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Setting & Achieving Goals

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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Setting & Achieving Goals

The 7-Step Formula For Goal-Setting

Start achieving success today with the most effective goal-setting plan you’ll ever learn.

Brian Tracy

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Goal-Setting

Goal orientation is a way of thinking practiced by optimists and all successful people. In future orientation, you first develop a clear, ideal picture of what you want to accomplish sometime in the future. With goal orientation, you crystallise that image into specific, measurable, detailed goals and objectives you’ll need to accomplish to achieve that ideal future vision.

Successful people develop the habits of personal strategic planning. They sit down and make a list of exactly what they want to accomplish in the short, medium, and long term. They then use a powerful, seven-part goal-setting methodology to create blueprints and plans of action that they follow every day.

Once you develop the habit of setting goals and making plans to accomplish them, it will become as natural for you as breathing. By following a proven goal-setting process, you’ll increase the likelihood of achieving your goals by as much as ten times, by 1 000% or more. This isn’t just a theory; it has been proved and demonstrated repeatedly by almost every person who practices it.

In February 2003, USA Today reported on a study of people who had set New Year’s resolutions the year before. They found that only 4% of the people who had made New Year’s resolutions, but had not put them in writing, had followed through on them. But 46% of those people who had written down their New Year’s resolutions carried them out. This is a difference in success rates of more than 1 100%!

Related: Goal Setting Guide

The seven-step formula

seven-step formula

Many formulas and recipes exist for goal-setting. As a rule, ‘any plan is better than no plan at all.’ Here is one of the best and most effective goal-setting plans or formulas you will ever learn.

Step one

Decide exactly what you want in a certain area, and write it down clearly, in detail. Make the goal measurable and specific.

Step two

Set a deadline for achieving the goal. If it’s a large goal, break it down into smaller parts and set sub-deadlines.

Step three

Make a list of everything you’ll have to do to achieve this goal. As you think of new items, add them to your list until it’s complete.

Step four

Organise your list of action steps into a plan. A plan is a list of activities organised on the basis of two elements: Priority and sequence.

In organising by priorities, you determine the most important things you can possibly do on your list to achieve your goal. The 80/20 rule applies: 20% of the things you do will account for 80% of your results. If you don’t set clear priorities, you’ll ‘major in minors’ and spend much of your time on small and irrelevant tasks that don’t help you achieve your goal.

In organising by sequence, you determine what must be done before something else can be done. You create a checklist. There are always activities that are dependent upon other activities being completed in advance. What are they, and what is the logical order or sequence of completion?

Step five

Identify the obstacles or limitations that might hold you back from achieving your goal, both in the situation and within yourself. Ask yourself, “Why have I not achieved this goal already?”

Identify the most important constraint or limitation that’s holding you back, and then focus on removing that limiting factor. It could be a certain amount of money or a key resource. It could be an additional skill or habit you need. It could be additional information you require. It could be the assistance of one or more people. Whatever it is, identify it clearly and go to work to eliminate it.

Step six

Once you’ve determined your goal, developed your plan, and identified your major obstacle, immediately take action of some kind toward achieving your goal. Step out in faith. Do the first thing that comes to mind. But do something to start moving toward your most important goal.

Step seven

Do at least one thing every day that moves you toward your most important goal. Make a habit of getting up each morning, planning your day and then doing something, anything, that moves you at least one step closer to what’s most important to you.

The habit of doing something every single day that moves you toward an important goal develops within you the power of momentum. Daily action deepens your belief that the goal is achievable and activates the law of attraction. As a result, you begin moving faster and faster toward your goal, and your goal begins moving faster and faster toward you.

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


Now that you have the formula, here’s how you achieve your goals.

achieving-goals

Step One

Don’t let life and ‘busyness’ derail you

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 on to the harder things, you should first try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with a bigger, more creative endeavour.

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

You can’t focus if you’re 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 Turkey, Freedom and Self Control block out the Internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

5. Meditate

Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone can 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 Simple, Calm 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.

6. Change up what’s in your 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.

8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise

To be 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.”

time-management

Step two

Become a master of time

If you’re serious about achieving your goals, not only do you need to set those goals the right way, but you also have to get serious about avoiding distractions and becoming too immersed in the bad habits that you know you need to quit. Time-wasters need to fall by the wayside, and serious grit-and-bear-it hard work needs to take its place.

One of the most effective skills you can have in life is powerful and effective time management. If you’re not managing your time well, there’s no way you’re going to reach your goals at work and the life outside of it. Sure, you might make some progress. But your time management will be an uphill battle if you don’t take your time seriously. People who squander and waste the precious little time they do have, know all too well how difficult achieving even mildly difficult goals can be.

The truth is that time is the greatest equaliser in life. No matter who you are, your age, income, gender, race or religion, you have the same amount of time as the next person. Whether you’re filthy rich or dirt poor, your time is the same. It’s not about how much time you have. It’s about how effectively you manage your time.

The trick? Find a good time management system and work it. There are many. It’s entirely up to you which one to choose. But if you don’t want to become part of the 92% statistic of people who fail to achieve their long-term goals, then you need to pay attention to how you use the precious little time you do have in this world.

Related: 50 Inspirational Quotes To Help You Achieve Your Goals

What are the best tips for managing your time?

  1. Set goals the right way. There’s a right and wrong way to set goals. If you don’t set your goals the right way, then you’ll lack the proper targets, which will force you to fall off track. But when you set them the right way, the sky is the limit.
  2. Find a good time management system. One of the tips for managing your time is to find the right system to actually do it. The quadrant time-management system is probably the most effective. It splits your activities into four quadrants based on urgency and importance. Things are either urgent or important, both, or neither. Neither (quadrant 4) are the activities that you want to stay away from, but it’s the not-urgent-but-important quadrant (2) that you want to focus on.
  3. Audit your time for seven days straight. Spend seven days straight assessing how you spend the time you do have right now. What are you doing? Record it in a journal or on your phone. Split this up into blocks of 30 minutes or an hour. What did you get done? Was it time wasted? Was it well spent? If you use the quadrant system, circle or log the quadrant that the activity was associated with. At the end of the seven days, tally up all the numbers. Where did you spend the most time? Which quadrants? The results might shock you.
  4. Spend your mornings on MITs. Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” His point? Tackle your biggest tasks in the morning. These are your most important tasks (MITs) of the day. Accomplishing those will give you the biggest momentum to help you sail through the rest of the day.
  5. Instil keystone habits into your life. Charles Duhig poignantly coined the keystone habit in his book entitled, The Power of Habit. In architecture, the keystone is the stone that holds all other stones in place. Similarly, keystone habits help to not only solicit other good habits, but also help to eliminate bad habits. Focus on keystone habits and you’ll get much better at managing your overall time by making your habit development much easier.
  6. Schedule email response times. Turn off your email throughout the day. When your email is pouring in, it’s easy to get distracted. Schedule time to read and respond to emails. If there’s something urgent, someone will call or text you. But when you have your email open, those distractions interrupt your thought flow and it’s harder to get back on track.
  7. Eliminate bad habits. One of the biggest time-wasters we have are our bad habits. Whether it’s Netflix binge-watching, excessively surfing social media, playing games, going out frequently to drink with friends, or so on, those bad habits take away the precious little time that we do have. Use your time wisely by eliminating your bad habits if you’re serious about achieving big goals in life.
  8. Take frequent breaks when working. One study suggests that you should work for 52 minutes and break for 17. You might not have the luxury to do that. But you should take frequent breaks. If you’re an entrepreneur working for yourself, this is crucial. It’s easy to run on fumes and not even know it. Keep your mental, emotional and physical states at peak levels by breaking frequently.
  9. Make to-do lists in the evening for the next day. Every single evening before bed, make a list for the next day. Look at your goals and see what you can do to help move you closer. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. But by making to-do lists, you’re effectively setting goals for the day. Daily goals are easier to achieve while helping to move us towards the longer and bigger goals. But that happens by creating to-do lists.
  10. Declutter and organise. Studies have determined that clutter in our environment causes us to lose focus. When we lose focus, we lose time. If you want to avoid that, declutter and organise. Don’t do it all at once. Start small. One drawer today. A shelf tomorrow. Maybe a closet the next day. Just one per day. You build momentum and eventually find yourself turning into an organising warrior.

momentum

Step three

Keep up your momentum

(AKA Learn to see the bigger picture to keep your eye on the prize)

We all have goals. How to achieve those goals is not as complex as you might think. Sometimes it’s just about taking a step back to see the bigger picture.

Related: 10 Great Quotes On The Power Of Goals

Here are three important lessons to learn about achieving your goals as you take on the day (each and every day).

1. Focus on what you need instead of what you want

You might think you want that big house and three cars, but do you really need it? This is such a simple way to set authentic priorities, yet so few people get it.

A simple ‘want’ is nothing but a fantasy. You need to be passionate to achieve what you want to achieve or it’s never going to happen. It must almost be tinged with desperation.

2. Learn the lessons from all of it, positive and negative

Life is never all good or all bad, so we have to learn from both. When you find yourself basking in all that is positive in your life, think about how you managed to succeed. How can you replicate that same success? On the other hand, you need to be able to grow on the negative. Think about why you failed and how you can avoid doing that again.

Set aside some time every week to reflect on your successes and failures. It’s the only way you’re going to grow to a point where you can achieve your goals. Don’t over-think every project afterwards but if you can take one lesson from each experience you know you’ve done it right.

3. Stay focused on the prize

It’s easy to lose focus when you’re taking on multiple ventures at the same time. To make sure you stay focused on the prize always have a plan for the short-term, medium-term and the long-term.

Question everything you’re doing. Ask yourself: “Is what I am doing right now contributing towards my short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals?” Making sure that you’re studying hard is key here.

If the answer is no then you know you need to rethink what you’re doing. Staying focused on the prize is what will prevent you from wasting your time on the tasks that don’t matter.


The main lesson is to think before and after

Think about what you’re about to do and whether it takes you closer to your goals. Think about what you have done and determine whether you could have done it better or whether things turned out the way you wanted them to.

It can be hard to stop when you’re in the middle of something, but this is the most important part of all. Once you manage to do this you’ll get more results for every action.


Related: The 10 Traits You Must Cultivate To Achieve Highly Ambitious Goals

CHECKLIST

Your goal-setting (and achieving) checklist

Here’s the simple reality of achieving success. Unless you have goals, you have no way of knowing whether or not you’ve already reached the pinnacle of your life. But all this tends to be a bit easier to suss out if you have those goals in hand. Setting goals is easy — we all do it. Sticking to them is harder.

Here’s how you can stay on track.

Write goals that align with your values

There isn’t a huge difference between corporate goals and life goals. If your career goals aren’t supporting your life goals, you are bound to have a miserable existence.

Set goals that you can control

Too often, we set goals that depend on other people. Unless every aspect of the goal you set is under your control, you have very little likelihood of ever achieving it.

Think big

Set goals that you don’t think you can achieve and work your tail off to get there. Anyone can follow the advice of lesser men and set clearly achievable goals, but that’s for under-achievers and slackers. There is nothing wrong with setting your sights higher than most might believe practicable.

Give yourself time

If you begin with the end in mind, that is to say, if you start by visualising where you want to end up in life, the things you need to get there are pretty easy to plot out.

Plan for success

Don’t worry that your dreams aren’t realistic or that you might not achieve them. Don’t ask ‘What if I fail?’ Instead, ask, ‘What if I succeed?’ Worrying about failure is pointless and destructive; the surest way to be a failure is to spend time worrying about it. Your goals won’t just accomplish themselves; you will have to have a plan, and you’ll have to work that plan.

Manage your risks

You will never achieve goals you didn’t set, but then again there are precious few guarantees in this life. While most of the things you will do on your journey to success will carry some measure of risk, that’s okay. Just be sure that you consider that risk and weigh it against the reward.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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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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putting-in-effort

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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