for my page, with an image attached. This became the basis of my ad.

Then I went into the Ads Manager to create an ad. I followed the steps in the LKR article, targeting:

    • People who live in the US, Ireland, Canada, or the UK
    • Women who are 25-45 years old
    • People who like "visual arts," "arts and music," "painting," "fine art," "illustration," or "printmaking"
    • People who graduated from college
    • People who speak some version of English
    • People who are not already connected to Laura C George (my page)
    • And people whose friends are already connected to Laura C George

I let my max bid be at the top edge of the suggested bid, which was $0.70 and asked to spend no more than $10 a day for 8 days.

I'll note here that I didn't think ahead of time to set up goals in Google Analytics that would have allowed me to track which webinar signups came from this ad and which ones were from other Facebook activity.

How did you feel when you adopted the new practice?

It was really exciting to track the ad as it was going on, watching the impressions and clicks add up.

With the above specifications, I got 30,304 impressions (number of times my ad was seen), 98 clicks on the ad (in certain situations you can like the page or click the website link without clicking on the ad as well) giving the ad a decent click through rate of 0.32%. There is also the "unique click through rate" which is the percentage who clicked on the ad out of just the number of unique people who saw the ad - mine was 1.11%.

My cost per click was only 51 cents and I spent less than $50 total during the whole campaign. I also found it interesting that people saw my ad an average of 4 times and a decent number of people clicked on the ad multiple times, meaning that people who were interested were very interested.

And I found that a lot of people were telling me they saw the ad and it reminded them they hadn't liked my page yet, so I increased my page likes by another 20 - a big deal when you're under 500. Because I didn't properly track how my webinar signups got to the page, I can't tell exactly how well my ad converted for this particular project.

Any revolutionary/surprising insights? What was the toughest/best part of your experiment? Do you think you'll stick with it?

I can tell that Facebook Ads are a really inexpensive way to get new leads into your business. So when you're on a budget or just want to really fine-tune who sees your ad, this is the most effective advertising.

The hardest part of this experiment was getting my hopes too high. With all the excitement around Facebook Ads, I expected to gain hundreds of new likes for my $50. With this experiment under my belt, I have a more realistic view of this method of advertising. I can also now refine how I create my original page post - using an image that is designed to become an ad (it needs to pop out on the page more and more clearly show what the ad is about), fitting a link into the short summary on the ad (so people can directly click to my site instead of having to click the ad before clicking into my site), and adjusting the wording to very briefly entice people to click.

But I will definitely try again. I'm eager to see if I can beat my numbers the next time around, armed with experience.

Questions for Laura? Leave them in the comments!

Free Cultivating Happiness Email Series

This isn't an email series about productivity or running a business- it's about personal development and more specifically, happiness. But it's not totally random- it goes without saying that increased contentment and satisfaction will almost certainly bring about positive effects in your business.

If you're like us, you actively seek out ideas on how to cultivate fulfillment and happiness in your life. Whatever you call it- spirituality, positive psychology, mindfulness- we believe being conscious is the first step.

What you will get: a short weekly email with a quote, article link, or image that pertains to cultivating happiness in your life

That's it- this email series is free and you can unsubscribe at any time. Sign up below!

Love it? Spread the word!

How to Find a Copywriting Job

While copywriting may sound like an easy job (I partially blame the popularity of Mad Men), it actually requires a variety of different skills. In addition to being an excellent writer, you need to have a bit of wit, a lot of creativity and a persuasive tone. Whether you're writing for a website, blog or magazine, your basic goal as a copywriter is to effectively convey your product/company to the public and raise their interest.

Much like finding any type of job, looking for a legitimate copywriting job is not an easy task. Many of the positions advertised are poorly defined and offer low pay. So if you're looking to break into the freelance copywriting world, build up your list of clients, or just earn some extra cash with a freelance gig, here are some tips.

Search the big websites- the right way. Yes, this one is a given, but you'd be surprised how many people don't bother searching on large job search sites such as Monster and Indeed. The key to making the most of these websites is to properly utilize the search features to weed out results for jobs that are too junior, too senior, seem spammy, or just aren't relevant for you. For example, if you have just a few years of experience, look for "Junior Copywriter" or try "SEO Copywriter" if you have some experience with that. Incorporate keywords and their synonyms- for example, you might be happy with either a freelance or part-time role. You'll have fewer pages of search results to sift through and you'll find what you're actually looking for.

One Woman Shop Resource: Here are a few job searching Boolean basics that will get you targeted results more quickly.

Try niche websites. Sites such as Mediabistro and CommunicationJobs focus on a few specific areas, including social media.

One Woman Shop Resource: Minimize the amount of time you need to spend on these sites by setting up Google Alerts and/or Mentions with your keywords- like "copywriting AND chicago AND (part-time OR freelance)."

Use social media. Follow your favorite brands, companies and agencies on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. They often post job openings on their pages (especially if they don't want to pay the big bucks to advertise them on job search websites). Interact with them, re-tweet their articles and form relationships- this can lead to a possible job or even a short e-mail full of advice. Also follow accounts that post field-specific jobs daily, such as Get Copywriting Jobs or HooJobs.

One Woman Shop Resource: Use FollowerWonk to find even more relevant Twitter accounts for your area.

Cold-call companies (or cold-email). Lots of companies don't advertise all of their job openings on large sites- they tend to stick to posting open positions on their own company's website. Usually these are listed on their "Careers," "Work for Us" or "About Us" pages. If you don't see any of these pages, you can always go another route and pitch a job yourself. To do this, find a list of companies you admire in your area and spend some time on their site. After getting a good feel for the company, send an e-mail (the "cold call" of today’s generation) to the hiring director/HR manager. Introduce yourself and your background, focus on what you like about the company and the field, and ask if they have any openings for contract copywriting roles. Even if the company doesn't have any open spots right now, they might keep you in the loop for any upcoming vacancies. Either way, it's a great way to network!

One Woman Shop Resource: Use this great Google trick to find more openings in less time.

Offer up your services. This one is a little daring, but has certainly worked for many go-getters. Find websites, blogs and e-commerce shops that seem to be lacking good copywriting- or any copywriting at all. Come up with a short write-up of what copywriting services you offer and how that could benefit their company. Give concrete examples, include links to your previous work, and explain any confusing terms. Yes, this takes a little time, but if you're able to convince someone to hire you to help their company, then it's all worth it.

One Woman Shop Resource: Here's how to pitch a client without putting them on the defensive.

How do you nail down freelance copywriting gigs?

Email Marketing Tips from Creative Female Entrepreneurs

We recently spoke to several creative female entrepreneurs with growing or established email lists and chatted with them about their best practices for email marketing. The girls we spoke to have email lists that range from under 100 to over 4,000 recipients.

A big thanks to Katie of Balanced Beings, Alexis Grant of Socialexis, Marisa of Creative Thursday, Sara DiMantova of Sara Does, Ann Harris of Southern Social Marketing, and Ashley Wilhite of Your Super Awesome Life for answering our questions and thank you so much to Gina Spencer of Source Sleuth for putting us in touch with several great sources!

First of all, let’s chat about some of the biggest reasons to start an email list. There are tons, including increased engagement (people sending in questions, giving positive feedback via email, etc), increase in blog traffic, having a targeted list to email about opportunities (like freelance opportunities or a call for contributors), as a bonus for potential blog sponsors and partners, having the ability toreach readers and customers where they are every day, and more.

Ann shared another unexpected bonus: “Forcing myself to be witty and informative every week has been a huge confidence booster. After the first couple of newsletters, you start to feel pretty brilliant by how many ideas you can come up with!” Several of the girls we spoke to said email marketing gave them tremendous bang for their buck (read: the biggest return on investment for the least amount of time and money spent) of any of their channels of communication to their customers and readers.

Now here are some fun tips from fellow career women who are making the most of email marketing!

Where to collect email addresses

  • Through downloads and freebies (like this career decision worksheet!)
  • On the sidebar of your website or blog
  • At the bottom of each blog post (like Alexis does)
  • At speaking engagements (hint: design a sign up sheet that you can print before each event!)
  • On your Facebook page (create a tab just for email sign ups)
  • Through business cards you collect (be sure to ask permission since technically, they haven’t opted in!)
  • In your email signature

Pro tip: Services like MailChimp provide you with a link where your sign up form is hosted. Instead, grab the HTML code and embed the form in your website or blog (for example, ours is embedded at This encourages people to stay on your site and increases your site traffic (if only nominally). Thanks to Alexis for this tip!

When to send emails

Several of the girls we spoke to send their emails on Sunday, because it tends to be a less email heavy day (and more laid-back for a lot of people!)- it seems like they’re on to something, since Pinterest’s highest traffic day is also Sunday. Several of the girls send their emails in the early morning (around 7am) between Tuesday and Thursday. The general consensus was to avoid sending email on Mondays and Fridays, since people are either overwhelmed with email from the weekend or busy looking forward to the weekend!

How often to send emails

Most of the girls send their emails once a week or once a month but many advocated for occasional “bonus emails” to announce sales, webinars, or other valuable information.

What to include in emails

  • Links to your own blog posts (with an attention-grabbing teaser + a photo)
  • Links to other useful resources
  • “Pretty pictures” (inspirational quotes, etc)
  • A preview of upcoming projects
  • A sign up form or waiting list sign up for upcoming courses, webinars, etc
  • Free printables
  • Discount codes
  • A personal note
  • A link to social media profiles
  • A link to information on your paid services (consulting, coaching, etc)
  • A reminder of how you got the recipient’s email address
  • Click to Tweet links so recipients can easily share your content

Open rates and what affects them

According to a MailChimp study, the industry open rates for e-commerce and creative services are 22.2% and 41.9%, respectively, but the girls we spoke to had open rates of 50-70%! They told us that their open rates were affected mostly by subject lines and mentions of freebies.

Our hypothesis for the incredibly high open rates among the people we spoke to is two-fold: 1) people must opt in directly to these newsletters- they are not merely signed up through purchasing an item, for example and 2) most of the girls we spoke to have very strong brands built around their businesses, which we think probably increases open rates.

As a side note: interestingly, one girl told us that when she tested two different subject lines, the ”boring” subject lines (like using the word “newsletter”) got a better response, strangely enough.

Final words of wisdom

Many of the girls we spoke to mentioned that they wished they had begun collecting email addresses and sending emails earlier than they did. Learn from their mistakes- set up a free email marketing account and start collecting those emails now! Alexis passed on a very simple message to us that she had heard: “just say something!” It doesn’t matter if you’re writing all new content for your newsletter or just putting teasers of your latest blog posts into an email with a picture or two- just say something to start engaging your subscribers!

Do you have an email list? We would love to hear your feedback and tips!

grow your community online

One Woman Experiments: The Covey Time Management Matrix

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these mini-experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

We were recently introduced to The Covey Time Management Matrix, which some people swear is hands-down the most effective tool for time management. Ashley Brooks of Brooks Editorial stepped up to test-drive using the matrix. Here are her thoughts and the outcome.

What is your experiment and why?

For nearly a month, I’ve been using the Stephen Covey matrix to determine which work gets done first, and what gets pushed to the back burner.

This productivity system is based on figuring out which tasks are urgent (need immediate attention) and which are important (don’t need to happen right away, but are necessary to achieve your professional goals).

It’s arranged as a graph with four quadrants. These quadrants are:

  1. Tasks with high urgency and high importance
  2. Tasks with low urgency and high importance
  3. Tasks with high urgency and low importance
  4. Tasks with low urgency and low importance

According to Covey, most people get stuck in a pattern of “firefighting” and only focusing on the most urgent tasks. I have to admit, I’m one of those people. By always placing the most urgent work first, I was never able to carve out time to focus on important things like business planning or writing an e-book. I was hopeful that this experiment would help me stay on track with my long-term goals.

Without sounding too much like middle school science class, tell us about your methodology.

At the end of each day, I list everything that’s still on my to-do list for the rest of the week. I decide how urgent and important each task is, then assign it to the quadrant that’s the best fit.

Using my list, I begin every day with high urgency, high importance tasks—like a client project with a looming deadline. From there, I need to evaluate my unimportant, urgent tasks (which Covey refers to as “interruptions”). If they’re not too time-consuming, I’ll take care of them right away. But if they’re bigger than that, I’ll try to reschedule or delegate the job so I can focus on more important tasks. This is also a good time to figure out why it’s so urgent. Is it because I procrastinated, or did I say “yes” to a last-minute request I should’ve turned down?

Questions like these allow me to prioritize the kind of work I take on, especially regarding my overarching business goals. As I made my way down the list, it was easy to focus on one thing at a time instead of being dragged down by the thought of other things that needed to be done.

By the end of the week, I would hopefully have finished all my urgent tasks and left myself time to focus on important goals. The end of the week is also when I would force myself to be honest about the jobs I hadn’t completed: if they’re low urgency and low importance, they probably don’t need to be on my list at all.

For example, I was in the habit of replying to e-mails that didn’t need a response because I thought it was the polite thing to do. I also learned I was spending way too much time on Facebook and LinkedIn discussion groups. Even though they’re work related, I was letting them throw my true priorities off balance.

How did you feel when you adopted the new practice?

It took some getting used to, but the results have been fantastic! I’m able to be more productive without feeling guilty about pushing certain tasks aside for the day. It’s freeing to look at a task that feels urgent and remind yourself it’s not important in the long run. I was motivated to finish urgent tasks quickly since I could see that they were taking time away from more important goals.

E-mail and social media engagement were the two biggies that always fell into that tricky “urgent” category. The matrix provides a nice way to keep everything in perspective: getting my client work done and writing incredible content is more important than being constantly accessible through social media.

What was the toughest/best part of the experiment? Do you think you’ll stick with it?

One of the toughest parts was recognizing that sometimes client work isn’t urgent. It felt weird to be doing business development ahead of a billable project — even when its deadline was still several weeks away. It’s a great reminder that your business is built on more than just client work.

Another tricky issue was realizing that certain tasks consistently showed up as not urgent and not important. Stephen Covey calls these “distractions” and tells us to drop them completely. It’s hard to give yourself permission to take something off your list for good, but it’s so rewarding once it’s gone.

My favorite part of the experiment was giving myself time each week to focus on an important part of my business. Sometimes it was catching up on accounting, reading a business book I’d been meaning to get to, or working on the e-book I’ve been planning forever. Sometimes big business goals seem unattainable, but using the matrix has already brought some of mine much closer to completion.

I don’t know that I’ll continue writing out how urgent/important each task is, but the matrix itself will definitely continue to be part of my business. Now that the system is in my head, I’d like to keep using it as a way to organize my to-do list and vet new projects. Hopefully I’ll use it so much, it’ll become second nature to give important tasks the time they deserve.

Thanks for taking us through your experiment, Ashley! Now, it's your turn: Give the Time Management Matrix a go and share your results in the comments!

Multipassionate Muse: Katja Hunter

Welcome to our Multipassionate Muse interview series, where we chat with self-described multipotentialites. Need a multipassionate crash course? Take a look on our terminology page and take the multipassionate quiz!

Today we're talking to Katja Hunter, who shares her thoughts and advice on being a multipassionista on her website.

katja hunter multipassionate

Describe your various passions and projects.

My overall passion is to help and celebrate women who wants to get off the main road, so to speak. Women who are making a difference by being true to themselves. My overall passion is to make multipassionate women/conceptual and divergent thinkers feel good about themselves.

Being multi-passionate myself, I've never fit into a specific box and I truly believe the new world (and economy) we live in, need us to see and create new connections and dots to move us forward. Both personally, spiritually and when it comes to how we do business.

The response I get from women who come across my site and see a match in themselves as multi-passionates is overwhelming and I feel a strong connection with them. So I'm in the process of creating a simple guide, on how you can use your brilliance to work your way to a free and meaningful life - whether you are in business or not. A kind of "mental karate for multi-passionates" if you like. How to create your own "mental oasis."

Because just like in karate, you have to know and respect a few rules before you enter the Dojo (use Dojo here as your own metaphor for online arena/business/life).

Where did you hear the term multipotentialite/multipassionista (or similar term)? Did it immediately resonate with you?

I first heard the expression "scanner" when I saw a Youtube video with Barbara Sher. I forget now what I was looking for, but I immediately related to what she was describing a scanner to be. It was fun to find out that I am a specific type of personality.

Looking back, would you say you've always been a multipotentialite (were you that kid running multiple businesses from your front yard)?

Yes, I believe it's part of our personality from early on and I've always felt different, for sure. I'm sure lots of people can relate to that. But I wasn't a child who sold cookies or toys on the street corner.

My dreams were of freedom to be me and what I had to do to get there and of travelling to America. I've been fascinated by America from about the age of 12. Maybe I've been an American in a previous life, who knows? 🙂

What is the biggest challenge of being multipotentialite?

The biggest challenge of being multipotentialite is when you don't know you are a multipotentialite! 'Cause when you know how you roll, you can ease up on yourself and dive into the wonderful world of you.

I don't see my life as a challenge, I see it as exciting and full of possibilities. And it's up to me to mold it how I see fit.

What parts of living a multipotentialite lifestyle are most rewarding?

I'm grateful for the way I view the world. I truly believe I can make anything possible, if I don't let my fear stop me. Your lifestyle is what your priorities are.

It's rewarding to live a passionate life. I go by what feels right and not what makes most sense and that's given me great experiences in my life so far.
When you are curious about something, you want to learn more about it and when you learn, you grow and it's when you grow, you feel you're living.

We hear a lot these days about side hustles, solopreneurs and multipotentialites. Do you think it's a fad or the way of the future?

Well, it's already part of the future. According to the number of one-man and one-woman businesses in the U.S. alone, has grown 28 percent over the past decade. I think we'll see a lot more small businesses and individuals making a difference. And because the internet is open to all, it becomes increasingly more difficult to cut through the noise, so being real and creative is essential. A lot more people will have day jobs and run businesses in their spare time. And people who are willing to do this are the ones to watch...

Any words of wisdom/warning for other multipotentialites?

My advice is simply to trust yourself. Sometimes a creative cul-de-sac can lead to clarity. Don't worry. You'll get to where you want to be, if you keep going. Your time is now. Live with gratitude! 🙂 Stay passionate.

Connect with Katja: Website // Twitter

Day in the Life: Nicole Longstreath

Welcome to Day in the Life, where we peek into the lives and schedules of solopreneurs and freelancers. Today we’re chatting with Nicole Longstreath of The Wardrobe Code. Nicole is on a mission to save women from the dysfunctional shopping experience. She is a virtual wardrobe stylist working with women across the globe to build personal brands that command attention and influence. You can find her at her home base,

nicole longstreath of the wardrobe code

6:30am: My alarm goes off on my phone, but I turn it off and stay in bed. It’s not that I’m ignoring my alarm - I just like to lie in bed for a good half hour before I actually get out of bed.

7:00am: Time to get up! But the cat is usually draped over my legs, so I have to nudge him to get up. After a bit of human/cat banter, he concedes and moves to the edge of the bed. I learned last year that my best tool for staying on track with my business (and personal life, too) is daily meditation. I created a meditation spot in my office with a small coffee table and a large, square cushion. On the coffee table, I keep candles and meditation prompts written on index cards. For 10 minutes, I reflect on my chosen card. I try to select a theme for the day I think will help keep me productive and positive. Ohmmmm …

7:10am: After meditation, I get in a bit of exercise. I’ve never been a fan of working out, so I keep it to about 30 minutes - max. I just don’t have the attention span for a 90 minute workout, so I do either a quick HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout or a 30-minute yoga routine on an iPad app I use called Yoga Studio.

7:30am: This is where I should get in the shower, but I usually spend about 30 minutes in my yoga pants checking emails and reading the news.

8:00am: Shower and morning routine (make-up, hair, etc.). I try to put on a full face of make-up and get dressed in a respectable outfit at least 4 days of the work week. This morning routine is a part of self care that I’m afraid a lot of women who work from home skip because it’s time consuming. When there’s no commute, it’s so tempting to get right to work on the computer and start your day. But I think that self care is important for your confidence and the success of your business.

9:00am: Oh, wait - breakfast! Somehow, I always forget to plan for breakfast. If I’m not feeling rushed, I’ll make an omelet with cheese and avocado. But today I’m anxious to get my day started, so it’s a green smoothie.

9:15am: At my desk and working, finally! I program some tweets for the day - a mix of promotions for The Wardrobe Code, shares for my other solopreneur friends and interesting stuff I think my audience will like. Next, I’m hunting on LinkedIn and for prospects. In addition to my virtual coaching for speakers and coaches, I produce a workshop for corporations to help them get their employees looking fresh and profesh.

11:00am: Social media break! I’m a social butterfly, so I love interacting in my online groups and forums. First I start in a Facebook group for solopreneurs, Thrive Hive. I’ll ask a question or share a helpful tool I found. Next up, Twitter. I’m sneaky and have several secret Twitter lists. I try to curate lists of people I want to work with or want to engage with because they’re influential - so I cruise these feeds for engagement opportunities. Finally, on to Google+. Lately, I’m having a lot more luck connecting with people on Google+ versus Facebook - so I check in to a few groups I belong to and usually share what I shared on my Facebook page for The Wardrobe Code (which has been getting fewer and fewer views due to their ever-changing algorithm).

12:30pm: Time for lunch, which is usually leftovers. I’m going to have to eat quickly today because I still have to pack for a conference I’m speaking at ... then see a client later today via Skype.

2:00pm: I have to admit, ever since I started using this easy system, packing for a trip takes me about 45 minutes. Crazy, right? Here’s how you do it: Choose your favorite cardigans, blouses, pants, accessories and a jacket. Lay everything out on the bed (or on a sheet on the floor) and just start making combos. Start with something you really like, and just plan around it. Then take photos of each outfit and save on your phone for reference during your trip.

4:30pm: Now it’s time to see a client. We’re going to review her homework, which was organizing her closet and creating outfits.

6:00pm: Almost done for the day! One of my friends hosts a weekly web show, so I’m going to jump on her live feed to show my support.

6:30pm: And now the work day is done. My husband is finally home, so we’ll make dinner together and watch our shows. I may sneak back to the office one last time before bed to check emails.

Questions for Nicole? Ask them in the comments!

P.S. Did you like this peek into a day in the life of Nicole? Share the love on Twitter!

3 Ways That Being Picky Can Save Your Business

As entrepreneurs, we’re hardwired to do anything and everything to make our business thrive. Unfortunately, we’re usually overworked and stressed out because of it. Worse yet, our bank accounts often don’t reflect all that hard work.

The good news is, there’s one thing you can do to keep yourself sane and your business thriving: be picky. Why?

It will save you money

Many entrepreneurs are drawn to the latest gadgets and tools to keep their business on the cutting edge of what’s possible. After all, if the big names are using the new technology, it must be good.

But if you choose the wrong tool for you, it’ll all be a waste of money.

Don’t spend a fortune on InfusionSoft if your needs are manageable through cheaper services like Aweber or Mailchimp.

Do your research, and be picky. Evaluate what your needs are before looking for a product or service to meet them. If you keep your actual needs in mind while you search, you’ll be able to compare apples to apples as you investigate what each tool is capable of.

It will save you time

There are some amazing free resources for entrepreneurs. From newsletters and ebooks to webinars and workshops, a lot of useful information is being offered for nothing.

But that’s just the problem: as fun as it can be to gain all that info for free, it’s counterproductive. With each free download you accept, you have one more thing to tend to on your to-do list. Too many free resources can clutter your mental space.

On top of that, many of these information goldmines aren’t applicable to your business. You are not everyone’s target reader. When you accept a free resource from someone who isn’t speaking to you specifically, you’ll begin second-guessing what works in your business. What you learn from one guru will conflict with what another says, and in the end, you’ll feel helpless and stuck.

Don’t sign up for things just because they’re free. Instead, choose resources and webinars that are applicable to your business as it is right now. Pick newsletters that come from a trusted source and provide practical, actionable tips.

It will make it easier to connect with your target audience

Many entrepreneurs attend conferences to keep their ideas fresh and to network. But it’s easy to get sidetracked by signing up for expensive conferences that don’t match your company’s needs.

It may feel like you’re making progress by attending World Domination Summit—after all, that’s where the big bloggers hang out. But take a step back and think about how that conference you’re looking at actually fits in with your business. Going to niche-specific events is usually more beneficial (and cheaper!) than scrambling for tickets to the biggest general conference in the nation.

At a niche-based conference, you’re more likely to run into potential clients, make worthwhile connections with your peers, and glean knowledge that directly relates to the day-to-day work of your business. By being picky and attending the right conference, you can make huge strides toward connecting with your target audience.

Questions to Help You Be Picky

The next time you need to make a decision about how to spend your time or money, use these guiding questions to stay picky and keep your business on track:

    • Am I interested in this product or event based on what it is, or because the popular bloggers are using it?
    • Is there a cheaper option that still meets my needs?
    • Will this fill a specific gap in my business strategy or knowledge, or will it add needless clutter to my life?
    • Am I the target reader for this ebook or webinar?
    • Are my target clients likely to attend this conference?
    • If I attend this conference, will I learn new information that directly benefits my target clients?

I know you want your business to grow, and you’ll do whatever it takes to get there. But it’s impossible to do everything. Spreading yourself too thin won’t grow a business—focus will.

Do yourself and your business a favor and start being picky.