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  • ILISE BENUN is the founder of Marketing Mentor, and has been teaching people to promote themselves and their services since 1988. Author of 4 books and many, many more articles, Ilise has been self-employed for all but three years of her working life.

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  • DEIDRE RIENZO is a copy writer who helps small business owners turn their ideas into words. She partners with web designers to create simple, compelling, and keyword-rich website content for their clients. The Marketing Mentor program is the driving force that has helped Deidre grow her business, and she blogs about her experiences, adventures, and struggles here at the Marketing Mix.

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March 10, 2011

How an egg timer has changed my life

Hi, I'm Deidre. In my posts, I talk about my voyage down the road of self-employment as a website copywriter, my achievements and roadblocks along the way, and what I’m learning as I go (with Marketing Mentor as my guide).

Some of you may remember when I got overwhelmed last month. Suddenly I have a lot on my plate again—and now I have to figure out how to be busy better. I decided this was my week to float instead of sink.

Armed with a positive mindset, and a few tools I’ve learned over the past few weeks, I’m floating! Here’s why:

  1. I love this egg timer. Dear Kirk Roberts, Your email newsletter, Die, Procrastination, Die, arrived in my inbox at the perfect time. Thank you for sharing the “Pomodoro technique,” where you set an egg timer for 27 minutes, and focus on just one thing until the buzzer goes off. It has changed everything. (For more on using a timer, see Patrice Robertie’s post, The 15-minute miracle.)
  2. The rooster rules. Adding hours to the morning instead of the evening makes me feel more in control. I got up early this week, and that extra 60-90 morning minutes made such a difference. When the rooster alarm crows—I rise and shine.
  3. Banish evil email. I was a slave to email, and I never realized it. Apparently an email would arrive and I’d think: Urgent, urgent! An email has arrived. Time to panic! Quick, do something! I had no idea how much time I was wasting randomly checking email between each teeny task—until I took Pam Bryan’s free productivity TeleForum. Among other things, it taught me that I should check my email 3-4 times a day for 30-40 minutes—and I should schedule this time! I’m not 100% there yet, but closing email while I’m working has made stress virtually disappear. Thank you, Pam! (Pam is offering another productivity TeleForm on March 17th.)
  4. Sit in the sun and eat oatmeal. It’s ok to step away. In the midst of a tight deadline and stress, I don’t have to stick it out. I can get up, leave the computer, go for a quick walk or sit in a sunny window and clear my head. It seems the key to finding the inspiration you’re looking for on a certain project—comes from NOT thinking about it for a few minutes.

I’ve realized that I’m in charge here! I make my own schedule. I commit to projects. If I can’t handle the heat, I’m the only one who can lower it. At the same time, I can do a lot more than I thought—just by working smarter.

This week I’m learning that I can handle a full plate—and instead of freaking out like last month, I’m actually enjoying it.

What has changed everything for your productivity?



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I have to say the timer is my go-to as well. This is perfect for me since I work well under pressure...it's not even like pressure though, it's like freedom! I actually have a digital timer w/3 timers in it and it's good for keeping the big picture in sight (ie-food might be in the oven, phone appt coming up, etc)

I often have to be on the internet when I'm working on projects, so I just use Google Chrome's minimal browser for keeping me on track during intense sessions, but pop open Firefox with all my presets when I have time to surf/do admin and email.

I recently started waking early as well and like you said it is better to start early than stay up late. Things just get better in the mornings than tiring late nights. :)

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