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Keep It Simple Stupid!

How to be productive by doing less.

Tracey Foulkes

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Keep-It-Simple-Stupid

It doesn’t surprise me one little bit really. The stress, overwhelm and sheer frustration you feel even on a good day! As entrepreneurs, you might even like it, thrive on it, believe it’s what gives you ‘the edge’.

More likely though, you’re consumed with the ’busyness‘ of business and stuck in the rut of doing what you’ve always done. So, you’ve tried your best, done what you can, contracted in great advice but you need this year to be different and your team needs you to make a change.

Heck, the whole world would probably be a better place if you just pressed pause, stepped back and exhaled.

With evil lurking in complacency, entrepreneurs need to realise that it’s not only about fixing the things that are broken. Review the things that are working too, asking: “Could we be doing things better — faster — smarter?”  The best systems are often the simplest ones.

Though counterintuitive, here’s how to get more done by doing less.

Productive tasks

  • Use a list: Free up your brain for creative thinking and action taking. Choose one single place to record everything you need to do and populate it throughout your work day.
  • Prioritise according to revenue: High reward, high value tasks take precedence over their lower value (usually quick, fast and easy) counterparts. Whilst it might feel satisfying to motor through a list of lower value tasks, crossing off the important things first is what really counts in your favour. See what on your list moves you closest to bringing in revenue and prioritise accordingly (ie. invoicing a serviced client should take precedence over chasing the next prospect).
  • Schedule: Your diary should be used for more than just setting meetings. From your prioritised list, block off time in your diary/calendar for taking action. Think of it as an appointment with yourself.

Productive time

  • Reserve mornings for high value, high reward tasks: Instead of using your prime work time for scheduling meetings or checking email, reserve the first hour of your day for your high priority tasks. This ‘power  hour’ session will see you getting the important things done first, while you’re still fresh and alert.
  • Use a timetable: Remember your school timetable that reminded you which lessons were taking place when? Create something similar as a template for scheduling your day. Taking away the guess work minimises lost time in wondering what you should be doing, when. Grouping like tasks together helps with being mindful of the time… and how quickly it goes when you keep dropping tasks and hopping to others.
  • Wake up earlier: If you’re struggling to find time to get to all the important things, spending too much time in the quagmire of meetings or mountains of email, your only option might be to wake up earlier. Choosing what you’ll be working on the following morning the night before (and having everything ready to get going once you rise) will mean you don’t waste 20 minutes of your precious time planning and organising but can instead dive straight in and get the important stuff done.

Productive me

  • Stop making excuses: You might be quite surprised at how many ‘legitimate’ excuses you make in a day. Things like: ‘I’ve too much work’, ’There’s not enough time’, ‘I’ve  no resources’, and ‘If only I had more budget’, stop you from taking action and lead to self-sabotage behavioural procrastination. The fact is, regardless of the task or action required, if it’s that critical (or that enjoyable), the chances are you’ll find the time, energy and funds to make it happen. Brian Tracy says, “Self-discipline is doing what needs to be done, when it is due, whether you want to or not.”
  • Get more sleep: While some people need the recommended eight hours of sleep, others operate optimally on far less hours. If, however, you have got into a rut of getting to bed late and/or running on empty expecting all cylinders to be firing, you might be in need of some more sleep. Bring your bed time forward in 30 minute increments until you reach your ideal, and stop any excuses that play around in your mind teasing you to stay up beyond that.
  • Take a break: Studies show that taking a break boosts productivity. If you’ve subscribed to the habit of bringing work home with you, working over weekends, and compromising family and/or your personal wellbeing, you run the risk of a work-life wobble which, if left unchecked, can lead to burnout. Compartmentalising work/life will lead to you being more fulfilled, relaxed and more productive.

Tracey Foulkes wows audiences with her sharp wit, quick reactions and personable sense of humour. She speaks about procrastination, business productivity, personal motivation and time management. . If you want your team to be inspired to operate outside of the box, contact her for a complimentary productivity assessment, email tracey@getorganised.co or find her on Twitter as Tracey Foulkes or on LinkedIn as Tracey Foulkes.

Get Organised

(Infographic) 9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making In The First 10 Minutes Of Your Day

From setting goals to drinking coffee, these bad morning habits might surprise you.

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productivity

There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you might be surprised to find out that drinking coffee between 8 and 10 a.m can make you more stressed throughout the day. That’s because caffeine early in the morning interferes with the time that the stress hormone, cortisol, is peaking in your body. It’s best to get your fix between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

When you get into the office and try to jump right into the top of your to-do list, you might find yourself confused and not very productive. When you don’t let your brain empty and refresh before starting a project or task, it loses a sense of control, becomes overwhelmed and ultimately, makes you less productive. Something else to avoid is checking email or social media right when you wake up. Typically, after checking your inbox, it takes a person at least 25 minutes to get back into a productive state. If you start your day off reading and responding to email after email, it will take you a long time to get back on track.

Another surprising mistake is setting self-imposed goals. Setting goals and deadlines for yourself might seem like an obvious productivity hack, but it turns out, that’s not the case. Instead, share your deadlines with others and you’ll feel more pressure and responsibility to get things done.

Related: 5 Surprising Elements That Boost Your Productivity (One of Them Is Colour)

Check out resume.io’s infographic below for more productivity mistakes you’re likely making in the first 10 minutes of your day.

1538429589_9-productivity-mistakes-infographics-7934969f76af5ebe1b5b0b84ce9053ec43752717512fb7d9339e84f86afe91d1

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Get Organised

Workflow And Business Efficiency – 5 Strategies You Ignore At Your Peril

Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. You’re not still depending on email, are you?

Toby Nwazor

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business-efficiency

An inefficient business can cost you a lot more than just growth – it can affect your revenue, too. According to a report by IDC, your business runs the risk of losing 20 to 30 percent of your revenue due to inefficient systems.

Unfortunately, many companies still struggle to implement the right systems to improve their workflow. Others have it worse, because they have no systems. In those situations, projects take ages to be completed, more time is spent on menial tasks and teams never seem to get enough done during work hours.

If that describes your company, your company’s profits may start to plummet, too.

Every successful business, then, has clearly defined systems to help the business run like clockwork. Improved workflow, better management and business efficiency save time, increase the bottom line and ensure a higher profit margin.

In fact, in an article on ContractZen, Tim Cummins, president of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management, wrote that, “The average corporation could boost its bottom line by almost 10 percent if it invested in improving the quality of contracting.

For many companies – especially those in more complex, project-based industries – the prize could be much higher – perhaps as much as 15 percent.”

Related: Become A Life-Hacker

Unfortunately, some companies fail to provide systems that put users first, taking a negative toll on those companies’ workflow and efficiency. The good news is that they’re only five strategies away from turning this around:

1. Automate all you can

automated-emails

From email lists, bookkeeping, invoicing and contract management, to social media posts and payrolls, almost everything can be automated. For a business that aims to be more efficient, automation is a must.

Automation doesn’t just save you time, it can be the one strategy that can guarantee explosive growth and higher conversion rates. According to this Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness study, 63 percent of companies polled that were outgrowing their competitors said they had automated their marketing.

Automating monotonous tasks that have to be repeated several times during the day helps you be more productive in tasks that require your personal attention.

2. Invest in customer-relationship management software

It’s not uncommon to find businesses that are barely able to keep up with their leads. Some waste hours hunting the low-quality leads instead of focusing their energy on those ready to buy. Here, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution linked to these businesspeople’s network phone system is a great way to enhance customer communications.

Customers value businesses that provide excellent customer service. A CRM solution increases the ability to keep track of customer information, monitor leads and provide efficient delivery. Businesses can provide for their customers’ needs faster and make effective business decisions. With CRM, businesses can also keep their focus on quality leads that will drastically improve conversion rates.

Related: 11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day

3. Set up a task-management system

slack-logo

Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. Email makes it difficult to carry everyone along. However, setting up task-management software like Slack, Trello or Asana makes it much easier to have everyone’s tasks in one place and ensure that everyone is carried along in the project.

Task-management software helps members of a team track their progress and ensure that everyone is working on their tasks.

4. Sync your calendar with that of everyone else on your team

How many times have you had to reschedule appointments because you didn’t know you had other meetings lined up for the day?

Aside from leaving negative impression in clients’ mind, this error makes you less productive. Having to go back and forth until you have settled on an appropriate date can be cumbersome especially when different time zones are involved. So, do this instead: Sync your personal calendar with your work calendar, and make sure that everyone in your team is synced to the latter, too.

This will ensure sure that everybody is “on the same page” in terms of appointments and deadlines. Google Calendar can help you do just that. Once everyone is synced up, any change in the calendar will be seen by everyone so they can manage their own appointments.

5. Block out chunks of time

time-management

Constant interruptions hamper your workflow. Imagine having to deal with turning over a project on a deadline while you’re stuck in a series of meetings throughout the day. It can get very difficult to focus on completing your most urgent tasks.

Block out chunks of time on your calendar for uninterrupted work. It’s better to schedule a series of meetings in one day than to spread them throughout the week.

If you’re creating content, block out one day to create all the content you’ll use for the week. That way your business will run more efficiently.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change

Wrapping it up

With the right strategies, you can turn your business around to make it efficient and lucrative. Automating your processes, setting up the right software and remaining focused on the tasks at hand will go a long way to help you do this. But just as with every good strategy, you need to remain consistent and give it time to do its magic.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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How To Multitask Like Tim Ferriss, Randi Zuckerberg And Other Very Busy People

Nine entrepreneurs tell us how they get it all done.

Entrepreneur

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tim-ferriss

Think you’re busy? Take a look at Guy Fieri‘s calendar. Or a U.S. Army general’s. Or an in-demand teenage actor’s. Or the CEO of a globally recognised company’s.

Some of the busiest people on the planet took time out of their days to tell us how they get it all done. Take note!

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