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5 Work Productivity Hacks Used By Rockstar Entrepreneurs

Productivity begins when you clear your calendar.

Han-Gwon Lung

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As a business owner, I often find myself struggling to make sense of my time. How did two hours just vanish into my inbox? Did that weekly catch-up call really end up taking an entire hour? Why isn’t my Seamless order here yet, and who’s responsible?

Seriously, though – it pays to pay more attention to how you spend your time. But instead of listing out ways to be more productive or get out of work one hour earlier, I’m going to take a look at what really successful people do instead. Specifically, people who make it their business to make all of us more productive.

Here are five ways that productivity entrepreneurs make better use of their time:

1. Cancel recurring meetings

Slack, the team messaging platform, has helped a lot of people be more productive. It’s no surprise that the company’s worth just keeps going up. In fact, it may be somewhere close to $4 billion.

Obviously, you can’t build up a productivity company worth that much money unless you’re a productivity wizard. Here’s what Slack’s founder, Stewart Butterfield, has to say about staying productive – “We just went through this process of cancelling almost every recurring meeting that we had to see which ones we really needed.”

Related: 4 Tips To Improve Your Business Productivity Over Public Holidays

Wow. When he puts it that way, it really does make sense, doesn’t it? What about meetings in general? How can we make them more efficient? The short answer, Butterfield said, is not to make meetings routine.

“One way that empathy manifests itself is courtesy,” Butterfield said in a interview with inc.com.

“Respecting people’s time is important. Everyone should try to make the lives of everyone else who works here a little bit simpler. So if you’re going to call a meeting, you’re responsible for it, and you have to be clear what you want out of it.”

Takeaway: Meetings really don’t have to be recurring.

2. Delegate more, and relax more

Hootsuite lets you manage your social channels in one easy-to-use platform. It saves social media managers so much time that I doubt most of them would have their jobs if it, and/or Buffer, didn’t exist. (Hootsuite and Buffer are competitors.)

Here’s what Ryan Holmes, Hootsuite CEO, has to say about prioritising tasks and managing expectations. “[Prioritising what needs to be done] is round-robin, and by relative importance.”

Okay, easy enough. I think by “round-robin” he means delegating tasks to the right people, rather than doing all of them yourself. I’m sure most of us know this intellectually, but we could all stand to delegate a bit more and micro-manage a bit less.

Takeaway: Not all tasks are equally important. Prioritise, then delegate.

3. Hang out and work with productive people

colleagues-coffee-break

Leo Widrich, Buffer CEO, has this to say about sticking to daily routines – “I think the key to a good daily routine is to have a great environment. I think Jim Rohn’s quote applies: ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ This is something that I believe makes all the difference of whether you can stick to a daily routine or not… Finding others who also have an interest in a great and productive routine really is probably 80-90 percent of what you can do to set yourself on the right track.”

This one’s definitely a keeper. Leo’s arguing that one of the keys to productivity is just spending time with productive people. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that piece of advice in a project management workshop before, but it totally makes sense.

Takeaway: Want to stick to a daily routine? Hang out with people who are productive.

Related: 5 Time-Management Tools for Small Businesses to Improve Productivity

4. Break up tasks into smaller tasks. Then breathe

Zapier, in a nutshell, makes connections between apps and software so that you can use shortcuts to save time. It helps busy developers and project managers automate certain tasks.

Here’s how Zapier CEO Wade Foster tackles big, unwieldy tasks:

“My biggest ‘hack’ for productivity is to break a task into the small piece that’s actionable. That way I can get started. As soon as I do that you start to realise big tasks don’t feel quite so big.”

This one really resonates with me and my experience building up Tailored Ink. Sometimes, we’re all stuck at a wall at work. We may even feel what I like to call a “spiritual unwillingness” to do a specific task, even if it’s easy.

Takeaway: There is no such thing as a big task. There are only small tasks.

5. Don’t waste time on temporary fixes

ZipSchedules helps users create Gantt charts for teams. Project managers can stay on top of each team member’s contributions and deadlines in a visual dashboard. That way, project leaders can easily identify timesucks and focus on priorities instead.

Mitesh Gala, CEO of Altametrics, has this to say about choosing between competing tasks – “What you choose not to do is more important than what you choose to do. Before you do anything, take time to think it all the way through… Thinking things through will save you tons of time versus when the idea or initiative fails and you have to recommit all the effort again. If something is not sustainable or structurally aligned, don’t do it, you are just running in circles.”

I couldn’t agree more. Beyond the initial kick-off meeting and the final deliverable, many managers have little insight into what individual team members are actually doing.

Even if they do, they might not be able to identify where team members could shift priorities to better complement each other’s tasks.

Takeaway: Before you commit to something, ask yourself if it will have lasting value.

How often are you productive at work?

productivity

If I learned one thing from these collected tips, it’s that being more productive is an ongoing process.

Nobody’s really figured it all out yet – that’s why there are so many books, seminars and workshops on the subject. But it’s also not rocket science. By taking small, sensible steps towards improving your workflow and by trimming the fat off team meetings, just about anyone can get out of work a few minutes to an hour earlier each day.

Related: 7 Traits That Define Work Productivity Superstars

My personal tip? Make a running to-do list at the start of each day so that you can forecast your weekly workload and earnings.

Prioritise each task and, by 5:00 or 6:00 pm (whenever your work day is supposed to end), push all the remaining low-priority tasks into the next day’s to-do list.

This will help you make sure you’re doing what’s important every day, but will also keep you from overworking and help you leave the office when you’re supposed to.

Takeaway: Be accountable to yourself. No one else is more responsible for your success.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Han-Gwon Lung is the award-winning CEO and proud co-founder of Tailored Ink, a boutique writing agency for businesses that want language that sells. He was the first hire at Prose Media, and got his agency chops at places such as The Writer and The Economist. His ghostwriting has been published in Content Marketing Institute, Convince & Convert, Kissmetrics and Moz.

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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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Design The Life Of Your Dreams Using These Simple Tips

An Entrepreneur contributor outlines how to to design your life the way an artist would.

Stephen Key

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Years ago, my father shared a simple bit of wisdom with me that you’ve probably heard before: Life is too short, he said. Too short to do something you’re not passionate about, that is.

My father loved his job at General Electric. In fact, he didn’t even think of it as work.

He was on to something. Spending your entire adulthood working a job that provides you with income but no other type of satisfaction is a waste of your life. Consider the prospect of spending 40 years working day in, day out and looking forward only to the weekends and vacation. Yet that’s what most people do.

At the time I had that important talk with my dad, I was studying business at Santa Clara University, and I hated it. On a lark, I took an art class and discovered that working with my hands gave me immense pleasure. I wanted to create! Not only objects but also my ideal life. When I told my father this, his response was to go for it. “Follow your heart,” he said.

Artists never stop creating. You shouldn’t, either

My father encouraged me to take a risk at a critical juncture. And fortunately, it paid off immensely.

These days, I get to speak with young men who are looking for advice. Looking back, I can see that when I began studying art, I took the first step toward designing my own life. Of course, along the way I did a few things I wish I hadn’t – and I wasted some of my time.

Related: 4-Step Formula To Pursuing Your Dreams

But now, ironically, my journey has come full circle. I’m all about business these days, and I absolutely love it – because the work I do is on my own terms. I use my creativity every day. The traditional way business is taught just didn’t work for me.

Now I know better: Business is an art form, too.

Looking to find your own way, and quickly? Here is my best advice on how to design your life the way an artist would.

designing-a-life

1. Learn from others

Find people who inspire you and topics that feed your soul. Dig deep! There is so much information available today. You can truly become an expert very quickly. So, when you discover something that truly excites you, get involved. Find others who are doing something similar and reach out to them. This is easier than it sounds.

Here’s a tip I picked up from Tim Ferriss, the prolific writer and influential podcast host, who approached me for advice back in the day. Before you reach out to someone, do your homework. Know details about that person most people don’t. Flatter and tell this person how much he or she inspires you. Ask questions this person hasn’t heard before. He or she will know you’re being genuine because, obviously, you’ve put in the time.

The next thing you know, this person will ask, “What can I do for you?” Respond that you’d like to be involved in the questioner’s industry and ask if he or she has any suggestions.

Let your enthusiasm show! It’s contagious. And it’s such an attractive quality. Few people will turn you down. This approach is simple and it works. Use it to discover opportunities and get help pursuing them. Truly successful people have had many people in their lives help them. Success, to me, is being able to choose what you want to do each day.

2. Create a plan

Ask people you admire how they achieved the goals you’re interested in. Don’t get too attached to the plan you create, though, because it’s going to change over and over again.

Someone said to me the other day that it’s a little like going off-road when you first start out. There are going be a lot of bumps and things you’d prefer to to avoid, but you’ll get there.

Now that I’m in my sixties, I know that it’s easier to hit a target if one is sitting right in front of you!

Take jobs that will teach you tools that make you indispensable, but don’t let any job define you. Look at it this way: You’re not working for them – they’re working for you. They are paying you to learn, aren’t they? So, raise your hand for everything. You are gathering tools to use later in life.

Select jobs that will give you tools you can use for the rest of your life. I’ve been mostly self-employed. When I have had a job, I’ve always had my next move in mind. Even the lousiest jobs are beneficial if they fit into your plan.

Related: Financing Your Dreams Through Family, Friends & Fools

And yes, it’s your plan

So, raise your hand to take on other responsibilities. Learn as much as you can. Remember, your attitude is your greatest asset. Skills can be taught, but not attitude. That’s priceless.

Following are the must-have skills I recommend you seek out. You don’t necessarily have to go to college to find them. But you will need them to achieve success in designing your life.

1. Financial intelligence. Work at a bank or take a class. The bottom line is, understand how to make money work for you so you’re not just working for money.

2. Sales intelligence. Take any sales job. The worse the better! Cold-calling and door-to-door sales are absolutely terrible, but you’ll learn more than you could ever imagine about human nature – which is priceless. With this insight, you can gain some control over any situation. Once you obtain these powers, don’t abuse them.

3. Management knowledge. Knowing how to manage and lead people so that they’re successful is a powerful tool. If you work at a fast food restaurant, work up to a management position. When you learn to help others, you actually learn how to help yourself. That’s also priceless.

4. Keep an open mind. As I’ve gotten older, I say yes much more often. You never know what might happen. Many opportunities have arisen for me because I was able to keep an open mind.

5. Be curious. Never stop learning. Keep reading. Become a student of life. We all can and should try to improve ourselves.

6. Truly care. Make sure you give the people who matter to you your full attention. Listen deeply. Everyone has something to offer.

7. Look at the obstacles in your life as opportunities. You’re going to encounter problems every day of your life, so choose to look at them differently starting now. I highly recommend reading The Obstacle Is the Way, Ryan Holiday’s powerful book on this subject.

8. Give back. You can never give enough back. Don’t expect anything in return, ever. You’ll be surprised where this attitude can lead.

9. Be dedicated. Create a habit of dedication. Like anything in life, you have to do something more than a few times to get good at it. Also, get in the habit of being on time. It denotes respect.

109. Travel. You can learn a lot about yourself and the world we live in by experiencing other cultures.

11. Embrace new technology, especially as you age. It’s a big world out there, but it’s getting smaller every day. Don’t let yourself be passed by.

12. Protect yourself from the noise. You are truly influenced by the inputs you receive. Don’t pollute your soul with garbage. These days, it’s everywhere.

13. Treat everyone with kindness. Everyone is unique, and everyone is on this journey we call life.

14. Never talk badly about others. Keep your opinions to yourself. When you take the high road, people notice and respect you. Your friends will always come to your defense anyway.

15. Don’t chase money. If you find something you truly love to do, there’s a very good chance you’ll have the money you need to design your life.

The upshot? There will be many ups and downs in your life. Try to enjoy the ride each and every day.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Feel Like Quitting? These 9 Women Prove Grit Can Lead You To Massive Success

When life knocks you down, true grit is a quality that sustains you.

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J.K. Rowling

Greatness and Grit

J.K. Rowling

Talent and intelligence may help you land some success, but it’s a positive, non-cognitive skill known as “grit” that is the secret sauce in reaching the next level of achievement, according to Angela Duckworth, a psychology researcher and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Grit is a perfect storm of non-cognitive skills. It’s resolve and tenacity. It’s the resilience to go on with renewed purpose after you’ve suffered a setback, failure or disappointment. It’s commitment to your goals and a belief in yourself and/or to a greater cause. And the beauty of grit is that it’s not just a popular buzzword – it’s a powerful motivational tool that can be used in both work and personal life.

For women, grit is a powerful advantage to possess in entrepreneurship or any male-dominated field. To pay tribute to inspirational female leaders who have shown us that quitting is simply not an option, here are nine examples of amazing women who exhibited true grit.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

“I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void: the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is the poster-woman for grit. After suddenly losing her husband Dave Goldberg in 2015, the mother of two young children went back to work and tried to find meaning in her loss. Not surprisingly, she found it through doing what she does best: Helping others who are struggling by sharing her own life lessons.

What emerged from her struggle was the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, where she shares science, research and anecdotes about the concrete steps that can be taken to overcome struggle and build resilience.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

Barbara Corcoran

barbara-corcoran

Barbara Corcoran

“I’ve since learned that you need to treat obstacles just like opportunity – quickly without much thought and move on.”

While building her business empire, Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul and Shark Tank investor, did what she needed to do in order to survive. Corcoran has spoken about how, during the recession in the 1990s, she had to leave her own real estate company with its 300 employees to work for a salaried job under a real estate developer so she could pay rent.

“Everybody laughed at me because they thought I was a failure,” Corcoran says.

However, she didn’t let that setback halt her determination. She eventually returned to her company, which survived the recession, and her staff of 300 remained at her side.

Anne Wojcicki

Anne Wojcicki

Anne Wojcicki

“I have had a lot of setbacks that I learned from.”

23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki has spoken of growing up with a strong academic mother who spoke out and wasn’t afraid of making waves. Having such a fierce female role model early in life likely prepared Wojcicki for some of the challenges she would face as an adult with her direct-to-consumer genetic testing service. In 2013, the FDA banned her company from selling its services. At the time, Wojicki said the “new user signups dropped by half.”

Wojcicki isn’t deterred easily. After two years of working very closely with the FDA, she was able to successfully bring a less comprehensive version of the testing service back to market while pursuing additional revenue streams for the company.

Related: Women Leaders In Business: 5 Lessons Learnt

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

Oprah Winfrey has been very public about her early challenges. At the age of 19, Winfrey became the co-anchor of a news desk in Tennessee, becoming Nashville’s first black and female news anchor. She then went on to anchor the coveted spot of evening news at a larger station in Baltimore only to be soon fired. She was demoted to a less visible spot doing morning news.

However, her ability to really connect with people shone through. Winfrey was offered a local morning talk show, Baltimore Is Talking, and it shot to the top in ratings. When a talk show opportunity for an affiliate station in Chicago presented itself, she went for it. Winfrey transformed it into Chicago’s highest rated talk show, which became The Oprah Winfrey Show. The burgeoning media mogul formed her own production company Harpo Productions and gained the rights to her show, ensuring creative control.

Possessing the resilience to keep going after disadvantages and setbacks made Winfrey into the mogul she is today. “Not all my memories of Baltimore are fond ones,” Winfrey said. “But I do have fond memories of Baltimore, because it grew me into a real woman.”

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth

“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

In her famous TED Talk, researcher and academic Angela Duckworth talks about how at the age of 27, she left her high flying job as a management consultant to teach math in New York City public schools. What she learned while teaching became part of her obsession about “grit,” a non-cognitive skill. “Some of my strongest performers did not have stratospheric IQ scores,” Duckworth said in her TED Talk. “Some of my smartest kids weren’t doing so well.”

She goes on to talk about how although education best measures IQ, her experience and research has convinced her that it’s passion and perseverance that better predicts a person’s academic and professional success. And what emerged from Duckworth’s own grit was The New York Times bestseller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson

“It would be lovely to think that success was a result of my being extraordinary, but the answer is far more boring. I worked hard. Really hard.”

The president of the respected Chicago firm Ariel Investments, Mellody Hobson isn’t as well-known as her contemporaries, but she is undoubtedly a fierce leader who embodies grit. She grew up without a father, and her mother was a pivotal figure in her development of strong character. A well-intentioned business woman who didn’t have the practical know-how, her mother often got the family evicted from homes throughout Hobson’s childhood.

“Even though I will never be evicted again, I am haunted by those times and still work relentlessly,” Hobson once wrote. “When I think of my career and why I leaned in, it comes down to basic survival.”

However, her mother instilled independence and competence in Hobson from a young age. “My mom would say, ‘You have a birthday party to go to? Well, you can’t go unless you’ve planned how to get there and how to get a present.’” Hobson said. “She wouldn’t do that for me. I found my own orthodontist, my own high school. I set up interviews and did college trips. Despite her incredible concern and caring, my mom didn’t have the capacity for that. It was outside her experience, and she knew I was on top of it.”

J.K. Rowling

JK Rowling author

JK Rowling

Do not ever quit out of fear of rejection.”

Before we heard of her, J.K. Rowling was a single mother living on government benefits in the United Kingdom. She sat in cafes in Edinburgh finishing her book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. When it was complete, her agent submitted the manuscript to 12 different publishers before it was sold.

This past June, Rowling, a Twitter enthusiast, reflected on her days of struggle and offered a message of strength and grit to other writers. She quoted a tweet from a fellow writer that said: “HEY! YOU! You’re working on something and you’re thinking ‘Nobody’s gonna watch, read, listen.’ Finish it anyway.” The Harry Potter author added: “There were so many times in the early ’90s when I needed somebody to say this to me. It’s great advice for many reasons.”

She went on to encourage writers to finish their books. “Even if it isn’t the piece of work that finds an audience, it will teach you things you could have learned no other way.”

Related: How Ramona Kasavan Built An Organisation That Helps Women Empower Themselves

Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad

“I’m not going into that good night. I am going to fire up and live this thing as large as I can live it until I can’t live it that large anymore.”

In September 2013, 64-year-old Diana Nyad attempted, for the fifth time, to swim more than 110 miles from Cuba to Florida. Nyad called the stretch of water she intended to conquer “Mother Nature on steroids,” full of whitetip sharks and jellyfish.

Nyad said that her greatest catalyst to complete the swim challenge was her mother’s death four years earlier. It made her not only aware of the limited time she had left but gave her the will to “find a way” – which became her motto.

Find a way, she did. After nearly 53 hours in the water, Nyad became the first person to ever complete the swim from Cuba to Florida.

Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay Ash

“If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.”

The “sink or swim” moment for Mary Kay Ash, who founded the Mary Kay Cosmetics empire, came after World War II. Her husband had run off with another woman, and she was left with three young children to support. Having a knack for sales, she was employed by various direct-sales companies. Always a top sales performer, she found herself undervalued and dismissed by her male colleagues.

Ash quit her sales job in 1962 and began writing a guide for working women. In it, she described her ideal sort of company and soon realized that she could start her own. She simply had to find a product she believed in to sell to women.

Now in her mid-40s and on her second husband, she took her life’s savings and invested it in the production of a skin softener she’d been using on herself. She rented a storefront, recruited nine saleswomen and was ready to open shop when her second husband suddenly died. Although she was advised against it, a month later she opened shop. One year later, sales reached $800,000, a staggering number for 1964, and her sales force had grown to more than 3,000.

Today, Mary Kay Cosmetics remains a private company specializing in direct sales in more than 40 markets worldwide with over 3.5 million independent consultants and $3.5 billion in sales as of 2016.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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