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How designing your ideal week can increase your productivity (and sanity).

business, productivity, systems

“You have a choice in life. You can either live on-purpose, according to a plan you’ve set. Or you can live by accident, reacting to the demands of others. The first approach is proactive; the second reactive.” — Michael Hyatt I love that quote by Michael Hyatt. I had googled “design ideal week” and stumbled upon his post: How to better control your time by designing your ideal week. I’ve been planning a week ahead  of my schedule for the last year or so… but what I hadn’t really realized is that I wasn’t really sticking to the schedule I had set out for myself, and still always felt busy. My weekly ideal schedule had become more of a pipe dream, and I was still operating in reaction mode. Finally after stumbling upon Michael’s post, I had a much clearer idea of how to create a framework for my week that would empower me to feel more focused by theming days of the week, and even parts of the day. SO simple, I know. Some of you have been doing this for ages and you’re already a pro, and some of your who saw my schedule said “woah, that’s so rigid, I need more flexibility!” Here’s the thing: this structure GIVES me way more flexibility. This allows me to be in proactive mode. Structure enables flexibility I do not naturally conform to structure; structure is not something that comes easily to me (I know some of my students might tell you otherwise). It’s something I study over and over again, so that I can find the environment that enables me to thrive naturally. What I realized since launching Digital Strategy School is that my schedule had become way too unpredictable. Students were able to book their sessions with me almost any time and any day of the week, provided my calendar was empty. This would sometimes result in weeks with 2 meetings, followed by weeks with 8 meetings, sometimes...

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Proposals, products, process, and workflow: Interview at Nusii.com

life, productivity, systems

“If ever there was an example of a design entrepreneur, then Marie Poulin is that example. She’s already enjoyed a successful freelance career, working with clients that most would give parts of their anatomy to collaborate with. But now Marie is embarking on a different path, the lesser traveled road of products. Marie recently took the time to tell us all about it. Grab a coffee and enjoy the interview. You’ve gone from freelance designer to multi-product entrepreneur. What prompted the change and what have been some of the biggest challenges?” Read the full interview over at: http://nusii.com/blog/marie-poulin...

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Why you need to design the experience of working with you

behind the scenes, case study, systems

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to work with you, from your client’s perspective? From the first email, to the content revisions, to your invoicing and hand-off package, have you thought about how your clients experience working with you, whether they are delighted or inspired, frustrated or confused? Often designers don’t realize how their communication throughout a project impacts their client’s experience. And client experience is the one thing you have to get right, because business is all about people, and you can’t build a business from unhappy clients! Delight your clients, and not only will they return, but they’ll tell their friends. All designers experience hiccups at some point in the design process; it’s inevitable. They don’t teach this stuff in design school after all! One way to differentiate yourself in a crowded market is to strategically and thoughtfully craft your client’s experience of working with you. You have to design the experience of working with you, just as you would design a website. In my program, Digital Strategy School, each designer (or developer) takes a good hard look at their process, from the first client contact, to final sign off, and maps it out. From this process, some designers realize that they don’t really have a set process. Others notice glaring omissions or opportunities. Having trouble getting sign-off on final mockups? Have trouble getting your proposals approved? Are you sending 10 emails back and forth before getting a client’s approval to begin a project, or to get your first payment? Do you projects grow in scope throughout the process, leaving you underpaid and resentful? Are you letting your client know what you expect of them during the process (and when)? That last point is one of the most important. I would venture to bet that most failed projects tend to be a result of not setting expectations for your client. How can a process map help...

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Interview with Natasha Vorompiova of Systematic Success

business, systems

Hey look, it’s my first video interview! I want to introduce you to someone who has had a great influence on my business in the 8+ months: Natasha Vorompiova of Systematic Success. I had such a great time in her program, streamlining all of my business systems week by week. Here we chat a bit about systems, what I took away from the program, and how you can turn pain points into opportunities. Systematic Success is part online program, part mentoring, part forum. If you are considering taking Natasha’s program, I highly recommend considering opting for her premium version, where you actually get some one-on-one time with her. The course closes June 12th. If you know your systems need some love, seriously, do it. Every month or so, i go back and re-listen to our initial kick off call because I got so much value out of it. She helped spark some ideas that I had put on the backburner, and helped me give them new life! I am a proud affiliate for this program, because I had so much fun and learned so much from the whole experience. And of course, I’ve learned to love and appreciate and even TAME my systems. Even if you don’t sign up for her program, do yourself a favour and visit her blog, Systems Rock. She gives away a ton of value every week, and even has a fabulous (free) Happy Clients...

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Is your business in fire-killing mode?

business, systems

“a life’s mechanical functioning is a result of the systems that compose it.” – Sam Carpenter I’ll admit it. I’ve been in fire-killing mode —gulps with embarrassment— for years. I didn’t fully realize it, at least not completely until early last year. You know when you familiarize yourself with a concept, or a word, and then you start seeing it everywhere? Yeah, for me, that was SYSTEMS. I was a one-woman operation, and yet making one small change in my business felt like trying to turn the Titanic around. If I was so small and nimble, why was it taking so long for decisions I made in my business to show up? Why were projects always taking longer than anticipated? Why had I not been able to take a vacation in 3 years? Why was I working every evening and weekend with no end in sight? Why was every project coming in a last minute emergency? And most importantly, why was that last project such an epic disaster? To clarify, the website and brand turned out gorgeous. But the client interaction? It was sour. I nearly quit a few weeks before launch, and chose to send a carefully crafted email instead. (I had 2 different respected friends help me with this very difficult email. Both friends had also warned me to get out of the project months earlier, but I felt I was in too deep to turn around). It was the only time in the history of my business where I launched a project for a client and we never spoke again after launch. The project went so far out of scope, that I was embarrassed to even think about how little I earned compared to the work put in. I had never poured so much of my time and energy into a project only to feel so little… reward. What the F? It was the project that made me question everything about my life and business. This was January 2013, and I told...

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