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I grab as much information as possible, especially when it’s about writing and content . I have to go through my email subscriptions about twice a month – once to catch up, then a second to selectively unsubscribe. I also pick through search engines looking for common threads. This helps me verify the information I want to pass on, but it has its downside. I’m reading one cautionary headline after another. While finding authoritative sources is necessary, I have a feeling that doing so might damage the healthy self-esteem needed for success.

Those headlines do the job, though. They get your attention, but they don’t create the healthiest mindset. Have you ever counted the number of warnings you see each day? One morning – before finishing my coffee, mind you – I saw:

Those are just the first five and I was verifying only one tip! All are great list articles, but can you see how they might trigger stress in readers?

Look, we all make mistakes or have practices that the pros might disagree with. However, successful  demands a healthy self-image. Protecting our confidence might  mean limiting the number of “warnings” you read each week. Otherwise, the stress can cause well-managed  challenges to suddenly flare, you might start to dread blogging and, worst of all, you might stop promoting your articles or looking for better-paying gigs.

[bctt tweet=”You already have an important, mistake-ending tool. Want to know what it is?”]

While avoiding mistakes is a good goal, we are only human. Managing mistakes, before they become roadblocks, seems a healthier path than the neurotic perfectionism that fear of failure feeds. Instead worrying about making mistakes, you can:

  1. Use those mistakes in future posts. Sharing your imperfections and vulnerabilities makes you more human.
  2. Find the humor, then move on. You can keep the joke to yourself, but finding the funny side of difficult discoveries keeps you from entering the self-hatred zone. I have a friend who whispers “minion” when her people poke fun at her errors. Yes, she sees walking Twinkies.
  3. Avoid repeating the mistake. Find that help you avoid repeating the error, or change the process that generated the mistake. Doing so helps you feel that you can handle just about anything life throws at you. Your corrections could become profitable products!
  4. Apologize, then move on. I learned how to apologize from the Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm books. When unfairly forced to apologize, Rebecca decided to craft the absolute best apology she could. A great lesson from a book for little girls. (If I’m thinking of the wrong book, I’m sure someone will point out my error.)
  5. Limit yourself to reading a specific number of those “warning” headlines each month. I find that I can handle 3 a week, and no more. Your number might be higher or lower, but try to stay below 10.
Today’s mistakes are easier to make and travel further and faster than those of the 1960’s. The send button has ended more than one career, especially those with questionable photos. Your mistakes probably won’t have the same devastating results, but having the right tools can make them less likely. The best tool to use is time.

Use a Schedule, Save the World

You’ve seen jobs listings featuring “fast paced atmosphere”  and “tight deadlines” phrases. How many mistakes do you think that kind of pressure cooker generates? A huge benefit of self-employment and freelancing is having control over your time. Hang on to that control by setting a schedule and giving yourself plenty of time to complete projects. That doesn’t mean simply blocking out lots billable time, though.  It means including time for breaks, interruptions, and meals. Of all the mistakes articles address, they rarely include the freelancer’s ignoring their own needs. However, that one omission is probably responsible for more than half of the mistakes people make. Reasonable scheduling keeps you from rushing through or not completing tasks. It also prevents the fatigue that makes editing errors more likely.
Do you blog? Have you ever read a blogging tip saying you should post 3 times a day?
Have you seen blogger jobs requiring that same insane post frequency? Take a deep breath and slow down. Successful Blogging’s Sue Anne Dunlevie  has a better, healthier idea. Using it has saved my time and sanity. She recommends posting once or twice a week, at most, and spending the bulk of your time promoting your work, instead. Doesn’t that make sense? In doing so, you get your blog in front of your niche faster than any search engine might. It can also give you ideas for later articles. Plus, search engines change their algorithms based on their own goals and are quickly becoming  the last traffic source warranting a blogger’s time. This means you can spend less time finding the perfect keywords and more time in blogger outreach, product development and sitting on your porch.
Scheduling is a low-tech, inexpensive but vital exercise. With paper and pen or pencil, you can make  a schedule in an hour or less, and you can change it as needed. It’s amazing how something so effective is forgotten so often. Make copies and scatter a schedule around the house to remind yourself to take care of yourself. That schedule will remind others that you cannot be interrupted while working and. with that boost to your concentration, you’ll be more productive.
So here’s what you need to do before reading another warning:
  • Get some graph paper, some painter’s tape and a pencil or pen.
  • Make a two-week schedule from a two column table, with one column for half hour time slots ( 1:00, 1: 300, etc.) and the other for tasks.
  • Make copies of your schedule to scatter around your house. Using the painters’ tape, stick copies of your schedule on your office, refrigerator and bathroom doors. Use ny surface that friends and/or family can’t miss seeing.

Come back here in a week and enter your results as a comment! We all want to know if scheduling helps lower your mistakes, makes life more orderly, and anything else you can share!


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