Those of you familiar with Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will recognise the term Quadrant II manager. This ideal manager recognises that time spent on the important but non-urgent aspects of their business are the most vital for success. The Quadrant II manager spends time during the workday on long-term planning, developing relationships and training staff to take on delegated tasks. They spend virtually no time answering email or attending meetings.
Many entrepreneurs operate solo; they’re the cook, maitre d’, busboy and bottle washer of their business. Many have families to attend to and are desperately trying to keep all the plates on the tray without dropping any. I believe that’s why so many businesses fail. There’s no way to manage that kind of chaos. If you work night and day and still feel you’re accomplishing nothing, stop, take stock and try a new approach.
I’m going to assume that you have a long-term (five years) and shorter-term (six months to one year) vision for your business. Your daily activities and actions are guided by this vision, so it’s critical to start with a solid blueprint. This big vision will be accomplished in small steps, taking action consistently over time. Once you acknowledge that you can’t do everything you think you should do, ask the question: “What is the best use of my time and energy today?”
Beth and James Hood, co-founders of Where’s the Map.com, a site that helps high school and college students make their transition into the working world, have one- and five-year plans for the company’s income, products and impact. They break down that vision into smaller pieces that I call spokes, and these determine their daily actions. For example, they have a long-term goal of being sought-after speakers on college campuses. The spoke they are working on is “Build a national platform for speaking.” Activities might include: Create a speaker and press kit, schedule 10 radio interviews a month, add 1 000 people per month to the website, and refine presentation skills.
Each day they make a list of the six most important things they can do to move forward on their spoke. The actions are simple, small and measurable. They put no more than six on the list at a time. Then they schedule two hours during the day when they turn off their phone and focus on those six steps. If they don’t finish, they roll the items over to the next day, focusing on the carry-over items first. They also have spokes for the deeper values in their lives: their marriage, their home and physical environment, service to the community, spiritual practice, etc. Each has action items. In this way, the Hoods accomplish six steps toward their long-term goal each day. At the end of the day, they can measure their productivity in small, consistent actions. The list becomes a diary of accomplishments, and they can refer to it for motivation.
Juggling Your Projects
Take an inventory of everything you do in your day and make the following lists:
- The projects I’m currently working on.
- The roles I’m handling in my life and business. Be honest and list them all.
- All the things that are on your mind that you aren’t getting to.
Now, looking through the filter of your long-term goals, which of these roles and projects emerge as priorities? Which are the ones that if you paid full and consistent attention to would make the biggest difference in your feelings of vitality, your relationships and your financial success? If you take these top priorities and apply the method outlined in the section above, you’ll see an immediate increase in energy and productivity. Doing “enough” is a decision. If you’re clear on your vision, have balanced your priorities to include health, relationships and inner work in addition to your business, and you are taking small, consistent actions each day, you are doing the best you can. Act as if you’ve done enough, acknowledge yourself, rest and rejuvenate, and watch your results expand.
6 Steps To Go From Procrastinating To Productive
As an entrepreneur, practice saying to yourself, “I will not do the work of my smart, very talented and motivated team.”
As entrepreneurs and business owners, we have tasks on our list that we’d rather not do. So, we keep moving the goal post farther down the field and do almost anything we can to avoid those distasteful jobs.
Personally, I don’t like to get involved in extra paperwork or monthly expense reports. Other founders have their own least favorite activities.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because there’s an obvious solution: delegation. As a matter of fact, I created a motto along these lines: I will not do the work of my smart, very talented and motivated team.
My job, after all, is to concentrate on the bigger parts of the business, like generating revenue. And while there are other such tasks that are necessary to operating a business, I might be avoiding them too because they slow me down. So, I again delegate them to the team.
I guess in a way, we’re all capable of being procrastinators.
According to a 2013 survey by salary.com, 69 percent of survey respondents said they wasted time at work on a daily basis – a 5 percent increase from the previous year. Thirty-four percent of respondents estimated they routinely wasted 30 minutes or less each day; 24 percent said they wasted between 30 and 60 minutes; and 11 percent said they wasted hours every day.
As a business owner, I could see how those numbers might send my fellow owners’ blood pressure through the roof, but my own response would be more practical: I’d pursue tools, tricks and techniques to minimise procrastination and maximize productivity.
Here are a few of those techniques:
Don’t overwhelm yourself
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work on your plate, meetings and deadlines. Lately, I’ve been focusing on launching new avenues for C-Suite TV, and it can be overwhelming sometimes.
When tasks seem insurmountable, here’s one way to lessen that burden: Get out your “to-do” list. Then, instead of writing down that big task as one huge thing, break it down. Breaking a big task into multiple line items makes it more manageable. You have your end goal, but by reducing it to its smaller components, you get a clearer picture of what you need to do.
Crossing off the smaller parts of the larger task gives you a sense of accomplishment you wouldn’t have if you tackled the massive task all at once.
Flip the script
I don’t care who you are: Whether you’re a worker, a manager or a CEO, you’re just like everyone – and we all hate doing certain tasks. So why not flip the script?
Bite the bullet, kiss the frog – whatever you want to call it: Put that task at the top of your to-do list that day. You’ll eliminate the task quickly and move on to the rest of your day. Not to mention, you’ll have a bigger sense of accomplishment knowing that you’ve steam-rolled the largest obstacle you had awaiting you.
Everyone wants to make a good impression and put his or her best foot forward at work. Procrastination comes not from the inability to get the job done, but from fear and insecurity. Being unsure how to perform a specific task makes us fear failure and being seen in a negative light by the boss.
I always tell my team that, “No one’s going to die.” What’s the worst thing that can happen if a specific task isn’t perfect? I might get mad if the task is not completed within the given deadline, but not if it merely needs to be tweaked. Many times, the worst conversations happen inside our own heads and we let that imaginary conversation rule our other decisions. That’s when we make mistakes.
If you’re worried about your work quality, allocate a set amount of time each day to complete (or revise) parts of the project. It’s possible to perfect a task without obsessing over it and losing focus. That’s when you know it’s time to let go of the project and focus on other things. Say it with me: No one will die.
Kill the squirrels (or distractions)
It’s easy to procrastinate with the million distractions we have every day. According to a survey by Stop Procrastinating, 68 percent of Americans surveyed said they’d been distracted from their work duties by checking their emails, browsing the web or engaging in social media. And that was a 9 percent increase from a year before. Of that 68 percent, 39 percent said distractions cost them a whole hour a day.
Sure, it’s tempting to constantly check your Facebook or Twitter feeds, but here’s a radical concept: Log out of your social media accounts for a few hours every day.
Instead, focus on your tasks and nothing else. Do whatever it takes to get into the “zone,” to accomplish your goal. Some people at my office use headphones to muffle outside noise. I block out time on my calendar, which my employees have access to, and dedicate that time to a specific task I need to accomplish. I may even specify “no phone calls” to ensure I stay in my zone.
Be a good time manager
To transition from procrastinator to proactive leader requires organization on your part, from your mindset to your schedule. It’s hard to be organized when you feel you’re juggling multiple things, but to succeed, you must learn to juggle. Deciding how much time to dedicate to each task makes you more efficient.
For some of us busy executives, even our down time needs to be scheduled.
Recently, I attended the Rocky Mountain Economic Summit, where I mingled with top economists, business leaders and policymakers. I had a busy schedule, interviewing a top CEO. But I also managed to schedule down time. Being from South Dakota, I enjoy the outdoors so I scheduled some fly fishing time – away from technology, emails and phone calls.
If you’re a good time manager, you’ll have time for everything, including play time. It takes some dedication and discipline, but it’s not impossible.
Remember that the early bird gets the worm
I operate on little sleep. As any workaholic will tell you, when you go to bed at night, you can’t wait to start your day the next morning. Indeed, dawn is the most productive part of the day, according to this Wall Street Journal article. That hour of the morning brings minimal distractions, no email and hardly anyone on social media.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, starts his day at 3:45 a.m.. Richard Branson likes to “sleep in” until 5 a.m., and even my friend and fellow entrepreneur Peter Shankman gets up before it’s light out. As a business owner, entrepreneur and keynote speaker, I’ve done my fair share of early mornings; You’d be surprised how much you can get done by the time everyone else walks in the office.
The one takeaway here is that in order to make a successful transition from procrastinating to productive, you have to be disciplined, motivated and focused: disciplined enough to curb distractions, motivated enough to want to reach your end goal and focused enough to execute a plan that works for you.
We’re all different, so there’s no magic bullet solution for procrastination. But if you can build a plan that works for you, work the plan.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
(Infographic) The Organisational Tactics, Work Habits And Routines Of The Most Successful People
Take a look at how some of the most successful people set up their workspace.
How your workspace is set up can help or hinder your productivity. So what makes for a great workspace?
For inspiration, see how people such as Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey organise their desks and surroundings. Of course, different tactics work for different people. So to maximise productivity, find what best suits you.
While many people believe a clean desk will provide clarity and decrease stress, that’s not what Albert Einstein thought. In fact, Einstein was a supporter of the messy desk, having once said:
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”
Mark Zuckerberg prefers to have the same desk as every other Facebook employee. Studies have shown that open floor plans can encourage creativity and productivity – especially if you’re rubbing elbows with the CEO.
Another option is the standing desk. According to research, productivity can get a 10 percent boost when using a standing desk. An avid user of the standing desk was author Ernest Hemingway, who put his typewriter on top of a bookshelf in his bedroom.
Check out National Pen’s infographic below to see the desk styles of some of the most famous people history to today.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day
From their morning routine to being productive at the office, entrepreneurs share how to get the most out of your time all day.
Want more ideas?
Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything today. However, you might be happy to know, there are some simple things you can do to maximise your time and productivity. For starters, have a set routine – that could be a specific time to get coffee in the morning, a brief workout or a process for catching up on emails.
As part of Entrepreneur‘s “Guide to Getting More Done Every Day,” check out these 11 productivity secrets from successful entrepreneurs.
Have a routine
“I have a set routine I never break: Get up, walk to a coffee shop, have an espresso. It gets my brain ready to prepare for everything I am doing that day. When I’m home, I take my son, and when I’m traveling, I get to explore a new place.” – Patrick Quinlan, CEO, compliance management software company Convercent
Exercise in the morning
“At 6 a.m., five days a week, I ride for an hour on a stationary trainer. The meditative state I achieve while working out always sparks new ideas, so I’ve started capturing those thoughts after my rides, either with Siri notes or old-fashioned pen and paper.” – Neil Grimmer, founder and CEO, personalised nutrition brand Habit
Get ready in the morning
“The Keurig is set to go on at 5:30. I like to have my coffee and check emails before I wake up my children for school. I use this precious time to organise orders, plan warehouse priorities for the day and check in on production. This allows me to go into my day feeling proactive and ready.” – Sara Stein, founder, gift brand Sisters of Los Angeles
Have Wi-Fi everywhere you go
“Great wi-fi is key – I’ve even brought my Eeros with me on trips where I’m staying in Airbnbs. If I’m in a hotel, I make sure there’s a decent gym and a great café nearby. Having a small routine on the road helps it feel less foreign.” – Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital
“Fake [listening to] headphones. I have these obnoxiously large, white-and-red headphones that go over my entire ear and can be spotted from miles away. Sometimes I just put them on even if there is no music playing as a signal to leave me alone. Works like a charm. Until my team reads this!”– Scott Tannen, co-founder and CEO, bedding company Boll & Branch
Block ‘work time’
“Block ‘work time.’ My co-founder Alex and I both carve out 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on our schedules every day and protect it as best we can, so we can get through pressing items and avoid being a bottleneck to the team on outstanding questions.” – Jordana Kier, cofounder and co-CEO, natural tampon company LOLA
“Everyone steps out of their office at 9 a.m. and shares a piece of good news. It can be professional or personal, as long as it’s office-appropriate. It gets team members into a shared space and allows us to start the day on a high note while getting to know each other and talk about successes.” – Monica Guzman, COO, public relations firm Konnect Agency
Create fun office rituals
“For our internal executive meetings, if one or more people arrive late, they have to buy lunch for the next meeting. This keeps people on time and gamifies the meeting. We laugh about it with each other every time.” – John Rubey, CEO, content provider Fathom Events
Take advantage of your commute
“If you commute to work on a train, with limited connectivity, as I do, think of one meaty email you’ve been avoiding writing and give yourself the length of the commute to really dig in. It makes the trip go faster and lets you start your day with a great sense of accomplishment.” – James Hirschfeld, co-founder and CEO, stationery brand Paperless Post
Schedule short meetings
“We schedule regular 20-minute walking meetings with our colleagues. The limited window forces function and encourages both parties to be efficient in their communications. It’s surprising how many issues can be resolved or clarified in that tight timeframe.” – Evelyn Rusli, co-founder, baby food brand Yumi
Workout at your desk
Sometimes you simply can’t get out. “In the office, there’s nothing wrong with doing sets in between calls and meetings. Do 20 squats, 20 jumping jacks.” Bonus points if you break a sweat. (Sorry, work clothes.) – Martellus Bennett, founder of creative firm The Imagination Agency
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
- The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV
- (Podcast) Are All Prices Negotiable?
- (Podcast) Phone Calls Often Solve Email Problems
- (Podcast) Being An Entrepreneur Is Painful
- (Podcast) Playing To An Audience Of One
- Be 1 Of 3 High Growth Scale Ups Sponsored By FNB & Vumela To Participate For FREE In 10X Accelerator Program (Value Of R650 000)
- R33 Million Boost For Job Creation And Innovation In SA
Start-up Industry Specific2 weeks ago
How Do I Start A Transport Or Logistics Business?
Entrepreneur Profiles1 month ago
10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing
Upstarts1 month ago
10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets
Business Plan Advice4 weeks ago
Writing a Business Plan May Not Be Your Idea Of Fun, But It Forces You To Build These 4 Crucial Habits