Thursday, November 1, 2012

Start Your Own Mailing List Business

Printed as news & information only
Selling mailing lists can prove to be a profitable sideline to any mail order business. Many dealers rely on "direct mail" to promote their goods or services. They are always interested in good, fresh prospects. The most popular classifications of names are "Opportunity Seekers", "Cash Customers" and "Mail Order Dealers". Mail order dealers are the easiest names to obtain. To get them,, all you have to do is copy the names & addresses of advertisers from current mail order trade publications. For a good selection of mail order magazines and newspapers, and answer ads for "Big Mails".
"Opportunity Seekers" are those that are looking for ways to earn extra income. "Cash Customers" are simply those that have made purchases.
Never copy somebody else's lists. This could involve you in "copyright infringement", a federal offense. Also, you could be duplicating old, stale lists. To be successful, your names & addresses must be fresh and accurate. This will keep your customers coming back again and again. To start, you need a computer or someone to type the names for you. Look in your Yellow Pages under "Secretarial Services". Or, contact mail order dealers who sell names. Many of them will do your typing at reasonable rates. Another suggestion is to contact the typing teacher of your local high school or business college. Students love to earn spending money-and it's good practice for them, too.
The best way to have the names typed is across the page. Use white paper and a fresh black or red typewriter ribbon-never blue. Each 8 1/2" x 11" page will easily hold 50 names. Each page should also be carefully coded in either upper corner as to the page number, classification and date typed. Use any code you wish, but one of the easiest is like this: "3CC10169". This means page 3, cash customers, typed October 16, 1999.
The date is extremely important. People change addresses rapidly in this country. Names more than 6 months old may be outdated. After this period of time, it is best to throw these names away. Or, you can make a "follow-up" mailing to each name on your lists. Send these letters first class with your return address plainly visible. Those that are "nixies" (undeliverable for one reason or another), should be deleted. Instead of typing the complete corrected list over again, you can have replacement names typed on a separate piece of paper. Then carefully cut out and paste a replacement name over each name that is no longer usable.
After the names are neatly typed,, take them to your printer. It will cost you about 3 cents to 4 cents to have each sheet printed, if you order 100 copies at a time. This means that every 100 copies of each page will cost you between $3 and $4, but can be worth $100.00 to $300.00 -depending upon what you decide to charge per 100 names. The best way to establish the "going price" is to check the ads of other mailing list dealers in mail order trade publications. Never charge the most, or the least. The middle of the road is always best.
To promote your new mailing list service, run ads like this: FREE 50 fresh names of Opportunity Seekers! Free for long self-addressed stamped envelope! (Your name & address)". Ads like this will save you postage and envelope costs.
When orders come in from your free list, also include a price list of other names you have for sale. Somewhere on your price list, say something like "GUARANTEED DELIVERABLE! We supply 10 free names for every one that is returned!" This will cinch the sale, keep your customers happy and coming back for more!
And for every customer that answers your ads and/or buys names from you, you have another name to add to your
mailing lists!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

12 Tips For A Successful File Clean

1. Select the day for your "File Clean-Out Day" carefully. Choose a time when office demands are at their lowest.
2. Announce the day well in advance. Make certain that everyone understands they are expected to participate. Designate specific hours for beginning and ending the day.
3. Assign one person as Coordinator. Choose someone who has good rapport with the staff and is good with details.
4. Hire temporary employees to answer the telephones. Instruct staff to notify them if there are specific calls they need to answer. Encourage staff to take only emergency calls.
5. Provide large trash receptacles, trash bags, marking pens and labels. Make arrangements for extra recycling boxes.
6. Notify the building maintenance crew that there will be extra trash on that day. Engage their cooperation to move heavy boxes, trash barrels, etc.
7. Encourage everyone to wear comfortable clothes. Set an example by doing so yourself.
8. Serve a simple quality lunch for everyone. This will encourage communications among staff about what needs to be done.
9. Pass out "What To Do If..." flyers at the beginning of the day. This hand-out should describe the procedure for the day, where to get supplies, and who to contact if there is a problem. Make any existing retention guidelines available to appropriate departments.
10. Encourage the use Post-It® notes on the outside of file cabinets to indicate what further action is required, i.e., "Discuss with...," "Move to...," "Type labels," etc., and follow up to see action is accomplished by agreed upon time.
11. Gather together 30 minutes before the designated ending time. Ask all participants to fill out evaluation forms regarding their experience during the day. Ask questions such as:
A. What questions do you have as a result of cleaning out your files?
B. How much more time do you need to finish this job?
C. How can we improve our next File Clean-Out Day?
12. Discuss the evaluation forms submitted by the participants with the File Clean-Out Day Coordinator, and determine what steps to take next, and when. Communicate the results of this meeting to the staff.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A New Tool for an Old Job

Quick! Can you find your homeowner's insurance policy? How about that warranty you bought for your television last year? Would you know where to begin looking to find your child's birth certificate? Even more important, if your home were suddenly destroyed due to some natural disaster, would you be able to present your insurance agent with a list of your entire home inventory?
If you spend precious time looking for important papers around your house, you're not alone! Research shows that the average person spends 150 hours per year--almost one month--looking for information. And in spite of the myth of a paperless society, statistics show there is now more paper than ever before.
While the importance of being able to find information in an office environment is obvious, it's easy to ignore the importance of being able to find information at home. Vital personal documents can clutter countertops and file cabinets. You end up with a disorganized mess that causes headaches and frustration later when you can't find a specific piece of paper you desperately need!
If this scenario sounds all too familiar, don't worry. Thanks to today's technology there is finally a way to clear the clutter and keep an accurate inventory of everything you own--the item type, room it's used in -- even its value, etc.
In the past, there were only four things you could do with paper: toss it, stack it, file it the traditional way, or convert it to electronic form using a scanner. Now a fifth option is available--a software program that allows you to keep your information in paper form in your filing cabinet while using the incredible search power of the computer to find anything you want in five seconds or less. In other words, you can do an Internet- like search of the contents of your own filing cabinet, as well as other storage ages of your house!
Taming the Paper Tiger® software  is based on methodology described in the books by Barbara Hemphill. It utilizes one simple principle: Today's mail is tomorrow's pile. Research shows that 80% of the stuff we keep, we never use! Instead of starting with old piles, getting discouraged, and quitting, you can create a new system starting with today. As you need information from your old "system," you can incorporate it into The Paper Tiger system - or eventually it will be old enough you will feel comfortable throwing it away.
In addition to using the program for eliminating the search for papers, you can use it to organize other resources too - audio and video tapes, computer diskettes, CDs, your wine collection - even boxes in the attic. Just type in "Halloween" - and in seconds you'll know just where to look for that Batman costume!
A simple-to-use, up-to-date filing and storage system will simplify your life and bring you peace of mind. . The next time someone says "Where's the...?" you'll be totally prepared!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Organizing Your Electronic Files

Have you ever sat in front of your computer looking for a document - knowing it was there - the question is: "Where?" The answer gets amazingly complicated if the document is an attachment someone sent to you from someone else's e-mail account!
In addition to organizing the additional paper that results from our new technology, we now also have to organize the technology itself. Did you know that 80-95% of the information we work with daily is generated by email and electronic files?
How Computer Filing Works
Your computer is basically an electronic filing cabinet. This is true regardless of what kind of operating system your computer uses, what kind of graphical interface it uses to show you how things are organized, what tools are available to you, and what kind of words or icons it uses to identify and describe the features of those tools. Whether you use a Windows based program or a Macintosh, the principles of organizing the programs and the information are basically the same.
The problem with computers is that the information isn't organized according to how we work and think. It is organized by format or application source (email, documents, web pages, contacts, etc.). Yet we comprehend by subject, person, company, project, and some other criteria appropriate to the work we do.
What many computer users overlook is that with today's technology we all have the advantages of the 255-character file name, which can be a combination of key words and phrases! This feature, plus the search capability of the computer, gives you access to a powerful organizing tool which can save you hours of time looking for or recreating information which already exists!
"Today's Mail is Tomorrow's File" One of my overriding Paper Tiger principles is "Today's mail is tomorrow's pile." How do you apply this to your computer? If you have a computer full of unidentifiable files, and you waste more time than you can afford looking for what you need, the easiest way to get yourself out of the quagmire is to start over!
What does that mean? Ignore all your old files! Design your new computer-filing system, using the principles I am going to describe. Then re-file your old files into the new system as you need them or, back them up on some other media, or delete them.
How do you design an effective computer-filing system? First, remember one of the most important (and neglected) principles of organizing computer files: A computer's value is that it allows you to use a file again - but only if you can find it again! Sometimes you may simply want to print another copy. Other times, you may want to update or change the document in some way, or excerpt parts of it to create a new document. In any event, your key to success in finding the information you need is keywords!
Setting Up Your Computer-Filing System
The first step to success in easy file retrieval is to point all files into one directory. Windows created "My Documents" for that purpose - but you may create another directory. In addition to making it significantly easier to retrieve information you need, this technique provides another major benefit. It's much simpler to back up your data for archives or for transfer to other locations.
So here's my system -- or it was - until I discovered another great productivity tool (see sidebar): I use My Documents. Then I create a subdirectory for each of the computer programs I use, such as Word, Excel, Power Point, Paper Tiger, Access, QuickBooks, etc.
If you don't keep many electronic files, you can ignore the option of creating subdirectories and keep all your files in one directory. But if you have lots of files, that would be like tossing all your tools in your garage and then spending hours looking for a screwdriver!
In addition, you can create additional subdirectories for projects, clients, or categories of work. But be careful - this can get you in trouble. For example, if I create a subdirectory for Clients, and a subdirectory for Articles, and then write an article for a client, where do I file it? The fewer directories, the fewer places to look - and you'll soon see how keywords will allow you to find any file in your computer in a few seconds!
Note: If you're working on a networked computer, you may have a choice of multiple drives. Your organization may already have made this decision for you of which drive to use. For example, all files of mutual business interest or used by a single division of the business may be filed on one drive, while employees' private work files may be filed on another.
In any event, don't make your strategy too complicated. It would, for example, probably be more confusing than helpful to send separate projects to separate drives, when there's space for all of them on the same drive, especially if they're all related to the same role or client in your work life.
The Power of Keywords In the early days of computers and DOS, files had to be named with eight letters and a 3-character extension. As a result, we got into the habit of creating shorthand for naming documents. The problem (as with paper files) is that often we don't think of the same name every time we look for the document. Fortunately, we don't have that limitation anymore! The good news is that you now have up to 255 characters to name a file - and the name can be a combination of words and phrases.
For example, when I am writing this article, I save it in My Documents/Word. I name it: Organizing Your Computer Files, article, 2003, website, DJ Watson, editor. Any of those words could be helpful to me when I, or someone else, try to find the file years from now.
In other words, to determine how to name a file, use the same technique as the one for paper files: Ask yourself, "If I want this file again, what word will I think of first?" Enter that word first, and then any other word or phrase that might help you retrieve that file. You can separate the identifying words with commas or semicolons. (Some punctuation marks and symbols are not allowed.)
Finding Your Electronic File - in 5 Seconds or Less!
So let's say I'm out of town and my assistant needs to find this article. She can go to the Start Menu, Search, My Documents and type in any of the words I used to describe the article - voila! It's there - in seconds!
My favorite electronic coup: An editor of a banking publication calls to say they would like an article for their newsletter (today, of course!). I do a search on "Article" and instantly I have a list of every article in my computer. I scan the list quickly and see an article I wrote for a real estate newsletter, which I can easily adapt - in a fraction of the time if would take me to write a new article!
Information is power - if you can find it when you need it! (And you'll really feel smug when others can find it too!)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Technology Is Not a Substitute for Organization

Technology is changing business for everyone -- from small home- based businesses to mega multi-national corporations. Whether you are inspired or threatened by those changes, they are here to stay, or more accurately, to continue changing. You cannot only survive these changes, but turn them into exciting opportunities by applying some basic organizing principles.
Not many years ago, getting organized was an option. Today technology has made it a necessity for three reasons: Today we have more to organize than ever before. Not only did the computer not give us the paperless age, it created more. In addition, we now have to organize the technology itself. Computers, fax machines, cellular phones, and on-line services enable us to do more -- and require us to do more. The speed of the microchip doubles every 18 months -- with no end in sight.
Secondly, as a result of the economy, and fueled by the capabilities of technology, companies are downsizing. All managers used to have an assistant, and it was the job of that assistant to keep them organized. We fired the assistants, and are now faced with organizing ourselves.
And finally, there is a greater sense of urgency than ever before. If I can fax you a question in 20 seconds, why can't you fax me the answer? There is a constant demand for decreasing costs while continuing to improve quality of products and services with fewer people. The price of failure is staggering.
You may be reluctant to get organized, as many people are. But often it is because they have been misled about what it means to be organized. My definition of organization is very simple: Does it work? and Do you like it?" And if what you are organizing -- or not organizing! -- affects others, there is a third question: "Does it work for others?"
Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys once said, "My job is to make the guys do what they don't want to do, so they can be who they've always wanted to be." Often that's my job as an organizing consultant! Successful people make a habit of doing what failures don't like to do -- and that frequently includes getting organized!
If your answer to any of the questions above is "No," try these suggestions to help you get started on the road to organization and make the most of your technology:
1. Continually practice the Art of Wastebasketry?. Research shows we use only 20% of what we keep. For each piece of information you receive, whether in hard copy or on the computer screen, ask these questions: Does this require action? Can I identify a specific use? Would it be difficult to get again? Is it recent enough to be useful? If the answer to all those questions is "No," ask one final question: "What's the worst thing that could happen if I don't have this piece of paper?" If you can live with your answer -- toss or recycle it! Take a look around your office. Do you see unused equipment, books you'll never use again, drawers full of unidentified paper, or outdated inventory? If so, you'll experience a new sense of energy if you get rid of it.
2. Learn to choose technology effectively. Most of us are trying to do more with less, and working harder is not always the answer. The real question is "Does anyone really need to do this?" Just because technology allows you to accomplish a specific task doesn't mean it's the best way for you to use your resources. Just because an upgrade is available doesn't mean you need to use it. Make sure that the results will be worth your investment of financial and human resources.
3. Implement a system for keeping track of names and telephone numbers. Most of my clients agree that their best source of business is networking, but piles of unidentified business cards will not do the trick. Deciding which system to use is far less important that using it consistently. For some people, technology is the perfect answer, while others accomplish their needs with a Rolodex.
My own system combines four methods:
(1) Contact management software program for all past, present, and potential clients.
(2) Rolodex to enter business cards for all services such as computer repair, graphics, etc., most frequent clients (for easy access), and my colleagues.
(3) Address book for family and friends.
(4) Pocket address book to carry in my briefcase with most frequently used numbers -- business and personal.
4. Create a paper filing system that works -- easily and consistently! In spite of the computer-age promises of a paperless office, most of us are faced with more paper than ever before. If you find that your filing system is not working and most of it you never use, clean out your most accessible file drawer and start over! Begin filing new information by asking "If I need this information again, what word will I think of first?" The answer is your new file title. Alphabetize the file titles, and keep a list of them -- a file index. Before you make a new file, check the existing list to avoid creating a file for "Car" when you already have "Auto." Keep a copy near the filing cabinets and at the desk of everyone who uses the files.
5. Create a computer filing system that works -- easily and consistently! Remember that a computer's value is that it allows you to use a file again. If you do not intend to use the document again, there is no value in storing it in a computer.
The key to effectively organizing your computer is your directory, and the first step is to point all files into one directory, regardless of what program created those files. This will make it easier to retrieve what you need, regardless of what program created it, and make it easier to back it up for archives or for transfer to other locations.
In paper systems, people frequently get into trouble because they have too many categories, while in computer systems, they get into trouble because they have too few categories (i.e., directories and subdirectories). It is easier to flip through one paper file that has 20 pieces of paper in it than it is to go through 10 files with two pieces of paper in each. On the other hand, it is easier to scroll up and down a computer screen looking for directories and subdirectories than it is to open documents. In addition, your computer gives you a "Find" feature that will help you locate any file you want by searching for key words without your having to actually open each file.
Two of my favorite directories are:
1. Pending. This is for files on which I am currently working. I can quickly see which documents are in process, or if necessary it will be easy for someone else to retrieve my work.
2. Outbox. Here I file work which I have completed, but need to print, fax, give to someone else, or send to another location.
Remember that in any organizing process, you may feel worse before you feel better. To change is difficult -- even when you want to. It takes time to learn new behavior patterns. Organization is like any other skill. If you want to play tennis, you can read books, look at videos, get the best coach, and go to the best court, but after a week you still won't be a great tennis player. It takes practice. So does organizing.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Make Big Money In Real Estate

Real Estate is one of the oldest forms of investing known to man.
Real Estate investing is easy and fortunes are made in a simple manner. For example, and investor decides that a desert area will eventually become an industrial development. He purchases a number of acres at a very low price. If his guess turns out to be correct, ten years later he sells the land hundred times more than what he paid for it.This can happen in any part of the country and is not an exceptional case.
As the population keeps growing in the U.S., land prices continue to raise and it means that Real Estate will continue to offer one of the best investment opportunities in the country.
Compared to most forms of investment, Real Estate offers greater profit potential. Of course, not every piece of land will turn out to be a winner, and despite the great potential rewards in some cases risks are involved, so the necessity of careful study before invest.
One of the problem of Real Estate is his lack of liquidity. Liquid assists are those easily converted into cash like stocks or bons. Most Real Estate investments take years before you can make some money, so it is not wise to tie up all your assets in this type of investment. Your financial situation will determine how much you can wisely invest in properties.
There is a difference between a land speculator and an investor. A speculator buys land with the intention to make a quick sale and fast profits and will not hold land for a long period of time. An investor, on the other hand, looks for a long time gain, and usually buys only what he can afford to keep for an indefinite period of time.
If you are new at this field, it is wise to refrain from any a speculation until you become more informed, and you will have to devote considerable time to study and research. It is wise also to consult specialists before you act.
Without realizing it, you already made a very successful investment in Real Estate if you bought your own home.
Before you look for areas to invest, consider the condition of your own house. If you have any plan for selling it, good landscaping has been known to considerably increase the value of a home.
Large profits can be attained by purchasing run-down homes and restoring them for eventual selling, but some factors have to be considered:
* You must know something about architecture and remodeling and get and idea of how much it will cost to get the house back into shape. Consider what you will be able to do yourself and what it will cost you if you have to have it done.
* The location of the house is the most important factor to consider. Study the neighborhood, shopping, and transportation facilities.
It can also be profitable to lease land for commercial use. Land which borders highway is extremely valuable for purpose such as warehouse, gas station, etc.
Land development companies frequently run advertisements offering country retreats. Be wary of these offers as they themselves make a large profit at the time they sell you the land, so it is much more profitable for you to buy your own.
When you buy property, buy at a price that involves a minimum financial risk. Invest only a modest amount of your own capital, when you sell, determine if a cash or installment sale is the best, based on your over-all income tax status. Learn by looking back on the mistakes made in the past and by reviewing the opportunities you have missed.
Prepare a list of all properties available in your area and think up the best future use of the properties. Learn to purchase land before there is a demand. To buy land well in advance is the only economical way at today's prices. Then hold the property until you can resale for large profits. Don't sell all your desirable properties and keep just lemons.
If you are willing to leave the cities, you should not have any trouble finding inexpensive land for sale. If you discover a tract of land appealing to you but not listed for sale, contact the Country Register's Office and he will tell you who is the owner. Get in touch with him and he could be willing to sell.
As a rule purchasing tracts of land within thirty miles from a growing city is often a sound investment. Deal only with qualified realtors. Be careful of individuals who offer quick profits.
Before taking any action, study what has been written about the subject. Know why you should and should not buy. Stay conventional and don't buy white elephants. Look for hidden defects and make the property attractive before offering it for resale. Study local conditions and be sure it is practical. Constantly look for bargains and quality properties with exceptional features that will make the sale easier. Follow up on For Sale signs, make inquiries.
When discouraging elements occur, minimize your losses by whatever means available. Don't throw away money on repairs for poorly located property or in an area of surplus rental units.
Before you attempt to sell, find out how the prospect can use the property profitably. Ask yourself if you would purchase it if you were in the prospect's shoes. Ask yourself if the future use will fit any of the many types of specific businesses. Can a hospital, a bank, an apartment complex, condominium or professional building be located on the property.
Learn to analyze the pros and cons of a real estate problem. Break it down into its various elements. Know if the answers you come up with are satisfactory and practical. Try different approaches to the problem.
You are necessary looking for the "top" or "bottom" of the market, or the current economic situation. You are looking for a variety of properties which have a higher value dependent on the use that can be established for them.
There are always opportunities in Real Estate during good times and bad, but it is up to you to pick and choose only those very best deals, especially during times when it appears that Real Estate values and demand have reached their peak or in times when it is practically impossible for most anyone to get bank loans due to the tight money market or impossible interest rates.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

6 Powerful Practices for Coping with Information Overload

Today's high-tech world is deluged with more information than ever imaginable. In spite of all the promises of the paperless office, statistics show that exactly the opposite is happening. It is projected that by 2005 there will be 50% more paper than there was in 1995! Those who have tried the paperless solution find it has its own challenges. How many lunches have you missed because you were searching through files - never finding what you needed?
Asking four basic questions will help you make decisions about how to manage the information in your office - whether it's for paper or electronic files.
1. What information do you really need to keep?
2. In what form do you need to keep it?
3. For how long? 4. How can you find it when we need it? (That's the really big one!)
To improve your chances of retrieving information, consider these six possibilities:
1. Create a File Index (a roadmap for available information!) for your company. One of most valuable lessons I learned from my father was "Half of any job is having the right tool." The network version of The Paper Tiger software  allows colleagues to share information in a way never before possible and to avoid wasting time recreating information that already exists because no one knew it existed. While many people are looking at scanning as a way of coping with information overload, make sure that you are really solving a problem, and not just creating another. Using a computer software program can make handling paper so easy that the investment of time and equipment to go "paperless" may not be necessary, or when you do convert to electronic storage you will avoid just creating a faster mess!
2. Develop Retention Guidelines. Clutter is Postponed Decisions®. Paper will continue to pile up because someone needs to make a decision about retention. Clients often ask me how long they should keep documents. Determine the answer by looking at your own past experience. Often, that means asking the people with whom you work who really use the papers! If you're not sure, consult the guidelines in Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger at Work. That's one of the major reasons I wrote the book! (If you need retention information for files at home, consult Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger at Home.)
3. Hold a File Clean-Out Day. Make the day fun! Wear comfortable clothes, order in lunch, and give prizes - such as the "Most Progress" or "The Funniest Discovery". Provide staff with storage boxes for files that can be kept in less accessible spaces. Create a "white elephant room" for employees to put items they aren't using, but other people might want. Consider hiring an organizing consultant ( to give a short presentation on The Art of Wastebasketry® at the beginning of the day and to facilitate the process during the day. (See Tip #5.)
4. Use, and train others around you, to automatically use The FAT System(TM). There are only three decisions you can make about any piece of paper: File, Act, or Toss. Make decisions on paper as it comes in. Put papers that require action into "Action Files." Papers you may never need, but are afraid to throw away go into Reference Files. As Reference Files become old, they become Archive Files, or can be tossed.
5. Continually practice "The Art of Wastebasketry®. Research shows that 80% of what we keep, we never use. Don't make today's mail turn into tomorrow's pile! Ask yourself: 1. Does this require action? 2. Can I identify a specific use? 3. Is it difficult to get again? 4. Is it recent enough to be useful? 5. Are there legal considerations?
If the answer to all these questions is "No," ask one final question: "What is the worst possible thing that would happen if I didn't have this piece of paper?" If you can live with your answer, toss - or recycle it! Since security if a big issue today, I've discovered that a shredder is one of the best tools to encourage people to throw things!
6. Take Advantage of Report Features of The Paper Tiger If you're afraid to toss something, don't worry about it - just keep it! Your File Index will help you find it in case you do need it, or help you clean it out when your files get full. Recently, my assistant informed me there was no more space for new projects. Instead of just adding more file cabinets, I took the File Clean-Out Report automatically created by The Paper Tiger software on my next trip, and made notes on what could be cleaned, tossed, or archived. When I returned to my office, I gave the report to a high school student, working in our office for the summer. She did the cleaning out and transferring of files for us!
Your office is a reflection of you and your organization. An organized, uncluttered workspace will make you more productive and less stressed. You can stop losing time searching for files. In fact, you may even find time for lunch!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Giving is Good for You -- and Good for Business

As a child I remember hearing, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." I was so disappointed, because I really loved getting gifts! But during the past 25 years I have had the privilege of spending time with thousands of successful people, and I've discovered they have one thing in common: They are constantly giving.
A major stumbling block to peace of mind and maximum productivity is simply having too much! People we love or respect give us gifts we don't need or want. Many of the items we use are made so well that they won't wear out, even when we wish they would. Technology dictates that perfectly good products are soon worthless in the context in which we want to use them. Think about it. Homeless shelters would be thrilled with those linens you've stuffed in the closet. Many non-profit organizations would be delighted to have that dot matrix printer buried in the supply room. And that flower vase, which you never use, would be great for the local rummage fundraiser. Have you ever sat impatiently in a hospital waiting room and the only thing you could find to read was a two-year-old issue of Field and Stream - yet your office is scattered with unread magazines?
You can also give of yourself. Donating your talents to help people in trouble is a great way to put your own troubles in perspective. What is so amazing is that you can do something you enjoy. Consider these possibilities:
o Stop by your local school and offer to tutor a student 2 hours a week.
o Create some posters for an organization that's planning a public event.
o Write an article for the newsletter of your favorite charity.
o Provide your product or service to someone deserving who can't pay for it.
o Build a handicapped ramp for an accident victim.
o Get the oil changed in a car for a single parent.
o Take a cancer patient to chemotherapy.
o Make a donation to the local blood bank.
Be a catalyst for teaching "the art of giving" to others. Whether you give your time to orchestrate an office clean-out day or serve as a volunteer in a tutoring program, everyone will win and you'll feel better too.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Creating Your Productive Environment

It's your first moment back at your desk after the annual meeting. The telephone is already ringing, 314 email messages lurk in your inbox, the staff meeting starts in 20 minutes, and your coffee just spattered on something marked "Urgent." You look up at that ticking clock, feeling smothered by all the demands on your time and attention. Everywhere around you are papers and projects you need to work on. You look at a framed statement on your wall. "Have nothing around you that you do not know to be useful, believe to be beautiful, or love." You sigh, remembering that you wanted to live and work that way, but something always gets in the way.
You get to your meeting on time; continue successfully through your day, and driving home you think back on the challenges you are facing. You ask yourself, "How do I get into this clutter mess so frequently? I'm not a disorganized person, and most of the time I accomplish the work I need to do - but all those piles of paper are so frustrating!"
After more than 25 years of working with people from every profession, region, age and outlook, we can assure you that there are four distinct clutter categories, each with its own strategic solution. It is likely that you are affected by each of them. Those categories are:
SITUATIONAL Situational clutter usually arises from specific events. You are engaged in a project that generates a temporary mess - like a meeting, crisis, deadline, annual report or new initiative. This is a natural and normal part of life and work in a complex, sped- up world.
To conquer situational clutter, recognize its temporary nature, set an end point by which it will all be cleaned up, and move on with your life. One meeting professional marks time on her calendar equal to one day of "reentry" time to restore order, for each day she has been away. Another schedules a temporary employee to assist him every two weeks. He delegates tasks to this "partial assistant" that would have been assigned to the person whose job got cut in the last downsizing.
EMBEDDED Embedded clutter reflects years of accumulation and benign neglect. The longer you have lived or worked in a specific setting, the deeper the layers go. Many people report that an extended campaign to banish embedded clutter takes at least one month of focused clean-up activity for each year they have been in the setting. Naturally, if you are getting ready to move, you may have to do the job in a few weeks. So you put everything in moving boxes and promise yourself you'll organize everything when you get settled.
To conquer embedded clutter, set starting and ending timeline goals, arrange incentives or support along the way, and plunge in. One manager reports, "It's like going on an archeological dig going through these old documents. There are at least 14 years worth of layers of material in the files and even in the closet. I almost wish I had time to create an archive, but I'm just impatient to get it all done. By setting a realistic timeline I could hold on to the goal that it would have an ending date."
IMPENDING Impending clutter is everything around you that is sitting in a pile while waiting for you to make a decision about where it needs to go. It's the stacks of mail, leftover project materials, stuff you heap on the credenza waiting for someone to take it to the storage room. Again, these pre-clutter piles and stacks and clusters of stuff are a normal part of working. But they become dangerous if neglected for long. Clutter is contagious. Order can also become contagious.
To conquer impending clutter, create and follow systems to clear all flat surfaces at least once a week and be sure that everything has a place. Remember the Hemphill principle that CLUTTER IS POSTPONED DECISIONS. Have the courage and discipline to make the daily decisions that prevents clutter comeback.
INVITATIONAL Invitational clutter is the most invisible and therefore the most dangerous. This is clutter you generate unintentionally by operating in today's society. These are things you "invite" into your setting without considering whether they still have value for you. This may include any magazines you no longer read, unwanted catalogs that seem to just keep coming, a surplus of small gifts people give you because they know you like roosters, promotional give-aways from the last three conferences, stuff-of- the-month items you "don't have time" to cancel.
To conquer invitational clutter you first recognize your role in creating this excess. Second, clarify what you do and don't want in your ideal setting and stop opening yourself to the invasion of anything that no longer matches your vision. Third, purge your current excess, cancel subscriptions, get off mailing lists, announce that your rooster collection complete. Get rid of the candy jar that "invites" people to stop in for a few minutes of distractions and calories!
Once you identify the different types of clutter and consider strategies to conquer or prevent them from intruding on your day, you move toward creating your personal productive environment - where everything you do or need to do is supported by everything around you and nothing extra weighs you down.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tips For Managing Your Network

Are Post-it? notes, business cards, and message slips littered across your desk, stuffed in pockets, and jammed into drawers? Do you have a dog-eared Rolodex? Are your competitors listing your missed opportunities? Do you frequently promise yourself "Someday I'm going to organize this mess!" - but the day never comes?
Would you like to turn your clutter into relationships that lead to money in your bank account? If so, read on!
As a child growing up on a farm in Nebraska, my father taught me "Half of any job is having the right tool." An essential tool for any real estate agent is a system for tracking people. Your contacts, whether they are potential buyers, or business service people who can quickly solve an emergency prior to closing, are the heart of your business. The care you give them can mean the difference between mediocre survival and wild success -- and a lot fewer headaches!
Tip #1: Today's mail is tomorrow's pile. Forget about your past failures. Start over! Choose a contact management system that will work for you, and enter the very next contact you get. Refile names from the old system as you use them. When you've exhausted its useful information, throw it away, or just put it in some less accessible space if the mere thought of throwing it away gives you heart palpitations!
Paper vs. Electronic Before the days of computers, the most sophisticated way to manage names and numbers was a Rolodex. Some people still feel more comfortable with a piece of paper than a computer screen, but serious business people are recognizing and appreciating the increased capabilities of an electronic system.
The biggest advantage of a traditional paper Rolodex is that it allows you to file business cards as soon as you receive them, without having to transcribe the information elsewhere. (If you choose this method, use a 3"x5" size, so you can staple or glue business cards right on the Rolodex card without having to cut it down. In addition, you will have space to write notes about the contact such as where you met, pet's name, or who gave you the lead.)
The biggest disadvantage is that you have to determine how you can file the lead so that you can find it again. If I file the lead under the last name - what happens I can't remember the name? Or what if it is a couple - and they have different last names?
The Power of Technology Unlike a paper system, technology allows you to organize data so it can be retrieved in a variety of ways. You can enter whatever kind of information you want--name, title, address, phone, fax, who introduced you, customer history, and so on--and to search, sort and retrieve it by whichever criteria you choose.
Contact manager programs, such as Outlook, Day timer, and ACT! combine database sorting with a calendar and word processing capabilities. You can use your contact manager program to retrieve every contact you have in a specific geographic area. For example, whenever I take a trip, I do a search by geographic area. Some of my most exciting and rewarding experiences were a result of that electronic search. In addition, you can write personalized marketing letters and speedy thank yours -- and easily print out envelopes and mailing labels. While you may use such programs only on your desktop computer, you have other powerful options.
If you travel with a laptop, you can use transfer software, such as PC Anywhere, to synchronize the information in your desktop and your laptop. Portable electronic organizers let you take your names and numbers (and frequently your calendar) with you. They range from the size of a watch to a small pocketbook. The simplest model stores a few hundred names, while the most advanced stores thousands of names and has word processing capability that allows you to create documents. With synching capabilities included in many, you can send and receive files to and from your computer, while some even have e-mail and fax capability. Many clients, who were never able to use a calendar or contact system successfully, consider products such as Palm Pilot their saving grace!
My favorite new tool: Card Scan. In a few minutes, it enables me to turn a pile of business cards into valuable, searchable data. No more racking my brain about where I got that pile of business cards in the rubber band on my desk!
A WORD OF CAUTION: A variety of circumstances--some explainable, some not--can cause any technology to fail. A backup system is priceless insurance for your real estate business and your peace of mind.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Keeping Up With Online Business Reading

It can be a major source of frustration trying to keep up with all of the business-related information, newsletters, updates, offers and so on that land in your email box. And although there may be no perfect way to ensure that you can read everything you want to and need to in order to stay current, while at the same time preserving enough time to do the work you need to do to keep your business functioning., I have found a method that cuts down on the worst of the time wasters and streamlines the remaining reading.
1. Weed it out - Anytime I find that I am not getting full value for my time from a newsletter, ezine or other informational email source, even though I may be getting some good stuff, out it goes. Chances are that I am either getting or can get the same info through another, more ROI-positive source.
2. Save it for a specific time - I used to waste hours a day stopping to read business-related newsletters and ezines as they came in or as I ran across them. Now, I put aside one day to read it all. This day is set aside solely for reading informational business mail (not client mail) and for a few other business activities that need focused attention. I don't schedule other business on this day, unless it is unavoidable. This way, I can get caught up and handle all necessary responses without feeling like I'm neglecting my "real" work.
3. Scan, cram and scram - This is the biggie for saving time. Learn to read for overall content and not for word-by-word absorption. This isn't deathless prose, folks, so there's no need to suck it in like some unearthed lost volume of Hemingway. Scan any headings or sub-titles, ignoring completely what you don't need to know, and then scan-read the content of what you do need quickly to get the gist of the message. Only spend time on intense focused reading if the concept/content is difficult (yet vital) or supremely interesting and important. (If it's just interesting, but not important, you can always read it some other time when you have a few minutes free.) Once you've gotten what you need, save only the emails that you absolutely need for reference in an email folder and delete all the rest.
A secondary aspect of this step is to copy, paste and save content that you know you will need eventually, just not right now, instead of giving it immediate attention. Such information includes things like a link/resource list for later reference or a great idea that you know you'll need next month when you begin that new marketing campaign - or just general interest stuff that doesn't need immediate action but would be helpful, useful or just plain enjoyable to read at some point. Paste this copy into a Word document (don't forget to leave the attribution and copyright info in case you ever need to cite the work for any reason, or want to see more stuff by the same author) and put it into the appropriate folder on your hard drive. I have several folders in my business files for things such as marketing, client-related info, industry-related info, and so on. Every so often, on a slow day or when I have to wait around in the office for some reason, I go through them to read what's there and weed out what I no longer need.
Using this 3-step process, I find that I can whip through the average newsletter/ezine in about 5-10 minutes or less, depending on the amount of content and that content's importance/interest to me. Since I am able to keep my ezine load down to a manageable number and my list is constantly tweaked for the greatest value-to-time ratio, I get well-read in a reasonable period of time without feeling like I am eating up valuable work time that should have been spent doing other activities.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tap the Ultimate Source of Abundance

Corporations ignore consumers’ real needs…Company leaders engage in questionable business practices…Business owners and employees do work they don’t enjoy simply to pay the bills…such is the state of today’s business world.
The key to bringing the world back to life will also bring you abundance in your business. The world needs people who are vibrantly alive and ready to build a new kind of business. We need businesses that express our missions as human beings and make a contribution to the planet – and thrive in the process.
You will create a magnetic attraction when your vision, your values, and your vocation are perfectly aligned. When planning a business, very few people take the time to look inside, to align their unique natural gifts, talents, and desires with the product or service their business provides.
Answering the following questions will help you attract abundance through your business. When you have done this, you will thrive in ways you cannot imagine.
1. Why do you do the work you do?
Most owners are in businesses because they saw an opportunity or because they have some professional experience they can conveniently sell. Their business is simply what they do and does not necessarily reflect their greatest talents or passions.
However, if you take the time to examine your gifts, your talents, and the particular message you have for the world, you will discover inspiring ways to earn money by sharing those talents. When your business expresses who you are, clients instinctively recognize that you are sincerely and personally committed to their happiness and success. No one can fake true concern.
2. With whom do you want to work?
Most business owners have customers or clients they dread dealing with, yet they continue to do business with them month after month. Whether you realize it or not, your customers know what you’re thinking about them.
Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest for you to be proactive and “fire” clients who are not a good fit for your business. This will free you to focus on the people you care about. When you do business with people you like, they will naturally bring out your best work and inspire you to become better at what you do. Your better efforts will attract more perfect customers who will inspire you further. From there, your ability to thrive is unstoppable.
When the right prospective customer crosses your path and you can clearly and simply describe exactly what they are feeling, they are captivated. They feel understood and validated, and they will trust you to take care of their concerns.
3. What do you do for your clients?
Generally speaking, a customer’s primary concern is to find someone who can solve their problem and make their pain stop. Therefore, you need to see your business from your customer’s perspective.
For example, instead of saying, “We provide accurate, professional bookkeeping services,” say, “We make sure you have the precise financial information you need, when you need it.” Rather than making a statement of fact, such as, “We are attorneys who specialize in small businesses,” present your service through their eyes, as in, “We take the mystery out of protecting what you’ve worked so hard to build.” Make a list of the benefits your customers will receive as a result of working with you or buying your products. Make sure each one is stated in specific terms a client can identify with, and then market this to your customers.
4. How do you set yourself apart?
Becoming an expert in your field is the best long-term way to attract abundance. You don’t need to have all the answers to be an expert; in fact most experts rely on many other professionals in and out of their field. What makes you an expert is your will, your drive, your passion, your confidence, and your ability to create solutions for your customers’ needs.
Remember, people draw conclusions about things and about each other within a matter of seconds. You may have 20 seconds to convince a potential client or customer that you are the solution to his or her problem. After that, you become lost in a current of information overload. So set yourself apart from the crowd, and watch your business soar.
5. The Final Key To Building an Abundant Life: What Permission Do You Need To Give Yourself?
You already know deep down what you want to do. You have an idea what changes you need to make in your business. You know what’s not working.
You may be holding yourself back from taking the actions you know you need to take. Somewhere in your subconscious you may be following harmful “rules” you’ve made for yourself. You may believe you don’t deserve wild success. You may believe that work can’t be fun. You may believe that you owe it to those around you to maintain the status quo.
When you identify your restrictive beliefs, you can decide to let go of them. Be truthful with yourself. What permission do you need to give yourself to make all of your dreams a reality? Some examples may be: “Fire (or hire) those three people,” “Take only the jobs/assignments that I would enjoy,” or “Make more money than anyone I know.” Be specific.
The Sky is the Limit
You now have the tools to develop a business strategy that capitalizes on your unique abilities and interests. Since many people are unable to objectively observe themselves, if you have difficulty answering any of these questions, brainstorm ideas with a business partner or a business coach. This is important, because the sooner you incorporate these abilities into your business presentation, the more prosperity you are able to attract. You will know what you have to share with the world, and this knowledge is your single most powerful wealth-attraction tool.
Any of your competitors can read the same business books and articles you do, but none of them can duplicate your heart and soul. Find the right answers to these five questions and you can be certain your prospects will say, “I have GOT to work with you!”