Tips on managing idea overwhelm

So you have a million ideas running around your head at the moment, for your business and your life. You don’t know which one to tackle first, or how you’re ever going to get them all done. Especially if you currently have your children around 24 hours a day.

What can you do?

Here are my tips for clearing your head and managing idea overwhelm.

1. Make time for yourself

When you’re busy, especially if that involves being around other people, it’s important to make a little bit of time for yourself each day. For example 5 minutes in a room alone dancing to music, doing a meditation, or having an uninterrupted shower with some luxurious shower gel.

2. Make space for yourself

If you’re sharing your living and working space with others, make sure there is a small corner that is for you. You may be lucky enough to have a whole room to yourself, or you may just need to put some cushions in a quiet corner, or decorate an area of the living room with some things you love to look at.

3. Get outside

Fresh air is amazing for clearing the head, especially if it’s combined with exercise like a walk or a run. I find that even a 5 minute walk round the block can often help to move thoughts in my brain and turn them into action plans, or lessen their urgency.

4. Exercise

If you can’t get outside, you could always dance around your bedroom or kitchen. Putting on a favourite tune and singing out loud while doing some silly dance moves makes you feel good. Doing some stretching exercises or yoga in your lounge will give you something else to focus on for a while.

5. Write everything down

question-mark-2492009_1920If you have a lot in your head, it really helps to just write it all down on one piece of paper. Then it’s no longer floating around, it’s all in front of you so you can start to do something about it. (Do this as often as you need to – once a day, once a week etc)

Once it’s on the piece of paper, categorise it, prioritise it and then do one action from the list! That sounds very simple written down like that, but isn’t so easy to do in practice – I know. So, to help you with this, I have created a pdf guide to take you through each step in a bit more detail.

To obtain a copy, just sign up to my mailing list using the link here. (You can unsubscribe at any time – but if you choose to stay on the list, you’ll receive more tips on organising your ideas and getting things done.)

Summary 

So if you are feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff in your head – all the amazing ideas and all the things you need to do, just take a step back and try one of the above.

Sometimes one of them will work, sometimes you’ll need to try a couple of things. But if you make some time and space for you, get outside and do some exercise, each of those will make a good start on clearing your head.

You might have so much in your head that you really do need a detailed plan, in which case start with the planner, and if you need 1:1 help, do get in touch. (You can see a list of my services here.)

Image credit  Arek Socha via Pixabay

Why use social media to promote your small business?

When I studied marketing back in the early 2000s, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist. But as website technology evolved, what we know as social media soon followed.

And now, if you have a business, small or large, it is expected that you will have some sort of presence on social media. But what is the point of being on social media? It can take up a lot of time, and it certainly has some dark corners and less desirable aspects.

Essentially, it’s a way of meeting new people and talking to them. And as a business owner it is something that you need to embrace in order to get new clients or customers.

However, what works for one person or business doesn’t work for another.

If you’re a freelance consultant and all your work comes from former colleagues, you might find that a good LinkedIn profile is all you need, and you can back that up with case studies and a creds deck.

If you sell art or handmade items, even if you sell via a platform like Etsy you’ll still need to have a social media presence to send potential customers to look at your Etsy store. Instagram is great for businesses that have a visual aspect to them, with images that you can share – work in progress on a drawing for example, or a carefully curated display of finished items. And Facebook offers lots of opportunities to share your work, even if you don’t have the money to get into advertising on there.

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Image credit: Annalise Batista from Pixabay

I used to spend a lot of time on Twitter. I live-tweeted events, participated in online chats, co-founded an in-person tweetup that ran for a couple of years, trained a number of business owners on how to use it, and helped a local charity ensure that their Facebook and Twitter presence was coordinated and understood by all the members of staff that used the accounts. In the process of doing this, I met all sorts of interesting local people – some became members of the Rotary club I belong to, others are people I still see regularly in real life at local networking events, and one even became my accountant!

So when I asked my Facebook friends about Twitter this week, I was sad to hear that these days a lot of people feel Twitter is a nasty place and is mainly only good for checking the news and local traffic. I always found it to be an interesting way to expand my social and business networks, meeting people I may not have met on other social media platforms.

I’m still working out which platform is best for me and my own business.

I do use Instagram, but only for sharing photos of flowers, trees, or random objects my toddler has acquired! I use Facebook, but the algorithm prevents my posts from reaching as many people as I would like – and it does take effort to maintain a good presence in groups. I also use LinkedIn, but there is a lot more noise on it than there used to be. And I’m dabbling with Twitter again to see whether I can find any local Maidenhead businesses and charities on there to chat to.

I’ll continue to tweak what I do with social media to find my own balance and best way to use it – and that’s what I’d advise anyone with a small business or small charity to do. You can try the different platforms to see which one works best for you – and work out how to make the most out of the time you have available to spend on it.

It doesn’t have to take over your life if you plan your usage of it properly – and it could introduce you to some interesting people and expand your network.

If you need help figuring out how to plan your social media presence, I have a social media planning sheet you could try using. It’s available at the bargain price of just 99p here.

If you fancy giving Twitter a go and see if you can breathe some life into it in your local area, I have an introductory guide that may be of interest. It’s currently £17.00 and you can get a copy here

And if none of that sounds helpful and you’d like to chat to me instead, get in touch here and I can come up with a consultation package to suit your needs!!

What is good project management?

My inspiration for this blog post comes from a Facebook post in a freelance group I’m in.

Another freelancer in the group had just agreed terms with a new agency client, and received more details on a project. And had been asked to send back the first piece of work with a deadline barely 24 hours away, but she was afraid of upsetting the new client if she said she couldn’t meet that deadline.

This lack of consideration for the freelancer annoyed me so much that as well as adding my own advice to the other comments, I felt compelled to write about it!

I’m in the position that not all freelancers have been in – I’ve worked agency side and client side, as well as being a freelancer. I am a project manager with over 20 years of experience, and I know exactly what constitutes good project management.

So what do I think good agency project management looks like? I think there are three basic elements. The plan, managing client expectations, and managing supplier relationships.

1. A comprehensive and flexible plan

All projects need a plan. Small projects probably don’t need a detailed plan, just a few notes on a typed up document perhaps. But all other projects need plans, whether in a spreadsheet or an online project management tool.

A plan should include all key client and other external deadlines that are known.

The format and timing of all deliverables should be agreed with the client.

Then, other internal deadlines should be added, such as those for printing, web programming, approval timelines, design work, copy and internal reviews.

And these should be monitored regularly and changed as needed.

2. Managing client expectations

So what does a client want from a project?

They want it completed with all the required deliverables on time and within their budget.

Some clients keep a close eye on everything all the way through the project, and some are less involved. But either way, it is critical to manage their expectations.

Communicating potential delays and cost increases might be the scariest part of managing a project, particularly for newer project managers. But I think it’s probably the most important. A client who is kept informed and given appropriate choices along the way will be more likely to be happy at the end of the project. And more likely to want to work with the agency again.

3. Managing supplier relationships

This is the reason for me deciding to write about this topic.

Something to remember as an agency project manager is that suppliers are businesses too. Whether they are a freelancer working by themselves or are a printing company or web development agency, they have other customers to service and other aspects of running a business to contend with.

So you can’t expect them to be able to turn round a task in a short timescale, even when a client asks. Not unless it was agreed when briefing them about the work. And even then, you need to listen to them when they say that a task can’t be done well in the timescale you’ve suggested. They are experts on doing that type of work, that’s why you’ve hired them.

If you keep finding yourself asking suppliers and freelancers to do urgent tasks, you might need to take a step back and look at your project plan or your client relationship, to see whether there are changes that need to be made there.

When you give your suppliers sensible deadlines and treat them with courtesy, including giving useful feedback and saying thank you, they will be more likely to try to fit in urgent tasks for you in the future.

In some types of work, good freelancers and other suppliers are hard to find, so maintaining good relationships with them is essential!

In summary

I think that good agency project management starts with a plan, and needs good people management skills alongside this plan, to manage relationships with both clients and suppliers.

Although the example I refer to relates to managing a project within an agency, it could also be adapted to assist with an agency pitch, a project within another organisation or charity, or even a team of volunteers organising an event within their local community.

But the same principles apply whatever the project – create a plan, monitor the plan, and keep people informed.

I enjoy ensuring that projects are managed properly.

Whether that’s by managing them myself, setting up a summary or detailed project plan for someone else, training a team on how to manage an ongoing project, or reviewing a project after it has finished to see what can be improved next time.

If you have a team or business that could do with some help from an experienced project manager, get in touch!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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A generalist or a specialist?

This is the second time I’ve freelanced, so I’m building on what I learned last time in terms of the types of projects to take on.

There is a lot written about having a niche, offering just one specific service, so that potential clients know what you do.

But I’ll be honest, I struggle with that.

Firstly because I love variety. That’s why I freelance, and that’s why in more recent years I’ve focused more on working with agencies than directly for one pharma company. I don’t want to be working on the same therapy area all the time. I’m curious, I want to be learning about something new.

And secondly because I have a broad set of skills.

I haven’t followed the traditional sales then marketing pharma route or chosen between medical writing and account management on the agency side. I haven’t worked in sales, although I spent plenty of time out and about with sales reps in my CRM database role doing 1:1 bespoke training. My agency contracts or jobs have been hybrid roles, where I did a bit of account management, a bit of writing/editing/proofreading, and a lot of project management.

And my work has been across marketing, medical communications and public affairs/policy, supplemented by working with small businesses and charities and by local volunteering!!

I am primarily a project manager/project director, but I like to use my other skills and knowledge as well.

So as a freelancer I have chosen to focus on working with organisations in the areas of health and medical communications, and offer a broad range of project management and writing services. I have found that this is particularly appreciated by smaller organisations who just need to get on and get things done.

So yes, I’d say I’m a generalist not a specialist.

But I thrive on that. It’s right for me at the moment. It keeps my interest and gives me endless possibilities. And allows me to continue to work with a range of companies on a series of different projects.

Image by diapicard from Pixabay

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Why Purple Crocus?

Why did I name my company Purple Crocus?

Well to be honest I wanted to name it Purple Penguin, on account of my fondness for penguins. But that name had already been used. So I went for Purple Crocus instead.

But as it happens, purple crocuses do also have a significance for me.

You may have seen large clusters of purple crocuses growing in your local town, with a Rotary sign next to them, and wondered why that was.

A project that Rotary is involved in internationally is the End Polio Now campaign, aiming to completely eradicate polio from the world. This takes the form of fundraising, awareness raising, high level advocacy work, and practical assistance with vaccinations in specific countries.

When children are vaccinated, their fingers are marked with purple ink so that the health workers can easily see who still needs vaccinating.

Rotary Day is in February, when crocuses are emerging into the spring light. And hence the purple crocus was chosen as a symbol for the polio awareness campaign that occurs at that time every year.

So my company name has a nice reference to my voluntary work as a Rotarian as well as my work as a medical communications freelancer.

For more about Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign, visit the website.