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101 Efficiency Hacks For Busy Entrepreneurs

Yes, 101! Because the more suggestions you have, the greater the chance you’ll have to find something valuable for your own work life.

Jayson Demers

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busy-entrepreneurs

Sometimes, it just seems like we have far more tasks on our to-do lists than we can reasonably accomplish.

Related: 10 Hacks to Save Time and Boost Productivity

That’s why I’ve compiled this giant list of “efficiency hacks” busy entrepreneurs can use to improve their long-term productivity, in each of five main categories:

  • Routine hacks, to improve your daily processes.
  • Mental and emotional hacks, to improve your mental state and emotional health.
  • Communication hacks, to increase your communicative efficiency.
  • Team hacks, to ensure you have the best people working for and with you.
  • Analysis and improvement hacks, to help you better understand how you work.

Go ahead and dig in:


Routine hacks

1. Say no

Your bosses, clients, peers and employees are all going to be asking you for things, pretty much all the time. The more often you say yes, the more indispensable you’ll feel, but the bigger your task list will grow. Learn to feel confident in saying no every once in a while – I promise it won’t kill your reputation.

2. Take breaks more frequently

We’ve all felt “too busy to take a break” before, but the reality is breaks are good for your brain. They help you feel better rested, improve your focus and boost your mood, all at the same time. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, take a break from what you’re doing more frequently; and, weirdly enough, you’ll get more done.

3. Wake up iteratively earlier

We all wish we had more time in the morning, but setting an alarm three hours early seems like an insurmountable challenge. Instead, set it back a minute or two further each day to gradually adapt yourself to earlier mornings.

4. Set a schedule for the day, the night before

Mornings are busy, and by the time you’re in the middle of your day, you’re already in the thick of things. Take 10 minutes every night to set a loose agenda for how your day’s going to go. It may not be perfect, but it will keep you on task.

5. Establish a priority hierarchy

Learn to establish priorities for yourself (and hold yourself to them). For example, you could set “A,” “B” and “C” priorities, where A is urgent, B is important, and C is not immediately important. Focus on A tasks first, and don’t worry about C.

6. Set a timer for each task

Setting a timer for your tasks helps you in a number of ways. It gives you a sense of urgency, forcing you to work a little faster. It helps you keep track of time. And it rewards you with the promise of a mental break when the timer’s up.

7. Start with something challenging

Though this may not be the same for every person, most of us benefit from doing a challenging task first thing in the morning – something we don’t want to do. When you do do this, you feel accomplished, and everything else seems to be easier.

8. Turn off all communication for “focus time”

Communication is one of our biggest distractions as entrepreneurs, so when you really need to get something done, turn off everything — your phone, your email, and any of your chat programs – and dedicate some time to focus.

9. Play moderate-volume music

 There are conflicting reports of whether music enhances or stifles productivity, but the empirical evidence suggests that moderate-volume music that you actually want to hear (genre doesn’t matter) can boost your productivity. Make it too soft and you won’t hear it – too loud, and it will be distracting.

10. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts

Let’s face it: We don’t always have time to read. But there’s almost always time to fit in a short section of an audiobook or podcast, especially during your commute. This can help you relax, clear your mind and also teach you something new you can use in your daily life.

11. Keep note-taking tools on you at all times

You never know when inspiration is going to strike, or when you’ll meet someone important, so keep note-taking tools on you at all times. Fortunately, having a smartphone makes this easier – you can just use an app like Evernote or one of the default tools on your device.

12. Set goals for yourself and publicly disclose them

Whether they’re big-picture goals, like getting a promotion in a few years, or just getting through Monday without having a panic attack, yours should be set and firm; and something you tell people about. Publicly disclosing your goals helps keep you accountable, and simply having goals in the first place can go a long way toward your accomplishing them.

13. Let someone else do the driving on your commute

Why are you driving to work when you could be taking public transportation, or an Uber or Lyft ride? Depending on your city, it might be a bit more crowded, a bit less reliable, or a bit slower, but you’ll have your hands free to do work, essentially ridding yourself of the dead space that’s usually associated with commuting.

14. Stop reading the news

Reading the news is important for entrepreneurs, but stop doing it as a way to distract yourself. It’s too easy to log into social media or visit your favourite news site for “just a few quick headlines.” We’re addicted to information as a society, and you need to start breaking the habit to free up more time for actual productivity.

15. Stop multitasking

Seriously. Multitasking “feels” like you’re getting more done in the same amount of time, but it’s wrecking your ability to complete tasks efficiently. In fact, it can be credited for an average productivity loss of 40 percent.

16. Do batches of short tasks at once

We all have those little tasks that pile up on our desks; these are usually administrative things like signing off on paperwork or catching up on an email. Try to “batch” these short tasks together so you accomplish them all at once and don’t have to worry about them nagging at you.

17. Start working from home

Some studies suggest that working from home can make you more productive. Provided you’re in an authoritative enough position to make the call, consider adopting this for your own work. You can always go back if it doesn’t work out.

18. Eliminate perfectionist tendencies

Entrepreneurs tend to be creative and driven by analytics, and in our high-paced industry, these characteristics of the job bring in a lot of perfectionists. Ordinarily, this is a good thing – it means our work is of a higher caliber, on average – but it can also interfere with your ability to complete tasks. Try not to over-stress about the little things. Perfection is often the enemy of progress.

19. Use automation software when possible

Marketing automation isn’t always a good idea, but there are plenty of opportunities to use it effectively. For example, you can schedule social media posts, schedule marketing emails, or update your calendar all automatically – if you know the right apps to do it.

20. Try the two-minute rule

The colloquially named “two-minute rule” is this; if it takes two minutes or less to accomplish a task, just do it. Otherwise, it will take you more time to write it down and recall it in the future than it takes to actually do the task. Silly, right?

21. Slowly replace your bad habits

Bad habits are nasty, and you know you have some – checking your email too often, checking Facebook, and so on – but how can you break them easily without losing your mind? One of the best ways is to gradually replace them with “good” habits as variants. Instead of this, do that.

22. Use more pen and paper

Though this may seem obsolete to you and make you feel that you came from a forgotten era, try using more pen and paper. It will help you concentrate, improve your memory of whatever you’re writing and best of all: There are no distractions on a blank piece of paper, as opposed to a screen connected to the internet.

23. Break big tasks down into smaller ones

When you’re staring at a massive, time-consuming project, it’s easy to feel intimidated — sometimes too intimidated to start it. But instead of trying to tackle that behemoth, break it up into smaller, more manageable sub-tasks.

24. Always give yourself more time than you need

Most of us are bad at estimating time, especially in a professional context. If you always estimate that you’ll need more time than you think, you’ll always be ahead of the game.

25. Get coffee or tea in the afternoon

It’s traditional to have a cup of coffee (or tea) in the morning to perk yourself up, but it might actually be more effective in the afternoon, when you’re hitting a midday slump. A bit of caffeine here can kick you back into action.

26. Make faster decisions

You need to intelligently consider your decisions, but you can’t dwell on them or you’ll waste time. Come to final decisions faster, and you’ll be able to move forward faster.

27. Clean-up your computer’s desktop

Does your desktop look like the image below? It’s easy for clutter to fill up your background if you don’t tidy it up regularly, and just seeing it can interfere with your productivity. Take a few minutes to get it back in order.

28. Organise your digital file

In a similar vein, take the time to organise all your digital files, whether they’re in cloud storage or on your desktop. Establish a clear hierarchy of folders and directories, and adhere to a standard naming convention to reduce confusion for yourself and everyone else on your team.

29. Find a distraction-blocking browser plugin

There are tons of browser plugins developed specifically to keep you from your most tempting distraction websites. There’s a short list of some of the best options here.


Mental and emotional well-being hacks

mental-and-emotional-well-being

30. Make your bed in the morning

Making your bed won’t instantly give you new ideas or help you do your work faster, but it will give you a chance to slow down and clear your head after you wake up. It also sets a standard for organisation and completeness, which you can carry throughout your day.

31. Take a vacation

Earlier, I mentioned how important it was to take breaks on a daily basis. But it’s also important to take vacations and get away from everything (from time to time). Otherwise, you could end up burning out or over-stressing.

32. Get plenty of sleep

It may seem that you don’t have enough time, but you have to make time. you should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you aren’t, you’re going to suffer from impaired cognitive abilities.

33. Exercise regularly

Exercise has innumerable benefits, so try to squeeze some in every day. You’ll get a short-term boost from the adrenaline, and you’ll feel better mentally and emotionally from the endorphin release. You’ll also have more energy and be able to focus longer.

34. Meditate each morning (or each evening)

Regular mindfulness meditation will help you reduce your stress load, improve your cognitive functions and boost your mood. It’s challenging to develop it as a habit, but once you do, you won’t regret it.

35. Drink more water

It’s a simple hack, so why not take advantage of it immediately? Our brains and bodies are made mostly of water, so staying hydrated can keep them functioning as they should. Keep a glass of water by your desk throughout the day.

36. Eat healthier foods

It’s no secret that junk food is bad for you, but it can actually impair your work performance by leaving you feeling groggy, unsettled or without energy. Instead, rely on proteins, complex carbohydrates and good standbys like fruits and vegetables.

37. Keep prepared snacks ready at your desk

When you need a quick boost of energy, the vending machine and fast food restaurants are tempting, so keep healthy snacks at your desk to keep you plowing through. Nuts, dried fruits and whole grains are good ideas here.

38. Keep a blog or journal

 Keeping a journal (or blog, if you feel like making it public – just be careful) can help you organise your thoughts for the day, reflecting on what you did well or poorly, and expressing your feelings. It’s a de-stressor and tool for personal evaluation in one.

39. Take a break from the screen

When you stare at a screen for eight hours a day, you’re bound to get headaches (or at least have that buggy-eyed feeling). Step away from the screen – and your desk – to get some fresh air; or at least walk around the office. You’ll come back feeling renewed.

40. Find something to be excited about

It doesn’t much matter what it is, but you need something to feel excited about throughout the workday to keep you going. An upcoming concert? A date? A Netflix binge? Whatever it is, remind yourself it exists when you hit a wall.

41. Reward yourself for finishing major tasks

 It’s much easier to hit a good momentum when you feel like your effort is worth it. Reward yourself when you finish big projects, with a break or splurge.

42. Get a pet (or look at animal pictures)

Physical affection and “cute things” can have powerful effects on your stress levels. If you can’t have a pet at the office, at least look up some cute animal pictures.

43. Call someone you love

Talking to a loved one releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical associated with social contact. It will help re-energise you if you feel that your productivity is slipping.

44. Declutter your desk and office

Though it’s said that geniuses often have messier spaces, dealing with a cluttered desk and office is the last thing you need on a busy day. Take a few moments to organize your belongings.

45. Enjoy your weekends

Weekends are like miniature vacations, and they’re important for you to use. If you’re trying to work through your weekend or you’re pulled into work conversations, you’re not relaxing.

46. But do a bit of work on Sunday

That being said, Sunday is a perfect day to get ahead for the week. You won’t be distracted by communication or incoming assignments, and you’ll have plenty of time to get things done. Build a runway for yourself, and start Monday more efficiently.

47. Look at the positive side

A simple adjustment to your perspective – namely, thinking more positively – can have a huge effect on your stress and ability to complete work. Try to correct negative thinking and look at the positive side of everything.

48. Surround yourself with colour

Being in a monotone work environment can make you feel bored or trapped. Instead, try surrounding yourself with more colour in any way you can; it will stimulate your thinking and relieve stress.

49. Include more art in your workspace

Along these lines, include more abstract art in your workplace. Not only will it help you destress; it can prime your creativity to help you find better solutions.

50. Add plants to your workspace

For reasons we haven’t quite figured out yet, plants seem to improve happiness and productivity. Perhaps it’s be the “natural” sense they give, or an extra boost of oxygen; or else people may just generally like plants.

51. Get creative on your breaks

Exercise your creative muscles when you’re on breaks by doodling, singing or writing. Creative exercises relieve stress and can encourage you to come up with more creative solutions.

52. Keep something inspiring close

Keep things at your desk that inspire you, whether they’re small reminders of a goal, a picture of a loved one or a motivational book. You’ll need something to turn to on those rough days to keep yourself going.


Communication Hacks

communication-hacks

53. Keep meetings to 15 minutes

It’s generally agreed upon but rarely enforced that shorter meetings are better. You’re forced to get to the crux of your issues and waste less time with fluff. Try to keep meetings to 15 minutes – 30 at most.

54. Announce meeting agendas proactively and assign homework

When you need to call a meeting, schedule it in advance, and assign homework so your participants are ready for it. That way, you can all hit the ground running.

55. Reduce your number of meeting participants

There’s no reason to invite the entire department. Stop yourself from clicking all those recommended email addresses and stick to only the most important participants.

56. Maintain focus in meetings

You have an agenda for your meeting, so do your best to stick to it. If people start veering off course, it’s your responsibility to bring them back to the issue at hand.

57. Play to the strengths of each medium

There are dozens of communication mediums to choose from, so use them to their greatest strengths. For example, texts are good for fast, short messages, while email is better for extended batches of information; and phone calls are better for a back-and-forth conversation.

58. Cut off unproductive email chains

Email chains can get unwieldy, especially with multiple recipients. If they start deviating from the main subject or fail to make progress, cut them off and opt for a meeting instead.

59. Always use subject lines

Subject lines exist for a reason: Use them. Nobody likes getting an email with a blank subject line.

60. Batch emails

When you’re trying to sort your emails or declutter an inbox, try batching your emails together. Delete them en masse, or move them to specific folders. Speaking of which . . .

61. Organise your emails

Take the time to organise your emails into folders or use Gmail, labels. It only takes a few clicks to create a new folder or label, and you can start sorting your emails accordingly. Use it to group your messages by category or to mark them as tasks getting completed.

62. Unsubscribe from those annoying lists

Like most entrepreneurs, you probably get at least a dozen marketing emails a day that you never pay attention to. These waste your time and attention, so be proactive and unsubscribe from them.

63. Keep teleconferences to a minimum

Phone calls are still a decent way to have a conversation, even in this modern era of technological advancement. However, multi-way calls, where people speak over one other, can be nightmarish in complexity. Keep teleconferences to a minimum.

64. Establish running threads of communication

Try to keep as much conversation “on the record” as possible. This holds people accountable to what they’ve said, and serves as a reference point for anyone confused about what was said, when and by whom.

65. Reduce everything to bullet points

Bullet points are an easy way to make your content more readable (and more skimmable). Try to include them as often as possible to help improve comprehension of your messages.

66. Focus on action items

No matter how you communicate, you should turn your ultimate focus to action items. Why are you communicating? What do you and the other participants need to do once you leave here?

67. Don’t interrupt anyone unless absolutely necessary

 Interruptions distract you and break your train of thought; they’re productivity killers. Set a standard of non-interruption by interrupting people only when it’s an emergency.

68. Keep all your notes in one place

Earlier, I recommended having a note-taking app for on-the-go needs. Here, you’ll need to make sure your entire team’s notes are all centrally located and (possibly) publicly available.

69. Learn to speed read

Speed reading will enable you to consume more content at a faster rate and comprehension level. There are many ways to learn speed reading, including apps to guide you in the right direction.

70. Reduce alerts

Alerts, such as new email, text or tweet notifications, serve as minor interruptions that disrupt your thinking and demand your attention. Try to reduce or eliminate them wherever you can, even for communication apps relevant to your team.

71. Get feedback on everything

Feedback is your best tool for personal growth. Try to get feedback wherever you can, from workers, from bosses, peers and clients. The more you learn about yourself, the better.

72. Give feedback on everything

Similarly, you’ll want to give feedback to everyone you work with to build a better overall working environment. Everyone can benefit from this, and you’ll establish an atmosphere where feedback is expected and encouraged.

73. Ask for help before you need it

You can’t be a superhero 100 percent of the time. As an entrepreneur, you’ll be pushed to your limits, and you’ll need to ask for help. So swallow your pride and do this sooner rather than later.

74. Be concise

Concise communication is almost universally better communication; you waste less time and are forced to get to your central point faster. There’s also less ambiguity. Practice conciseness in your daily life and all forms of communication, and you’ll naturally improve in your abilities.

75. Listen more

No matter what your position is, you can always listen more. Listening attentively increases your understanding, teaches you more and even makes you appear more intelligent to the other party. Commit yourself to listening more and listening better.


Team Hacks

team-management-hacks

76. Hire on potential

If you’re in a position to hire, consider hiring based on potential, rather than past experience. Experience is good, but it also demands a higher cost up-front, and it tells you nothing about where a person could be going. Ask about the future, and you’ll learn more about a person’s potential path.

77. Learn to delegate effectively

Delegation is key to keeping your plate clear and helping your organisation operate smoothly. Knowing when to delegate, delegating to the right people and being as clear as possible in your communications can all help you out here.

78. Know your outsourcing options

Sometimes, your team just won’t be enough to handle a specific project or execute your workload. In these cases, it pays to know your outsourcing options, which may include a network of contractors, a corporate partner or even a freelancer marketplace like Upwork.

79. Find a good mentor

A good mentor can help you in a number of different ways, giving you advice, providing feedback on your work, finding your direction and even just bonding. Mentors are everywhere if you attend networking events regularly and stay plugged into your community.

80. Share time-saving strategies

If you find a strategy that helps you save time, share it with the rest of your team. There’s no reason to keep it a secret. Encourage them to do the same.

81. Use better coordination and project management software

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, your team relies on some kind of central force for the bulk of its collaboration – something like project management software. There are literally thousands of options here, so do your research and choose the best fit for your brand.

82. Set better standards for communication

If you’re a team leader, you’ll be in charge of setting the standards for how your team communicates. Don’t be afraid to formally document some guidelines for communication, including how to structure emails, and follow those guidelines to set a good example.

83. Hold one other accountable

Foster an atmosphere of mutual accountability among your team members. Encourage your teammates to call each other out when they’re doing something inefficiently, and embrace that criticism when you encounter it. This will help you maintain a more consistent environment without resorting to micromanagement.

84. Facilitate open dialogue

Make your employees and peers feel comfortable talking to you about anything; this takes a while, but can be done through mutual trust, building your approachability, and active listening. Open dialogue will help you gather more feedback, address problems more proactively and get to know your team better.

85. Get a white board

This may seem simple, or even obsolete, but you won’t believe how effective a physical white board can be at improving team collaboration. It’s a great tool for team-based brainstorming and demonstration, or you could use it as a long-term institution for scrum methodology and similar approaches to project management.

86. Make everyone participate

Your team is just that – a team. There are individuals, sure, but the true power here comes from everyone participating as actively and as consistently as possible. When you have team meetings or brainstorming sessions, force everyone to participate in some way. Everyone’s voice is valuable.

87. Make time for team bonding

Bonds can’t be artificially created, nor can they be forced, but they’re still important for your team members to work together effectively. You can make time for team bonding by going out to lunch together, playing games together or scheduling outside-work activities.

88. Use cloud software for file sharing and storage

By now, you’re already using cloud software to back up your files and share them with one other. This software is relatively inexpensive, ensures the safety of your files and keeps everyone on the same page. Even simple setups, with things like Dropbox and Google Docs, can improve your collaborative performance.


Analysis and improvement hacks

analysis-and-improvement-hacks

89. Learn to type faster

This may seem like you’re going back to high school, but think about it: How much time do you spend per day typing? If you’re an entrepreneur wearing many hats, this should be especially high priority. Improving your typing speed by even 10 or 20 percent could result in massive time savings.

90. Read books and high-authority articles (on anything – no, really)

Anything you read can and will be valuable to you as an entrepreneur. You might learn a new skill or get a briefer on a new industry, or you might venture into a magical world. Whatever you do, you’ll be improving your memory, focus and vocabulary, and opening your mind to new worlds and perspectives.

91. Time how long it takes you to do certain things

Use time-tracking software or even a simple timer at your desk to figure out how long it takes you to do each of your usual daily tasks. Then, evaluate any surprises. What takes you longer than you thought? How can you reduce this time?

92. Learn when you’re most productive

Everyone is different. Some people work best in the morning. Others work best at night. Most are all over the place. Pay close attention to your concentration and productivity levels, and see what you can do to optimize your schedule and cater to those peaks and valleys.

93. Note distractions and eliminate them

Distractions are the enemy of productivity, but they’re notoriously difficult to remove. The first and hardest step of the process is awareness – so stay conscious of when you’re being distracted, and note what’s doing the distracting.

94. Remove your least-productive apps

Take a look at your phone and any other devices you have and take inventory of all the apps you have on there. How many of these are actually useful? How many just drain your time? It might be a hard move to make, but try deleting some of your most time-consuming, least-productive apps. You can always re-download if you really miss them.

95. Keep your devices and software up-to-date

The technology you use plays a major role in how productive you can be – you can only go so fast with an older machine. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re using the latest devices and software to keep you and your team operating at full capacity.

96. Organise a list of your best news sources

Rather than hunt and peck for the latest news stories on the topic of your choice, create and organise lists of news sources you can access faster in the future. You can use a blog reader like Feedly for this.

97. Keep in contact with at least two peer sources

Try to maintain at least two contacts within your industry, and keep in contact with them once or twice per month. You can hold each other accountable for your goals, exchange information and build off one other’s ideas.

98. Attend a new class or workshop once a month

There’s always more to learn as an entrepreneur, so try to attend at least one new class or workshop every month. It’s a great learning opportunity, it’s usually fun and you’ll probably get the chance to meet lots of interesting new people.

99. Get used to root-cause analysis

Root-cause analysis will be your best friend in identifying sources of your productivity loss. So you’re distracted – how did you get here? Your assignment wasn’t done on time; why not?

100. Accept your failures and move on

You’re not perfect, and you’re never going to be. You’ll procrastinate, get distracted and take more time on projects than you should. It happens, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Accept your failures, and move past them.

101. Keep reading productivity and efficiency articles

This is my cheeky piece of meta-advice, encouraging you to read more articles like this one. Though you might have found this article in an effort to procrastinate on a tougher assignment, you’ve probably learned something valuable here; and that will likely reoccur with every new productivity article you read.

The term “hack” is always dubious when it’s applied to real life, but I hope these strategies, habits and ideas have been helpful for you. With such a vast quantity of potential ways to improve your performance (not to mention your health), you can be guaranteed that there’s at least one thing here you haven’t heard before, and that can improve your life as a busy entrepreneur in some meaningful way.

So, give them a shot! You’ve got nothing to lose, and hours of time and productivity to gain. For more help on starting a successful business, see The Modern Entrepreneur: How to Build a Successful Startup, from Beginning to End.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a content marketing agency, as well as EmailAnalytics, an email productivity monitoring app for Gmail and G suite. Contact him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Get Organised

Become A Life-Hacker

Life-hacking is about accomplishing more in less time, with less stress, at a lower cost with the use of simple digital tools.

Nadine Todd

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martijn-aslander

When Martijn Aslander was 17, he was running a company that had 60 part-time employees from the back of a classroom. By the time he was 21 he had two companies, and was directing 140 people. At 27 he decided to sell his companies, and ended up bankrupt as a result of the experience.

What looked like a complete disaster actually ended up being the single best lesson Martijn could learn. He woke up the next day and everything was still there. He had his arms and legs; he had his health. And the worst had happened, which meant that nothing could go wrong anymore. From that moment, anything was possible.

He then asked himself a key question: How big is the chance you will do this again? The answer was simple: There was no chance. Big lessons had been learnt. At that moment, Martijn realised that there was no point in ever getting upset when something goes wrong. It happens. The next time you will fly.

Martijn believes that we are always looking for the next challenges. Millionaires want to be billionaires. Billionaires want to win a Nobel Prize. There is always another goal. So how do you find success and happiness? By asking how you can contribute the most to mankind. In many ways, Martijn was already a life-hacker. At 17 he’d discovered a way to make money without doing much work, simply by being smarter and spotting a niche.

At 27 he learnt that possibilities are what you make of them, and the more you share, the greater your impact, and the more you will receive.

Related: 15 Scientifically Proven Ways To Work Smarter, Not Just More

These are his rules to becoming a life-hacker, and doing more in less time, with less stress, at lower costs.

1. Don’t operate on untested assumptions

Most of the fears that people have, and particularly entrepreneurs, are based on assumptions that they haven’t tested. And most untested assumptions are simply not true. They live as ghosts and monsters in your head, but they’re not real.

We live in a very interesting time, where it’s actually risky to be safe. Safe doesn’t exist, and it never has, because you are never in charge of all the events that take place around you. Change is the only constant. For centuries we’ve operated on the notion of survival of the fittest. He who is strongest will win. This is also a faulty assumption. Success today isn’t about strength — it’s about the ability to adapt to new circumstances. Over the last ten years more circumstances than ever before have changed, and the rate is just accelerating.

You have to have an open mind; you have to learn to be flexible.

2. If you’re in the business of doing business, you will soon be out of business

How do you measure business success? Be careful that your strategy isn’t focused on possessions — fancy offices, a big building, or cars as status symbols. If you’re too focused on things, you’ll be too afraid of losing your stuff. Entrepreneurs who are focused on a higher purpose concentrate on improving themselves, their people and doing the best for their clients. They’re far less afraid of sudden changes and turmoil, because possessions aren’t as important, which makes them agile and adaptable — exactly who you want to be in a changing world.

I see it as the rise of the ‘funpreneur’. The rise of a new breed of people who are focused on doing what they love, and who aspire to a higher cause, instead of just focusing on the business side of things. It’s tough to compete with people who don’t do business models, but focus on purpose instead.

3. Give your teams the freedom to adapt

There are two types of teams — those who are flexible, have an open mind, and are willing to adapt to new conditions and environments, and those who are terrified of making mistakes and therefore seldom venture out of the established norm.

The type of team that forms the foundation of your business is up to you. Are you hiring people with flexible, open minds and giving them the freedom to make mistakes, or do you stifle innovation in your organisation?

Remember that mistakes are often the only way to learn something. If people are really dissatisfied with their own errors and performance, they will internalise the experience far more deeply. There will always be some mistakes. My advice is to create an environment where everyone learns from mistakes — their own and those that others make — and try to make mistakes that you will benefit the most from by encouraging your team to take chances. This doesn’t mean it’s okay to make mistakes on purpose, but create a safe environment and deal with mistakes in a way that shares the lessons, and instils the learnings in your business.

Related: 50 Jobs, Gigs And Side Hustles You Can Do From Home

4. Make a ‘not-to-do’ list

We’re so busy making ‘to-do’ lists that we forget to make ‘not-to-do’ lists. Remember that you’re in charge of your life, and you can go in any direction you want. Yes, there will be circumstances that influence your life, but ultimately you can change everything. There’s less financial risk than ever before in doing business. You don’t need big offices, buildings, or cars. Everything you need to make an impact is at your disposal. The only things holding us back are our assumptions.

While you are creating your to-do lists and strategies, take some time to write down what you shouldn’t be doing — what you don’t want to do, what you should avoid — the business or person you don’t want to be. Focus on what you love, and build a great life around those principles. Don’t allow yourself to live in fear.

5. Leverage the holy trinity of dynamics

I believe there are only three things you need for success: People, information and ideas. With these three things, you can set anything in motion.

An idea in itself is worthless.  It’s really nothing else but combined information; creatively connecting unconnected dots. The ability to make ideas materialise in this world however holds value, and for that you need people and information. Information is the bridge between ideas and the people who make them happen. What’s incredible is that we are living in an information society.

There are more people connected than ever before. We’re living in a network age and an information age, which means you can focus on all three, connect the dots, and unleash an unprecedented amount of ideas.

6. You don’t need a budget to innovate

The Chief Commander of the Dutch Army approached me to help him find a way to innovate that didn’t involve cutting into his budget. My question to him was, ‘Why do you need budget?’ There are 50 000 geeks in the Netherlands who dream of flying in a jet fighter or being submerged under the ocean. Simply by redeploying assets they already have, the Dutch Army can make these dreams come true.

So many organisations miss this crucial point. Money is naturally scarce, and the dynamics of money are weird. People are afraid to spend it because it’s scarce, and they’re uncertain if what they’re spending it on is a risk or not. As soon as there’s a financial risk, and you don’t know the outcome, you’re hesitant to jump in. And this ends up stalling innovation, because there’s an over-riding belief that you need money to innovate.

But what about applying other resources other than money alone? Always consider what you can do with the resources you already have. This will take financial risk out the equation, which will lead to less fear. Once fear is gone, people step in, open up and contribute. If you get rid of the risk, you enable your team. In many cases, finance is not an enabler, it’s a disabler.

Imagine if you could stop asking for money and setting your price, and instead asked your clients to pay what they believe your services are worth. You’d quickly either make more money, or realise you’re helping the wrong businesses, or not demonstrating your value clearly enough.

Entrepreneurs know this — they’re used to bootstrapping and being creative. The problem is that as we grow, we forget, and start becoming reliant on money to grow. And this stifles us.

So how do you begin to use the resources you have? Start by targeting the one percent of your clients that are able to do 100 or 1 000 fold what they are paying you in terms of money. What can you barter or trade with them? What resources can you offer each other that are actually more valuable than money? What could your clients potentially do for you that would actually save you money? Or what would they love to pay for, that you potentially aren’t offering right now?

Every single organisation has resources that they can deploy without financial loss. Start with 1% and build on it.

7. Build your social capital

Social capital builds monetary capital. It’s not the other way around, and yet so often we focus on monetary capital first. Instead, focus on achieving something that will lead to monetary capital. I give away my social capital freely. I share my books and ideas for free. It clears my mind, and I know that I can create ideas faster than you can steal them anyway. That’s how you should view ideas. Giving away social capital gives you access, and then you don’t need money — that’s the secret to success.

People are too careful with their social capital — particularly their ideas. I promise you this — the chances of becoming a millionaire with just one idea are miniscule. If that’s your strategy, it’s not only dangerous, but you’re wasting your time. If you become someone who can share ideas freely, and focus on bringing people, knowledge and ideas together instead, your chances of success have grown exponentially.

Remember, people love to share, and you want to tap into that. Look for zero plus, not zero sum.

Related: 101 Efficiency Hacks For Busy Entrepreneurs

8. Become a life-hacker

The term ‘life-hacker’ was coined in 2005 by tech journalist Danny O’Brien. He was covering a group of programmers who were very productive, and yet they weren’t stressed. They were satisfied. How did they manage to be productive and stress-free? The secret wasn’t only in what they were doing — but in how they were sharing those secrets and tools.

I personally use a few hundred tools that allow me to do a lot more in less time, and I’m happy to share the tactics that help me to work smarter. This is why I launched the lifehacking.nl website, but all the contributors on the site share the same philosophy — we freely share our insights to help others. This is a critical element to life-hacking. There is so much information out there, so many ways to access insights and information. Are you using them? Are you learning and using the tools available? There are tools that can save you hundreds of hours a year. Tap into them. We can learn so much from each other; get the best people possible in your posse and in your community.

9. Understand the dichotomies of knowledge workers

Knowledge work is something new. Traditional business systems are based on hands. You exchange time for money. But today we are working with our heads, and the reality is that you cannot work with your head for eight hours a day, particularly in artificially-constructed work hours. One third of the population work best in the evening, and yet they’re expected to arrive at the office at 8am sharp. Not only are they causing traffic jams, but they’re not working in their optimal conditions either. We need to rethink the model. We need to stop treating computers like modern typewriters. We seem to think that answering hundreds of emails is working. It’s not. We’re all just distracting each other.

Digital skills are nowhere on the strategic agenda of boards. The time and skills of your employees are the most valuable asset you have, and yet we aren’t doing anything to help our employees become life-hackers. Digital skills won’t only help your teams to work smarter and save time, but become real assets, and not just glorified typists. If you focus on digital skills, your ability to find information and ideas faster than anyone else will grow, allowing you to spread those ideas, learn faster than your competitors and entrench strategic skills in your organisation. Take these skills and invest in them heavily. It’s a true differentiator.

IN YOUR TOOLKIT

Create your own time

Life-hacking is all about learning from others and using tools and technology to do things smarter and faster. There are many ways to achieve this goal — you just need to be open to them. Take Pepe Marais, co-founder of Joe Public United, South Africa’s largest independent advertising agency.

Four years ago, Pepe decided to employ a driver. “This solution isn’t for everyone, and it took me a full three months to get used to the idea, but once I got over my own insecurities, it was a revelation. I have gained 32 hours a month — that’s the equivalent of one full work week — simply through using my travel time constructively.”

Related: 7 Tools To Increase Productivity And Efficiency

Learn from the Titans

learn-from-the-titans

Tim Ferriss is the master of getting more done in less time — and he’s made it his business to share these tips and lessons with others.

Read this: Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss’s epic amalgamation of hundreds of tactics, routines and habits, collected over the course of two years from the world’s most successful business people and world-class performers, and distilled into a notebook of tips and tricks to use in your every-day life and business.

Listen to this: A summary of the book is available on Audible.com (another key tool for life-hacking and a great way to maximise your time in traffic and the gym by listening to business ‘how to’ books and top biographies).

Watch for free: Accelerated learning with Tim Ferriss is a 13-minute video available on Youtube and below. If you want to maximise your ability to learn quickly and efficiently, start here.

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Get Organised

14 Of The Best Morning Routine Hacks Proven To Boost Productivity

These morning rituals will give you a boost toward success.

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Developing the perfect morning routine that maximises your lifestyle and predilections while squeezing the most productivity out of your days is a trial-and-error process. One size doesn’t fit all. You have to know yourself in order to customize the best morning routine. Do you need coffee to even get into the shower? Then build it into your routine, and prepare your coffee maker the night before, so you simply have to wake up and hit the “on” switch.

The good news is that there are best practices in the morning that have been proven to make the most of time and capitalize on the body’s biorhythm and that have been widely practiced by wildly successful business moguls and entrepreneurs.

So take a look at the next 14 slides to see what morning routine hacks you can build into your ritual to ramp up productivity and create your best life.

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Get Organised

Finding Your WHY This Year (Why Do YOU Get Up In The Mornings?)

If you wake up every day for something you believe in, you will live your purpose.

Jade Amic

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I had a long conversation with a colleague and I asked her if she knew why she did what she did. What was her reason for getting up in the morning?

I contemplated the question I had just asked and realised it was not such an easy question to answer. I had spent years figuring out what’s important to me in my life and my career but had not yet figured out exactly why I do what I do. Why do I get out of bed every day and do this advertising thing? What do I believe in and why do I believe in it? What is my why?

This led me down an interesting road of self-discovery, and it soon led me to Simon Sinek. I immersed myself in his podcasts, TED talks and books and began to understand why some companies are successful and why some aren’t. I learnt about the Golden Circle and how all companies know what they do and how they do it, but very few know why. I learnt that people don’t buy into what you do, they buy into why you do it.

why-how-what-graph

Simon says, (sorry, I had to!) “There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”

Related: 50 Inspirational Quotes To Help You Achieve Your Goals

We are inspired by leaders and organisations that communicate what they believe in. They have the ability to make us feel special, safe, like we belong, and like we’re not alone.

Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and the Wright Brothers are great examples of people that started from the inside out, they all started with their why.

Sinek points out that “Leaders have a rank but those who lead, inspire. It’s leadership’s responsibility to point North, say where we’re going and allow everybody else to figure out how to get there.”

I could see the value in these great leaders finding their why but I hadn’t quite answered my own question – What is my why?

Using the Golden Circle I worked my way from the clarity of my ‘what’ to the fuzziness of my ‘why’.

The more I unpacked this, the more I realised how it influences so much more than just my career choices. It influences my life choices as well. It impacts my relationships with my colleagues, my goals and it helps me prioritise what is important and what isn’t.

I’ve learnt that to truly understand your why, you need to understand what it is that you believe in and value. You need to allow these beliefs and values to guide you – to become your North Star. Your compass. When you know where you’re going, (and why) you’re flexible along your journey. But if your destination is unclear, the route you’re taking and the obstacles that come with it become your focus.

Knowing what you do is easy.

Knowing why you do it, that’s the part that takes work.

But once you’ve figured it out, you’ll find yourself being drawn to people and organisations that have a similar why to you. You’ll find your work has more meaning, and doing that work, becomes more meaningful.

If you wake up every day for something you believe in, you will live your purpose.

Start with why by Simon Sinek.

Related: Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

PC: impactbnd.com

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