So how’m I doing in my quest to re-invent my life, follow my evolving Blisses and create the life I really, really want?
You may have noticed that the Weekly Review went AWOL. If you were wondering why, here’s the story. (And no, the Weekly Review did not get drunk and stumble back to the base with a tattoo it didn’t remember getting. Though that would have made for a good story.)
Question: Have you ever had way too much to do and not enough time to do it?
Err.. Let me rephrase that.
When you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it, what do you do?
Aside from feeling stressed out and running around like a chicken with its head cut off, that is.
If you’re smart, you probably prioritze.
I call it Business & Life Triage.
I look at my list of urgent stuff to get done like an ER doctor looks at incoming wounded, then tackle the critical ones first (assuming they’re the most likely to survive, of course) and leave the rest to languish until I can get to them.
Sometimes B&L Triage is pretty easy. Migraines tend to trump everything, which is what happened Sunday night when I finally turned to the Weekly Review.
That doesn’t, of course, explain the Weekly Review still being AWOL on Monday.
It’s frustrating at best, and definitely not a good long-term way to exist. And since I seem to keep adding items to my ongoing task list, one of my big priorities lately has been to move as many tasks as possible off of my own plate and on to someone else’s.
In other words, delegating. To (get this) an assistant!
Or, more precisely, a Virtual Assistant.
That word may as well be gold-plated, it has felt like such an out-of-reach treasure for so long. But a couple of months ago I started paying my 365 Days of Genius partner’s VA (short for Virtual Assistant), Katy, to do the data entry for the daily “Genius Resources” on that site.
The up-front costs (aside from cash)
This tactic was not without its challenges. I had to put time in on the “front end,” setting up a system to capture the info I needed to load and get that info to Katy (for which I discovered an amazing new technology called a “spreadsheet – maybe you’ve heard of it?) And since I hadn’t been using this system from the start, I had to change my workflow.
At first, all of this required more work from me as I scrambled like mad to get all the necessary info filled in for months of resources.
But, here’s the beauty: once I’d established the system and put my virtual assistant to work, my workload dramatically decreased.
All the time I’d been spending loading stuff onto the site? I could now use that time for other stuff.
Stuff I’d not only rather do, but that the Universe would really much rather I do – my special gifts. Stuff that only I can do. Like making my art, writing my writing, recording interviews, working with my clients.
A taste is not enough
Loading the daily Genius Resource links for 365 DofG was time-consuming, but in fact it only made up a tiny fraction of the time-sucking things that have to get done in order to keep the engine of my business humming along.
For a long time I felt stuck around delegating more work, though.
How could I spend more money on getting help with my triage – most of which is stuff that doesn’t directly produce income – when what I needed was to make more money?
Sometimes I’m a little slow. A little resistant. I confess that things often have to get really bad before I finally wake up to reality.
In this case, it took the launching of my new not-quite Daily ArtFix newsletter. Suddenly I had created for myself a whole series of new tasks that had to get done almost every day: putting my art up on my site, scheduling listings of the originals for sale on EBay, scheduling the actual newsletter to send out to my list.
What was I thinking?
When was I going to have time to work with clients, write new content, create the stuff I’ve been brewing behind the scenes, and make my art (let alone exercise, sleep and eat)?!
The old, poverty-mindset me would have said, “Oh my god, this is too much!” and simply dropped the newsletter idea as unmanageable.
The new, big-thinking, creative-abundance-mindset me said, “Oh my god, this is too much! I need help!”
Sure, paying for help felt scary, but when I looked at the amount of time it would liberate for me to work on creating more value – value that would ultimately make me more money – it was a no-brainer.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t still scary, because it was.
But scary doesn’t mean bad. It just takes some getting used to.
Getting around internal roadblocks
Never having delegated ongoing tasks before, I had to overcome some internal resistance. What if she did it wrong? What if she isn’t reliable?
I had to keep reminding myself of the payoff: that the more time I liberate from the drudge work that anyone can do, the more time I have to spend on the high-value stuff that only I can do.
Granted, I still had to put a ton of time into setting up the systems in order to be able to delegate: I had to create a method for holding and organizing the data to be entered (did I mention that amazing technology, the spreadsheet?) And I had to train my virtual assistant on exactly how to enter it on the various sites.
Thank god for Camtasia, my video-creation software! Since Katy’s on the other side of the world, I recorded several videos of me walking through & narrating every step of every task I needed help with.
This helped me clarify in my own mind exactly what needed to be done, and showed me additional fields I needed to add to my growing spreadsheet.
Within a few days, the first “trial” batch of tasks was ready. I sent them to Katy (only later remembering to set up sharing in the Google docs so she could get to the data! Doh!)
Quick as a bunny, Katy loaded up my stuff. Now, the next step: reviewing her work.
I was pleased to see that she’d done a great job. Just a few things were not exactly as I wanted them, so I emailed notes, with illustrative screenshots, and we were off to the races!
I have a virtual assistant!
Yep, suddenly, after years of longing for one, and putting a little time and effort in at the front end, I actually have an assistant!
And here’s the most beautimous thing: now that I have a virtual assistant, I keep thinking of new tasks I can delegate to her.
It’s kind of addictive.
Plus I’m seeing how I might delegate other tasks, for which she’s not qualified, to someone else who is.
Did somebody say “leveling up”?
That’s exactly what I’m doing here, and it feels great.
And speaking of leveling up…
If getting going with an honest-to-god virtual assistant is Phase One of leveling up, Phase Two is something else that’s been brewing recently: working with a mentor to help me power forward.
In the past year of blogging, I’ve sought out people ahead of me on the path whom I could learn from. I’ve downloaded more free resources than I can count. I’ve bought several excellent paid resources (the Empire Building Kit, Question the Rules, Engaging E-Courses, a bunch of Dave Navarro’s stuff, to name a few). I’ve taken advantage of free consulting from Catherine Caine, Jenny Bones, Lee Stranahan, Michael Martine, Peter Shallard and Sinclair, among others. (And why yes, I’m affiliates for all of the courses mentioned above. And the lovely Ms. Catherine Caine. I’d be affiliates for the others, because they all ROCK, but I don’t think they have general affiliate programs. Just sayin’.)
All of these have been more than great. They’ve each been stepping stones on my journey to where I am now.
And now I’m ready to take it up a notch.
I’ve known for awhile that I would eventually want to work with someone more closely, and this week I actually took the leap.
A little before I was prepared to, but that often how these things go.
Whom did I choose?
The first consulting session I can remember having was just about a year ago, with Sinclair. I remember sobbing into the phone, knowing I wanted to get… somewhere… but not entirely sure where.
I wanted what she had: confidence, clarity, and the ability to make a difference for other people.
At the time, I think she was charging $180/hour.
Now she offers intensive month-long mentorships, to the tune of $6,000.
She’s grown from a $100,000 business last year, to a $250,000 business this year.
All without a whiff of spamminess.
That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
So when Sinclair sent her list the info for a free coaching call, I jumped with both feet. And when at the end of the (awesome) call she offered a steep discount on a 3-hour intensive with her, I gritted my teeth and handed over my credit card.
And when she invited me to be an affiliate and offered me early entrance into the upcoming session of Action Studio, I jumped again.
Now listen up
Not only will I be sharing my experiences with Sinclair and Action Studio over the next several weeks, but on Thursday, I’ll be interviewing Sinclair (who will reveal some secrets from the set of Action Studio). AND I’ll be opening the phones up for questions too.
From YOU, that is!
Yep, we’ll talk about creative, profitable biz-building – how to be more authentic than ever and build your business around that.
Not much cooler than that!
Again, that call will be:
Thursday, April 28
5pm Pacific (that’s 8pm Eastern)
Want in? Just sign up below and I’ll email you the dial-in info.
Oh, and one more thing: if Action Studio feels like a good fit for you and you decide to join me in this session, I’ll actually sweeten the deal and give you a free year of access to the Thriving Artists Project ($97 value) and a 60-minute consulting session with me ($150 value). That’s almost $250 of rock-your-creative-business value on top of the supercharging you’ll get from Action Studio.
The catch? You just need to make sure you use my affiliate link to sign up for Action Studio in order to get the bonuses.
Dianne Poinski says
Getting a VA has been on my list for a long time, but never felt like I could afford it. You have inspired me (I was wondering how you were getting all that done). I do way too many things I could be delegating. (Besides VA type tasks, I should also get someone else to cut my mats!)
Thanks again for the inspiration!
Melissa Dinwiddie says
Yeah, that’s been my concern too, Dianne. There’s a leap you have to make from “I can’t afford to pay for help” to “I can’t afford for my time to get sucked away from the high-value stuff I need to do.”
Of course, it helps to find a VA who is really affordable. Or if it’s an in-person assistant, a college intern is a good option. (My next goal for getting help!) 🙂