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Many people thrive under pressure, or at least they think they do. You know the type (maybe you are the type), they know of a deadline three weeks in advance, promise to themselves and their co-workers that they’re going to begin work immediately, schedule an internal deadline for a final review and arrive to the deadline empty handed. The sadest part is three weeks ago that person whould have had the time to complete the project, but now their schedule has filled up so completely that they need to make the choice of pulling an all-nighter or  passing ownership of the project along to someone else (and effectively disrupting that person’s schedule).

Procrastination is not an isolated act. When you neglect to properly fix the flush handle on the toilet at home, it breaks off in a guest’s hand, not yours. When you neglect to call a partner regarding a teaming opporunity, that would-be-partner teams with someone else, weakening your advantage in winning the job. And when you neglect internal deadlines, you put unnecessary stress on your co-workers.

Why is it then that people procrastinate? Joseph Ferrari Ph.D and Timothy Pychyl Ph.D. point to three types of procrastinators (read more of their finding here):

Arousal Types or Thrill Seekers – they procrastinate to feel the rush
Avoiders – they fear failure or success
Decisional Procrastinators – they just can’t make a decision, regardless

Pegging what type of procrastinator you’re dealing with can help you to navigate around the procrastination or at least lessen it. For the arousal types, give them fake deadlines, for decisional procrastinators make the decisions for them and for avoiders, well, I have no advice for them. Fear is one of those things that can sink us all. If there’s a way to make the person feel safer in their environment that’s probably your best bet – or perhaps something better left to their therapist.

If adaptability is one of your strengths your likely not as bothered by the procrastinator. But if you’re not adaptable, it just might be time to find a new work environment.

image credit: Flickr user Sonrisa Electrica


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The new year offers us all a time for reflection and looking forward. It’s a time to make new promises to ourselves and begin on the adventure of self improvement. There was once a time when I would habitually make new year resolutions; this year I’ve thrown the need for an annual resolution by the wayside. The reason – there seems to be so many changes on the horizon of 2010 that I don’t dare complicate life further by yet another change.

Here’s how my new year is shaping up so far: last month I invested a lot of time into my professional hobby, chocolate making. It paid off and now I have new opportunities and much more experimentation ahead of me. I have no idea where it will lead, but it will be a tasty traverse. And while we’re on the subject of chocolate, my chocolate making teaching career (a term a use lightly) with Taste of Chocolate is full speed ahead. By the time I’m through, all of Boston will be expert in truffle making.

I have a good friend with a great idea for an apparel accessory of sorts. We’ll be working together to explore the possibilities.

And lastly, my real job, we’re entering the frontier where many design firms have gone before (many within the past year) – we’re down to a 4 day work week. It was a move that was made with much thought and preparation. And a move which should strengthen our position as we come out the other (hopefully short lived) end. With this thoughtfulness will come many new marketing initiatives for 2010, including a new website.

2010 will be nothing less than exciting. It is because of the inherent change built within changes already underway that I find no need for a 2010 resolution. But to the rest of you – good luck fulfilling the new and improved you.

Image credit: Flickr user Amir K.

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chocoplatterProcrastination can be helpful (sometimes). I know, it seems counter intuitive. But, over the last two evenings I’ve experienced just how helpful procrastination can be, as long as you manage it productively. Have I lost you yet? Here’s the story – for the last two evenings (maybe even more) my number one priority has been to write a contract for a new chocolate coated adventure I’m embarking on. Only I hate writing contracts, so I’m procrastinating. What have I done instead? I redesigned my website to better communicate my “two sides,” marketing and chocolate. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while, and the looming contract gave me the push I needed (because designing a website is a lot more fun than writing a contract). And now that my website is done, my head is clear, and I’m ready to start that contract. That’s how I harnessed the power of procrastination. Yes, the contract is still mostly unwritten, but my website is finished and I’ve successfully refocused my energy back to the contract. If I had jumped right into the contract, then I probably wouldn’t be here telling you about my website. Instead, it would have stayed on the long list of “nice to haves.”

Interested in seeing the end product of my procrastination? Visit http://www.valerieconyngham.com and if I’ve done my job correctly, you’re likely to learn a little more about me.

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UnknownWe’re just around the corner from October. That means another month in my 2009 Calendar series is ready for download. For October I wanted to symbolize warmth and Halloween (my brother-in-law’s favorite holiday) without going the route of traditional symbolism. Instead, I choose to highlight the warmth of the color orange. A single color for a changing month. It can evoke pumpkins or nights spent sitting by the newly lit fireplace. It prints on 5×7, I use Papersource eco-white. Click here to download.

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rulesBefore I started my blog I began reading lots of other blogs to get the lay of the land. I started commenting and engaging with blog authors and I began looking for tips on beginning your own blog. One of those tips, which I am now breaking, is to pick a platform and stick with it – forever. I choose Blogger. It was free, I already had a google account, it had the functionality I was looking for and it had an easy interface that made posting to it a breeze.

Two years later and I no longer think it’s the best tool for me. WordPress is easier to customize, stats are built right in and there’s more flexibility to the design and different pieces of content you can add.

So here I am breaking one of the rules. I’m migrating to WordPress. For the time being I’ll keep both blogs going while I get a hang of WordPress. And I’ll think of what to do with the two years of content living at Blogger; let it live there or transfer it to WordPress one post at a time.

For now you can find me at Blogger and WordPress, both with the title Marketing Engagement by Valerie Conyngham. It’s where I post about everyday marketing ideas that strike me, with a particular bent toward the design industry, as in architectural.

And if you’re thinking about breaking any of the rules, I’d say go for it. Remember, technology changes often and our best offensive strike is to be flexible. Live by rules, but not rigidly.

Image credit: Flickr user givepeaceachance

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Finding focus

If you’ve been following this blog you’ve noticed my lack of attention to it in the past few months. I’m sure the reason is similar to those you’ve read on other blogs – lack of time, lack of energy, lack of, well, creativity. Marketing Engagement started out as a collection of marketing thoughts from my everyday life. And there are moments throughout everyday where something strikes me from a marketing perspective. But the reality is you can get those thoughts everywhere and I’m not adding much value in that space.

In light of that, I’ve been struggling with where to take this blog. And while I’ve been taking a break from blogging I’ve become addicted to Twitter. I’m following a lot a great people and I feel the content I share there is valuable. And that leads me to where this blog should go next. The most valuable content I share on Twitter is for the A/E/C market. I’ve worked in various design firms over the past 12 years (minus a 2 year voyage to the dental insurance industry) and it’s an industry I’m truly passionate about. Most design firms are small and there are minuscule resources dedicated to marketing. Often there’s no marketer on staff, other times it’s a junior person or the joint responsibility of the office manager. However, marketing is one of the most important things a firm can do for itself. I’ve been in the industry long enough to know where the pain points are and I’m confident I can dispel useful information to anyone involved in marketing their design firm. With that I’m realigning the focus of this blog to marketing within design firms. I’ll still have the occasional non-related, thoughts from everyday posts, they’ll just be interspersed with industry related posts. And I’ll still be posting my 2009 calendar month by month. When I’m not here, I’ll be contributing to Help Everybody Everyday, another blog, with lots of guest contributions on marketing in the A/E/C industry. If you find my content helpful, you’ll find the content there just as good.

Thank you for reading and I hope you find the next iteration of this blog just as useful as the first.

image credit: Juan Eduardo Donoso on Flickr

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Get happy fast

Take a break out of your day and read The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur’s list of 199 Ways to Get Happy Fast. My contribution is tip number 52 (though right now number 52 is listed twice, maybe once you click through that will be fixed and my tip will be number 54). Anyway, here’s my tip to get happy fast:

How To Get Happy Fast: Yoga – Have an instructor come to your office once a week. It gives you a scheduled break and permission to take your mind off of everything but yourself for an hour. During the ohm, visualize where you want your business to be then start planning to make it happen.

When you’re done getting happy take a look through his other blog posts for tips on how to make the most out of your business.

Image by: Shunpikie

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