July 31, 2008


post-its on storage boxes in my home office

I was reminded recently that it's so important to have persistence in business.

My speaking coach, Elizabeth Hagen, said on a recent call that the benefits we reap today are the result of marketing done 3 months ago! 3 months!!!

It's so easy to feel like things aren't working as they should until you realise this is a long-term game. You've got to keep plugging away at activities that will yield results, if not now, then definitely down the line:

  1. talking to groups
  2. article writing
  3. blogging :)
  4. networking
  5. building relationships
  6. writing the weekly ezine
Sometimes I'll go weeks without hearing a single positive thing about my ezine and in one week, I'll get 3 or 4 emails from people saying that it was exactly what they needed to hear, or people might send me messages on Facebook saying "I read your weekly newsletter every single week and wanted to say thanks".

In the same way, even if you don't have a business, don't discount the daily habits you have. When you take consistent action, the results will eventually show up :)

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July 30, 2008

5 keys to business success

"5 keys to business and life success"
(how I grew my business by 177% in 2007 and how you can too)

Join me on this free call as I share:

  • The one thing you must have that will help you to accomplish your goals faster than ever before

  • How to propel yourself forward in HUGE leaps

  • The one principle that will saves me and many of my private coaching clients HOURS every day

  • An easy 3-step plan to consistently work on, and not just in, your business

  • The exact process I use to prioritise and plan my own week

  • And much more

I'm also going to launch a very exciting new programme LIVE on this call so you don't want to miss out on all the news.

Sign up below and you’ll receive an email where you will have INSTANT access to all the call-in details and be able to download the handbook for our call.

Not sure what teleseminars are or why you should care? Find out everything here.


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July 28, 2008

Organising business emails

I received an email from a physical product seller who asked me for some ideas to organise her business emails.

Here's the story:
People order products from her. She checks with her vendors if they have stock before she can invoice the customer. She then instructs her vendors to fulfill the orders once the customers pay her. She then needs to keep track of the orders until the vendor confirms delivery to the customer.

This is what I told her:

  1. Make subfolders for New Pending Stock and Pending Payment.
  2. When you email the vendor, flag the email for follow-up (a little earlier than you need to) before you send. Click that little button with the red flag in Outlook.
  3. Drag the customer’s email into New Pending Stock while you wait for a response from the vendor.
  4. When you go into your Sent Items, the email turns red when it is overdue so you can follow-up. Hopefully you won’t have to do this very often.
  5. When you get the response, you can go into New Pending Stock, open the customer’s email and respond with the Paypal link. Delete the original email.
  6. Drag your Sent Item into Pending Payment so you have one place to follow up all pending payments.

I also suggest you get into a routine to process orders. If you're not sure what's the best way to set up your business processes and routines, check out the Organise your Business system.

What is the turnaround time you’ve communicated to clients? I commit to respond within 24 hours so I know I have to check and process emails at least once a day.

I’d suggest thinking out a routine and writing it on a post-it note which you stick to your computer or wall until you can do it in your sleep. If you need a reminder, use Outlook to beep you when you need to follow up with vendors or customers.

Resources that will help you:

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July 26, 2008

7 ways to say no without feeling guilty

I'd been saying NO for a couple of hours so I finally said YES to this picture :)
Bath, England

It’s such a small word but so difficult to use sometimes. We seem to use this word so easily with our spouse and children but have a hard time saying it to other people. So the trick is to figure out how and when to say no.

I'm not saying that you should be selfish and never help anybody out. However, most people are running around stressed because they're saying yes to everybody but themselves.

You should only be saying yes when you genuinely want to do something, you feel excitement at the thought of doing it or it ties in with your life goals or definition of success.

1. You don't have to have another appointment first in order to say no
If you've planned to have an evening in (bubble bath, reading, TV, whatever…) and you get invited out, this does not automatically mean you have to accept. An appointment with yourself is just as important as one with other people. Value your time!

2. Realise that when you say yes to one thing, you ALWAYS say no to something else
When this happens, you usually say no to the more important parts of your life - God, family, yourself. For example, you're asked to help out on a committee at your child's school. You could end up so busy with committee work that you deprive your child of quality time. Another example is saying yes to everybody at work collecting money for birthdays, leaving presents, etc, and no to your own financial future.

3. Don't instinctively say yes. Buy time to think about it first.
Always check your diary first before committing to plans. Or just take a deep breath. Otherwise you end up saying yes to everything and at the end of a hectic period, you're virtually burnt out.

4. It becomes easier to say yes the more you practise
At first when you have to say no to something or someone, it feels terrible. But it is incredibly empowering when you realise that you made the correct decision in saying no. It is an acquired skill and the more you use your "no" muscle, the stronger it'll get. I promise.

5. When you say yes and you feel resentment, it means that you should have said no
Learn to listen to your heart. The Bible says that we mustn't give grudgingly or under compulsion, and yet, so many of us do. We say yes, and harbour deep feelings of resentment and bitterness. Nothing good comes from a resentful attitude.

6. Saying no comes easier when you are confident in your own capabilities
When you say no firmly and without a grovelling apology, it affirms your self-worth and it's a way to stand up for yourself. Men seem to do really well at this but women seem to want to explain everything and apologise while they're saying no.

7. You don't have to be rude or ugly about it - there are many ways to say no
No can be "I can't help you this time", "I can only do it next month", "that's not my strong suit" or simply "no, thanks".

Make a quality decision this month to look at your schedule and see where you're saying yes to activities or commitments that don't support your goals. Then, work at saying no to them so you can say yes to more important things.

Marcia Francois is a time management and organising coach who empowers small business owners and other busy people to organise their time, space, business and life. Visit http://takechargesolutions.org for your free Clear the Paper Clutter e-book and the rest of your Organising Success Pack.
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July 24, 2008


Remember this?

It didn't pan out but how awesome is this?

That one was to talk to 400 students at a university in the US.


I got another speaking gig (here in South Africa) to talk to a 400 students at a university next month, a week later than the other one.

That's God's birthday present to me, by the way. I always get cool stuff happening in August :)

How cool is that?
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July 22, 2008


my journal - reminds me of the gorgeous Dublin doors
I was chatting to a friend a few weeks ago and saying how it feels like there is no flow in a couple of parts of my life.
Nothing's badly wrong; it just feels like things are a bit stuck, not smooth.
So she suggested that I journal.
Me? Journal?
I am SO not the journalling type but I remembered I'd bought this GORGEOUS red notebook to honour all the open doors in my life so I agreed to give it a bash.
So on Friday last week I opened this book and started writing. And 3 pages later, I felt really good.
I left it for a few days and wrote another half page yesterday.
The benefits seem to be:
  1. getting it out on paper clears the noise in my head
  2. because it's my journal, I don't edit at all in terms of sentence structure, grammar, nothing so it's PURE me
  3. I'm asking myself interesting questions like, "why is it that I feel like this? what's really going on?"

So do you journal? Why or why not?
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July 18, 2008

Afraid to promote your business?

Are you afraid to promote your business?


Maybe you don't want to be regarded as a pushy salesman or a money-hungry person.

The truth is that all of us are in business to make a profit and we're not going to make money (or very much money) if we don't promote ourselves.

I'm generally a very self-confident person because I know that people get GREAT results from my stuff and so I never shy away from shameless self-promotion :)

However I noticed that every time I sent out a promotion email to my list, people would unsubscribe.

And that's when I started resisting promoting myself.

I don't know if I was particularly hormonal or what was going on but one day after this happened, I got really cross. And when I get cross, I go into SOLUTION mode.

1. So I contacted two people - my own coach and a colleague - and asked them if this was normal and if it happened to them too.

Apparently it is normal and does happen to them too :)

2. Then interestingly enough, I heard a teleseminar a few days later and the person said that people who unsubscribe would not buy from you anyway so are probably not your ideal clients.

wow - that was a wake-up call for me.

Now, people still unsubscribe when I promote my offerings but I do know that they were not my ideal clients and I now tell myself I'm creating space for more of those clients in my life :)

Are you afraid to promote your business? Why or why not?
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July 16, 2008

Do you have a vision board?

Vision boards are visual representations of what we want in our lives.
They work well for everybody but exceptionally well for visual people (about 60% of the population).
When clients work with me to set goals, I usually encourage them to create a vision board to accelerate their progress.
My boards
yellow - I did this one YEARS ago and when I took this picture on the weekend, I realised that I need to do another one because there is only one thing on there I don't have - the child
blue - this is one I did in 2006 for my business. I really wanted to focus more on speaking so this board is specifically on ...yes, you guessed it...speaking. I have lists of the types of corporate clients I want to speak for, and the way I want my schedule to look, and how far in advance I want to be booked up to speak.
:) I'm getting there - I actually have NO DOUBT that it will happen exactly like that because these things work.
Okay, let's do this...
I'd love to see your vision board.

On Wednesday 23rd I'm going to put up a Mr Linky and I'd like you to post your picture and then link up here.

I'll draw a name on Friday 25th and one person will get a free copy of my popular ebook, How to set and achieve your goals.

Are you in?

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July 14, 2008

Small changes

Look at these cuties I bought the other day.

Of course, it is FUH-REEZING in Joburg at the moment so it feels like I'm crazy buying cute things where my toes will actually be open.

Now look at the heel. Those few millimetres of heel make ALL THE DIFFERENCE to me.

You see, I can't wear completely flat shoes because they make my feet hurt. Suzanne's the same in case you're wondering :)

I have to have the slightest bit of heel to take the pressure off my feet . I've rejected MANY pairs of very cute shoes because there was no heel.

When I checked that these sandals had heels, I got to thinking how it is with all of life that small things make such a big difference.

If you take just one SMALL step toward your goal every day, very soon you will have accomplished that goal.

Then, it could be that you're on a path that starts feeling very wrong all of a sudden.

That's usually when people come to me for coaching. Oftentimes, it's not that EVERYTHING is wrong, but just a couple of small things that need to be changed.

Which is why it's so important to review your goals regularly.

I like to do a proper goals review every 6 months. 6 months is long enough to have had a good bash at something so you don't feel like you're just being fickle if you have to change course :)

I'm busy doing my 6-month review so why don't you join me?

Take out a piece of paper, ask yourself these questions and get writing:

  1. how am I doing on my goals?
  2. am I on track to achieve them?
  3. what can I do differently to get there?
  4. what do I need to let go of?
  5. how can I get some support?
  6. how can I make this more fun?
  7. how am I holding myself accountable?
If you need some help, check out how to set and achieve your goals. It's the exact same system I have been using since 1998 to reach my goals consistently every year.

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July 12, 2008

I am fine and happy to be home

Thanks for all your well wishes!
I had my op on Tuesday and it ended up being a bigger procedure than both the doctor and I had anticipated so instead of being released on Tuesday evening, I was only discharged yesterday.
Oh my word - I am SOOOO not made for hospitals :)
I finished my book early on Wednesday morning and then talked the ears off my neighbour, sent text messages to Dion and other friends, checked my Google Reader until my laptop died (they had no adaptor so I couldn't plug in), watched TV, etc, etc.
I was on a clear liquids diet on Wednesday (apple juice and "soup" (salty water!)) and transitioned to a mixed liquids diet on Thursday (yoghurt, tropical fruit juice, Ensure nutritional drink, smoothies).
When Dion visited me on Wed pm, he brought the two-prong adaptor so on Thursday I was ONLINE and LOVING it :)
Cleared my Google Reader, replied to emails, sent email to my list, etc, etc. I also had lots of phone calls, three visitors and the beautiful bunch of flowers (see the picture above).
And then on Friday, I was discharged - yayyyyy - and left the warm hospital to an ice-cold and absolutely freezing Johannesburg. Brrrr!
I must say, the nurses, doctors and staff were all WONDERFUL but still, it is good to be home!

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July 10, 2008

Eat your frog

Eat your frog - by Marcia Francois
(first published in Feb 2007)

Eat your frog?

By now you're wondering if I've gone stark raving mad! No, I'm not mad.

I first learned of this principle from Brian Tracy.

Your frog is the most important task of the day. It is the one thing which, if done quickly and effectively, will ensure your greatest success.

You see, when most people get to work, they already have some idea of what they have to do for the day.

Let me give you a specific example.

Okay, imagine that these are the 5 tasks that await you on a particular day:
1. Read and respond to emails.
2. Phone somebody to resolve a query.
3. Set up a meeting.
4. Compile monthly report.
5. Draft a process email and send out.

Most people would probably do the tasks in this order - 1, 3, 2, 5 and 4.


Because that's the easiest way to get through the list. After all, by 10:00 nearly all the items can already be ticked off the list.

But then a "typical day" happens - client phone calls, queries left, right and centre, you're called into a couple of meetings and before you know it, 4:30 has rolled around and you still haven't done that monthly report.

Sound familiar?

That's because you haven't eaten your frog. Your most important task is still undone.

So let's change it all around.

What if you walked into the office and did nothing else until your report was done? You've eaten your frog. And it's only 9:00.

You then catch up on emails, and draft the process email to send out. The "typical day" still happens but because the most important tasks are done, you can squeeze setting up the meeting and phoning the other person into the tiny five-minute slots you do find during the course of the day.

You see, it's what I've been teaching my time management clients for years when I tell them to ask themselves, "what's the most important use of my time right now?"

If you get used to eating the frog first, the rest of your day can AND WILL only get better. Your most horrible task is over and done with and you can almost...but not quite...relax!

And if you have TWO frogs, then you eat the ugliest one first!

My challenge to you is this - just try it for a week and see how your productivity soars. You know I'm the go-to gal if you want to increase your productivity so I made a worksheet to help you get into the habit.

Download it at the bottom of this page - http://tinyurl.com/54smuj.

I can't wait to hear how it works out for you.

By the way, I thought I ought to practise what I preach. So this month, I did exactly that. I wrote my newsletter article a week earlier than I usually do so that it's done and out of the way.

And you know what? I feel great!

Marcia Francois is a time management and organising coach who empowers small business owners and other busy people to organise their time, space, business and life. Visit http://takechargesolutions.org for your free Clear the Paper Clutter e-book and the rest of your Organising Success Pack.
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July 08, 2008

4 things recently crossed off my life list

Suzanne and Marcia - Loch Lomond, Scotland

I first blogged about my life list last year. I have been quite bad in that my list STILL only has 44 items on it.

* Have a proper photo shoot - the picture on my website and in the profile box on the blogs were taken at the shoot in Feb 2008
* Go to Ireland and eat in an authentic Irish pub - 21 May, Dublin

Dion, Ronan (Irish guy), Marcia, Craig - notice the Guinness on the table

* Go to two dance classes regularly - have been going to Hip Hop and Latina dance classes regularly
* Shop at Tescos in London in memory of Ps Mel - 4 May Tesco Liverpool Street

and making good headway on these two...

* Get rid of all the pigmentation on my face – have had about 6 skin peels/ microdermabrasion sessions
* Meet at least 10 blog friends – Ali 24 Dec 2006, Suzanne 14 May 2008, Stephen 17 May 2008

Suzanne and I met in Scotland, and Stephen and I met in Cork, Ireland (he doesn't want me to link to him because of privacy issues - I know... crazy blogger :))

I like the way I'm framed by these two wearing their black tops :)

Suzanne and I, having some fun. More Suzanne than me actually :)
How are you doing with your life lists?

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P.S. Go make your own life list here

P.P.S. Having an op today so please pray that the doctor does his job properly :)

July 06, 2008

Chocolate cake in a mug - it really works!

I received an email with this chocolate cake in a mug recipe from a LOT of people so I decided to try it and see if it worked.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg

* I used 2 tablespoons oil and 4 tablespoons skimmed milk (still 6 tablespoons of liquid, but a tiny bit healthier :))

mix it all together and pour into a greased mug
microwave for 3 minutes in a 1000 watt microwave oven

As the cake cooks, the whole thing swells and rises out of the mug - that's normal so don't panic if it looks like it wants to explode.

Wait until the cake drops right back into the mug before you remove it from the microwave.

This is what it looks like...

emptied out onto a plate
on its side
pulled apart - that blurry bit is the steam escaping

This is just the right amount of cake for two people to each have some with their evening cup of tea or coffee :)
Enjoy! Let me know if you make it, okay?
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July 04, 2008

You CAN have an organised home office

You are invited to spend a few hours with me on 17 July.

At the end of the day you will have...

* a well-ordered, organised desk and office plan with clear zones
* a system to reduce your email overload
* an easy, step-by-step plan to prioritise your work
* at least 3 clear ways to make your computer do your common business tasks, automatically
* a clear, simple way to deal with all the paper
* ideas on how to maximise your office and storage space
* and much, much more

and of course, you have 60 days’ unlimited email support while you take action on your plan

Date: Thursday 17 July

Time: 12 - 4pm Eastern Standard Time/ 6 - 10pm South Africa Time

What do you need: Telephone and notebook

So how does this work?

Once you register and pay, I’ll send you all the call-in information plus the handbook for the day.

On the day, at the top of every hour, I’ll teach for 15 - 20 minutes and the rest of the hour, we (the entire class) will all action that section of our offices.

What are the sections we’ll tackle?

12pm How to organise your desk for maximum functionality and efficiency

1pm Clear the paper clutter and create a system for the flow of paper in your office

2pm Conquer your email, set up folders and organise your inbox

3pm Prioritise all your projects and develop a system for planning your month, week and day.

3:50 - 4pm Wrap-up and how to maintain your organised business

The best thing about this seminar is that you’re learning and doing so at the end of the day, you have a beautifully organised and functional office!

Have a read and see pictures of my own organised office here:

(Important note - I'll throw in a FREE copy of my "7 easy steps to organise your office" for every person registering on or before Thursday 10th July - my way of rewarding you for TAKING ACTION)

If you'd like to attend but the date doesn't suit you, let me know and I'll email you when I do this again in about 6 weeks or so...

Best regards
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Marcia Francois
Time management expert ~ Speaker ~ Author
If you want to get organised, please visit my website for your free Organising Success Pack

July 02, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - windows and window boxes

These two were taken in Edinburgh, Scotland...

this one was taken in the Dublin city centre

and this one was taken in Kinsale (near Cork)

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