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Setting & Achieving Goals

4 Time Killers You Need To Eliminate

Identifying what drains your time for the least results is the first step to developing alternatives.

Craig Simpson

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Time is valuable. And it is something that we can’t get back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. If you can identify your biggest time killers you’re half way there.

There are a lot of time killers in business you should look out for and stay away from. Only then can you put your available time to the maximum possible use.

Each of us have unique time killers that are particular to our business niche. Below is a list and how to avoid them.

1. Telephone calls

Phone calls can often be quick and to the point. The problem arises when one of the participants on the phone decides to turn a short question or answer into a lengthy conversation.

This is why I personally prefer email over a telephone call. It’s not uncommon to get someone on the phone who is not nearly as busy as you are and they want to spend time brainstorming or coming up with new ideas when that wasn’t the purpose of the call in the first place.

Related: Why Time Management is Just a Waste of Time

When it comes to time killers on the phone, I’ve found two things that help me cut down on wasting time:

  1. Schedule calls with a predetermined agenda and length of time. I try not to schedule calls until I’ve got a clear outline of what we are discussing and I’ve been provided with a scheduled start and stop time.
  2. Announce at the beginning of the call that you have a limited amount of time. There are times when I just need to pick up the phone and work through a current project with someone. Or when a private client calls with a few questions. Whenever these situations arise, I always say, “I only have ten minutes and then I have another scheduled appointment…” or “I only have a few minutes before my next appointment…” That way I’ve made it clear, right away, that the call must be kept short.

2. Bad equipment

This is another terrible time waster. How many of you have wanted to take a hammer to your computer or copy machine? The equipment you use each day can kill hours of your time.

If your equipment is not working properly, then you need to upgrade it or you’ll be left with a ton of frustration and wasted time.

A computer that takes a long time to boot up, a photocopier that gives shamefully faint photocopies, a stubborn drawer that doesn’t open easily, a calibration machine that doesn’t calibrate right, etc. – these can waste a lot of time and send you up the wall.

If you have such equipment or machinery, get it changed at the earliest possible date. It is worth the cost when you take into account the amount of time and energy that you waste on it every day.

Related: 3 Time Management Tips For the Busy Small Business Owner

talkative-person-in-meeting

3. Chatterboxes

Haven’t we all met them? They simply love the sound of their own voices and once they open their mouths there is no stopping them. They waste not only your time but their time as well. Steer clear of such people.

I have a vendor who I refuse to see unless it’s an emergency. Every time I talk with him, he wants to consume 45 minutes or more of my time – time that I don’t have. In fact, I do less business with him now than I have done in the past. Mainly because he is a time killer.

Identify which vendors, employees, or colleagues suck up all your time with endless chatter. Then, set boundaries. If you have to meet with chatterboxes, make sure you’ve clearly given your schedule to them in advance.

If they start chattering about something unrelated to your meeting, you’ll have to be tough with them (and maybe even interrupt them), and say, “Remember, I only have 15 minutes. Let’s get back to the main point of our meeting.”

4. Meetings

I think most meetings are a huge waste of time. When I left my last job, working for a large publishing company, and started working for myself, I quickly realised that by not having to go to meetings each day, I gained many hours back into my schedule.

One of my private clients has a great solution to prevent long meetings. Their meetings are always limited to 15 minutes and everyone stands in a circle instead of sitting at a table.

No one wants to stand around while their hot coffee is waiting for them back at their desk. So instead of talking for an hour about useless information, they have to be quick and to the point. This is a highly effective strategy.

Related: Forget Time Management: Why You Should Practice Choice Management Instead

I understand meetings are necessary for most companies, so when you have them, make sure you have clearly outlined what you are going to discuss.

If possible, make it a standing meeting and put a short time limit on it. Whenever you deal with time killing meetings, use your common sense and try to find a way to get rid of them.

Don’t expect them to go away by themselves. You must find a way to prevent them from consuming your valuable time!

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Craig Simpson has managed thousands of direct mail campaigns and grossed hundreds of millions in revenue for his clients over the past 15 years. Simpson is the owner of Simpson Direct Inc., a Grants Pass, Oregon-based direct marketing firm, and a respected speaker/presenter on the topic of direct mail. He is the co-author with Dan S. Kennedy of The Direct Mail Solution, available from EntrepreneurBookstore.com. He blogs at simpson-direct.com/posts.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

What You Put In Is What You Get Out – Create Your Own Success

The secret to curating a successful life starts with what you put in.

Allon Raiz

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You are what you eat, the saying goes. Your physical and even mental health are highly dependent on what you eat (or consume) daily. There are four fundamental factors of a system:  Input, boundaries, purpose and output. All systems are mostly defined by the combination of these four factors.

A professional athlete will be very diligent about what they consume in order to achieve the best possible outcome, and sprinters will have different guides and regimes to marathon runners. Essentially, high performing athletes curate their input, or design their own lives, to produce a favourable output.

The same is true of the high-performance entrepreneur — they too should be curating their input, not just in terms of what they consume through their mouths but more importantly, what they consume with their ears and eyes.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

Positive inputs

A few years ago, I began to recognise that even though I might wake up in a good space in the morning, by 10am I would be feeling negative regardless of my daily practices. I had already established the discipline of recording and recognising my successes daily, as well as repeating daily affirmations and visualisations, yet within a few hours of starting my day, I found myself in a negative space.

I couldn’t figure out what was causing this; but after some analysis I realised that my daily routine included listening to talk radio on the way to work, catching up with the news on Twitter before my first meeting, and reading the morning paper which was neatly laid out on my desk. It quickly became clear that my negativity could be attributed to my over-consumption of bad news.

Each communication platform — from Twitter to the radio — has the power to depress anyone who consumes its news, but the combination of all three was toxic to me. It affected my mood, concentration and, invariably, my output. In a single decision, I eliminated these three platforms from my daily ‘diet’ and instead curated a different morning experience to see whether it would change the output. Instead of the radio, I decided to listen to either music or an audiobook; instead of Twitter, I decided to call a friend; and I didn’t renew my newspaper subscription.

The results were instantaneous. This experiment set me on a mission to see what else I could deliberately curate and design, so I began to strategically design my life to inform the successful and positive output that I desired. I subscribed to online newsletters that were informative and thought-provoking, such as Brain Food by Shane Parish; I cajoled my management team to begin listening to audiobooks at the same time that I was doing so to ensure that we included positive discussions in our bi-monthly meetings; and I ensured that there were always three litres of water in my immediate surrounds to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Create your own success

In case you haven’t experienced the lightbulb moment yet, the simple explanation is this: All systems have inputs and outputs, and the quality of the input results in the quality of the output.

If you see yourself as the curator of your input and as the architect of your environment, you can start to create the inputs, set the boundaries and define purposes to result in the output that commands entrepreneurial success.

Related: Daily Practices for Cultivating a Positive Work Culture to Support Your Business

If something really affects the quality of your life — whether it’s your attitude, your mood or the clarity of your thought processes — it’s time to relook the design and start to curate an environment that is conducive to your success.

And, if you’re concerned about missing out on what’s happening, always remember that, if a news report or update has a direct impact on your life, the chances are high that you will hear it through your friends and family.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

Decrease the amount of noise in your head.

Nina Zipkin

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Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it. Don’t fret. We’re here to help.

Check out these eight steps to help you prioritise and clear your mind.

1. Stop multitasking

Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work – like checking emails – and then move onto to the harder things, you should try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with with a bigger, more creative endeavor first thing.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

2. Block out your days

A good way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day – maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour – to spend on a given project.

Colour code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.

3. Get your blood pumping

going-for-a-walk

You can’t focus if your are stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a walk for 20 minutes. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.

4. Help your technology help you

A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you are spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold TurkeyFreedom and Self Control block out the internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.

5. Meditate

Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made SimpleCalm and Headspace.

For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win

6. Change up what’s in your headphones

headphones

While background noise might help block out a loud office or construction outside your window, you need to be careful that what you are listening to isn’t distracting you more.

Music with lyrics can sap your focus from the task in front of you, so consider trying classical or electronic music instead. Or use a playlist that is familiar to you, so you aren’t tempted to turn all your attention to the new sound.

7. Streamline your communication

If you find that all of your focus gets trained on getting your inbox down to zero, think about how you can get yourself out from under a relentless deluge of email. Ask yourself and your colleagues to think about whether this conversation would be most effective through email, on the phone or in person.

Taking five minutes to walk over to someone else’s workspace will save you the time and energy invested into a redundant email chain and clarify how you want to attack a problem more quickly.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise

To be the most effective, you need to strike a delicate balance between too much noise and total silence. According to David Burkus, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University, “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation,” Burkus wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

“Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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