Way of procrastinating: hunting templates

Is hunting down a nice template just another way of procrastinating?

YES! I say yes it is.

Nice templates are subjective but working templates are objective. Fiddling around too long to find a attractive template before sending out your newsletter might be one of the most annoying type of creative people problems.

Creative and professional people problem to be exact. This happens when you can justify your perfectionism and using your creativity to work forever on a project that was due last week. You can tweak, plug, sleek and plumb forever and ever.

A template is suppose to support and help not be the main focus. If your newsletters don’t work or are borderline shit, your shiny template won’t save you from the wave off unsubscribing.

You can always improve your work and you should. There is though a big difference in a pretty design that works and a not so pretty design that does the work. I love beautiful design and I often make decisions on what looks the best. I think first you should focus on making the template work and then make it pretty, makeovers are fun!

Do we want a small boutique or a department store?

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Imagine your nearest supermarket. Imagine all the people working there and think of the hours that goes into running that store smoothly. The store is organized in categories and the isles are straight and clutter free. There are signs pointing you to the right direction and if you don’t find what you need, you can ask someone to assist you. Everything seems to have a logical place.
When you walk into this store and you know what you came here for. Maybe just to browse some section that interests you or you came with a shopping list. You have a clear idea where to look.
When you walk into this store you know where and how to get out.

Let’s imagine there would be a supermarket that could only pay for one employee and that person would have to do everything. This department store didn’t hire anyone to plan out the floorplan or say what goes where and on what logic. There’s only the one person who works and this person hasn’t got the time to everything.

Shopping in this store would be a nightmare!

Now lets picture that your website is a supermarket. Can you honestly say that your website is runs smoothly like this imaginary department store? Maybe it does, maybe you have a system that makes sure your website will not turn into a maze of links. I have to say that most of us can’t handle running a supermarket online or offline all by ourselves and will indeed get lost in the maze. Still, for some reason many people insist on building a huge website with many options to click and thousands of pages to scroll filled with tens of links and options.

Yes, it’s ridiculously easy to build a website but managing and optimizing a website is a different thing.

Analyzing what works and what doesn’t isn’t obvious. Improving your website, optimizing content, making it visually appealing and making it work for your goals and in a way that it meets clients needs is not a walk in the park. Problem solving and fixing broken links might take more time than you know when packing your site with links.

Managing a website is can be a fulltime job to a few people depending on the size and function of the website. A tiny boutique selling only eyewear is a fulltime job for one and easily there is work enough for few employees. Managing a website doesn’t have to be a full time job. When planning a website we should really think of time and the real job behind this site. Do we want a small boutique or a department store?

Rules of stealing

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The best way to steal others ideas is the way you will not get caught.

Get sneaky, real sneaky. So sneaky that you won’t get caught. But be also honest and open.

Does that sound contradictory?

Let’s try to clear this out. You should never take credit for work that someone else did. Stealing work is not ok.

Someone might say that they are only borrowing ideas, but hey are you going to give them back? Did you buy them? No you stole them! There is a code for doing this classy and non-sleazy way.

If you are ever stuck with your blog or email newsletter, feel free to act by this code.

Don’t steal because you are lazy and honor your stolen object.

Only steal when you are completely stuck, lost or badly short of ideas. Steal the idea not the work. If you find something that inspires you and you love the idea, study it carefully.
See what makes the idea so great and how this person took the idea and made the idea work for them. Go really deep and see what are the bones of this ideas, can you go deeper than that?

Final piece of advice and really important one. Don’t steal from places you often visit, don’t steal from people who seem to have less than you. Don’t steal from your friends either.

What makes stealing ok? What is stealing ideas really?

Some people use the word inspire but I think we can be honest here. Stealing ideas happens when a blogger sees a great blog post about winter jacket and it has a beautiful collage and thinks that a collage is a are great idea and they should do a blog post with a collage.
Or when you see that three newspapers writing about the same thing, when that thing is not a major event.
Stealing is when a songwriter hears a love song and feels that they should write a love song too.

Stealing ideas is not copying work and that makes stealing ok.

Make that idea work for you and find a different angle than in the original content. Do a different presentation or if it’s the presentation you love use it but with some other content.
Doing your own research and infusing your own ideas and experience will make turn the stolen idea to a new piece of work. The better you hide your tracks, as in put your own work to the idea the better the results.

 

Have a system

Have a system because plans will fail.
Preferably a support system for times when plans fail.
Be flexible and have room for improvement in your systems.
Plan for your success and create a system to make that happen. But count in the bad days, learning curve and just failing.
Don’t leave anything for last minute.

Healthy email habits

I’m trying something new here. Please let me know how you feel. I was thinking on starting a healthy email habits series. I would share one tip weekly on how to create healthy email habits that work for you and help you keep sane and maybe even sleep better.

Healthy email habits starts today!

First habit is to read less email

It is as simple as it sounds. Do not read all email that you get just spend less time reading email.
Not all email needs to be read now or never. Honestly not emails are important, valuable or a good way to spend your time.  Not even when it’s from a friend or a trusted person you know. You don’t have to read everything you get.

Sometimes it’s more important to sleep, eat or even just go out to breath.

There are times when you know that opening that email will get you in trouble, then don’t open it at all. Times like when you know there is a virus in that email or something disgusting. Also that time when you are angry and opening an email from that insufferable person will make you furious, you’ll type something crazy and send an email that you will regret soon. That time was a time when calming down, doing something else to gain perspective is more beneficial than reading an email.

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Working for the prize only

Last week I didn’t get anything published. I was feeling bit lost and blue. The more I felt lost and blue the more I tried to come up with an amazing idea to write about and publish. Then I started thinking about writing about that!

                                         Chasing the perfect idea instead of getting something done.

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I was looking things from the bad angle. The angle where nothing is good enough and where it’s hard to see the trees from the woods.

The gaining kudos or credit angle.
The angle where you only work for the prize. The kudos angle is a complicated trap in many ways. For one it’s selfish and when trying to create something, anything for others and being selfish at the same time, well they might cancel each other out and you end up doing nothing.

We all want to be unique and create something special, right? Something completely new and memorable. To create something that would be solely traced back to one person and that person would be the creative genius and idea generator behind this amazing something.


Often we seem to care more about getting credited for ideas than actually creating meaningful or even helpful content and work. Kudos trap is slick, it hides behind “dream big” statements and “be you, be unique”. Getting our name out there, chasing that big dream, making a big impact but just dreaming and not doing anything about it. Then we feel sad and try even harder to get some amazing idea and the circle of nothing is created.

Meaningful content can be created without getting credit for an unbelievably unique idea.

Elizabeth Gilbert talked about how people treated her like she was doomed after her eat pray book was released. People were worried that she wasn’t going to come with more ideas, better ideas inspiration to work anymore.

For some reason we see creative work very different than other kind of work. Even when many jobs that don’t seem creative need creativity. We think that creativity and work don’t really mix. But gaining credit is something we always see the same. We also think that what we get credited for and what we publish is all that matters. We need witnesses to get credit.

We have a choice to be the person who gets credited for chasing the most amazing, unique idea or we can be the person who got something done. Getting something done requires taking responsibility and understanding that this might not lead anywhere. But focusing on the responsibility of creating and getting work and will make getting work and much easier. From crap ideas there can come a realization of a better idea. We get better with practise.

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10 reasons to start a newsletter

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1.FUN

Newsletters are fun. Not always. But mostly newsletters are fun.
It’s fun to see people subscribing and your list growing. It’s fun interact with your readers and really bond with them.

2.NEW

It’s something new every week! If you have never had a newsletter then doing something new is refreshing. New ideas, new people, new opportunities…

3.LEARN

Learning will happen if you are open to it. Writing weekly, photographing weekly or just
creating new ideas weekly or even few times a month will sharpen and hone your skills. There is great opportunity to learn something new about your readers, yourself and maybe even learn a new skill.

4.VALUE

Good newsletters provide valuable content to their readers and bad newsletters provide value to the creator of that bad newsletter. A bad newsletter is valuable because it provides the opportunity to question and make improvements and learn. Good newsletters are valuable because they help creating a online community and people to connect and get to know each other

5.ENGAGE

The word engage can be translated into around 25 ways in Finnish. Engagement
happens many ways through newsletters. People will take action in surprising ways and react in ways you couldn’t predict. You’ll make promises to send emails weekly or less frequently and this is a form of engagement. You will work to create content, you’ll do editing, you’ll engage in conversations…

6.NETWORKING

Get to know someone. Show interest, be interested. Open up to someone getting to know you. Be open to communicate and introduce people to each other. Why not?

7.SHARE

Sharing is caring. There is ton of stuff that you can give and different ways you can give. By giving you could help something and someone. Share what you love, share what your readers love. Share what you don’t love or care for, share a conversation, share ideas, share recipes and moments. Share feelings and lessons learned.

8.FEEL

Like crap. Ashamed, joyful, content, tired, happy, sad, angry. Were dealing with people and dealing with people tends to be emotional.  See how you feel when you let your feelings guide you. Guide your actions towards how you would like to feel. Oh emails and newsletters and people and groups of people, there’s a lot of feelings involved.

9.MISTAKES

Do them and learn how to react. Learn how to make things OK or even fix your  mistakes. Learn how to deal with the fact that everything didn’t go as planned. Do different kinds of mistakes and see if anyone sees or cares.

10.EXPERIENCE

Experience a rainbow of feelings. Experience the joy of getting something done.
Experience how it feels to have routines. Experience how being loyal makes you feel and what it does for your community. Experience being helpful, experience being a time waster. Experience something new. Experience something… See how it goes.

Warning: SPAM

I do not mean Spam as canned precooked meat product, that’s disgusting.
Today I’m talking about email spam, that’s more annoying than disgusting except when you get that disgusting type of spam. You know what I mean!

No one wants to get spammed, but how awkward when you’ve accidentally spammed someone!
Do you feel that?
Shoulders go up and chest sinks. And the script starts to sing in your head.
I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to be rejected.
I don’t want to fail. I don’t want bug someone. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time.
So I don’t do it. I don’t send that email. I don’t create a newsletter.

The fear of creating something that people can reject (and reject you) is a block that will lead you to only see the rejection. This rejection with this idea block will lead you to see rejection as a sign of failure. To see you as unworthy or not good enough. When the truth is that this someone didn’t have time or interest. They might love you but not this email or message. That’s it.

I don’t drink coffee, but I love my friends who ask me out for coffee.

There is a fun role reversal that you can play in your head for quick results. A former colleague taught me this. I want you to picture you sitting in an aeroplane. You are traveling to some lovely city for some awesome adventures. OK? No it’s time for the complimentary drinks and the air hostess asks you if you’d like coffee or tea. ‘Coffee or tea?’ you can hear this hostesses voice coming closer. Nothing but ‘Coffee or tea?’ and sometimes pouring that coffee or tea (maybe few juices too).
Do you think this air hostess counted how many people said NO?

Not everybody want’s coffee or tea or juice. These people are going to say No. These people don’t have a problem with the person pouring their coffee or tea, but it’s the drink. That cup of coffee might be the best one that you can get on a plane, but if you don’t like coffee you really aren’t going to enjoy it.

No, thank you.

Some of your emails are going to go unread. That doesn’t mean they were spam.

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If you don’t like reading you could still love newsletters!

Are you curious about newsletters and would like to create your own, but feel guilty because you keep subscribing to newsletters, but never actually read them?
Or maybe you need to create a newsletter, but you don’t actually believe in newsletters because you don’t read any of the ones you’ve subscribed to.

Don’t worry.
First Of All you shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed. I think it’s great that you know what you like and what you don’t like. Stay true to your taste!

There are many different types of newsletters, but if you are a newbie (and even if you have subscribed to many) chances are you have seen only a few types and if you are not happy with them it’s OK.

If the reason why you keep deleting or unsubscribing to newsletter is that you don’t actually like reading you have the options of subscribing to newsletter with audios, videos or just images with minimal amount of text.

You could also try to create your own audios or even videos if you prefer them over written word.  A beautiful newsletter filled with gorgeous photos would be lovely too.

Not all newsletters have to be filled with minimum 1000 words and heavy with information and facts.

You might want to think about the subjects you are reading about. If you not liking to read it might be because you are not interested in the subject you are reading.

How to organize your inbox

Are you drowning in email and getting lost in your inbox?
Do you remember when was the last time you didn’t have a single unread new email waiting to be dealt with? I have around 85 unread emails and by main inbox folder is nearly empty. Those 85 unread emails can wait for sure and I’m not worried or stressed about getting to them. These emails have been organized in a way that doesn’t bother my work or flood my main inbox folder. I’ve created a system where I’m not overwhelmed with the amount of email I’m getting. But of course I love email and subscribing to awesome newsletters. If you don’t, we’ll need to work on that later if you would like. But today I could help you relieve that  stressful situation in your inbox.
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Here are some tips to get you started and helping you get to the surface of that sea of of email. Take a cup of tea if you would like this might take a few minutes and a cup of good tea is always a good idea.

Steps for clearing and relaxing your inbox

Folder time
You should have at least one folder that you’ve created yourself for your inbox. You’ve got two choices for naming these folders: important or not important. Important folder means that everything that goes into that folder needs to be dealt before you can get to the rest of your mail. This works best if you have one email and lot of different types of mail coming in but very limited amount of time sensitive messages. Not important folder is for all the emails that can wait. These messages and emails are not time sensitive and don’t have to be answered in the next few days or at all. Everything that doesn’t go into ‘not important’ folder needs to be dealt within a couple of days. (I know there are people who don’t check their email this often and if you are one of those people and still find yourself being stressed and overwhelmed with your email, then feel free to leave a comment on this post and maybe I can help you) Later you can go deeper into the wonderful world of folders and get a little more creative with organizing your inbox. I’ll do another post just for inbox folders.

Get clear and find your focus
What is your main focus with this email account? Is it for business, school, work or just personal? If you don’t know you better find out. Not knowing where your focus is with an email account might lead to the drowning feeling all over again. You can use that same account for multiple purposes but it should have a main focus. Meaning that all emails that are related to this subject are more important than other mail regarding something else. Let’s say that you are a student, then school related mails trump subscription from Asos or your weekly email from Pinterest (these can wait). There are exceptions let’s go with the same school example. Let’s imagine that you’ve applied to some jobs and are using that same account. In these situations you want to be on top of your school work but also you don’t want to lose that important email regarding a job opportunity. Then you really want to keep your main inbox clear from unimportant not time sensitive mail.

Prioritize
Now it is time to prioritize your emails and your email tasks and habits. With emails there are actions like read, answer, categorize and delete. If you are not on top of your habits and mindful about time spent on working on your emails, you might find yourself spending too much time and increasing your stress. What is the most important goal to with your focus subject? Maybe it’s work and you finding a new job. This might mean that you need to write and send emails. Then writing and sending emails are your top priority. Reading emails is only second and being careful about what emails you actually open and read is important. If it’s not work related and exceptionally important it can wait until you get your applications sent or whatever you need to do.

Extra tip
Reading starts before opening an email and opening an email can lead to time wasted. Most of the time the subject line and the senders information should be enough for you to know what to do with it without actually opening that email. If it’ isn’t top priority, don’t open it before you’ve done your most urgent email tasks, even if you might be curious. Just like reading, answering and categorizing and deleting messages have more to be noticed. Well talk about that later in another post. Setting different time for different email related tasks can ease your overwhelm.

Just few extra biscuits for your tea time with email
*If one account seems not enough don’t hesitate to add a second account.
*Get to know your inbox features
*Don’t be afraid to try out different email account providers they are not all the same If you liked this article and want more tips on emails and newsletters sign up for a weekly dose of inboxteatime 

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