An Unfortunate Lesson In How Not To Do Customer Service

spa time, how not to do customer serviceI went for a back massage today, in a very well known spa. I actually had a voucher so was using that, and thought I might relax and enjoy the facilities when I was there.

I thought. Unfortunately it clearly wasn’t policy to encourage guests to stick around. Whilst I had a really, really good massage, everything else about the experience was well below par, to put it politely. So I wouldn’t go back, or recommend it. How bad is that?

This was a perfect example of how not to do customer service. And perhaps a reminder that however wonderful your product or service, if you don’t look after your customers they still won’t come back.

So what went wrong?

Well firstly I couldn’t even find it. There was sign in the car park, but once I reached the appointed floor, no signs. Nothing to tell me where to go.. So I went through he only door that actually had anything and found the gym, still no signs. eventually I asked at gym reception to be sent through and to the back.

So reception etc was OK, the treatment was great, except the therapist had cold hands! Like icy cold, how will that help my muscles?

As soon as she had finished I got the up sell, with the recommended items being brought to reception and placed on the desk, despite the fact nobody had asked if I wanted them or told me the price.

I was offered a glass of water afterwards, but not the opportunity to sit down and drink it, that too was brought out to reception after the first sip.

So I was processed, payments rung up, thank you, off you go……

Hang on a minute. They missed a bit. At the time of booking I was told I could use the facilities, and that I would have free parking.

Did anyone even show me where the facilities were? Or give me towel or robe or anything? Did anyone sort out my car park ticket?

Er, no. To all. Not a mention

What a missed opportunity, honestly. We go to spas to be spoiled don’t we? To have a little pampering, and relax.

How easy it could have been to wow me, and have me telling my friends how great it was. Not only was no effort made to impress, simple things that happen at most spas weren’t done. Things like showing me the swimming pool, sauna etc, the changing rooms, giving me a towel. Showing me where I could relax after the treatment, bringing my water there. Letting me peruse the recommended product and packages, not assume I would take them without question.

I think there are things to learn for all of us. If you market yourself a 5* you certainly need to maintain regular decent standards, and at least meet industry norms. An excellent service or product can be cancelled out by not looking after the customer, not ensuring the small things are covered.

And the sad thing is, none of those “small things” cost anything, apart from a little time and attention.

I would hope that a smaller business would not make these mistakes, but if you have staff be sure that they are doing what you would do and treating customers as well as you do yourself. In this case it may be a staff training issue, however it is costing them customers and money.

8 Essential Ways You Can Avoid The Overtiredness Trap

How to avoid the overtired trapDo you ever get that feeling when you are so exhausted you just want to sleep…. only you have all these things still to do?

As a woman running a business of course you will feel tired sometimes. You are busy keeping everything running smoothly and growing your business, not to mention having all sorts of other things to do from different parts of your life, leaving you frequently feeling like you are juggling all the balls in the air.

And just when you think you have everything under control , something happens that tips you over, usually something that you have no control over, some outside influence, and suddenly you don’t have enough time for everything, and the more you try and fit it in the more tired you get, until before you know it you feel exhausted and you find things are starting to slip.

Or often it may just be something as simple as a disturbed nights sleep, or an unplanned late night. Yet it can knock you for six.

If you are overtired sometimes you feel too tired to sleep at all, even when you go to bed, do you ever get that? I have done.

In our current world it is acceptable to be tired and overworked, and seen as strong to push through it and keep going.

But lack of sleep can make you restless, irritable and quite possibly lead to illness. It can also affect your diet and eating habits, as you try and rush meals or eat on the run, and so your health suffers.

So you can get sick because your defences and immune system are lowered when you are run down.

You probably lack energy and force yourself to do things, to keep going. Tiredness affects your productivity and effectiveness, you find you can do simple admin tasks but put off the big, important stuff.

So what is the answer, there are plenty of reasons not to succumb to overtiredness, and I’m sure you can add more. More importantly how do you stop yourself from ending up there in the first place, or how do you move on from it?
Well actually there is a lot you can do and I have complied a few suggestions for you.

Things you can do to help the situation

Eat properly and regularly – its very easy to let eating slip when you are busy, and end up eating on the run or eating convenience or junk food. Changing to a healthier diet and a regular eating plan will definitely help improve the tiredness.

Watch the caffeine and sugar intake – both of these will give you a temporary lift, but later you will end up feeling even worse, so its better to keep them to a minimum and eat healthy snacks.

Acknowledge when you are tired – it may sound simple but its so easy to keep pretending you are OK. Even if you don’t acknowledge it to others, acknowledge yourself.

Sleep when you need it – yes really. If you are tired you get to a point where anything you do becomes ineffective, and you can only really do mundane stuff. So really you are not gaining anything by trying to push through.

I found this out when I used to do BNI breakfast meetings. Where I lived I had to be up around 5.30am to get ready and to the venue in time for the early start. So by about 3.30pm I was literally dropping. So eventually I realised it was better to sleep for an hour then start again than pretend I was working and do nothing productive for the next three hours.

So if you work at home or are able then stop and sleep for an hour or so, then start again. You will feel heaps better and get more done.

Take naps – if you find you are often tired, find a way to incorporate naps into your regular routine. In the summer I take a siesta every day, because I need it, I get up earlier and don’t go to bed earlier to compensate, so siestas are the answer. These Mediterranean types know what they are doing!

Plan your time to do your most important work when you are most effective – if you are tired it is much easier to do mundane routine tasks than more creative and productive work. So keep these jobs until then, and focus on the important things when you feel most awake and energised.

Have a regular routine – if you are tired its easy to let your plans slip. Combat this by having a regular routine, and not just for work. Eating, sleeping, exercise and work tasks. That way you get into a kind of autopilot as you do the same each day.

Take time out for you and to socialise – they say a change is as good as a rest. You can also feel fresher and more energised by doing something different now and again, and taking time to do the things you really enjoy. It gives your brain a rest, and who knows you may even be inspired with new ideas too.

Remember, always be kind to yourself, and what suits you won’t suit someone else, so find your own plan , one that works for you, and then stick to it.

You can change your life starting from today… get some support, or some ideas and guidance, lets chat about it.
Schedule a call with Julia

First published on the Authentic Edge Blog www.authenticedge.co.uk/blog

Who Says Weekdays Are Good?

Don't waste your life wishing it awayAre you on Facebook? Most people I know are, even if they don’t use it much. In fact where I live it is necessary to know what is going on as locally they don’t seem to use real websites much, just Facebook pages.

Anyway, I digress. I am on Facebook, and on the whole I quite like it, its nice to dip in for a few minutes and see what is happening.

What I wanted to write about though is the frequency of those picture posts with things like “Hurrah, its the weekend!”, “Thank God Its Friday”, ” Happy Hump Day” and “Boo, its Monday” and similar phrases.

What is the obsession with days of the week, and the weekend being good and the weekdays being bad?

Isn’t this just a classic example of perception?

Who says Saturday or Sunday is better than Tuesday or Thursday?

Do you really want to wish your life away hoping for it to be a different day of the week?

I know this stems from employees and the work week but even so. If things are that bad, isn’t it time to look for a new job?

Seriously, this obsession with the weekend and wishing your life away amazes and saddens me.

Every day is what you make it, if you decide Monday is a good day I bet you it will be better.

A day is a day, no different to any other day. In this century more so than any, it is not even as though shopping hours vary much, you can access everything you want virtually every day and many things 24/7.

And if you are self employed where does one day end and the next begin? Really? If you work for yourself you have already created more choice, and you choose when you work.

Who says you have to work 9-5, Monday – Friday? And do you anyway? I suspect not.

In many ways this is conditioning. Yet who wants to live their life based on someone else’s thinking from years ago? Not me that’s for sure!

In my view every day is a day, filled with as much or as little possibility and opportunity as you want to attach to it. A work day isn’t “bad” and a non work day isn’t “good”.

Instead of worrying about where in the week you are, why not focus on choosing what you would love to create and enjoy it for what it is.

Forget The Theory – Entrepreneurs Need to Be Practical

Be practical as an entrepreneur - www.authenticedge.co.ukWhat do you think? When you first make the leap and set up your own business you had to learn all about how business worked – didn’t you? Well, if you were a perfectionist type then I expect you did. Or maybe you are someone who has to get it right, and get everything lined up before you start? So you delay because everything isn’t quite right.

You don’t have business cards, and your website isn’t right, oh and you don’t have enough followers on Twitter yet……

Does any of this resonate?

Maybe, maybe not.

It won’t get you far…

But where does it get you if you think like that? Not far is the answer, in reality. You won’t get clients and earn money by sitting home playing with your website or perfecting your business cards. Do you even need them anyway?
At the end of the day to get going and make things happen you just have to get on with it.

Here’s the reality. There is only you, you can’t do everything. So forget what you “should” do and do what you can. Focus on the important stuff first. (And that includes knowing what the important stuff is!)

Wherever you go you will always see articles and book and websites telling you all the theory, and how you should set everything up so it is done properly and effectively.

But, being practical, as I’m sure you are being an entrepreneur, these are written for bigger businesses.

Do it your way

You have to do the best you can with what you have got, without killing yourself in the process. Knowing as I do how entrepreneurs are inclined to overwork, I believe this reminder is very important!

Whilst you need to know where you are going and have your targets and so on, you don’t need a formal business plan in the format you would for a bank. not unless you are taking out a loan anyway.

Do you think that Richard Branson had a formal business plan when he set up Virgin Records? Somehow I don’t think so. He may have had some kind of plan but I don’t think he spent thousands getting some accountant to do a fancy formal plan for him.

Work within your budget

It’s the same with all aspects of setting up and running your business. If you are on a budget, you have to work within it, which will influence the decisions you make.

As an individual you only have so much time so you have to prioritise and do what you need to do – which means what is right for you and your business, and your clients.

And because you will never have time to do it all you have to decide what won’t get done. And this is another way to get practical. Delegate the stuff that you don’t; have tie for. There will be stuff that is not urgent and needing your immediate attention, but needs doing. For many this is things like accounts, admin and maybe social media.

Get creative

And again if you’re on a budget how can you make it happen? You need to find a way that works. Obviously you can build your business and sell more to create cashflow to pay for it, but until then you need to be practical. Maybe you can swap or barter services. Be creative, channel those ideas to something useful as well as towards products and creative thinking.

Adapt to suit

There is plenty of theory out there about how to run your business, and it is based on certain assumptions that may or may not apply to you. The bottom line is the academic stuff is based on medium and large businesses, and they are very different to small business. In fact translating big business advice to a small business can be detrimental, because its not appropriate.

So whilst there is sense in it and definitely things you can learn and use for guidance, always be practical, do what suits your business and your resources. Filter out the good bits and adapt. You will know what works and what doesn’t .

Blog first published on www.authenticedge.co.uk

10 terrific self motivating tips

Guest blog written by Mike Moore

Tips for self motivationNo one can motivate anyone to do anything. All a person can do for another is provide them with incentives to motivate themselves. Here are ten very effective strategies to help you get up and get moving toward actualizing your enormous, untapped potential.

Be willing to leave your comfort zone. The greatest barrier to achieving your potential is your comfort zone. Great things happen when you make friends with your discomfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Wisdom helps us avoid making mistakes and comes from making a million of them.

Don’t indulge in self-limiting thinking. Think empowering, expansive thoughts.

Choose to be happy. Happy people are easily motivated. Happiness is your birthright so don’t settle for anything else.

Spend at least one hour a day in self-development. Read good books or listen to inspiring tapes. Driving to and from work provides an excellent opportunity to listen to self-improvement tapes.

Train yourself to finish what you start. So many of us become scattered as we try to accomplish a task. Finish one task before you begin another.

Live fully in the present moment. When you live in the past or the future you aren’t able to make things happen in the present.

Commit yourself to joy. C.S. Lewis once said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

Never quit when you experience a setback or frustration. Success could be just around the corner.

Dare to dream big dreams. If there is anything to the law of expectation then we are moving in the direction of our dreams, goals and expectations.

The real tragedy in life is not in how much we suffer, but rather in how much we miss, so don’t miss a thing.

Charles Dubois once said, “We must be prepared, at any moment, to sacrifice who we are for who we are capable of becoming.”

10 Ways To Find Inspiration

TFind Inspirationhis list was originally published in a previous newsletter of mine, but I think its worth sharing again.

Here are ten suggestions for finding inspiration when you’re feeling stuck.

TAKE A HIKE
If your head seems full of cobwebs and your can’t think straight, go for an aimless walk. A rhythmic pace helps
you to enter a state of flow and allows solutions to surface – quite literally, a breath of fresh air.

FEED YOUR SENSES
Whether it’s a museum, park or concert, indulge in something you love which will open your mind to creativity. Make the most of your self-employed status and go mid-week when there are no crowds.

KEEP CLIPPINGS
When you read something in a magazine or book that inspires you or makes your think, cut it out or write it down. Keep clippings and notebooks in a ‘inspiration’ file so that when you’re feeling down or stuck, you can dip in at will.

MEET YOUR MENTOR
An older, more experienced peer will have been in a similar situation to yours before, so if you’re really stuck on an idea, talk it over with a mentor or good friend and get a second opinion. To find a mentor, try asking your contacts or your industry association.

DO IT NOW
Be proactive by doing a chore that’s been nagging you for ages – whether it’s sorting through piles of receipts
or clearing out your filing cabinets. It will make you feel organised and clear your head for other tasks.

OFFER A HELPING HAND
Help someone else who needs advice, whether work-related or otherwise. It’s easier to see a solution for other people’s problems and in doing so you activate the problem-solving part of the brain.

READ ABOUT OTHERS’ SUCCESS
Read a biography or watch a programme about someone who has succeeded against the odds, whether it’s a sporting hero or a software millionaire. It’ll inspire you to similar heights.

BACK TO THE FUTURE
Write your five-year plan in reverse: think about where you want to be and work backwards to the present to find your next step.

TALK TO ACQUAINTANCES
Talk to people outside your social and professional spheres, whether it’s your partner’s friend or your neighbour. They may have things to say that could challenge your preconceptions and offer fresh perspectives.

GO TO BED
Hit the mattress in the middle of the day with your loved one. Apparently scientists have proved that adrenaline and seratonin – which can promote inspiration – increase sharply during, and remain high after, lovemaking. Best excuse yet.

(Disclaimer – I didn’t write this list 😉 )

Dancing Lessons For Business

Lessons from dancing for businessAfter several years without dancing regularly I took myself back to salsa lessons when I was in London, and it prompted me into pondering on a couple of things that seem appropriate in the business world too….

Firstly, having a buddy. A friend and I uncovered a mutual love of salsa when chatting on the phone, and were both in the space of wanting to get back into it but not “getting round to it” – as you do…………. So we decided to arrange to go together.
And what this did was make us both accountable, because like anything you haven’t done for a while, the hardest thing is getting yourself there. (The main reason I hadn’t been since I moved away from my regular haunts).

And this is so true in the business world too, by having a buddy you really serve each other, both in supporting and holding accountable. By connecting regularly with others I stay on track and am regularly getting coaching type input so keeping me moving forward on this journey. I get this from mastermind groups, as well as one to one connections.

The other thing that has jumped out at me the last couple of weeks is to stay out of your head! Dancing works best when you are in flow, the role of the lady in salsa is to follow the lead of the man, therefore thinking is not required. Yet going to lessons where the moves are quite complicated, for the first time in many years, and being very out of practice, I found myself constantly watching to see what the next move was and make sure I had it right, and one of the guys, quite rightly , told me I didn’t need to watch the instructor, I just needed to keep in time with the music and follow his lead.

Dancing when you just flow with the music and have fun is easy and smooth, just like being in your heart and following what you love, dancing when you are constantly thinking and worrying what comes next becomes hard work……. hmmm, isn’t that just like our egos? !! How often do you do that in your business life?

I find I am seeing these metaphors all over the place, more and more. Which I guess is good as it’s a constant reminder of where I want to be compared to where I will be if I stay stuck in that stuff 🙂

Time Out Ladies, please… !

Take a break from work to rechargeAs I sit down to write this I am thinking about the ladies I have spoken with recently and what is going on in their lives and business.

I am finding that the ladies I am working with are invariably going through some kind of change in their business, and usually that means growth. It may be re-launching, restructuring, setting up a second business or taking the plunge and leaving employment to take a part time business full time. All different circumstances yet with similar patterns running through them.

And away from the business focus and the growth one of the keys things I find I am flagging up is the need for some “me” time.

It’s all too easy isn’t it when you have lots to do and get all excited about the new project, and have ideas buzzing around your head. You get caught up in the flow, which is great, you get productive, you make things happen.

Unfortunately you often forget about yourself. As a woman you are great at looking after others, and you typically put them first. And I find this can extend to the business too, its your baby after all.

Is this you? Are you really busy doing stuff, having fun yet slowly wearing yourself down?

Or are you taking regular time out, down time away from the business? Because we all need it for many reasons. Not just for a change of scene, it’s great to recharge your batteries, step back and look at things from a different perspective. Often when you are doing something else a fantastic idea will pop into your head, because you have allowed some space for it by switching off for a bit.

And it’s good to physically be in a different space too, whether you prefer to walk in the park or work out at the gym, exercise helps to keep your energy up and keep on top of things, And getting some fresh air helps clear your head and allows for clearer thinking as you will be more alert.

On a practical level giving yourself a break can help with your concentration, and if you are office based and looking at a computer a lot you will be doing your body a favour by taking some exercise, changing position and giving your eyes a rest!

There are all sorts of things you can do to shift your energy and focus on you for a bit, and what you choose will depend on you. You may exercise or meditate, go for a walk, or have a massage or get your hair done. There are no hard and fast rules, and there is no right way.

All I would say is remember you, look after number one so that you have the energy and focus to build and run your business without too much stress or exhaustion. And you will ultimately feel better and think more clearly too.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and would like some support in keeping you on track why not schedule a call with Julia?

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

This weeks wise words were originally shared by Neale Donald Walsch.

It is only This Moment that counts, This Moment that matters. Dwelling on anything else is pointless.

Yesterday is gone, if not forgotten, and tomorrow is not yet here, so why waste precious time and mental energy focused on either?

What is going on right now? That is the question. And what can you do Right Now to make Now better? Make each Now better and the future will take care of itself, while the past will not matter.

Coming across this mindset being expressed more and more these days. And it is very powerful. We waste far too much energy worrying about what’s long gone or what might be. I know I have done, though I’m definitely learning to leave it all alone. And I can vouch for life being easier when you do, if you don’t give something attention it has no energy and soon disappears off the radar. 🙂

6 Steps From Clarity to Cashflow

Clarity to cashflowHaving had number of conversations with people about this it feels right to put the concepts down in a blog so you can have them to hand to refer to. So here we are, your 6 steps from Clarity to Cashflow.

1. Get clear on what you are creating
It may seem obvious yet is all too often missed or glossed over. The first thing is to take some time out to get really clear on your big vision. Not how much money you want or which car you want to drive either. What is the impact you want to have on the world? What is your business here to do?

I recommend taking a look at what is important to you and how you want your life and business to be. Ideally get connected to your inner guidance in whatever way works for you. This may be just checking in with your intuition if you’re in the habit of using it, or it may be journaling or meditating. There are plenty of ways to do this.

2. Identify your market
Once you have a clear picture of your big vision it will be a lot easier to identify your market. This is the market it is true for you to serve in fulfilling this vision. Who is your ideal client? What do they do? Where do they hang out? What do you do for them? Get really clear on these things, perhaps write down a description of your ideal client too, so you have an image in your mind.

3. Identify what you will offer them
Clearly this will vary depending on the nature of your business. The idea is to have your target client in mind, be aware of what their problem is and provide something that is a solution to their problem.

Maybe you need to spend some time finding out about their problem, doing some research, or maybe you know this already. Maybe it’s obvious from the nature of the client. Once you know this look at your services and products and your skills to see how you can best package them up to give a good and appealing solution.

4. Identify the lowest effort targets
What I mean here is the easy to reach potential clients. Make life easy for yourself and start close to home. Start with the people who know you, whether they are existing clients, people in your circles, people who hang out where you do. In amongst these people must be some potential clients for you and your new offer.

I suggest making a list so it is easy for you to just work through and tick them off, it also gives you a focus and you don’t have to worry about where to start with the next step!

Be careful not to prejudge too, it so easy to think you know what people want, and they will often surprise you, so leave any preconceptions at home.

5. Reach out to these connections
Reach out to the people you have targeted in step 4 and offer them something. It may well not be the full package you have created. At this stage you are introducing them to what you do so think about how you can give them a taster.

What can you invite them to try that might bring them back for more?

6. Sign them up
Ok you might combine 5 & 6 in one step, it depends how you work and what business you are in. Either way the end result is to have your targeted ideal clients start working with you or buying your stuff.

And once they do you have new cashflow. Congratulations!

And one caveat, its unlikely you will do all this in a couple of hours. I spend a whole day with clients just on step 1, and we take 3 months to work through the whole process. Take some time out to really get clear at the start then you can implement the later steps.

Good luck and let me know how you get on…..

If you would like to talk to Julia about her 90 day program Overwhelmed to Overpaid: Your 90 Day Plan to Create More Clarity, Clients & Cashflow please feel free to schedule a call to discuss it further.

Inspiration in action

Let your inspiration flow and guide youAs I sit down to write this blog it’s worth noting that today I had already planned to be working ON my business, no clients just writing and developing new programs.

And first thing this morning, when I was out walking the dogs I started getting ideas and inspiration. Words, ideas for programs, snippets to make up parts of the program and areas to focus on. I was actually dictating on my phone when I was out. What a great way to kick off the day!

Here’s where life happens though. Do you ever find yourself in the same situation, absolutely buzzing with thoughts and ideas, feeling you need to capture them before you lose them?
I bet you do.

Make it happen
Its more than just making a note of them though, its creating space to implement them. And when you have planned a creative day honouring that decision for you and your business. That gives us momentum, time working on the business is just as important as client facing time. Otherwise what happens when your current projects run their course, when existing clients are at the end of their agreed work with you? You end up starting again almost.

Stuff gets in the way..
This is where distraction is the big risk, because it oh so easy to just do those little jobs that need doing. “I’ll just do x,y,z then I’m free for the rest of the day to follow up my ideas”

NO!

This is what happens so often in our lives, and I know I fall for it, that was my challenge this morning, I had a list of jobs that need attention, “things to do” . Some admin, some money coming in to the bank to check, some bills to pay. It would be very easy to do them first, but I was very aware that had I done so it would have distracted me big time, the chances are in my case I wouldn’t have stopped doing odd jobs before lunchtime.

And by getting distracted like this it would have taken all the excitement & energy away, I wouldn’t have had the same buzz if I put the ideas aside to pick up this afternoon. In fact I may not have gone near them today at all, and then they would be relegated to the future “to do” list.

You have time
The bottom line is there is time later on, enough time to do the odd jobs, later on in the day. As long as I get to it during working hours I can check the bank and do payments this afternoon, the world won’t end if I do my admin tomorrow.

This is about taking inspired action, following your heart and staying in flow. And staying with your plan.

Act on it
So here is my message and call to action for you today:

Act whilst you have the inspiration and energy, act before it fizzles out.

As Nike says Just Do It!

If you are struggling with prioritising and would like to schedule a Strategy Session just send an email to ss @ ae8.biz to arrange a complimentary chat.

Tips to Shift Procrastination

Do it now! Beat procrastinationAs promised following on from the last blog here are a few tips to help beat procrastination for those who have tendencies towards it.

In terms of planning for your business ask yourself a question like “What can I, and only I, do which will give superior results?”

Make a list of these things – these are the things you should concentrate on.

These are going to be the activities that are referred to as ‘working ON your business’, i.e. strategic business activities that help to create that brighter future, as opposed to ‘working IN your business’, i.e. the day-to-day activities necessary to get the job done.

Here are a few ideas to shift your focus.

  • Have a big focus.
    Its always worth having a big vision and keeping it in mind
  •  

  • Use tools like vision boards and screensavers to keep your big vision in mind
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  • Always consider whether things will move you towards your end goal
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  • Only do what is relevant
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  • Delegate what you don’t enjoy
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  • Delegate things which are not best use of your time
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  • Employ a cleaner, and a gardener if relevant to you
  •  

  • Learn to say no!
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  • However you feel, just start – its amazing how effective this is
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  • Break things down into small actions
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  • Reward yourself for completing things
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  • Use a timer, decide to work for an hour on a certain thing, then take a break
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  • Plan your work
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  • Set aside times when you can not be interupted
  •  
    This is by no means a comprehensive list and I’m sure you can add many more suggestions. At the end of the day its about finding what works for you. And remember, often the most important things in our lives are not the most urgent.