Showing posts with label dreams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dreams. Show all posts

Monday, May 11, 2020



6 (almost) Foolproof Strategies for Meeting Deadlines
By: Kel Amstutz
Monday, May 11, 2020

Sometimes I have to remind myself of a quote from a LEGEND of Productivity and Personal Leadership when I have a project with a deadline.  Napoleon Hill said, 

"A goal is a dream with a deadline."

I think of this quote anytime anyone says anything about a deadline... and my inner procrastinator's instinct starts to kick in to rebel or negotiate a later deadline... even before I begin on the said project.  

But... due in part to the fact that I watch entirely too much T.V. the filter between brain and mouth reminds me about deadlines attributed to Robert Herjavec, from ABC's Shark Tank.  He said, 

"A goal without a deadline is just a dream."

Two quotes... about dreams and deadlines... and the kind of do work together...

These words seem to shift me productivity into GO-MODE and remind me that while deadlines can be stressful (I mean, that does go without saying... right?), I can achieve a lot more with deadlines than without them. 

There is a reason why deadlines are IMPORTANT:

  • Deadlines help our minds focus. Without them, it would be entirely too easy to lose track of time, give in to distractions and wander down the myriad of rabbit holds offered by the endless internet before us. 

Over the years, I have found six awesome strategies that have helped me keep on task and meet my deadlines...

STEP 1:  Set REALISTIC Deadlines

I know what you are thinking... really?  It seems too obvious. But, you would be surprised at how often people will set a deadline without thinking through how long it will really take for them to complete the project... and don't get me started on reviewing things that are already on the table to get done. 

It is well-documented that we (both individuals and groups) predictably underestimate the time necessary to complete projects when we are setting our deadlines. 

So... what do we do about this?

To combat this tendency, follow these steps:

  1.  Consider past projects that are of a similar nature and scope.  How long did they take you?  The answer to this question will give you a general idea of what you can expect.
  2. Break down the project into the logical steps that you will go through and assign a time to each of those steps. You will most likely come up with a time frame that is similar to what you did in step 1, but now you will have some milestones to keep you on track. 
  3. Consider what you will need from others. Have you worked with these people before? How quickly do they usually deliver? Make sure that you are factoring in these small details into your timeline.
  4. And finally, take the numbers you come up with and multiply them by at least two (2).  Do this for one of two reasons. First, unexpected things WILL come up. And second, it is very likely that your memory of past projects is not perfect, so this extra time will insulate you.
Going through these four steps will help you obtain a pretty accurate idea of how long a project should take you... but you still HAVE TO STAY ON TRACK!  

This brings me to my second strategy... 

STEP 2: Have a Written Plan to Meet your Deadline

If you start to think of coming to the end of a project like a journey... your very first step should be to pick your destination. 

This is the DEADLINE.

The next step is to plan you route. 

By designing your written plan, you get your brain thinking about the series of tasks that you need to take to complete the project and to ultimately meet your deadline.  Now, your brain secretly DOES NOT like to leave anything unfinished, so this step really gets your brain set on completing those tasks, even before you start to carry them out. 

In other words, writing out your project plan prepares your mind for the tasks required to complete it and meet the deadline.

Additionally, writing down your plan (and deadline) forces YOU to look at the specifics and to make concrete decisions on each of the steps necessary and know when you can tackle each of them. 

This strategy of having a written plan for completing a project is the  
SECRET SAUCE of meeting deadlines. 

I have taken a few coaching courses along my own journey and committing to the plans (or goals) in your writing is so very important.... because it:

  • Motivates you.
  • Forces YOU to filter other opportunities and obligations.
  • Provides clarity.
  • Forces you to see - and celebrate - progress.
  • Helps you focus on the goal (rather than the push back). 
But, don't mistake PLANNING for DOING.  You need to QUICKLY move from the planning stages into actually working on your project(s).

This strategy is largely about PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY.  Having a set plan with internal deadlines WILL help you to AVOID the dreaded procrastination. 

That being said, it will also help you be accountable to the outside forces when you are working on a deadline.  Many times this is built-in, because the deadline is set by an editor, copy chief, or anyone who is higher up on the pay scale. But, being held accountable by someone else definitely keeps us on a deadlines... right?

So, moving on to the next strategy...

STEP 3: Share with Your Team

Accountability works way better when others are involved. I mean, most of the people that I know... if they are being honest... are NOT the best at holding themselves to a task...

But, most people I know do not like to look like they are scatterbrained... or a slacker... in front of people that they care about. 

When possible, tell other people about your deadline. And not just the BIG ONE at the end, but the significant milestones you hit along the way. 

Within your personal life, you could tell your partner/spouse, roommate or a close friend. Ask them to check in with you periodically to see how your project is going. Your desire to be able to answer them in a way that makes you look good will help keep you motivated and on task. 

Professionally, share those milestones that you have set with your client. And then, send them a weekly email to update them on your progress. Believe me, this one goes a long way... and after you have sent one "nothing to report" message, you will get back on task real quick!

What about Mastermind or Accountability groups?  I personally love this format, letting other like-minded people come together to lift one another up.  They are so great for holding your accountable. 

A really big aspect of accountability is building rewards and detriments...

If you hit a milestone, have a specific celebration in mind. It could be small- like an afternoon movie... or, when you complete a major project, it might be bigger.  A few of my bigger rewards have been buying an expensive item... or going out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. 

A quick example of a personal accountability stick - or a detriment- that I have set for not achieving a goal is donating a set amount of money to a local charity.  If you want to make this effective, donate to a political candidate... you will NEVER stop getting mail.  

However, the simple fact remains... the most IMPORTANT accountability and reward tool for meeting deadlines is...

Y O U .

If you don't set deadlines.... or take deadlines seriously... (and this is across the board... deadlines set by YOU... set by an editor... copy chief... or supervisor), then NO AMOUNT of internal or external accountability - or planning- will matter. 

To make that happen, you have to...

STEP 4: Do The Work.

Obviously... right.  But, as world-class procrastinators will attest, this is sometimes the hardest part. 

You can draw out a deadline and set an ideal deadline... you can design a perfectly written plan to meet that deadline... you can get the right resources and support... but, if you don't start the work, you are NOT going to meet the deadline.

Don't wait for tomorrow or next week.... Don't wait for later today... Nope... 


Even though you are not going to finish today, you just need to START.

By "today," I mean whatever day you're given the project. You've set the deadline, designed your plan to achieve it, and even set up your accountability network...

So, DIG IN!  Start doing the actual project. Aim to complete at least your first small task. Your brain is tuned in to your project and its deadline.... so now is the perfect time.  

But... doing the WORK also means AVOIDING distractions during the time you have set aside to work on this project. 

I get it. Distractions happen.  The competition for your time and attention is fierce and it comes from MANY different sources.  You have to take a hard stance against them and maintain complete focus on the task at hand. 

So, close your browser... this will allow you to avoid internet surfing.... Close the office door so you have peace and quiet.  Set your phone to "Do Not Disturb," so you aren't tempted to answer texts or check in on your notifications. 

It's really that simple - but, putting it all into action might not be.  Focus can take practice, and the best time to start developing your ability to focus is RIGHT NOW.

Now, you might be wondering what else I could say.  These four strategies might be enough to meet your deadline... and sure, they might be.... BUT, I have found two additional strategies that are also very helpful...

STEP 5: Don't Add Extra Work to the Deadline

OK.... Projects and Requirements change... I totally get that. 

However, avoid adding to your work when you already have an assigned and defined project, especially if a negotiated deadline has already been established and set.  If your client needs you to do extra work, well, OK, but you will need to adjust the deadline. 

I always make it clear with the clients I am under a deadline with: 

  • If the project requirements change - expanding - and those changes must be incorporated into the current project and its deadline - the deadline will require adjustment in order to account for the additional work. 

And... one final bonus strategy....

STEP 6: Don't Be Afraid to Ship in "Beta"

This strategy comes from the land of software development.  Software is built and tested internally with a development team, who try to test and grab all the bugs in the "alpha" phase of the project.

In regards to copywriting, I compare this to a first complete draft of a piece. You have worked  through the entire blog post, editorial article, e-newsletter, email series, landing page, video sales letter, or long-form sales letter.  You've outlined the entire piece, you have all the research compiled and organized, and you have a rough draft of all the necessary pieces laid out in the correct order.

Then... "beta" is the NEXT PHASE.

In the software development world, this means the software is complete and has all the features.  This is the version that companies often use in public demonstrations, and sometimes it's released to a limited group for real-world testing. It's complete, but ... it's likely to still have some bugs. 

In copywriting, this means you have ensured all the major components of this piece of copy or content are present... you have given it the once over and ensured that style and voice are used correctly.  It has survived your internal process of beating it up. 

Your next step is to get some further input. And, it does not have to be "perfect" to take this next step. That need for perfection is where so many writers get HUNG UP

I have no idea who said it first, but I have heard the saying "Done is better than perfect." 

This is a hard one to swallow, especially for me... O.C.D. and all. 

But, getting it out the door by the deadline is better than perfect. 

If you don't get the project done on time, you are risking so much... missed opportunities... even missing the opportunity to make the copy better. 

Let me explain this a little further...
You can do personal review and tweak your work ... forever... and you still might never get it "just right".  Why?  Well, you need editor feedback to make it better.

See... we need people who AREN'T US, who don't have our set of assumptions, who don't have our worldviews, who don't have our bias towards the copy or content.... to actually review it and give us a sense of what's working... and what isn't.  

You can not be a proofreader and editor at the same time. These are just simple facts.

Remember, as a copywriter or a content developer, you are responsible for RESULTS.  You can NOT be afraid to put yourself on the hook. You can deliver. You need to deliver. 

Embrace your deadlines; they are not your enemy... I swear. 

Instead... they are really the BEST FRIEND a writer can have. Deadlines create a sense of urgency within us. They make sure that we FINISH what we start and that we continue to move forward and grow... and... drum-roll please.... because this is the KICKER.. 

They ultimately help us build the life we want... The Writer's Life.... 

Don't take my word for it. Use these six strategies for yourself. Don't forge to share your experiences or tips that work for you in your journey.  We love feedback! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017


By: Kel Amstutz
Keywords: Personal Growth, Your Life's Journey, Finding You, Growing, Development, Dreams, Purpose, Lost Gypsy Soul

Personal growth is a hard topic for me, personally.  It always seems as if I take two huge steps towards growth...only to take five steps back into what I actually want and how my path will look.  Of course, this is my struggle.  

Image result for personal growthBut, you know that you are here for BIG THINGS, right?  I mean we all have a difference to make and a PURPOSE TO LIVE.  If YOU are already doing this...right now, awesome! Keep on doing your thing.  

If you are like me, and are not, maybe your unsure how to get started or maybe it's possible that you have missed the important journey that you need to take to get to where you want to be...

Whatever you want to call it- Personal Growth, Personal Development, Self-Actualization, Finding yourself ... this journey is about YOU exploring and developing WHO you truly are.  It explores:

  • Identity
  • Talents
  • Potential
  • Dreams
  • Aspirations

This helps you develop who you are physically, mentally, spiritually, and intellectually. 

Image result for personal growth

And, it can look HOWEVER you want it to look- that is the whole PERSONAL part! Your journey might involve training, up-skilling, traveling; or maybe yoga, meditation, and spiritual healing. 

But, the KEY to this whole process is to PUT YOURSELF into situations that will trigger that exploration and development. 


1. Know Yourself.
Image result for personal growthHaving self knowledge is NOT just knowing your likes and dislikes.  It is about knowing who you truly are as a person.  Think about how you look at life.  How you interact with others. What ignites that fire within you?  What scares you?  What truly gets your heart pumping?  A person who sincerely knows who they are shines with confidence. 

This kind of knowledge is learned by person reflection, a lot of alone time, and situations that push outside of your comfort zone.  Those situations can be very different for everyone- maybe having lunch at a restaurant alone with only a pen and paper, no bodies or phones, or maybe taking a trip alone.  You can learn a lot about yourself when you jump into unfamiliar environments, breaking from the comfort bubble that we all tend to create and surround ourselves within.  And, when we break past the things we thought we were only capable of, we then start to feel like we can achieve greater things, boosting our confidence.

2. Surround Yourself with Beautiful People.
Image result for inner beauty
You all know that I am referring to INNER BEAUTY.  People that make you see the world in a new way.  People that do extraordinary things.  People that exude the qualities that you love and would like to have rub off on you; think about kindness, compassion, bravery, drive. People that have a story to tell, gifts to share and lessons to teach the world. #inspiration

3. Rid Yourself of Negative People
Image result for no negative peopleOK. This one is tough. Think about a person who just brings you down.  It could be a person you know, a person your only acquainted with, or it could even be a close family member. Only you can decide whether or not you should do this (or want to), and how best to do it. Every situation is different.  Sometimes it calls for addressing situations in person, face-to-face and other times it calls for breaking contact, and sometimes it calls for leaving one day and never looking back.  This is easier said than done, so I won't make light of the situation. The one instance where I would urge you to immediately remove yourself is if you are physically or emotionally at risk.  Often, these types of situations will require help from someone outside of your circle- ask for that help. 

4. Practice "Three Good Things" rule 
Image result for 3 good things

I want you to write down three good things that happen throughout your day, each day, or three things that you are thankful for.  It can really be as simple as "I'm thankful for the sun today." 

5. Avoid Comparing Yourself to what you see on Social Media
Image result for social media breakOh Social Media...Here is the thing: it's a clipped, cropped, cultivated representation of WHO WE ARE.  It is NOT really who we are.  We accentuate the BEST of ourselves.  We filter and tweet what we want others to see- and to be perfectly honest, that's OK.  It is no different then quickly cleaning up the house when we know someone will be stopping by; we like to present ourselves to others in the best light.  The key to social media is to be MINDFUL that this is what everyone is doing--and yes I mean EVERYONE! 

So, when spending that hour at a time scrolling through news feeds, know and understand that those updates, photos and comments have been carefully considered.  And when we compare ourselves to others, we have a tendency to compare the WORST of ourselves to the best of everyone else.  To be truthful, we have no business even comparing ourselves in the first place; it's just not a fair comparison.  The funny thing is, people are probably comparing themselves to YOU.  It's not a healthy pastime.  I suggest that if you notice yourself making unhealthy comparisons, unsubscribe from that person, for a little while.  You can still be friends, but you will stop seeing their updates.  The 'three good things' exercise and knowing yourself will help you boost confidence if you find yourself in this spot.

6. Write.
Image result for writeIf you have followed some of my other blogs then you know how important this is.  Write. Whether in a blog or even a journal, writing is a therapeutic outlet for your thoughts. However you wish to do this; Julia Cameron's morning pages are recommended by me, or a diary, or be it random typed up notes on your phone, your way is your own but it can help free your mind to get things out of that space. 

7. Get out there and Meet New People
Image result for meet new peopleIf you are shy or introverted, like me, this will serve as part of the getting outside of your comfort zone exercise.  Spend time with NEW people who can help broaden your horizons and open up new adventures and/or opportunities in your life.  If you are unsure how to do this, start with friends of your friends.  Get invited to parties or make it your mission to talk to someone when you are at a school function for the kids, or getting your morning coffee from the local coffee shop.  Strike up a conversation at the gym.  Introduce yourself to the person you always see at the beach or park.  The possibilities are endless. 

I am sure that if you are like me, the thought of doing this is giving you heart palpitations right now.  This is a good thing.  This means that it is time to seize the day.  The easiest way to begin is simple, offer a compliment and ask an open ended question, kind of like this, 'So, how do you know...'  I have found that this is a great ice breaker, especially for the socially awkward, like myself! ;)

8. Clear the Clutter
Related imageWe all get emotionally attached to stuff in our lives.  But, when we purge some of that stuff, ridding ourselves of all the clutter, you know that have had it for almost a lifetime and yet it sits in the same spot collecting can and usually will feel empowered. This process is freeing!  Cut back and do so by donating items, help out friends and family, or even have a garage sale. The other side of this is to start being mindful of future items that you bring into your life.  I always like to ask if I want it or need it, because, honey, there is a difference. 

9.  Turn OFF the T.V.
Image result for turn the TV offThis point I am about to make almost blew my own mind.  It is so true.  Emotions in others stirs emotions in you.  OK, so I am watching this movie, it's a popular movie, in which a puppy is murdered, seriously, it was tragic and traumatic in the same breathe. Sure, it was not reality, but it stirred something in me that brought me DOWN.  I was so caught up in the story-line and the emotional reaction that it brought within me.  Sure, they say that a good movie will leave you full of whatever emotion they were trying to portray- so it's a job well done, but seriously...

So, if you give up your free time to watch the screen and what plays out, be prepared for the reactions you might face.  I suggest spending time learning something new instead! 

10. Get in touch with Nature.
Image result for fresh airTake time out of each day to breathe in some fresh air.  Take a walk, visit a local beach, or just sit outside watching the clouds.  I call these moments mini escapes, because I feel that this puts me in the real world away from the computers and TVs, or even cells phones!   I love to watch the stars, swim, walk through the park near our home and something about roasted marshmallows in the summer over a bonfire, just puts me in the right mindset.  The world we live in is beautiful and it is so important that we all take time and enjoy it and let it re-energize us in the hectic world that encloses most of us day in and day out. 

11. Read. 
Related imageHonestly, next to writing, this one takes the cake in my world.  Reading connects us with people that may have lived long ago, before we were even born.  It gives us an insight into another world, another perspective.  It grows us in the easiest way possible, all from the comforts of our favorite chair.  I understand if you are not a big reader, but the best way to start is to either pick a topic or find a book list of more popular books and dive right in. Nothing lets you live a life that is not your own like a book! 

12. Develop a childlike sense of humor.
Image result for childrens laughterI have two young kiddos and I love how easy it is to make them laugh.  Their humor is sweet and simple- pure joy escapes their happy little faces from a silly joke or even a funny face. I love embracing their lighthearted sense of humors; and reminding my own self of this happy, go lucky attitude.  I try to get to that crying-laughing stage at least once a week.  This is so healthy for us all to embrace and remind ourselves of this uncultivated joy. Life is to short to always be so serious! 

13. Get a Hobby.
Image result for hobbyHobbies serve a multitude of purposes.  First, you learn a new skill and it is usually a creative or physical outlet.  Guess what else, this can introduce you to new people and it gets you out of your comfort zone.  Hobbies are typically an achievement of something that you have always wanted to do or try and it gives you something interesting to talk about when you meet new people. Being passionate about something different is cool.  Passionate people are interesting, and it doesn't even matter what that passion is.  It's energizing to talk to someone who has a real excited love for something.  

14. Make Someone's Day.
Image result for make someone's dayWhether it's a stranger, a friend, your parent or spouse- do something right now to brighten someone's day.  It can be as simple as a genuine compliment- an unexpected and thoughtful gift or what have you.  Seeing the effect that your kindness has on others will leave a lasting impact on your personal growth!

Start now.

If you are ready to begin or develop your personal growth journey- try one of these ideas list above! 

If you have already started your journey and would like to share what triggered your own personal growth, please do so below - your story could inspire others to begin their own journey! 

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