Tag Archives: Tamara

When to Let Go


As a Small Business Owner, I suspect that you have had more than one good idea about the direction of your business. The business that you run today is probably also not exactly what you first envisioned.

The reason for this is likely because along the way you made small strategic decisions to go towards one goal or direction and let some things go along the way. Sometimes those little pivots are enough to create a business that you truly love but sometimes a bigger ‘letting go’ is needed to really create success.

For someone who has personally gone through the tough decisions of when to let go – I wanted to share my personal experiences as well as share what I have learned by seeing some of my business mentors shift gear.

With personal evaluation, I have always considered two key factors that help me determine when it’s time to let go and when to go forward. The first thing is my personal satisfaction/motivation and the other is the outer result of my work.

My ‘satisfaction’ is determined by my excitement (or lack of), my flow of ideas and interest in everything related to my business industry.

I saw this personally when I was no longer spending my time researching. As an expert in the field I was centered around, I really wanted to be on the leading edge of any new findings and strategies. Beyond that, I was also committed to using and implementing all of my research to make sure I was providing the most relevant and founded information. When I found myself avoiding podcasts on the topic and choosing different books at the library it was one of my first indications that I would not be able to make the long haul in the industry.

The outer ‘result’ that I used to assess my situation was how I felt about the work I was producing and the impact I had on others. If I could see that what I was bringing to the table was truly revolutionary, that would have been a reason to hang on. But the truth was, it wasn’t. I didn’t feel like I was bringing a fresh enough perspective or creating positive change in the world on a level that I really wanted too.

Looking into the future was also a big part of how I made the final decision to let my first business go. I looked at the careers of those who were further ahead of me and I just couldn’t see myself really thriving at that level. While I was ‘out there’ looking, it also gave me an opportunity to look at what others were doing that I could see myself being in the same arena with, which happened to be in a different industry.

By seeing these business mentors from a 10,000-foot view I was able to see how they also continued to make shifts and let go, sometimes in big ways, and other times in small programs or offerings.

Every time I would see this – (because I admired the way they did business) I could appreciate their courage in trying something new, even if it wasn’t my favorite thing they had ever done. That’s why I encourage you to take a look at your own business and feel brave when you feel a change coming on that may include letting go. It may just be the best thing you have ever done.

The overall perspective here is that sometimes it is worth it to push through the tough times and sometimes it is better to just let it go. Considering these concepts will hopefully help you find the best path for you.

Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com

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Benefits of Experimentation For Every Industry

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Many years ago, I was involved in a high leveled art program. Everyone who was apart of the program was given their own studio, freedom to structure their workflow and access to anything from a photography dark room (Yes, it was that long ago) to oil paints.

However, there was part of the program that was structured. It was the requirement to produce something that they called ‘Experimental Studio Research’ (ESR). This wasn’t the perfectly polished framed painting that you may think your mentors want to see – no. This was the process. The work that brought you to that finished piece. The samples of palettes that didn’t work. The sketches that never produced a finished product.

At first, I almost had to force myself to experiment because I was usually quite certain of how I wanted to work. But I learned valuable lessons by committing to ESR, and it is something that I have taken into every business I have been apart of.

The lessons translate to business so well because as we all know – there are no guarantees and it is inevitable that some things will work better than others. For the purposes of this article – the ‘Studio’ can refer to your industry and the ‘experiments’ are considered strategies that you implement and programs, products and services you offer.

For example, let’s use the coaching industry. You may try offering one-to-one intensive retreats for the first time instead of your 3-month group packages.  You have never marketed such high priced service so you expand to advertising in high-end print magazines instead of investing in just Facebook ads. After two months you haven’t gotten any sales of your retreat but have gotten 25 phone calls about your 3-month packages and requests for year-long programs. Taking the risk (experimenting) with a different marketing approach didn’t get the desired results, but there was unexpected benefits. The results of the ‘research’ of trying a different approach then led to business growth by finding the coach’s clients and what their needs are.

As you can see in the example – one important lesson is that: effort in one direction may actually benefit you in another area that you don’t necessarily expect. The key is to be open to the findings of the ‘research’ and less focused on the unexpected turns that will inevitably come.

Another lesson I applied through this concept is that the ‘process’ is valuable too. You may not only get unexpected business growth, but you may find unexpected skills and interests of your own that you can apply to the future of your business. For example, the coach we talked about before may have found out that she really loved the long-term relationship that she was able to develop over a year’s worth of services.

The value of perceiving things this way is that you can really avoid the ‘failure’ mindset. If everything you do is used to inform your next decision (Ie: NO one bought that program, or I got 400 new sign ups with the newest opt-in), it is all valuable. Knowing what didn’t ‘work’ is just as important as knowing what does.

I hope that reading this you have considered how your ‘experiments’ within your industry can still contribute to the success and growth of your business, even if you ended up not proceeding the way you originally thought.


Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for other creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com

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Summer Blog Tour 2015


It was a pleasure to be invited to be a part of IC Publishing’s Summer Blog Tour.  I am looking forward to reading about other entrepreneurs like myself.  I would like to thank Shery Andrunyk for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.  Here’s a bit about Sheri:

Sheri Andrunyk is the founder of I C Publishing (tour sponsor) and the I C Bookstore, entrepreneur expert, mentor, and author of Working From Home & Making It Work and Hearts Linked by Courage. She is writing two more books this year, and is extremely passionate about providing more choices, resources, and high level support to other writers, business professionals, wellness coaches, and spiritual mentors.

Bites and Blogs: What are your tips for creating meaningful content for social media? How do you determine what blogs you’re going to write, and why? How do you remain consistent?  How do you know you’re on the right track?

With regards to social media, content is king.  My approach is the ever so popular 80/20 rule.  I try to follow this as closely as possible.  It states 80% informative and 20% promotion is the best way to keep your audience engaged.  Within that 80% of content, I try to use content from my blog site, which in itself is a “soft” way of promoting the site itself.  I am a believer in using all possible platforms to promote your business, so use whatever hidden or soft ways of promoting your business that allows the reader to have your business in mind constantly.

Blogging is a great way to get your point across without having to engage an audience for a long period of time.  I personally don’t blog, but I do have contributors who are experts in their field who blog on a consistent basis for my blog site.  I am very firm on consistency when it comes to blogging.  I require a minimum of 1 contribution per month for 6 straight months from all my bloggers.

There are many “hot topics” out there in the world of blogging for small businesses.  My selection is based on the topics that are a firm requirement to assist with starting and growing your business.  The resources we provide via our blogs are those that we find answer all the questions that are being asked by aspiring entrepreneurs.  We have been fortunate enough to witness our success over the past three years based on the increase in our readers.   Our numbers have increased each year by 50% and so has the interactions.  We have also been fortunate enough to have experienced blog contributors, who have written pieces that resonate with our readers.

Talks: What steps do you take to create new workshops, programs, or keynotes?

Creating workshops that resonate with your audience can be challenging.  You have to not only consider your guests and what they need, but you also have to consider what your competitors are offering.  Our workshops at Canadian Small Business Women are largely based on materials that are necessary for your business.  We also don’t focus on having ‘big name’ speakers whose main focus is to upsell to my audience.  There are a few requirements that I have:

  1. The workshop must be less than 2 hours long.
  2. The workshop host cannot spend more than 10 minutes introducing themselves and their business.
  3. The workshop must be hands on
  4. The workshop must have a “to do” list that allows the attendees to implement everything that was taught in their business.
  5. Do, feel free to upsell, but you cannot upsell throughout the workshop. The last 10 minutes are usually dedicated to that.

Books: Everyone has a story, some a book. If you’ve written a book, what was your creative process? What encouragement would you give others just beginning their book writing journey?

I have not had the pleasure to write a book, but it is in the works.  I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by inspirational authors who have encouraged me to take that leap in to being an author.  I currently have a title and a short outline.  I will just have to find the time to move forward and start writing.  I welcome any suggestions from our readers as to how to find my way creatively.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Wow!  I would tell my younger self to pay attention to the small details.  I am not one to regret any decisions made and I definitely live each day to the fullest.  I would definitely tell my younger self to learn how to let go of things sooner and to not be so high strung!

What are you working on now, and how can we, as a collective community, help?

We are currently working on the launch of our membership website.  Our goal is to have our members benefit from the partnerships we have made with many companies across Canada such as Vistaprint and Staples.  We would love the readers to join our network as well as to refer the network to others.  We can be found at www.canadiansmallbusinesswomen.ca


Passing the pen to next week:

Sandra Dawes is a certified life coach specializing in helping women who feel unfulfilled with their 9-5 follow their dreams and pursue their passions. She holds an Honours BA, an MBA as well as a certificate in Dispute Resolution.  She has completed her first book Embrace Your Destiny: 12 Steps to Living the Life You Deserve!

Connect: www.embraceyourdestiny.cawww.twitter.com/sandradawes


Tamara is the founder and creative director of Sweet Clover Studios. A creative space where design, inspiration and the desire-to-grow combines to produce purposeful materials. From surface pattern designs to children’s books, the process and personal insights are shared to create community and an example of multi-passionate creativity.

http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com  or Instagram : @sweet_clover_studios


Happy Blogging!!

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Competition Elimination

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As small business owners, we are constantly reminded of the large volume of competition out there. It could be a local shop owner who is selling similar products as you or a service provider that just moved into your neighborhood.

No matter what industry you are in – you are going to face ‘competition’ at one time or another. In my field – (design), I am constantly surrounded by talented entrepreneurs who could make me think that I don’t have a shot at my big dreams. Instead of thinking about those individuals as being competition, I have stuck to my belief that there is something you can do, which could almost completely eliminate the competition mindset.

From personal experience, (as well as taking cues from very successful small business owners), I have discovered that the way to really step away from competition is to focus on two things. Who you are and why you want to provide the product or service that you do.

‘Who you are’ (for the purposes of this article) is another way of saying: ‘what is unique about your business’ based on your personal skills, strengths, experiences and perspective. In business exercises you may hear people use the term ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP) – which is a common term for an exclusive offering. Often people identify and express this USP is through branding, messaging, copy etc. To really make these expressions – I suggest weaving YOU into those messages using things that only you can offer. Lean on what you have learned and see how it can differentiate your business from your competition.

‘Why’ you want to provide the products and services is also unique. Your intrinsic motivation is often more powerful and inspirational than the threat of someone taking your clients and consumers, as is in the ‘competition’ mindset.  As an example – think about a business owner who runs an all-natural skin care line. If she started the business after seeing her child suffer from terrible reactions to big brand-name creams, that would be a big differentiator from her competition. Knowing that she is dedicated to helping other mothers soothe their children’s painful rashes isn’t the same as being the lowest priced item (Which may be another skin-care lines USP).

Some people may argue that competition is a necessary part of business. You may even think that it is naïve to think that competition doesn’t need to be the focus. I am not saying that you can ignore the fact that there may be someone doing something very similar to you. I simply suggest that you use any similarity to inspire you to showcase everything that is unique about you as a business owner and why you got started.

Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for other creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com

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How to Focus on the ‘Right’ Ideas in Your Business

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Being a business owner, I suspect you have probably had more than a few ideas for your business. It could be thoughts of how to increase sales, new products or services or even who to partner with. The problem can be when we have too many ideas or don’t know what to focus on, it can become hard to execute on any of them. The following article outlines how to identify what ideas should be your focus, in order to positively impact growth and personal satisfaction within your business.

  1. Notice Patterns

Even if you never wrote any of your ideas down (which I often suggest), likely you will start to notice conceptual repeating patterns if you are aware of this focusing tactic. Patterns in your ideas are anything that has a common thread that ties it all together. For example, if you were a local organization but kept getting ideas about translating your copy, market opportunities overseas and manufacturing prices abroad, this is a pattern. The idea to focus on would be international opportunities. Once you have identified how all of those little ideas fit under the bigger umbrella – it will become a lot easier to focus your energy and attention of where you want to go.

  1. Personal Response

When someone asks you ‘what you do’ at a dinner party, are you excitedly telling them about the core values of your company? Or about the best new piece of software you are using? Or would you rather tell hear about the book that they published? The reason I suggest noticing your personal response is because focusing on what you are intrinsically interested in will hold your attention longer and impact your overall offering far more than doing something just because you ‘should’.  If you find yourself more interested in someone else’s ventures, that is also your queue to see how you can bring the basic concept into your business and make it unique to you.

  1. Feedback

When I say ‘feedback’ – I am not suggesting you do whatever someone else tells you to do. The trick here is to notice what parts of your business your customers and clients comment on as being beneficial to them, and what resonates with you the most. You may find the perfect formula by combining an objective view to your personal opinions. This is an indicator to focus.

  1. Strengths

Ideas that align with your personal strengths are a telltale sign that you may be on the right track. This is not to say that you can’t be a tech mogul if you don’t know how to use drop box…but, you would have to have strengths in delegation (so not to waste your time on things that are in someone else’s zone of genius). More so I suggest focusing on ideas that will allow you to use your experience as a person and as a business owner as well as skills that come naturally to you. Personally, I focused on design aspects of my business because I enjoyed it the most and also had a lifetime of experience with different creative mediums. A weakness of mine is projecting the ‘numbers’ so any ideas that I get about increasing profit margins (for example); I consult with someone who is stronger in that area. This is when to focus on getting help, rather than diving deeper.

As a business owner who works with female entrepreneurs who are often overwhelmed by the amount of ideas they have, I have seen how applying these focusing constructs can work across many different industries. If even one helps you move forward on one idea rather than none than I believe, it was worth it.

Tamara is the owner and designer at ‘Your Pretty Pages’ where she provides templates, planners, guides and resources for creative entrepreneurs to get and stay organized. To support your successful personal business planning, Tamara has just released two savings bundles of templates in her shop found here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/yourprettypages

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Planning for the Unexpected

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One of the central themes I think all entrepreneurs can agree on, (no matter what the industry) is that the ‘unexpected’ is inevitable.  Change happens whether it is a slight interruption of your day, (“Can we change our appointment to Tuesday?”), or a money draining, time consuming printing error.

As an entrepreneur who talks about (and advocates) for planning, people often ask me why they should bother planning when it is just going to change anyways. For those of you who may ask the same question or could use a little planning inspiration, the following is how (and why) I think you should do it anyways.

Planning creates momentum. When you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you are taking an action step – even if it is just getting an idea out of your mind. This momentum is often the thing that you need when those unexpected things arise. To use an analogy, it would be like a long distance runner who just pulled a muscle at the last mile of a race. Having all of that hard work, training and road behind him – a pulled muscle is not going to prevent him from crossing the finish line.  He (or she) has momentum and that counts for something.

Planning naturally reveals priorities. Looking at your current calendar/day timer – even a stranger could tell what you are putting your most time and energy towards. Priorities, whether family, work or your physical well-being will always ‘rise to the top’ and can handle a some unexpected circumstances because they matter that much to you. Have some confidence that if the unexpected happens, the things that matter the most to you will still get done.

Lastly, you can plan for the unexpected by giving yourself pre-determined flex time. No, you can’t say for sure what will end up taking that time. But, if your priorities are set and you still give time for things that you don’t expect, it does not have to be a stressor in your life. Even the great Tony Robbins is famously quoted saying “ …if you schedule it, it’s real”. That is why I suggest not packing your schedule so tight that one thing ‘not going right’, could negatively affect the rest of your day – and maybe even your week.

Having a mindset that ‘expects the unexpected’, as well as having the principles we have talked about in this article built in to your entrepreneurial habits will certainly help along your journey. So remember: Get your ideas out, plan for flex time and keep your priorities non-negotiable. Then plan on success.

Tamara is the owner and designer at ‘Your Pretty Pages’ where she provides templates, planners, guides and resources for creative entrepreneurs to get organized and plan productively and purposefully. To see her newest Essentials Pack of planning pages visit here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/yourprettypages


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‘Journaling’ to Entrepreneurial Success

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One of the ways I approach finding effective strategies for building my business has come from very targeted research. This research involves looking to those who are farther along the entrepreneurial journey than me, then identifying what they define as contributing to their success.

One standout trend across industries was the use of journaling, in many different capacities. ‘Journaling’ is a term used (in this article) to define an individual who is taking time in their day as a part of a regular routine to physically write/record personal information, ideas, experiences and reflections.

You may have heard recent studies of science backing up the benefits of putting ‘pen to paper’ (ie: Mueller and Oppenheimer’s research found individuals had increased ‘conceptual understanding’ and consequent success in applying it to their work). Or you may have a personal practice of journaling for creative expression but not thought of it as a business tool. Even if you haven’t had any experience with journaling at all, I wanted to bring to you some of the methods (and benefits) that research has shown can contribute to success in business, so you can create a system that will work for you.


  1. Problem solving

Using journaling is actually a way to see solutions that may otherwise not have been seen, as ‘Fast Company’ (online) reveals. This process can include: asking questions, brainstorming solutions or writing from different perspectives. All of which can provide an alternative way to process complex information, beyond typing.


  1. Evaluation

Once you have written on a regular basis, it gives you an opportunity to review what has been written and find patterns and changes in momentum across a defined period of time. Using this type of reflection after the journaling has occurred was key in Julia Galef’s (President of the Center for Applied Rationality) work with her clients. She uses this strategy (along with her signature system) to help others change long-standing (often not helpful) opinions about themselves to create new patterns of behavior after this type of process.


  1. Focus

One downfall to using technology (widely known) is the abundance of distraction. Quick processing and easily found information make it easy to change activities with a click of a button. Using pen and paper gives you the opportunity to literally only have ‘one thing open’, no need to resist clicking on a new tab. Once your journaling is done, it is encouraged that you then simply ‘put it away’ and not disrupt the rest of your work that is not related.


  1. Productivity

A recent Harvard Business School study actually found that using ‘journaling’ (by reflecting at the end of the day) could increase productivity by up to 25%. This is based on the participants in the study being able to ‘visualize’ what is important and therefore make more progress towards a particular goal.


I can appreciate that all of these strategies (and subsequent benefits) can be integrated into your workday; no matter what business you are building. We live in a very abundant time in our lives, because technology is advancing and becoming very accessible to all. The great thing is, so is paper. By using journaling strategies in conjunction with digital tools you have an opportunity to create a system that can produce the results you want in your growing business.


Tamara is the owner and designer at ‘Your Pretty Pages’ where she provides templates, planners, guides and resources for creative entrepreneurs to get and stay organized. To support your successful planning, Tamara has just released the ‘Entrepreneur’s Journal’ which you can find here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/YourPrettyPages

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Successful Planning, Successful Week

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Planning your workweek in business can sound like a simple process – but if you have ever been interrupted, fell behind on deadlines or forgotten an appointment, this article is for you. I believe it’s not about managing every minute, it’s a new fresh perspective that includes being prepared, flexible and in-line with your work habits, style and personal preferences.

To plan a successful week I have used my experience with other female entrepreneurs who care about accomplishing a lot within a week and found some universal strategies that can be utilized in almost any business out there.

  • Schedule the unexpected:

Business owners are some of the most motivated people I have ever met so I find ‘over-planning’ to be a problem for a lot of us. This happens when we fill every moment of our calendar and fall behind immediately when even one phone call goes over our allotted time. This can cause stress for not only the day, but for the rest of the week as we play ‘catch-up’ to get back on schedule. A way that I have found to combat this issue is to dedicate some time in your week for ‘yet-to-be-determined’ tasks, projects or obligations. Later in the week is usually best. When you aren’t able to finish something in the time you allot or you get an unexpected request, you are able to now be flexible and rely on the safety net you have designed into your week already.

  • Identify low energy tasks:

It’s natural to have fluctuations in your energy levels as your day progresses. You may feel sharp, motivated and full of energy in the morning or feel tired and a little stiff in the afternoon. It’s easy to identify these times when you are experiencing them, harder to match your tasks to that energy if you are not prepared. The way to do this is to schedule tasks that require less concentration with those low energy times beforehand. Give yourself some time to answer ‘general email’ questions, tidy up your desk or look on social media when you are feeling less energized and save high-energy times for creative, developing and more intense projects. This will help you balance your day, which will help your overall week.

  • Pick a focus:

Within each of our businesses, there is always something that needs attention. Instead of trying to do everything all at once, my recommendation is to pick one focus and stick to it. This produces success because you are not reacting to interruptions, which take you away from that highly productive and focused work. You may be thinking that it is not practical to only do one thing a day – your emails still need to be answered. The way to do it successfully is to keep your focused work (what you really want to complete) in one of the higher energy times of your day (as identified in the previous topic). This gives you quality time that is in-line with your already established habits to really get it done.

  • Bundle ‘Away’ tasks:

Luckily we are in charge of our schedules so we can decide when to do our supply shopping, networking events, doctor’s appointments and ‘out-of-office’ tasks. I have always recommended that business owners pick a time in their week – every week that will be dedicated to these tasks. The benefits are far reaching as you are not only creating habits for yourself, but also creating reasonable expectations from others in your life. Which could be customers, family and also make delivery schedules more regular. I often recommend scheduling these days in the middle of the week when you may just need a change of scenery too.

Overall, when you see how much choice you have in planning your week and use these strategies to integrate your personal preferences you are going to be able to get more done in your week and enjoy it along the way.

Tamara is the owner and designer at ‘Your Pretty Pages’ where she provides templates, planners, guides and resources for creative entrepreneurs to get and stay organized. To support your successful planning, Tamara has just released two all new version’s of the ‘Entrepreneur’s Planner’ which can be found at https://yourprettypages.com/planners/

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Managing Information Overload

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Whatever stage your business is in, I can guarantee that you are managing a lot of information. It may sound familiar to be juggling things like correspondence, deadlines, project work and your many-amazing-ideas on a daily basis.

Today I am going to share some simple strategies of how to easily (and enjoyably) send and receive information without it being a stressful or overwhelming process.

Information can come to in the form of a phone call, email, text or even a knock at the office door. When you get that email or pick up the phone, the first step is to identify if it is reference material that is ‘response required’ or not.

Reference material is anything that you will need to access at a later time. For example, it could be details about the date and time of a networking event (time based) or some industry news that you will need to look at later for a project you are working on.

The information that comes to you (but doesn’t require a response) is often the hardest to keep track of. The most effective strategy I have ever used has been to categorize information and prepare a collection area before it comes. Of course you can’t predict every type of information that will come your way, but don’t worry. You should easily be able to create word documents or sections in your paper planners/notebooks to divide topics such as Marketing, Product/Service Development, Website, Industry news etc.

As you start noticing trends in types of information you can add them as you go. Having this area prepared is a quick solution for handing the information that does not yet need to be processed. It is also an easy way to input new information and reference it because it is not getting mixed up from the beginning.

If the reference material is time related, it is considered ‘response required’. To handle this information, simply write down the task in relation to a date or time in your calendar, right at that moment. This could be details of a webinar you intend on attending or something related to sending information to someone else. If you don’t do it as soon as you receive it, it will be something that can get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t have time to do it right then…read on and I will tell you the next important strategy.

If you don’t have time to do any follow up action when receiving information (ie. Look up a quote for a client on the phone), then don’t receive it. Remember, this is your business and you get to set up your day the way that works best for you. It’s better to call the client back when you are available to talk, rather than let it interrupt your current work and risk forgetting to follow up.

Finding a way to manage this information proactively is key to being productive and reducing the stress that comes along with not being able to easily access information when you need it. You get to step out of being reactionary in your business and give yourself more time and opportunity to dive deeper into the work at hand – reference materials near by.

Lastly, becoming organized with information takes commitment and time. It’s an evolutionary process that needs to be adjusted as your business grows. If you find yourself having so much information collected on one certain topic, it may be time to sub-categorize or sift through the information and pull out the most important parts.

It may require an initial time investment but it will definitely save you far more time and decrease stress in the future when any kind of information needs to be sent or received in your business.

Tamara is the owner and designer at ‘Your Pretty Pages’ where she provides templates, guides, tools and resources for creative entrepreneurs to get and stay organized. To gain access to Tamara’s FREE 5 Day Challenge (Transforming Information Overload to Organizational Bliss) visit https://yourprettypages.com/5daychallenge/ .

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