You sit down at your desk ready to destroy your workday. You brew a pot of coffee, break out your calendar and dive into your most important task.
And then it happens. The phone rings, or a co-worker stops by to say “hey.” Maybe your boss swings by to ask about those TPS reports.
Whatever type of interruption you face, you’re annoyed. And if you work in an office, you know exactly what I’m talking about: Just because you’re sitting behind that desk and have already “clocked in,” everyone thinks it’s perfectly okay to engage you. Unfortunately, these random engagements can absolutely kill your productivity.
Not only can they knock you off task, but they consume your mental energy for the day. I didn’t notice how much time I was losing before I had kids, but I notice it much more now that I have four. And yes, being a parent has severely limited my ability to endure small talk and mindless babble.
Parents, you know what I’m talking about: 20 minutes in the hallway talking about last night’s game. A co-worker lamenting over workplace stuff. A leisurely lunch invite that turns into a two-hour affair against your will.
This is the type of stuff that can waste your productivity and reduce your potential.
Creating space and forging a new path
After a few years of enduring these wasted moments and opportunities, I was convinced something needed to change. I wanted to get out of the office more, but to accomplish nearly the same amount of work. More importantly, I wanted to stop wasting so much time, when I could be home with my family or out enjoying life.
At first, I thought that leaving the office more often would be an impossible feat. I mean, how could leave more often yet still accomplish the same level of work?
Sure, I was the CEO of my own wealth-management firm, but that didn’t mean I could come and go as I pleased. If I wasn’t in the office, what would my clients think? Was my team even capable of running everything in my absence? What if something went wrong?
It took me a while to realise I was consumed with limiting beliefs. Fortunately, a few amazing entrepreneurs and thought leaders made me realise the error of my ways. First, I read Tim Ferris’ book The 4-Hour Workweek and realised what was possible. Using the strategies in his book, I could reduce my time in the office significantly, right? Second, I joined a coaching program called Strategic Coach. The program introduced me to the concept of “creating space.”
One exercise we did involved tallying up how many free days we had taken in the last year. Why? Because they said we needed to learn to “create space” in our lives. And, to create that space, we had to give ourselves a break and some time off. Over time, the mental exercise of “creating space” allowed me to figure out what was important in my life, then outsource the rest.
Third, I started listening to productivity geniuses like Michael Hyatt. Highly productive entrepreneurs aren’t born that way, Hyatt says. They learn to become ultra-productive by mastering their environments. According to Hyatt, constant interruptions and distractions are the number one obstacle entrepreneurs face as they check off their to-do lists and work toward their goals.
And that is a shame, Hyatt say his websites. “Entrepreneurs and executives like us have too much value to contribute to our businesses and the people that matter most in our lives to let distractions drag us down,” he says on.
Just listening to experts like these taught me to “create space” and step away from my situation, to a certain extent. From there I set out on a path to limit distractions and build a better workday. Over time, I brought my office time from 40 hours per week to less than eight hours, with no impact to my productivity and even greater earnings over time.
Related: Building Real Work Life Balance
How did I do it? Five ways
1. I hired strategically
Although I already had a director of relations on staff, I added an associate advisor, as well. The associate’s job was to be “me” when I wasn’t there – giving expert advice to our clients and providing the service they deserve.
This is where I think a lot of small business owners fail. Scared that no one could ever stand in their shoes, they refuse to outsource their most important work. But, if you want to reduce your hours, this step is crucial.
It took a while to get everything set up. For several months, I had to work 60-hour weeks to teach this new hire everything he needed to know. But once the hard work was done, I had a trusted and polished counterpart to lean on.
2. We started documenting our processes
Eventually, I learned I could make my life easier by streamlining processes I did over and over. A tool that I stumbled on, Sweet Process, helps you create processes for everything in your business.
Using this tool, we began creating processes for higher-level tasks such as opening new accounts. From there, we created processes for making bank deposits and processing client contributions. Once we got all the higher-level tasks squared away, we even created systems to take over the small tasks in our workday.
Creating all those processes takes a lot of work up-front work, but once you’re done and new people you’ve taken on are trained, you never have to do these things again. Even better, if you eventually have to hire someone new or replace someone, your documented processes can serve as a training manual.
3. I “created space” and scheduled time for being away from the office
Once I hired more people and created processes, I had to schedule time for being away, to see if my new strategy could work. So, that’s exactly what I did – even though I had to force myself to leave the office.
At first, I spent time hanging out at a coffee shop or working from home. That way, I could test my new employee’s abilities without stepping away completely. Once I felt more comfortable, I started taking Tuesdays off. Then I started added more “off days” to my calendar each week. Eventually, I was down to just eight hours in the office each week, yet everything was still running smoothly. And yes, it felt great!
4. We improved communication
Before I reduced my hours, I had used email, texting and Google Chat as my primary sources of communication. This worked fine for a while, but we eventually realised we were losing conversations and details this way.
Then we stumbled on Slack. Slack allowed us to create channels specific to certain needs for our financial advisory firm; we could conduct ongoing conversations by searching past ones for details. Where we had once lost important information and conversations, Slack kept all of our correspondence in one place.
5. We reviewed actions and looked for ways to improve
Just as happened in the military where I participated in After Action Reviews, I created a process for weekly reviews in my office. We didn’t review one other’s work per se, but instead, how the week had done in general. How was our communication? Did everything get done? Did anything fall through the cracks?
By highlighting any gaps in our communication and planning, we could find ways to improve. And that’s exactly what we did. Over time, we improved everything from our daily communication to results for our clients.
Where I once felt I could never step away from the office, I now work less than 8 hours each week at the office. And as the final nail in the coffin and proof that everything I outlined here works, we have drastically improved our profitability as well. In fact, Alliance Wealth Management (my firm) is on pace to grow revenue by 31 percent this year.
With more time on my hands, I am now able to be a better father and husband. In addition, I’ve created space and time to do something I have always wanted to do — which is to create a course geared toward financial advisors who want to become a force to be reckoned with in the online space. And you know what else? My course, The Online Advisor Growth Formula, is on track to add $100,000 in revenue to my business this year.
This fact underscores the idea that more work hours doesn’t always mean greater results and that, sometimes, less is more.
None of this could have happened if I had never stepped away – and if I had never listened to the savvy productivity experts who forged this path for me.
If you’re tired of working more to accomplish less, make sure to listen to the experts that study productivity like it’s their job (because it is). You might feel “stuck” working too many hours now, but a few small changes can make a world of difference.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
3 Ways To Balance Your Business, Family And Everything Else
You can do it all (or at least make it easier to do everything you enjoy) with these smart tips from a successful entrepreneur.
The following excerpt is from Manny Khoshbin’s book Driven: The Never-Give-Up Roadmap to Massive Success.
Balancing your life is like one of those acrobatic acts where people are standing on top of one another balancing themselves — each person represents an important part of your life. You want to keep them all up there without anyone falling. Not so easy, is it?
To really appreciate and enjoy what you have, balancing the many aspects of your life is essential, but many people aren’t very good at it. I was one of those people in my first marriage. I was wrapped up in my business and not spending enough time and energy on my marriage. In the end, the marriage blew up.
I admit, it’s hard to say no to business when it comes knocking at your door, especially when you’re selling real estate and a qualified buyer comes along. However, if you don’t know when to put the brakes on and slow down, you may find yourself out of control and missing out on a lot of your life.
Many people get a taste of success and they want to scale it, so they just dive into it 24/7. The next thing they know, 10 years have gone by and they’ve built a huge empire but lost sight of everything else. They realise that their spouse is now their ex, their kids are now teenagers, other family members, as well as friends, have moved on, and they’ve missed so much of their personal life that not even money can buy it back.
So, how do you balance work, family and everything else? For one thing, you need to accept that you have to make many compromises, have a positive attitude and know that it can be done.
Besides running my own business, Leyla and I are partners in her business. Warning: This type of arrangement will not work for all couples, but it can work well, provided you clarify your positions and respect each other’s roles.
The trick is knowing how to combine, and then separate, business and marriage. For example, Leyla and I sometimes have to go to Los Angeles for meetings or to an expo or a beauty show in Las Vegas. We take the opportunity to make a full weekend out of it, working at the event and then going out on the town.
At home, we have date nights at least once a week, even if all we do is grab a quick dinner and then come back home. It’s important to break the routine and put business aside. On weekends, Leyla’s business is closed and I don’t work, and we spend time with our kids. We try to make time for each of our top priorities: our family, each other and our work.
Unfortunately, when you’re working together and discussing, or sometimes arguing, about business during the day, it’s difficult to switch gears when you get home and shift into husband-and-wife mode. We try to be careful to stop ourselves without letting the day spill over into our personal life together.
I’ll admit, however, that it does take some practice, learning how to turn the switch off before you leave the office to go home. But in time it gets easier. You need to set some rules together, then make sure you’re both on board with those rules.
Hobbies and passions: cars and cigars
You also need time for your hobbies. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve loved exotic cars. I bought my first exotic car in 1992, a Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo. Fast-forward 10 years, and I had started falling in love with Ferraris as well as Porsches. I have continued collecting cars, and I now have 15 cars.
Even though they’re a hobby, I have an entrepreneurial spirit when it comes to my passion for cars. In fact, I view them in a similar way that I do great pieces of property, though I’d prefer to keep them than sell to the highest bidder. To me, they’re like works of art that I view as investments, knowing that they’re of great value.
Cars aren’t my only passion, though. It’s important to have some passions that you can enjoy away from work, from family and from everything else. You also want some alone time. For example, I also own a cigar lounge (www.CubanoRoom.com) where I can go to relax by myself or meet another successful member while smoking a fine cigar.
I treat my passions like a business because that’s who I am — I enjoy them and also make money – but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you enjoy bicycling, you don’t have to go and open a bicycle store. You can simply find a group of riders, do some travelling and have fun.
It’s important to fit some alone time into your busy balancing act. We all need some moments when we escape from everyone and everything. The best thing to do is figure out what makes you happy and balance the hustle of your busy life with your own passion.
Related: How To Work 10 Hours Less Each Week
Family time is so important to me, both as a father and as a member of an extended family. Besides spending time with Leyla and my children, I see my parents often. I bought them a ranch about 90 miles away from Newport Beach back in 2004. Now they visit us every Friday or Saturday – we have a barbecue and play backgammon or cards.
We also see Leyla’s mom and sister often. Her mom still works as a registered nurse and lives in Beverly Hills. Leyla’s sister is nearby in San Diego where she works for a company called Houzz, an online community for home construction, landscape design, home improvement, repairs and so forth.
Leyla and I both recognise the importance of having our extended family nearby and making time to spend together. Otherwise, time goes by quickly, and you suddenly realise that it’s been years since you spent some quality time together.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Join The Mustang Revolution
Experience the dream and take it for a test drive today.
Every new Mustang brings a renewal, of the human spirit, the open road, and the wanderlust that exists within us all. For over 5 decades, America’s legendary Pony car has delivered countless moments of pure exhilaration.
The new Mustang is loaded with bravado, coiled with confidence. It honours this authentic lineage – by launching it forward, with advanced new technology that allows for a level of personalisation not seen before. But very familiar to a new generation of free spirits, who refuses stereotypes, encourage self-expression. Are you ready for this?
The evolution of the mustang
How do you reinvent a car that’s more than a car: An icon that forever changed the landscape of the automotive industry? You don’t. You just make it better. You bring it back to its original roots in a modern way. You create something that’s instantly classic and completely new. 50 years on, we’ve breathed new life into a legend.
Legends who choose to partner with the legend
Jay Leno, the former king of American late-night television, is known to be an avid car collector. In his collection is a 1965 Shelby Mustang GT 350, one of Americas most desirable muscle cars.
President Bill Clinton owned a 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible before he entered office. He said he found it hard to leave the car behind in Arkansas when he moved into the White House.
Charlie Sheen, veteran actor of the big and small screen, also owned several Mustangs. A Classic 1966 Mustang GT was once on display at Galpin Auto Sport in Calif. Another of his Mustangs, a 1968 Shelby, was featured in the movie ‘Money Talks’.
Patrick Dempsey loves his Mustangs. He loves them so much he raced a specially-built Mustang FR500C in the Grand-Am Road Racing KONI series. When he’s not on the race track he’s the proud owner of a 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe, which was featured at the 2007 SEMA Show.
Jim Morrison reportedly only ever owned a 1967 Nightmist Blue Shelby GT 500. The car was a gift from Electra Records, but rumour has it that he wrapped the car around a telephone pole, and it was never seen again.
Sammy Hagar, former lead singer of iconic rock band Van Halen, is the former owner of a 1967 Shelby GT500. He’s also the owner of the first GCM-R Mustang, one of 100 custom built by Gateway Classic Mustang.
Tim Allen reportedly has a USD50 000 hyper-customised Mustang, which does 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, reaching the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds and can achieve top speeds of 184 mph.
Bob Seger is known for his love of muscle cars from the 1960’s and 70’s. Included in his collection are a Mach 1 Mustang and a classic GT350.
Kelly Clarkson is a lover and owner of Mustang’s. She prominently features a red/white striped GT500 in her music video ‘Go’, she is also rumoured to have owned a hot pink Mustang.
Eminem reportedly bought a brand new 1999 Mustang Convertible with his first royalty cheque after becoming a worldwide superstar.
There’s a certain feeling you get when you start the engine and hear Mustang’s iconic growl for the first time. The Mustang’s design is just as thrilling.
Taking inspiration from classic airplane cockpits, the Mustang struck a balance between analogue dials and digital feedback. The gear shifter is optimally placed. And the steering wheel just feels right in your hands, for a dynamic driving experience.
Everything about the Mustang’s design makes your jaw drop. The sharp HID headlamps and signature tri-bar taillamps. The front end that screams energy. The sleek, lean and low body. The improved aerodynamics. Designed with a passion for the legend that is Mustang – this is as good as it gets.
SYNC®3 is a responsive, fully integrated, voice activation system that lets you use your favourite devices while your hands stay on the wheel and your eyes stay safely on the road. Sync your phone to call your friends, play your favourite music or find the perfect temperature with hands-free Climate Control.
Seamless integration via programs like Apple CarPlay™ allow you choice on how to remain connected to your world. Equipped with a customisable 8” Colour LCD capacitive Touch Screen; SYNC®3 is quicker and more responsive than ever before.
Rear View Camera
Trouble with parallel parking or reversing into tight spaces? No problem. Ford’s Rear View Camera lets you see behind you. And the Rear Parking Sensors beep to let you know how close you are to objects behind you. The system even turns the music down, so you can hear the beep clearly.
Keyless Entry and Push-button Start
We can’t find your keys for you, but as long as you have the key fob on you, you’re ready to go. Simply unlock the driver’s door with a touch of the handle. To start her up, just put your foot on the brake, press the START/STOP button and you’re away.
Mustang has unleashed two engine options, 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 and 2.3L EcoBoost® both marvels of engineering.
2.3L EcoBoost Engine
The EcoBoost model features the twin-scroll turbocharged 2.3L EcoBoost engine, giving you exhilarating performance with reduced fuel consumption.
5.0L V8 Engine
The Mustang GT’s 5.0L engine has been expertly engineered to maximize power from every compression.
Boasting strong power and torque, Mustang GT’s engine roar and wide-eyed acceleration are the stuff of the legends
Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS)
Electric Power Assisted Steering adjusts to provide you with greater control in a range of road and weather conditions, and even crosswinds and potholes. And it only activates when needed, saving you fuel. Best of all, you’re in control. Choose between three power-assisted settings to adjust steering effort: comfort, sport and normal.
6-Speed SelectShift with Paddle Shifters
Mustang’s SelectShift gives you the thrill of using a manual transmission with the ease of an automatic. Simply toggle the race car-inspired Paddle Shifters on the steering wheel to shift gears up or down, for smooth and effortless gear changes.
A Brain Surgeon’s Tips For Handling Stress Head-On
If you’re comfortable, you’re not learning, this neurosurgeon advises. Oh, and another thing: “Never cut what you can’t see.”
Most people at least try to avoid stress, especially when it comes to business and workplace conflicts. Even successful, high-profile business icons struggle with how to handle stress: Elon Musk recently admitted in a tweet reported on by CNBC that he faces “unrelenting stress.”
That’s alarming to hear from such a famous and successful entrepreneur. And he’s hardly alone in the world of business: But as a businessman myself, and a neurosurgeon, I’ve discovered that the secret to a more fulfilling, successful life and career is to engage with stress, not run away from it.
In fact, many stressors we encounter are actually beneficial. Without the stress of gravity, our bones would soften; without the stress of exercise, our muscles would atrophy; and without the active engagement of our minds, our intellects would weaken and we would become more susceptible to dementia.
What’s more, when we’re not exposed to stress, we’re not learning or growing or getting stronger. Only when we fully engage in stressful situations and face our fears head on can we succeed in our personal and professional lives.
As a surgeon, I’ve encountered numerous high-stress circumstances requiring a cool head and decisive action. The discipline of neurosurgery has helped me develop cognitive dominance: It’s enhanced my situational awareness for making rapid and accurate decisions under stressful conditions, while the clock was ticking.
But if my years of making life-or-death decisions in the operating room have taught me anything, it’s that all of us must have the right tools to conquer one of the fiercest opponents any of us face: stress and fear. So, the next time you face a high-stress situation, try the following strategies for making better decisions under extreme pressure.
1. Always place a drain
While many difficult situations in life are out of our control, others should never occur in the first place.
There’s a rule in brain tumor surgery: Aways place a drain. That preemptive procedure of putting into place a fluid drain gives surgeons more control of the operative micro-environment and makes the removal of a tumor safer by providing a “pop off” valve that can relieve intracranial pressure. By following this rule, we prevent a life-threatening problem during surgery and control our stress in the OR.
What are your safety valves? What are the “rules” you follow in your life that control stress and keep it in check?
One way to manage stress in the workplace is to deal with your overloaded email inbox. If you find yourself drowning in emails, with unanswered messages from months ago still sitting in inbox purgatory, wipe the slate clean and start fresh with an “email bankruptcy.” Simply delete all emails in your inbox with dates that are over a month old and move on.
With so much electronic communication today, who can possibly keep up? Striving to do so will only result in unnecessary stress, distracting you from truly important matters. An email bankruptcy allows you to stay in the current moment and keep your thoughts focused. (Besides, if something is truly important, the sender will follow up.)
Taking simple burdens such as these off your shoulders will free you up to make better, more level-headed decisions in all aspects of life.
2. Never cut what you can’t see
This pearl is based on the first rule of neurosurgery from my mentor, the master neurosurgeon Peter Jannetta: Never cut what you can’t see. Just as illumination and magnification are vital to surgeons, making tough decisions under pressure requires first shining a light on an issue and studying the situation closely to determine its true nature and ultimate solution.
I recently encountered significant stress in preparing for the most important toast of my life … for my only daughter’s wedding. I struggled with a flood of emotions the week before and broke down every time I also practiced my toast – a lot. After a lot of thought, I realised my problem stemmed from remorse at missing out on so many events in my daughter’s childhood due to my hectic surgery schedule.
Illuminating the issue allowed me to accept that these thoughts were natural for someone in my profession: Surgeons whose medical duties often bump up against family obligations. Rather than letting regret torpedo my speech, however, I determined to apply myself to being a better, more present parent in her adulthood.
If you’re running up against a roadblock or find yourself in a stressful or tense position, first shine a light on the issue and look at it from multiple perspectives. Ask yourself, “Why am I so anxious about this upcoming business meeting?” or “What’s really making me clash with this particular team member?” Make a point to illuminate, magnify and dissect your problem: The anatomy of the issue might be right in front of you, and you just haven’t been able to recognise it yet.
3. Get a second opinion
Avoid your first reaction to any stressful event, as it’s often the wrong one. Almost invariably, your first reaction is going to be geared toward self-preservation, and that’s not generally the best solution to any problem. Instead, find ways to de-personalise the situation, removing emotion from the decision-making process to make smarter choices based on measured facts and different perspectives, not off-the-cuff feelings.
For example, I find it difficult to maintain a balanced perspective when a patient isn’t doing well or has unexpected symptoms after a surgery, so I often turn to one of the five other doctors in my practice for an unbiased, third-party analysis. Reaching out for another opinion is helpful from the perspective of achieving optimum care and deleting the emotional aspect.
If you find yourself stressed, nervous or under the gun, don’t leave the decision on your own shoulders. Get an outside opinion from a trusted partner, colleague, friend or mentor to obtain an unbiased assessment.
By facing stress head-on with these rules, you can gain greater control in work and personal matters, allowing you to practice cognitive dominance in any situation.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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