Email: My Secret Shame, and Improving your creative business in the New Year

I am shit with email.

There is no sugar-coating that baby, no making excuses or blaming it on the cat. I am shit with email. I come home from work, all ready to write my little heart out for the evening, and there it is, that seething bulk of communication, and I am grateful for every single item that comes into my inbox - new albums for me to download, guest posting, client enquiries, press releases from strange and weird places, ad requests for Gothic Wedding Planner, replies from editors about pitches, newsletters … – so I, in my excitement, read them all, think “I’ll reply to that later, when I’ve given it some thought,” file it away in a folder, and promptly forget that I need to reply to it.

Sometimes I look at that counter that says “54 new emails” and I go and listen to my husband’s band practice, instead.

I frequently leave people hanging for days – sometimes even weeks. I accidentally delete things. I send emails and forget to attack stuff. I send enormous files without noticing. I am a bad, bad emailler. 

If there were email gods, they would smite me where I stand.

The first thing that I wanted to say was that if you’ve been a victim of my email-suckyness, I apologise. I am so, so, so sorry. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m an unorganised, scatterbrained hazard to myself.

The second thing I want to say is that it’s going to change.

2012 is upon us like a great looming behemoth. And since I’m throwing out my old wall calandar, I should be throwing out my bad habits, as well. Changes are afoot. Reduced hours at my “real” officey type job, more time for writing and creativity, a solid business plan, and an email management system that I can actually follow.

I’m not talking about New Years Resolutions, as the very phrase induces groans that shake the very foundations of the earth. I’m talking about an assessment of the year just gone. If you look at your business successes and shortcomings over the last year, can you name ONE thing you’ve done absolutely awesomely, and ONE thing you need to improve?

The ONE awesome thing is because it’s important to acknowledge what you are doing well. We’re too damn hard on ourselves. We expect the whole world and when we don’t deliver, we feel like a failure. Our successes often fall by the wayside.

Don’t do this to yourself. Celebrate your successes for 2011. Keep in your mind what you do well, and prepare to do a whole lot more of it in 2012.

Now, lets move on to your own weakness.

This is not the time for big laundry lists of to-do items, because you’re not going to actually get around to doing them. Improve ONE thing, and ONE thing only, to give your creative business a boost next year. What’s the ONE thing you could improve that would bring in more money, give you more time, cure your stress or push your business forward?

  • Are your outputs not high enough to cope with demand? Should you aim to improve production of your fine art?
  • Is there a particular aspect of your business that causes you stress or takes too much time?
  • Do you struggle with a certain aspect of book-keeping or administration?
  • Have you been meaning to launch a new service but haven’t got around to preparing your site and writing all the info?
  • Do you know you need media attention but haven’t been approaching any sources?
  • Have your readers been asking about an e-course for some time, but you haven’t got around to creating it?

In all likelihood, you know what the one thing is immediately. I sure do. It’s that damn email.

Now that you KNOW, it’s time to come up with a plan to combat it. You plan will vary from mine, because mine is all about kicking myself up the backside and yours will be all cuddles and sunshine :) But a plan you must have – filled to the brim with goals and small, actionable steps to transform your business.

Me? I’ve revamped my email folder system, discovered a button that allows me to tag emails that need a reply, reworked my daily routine (taking into account my new schedule), so I read and reply to email AT THE SAME TIME (I know – what a revelation!) and figured out a million and one small things that will vastly improve my email-replying experience. Implementation of the majority of my new schemes begins after Christmas, when I have a few days of uninterrupted downtime to work on back-end stuff. Improvement will be slow, but noticeable, and measurable.

What will you be doing to improve your business in 2012?

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