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Yossi Hasson on Mastering the Art of Productivity

Yossi Hasson, co-founder of Synaq, has mastered getting things done by tearing pages out of business books and sticking them directly into his business. Learn these smart tactics that will turn minutes into miles.

Tracy Lee Nicol

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Yossi-Hasson

Vital Stats

  • Company: Synaq
  • Player: Yossi Hasson, co-founder
  • CLAIM TO FAME: Synaq is listed as one of Forbes’ Top 20 Tech Start-ups for 2012 and Hasson is president of Entrepreneur’s Organisation.
  • Visit: synaq.com

Yossi Hasson launched Synaq, a Linux service provider and messaging company, with his business partner David Jacobson, in 2004.

Related: How Curve Concepts Gets Customer Satisfaction Right

At just 22 he had no tertiary education and no business experience, but that didn’t stop him from chasing entrepreneurship. Now Synaq is a world-class business that was listed on Forbes’ Top 20 Tech Start-ups in 2012, and recently sold a majority stake to Internet Solutions. He’s the president of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation (EO) for 2015, and holds an MBA from GIBS.

How do you prepare yourself for a productive day before office hours?

I follow Tony Robbins’ teaching of setting aside the first hour in the morning for myself. Things have a way of ending the way they started so I set myself up for success by waking up at 7am and going for a 15 to 20 minute walk during which I spend ten to 15 minutes practising gratitude, doing breathing techniques, and visualising my day and week. From there I exercise for 30 to 45 minutes before going into work.

How do you prioritise your tasks?

We use a system called ‘Top one and five’ and a task management tool called Wunderlist to action it. Every day and week list your top five tasks, and one top task from that list.

With five things you don’t get overwhelmed, and by identifying your single most important task you’re able to prioritise. To keep momentum I work in 25 minute sprints, and then go for a short break before returning to the task or starting a new one.

How do you ensure your teams are completing their tasks without micro-managing them?

About half our staff work remotely so we’re painfully slow at hiring to ensure we get the right people who are passionate and motivated. To manage teams we’ve got a report back system called ‘15-5.’

It takes 15 minutes to write and five minutes to read and contains each manager’s ‘Top one and five’, as well as what they’re working on, stuck on, or been successful with. Every Monday I take 20 minutes to read my managers’ reports and have follow up conversations if necessary.

What’s the secret to managing teams?

It’s essential that everyone’s on the same page and that comes down to communication. I use a technique of repeating back to ensure we’re in sync and back it up with a 15-5.

Then we have a daily seven-minute huddle, run by different people who brief the company on what’s going on in their department. It helps us all focus on the bigger picture.

Yossi-Hasson_SynaqSounds like a lot gets done in minutes – how has your team mastered that?

I’ve learnt that a fortune can be done in a small space of time, and that a task will extend to the time allocated to it. Seven-minutes can cover a lifetime of information if the structure is there.

Applying time constraints isn’t about being obsessive, but rather forcing people to be more concise and structured in their thinking.

What tactics do you use to ensure meetings are productive?

We use advice from Cameron Herold’s book Double Double. First is ‘No agenda, no attender’ so only key people are present. Then the agenda is structured so the purpose is identified in the request, and the outcomes are listed.

Purpose always falls into one of three categories: Decision-making, information sharing, or brainstorming. People then know beforehand what to prepare. Meetings generally aren’t longer than an hour, and there are always three key roles assigned: A chairperson, time monitor, and a sweeper to move things along.

How do you avoid falling down the email rabbit hole?

I use Adrian Gore’s one-touch policy in which you only touch an email once – no browsing. Then and there you must do something, delegate it, or dump it.

Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.

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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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