Sunday, December 20, 2009

Productivity Tips From a Closet Insomniac

If you've ever suffered from bouts of insomnia you'd know how much wasted energy is spent trying to fall back to sleep. Making mental lists, warming milk, tossing & turning, staring at the ceiling. And my personal favorite, watching the clock, telling yourself if I just fall asleep now I can get 3 hours of sleep, now 2 hours 59 minutes, 2 hours 58 minutes....

I learned a long time ago that the more I worried about falling back to sleep, the longer I was awake. Stop fighting your busy mind and get productive. I don't mean clean the kitchen junk drawer busy, I mean collect your thoughts busy.

I love being a mother to four boys. I love my work as a marketing professional. But let's face reality, being both doesn't give me a lot of time to reflect. The way I figure it, insomnia is my body's way of forcing me to focus on myself. After years of perfecting my tip toeing I've narrowed down my favorite "me" activities.

1. Read - I mean really read. Don't pretend it's going to help you fall asleep. Pick up an indulgent book and engross yourself in the story. Pull out that magazine. You know, the one with the relationship quiz you've secretly wanted to take.

2. Write - Jot down your to-do list for next week, edit a blog post, journal - just write. Your mind is amazingly clear at three in the morning. Most importantly your mind is open to new ideas if you let them in.

3. Watch TV - you know you want to. Turn on your favorite cooking show and really write down the recipe this time. Or simply laugh (not out loud - you don't want to give away you are awake) to an old time favorite comedy you've tivo'd.

However you decide to spend this unintended awake time, make it indulgent and make it all about you! It will be our little secret - no one else needs to know.

And I promise, just when you think your body can't function off of another restless sleep, calm, or maybe better said exhaustion, takes over. And those 8-9 hours of complete and uninterrupted sleep is a welcomed reward for focusing on yourself for a change.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Do's and Don'ts of Holiday Cheer

During the holiday season its traditional for marketing departments in organizations of all types to thank their customers. Unfortunately, these gestures are often thinly veiled attempts to generate near term business. If you really want to make an impression that builds your customer relationships your recognition must be sincere.

DON'T fall into these common traps
  • DON'T send an impersonal card. If you are going to send season's greetings add a personal note and use a real signature. Nothing feels colder than the unsigned greeting card with your company logo.
  • DON'T mistake holiday promotions with loyalty programs. Customers expect you to give them value and discounts are par for the course during the shopping season.
  • DON'T over do the holiday cheer. Holiday music, freshly baked cookies and a friendly happy holidays are lovely tributes to the season. But if you start them in October and combine them with flashing for sales signs the charm is lost.

DO focus on your core values
  • DO let your spirit shine through. The holidays are a time to smile. Whether its a humorous greeting on the home page of your website, or beautiful decorations around the office this is a chance for your customers to see your inner spirit. It's OK to forget the brand colors and get into the holiday spirit.
  • DO offer something truly unique. A week before Thanksgiving I visited a local restaurant for breakfast. They had a simple sign inviting their customers and anyone in need to a free Thanksgiving feast - no strings attached. While I was fortunate to host a family affair on Thanksgiving, I remember with a smile that generous offer.
  • DO remember your employees. Whether its a bonus, free holiday lunch, extra vacation day or simply a hosted cookie exchange; when your employees are full of holiday cheer it shows.