We all want the next best SEO tool
If you’ve been in, around or near SEO for any amount of time you’re well aware of the number of tools, plugins, softwares, courses, hardware and a gambit of other offerings are available for purchase. Just enter your credit card and you’ll have full unrestricted access to pure money, private islands and luxury aircraft!
Often it can be challenging to know which offering will help you take your work to the next level. Unlocking more earning potential, more free time or perhaps just make your life that much easier. Each one screaming for your wallet to open. Each one promising to make you the five figure income you see others touting on your preferred social network. So, which do you choose?
In this post I’m going to pinpoint something often ignored in a technology driven industry and that is the value of you. That’s right, you, the human behind all those computers, high speed internet connections, VPS servers, wordpress installs, hosting, domain scraping, css files, keyword researching and search engine optimizing.
We’ll discuss how ultra successful people lay a proper foundation for reaching their full potential by investing in themselves before anything else. No matter how busy, broke or already successful you might be, there will be something here you can use to improve yourself and your life.
You’re the best SEO tool you’ll ever own
You might not see yourself as an athlete. Perhaps you have a gym routine or keep to a specific diet, but likely don’t spend the 12+ hours per day 6 days a week that it takes to train and condition to be competitive. The reality is we’re all athletes in one form or another. Just as an athlete relies on a good training routine, proper nutrition and mental conditioning to keep their body able to compete and win you too should see yourself as the your greatest tool to achieve your goals and be competitive. Investing in yourself is the most profitable investment you will ever make.
Taking care of yourself
Food / Nutrition
This can be a sensitive topic for some with a society to obsessed with physical features and appearance. This isn’t a diet blog so there’s no need to focus on that here. What successful people know is that their body is a machine and like any good running reliable machine it requires good fuel in proper quantities. It’s all too easy with a desk job to fill our mouths with sugary, salty snacks that do nothing for our bodies except keep away hunger. Even that may still plague us if our body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs. Just because you’re eating it, doesn’t mean it contains the nutrition your body needs to be healthy.
You owe it to yourself, your family, your friends, your customers to give your body good nutrition. If you’d spend $75 on a new WordPress theme or $400 on a domain auction, but can’t afford to spend $3 feeding yourself quality food that hasn’t been processed beyond recognition you’re already getting behind in life and business, you just don’t know it yet. That’s the path to a slow agonizing death. And to all you skinny people who think skinny means you’re healthy, think again.
Exercise / Physical Activity
The benefits of exercise could easily fill an entire encyclopedia (for those too young to know what that is it’s a library of books that at one time contained all the information you’d now find on wikipedia.org).
A few minutes every day up from your desk, out of your chair walking, climbing stairs or even just doing some simple stretches will “help high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and depression, among others. More than 90% of the studies show that sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise.” as noted on Wikipedia.org.
We’re all busy. Take 15 minutes and give your back and neck a break. Get up and move for just a few minutes. You’ll come back to your work refreshed and with even better focus.
It’s all too easy to work from sunrise to well into the night with our line of work. The world never sleeps. Ask me how I know. The UK is just getting up about the time I’m ready to pass out. Just then I get a lot of IM’s and it’s tempting to respond, but it’s better for them that I wait till morning and give a much more refreshed response.
I’d be a hypocrite if I said don’t work long hours, days on end (heck, years on end!) and I’d be more of hypocrite if I said don’t sacrifice sleep for business growth. We all need to make sacrifices to reach our goals. If you’re giving up sleep to make this a reality then know your reasons, have a deliberate purpose and stick to a plan.
If losing sleep isn’t helping you reach your goals, then reassess your goals and find another path to get there. Short term sleep deprivation results in drowsiness, forgetfulness, distractibility, memory impairment, weight gain, stressed relationships and even injury. Long term it can escalate into high blood pressure, heat attack, strokes, obesity, psychiatric problems and on overall poor quality of life. A regular sleep schedule goes a long way to preventing many of these issues.
When you’re tired, put your computer to sleep and get some rest. Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder, still finds time for 8 hours of shut eye.
Most all of us love what we do and even in our “free” time find ourselves in, around or near the communities or circles we participate in daily. However to recharge the mind it is good to have some way to re-create or rejuvenate. This doesn’t have to be elaborate or costly. Keep it simple and find small ways to recharge. Whether it’s grabbing a beer with friends, grabbing a quick 10 minute massage or spending some time with your family. Feed your mind and it’ll service you well.
Energy / Passion
We’ll touch on this a bit more later on mastering your energy, but here it’s worth mentioning that you need to learn to harness whatever it is that energizes you.
For each of us that can be any number of things based on our current goals, what day of the week or even hour of the day. We all have times of where our energy is at a high point and learning to maximize work during those times will result in massive productivity and ultimately being very fulfilled with our accomplishments.
The opposite of this is working when it’s convenient and doing what we so affectionately call “the grind”. Which should be a clue you’re not working with your energy, but against it. When you’re working and the output seems effortless this is called “flow”. That’s when you’re riding the wave. Do that more often. Pay attention to your energy each day and drop in when the energy is flowing.
Focus / Discipline
With so many hours spent in front of a screen, whether a cell phone, laptop, or workstation, endless appointments and deadlines to meet, popups, notification and reminders vying for our attention its no wonder we can’t focus well for extended periods of time.
Set goals for yourself to reduce distractions, set specific times to work on certain projects distraction free among other things . Turn off facebook, don’t check your email and log out of Skype and instant messengers. You’ll feel like a super human at all the work you can get done without having to read all those messages and then get back in the groove. Studies have shown it can take up to 30 minutes to regain focus after you’ve stopped to check an email.
Be disciplined and when you set aside those times to focus on work don’t tempt yourself with distractions. If you need a break get a drink of water or stretch in your chair and look out a window. These small breaks and help clear the mind and you’ll regain focus quickly.
Making room for a better you
Have a garage sale often
“I wish I could get better clients. Mine are terrible.” This sentiment or some similar version is expressed daily by many. However they don’t follow a simple analogy. If you don’t like your bed, you can’t really just go get a new one, put in your room and go about your business now can you? You’d need to get rid of the existing bed first in nearly every case.
To make room for better things you need to have a metaphorical garage sale. One mans junk is another man’s treasure, yes? This simple analogy applies in so many facets of life. Customers, possessions, time, relationships and more.
How can you upgrade yourself if you aren’t making room for something better. If you’re in a terrible relationship with someone who drags you down how can you possibly complain that you want a better relationship? You first need to remove yourself from the bad scenario and then make room for something good to come along.
Of course this presumes the issue isn’t actually you which is a whole different conversation about being the person who others would want in their life. Let’s save that for another day.
Reduce clutter, reduce waste
Perhaps you’ve caught yourself saying “Wow this place really inspires me”. Perhaps it’s a coffee shop that is well lit or is particularly quiet. Is your office this way? Or is it over run with stacks of junk mail, boxes of paperwork, endless wires and other clutter?
As humans the color, temperature, design and feel of our environment plays a massive role in our productivity, energy, focus and motivation. Even if you can’t afford to revamp, upgrade or renovate your workspace you can easily spend a few minutes each day cleaning up clutter, throwing away garbage, taking the dishes to the kitchen and keeping your workspace clean. This will boost your productivity, focus and energy without you even noticing.
“But I won’t be able to find anything. I know right where everything is.” This a lame excuses slobs use to justify living in squalor. It doesn’t take a big budget to put together a simple, ergonomic workflow to keep pens together, papers sorted and take your dishes to the sink. Quit being lazy!
Only keeping the very necessary items at your workspace will help you reduce waste. Use a refillable water bottle instead of cups that accumulate. Use scrap paper from the printer as scratch paper. Don’t use sticky notes when you can put a reminder in your phone.
Even sending yourself an email can be a great way to save paper and clutter. Open and shred junk mail right away. Don’t let it pile up. Look for ways you can be paperless and reduce more waste and clutter such as utility bills, bank statements etc. Even doing a little digital house keeping is good for the mind.
You just may catch yourself thinking, “Gosh this place looks SO GOOD!”
Less is more, quality over quantity
Often the biggest source of clutter is just having too many things that have a single purpose, but as a whole just translate into a mess. One such example is having endless peripherals and all the gangly cables and wires that go with it. Do you really use all those gadgets? Like a scanner. How often? Can it be stored away in a closet between uses? What about your camera equipment. Why not invest in a neat storage case and keep it all in one place?
Look for ways to consolidate, minify, reduce or eliminate. If you haven’t used it in 6 months you likely don’t need it. If you still think you will someday, find a place to store it away from your workspace. By asking yourself every single day, “Do I use this often?” and only keeping the most useful items nearby you’ll automatically be reducing.
Before you add something to your workspace look for a solution instead of a fix. Can your next paper holder serve as a drawer, organizer and cubby? Can your next monitor have built in speakers instead of a separate set sitting on your desk? You get the idea.
Setting yourself up for success
Clearly defined goals / goal tracking
If you’re trying to make progress, but don’t know where you’re going or how you’ll get there it’s impossible to tell if you’re getting anywhere. So many people are busy, but haven’t any idea if they’re making progress. Not having goals is like driving in a car with no map and no destination. To continue the metaphor you’re also running on a limited amount of fuel called energy and resources. It’s a matter of time before you break down and/or run out of gas.
Sitting down and taking inventory of where you are today, writing this down in clear words. Then defining where you want to be. Be as clear as you can. Whether you’re focused on the short term or long term. Make notes. Ask yourself now what it is that will help you get from where you are to where you want to be.
Perhaps you’re familiar with the strategy of breaking things single steps. What one thing could you do that would get you where you want to be in one year. What one thing would help you get where you want to be in six months. Three months. One month. One week or one day. You get the idea. Break it into single simple steps. Combine to achieve larger, more complex goals.
Next you’ll need a map. To see where you’ve come from and measure progress. For many a quarterly map session is sufficient. It’s a time to reflect on what you’ve been doing. What you’ve accomplished along the way. How what you’re doing is either contributing to or distracting your from your goals.
We all hit the metaphorical closed road or construction detour from time to time. It’s vital that you be able to get back on your route quickly with minimal delay. It’s also good to measure whether an opportunity is just a well disguised distraction that would just result in lost time or is in fact a viable detour that will help you reach your goals faster. You can’t know this unless you have a good idea where you’re going and are keeping track.
Checking in your progress from time to time is also good for morale and an excellent way to acknowledge all that you’ve done over the last period. You just might surprise yourself if you sit down and note all the things you’ve done, problems you’ve overcome, roadblocks you’ve avoided, skills you’ve learned and people you’ve met in the past three months. It’s amazing.
You’ve heard the saying “You are what you eat.” That rule applies to those with whom you associate as well.
My father always encouraged me to surround myself with people who challenged me to be a better version of myself. Never just settle for having company. Strive to uplevel and find people who while accepting you for who you are will also push you to be your very best.
I think of a mountain climber who is trying to summit the most challenging peak they can find. They pack as many things with them as they can carry, but every single thing has a purpose and if at any time a tool no longer serves a purpose it is left behind.
We should all look at our lives as we climb to new heights and take inventory of who we allow in our life, how much they give and how those relationships are helping us or hindering us.
Taking time for the quality relationships you have will surely recharge you and give you the energy and inspiration to tackle your work each day. True friends are priceless.
Improving your surroundings
The technology you use should augment you and make you better at what you do. Much like shoes make a runner better the technology you use should make you better. This might seem obvious, but often the tools we use are causing us problems, sometimes more than they solve.
Take a look around you. Is your mouse working for you or against you? Are your monitors clear, crisp, clean and easy to see. Is your office a cluttered paper laden train wreck or a well ordered clean and inspiration space?
Remove obstacles / restrictions
Remove things in your daily life which hold you back. Habits, people, weaknesses, distractions, things etc.
Taking time to pay attention to the things that make you think “Gosh this is annoying” or “that thing / person / place always gets in my way”. Those are the things that working to remove will create room for better things.
Less television / More reading
The most successful people read daily. Often for an hour or more. Studies show that ready for just six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68%.
They also watch far less television. In fact almost none. This is multifaceted. We couldn’t possibly touch on all the reasons, but here are a couple valuable insights.
Foremost they are students above all else and willing to spend time seeking knowledge from others who have already been down a path similar to theirs. This leads to fast tracking progress instead of trial and error which is wasteful and time consuming. A few hours reading the experiences of others can save you years making mistakes someone else has already remedied. Warren Buffett allegedly Googles “habits of highly successful people” every morning and shares what he finds with his friends.
Additionally it affords them many unique perspectives on problems and how to frame them. These perspectives and insights come in very handy in their relationships with others and in their daily activities.
Listening / Learning from others
Learning to listen is a key factor to those who achieve great success. They are perpetually students. They learn from others no matter their class or stature. Who to listen to can be challenging to determine. It’s safe to say that leaders who inspire are a great place to start. How many of these folks are you following? Here are a few bloggers and groups within our industry that are worth at least paying attention to.
Search Engine Land
Communities / Groups:
Simple Sites group
Lion Zeal group
BlackHatCommunity Free SEO group
Local Client Takeover
Mastering your energy
The world today would have us think we’re robots required to be on our A-game at every waking moment else opportunity pass us by. Doing so requires us to be multi-tasking phenoms working on several tasks, relationships, conversations simultaneously whilst not giving any one thing our full attention. Often the outcome is we forget deadlines, overlook appointments or even forget to eat. We’re hard on ourselves for slipping up and missing things. That just results in frustration and self critical thoughts. It’s a downward spiral.
Learning to listen to your energy and work with it will create intense periods of work followed by periods of recovery, rest and rejuvenation. So often that programming to be robotic and work at the same pace all day every day kicks in and we find ourselves in the grind. This takes effort to learn to focus on how you feel at different times and when you should be working and when you shouldn’t bother. If you can master this energy flow you’ll find you can work far fewer hours and produce many more multiples of work while still remaining happy and fulfilled.
We touched on having clear goals, keeping track of your progress and evaluating opportunities based on how they fit into your life. Even the most disciplined people get distracted and it’s easy to find yourself miles off course and struggling to get back on track.
Having an accountability partner will help you be more true to yourself and your goals. It’s just too hard sometimes to see our situation clearly as we’re too close to our circumstances plus we have a lot of baggage, but having an outside perspective can help us make better decisions. It’s important that you check in with this person often and that they be truly able to give you honest feedback about your actions, behavior and habits.
While many cringe or scoff at the idea of a coach thinking things such as “What could a coach possibly know about what I do?” or “Who would pay someone that much money who doesn’t even do anything?”. Those who have had a productive coaching experience will tell you it’s an investment worth making. I wouldn’t give up my coaches past or present for anything. The transformations they have helped me bring about were worth every cent paid and every minute invested.
What does a coach do? There are actually many types of coaches. Hiring the right one for your needs will make all the difference in your experience.
If you feel you have your technical skills under control, but struggle setting realistic goals and achieving them you might consider a mindset or accountability coach. They won’t help you with the technical features of your work, but can help you work on yourself, being accountable, getting a clear picture of what needs done and making sure you stick to it. That’s a very brief synopsis of their work, but don’t underestimate the power of paying someone a ton of money to keep you focused and motivated. It can do wonders!
If you’re struggling with technical or strategic facets of your work, look for someone with a reputation of being successful in your industry. Approach them about a mentorship opportunity. They will likely have limited time to give so be prepared for short power packed sessions at a fairly substantial price. Realize what they teach you will increase your earning potential immediately and easily justify the added expense. Otherwise you’re stuck with trial and error or free information to sort things out on your own. Fast tracking has always worked best for the most successful people.
Many new tools, software, plugins and more will surely come. Nearly all of them will have some form of a guarantee. The only sure this is taking care of yourself. Then you’ll have many productive years of happy life. So before you buy that next gizmo, make sure you’re taking excellent care of your most valuable tool, yourself.
Give this post a bookmark. It’ll be right here for you whenever you need it.