New Business Overwhelm? You Need To Know This!

Image of fountain pen and to-do list pad, sympbolizing a way to overcome New Business Overwhelm Experienced By Entreprenuers
Your new business will prosper with manageable goals!


Nothing beats being an entrepreneur! Fueled with enthusiasm and amazing ideas for your new business, those first weeks and months when you decide to go for it are like a honeymoon in a luxury resort. Every day is a new treasure of exploration, and the mundane world seems very far away. We all start out with some dream of an overnight success story, because our products and services are completely awesome!

Until the overwhelm sets in.

In our rush to get our business launched we spent hours late into the night setting up the framework, domain names, web sites, and producing products for prospective clients. We are launching a new business with a single mindedness that makes it practically noble to ignore housework, yardwork, shopping, laundry, and a slew of other daily life-tasks.

Look At This Mess!!

Just as in a new relationship, reality eventually hits us hard – probably sooner for solopreneurs still working a full-time day job.

You can ignore the stats after you first go “live” convinced the public just needs to find you before your offering will be on fire! Then after Tweeting your heart out, adding more blog posts, or whatever you do for marketing ……. crickets.

It is awful to discover that you really did build a better mousetrap, but the world has not beaten a path to your door… or your website! Worse, you lift your red-rimmed eyes from the cruel statistical reports and look around your home at all the chores that have piled up in the meantime.

A Shakespearian Moment

You are discouraged and disillusioned, with a hefty dose of overwhelm thrown in. I know, I have been there (and go back to visit that place occasionally.)

“To be or not to be, that is the question”. Or, “What would Shrek and Fiona do?” if your frame of reference is a little more contemporary. It is a dramatic time of reckoning… with yourself.

Your first inclination may be to chuck the whole entrepreneur thing. It would be easier to hide in your swamp or tower and obsess about everything that went wrong.

Don’t give up. You are the star of this show! Your business success, like “true love”, is closer than you think. Just like any hero, you have to go through a few adventures before you can learn what your true love actually looks like.

And like any hero, you will need to make some sacrifices.

Changing Focus

What about your dreams, your vision of your new business? Your dream are great, that’s what got you started as an entrepreneur. But to keep going, you have to let go of a static image of your successful business. Be prepared to refine and re-define what success looks like to you.

This does not mean flying by the seat of your pants without a business plan that includes measurable goals, and a written calendar of progressive steps to get you there. It means giving up the notion that anyone is really an overnight success.

Make your business goals reasonable and your steps manageable. Track your progress, and celebrate the positive trends. Do you have fifty new followers? Is that twice what you had last month? You want a daydream? There’s one for you! If you double your stats each month, where will you be in a year?

What are you learning as you go? You may find that your first business vision was too small! Plan big for the future but keep your present planning steps small enough to be executed well.

Gathering the Clan

Every hero has helpers along the way and every hero stops along the way to lend a helping hand. By the climax of the story, everyone has played a part in the hero’s big success.

You will need to sacrifice the idea that you can do this all alone.

Joining a community of like-minded people will give you tools, tips, and encouragement. You will have a place to bounce ideas, get feedback and learn how others have dealt with problems you are having.

Tip: Identify your weaknesses and find experts in those areas for coaching.

Did your first launch flop? Do you need help with launching, branding, marketing or video production? There are established experts that offer free webinars, cheat sheets and paid courses in these and other key areas critical to online entrepreneurs. The added bonus is that the best experts have community forums that you can join!

Be the Boss of Your New Business!

Back to the annoying reality that there are only so many hours in a day, we are still faced with cooking, cleaning, laundry and other domestic details. Remember that sleep and exercise can be skimped on for only so long before your overall performance suffers.

You must allow adequate time for sleep and exercise. I have calendared an audible alert on my phone to remind me to Go To Bed!! My husband even recognizes the sound now, and it marks a shift in our evening activities. I start to get sleepy when I hear it. Pavlovian, but it works.

The more negotiable tasks can be delegated or skipped all together. You are the boss, so you get to decide: delegate or don’t do it!

You can hire a maid service to clean every other week. You can hire a teenager to mow the lawn and pull weeds. Do you really need to cover your house and yard with holiday decorations this year? Can you skip making 47 dozen cookies for the exchange?

Alternately, you may find it helpful to hire a Virtual Assistant to help with some business related tasks to free you up for content creation and personal care.

The bottom line is, every hero gets smacked down at least once before they triumph. They keep going, build community and adjust their strategy until finally, they find what they were looking for. Success!!

You are the hero of your business story! Has your vision changed? Are you building community? How’s that delegating thing going for you? Please share in the comments below!

How To Boost Morning Productivity Before Bed

How to Boost Your Morning Productivity by Getting Ready the Before Bed Are you ready to rock your morning productivity? Are you taking Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning challenge? Or are you just looking to better organize your hectic mornings?

Here are easy tips to boost your morning productivity that you can start today!  Using just one or two of these hacks before bed each night will immediately help boost your morning productively.

Less Hassle Equals Morning Productivity

Think back to the last few mornings. What tripped you up? Mentally walk yourself through everything you did from the time you opened your eyes until you walked out the door.

What felt like an annoyance? What sidetracked you? What tasks or routines do you do every single day no matter what? Are there things you would like to do every morning if you have more time?

Consider your morning routine a project, an ongoing project, and let’s break it down step by step. Let’s start with an areas all folks have in their morning routine.

Personal Hygiene

Do you shower or shave or style your hair every morning? Where are your towels and shaving stuff and hair products?

Towel Short Cuts

Save time before your shower shower by laying out towels the night before. Do you normally take the time to go to the linen closet or paw through the basket of clean laundry? Do you have to walk to the utility room to grab clean towels from the dryer?

From now on, keep your towels folded within reach of the shower or hanging from a hook, within  easy reach when you step out.

You can permanently install decorative hooks or just slap on the easy and inexpensive stick-on hooks. The advantages of the stick-on hooks are ease of removal and not adding another project on your to-do list!

The added bonus of hooks is that you can just hang your clean towels instead folding and putting them away every laundry day. More time saved!

Corral Those Bath Products

The same type of arrangement can be used for your shower products, like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, facial scrubs. Are your bottles and jars already lined up on the bathtub ledge, or do you grab your stuff as you head it? Are you sharing ledge space with other members of the household?

A plastic basket from the dollar store is an easy way to keep your shower stuff handy and separate. You won’t have to move it out of the shower, either. Use an S-type type hook or carabiner to hang your basket from the shower curtain rod or shower caddy.

Shaving and Styling

If you have a drawer or cabinet next to the bathroom sink, arrange your morning shave or hairstyling gear within easy reach, cockpit style.

I have a tall cabinet next to my sink and mounted plastic coated wire baskets – the kind you can get for kitchen spices – on the inside of the door to holds my blow dryer and brushes. There is a place for hairspray and styling products. Use a hand mirror for checking the back of your hair? That can hang from stick-on hook inside the cabinet!

Heading Out With Morning Productivity

Every few seconds you can shave off your morning routine will add up by the time you head out the door.  For my morning commute, an extra ten minutes before I leave extends my drive by twenty minutes because of traffic!

Getting Dressed

One of the most productivity enhancing habits to develop is to lay your clothes the night before. Lay out the entire outfit, including socks, underwear, necktie, purse, jewelry and any other accessories.

Make sure you have inspected those clothes before you lay them out. You do not want to be ironing or trying to find a substitute shirt because of a stain or missing buttons.  That is another good reason to lay out your underclothes as well… you really don’t want to wear purple floral panties under those white pants, do you?

Time and Money

Improved morning productivity can shave some expenses off your budget, too. Would you avoid a stop at the local fast food for a breakfast sandwich or coffee if you had it together in the morning?

Have your travel mug and coffee station ready for the morning. Set out a spoon, napkin, and your coffee or tea of choice. If you use a single serving coffee machine, preset it to wake up and heat the water a few minutes before the time you normally prepare your morning cuppa. For me that is as soon as the alarm goes off and my feet hit the floor!

Get you breakfast and lunch ready in advance as well. It will save money and is one less stop on the way to work!

Boil and peel a bunch of eggs on the weekend and have them ready to go for weekday mornings. Ditto for preparing other cold stuff you will be taking with you like fruits and salads.

Leftovers for lunch are a really money-saver. Put portions of leftovers in a microwave safe container as you clear up from dinner. Ready to go!

Keep It Together

Have a designated spot or a plastic bin in your fridge for in the morning. It makes a huge difference in that last rush to get out the door to be able to simply grab your bin and transfer everything to your lunch bag.

Pack your lunch bag or briefcase with nonperishable items the night before.

Morning Productivity On The Road

Plan ahead for your morning commute. Have you downloaded that audio book you want to listen to? Do you have a travel cup washed and ready for coffee or ice water on the road? Do you need to allocate extra travel time to stop for gas?

Weather Considerations

Do you need to throw an umbrella or ice scraper in the car? In the winter will you need to plan time for scraping or defrosting. Remember to get your boots and gloves set out for the cold trudge out to start the car!

Morning Productivity for Your Kids

Do you have kids that need to be dropped at school or daycare  in the morning?

The same night-before routine will reduce the rush and frantic hunt for that left shoe and  permission slip in the morning, but with a bonus. You will be teaching your children how to think ahead, solve problems, and be productive people!

Now Or Later

There are only so many hours in a day, how are you going to spend them? The tasks described above all have to be done, sooner or later.

You get to choose when to do them. You get to choose to be ahead of the game, or rushed and stressed.

Try some or all of these hacks to increase your morning productivity. After a few mornings of having everything at your fingertips from your hairspray to your car keys, you will discover how pampered it feels to have everything at your disposal!

Would you like to see more productivity hacks? What are your tips and tricks for morning productivity? Please share your comments!

Mid-Year Business Strategies for Entrepreneurs

Rock the March Madness vibe to update your business plan! The weather has changed and we are nearing the halfway point in the year. Before the end of Q2 is a great time to update your business strategies!

Revisit Your Business Plan

By now you have already analyzed your prior results. Did you grow your list, sales or product offerings? Did you meet or exceed your expectations? What flopped?

You will have prepared a business plan for this year with general goals for the year and interim goals by month or quarter. Your plan will have included a calendared To-Do list of product or service launches at certain times throughout the year and cost projections of expenses for your business.

So many entrepreneurs admit to developing a beautiful and inspiring business plan for the year and then never looking at it again. But not you! Now is the time for a thorough review and revision session with your business plan for this year.

Compare expenses already paid to your projections. Are you up to date on your expenses tracking?

Double check your assumptions of cost for the year. After reviewing the expenses you have already paid this year, have you found expenditures that are costing more than you had originally planned? Are you aware of any price hikes coming up for postage, supplies or raw materials needed to make your products? Make the necessary revisions to your cost projections.

Review scheduled launch dates. Did you miss a planned launch that needs to be re-scheduled? Are there secondary launch or event dates to be moved because the starter launch was delayed?

Incorporate new events. Are there business or life events on the horizon that you were not aware of when you drafted your annual business plan? Business conferences, training seminars, new baby on the way? Be realistic about the amount of time these events will take for preparation and execution, and adjust your plan accordingly.

Look hard at planned launches that follow the new event. Do you need to scale back or postpone a product or service launch? Is it still doable if you arrange for additional resources? If you anticipate hiring a person or team to support your launch, whether a virtual assistant or a cleaning service, update your task schedule and budget to allow for finding, hiring and training your staff in advance of your key dates.


Even the most creative entrepreneur has to deal with the reality of business finances.

There are special rules and responsibilities that apply to Small Business Owners and Self-Employed entrepreneurs in the United States.

If you are not comfortable dealing with taxes and bookkeeping, hire someone. Keep in mind that this is the busiest part of tax season for accounting firms and tax professionals. If you plan to delegate your tax preparation to a pro, make the appointment now.

Heads up: If you are self-employed and required to pay estimated taxes, the payments are due quarterly!  Be ready!

Carefully look over the documentation, receipts, invoices, etc., for all your income and expenses year to date. Make sure you have all the paperwork set aside you will need for tax purposes.

Business Strategies Include Action

The days are getting longer, the weather is warmer and this is a time of year when folks traditionally would fling open all the doors and windows and clean house from top to bottom.

Utilize that same energy to freshen and re-energize your business!

Start with actual cleaning. Clear off your desk. Sort through any papers and file or shred. Clean the surface of your work space and surrounding area. Do you have a dusty tangle of cords under your desk? Are there crumbs in your keyboard?

Clean the window in your office. If you don’t have a window, wipe off the light bulb in your desk lamp (when it is off and cooled) and dust the lampshade.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and speed clean your desk drawer. Toss out pens that skip and curled pads of note paper. Anything in your drawer that you have to push aside to get to regularly used items needs to go.

If your business involves creation of physical products, be sure to do the same with your materials inventory and production work space.

Accumulated dust and clutter sends a subliminal message of stagnation. A quickie clean of your work space is refreshing. Getting rid of excess or unhelpful items clears the space for positive energies to flow into your business!

Include Personal Care In Your Business Strategy

Entrepreneurs have a tendency to burn the candle at both ends. Burn, as in high level of burn-out. As a savvy business owner, you need to take care of your most valuable asset – you!

While you are in planning and revamping mode, schedule your maintenance appointments like annual physical, dental cleanings and eye exam.

Plan you work and work your plan, but plan to include adequate time for sleep, exercise and relaxation. It is your focus, drive and creativity that drive the success of your business. Keep your tools sharp!

Is this a crazy time of year for you and your business? How are you managing so far? Please share your comments below!


Be Ready for Surgery! Getting Your Docs in a Row

Geting your docs in a row before surgeryBe ready for surgery by getting your docs in a row! If there is surgery in the future for you or a family member, these tips for planning ahead will lessen your stress and make the process run smoother.

It’s time to “get your affairs in order”. Depending on your perspective, that can sound pretty dire … or may conjure visions of a wild weekend in Vegas!  A non-dramatic reality is that we all have administrative responsibilities to deal with in our everyday lives and planning for surgery adds to the list of forms and documents we have to deal with. Dealing with them in advance will make your life easier in the weeks before and after surgery.


Essential Moving Tips to Send Stress Packing!

IMG_0031Packing up and moving is a big life stressor, even if you are happily moving to the home of your dreams! Roughly one in six people move each year, and most people move their residence more than once in a lifetime.

I’ve moved in and out of apartments, townhouses and single-family homes over the years, locally and long-distance and have helped loads of family and friends move. I learned how to make moving easier – or at least less hard!

My experience has taught me some sure-fire tips that will make your next move less of a hassle.

Keep Calm and Carry It With You

Want to save yourself a lot of stress? Set up a planner system that you can carry with you. A regular three-ring binder will work fine. You will need calendar pages, dividers, page protectors, and some pockets.

If you are already a planner person, you can hack an existing planner to fit in sections and pockets for your move. Resist the temptation to spend time decorating the planner sections. You don’t have time to make it Pinterest-worthy, you are getting ready to move!

Have a calendar page for each month between now and your move date.

You can print plain monthly calendar pages from word-processing applications like MS Word.

Working back from the move date, mark dates for canceling services like utilities, newspaper delivery and mail forwarding. Do you have to give notice to your current landlord? Schedule a final inspection? Settlement date for new house? Mark your calendar. Schedule reminders on your phone to check your moving calendar!

Set up a section for your physical move.

Start a supply list! Think of all the things you will need, including boxes, bubble-wrap, tape, and markers.

Make a contact sheet with the name and phone numbers of your mover, real estate agent, storage company, and the like.

  • Make notes of every conversation or meeting, with names and dates.
  • Use page protectors to hold your moving contract, storage rental agreement, and other important papers.

Include a utilities section in your planner.

Will you need to arrange for gas, electric, water, cable, and trash-pickup? What about lawn or pest-control services?

  • Start a separate page for each utility and service you will need at your new home. Include the company name, address and phone number, account number, deposit paid, and service start date.
  • Ask for the after-hours emergency number and put it in your planner!
  • Keep deposit receipts and business cards in a page protector or manila envelope that is hole-punched to fit in your planner.

Add an appliances and décor section to your planner.

This section is where you will keep the receipts, delivery information and manuals for new or existing appliances you will be taking to your new home like a stove, refrigerator or washer and dryer.

This is also where you will keep your records for carpet installation, interior and exterior painting, and flooring.

Will you be buying or arranging for garage door openers, lighting or a security system? This is the section for those records and phone numbers.

About Those Boxes

You will need a crazy number of boxes, so start early gathering and packing your boxes. If you are sure you have enough – get more!

Do you know of someone else who has recently moved? Ask them for their boxes!

If you or family members work in offices that use a lot of copy paper, ask for the empty boxes. Especially during the warmer months when lots of folks move, clean boxes are a hot commodity, so ask early!

Get to know your local shopping centers, and find out when they set their boxes out back.

Consider purchasing packing boxes from your local storage or truck rental company. It was worth it to me to buy wardrobe boxes so I could take clothes right out of my closets and hang them in the boxes.

I also bought special boxes for our television and mirrors.

I had been able to gather boxes from other sources, and still ended up buying several dozen packing boxes to save time.

Gently used packing boxes can be sold to recover part of your cost. By carefully collapsing the boxes as you unpack, you can sell them to someone else who is moving by word-of-mouth or a post on Craigslist.

Packing it All In

Have a good supply of packing tape, fat markers or labels, and colored stickers or labels. Assign a color to each room of your new home using your colored dot stickers or labels. Put a master list of assigned room colors in your planner.

Special Consideration: Our very first apartment was sweet, cheap and had bugs. When we moved out, I took steps to prevent any six-legged hitchhikers. Every box was taken out to the porch, thoroughly sprayed inside with bug killer, and left to dry before it was packed. Voila! No bugs at the new digs!

Before you pack each box, mark the contents on all four sides of the outside, or slap on labels. Also add a colored dot or label to each side to show the room it will belong in at your new digs.

Trust me, if you have 30 boxes in a stack you do not want to be moving them around in order to see the description of the box you need.

The Big Day

You already have your planner with you, right?

Keep a separate box or big plastic tub separate from the other moving boxes. This is to be hand-carried to your new abode with basic essentials you will need.

Pack this box with toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs, trash bags, hand sanitizer, cleaner spray and wipes, rubber gloves, a small tool kit and a flashlight. Remember hand soap and shampoo.

Bring your phone and cord if you will have a land-line.

Think about bringing a shower curtain, rod and hooks if your new shower won’t have doors.

Disposable cups, plates, bowls and flatware, aluminum foil and zipper bags are handy, too.

Have another box or bag with clean sheets and blankets for the bed and a set of towels for each person who will be in the house the first night. Keep it in your car so it doesn’t get mixed in with the other boxes.

When the bed is carried into your house, set it up and make your bed first thing. Seriously. You won’t feel like it later after lugging a hundred boxes.

Home Sweet Home!

So there you are. After staggering into a hot shower you collapse on your clean, soft bed. Now you can fall into a peaceful sleep surrounded by piles of lovely, color coded packing boxes.

Are you planning a move this year? Do you have moving stories and tips to share? Please leave your comments below!

Defeat Chaos- Small Business Continuity Planning for Entrepreneurs

how to keep your business going when the unexpected happens.

Are you a small business owner with multiple responsibilities? Almost every entrepreneur I have met since starting my own freelance business has one or more competing priorities, including:

  • Growing a small business
  • Continuing education
  • Full time day job
  • Small children
  • Health issues
  • Elder care

If you are already feeling stretched thin between your personal and business goals, you are not alone. What will happen if you have to deal with an unexpected event?

Small Business Continuity Planning

Big corporations and government agencies have put together what are essentially uber to-do lists that they can pull out in the event of an emergency or disaster that disrupts their daily workflow. Whether you call it Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, or a Business Resumption Plan, entrepreneurs can take a page from the big business playbook to manage our business and personal lives when things get hectic.

Disruptive events don’t have to be huge disasters like hurricanes or a critical illness. Anything that would take your full attention and make you change your priorities can be disruptive, even good things like a product launch, a new baby or six bushels of peaches that need to be made into jam.

The Department of Homeland Security has a Business Continuity Plan outline that we can use to create a planning framework for micro-businesses like yours and mine.

Impact Analysis

If you are the chief cook and bottle washer for your home and business, you do not need a fancy questionnaire to figure out all the important tasks that you do on a regular basis. Think back over the last week or two, and refer to your planner for the last six months.

Make a list of the vital things that have to be done. Include everything, even if it seems obvious, for both your home and business. Leave lots of space for notes after each space on your list.

Grocery shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, pet care, blog posts, product packaging and shipping, laundry … if it is a task that you perform regularly for your home or business, add it to the list.

Wow, you are a busy person!

Recovery Strategies

For each of the tasks on your analysis list, start making notes of ways that job can be handled, even if you aren’t able to do it the way you normally do. Can it be skipped for a while? What is the bare minimum?

For example, my normal housecleaning schedule includes deep cleaning each area of my home on a regular basis. When I have to spend several days processing and canning garden produce, any cleaning outside of the kitchen just doesn’t get done that week, much less deep cleaning.

But when I spent three months taking courses, building my website and preparing to launch my blog while working a full time job, I did a weekly bare minimum. In other words, the bathrooms were cleaned enough to be sanitary, but I certainly didn’t scrub tile grout with a toothbrush!

Plan Development

Now that you have an idea of the most essential tasks that have to be done and how often, flesh out how you would go about getting those things done if the situation is not “normal”.

Think about backups and work-arounds.

Do you send a regular newsletter or update to your mail list? What if your computer crashes and burns? Is your mail list stored somewhere besides your computer hard drive, like the cloud? Can you log into your blog site or mail scheduling application from another computer?

You can develop backups and work-arounds for personal tasks as well.

Meal planning for a day or two could be delivery, so your backup can be a folder of menus from the nearest Chines restaurant and pizza parlor.

The work-around for longer disruptions can be a week-long menu for very simple and easy meals and a matching grocery list. Don’t forget the deli when making that meal plan and grocery list. Rotisserie chicken and cold cuts are user friendly, as are microwavable entrees and sides. If you make more than one weekly menu and list, you can alternate!

Testing and Exercises

This is where you try out your carefully thought-out backup plans and work-arounds to make sure they work!

Borrow a friend’s computer or go the library to make sure you can get to your online business essentials.

Try asking your spouse to validate your business resumption plan by preparing meals for a week. Hand over your menu and grocery list. Revise the plan as needed… you may get surprising feedback!

This is your opportunity to revise your plan and discover things you may have missed. Revisit your plans at least annually and always before any anticipated events that will impact your home and business.


There is no wrong way to prepare your Business Continuity Plan. You most likely will not have a full blown written alternative in place for every aspect of your home and business, but by making your Impact Analysis list, the most urgent things to plan for now will pop out at you.

What are the most critical tasks you need to cover with a Plan B? Are there tasks that are less important but really easy to work-around?

Do what you can now, and consider calendaring time to work on a back-up plan for the rest.

How do you handle disruptions to your home and business? Would you like to see more information on business continuity planning for entrepreneurs? Please share your comments and questions below!

Are You A Planner? How to Conduct a Thanksgiving Postmortem

What would you change to make your next Thanksgiving the best ever?
What Would You Change?
Get a Jump on Planning for 2016!

With the last turkey leftovers about gone, and the Black Friday shopping out of the way, now is a good time to perform a Thanksgiving postmortem. No, I’m not talking about ways to use a turkey carcass! This is all about another way to use your planner and organization skills to make your life easier in 2016.

How did your Thanksgiving work out this year?

Were you a relaxed and calm hostess as you sat down to a perfectly cooked meal at your lovely table? Did everything get done but you were so exhausted by dinner time that you weren’t interested in food? Or was the entire affair a complete train wreck?

What is a Postmortem?

Postmortem is a Latin word meaning “after death”. In a business context, a postmortem is a look back at a completed project or event to identify what worked and what didn’t work. It is an essential part of basic project management used by successful team leaders to improve their business.

If you are the one who plans and executes holiday events like Thanksgiving Dinner, then you are a project manager and will benefit by a look back at your holiday dinner plan while it is still fresh in your mind – even if there are parts you would rather forget!

Gather Your Data

Breaking a big project – like Thanksgiving Dinner – into steps is the most basic element of project management.

If you are already a planner gal, you probably organized your Thanksgiving plans into steps for shopping, cooking and cleaning and put those tasks into your planner or calendar. (Not yet using a daily planner? Oh, Honey … stick with me anyway. The planner community is a wonderful place to be!)

At the very least, I bet you had a to-do list or a grocery list on paper or in your head.

So grab your planner or a calendar, whatever notes or lists you used to get ready this year, some paper and pencils and sit down in a quiet place with your beverage of choice.

Do a brain dump. If you didn’t make a task list before Thanksgiving, make one now. Jot down everything you did to get ready, including cooking and cleaning.

Write down what worked and what didn’t work for you. You will sort it out as you move into the analysis part, but for now try to quickly get everything down that readily comes to mind. Don’t spend too much time on this part. You will probably add more later.

What made you smile? A new sweet potato recipe that everyone raved about? Your kid’s pine cone turkey as a centerpiece? Hubby vacuuming all the floors the day before?

Anything not so great? Were you too worn out to enjoy your guests? Did the mountain of dirty dishes make you want to cry? Was the turkey overcooked or under cooked? What would you do differently?

Get Real With Yourself

Remembering the highs and lows for your brain dump probably raised a variety of emotions. Pride, embarrassment, amusement, annoyance to name a few.

Holiday family gatherings can bring on all kinds of emotional reactions that can lead to overwhelm if we let it.

We tend to want to make a good impression, and sometimes set impossible standards for ourselves to do it. Worse, we expect our immediate family members to help us achieve those standards and we get upset when they resist!

I married into an Italian family of eight children. To be specific, I married the baby of that family and he has five older sisters! Not only did I truly want to make a good impression on this huge family, the older me can admit I also have a teensy competitive streak.

So, take the desire to make a good impression, add a competitive streak and season with a liberal splash of perfectionism and you have the perfect recipe for an exhausted and overwhelmed woman. Does any of this sound like someone you know?

Was your goal to serve a delicious meal to comfortable and happy guests? Did you wear yourself out trying to dazzle and amaze everyone with your Pinterest-worthy home décor, tablescape and gourmet meal?

Be honest with yourself and your motives as you review the pre-holiday and T-day chores from this year’s celebration.

Look At Each Step

You are going to review every single thing you did to prepare before, during and after Thanksgiving dinner.

Look at your planner or calendar to see when you did the task. Would it have been better to do it two days earlier? A week earlier? How early could the task have been done? If you had thought of it sooner, could you have delegated the task?

Ask yourself: Was this task really necessary? Was this task joyful? Did I do it the hard way? Could someone else have done it? Was it worth the time and trouble?

Start from the very beginning. There is no judgment here but yours. This review is to figure out what worked best for your current situation and what did not work so well for your current situation.

For example, let’s say you spent several hours polishing Grandma’s wedding silver and hand-washing heirloom china.

Was this task really necessary? No. You could have used disposable or dishwasher-safe dishes and utensils for dinner and dessert.

Was this task joyful? Yes, if you have fond memories of helping your mother and grandmother each year. No, if it is a painful reminder of a loved one who has passed or if you just hate polishing silver!

Did I do it the hard way? Did you get this chore done weeks in advance, a little at a time? Or did you frantically polish and wash dishes late into the night because you were running out of time?

Could someone else have done it? Or at least part of it, like hand washing the china and silver after dinner?

Was it worth the time and trouble? It was if you had plenty of time and love hand washing fine old dishes. No, if you are currently working full time outside the home and/or have health issues and/or are caregiving for others, and …… you see what I mean.

Considering these questions, take an honest look at everything you did this year, from cleaning and decorating to your menu selection to the desserts and clean-up.

Planning For Next Year

Keep in mind that you are not being “lazy” or a poor hosterss if you scale back some of your decorations or substitute prepared foods for traditional homemade versions during busy times of your life.

You are being a savvy CEO who wisely reallocates resources and revises workflows in response to changing conditions! You are an amazing woman!

Following your postmortem of this year’s Thanksgiving, you will now have a better idea of what you can change or rearrange to make your next holiday event less stressful.

Be sure to put reminder notes in your 2016 planner with your ideal holiday To-Do list and timeline!

What was your biggest challenge this Thanksgiving? What do you think you will change next time? Please share your questions and comments on holiday planning in the comments below!

It’s Not Too Late! Last Minute Organizing to Reduce Thanksgiving Stress

Planning tips for an organized and relaxed Thanksgiving.
Be a relaxed and happy hostess with these planning tips!

Sometimes life gets so busy that even the most organized woman lets a big event sneak up on her. Or maybe you volunteered to host Thanksgiving at the last minute. Either way, you can avoid inviting stress and overwhelm to your holiday feast with some last-minute organizing tips.

The Bird is the Word!

If your turkey is still frozen, and you have a few days left, the easiest safe thawing method is in your refrigerator. Put it on a paper towel lined tray or baking sheet to catch any leaking juices. I usually put my turkey in the fridge early enough to make sure it is thawed in time to unwrap and rinse it the day before Thanksgiving.

Food safety tip: Use a lower refrigerator shelf for thawing your turkey and be extra careful when you remove the thawed bird on the tray. If drips or spills occur, use disinfectant wipes to clean up the spill and discard any foods contaminated by the raw poultry juices.

If you are in a pinch, you can thaw a frozen turkey in cold water, changing the water every half an hour until the deed is done.

The Butterball web site is a great place for all things turkey, including a nifty little calculator for estimating how long it will take to thaw your bird with one of these methods.

Put It In Writing

Write out your menu, including condiments and dessert toppings. Do you have all your ingredients? Whipped cream? Cranberry sauce? Extra ice? If you have to make one more run to the store before the big day, make your list now. How about non-food items like paper napkins and a disposable roaster pan?

Looking at your menu, work out a timetable for roasting your turkey and any other yummy things that have to be cooked. If your guests will be bringing dishes, find out if any of them will need to be heated and for how long.

Remember to allow prep time in your timetable. It takes a while to peel 10 pounds of potatoes!!

Write out or type your timetable in large fonts. I like to slip mine into a page protector and tape it to a cabinet door so it is easy to see even if my hands are full, and doesn’t get moved or covered up by any kitchen helpers. If you typed it, save it on your computer for the next year!

Make Room

Clean out your refrigerator. Be ruthless! If you aren’t serving those leftovers for dinner on clean-out day, go ahead and get rid of them.

Run the dishwasher and empty it out the day before Thanksgiving.

Make extra room on your kitchen counters by removing any appliances or decorative items that you will not be using on T-day. I put mine in the garage temporarily.

Do you have a cooler you can use for beverages, or can you ask a guest to bring one with ice? It would be nice to have the extra room in the refrigerator, and really helpful to have your drink area outside of the kitchen.

Pots, Pans and Dishes

Looking at your menu again, figure out your serving dishes. If any might be dusty from storage, go ahead and wash them.

If you are using special occasion dishes for your table, you may need to wash those, too.

Stack your clean serving dishes in a designated spot on your now uncluttered kitchen counter. Label each dish with a sticky note or scrap paper with the food it is intended to hold. Put your serving spoons there, too. Drape a clean towel over the stack until show time.

Honestly, labeling the serving pieces is so incredibly helpful when you start dishing things up to take to the table and you have guests that want to help, and the noise level in your house is rising …..

Do you have your pots and pans ready for the big day? Consider setting those out with labels, too so you don’t end up switching saucepans or realizing you need a baking sheet that is still under the turkey. The goal is to make it easier on yourself on Thanksgiving day by making most of the decisions now, even what pan to use for heating gravy!

If you are not going to be using disposable plates, go ahead and set your holiday table a day or more in advance. Include your trivets and serving spoons and salt and pepper shakers. Cover it all with a clean bed sheet until your guests are due to arrive. Easy peezy!


True hospitality is cheerfully opening your home and making your guests feel comfortable.

Have you ever been to someone’s house that constantly apologized or made excuses for her house or food or decorations? Did it make you feel like you were there at a bad time?

A frazzled and tense hostess is not welcoming, so please don’t do that to yourself and your guests!

The week before Thanksgiving is not the time to paint, redecorate or scrub the walls behind the refrigerator. Tidy the main living areas, swish the bathrooms and put out clean hand towels, then relax about it. You guests will be fine!

Hall closet stuffed? Take guest coats and lay them on a bed.

Do you have a busy schedule the week of Thanksgiving? Don’t plan to make home-made pies or Grandma’s seven layer Jello mold. Just don’t! You’ll be up all night and totally exhausted, and that’s no fun for anyone.

I promise you that simpler side dishes and store-bought pies will be eaten and enjoyed. And believe it or not, turkey and gravy are just as satisfying eaten off regular dishes as your mother’s wedding china that has to be hand-washed.

Try to make your clean-up as easy as possible.

It’s is not too late to have a lovely and stress-free Thanksgiving with realistic goals and a little last-minute planning. I am wishing that you and yours have a safe and  happy Thanksgiving!

Please share how these Thanksgiving planning ideas worked for you, or any other useful tips! Are there other holiday planning topics you want to hear more about? Please leave your comments below.

Anxious About Terrorism? What You Can Do Now!

Busy women can take affirmative action to prepare for thier family's comfort in the event of an emergency.
Take Heart! Prepare for Your Family’s Comfort

The primary mission of my blog has always been to provide quality content that will support my readers in managing challenging life events. I hope to accomplish this mission by offering organizational and planning concepts that empower women to purposefully rise to any challenge.

The terror attacks in Paris sent waves of shock and concern around the world. As we all continue to offer prayers and support for the Paris victims and their families, we are reminded that terrorism is a grim reality of our world today.

It is distressing to think this could happen close to our home. Even if you live some distance from the location of an event, your family will be affected if there is a terror attack in your region.

I am touched by this Cheyenne proverb:

“A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors or strong its weapons.”

So take heart! Just as we can take steps to prepare for winter storms or hurricane season, there are affirmative actions we can take now to be more in control of our family’s safety and comfort.

Service and Supply Interruptions

After the attacks, the city of Paris was immediately closed down and the residents were ordered to stay home. The borders of the country were closed.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, American planes were grounded for days and interstate highways were closed around Washington and New York. Most businesses in the greater metropolitan areas closed, at least for a day or two, as workers reeled from the collective shock and stayed home to hug their family members.

Don’t wait until the last minute to replace daily necessities. Don’t assume your local store or gas station will always be open for you. Get in the habit of planning a week or two ahead.

Fill up your gas tank. Do it today, and keep it topped off. It only takes a few minutes to pump a quarter tank of gas.

Refill medications at least a week before they run out. Most insurance plans allow you to order refills 10 days before the prescription runs out. Better yet, arrange for long-term medications to be filled in 90 day supplies. Those can be refilled up to 30 days before the supply runs out. Ask your pharmacist if you are unsure about the refill options under your plan.

If you rely on fuel oil or propane for winter heating or cooking, you might want to consider arranging for your delivery now, if you haven’t already. Not only will you be good to go for the season, but you will avoid a huge price jump if things get worse in the Middle East.

Communication Breakdowns

On September 11th , when the attacks occurred my youngest son and I were both in the area of Frederick, Maryland. My oldest son was working in Rockville, and my husband was driving toward Washington, DC to meet with a client in Georgetown.

I worked in a large corporate office, and we alternated between trying to make calls and huddling around live streaming images on computer monitors. Several of my colleagues had family members working at the Pentagon.

None of us could get a call through. Lines were jammed or totally offline. Cell phones, land lines… nothing was getting through.

It was hours before I learned that all my family members were safe. Thankfully, my husband stopped at a hardware store before making it as far as the beltway. Learning of the attacks, he turned around and headed home.

Have a communication plan with your family members. Texting can sometimes work if voice calls won’t go through (and uses less battery power).

Consider having a designated person outside of your area that can be the check-in for your family. Make sure everyone has that number on their phone or in their wallet. In our case, when the Washington DC metro area call lines were jammed, we may have each had a better chance at reaching my brother in Ohio.

Agree in advance who will pick up your children at school if it will be outside normal dismissal.

Comfort Foods

Stock your pantry with easy to prepare foods that are comforting to your family. Aim to keep at least a week’s worth of meals in the house.

Don’t wait until you are completely out to replace your normal supply of basics like milk and bread.

Even if area stores remain open, during times of high stress and uncertainty, who wants to plan meals and go grocery shopping? Give yourself a break for a few days.

Take a few minutes now to jot down a short menu of easy to prepare meals and snacks using shelf-stable or basic ingredients. Make purchasing these items a priority. Chili and cornbread crackers? Macaroni and cheese? How about tuna salad and crackers?

If you cook for someone with special dietary needs, what do you need to have on hand for them? Will you need to stock infant formula or baby foods?

Use and replace your “comfort” meals on a regular basis. It is a huge help to have a go-to meal on hand for busy days, and it will keep your supplies fresh.

Always have a supply of bottled water on hand. The Department of Homeland Security recommends at least a three day supply of one gallon per day, per person.

I like to have the same supply of water for my pets, as well as dry and canned pet foods and enough extra cat litter on hand to last a week or two.

Non-Food Comfort

Think of the things you would hate to run out of if you are already stressed. In my house that includes things like toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags and facial tissues. Keep in mind that paper products get used up faster when everyone is unexpectedly home for a few days.

Some homes will want to have a reserve of special items like feminine hygiene products, baby diapers, or adult incontinence products.

I like to have batteries on hand for all my devices, including remote controls and flash lights.

If you have young children, set aside some games or craft supplies to distract them from worried grownups and distressing news coverage.

Regardless of where you live, the news of terrorist attacks are disturbing, and even frightening. We can’t control what some lunatic might do. But, by making some simple preparations for our home and family, it does let us take back some sense of control. These are things we can do!

For more detailed information about responding to specific threats, check out the U.S. government information site

Do you have concerns about terrorism? Would you like to see more discussion on how we women can take care of our families during an emergency? Please leave your comments below. Thank you!


How To Prevent Sneaky Focus Killers From Wrecking Productivity

Prevent focus killers from ruining your productivity.
Distractions – like shiny objects – can ruin your productivity!

Have you ever noticed how many things way down on your to-do list can get done when you really need to be focusing on your top three? Or one top priority? I know better and you know better, but it happens anyway, and our productivity suffers.

It happened to me this morning. I had scheduled a block of time for writing a specific blog post that – as of this afternoon – remains unwritten.

Rather than make myself crazier trying to get back on that specific topic, an analysis of what wrecked my productivity can serve as a cautionary tale for all of us creative entrepreneurs.

Focus Killer Number One: Multi-Tasking

I still have a full-time day job during the week, and have found that my best time for a productive writing session on weekends is very early, first thing after my coffee.

I knew I needed to write a blog post first thing this morning, before hubby was up and active and the day got away from me. It was in my plan, my top three, and my priority.

But hey, I have a lot of tasks on my to-do list for today, so before I even booted up my laptop I decided to get a few “quick” things done to get the ball rolling.

It seemed so much more productive to begin by sorting laundry and getting the first load in. Multi-tasking is efficient, right?

Then I decided to go ahead and get a shower and wash my hair. Since I was going to need to change my polish later anyway, it made perfectly good sense to strip my polish before jumping into the shower. Likewise sensible to get on my make-up and style my hair so I would already be good to go, even though no one was awake to see me but the cats!

Efficient? Heck no! I should have jumped right in to my writing project without any delays!

Focus Killer Number Two: Social Media

I was just about to head to my desk when the washer beeped alerting me that it was time to hang up the “delicate” stuff and start another load.

Then my phone whistled. I had to see who was Periscoping at that hour of the morning! Still multi-tasking, I watched the scope while hanging up wet laundry to drip dry. Connecting with another viewer, I promised to send her some information on a virtual assistance recommendation.

Holy cow! Look at the time! I could have been done writing that article by now! Get a move on, girl!

Finally at my desk, laptop booted up and word processing application running I am almost ready to go.

Before I forgot, I had to locate the link for the virtual assistant and send it to the lady I met on Periscope this morning. Then my phone whistled again.

It was one of my online girl boss besties!! I can’t miss one of her scopes!! She had epic news to share.

She is a hoot, I was laughing so hard I lost track of time. Then we got to talking about planners, planning supplies, the local availability of planner supplies …. Oh the humanity! My plans for the morning were rapidly sinking under the weight of all those very shiny objects.

I should have silenced my phone.

Focus Killer Number Three: Market Research

This is a fancy way of saying I ended up shopping online instead of writing my article.

While it really is a lame excuse for spending money instead of staying on task for my business, in an abstract sort of way, it was an exercise that underscored a lesson in marketing from one of my favorite business coaches. Doesn’t that sound almost respectable?

In a recent webinar, we discussed that one of the reasons a customer may purchase your product is because the customer doesn’t want to be left out.

I am a mature, responsible woman. I rarely make impulse purchases.

This marketing concept is spot-on.

When my favorite online business gals began discussing different planners and which brands are getting hard to find…. something happened. I wanted to have cool stuff, too! I had already been on the lookout for one of the planners that was mentioned, so it didn’t take much of a push.

Planners and planner supplies are shiny objects. My inner child likes shiny things and she ran amok.

I ran down the planner acquisition rabbit hole with fingers flying on my laptop keyboard before the scope on my phone was even over. And I did score. From two different sources. With free shipping, which, as we all know, mitigates any shopping guilt.

But it was a focus killer. My shopping could have waited!

Wrapping It Up

I did enjoy my connections on social media this morning. My online purchases are within my budget and I’m looking forward to delivery. Still, I would rather have had the time for other things today. Lesson learned!

Work days are easy, I have a routine that is well-established. Days off make it too easy to feel like I’ve got plenty of time to get plenty of tasks done.

That’s when the Focus Killers can getcha!

Next week, I will treat my weekend priority as a priority and do that task first, and ONLY that task until it is completed. Anything else on my to-do list will wait.

What are your focus killers? How do you avoid them or recover from them? Please share in the comments below!

1 2