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You Have Time, You Just Don’t Know It // eps 53 #inthelab

I was going to start this blog with a quote about how precious time is, but after a quick Google search for “time quotes” that seemed kind of unnecessary. Just about every majorly quotable person has said something about time and how we use it (or don’t use it) and it seems pretty clear that we’re all on the same page: Time is the most valuable, fleeting commodity we have and, much like Bill Murray movies, there never seems to be quite enough of it. We all marvel at that select group of high-functioning individuals who seem to be able to achieve so much with the exact same 24 hours afforded to us every day. Perhaps my favourite response to “I don’t have time” comes from Gary Vaynerchuck. There’s some language that’s a little NSFW, but the sentiment is real: Everyone has time, stop watching f***ing Lost.

Now, does this mean you should live your life like a non-stop automaton, never allowing yourself a second for personal growth or relaxation? No. But it does highlight the importance of taking real stock of how much of your time is spent inefficiently, probably without you even knowing it. Now I’ve never been a big fan of the “self help” mentality, but over the past few weeks I have challenged myself to follow three things to make better use of my time and so far I gotta tell you, they’re helping a lot.

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1. Stop Procrastinating

As an avid, life-long procrastinator I know full well that this is easier said than done, but completing tasks immediately as opposed to letting them pile up can take a mountain of stress off your shoulders and save you time in the long run. Things always seem to take longer when you leave them until the last possible minutes. Start with small things. Wash a dish right after you use it. Make a phone call you need to make when you think of it, not a few hours later. You’d be amazed at how these small behavioral patterns will eventually form broader habits that will save you time.

2. Identify your “Peak Times”

I have never been, and will likely never be, a morning person. Between the hours of 9 and 10:30 am I might get a half hour of real work done on a good day. My most productive hours fall between about 7 and 9:30 pm after I’ve worked out and had a few hours to wipe my brain clean from the rest of the day. This is when I get the most work done, so this is when I work the most. It seems logical, but I’m sure you’ve felt it. The restless dread that comes from knowing you have the motivation to do something but convincing yourself that outside of your nine to five isn’t “work time”. Figure out at what point during the day you’re likely to achieve the most and DO IT. You’ll find yourself getting three hours of work done in one simply because of your mental state.

3. Make a Checklist

Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and actually writing out exactly what you need to get done in a given week is just what the disorganized monkey in your brain (don’t kid yourself, we all have one) needs to find a track and stay on it. The more detailed and step-by-step the list, the quicker you will accomplish the task at hand. Imagine you’re putting together Ikea furniture if that helps. With a few vague illustrations and a general idea of what the thing is suppose to look like, you’ll probably be able to put something resembling a dresser in a few days. Throw in some actual detailed instructions and you’ll have that puppy done in an hour.

Write yourself better Ikea instructions.

Well there you have it, my three ways of skinning the cat that is the average work week. I can’t imagine a point in the foreseeable future when any one of us will get more that our allotted 86,400 seconds in a day, but what we do get is to choose how we manage those seconds in order to get the most out of our day and ultimately, our lives. Time is precious and, much like change in the couch cushions, we typically have more of it than we think. It’s just a matter of believing that and knowing where to look when the pizza guy arrives.

Read more from Conrad Hewitt.

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6 Ways To Make Your Website More Trustworthy

Have you ever heard about a company and look up their website to find what looks like a Chimpanzee’s art project in MS Paint? Five years ago you could get by without a website and still do business just fine. Today very few companies can get by without having something resembling their brand online.

Today just having a website doesn’t suffice. If Google can’t find your website you’re not going to acquire search traffic. If you’re not putting anything worth while on your website no one’s going to care (no your newsletter doesn’t count as something people care about).

People buy from people and companies they know, like and trust. Here are six things you can do to make your website stand out and be more trustworthy.

1. Have your contact info (e-mail and phone number) very easy to find on every page. Make it easy for people to ask a question. If it’s difficult to find your contact info it feels like you don’t want me to contact you. Unless of course you in fact don’t want people to contact you ignore this one and move on to two.

Display phone number on your home page

2. Give your “About Us” page some love. Of the websites analytics I’ve seen, the About UsStrategy Lab Regina About Us Page page is by far the most popular page other than the home page. Your potential customers want to see who you are before they do business with you. The more the can find out about you before you meet the better. Lots of pictures and video if at all possible.

3. Have blog posts that get comments, Retweets, Likes, Shares, etc. The more social shares and comments a website has, the more you know people actually give a damn about what they’re writing about.

4. Have links to your company/personal Twitter accounts, Facebook Pages, Google+ Pages, Pinterest Pinboards, LinkedIn Pages. But only on the very important caveat of “if thou shall keep a link to a social network on thy website, be certain to stay active on thy social network”.

Social Media Icons

5. Display badges of associations, affiliated websites, and awards you have won. If you’re a home builder a link to the Home Builder’s Association google-analytics-qualified-individual-usermakes a lot of sense. Being on the AdAge Power 150 or completing a course in Google adds a lot of credibility to your company. As long as it doesn’t seem sleazy or to cheesy, include your Best Employer award, Your Customer Service Award, Your JD Power & Associates, heck if you win a Juno, put er up! If you’re winning awards you must be doing something right, right? If you’re associated with websites that add to your credibility ensure images and links to those sites are visible.

6. Include testimonials either on the home page or one click away. People often hide their testimonials or keep them on a page deep in their website. If you’re as good as you say you are, other people will say really nice things about you. Put what they say on your homepage. There’s no more powerful marketing than a recommendation from someone with authority.

 

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4 Super Simple How-Tos on Using WordPress (with screen shots)

wordpress-oldschool-logoWe here at Strategy Lab are big fans of WordPress. It really is the cats pajamas when it comes to building a valuable online presence. Cost effective, beautifully designed websites with a backend so simple a chimpanzee could update it. Yeah, that’s pretty simple hey?

The majority of the time when you’re in WordPress it’s because you need to:

1. Publish a blog post

2. Upload a photo
3. Embed a video

4. Update a page

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Think You Suck At Writing? 15 Articles To Help You Become A Better Blogger

Think You Suck At Writing? 15 Articles To Help You Become A Better Blogger

Though Saskatchewan and Regina may not be the blogging mecca we all predicted it would be, there are still many talented writers here (and many more in the making).  As an organization or individual, if you wish to grow your brand online whatsoever, Creating content is inevitable, you may as well start sooner than later.

If you take writing seriously you’re always looking for ways to get better.  The more you read, the better understanding you have of what makes a great blog and what doesn’t.  Below are some of the best posts on writing and blogging I’ve stumbled upon.  If YOU have some great articles on writing you’ve come across, don’t be afraid to leave a link in the comment below.

Enjoy.

1.  Copyblogger is like the Wayne Gretzky of blogging, here’s a great 5 step formula:  The Simple 5-Step Formula for Effective Online Content

2.  Another from Copyblogger, this one is a lot of little ideas that may help you.  73 Ways to Become a Better Writer

3. From Mitch Joel, a piece of what a blog actually should be.  He’s from Canada, he’s smart, read it.  What Is A Blog? The Question That Won’t Go Away

4.  For any writer trying to improve his or her writing needs to read this.  You’d be silly not to.  The Two Most Import Words in Blogging

5.  Ira Glass On Creativity (or, The Gap Between Our Taste And Our Work…) – Ira Glass hosts one of my favorite Podcasts, This American Life, he’s a brilliant story teller.  One of the best of our time.  Ira Glass On Creativity (or, The Gap Between Our Taste And Our Work…) Read more