Are you guilty of this 3 word excuse too?

“The Busyness Bubble.”

I’m too busy, you are too busy, everyone is too busy — and this whole high tech world is too busy. People are sleeping less and working more and proud of it.

We need a reprieve from the busyness bubble and we need it NOW!

Many are starting to feel the same way.  Interestingly enough, Doreen Virtue also predicted (with her angel card reading) that this year was the year to simplify EVERYTHING!  To get back down to the most pure and most essential needs we have as individuals.

This was the first time I had ever watched a Doreen Virtue video but her words have stuck with me (after having experienced 2 deaths in the family in 2013)…and while I did not act based on her words, I have been simplifying and purging a ton this year myself.

My whole family has been actually. And I know of others who are doing the same.  So it seems these predictions are pretty bang on.

I too have been focusing more on the essentials in my life (personally and professionally).

My goal has been to find more balance and more peace. As well as to enjoy the down time and appreciate it.  Now I am grateful for the down time. Its sacred time. I need it and crave it. And the more I have of it – the better prepared I am to respond to the demands of my work (which is amazing but very strenuous on my brain most days).

That’s why when I saw the recent article on LinkedIn from Greg McKeown (author of the New York Times bestseller, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less I was inspired to write this post. Greg was the person I discovered the term “Busyness Bubble” from.

Greg says ” the groundswell of an Essentialist movement is upon us.”

Even our companies are competing with one another to get better at this: from sleep pods at Google to meditation rooms at Twitter. At the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, there were — for the first time — dozens of sessions on mindfulness. TIME magazine goes beyond calling this a movement, instead choosing the word “Revolution.”

 

outdoor mediation photoAccording to Greg, “people are now designing their lives around what is essential and eliminating everything else”; and companies are supporting them…isn’t that is fantastic?

But the question I have is WHY?

How did we allow ourselves to get here?

In what context is it really okay to add more to our plates everyday, forgo sleep, forgo relaxation, forgo self-care etc. And in turn trade it for brief daytime naps or meditations?

Is that the answer to “produce more”, to “be happier”, to “stay inspired”?

Are we really effective this way?  Is our production truly optimized when we are sleep deprived or mentally depleted?  Will short bursts of focusing on essentialism during the day help?

I know in my case it has helped, but only some days. Certainly not every day.

If I am lacking sleep because I choose to trade that for work…I will take time out to nap, meditate, watch a movie to give myself a little break etc. I also work from home.  I can choose my hours of sleep and wakefulness. I can choose when I take a break and what I do with that break and I control what makes me most productive.

But, I do have to wonder what makes it okay for employers to accept that their staff are trading sleep for productivity? Maybe that’s not exactly what they are doing or why they have implemented these fantastic retreat spaces…but it does make you wonder doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I love that companies are creating a culture that supports and endorses the essentials…in fact, if I were to ever re-enter the workplace on a corporate level, this would probably be one of the draw’s for me as I am guilty of living in the busyness bubble more often than I care to admit.

But I am still unsure if this means they are trying to help / support you OR just trying to keep you at the office more.  Have you ever wondered that?

According to the MayoClinic…

“Although some people claim to feel rested on just a few hours of sleep a night, research shows that people who sleep so little over many nights don’t perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get closer to seven hours of sleep a night. Studies among adults also show that getting less or much more than seven hours of sleep a night is associated with a higher mortality rate.”

Do you really want to risk a lower level of performance at work OR cut your life span short by sleeping less and working more?

I know I don’t. It just doesn’t work for me personally. My sleep is sporadic as it is…so I need as much of it as I can get.

But the fact remains that not everyone is cut from the same cloth. Some of us can function just fine off of 4 hours of sleep per day and we do not need daytime naps or meditations to be at our highest productivity levels.

The good news is that Dr. Christopher Winter says that how much sleep everyone needs, is unique to them. So, our differences in these area’s may not be a discussion where anyone is right or wrong…it’s just a matter of true self-awareness.

In fact, speaking of self awareness I have a long-time client (in the Self Awareness / Inspirational Speaking / Coaching arena) who swears that his productivity is maximized by ONLY sleeping 4 hours a day.  And his most productive hours for work start somewhere after midnight when the rest of the world is sleeping!

I find that fascinating myself.  I WISH I could flip the script on my schedule and get more from less like that. It seems to work for him.

So if some can do it and benefit from it while others cannot, could it be then that the problem is not a lack of sleep, relaxation or self-care so much as it is too much distraction when you work at the same time everyone else is working?

One study by Workplace Options has found that workplace distractions cost American businesses approximately $650 billion dollars a year in lost productivity.

We all know how hard it can be to focus when so much is going on around you at the office. But what if your office has one employee (YOU)…

What if you STILL find yourself in the busyness bubble, working from home?

juggling business tasksWhat is a workplace distraction as a solo-entrepreneur exactly?

Your co-workers in such a case are most likely made up of the people you communicate with online (such as Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Facebook, Twitter etc).

They will be your watercooler friends.

But in my opinion what makes you BUSY is much MORE than just the typical social happenings that cause the distractions for you.

It’s something within you!

To follow is my top 5 list of distractions and their solutions – derived from my years working at the Corporate Level as well as working with those who learning to and/or running their own businesses:

  1. Technology. No surprise here right? As technology gets more advanced and significantly easier at the same time, we are drawn to the coolness factor of it and want to see how it can fit into our lives.  It’s distracting for sure. In fact, some of us are straight up addicted to it. But from a workplace perspective, technology can also help us automate everyday tasks and free us up to do more. So that addiction can lead to great stuff.  UNLESS it creates bigger problems.

    The thing is, the more we automate, the more we free up time to do “other stuff”. That eventually adds more to our plate and before we know it were are spinning 50 plates all at once and we have lost our ability to focus on only one. We must train ourselves to see them all at once.

    That is a LOT for any human to take on. We cannot avoid this one entirely, but the following problems and solutions may help minimize them.

  2. Lack of self-discipline. We really do need to learn how to control our attention / focus.  This is in fact one of only solutions to the technology distraction.  If we can map out our daily agenda and learn to stick to it while prohibiting ourselves from looking at anything else – we can prevail.

  3. No delegation. If you are weak at something, you should not be doing it!  I don’t care whether you are employed or self employed, you need help, you cannot do it all and you certainly should not do what you SUCK AT!  It serves no-one and never will. Plus it just distracts you from doing everything else that you are great at. Find a way to delegate whatever you can!  There are so many people around you that LOVE the work you do not and all it takes is for you to reach out and ask for their help.
  4. Lack of systems and processes. This is a biggy and one that many of my clients are grateful to conquer with my support.  Despite the fact that there is not too many “once size fits all” systems or processes, we should take the time out to design the ones that help us make sense of everything. It will not only keep us on track each time we have to utilize the system but it will arm our successors with the necessary info they need and dramatically reduce training time for those successors.
  5. Lack of critical thinking abilities. As an instructor with nearly 2 decades teaching adults a variety of leadership / management skills, I have witnessed firsthand just how scattered people become when they have not harnessed the power of critical thinking; we all need to work on this – because it makes us better and faster at making decisions, especially complex ones.  Here’s a great article for you to start with.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of barriers and their solutions.  I highly recommend looking up how to delegate, how to master self-discipline, how to build systems and processes and critical thinking for professionals. The resources you find should assist you.

Also, for more ideas on taking care of the essentials and tackling distractions, I recommend you read Greg McKeown post (on LinkedIn) and the Margie Warrell post (on Forbes).  I am positive between the two of them you will find some great methods to get your head in the right place and make big things happen.

And as always if you have any others to share, please feel free to leave your comments below.

Key Terms Seeing Positive Change

It has been 1 month and 8 days since my original Marketing Consultant Vancouver Challenge post.  I had not posted an update for this over the last while because I “thought”  that not a whole lot had changed since Day 8 – and because I have had a family emergency to deal with — BUT I learned today that some very good changes have been happening behind the scenes that I felt were worth sharing.

Those positive changes as seen below are related to my search queries.  (These come from Google Webmaster Tools). I grayed a number of them out so that I don’t muddy the waters with my other terms, but what I did keep (to show you) are those related to the term marketing consultant.

Webmaster Marketing Consultant Searches June 30Now granted, the numbers are small (definitely small), but we have to remember that I have not been working on any of my own SEO over the past 2 years and my agency site in particular has more or less been neglected entirely until this challenge.

But without this challenge, the changes should have continued to be on the decline (as they have been over the last two years).  With this challenge, I am proving that some SMART, strategic SEO can do miraculous things!  (Even if impressions past page 1 are useless for traffic and conversions – you have to start somewhere).

So what is SMART, strategic SEO:

In my experience, it’s vital to understand the intention behind the keywords.  For example, the following terms have seen increases in either impressions or position:

  • Best SEO Consultant Langley BC
  • SEO Consultant Langley
  • Internet Marketing Consultant Langley
  • Vancouver Internet Marketing Consultant

Despite the obvious geo-targeting there are two distinct groups here. Those are looking to hire 1) An SEO consultant 2) or an Internet Marketing Consultant.

Granted, these “could be” persons simply doing research on who falls under these categories, what they do, how they position themselves or where the job opportunities are.  But none of those are relevant to me. So when I write my blog posts I have to write to the audience that IS relevant to me. And again, that means that I have to write to those looking to hire an SEO consultant or looking to hire and Internet Marketing Consultant.

For each type of search (and it’s related variants), I have to both prove my knowledge if my intention is to be the one they hire.

One is definitely more specialized / targeted while the other is far more broad.

The specialized search allows me to streamline my content and target specific topics as proof of knowledge.  I will do this through pages, posts, video and other means of content marketing.

But I will not overdo it by talking about the same stuff on each of those content assets.  That is just duplication or regurgitation and simply not good enough.

That is an absolutely no, no.

Today, people are smarter, savvier and they have a whole lot of choices with whom to work so I need to ensure that my content is not only speaking directly to their needs, but also better than those I am competing against.

(That last part requires some research of course).

I also have to pay close attention to the limitations around certain keywords. For example, if the subject is too specific, I may only have one good page, post or video in me to prove my value. This makes SEO tough because one piece of content doesn’t go very far.  And even if it does, the amplification of that won’t last forever.

On the other hand if the specialized subject itself is broad (like SEO is) I could create hundreds of great content pieces to draw traffic in.

And the broader the subject gets, the easier it is to cover MANY topics related to it as well.

I like broad because it gives me OPTIONS. Especially those where I can link internally to related posts. Allowing me to start specific and grow broad…covering all bases.

Despite the obvious work I do in this area (and that I have done specifically for this challenge)- I may not be able to credit all of the latest changes to my challenge alone.

Why?  Because I am not Google, nor do I have any control over it.

As smart and as strategic as I can be, Google makes a lot of changes that can impact me for the better or worse at any given time. And that is just a fact.

In fact, their most recent update may also have contributed to my latest upward movement in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s).

If you are asking yourself what update that was or how could it impact me – here are the details.

Panda 4.0 (another Google Update) rolled out on May 19th. 

According to Search Engine Land, Google confirmed a major Panda update around this time that likely included both an algorithm update and a data refresh. It is said that officially, about 7.5% of English-language queries were affected (meaning that nearly 8% of the search listings got a spike or a drop). And while Matt Cutts said it began rolling out on 5/20, Moz data strongly suggests it started earlier….

If you were penalized by this update (or any others) you would experience losses – in position, rank, impressions and also likely clicks. If you were not penalized and instead benefited, all those metrics would move into the green (as shown in my image above).

We cannot ignore the fact that historically “good sites” without blatant over-optimizations do tend to get a minor boost when updates happen.

Stale sites (those without major updates of their own) shouldn’t get a positive bump (according to Google), but it is still possible that they will and over the years, this has happened to me countless times.

So I cannot rule out that this latest update may have also impacted some changes for me.

Esp. since all of my on-site content is my own (not aggregated and not curated), timeless, valuable and well optimized.

I try very hard to ensure that whatever I post to my sites is original and good enough to stay relevant for years to come.

Some might say this is hard to do with SEO in mind as well, but if you have been at it for as long as I have (nearly 20 years now), I would totally disagree.

There are and always have been some tried and true SEO strategies that will always do you right and when you know them and abide by them – you cannot do wrong.

That is true UNLESS you are ALSO doing black hat or not doing ANY SEO at all. Both could negatively impact you.

Closing thoughts on these two subjects:

Black hat SEO is just bad for business.  It is manipulative and intent on keyword activities that pay little to no attention to the end users needs. Sure you might gain some ground short term by way of rankings and traffic (even if that is fading quickly as an option), but in the end you will not only lose any gains you have – you will also be penalized for them and recovery is a major task!

An absence of SEO on the other hand, doesn’t HELP you either.  Like I said earlier, I have done little to no intentional SEO on my sites for nearly 2 years.  As a result, I have also received little to no related search traffic and therefore had no chance of moving up in search engines. That much is obvious with my stats.

I am not at all saying that Black Hat SEO is better than no SEO by any means here, but I am saying that in both instances – your long term outlook is about as dim.

The ideal situation then, is simply to learn how to do it and to do it right.

Interested?  Please consider enrolling in my next online SEO Course. I try as much as I can to keep it as current and relevant as possible as well as timeless.

So if you want to learn from someone who truly knows how to make SEO work – I look forward to guiding you.

 

 

 

Day 8 Update: Movin' On Up In Google

Super pleased to make this update today.   For those of you who are unaware, this is Day 8 of my own personal challenge to prove that SEO is NOT dead and that optimizing your website STILL matters.

It started out as a challenge I imposed upon myself in front of my SEO Students with the Centre for Arts and Technology’s Digital Marketing Program.  I had noticed that I was not showing up for the keyword phrase (or variants of it) Marketing Consultant Vancouver BC.

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Day 5 Update: Checking for More Site Issues

So, I am now on Day 5 of this Marketing Consultant Challenge I have imposed upon myself. I am still not seeing my original Day 1 post listed in the Google Index (which is my ideal engine) via the primary keyphrase I am targeting, but not all is lost yet. It’s still VERY early in the game PLUS I know that I have done very little to properly promote this website from the beginning of it’s launch.  So I have work to do and I am willing to do it.

Today’s focus was on my standing according to Google Webmaster Tools.

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Day 4: Site Indexed and Quality Score Is Strong

Well, here we are on Day 4 of the Marketing Consultant Vancouver BC Challenge I have imposed upon myself. If you are unfamiliar with this challenge or it’s progress thus far you can start with Day 1 here.

I am getting a lot of great feedback from colleagues and followers mostly in private messages and some comments (thank you so much) and I am starting to get really excited about the outcome of it all.

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