get it on the shelf

Bluebell printable wedding set
'Bluebell' Printable Wedding Kit from e.m.papers

Last week I asked what your burning questions around project management and productivity are. Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments. I gleaned a few themes from them, which seem to be:

What to focus on, how to get a handle on ‘the big picture’ and how to do it all. Let’s tackle the first one: what to focus on.

I’ll take an example from my own business. My primary goal for 2011 is to sell 500 wedding kits. One of the projects I determined would help me reach that goal was to sell my work on more marketplaces: my own e-commerce site for the European market, a Dawanda store in two languages and Wedzu, a marketplace for indie wedding products.

I set up all of these new marketplaces (no small feat), and loaded them with product listings for my invitations. Great. The new stores worked, and I had a sense of accomplishment.

In the meantime, it also occurred to me that I need to broaden my product catalog, so I started working on a lot of new designs. Then we went on vacation. Then a friend visited. For a good four weeks I was doing the bare minimum, working in my business, but not on it.

When I sat down to review my goals last week, there it was in black and white: Sell 500 invitation kits. What had I done in the last month to make that happen? I had lots of new designs to develop into full suites, I had the new store platforms ready, but on most of them I hadn’t uploaded product listings for many of my kits!

It’s hard to move products that aren’t on the shelves.

The lesson here: Review your goals often, and focus like a laser on the things that will help you meet those goals. Get good at saying no, to yourself and others. Stick with the work you committed to meet your goals, even when it gets boring. Put all your new exciting ideas that do not directly contribute to achieving your goals in a ‘maybe later’ file. Do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect $200 dollars, until you finish the work that will blow your objective out of the water.

9 thoughts on “get it on the shelf

  1. I hear you on the saying no. I am, in fact, starting to think “no” is the best way to get business recognized. So many people assume that owning a business or having non-traditional work habits equals super flexible hours. My daughter’s teacher thinks I should be in the classroom weekly (if not daily) reading with the kids and doing projects. My neighbor wants me to attend aerobics with her at 9:00 am (come on, it is just an hour). And hey, it should be easy for me to meet people for lunch/shopping/at the airport.
    But the answer has to be “No!” I only have a precious six hours while my daughter is at school to work. Any extra time I find is either a bonus or is stolen from my family, my sleep, or my personal hygiene regime. Why? Because I have a real job. I have designated work hours and must adhere to them no matter how guilty those first-graders make me feel.
    Eliminating the things that interrupt that time is doing me a world of good. I’m getting stuff done, sleeping, smelling better, and establishing that what I do is work and important work at that.

    1. I deal with this so so much! People who want to be in my life need to realize that my business comes first. I’m not just sitting around in my office, staring out the window, waiting for someone to go to lunch with! It drives me crazy that I’ve been working for myself for over three years now, and my circle of friends still seems to think I have oodles of free time because I make my own schedule. Quite the opposite! I want to get things done and achieve things in my life. That requires discipline.

  2. I SO agree with you on this! I often find myself distracted by the things that I “want” to do (which are basically just time wasters and procrastination techniques – my boyfriend calls it “avoiding the muse”) when I should really be tackling my list of mini goals to reach the big goals! You’ve got to reprimand yourself sometimes – you’re the boss, after all!

  3. ooh, wake up! two things bit me, remember to not only review my goals, but to set them in the first place –for both my businesses.

    and the thing i’m better at, scheduling in time each day to actually accomplish the things i need to do to accomplish said goals (written or just in head).

    it’s really good to see and read an d have them reinforced again. many thanks,


  4. “It’s hard to move products that aren’t on the shelves.”

    OUCH! I’m so glad that hit me first thing in the morning. I have been working my tail off at re-branding and pricing and all kinds of relevant things but I have ignored that empty gallery on website that has said coming soon since January. Oh my.

    I find I tend to get hyper-focused in one area of my work/business and forget or ignore others. I need to remember, and daily, if I don’t do it no one else will.

    Thanks for getting me on track!

  5. I guess it can be summed up in 3 words. “Do the Work”

    Set tasks that are “Results Orientated” and leave everything else to the side until the tasks are completed.

  6. This is a post I really needed to read right now so thank you for posting it. I realise now that my main problem is I have all these ideas but no specific goals so I end up floundering. Am going to work out what I want first (ie. goals), write them somewhere I can see them and look at them often.

  7. Well, writing this post served as a very helpful reminder to myself! It really helps to review goals each week. I sometimes skim over it, and I always have to back track later, after I realize I’ve gone off track.

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