Time is an entrepreneur’s rarest commodity. There is always something that we should be doing conflicting with whatever it is we are doing. There is simply not enough time to get through the myriad of things requiring and demanding our attention.
And that is why Mega-Productivity is a skill that all entrepreneurs and business owners must acquire if they are to be successful. And that success extends across business and across life. After all, even if our businesses are tremendously successful, they become meaningless when our personal lives lie in tatters.
The challenge with most people is that they are extraordinarily busy. But, when you ask them what they are achieving that really matters, it is precious little. If business is all about ROI or return on investment, time is all about ROE – return on energy. Because time is such a precious commodity, we must ensure that every one of the 1440 minutes we experience each day gives us a return.
1. Establish what you want
Zig Ziglar said “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time”.
So, unless you know exactly what it is you desire for your life and business, you are likely to pursue anything shiny, and waste a lot of time in the process.
You have to figure out what, when you are 90 and sitting in your rocking chair reflecting back on a life well lived, will stand out for you as the things you are most proud of.
The temptation is to select what you think you can achieve. That’s great! But also include the goals that may be a little tougher to get to. You may not know quite how to get there – yet – but unless you start taking some action towards their achievement, they will forever and always remain merely a dream.
Once you have identified the overall goals and dreams, you must prioritise them. Number them in order of priority. Be cautious here to think through your list of priorities carefully. Remember that you can only juggle so many balls, and whilst, when dropped, some will bounce, some balls will break. Make sure that your choice is made with full awareness of the consequences, and the time that you have available.
2. Write a list of how you intend to get there
This is a process whereby you detail the action steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve your overall personal goals and business objectives. Start with the goal that you labelled as number 1, and work through each until you have created action steps for all.
If you have set a goal that is particularly challenging, you may not know the steps that you need to take beyond perhaps the first ten. That’s OK for now. Once those first ten steps have been taken, the next ten will reveal themselves. At that point, write those ten steps down in a list, and keep repeating the process.
3. Use your most productive time productively
Most people wake up in the morning, and hit the office only to focus on the 100 e-mails that have arrived in their Inbox overnight. If you are energised and focused in the morning, your time could be far better utilised.
Identify when you are most productive during the day, and block that time off to get one of your priority tasks completed. I always do my most important tasks first thing in the morning.
The reason is that unless I complete them first, I get caught up in the demands of the day and find myself out of time and out of energy. If you run this risk, then commit to completing your number one important (not urgent) task first thing each day. Do not move onto anything else unless and until that priority task has been completed.
4. Leverage the productivity curve
We have all had experience with the productivity curve, even if we are not directly aware of it. It goes like this: When we start something, it takes us a while to get traction.
We need to figure out what we intend to do, and how to do it. We waste quite a bit of time being unproductive in this phase. It is only after some focused effort that we start having an impact and moving forward in an upward direction.
If we give ourselves a sufficient amount of uninterrupted and focused time, we can start achieving Mega-Productivity, and get into ‘the zone’.
However, precious few of us get to this point when we are in our work environment. When we are just at the point of starting to gain productivity, we are called to our next meeting, are distracted by an incoming e-mail or message, or by a member of our team.
After we have dealt with the distraction, and return to our work, we revert back to the point of negative productivity. We need to figure out what we’ve done, what we still need to do, and get our train of thought together before we can move forward once again.
You can imagine that many small interruptions have the result of us losing massive productivity. Something that may have taken us 30 minutes to complete ends up taking ten times as long. And given repeated interruptions, that’s no exaggeration.
You have to create the habit of booking out blocks of time in your diary – time that is long enough for you to achieve the focus that drives Mega-Productivity, and enables you to complete your most important tasks without interruption. This is an absolute essential step in accelerating your achievement of your goals.
5. Get your e-mails under control
E-mails are a killer of productivity. If you are not careful, you can spend an entire day on e-mail, and not complete a single important task.
Identify two times in the day when your energy is low. Book a 30 or 60 minute slot in the morning, and again in the afternoon.
Dedicate that time to reading, responding and completing your e-mails. Do not look at e-mails at any other time. If there is something of significant importance, you can be assured that someone will actually phone you.
When it comes to working through your e-mails, apply ‘one touch management’. The temptation is to open an e-mail, read it, and think – I’ll get back to this one. That’s a productivity no-no.
You’ve just invested a minute or two reading this e-mail, so deal with it in its entirety now. Do whatever needs to be done now to complete the task at hand.
7. Mega-Productivity is a mindset
Consider that if you invest R1 every day for the rest of your life, what an incredible investment you’ll have as a result of the cumulative interest you’ll earn. This is in fact what you are doing in your life and your business. Whatever actions you undertake today must repay you in return on energy tomorrow, and next year.
Consider therefore the implications of leaving a Must Do task incomplete. You can never re-earn the cumulative interest you’ve lost. Adopt that mindset for every important task you have listed. Make completing your Must Do and Important to do list a habit. Your life will change as a result.
13 Ways to Develop Laser-Like Focus
Here are some surprising ways to help boost your focus and performance
If you want to be successful, you have to find strategies that will help you focus despite all of the distractions that prevent you from doing the task at hand. Luckily, with the help of science, developing laser-like focus is easier than you think.
To start, make sure you’re sleeping well and getting regular exercise. These are the basis of productivity, performance and focus. Next, simply look at the colour red – just the sight of red can boost performance and focus.
If that doesn’t work, turning up the thermostat in your office is another option. According to research, people who work in a room set to around 25 degrees are more successful and focused than people in colder work spaces.
There are plenty of things you can do to boost your ability to focus. To learn more, here are 13 ways to develop laser-like focus:
Here’s a no-brainer: sleep has a direct link to cognitive functions such as the ability to focus and perform. According to the National Sleep Foundation, quality sleep, which is between seven to nine hours, helps us think clearly, remember more and make decisions.
A lack of sleep can result in an inability to pay attention and focus, lower productivity, slower reaction times and forgetfulness.
2. Use the ABC method
According to Harvard Business Review, our brains are constantly distracted by “internal and external environments,” meaning thoughts, sounds or interruptions. One way to prevent distractions is the ABC method.
As HBR explains, ABC stands for: aware, breathe and choose.
To start, become aware of your options by choosing whether to pay attention to distractions. Next, breathe and relax while you choose to focus or get distracted.
From stress to anxiety, meditation has long been known as an incredible tool in managing emotions. Another advantage of meditation is its ability to help people focus.
Researchers found that after three months at a meditation retreat, people came out with an incredible ability to focus and an overall improvement in cognitive functions.
4. Get dressed up
The saying, “Dress to impress,” stands true. When people dress up in order to prep for a particular project or task, their ability to focus goes up. According to a study, students who wore white lab coats while conducting experiments made half the amount of errors as the students who were dressed regularly.
5. Don’t multitask
While multitasking might sound like the more productive thing to do, it actually has a negative effect on your ability to focus.
According to the American Psychological Association, multitasking and constantly switching between tasks will actually take away from focus because you’re not allowing yourself time to adjust to one thing.
6. Turn up the heat
According to research, a warmer workplace will help you focus better and be more productive. In fact, one study found that a group of workers in a room set to 68 degrees made nearly 44 percent more errors and were half as productive than employees in a 77 degree room.
7. Go green
Plants around the office have long been known to have a positive effect on employee morale, focus and productivity. However, it turns out you don’t necessarily need actual plants for this. In a study, a group of researchers found that by taking a 40-second break and simply looking at a computerised image of a green roof, employees’ focus on a particular task improved.
8. Look at the colour red
Whether it’s the colour of your bedroom walls or the background image on your computer screen, colour has a major effect on us psychologically. A 2009 study published in Science found that when people saw the colour red while they were focusing on certain tasks, their performance, memory and attention to detail improved.
9. Use natural light
Working 9-to-5 in a windowless room with artificial light is far from motivating and in fact can be downright distracting. A study found that people who work in offices filled with natural light experience substantially less eye strain, headaches and blurred visions, all of which deter focus and performance.
10. Get your cardio in
From better sleep to lower stress levels, exercise has many benefits, and that includes improved focus and performance too.
In an article published in Harvard Health, researchers found aerobic exercise increases the size of the area in a person’s brain called the hippocampus, which in turn results in better memory and thinking skills.
However, this was not the case for exercise such as weight lifting and muscle toning, which had little to no impact on a person’s cognitive abilities.
11. Drink some coffee
According to research, a moderate amount of caffeine – around one to two cups of coffee a day – is beneficial to a person’s focus, alertness, performance and mood. However, it’s important not to overdo it, which can result in dehydration, anxiety and headaches.
12. Take a break
It might sound ironic, but taking breaks can actually help improve focus. Research shows that short breaks restore a person’s motivation and help them achieve long-term goals.
According to an article published in Psychology Today, “Research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task.”
13. Listen to classical music
Save your favorite rock or rap album for after work. Researchers from Stanford University discovered that classical music in particular triggers the part of the brain used for paying attention and focusing.
Why classical? According to the study, people’s minds tend to wander while listening to music but because classical music features many “transitional points” where there is silence, it helps keep people aware and attentive.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
5 Lame Excuses That Unsuccessful People Always Make
You need to eliminate these five excuses from your mindset immediately.
Even the most determined and motivated entrepreneurs will come up with excuses as to why he or she cannot do something. Obstacles arise and then self-doubt enters the mind – making an excuse is the easy way out.
I made excuses in the past – several times. Looking back, those excuses resulted in missed opportunities and ultimately failure. It doesn’t matter if you want to lose weight, get an online MBA, hit a specific revenue milestone or start a business – excuses will be the cause of failure. Here are five excuses to remove from your mindset immediately – they are complete BS.
1. “I don’t have time”
Time is our most valuable asset. While we only have 24 hours in a day, we make time for things we want – people we want to see, activities we want to do, etc. The only thing getting in the way are excuses.
Have you ever been in a relationship and the other person dropped the “If you really wanted to see me, then you would make time” line? I know I have heard it several times in the past, and guess what? None of those relationships worked out because I didn’t want to put in the effort.
The same applies to entrepreneurship. Want to start a business but you are working a nine-to-five? Get up earlier or stay up late – if you want it bad enough you will make the time.
2. “There aren’t enough opportunities for me”
If there are walls or barriers standing in your way you need to figure out how to get around them, or simply plow right through them. There is nothing easy about being an entrepreneur. There is never going to be a simple straight line from point A to point B.
Saying there aren’t enough opportunities is an excuse that allows you to quit before you even start. Create your own opportunity – figure out how to solve a problem and you can write your own ticket.
3. “I don’t want to risk disapproval from family and friends”
You need thick skin to play this game and not let the opinions of others influence your decisions. If your friends aren’t supportive, then you need new friends. While you can’t get a new family, you can remove yourself from their negative energy.
I was lucky to have had very supportive parents growing up. My dad was my biggest support system when I was just starting out, and the reason I became an entrepreneur. He passed away several years ago, but still remains my number one source of motivation – I bust my butt daily because I know how proud he would be.
The odds are very high that there will be family and friends telling you that the chances of succeeding are slim and that you should take a more secure or stable path — ignore them. It’s easy to agree with them, because it gives you an easy way out. Use their disapproval as motivation and wake up each day hungry to prove them wrong.
4. “I should be content with where I am and what I have”
Life is very short – the average lifespan in the U.S. is 78 years – that’s 28,470 days. Not very long when you think of it that way, right?
You should never be content and always strive for more. I have been going to night runs lately, taking advantage of the cooler weather this time of the year in Miami. The other night while running I was paying attention to the cars driving by – Phantom, Lamborghini, Ferrari, etc. – all the exotics were well represented.
Now, material possessions like cars don’t necessarily translate to happiness, but they do indicate one thing: The people driving them – or the people that bought them – were not content with average. Saying you are content is the equivalent of saying you don’t want to work any harder.
5. “I’m scared of the risks involved”
No risk, no reward.
It’s as simple as that. You have to accept that fact that every entrepreneurial venture or opportunity comes with risk, and a lot of it.
Take a look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs and companies and you will see that there was always a lot of risk involved. Elon Musk received $180 million from the PayPal acquisition and he put $100 million in SpaceX, $70 million in Tesla and $10 million in Solar City. He then had to borrow money for rent.
Was he scared of the risks involved? Not a chance. Very few people would take $180 million dollars and roll it into new ventures – they would be on a permanent vacation. The risk was well worth it, as Musk is worth about $21.5 billion today.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Work Less And Still Get More Done
How you work is far more important than how much you work.
Some people have an uncanny ability to get things done. They keep their nights and weekends sacred and still get more done than people who work ten or 20 hours more per week than they do.
A new study from Stanford University shows that they are on to something. The study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more. That’s right, people who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.
Smart people know the importance of shifting gears on the weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating activities. They use their weekends to create a better week ahead.
This is easier said than done, so here’s some help. The following are some things that you can do to find balance on the weekend and come into work at 110% on Monday morning.
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