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.
What To Do When You Realise You Hate Your Job
Do you give in or get started on something new?
In this episode of Leaders Create Leaders, Entrepreneur Network partner Gerard Adams sits down with entrepreneur and influencer Dr. Mona Vand of Hot & Healthy. Vand trained to become a pharmacist, and throughout her education she was driven by that goal.
However, on her first day of work as a pharmacist, she suddenly realised that this path wasn’t for her. She cried when she got home, realising that she had tied herself to this career through her education, and that she might have to continue this for the foreseeable future.
That realisation helped spur her to branch off and build a business that fit her better. Click play to learn how she did it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
7 Reasons Why Keeping The Job You Have Might Be Your Smartest Career Move
Leaving your comfort zone is not automatically a brilliant idea.
With U.S. unemployment coming in at a healthy low of 4.10 percent last quarter, and better-than-average employment figures across the globe, job seekers have new choices. “Get a new job!” may be at the top of many resolution lists, but before you push “send” on that employment application, you might want to take a few things into consideration:
1. Finding a new job is not as simple as it appears
The number of people looking to ditch their current jobs and find other employment was estimated by some to be as high as 50 percent in 2017 (although our DecisionWise employee survey results show that figure to be less than 20 percent). Whether it’s 20 percent or 50 percent of the world’s population on the job prowl, competition may be steeper than one might think.
Now, further complicate this with the notion that millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce in 2020. In the competition for the perfect job, there is a high degree of likelihood that your job-hunting competitor may be very similar to you when it comes to skills, experience or education. And, while you’re actively searching for that ideal job, you may not be giving your current role the attention it (and your employer) deserves.
2. You will be starting over
While the possibilities of that new job and compensation package may be enticing, that move may be financially taxing. Many companies have benefits policies that do not kick in for a period of time.
The paid time off and vacation time you’ve previously earned won’t transfer across companies. In many areas, you will be starting over.
3. Job switching is stressful
Workplace adjustments like changes to a different line of work, changes in work hours or location or new work responsibilities can significantly impact personal health. The Holmes and Rahe stress scale ranks a change in employment as one of the most significant when it comes to life’s stressors. When the average workweek for many of us is 45-55 hours, some of us spend as many as half our waking hours at the office. That’s a significant chunk of one’s life to disrupt.
4. You’ll be the newbie
Remember those new employees that you were asked to train – all of those questions and mistakes? Well, now that’s you! For the first three months of employment, you’re more of a liability than an asset, regardless of how valuable you think you are. Mastery takes time. Yet, mastery has repeatedly been shown as one of the key factors in job engagement. Institutional knowledge that comes through tenure is highly valued by most organisations.
Are you ready to spend a good part of 2018 as an apprentice again, acting as the learner rather than the expert? Many employees tie a sense of self-identity and worth to the expertise, title and necessity of their job. That change may have more of a psychological impact than you realise.
5. Relationships take time
A new job means a new team, new customers and a new boss or subordinates. Connection to others around you continues to show up as a primary factor in employee engagement, not to mention the ability to get things done. All that effort to build relationships in your current job won’t be transferred to your new role.
Additionally, trust typically must be earned over time, and that absence of trust may impede your short-term effectiveness. Relationships and trust take time to build. Remember, you will likely be starting over.
6. Growth often involves pain
When professional growth opportunities are absent in an organisation, you get stagnation, boredom and attrition. Those who remain in growth-impaired environments are operating on autopilot. They aren’t mentally present; their minds are not on their work. Errors happen and quality drops. Indifference sets in when work becomes routine. While a no-stress job seems ideal to some, challenges and growth are key components of employee engagement.
Growth most often occurs when we are stretched beyond our comfort zone. Yet, when some people run up against challenges, they take the easy way out by looking outside the organisation. Consequently, they never grow because the grass is always greener elsewhere. Which brings up the next point.
7. Maybe the problem is you
In 2017, employee engagement firm DecisionWise analysed more than 24 million employee survey responses gathered over three years. When it came to disengagement, the findings weren’t completely surprising: fully disengaged employees rarely turned the engagement corner. According to the study, if I’m disengaged in my current job, I’m likely to disengage in my future job.
Why are you thinking of making the switch? Is it the working conditions? Compensation? Bad boss? These are valid reasons. However, often it’s not just this job; it has become a pattern. What’s the common denominator here? Are most team members always doing less work than you do? Are all companies made up of tyrants? Will the people at your new job really value you more than those at your current job? Or, maybe… just possibly…is the problem, you? Look in the mirror. As they say, “wherever you go, there you are.”
Before you rush out to fulfill that job-change resolution in 2018, consider the above. Maybe that switch isn’t what you want after all.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Business Travel Is Alive And Paying Off
The rise of conference calls and video conferencing systems like Skype and Google Hangouts may seem like the end of face-to-face business encounters, but experts don’t agree.
A number of business leaders and industrial psychologists reckon that there’s no substitute for meeting someone in person, especially at critical junctures in a business relationship, like introducing yourself or closing a deal.
So how do you make business travel easier and worth your while? Dawn Weir, Head of kulula work, suggests the following:
Maximise the business benefits
Business travel can benefit the individual traveller and their business, whether it’s a small enterprise or a multinational conglomerate. kulula work for example, guarantees you the best fares of the day on kulula.com and British Airways (operated by Comair), and you won’t pay booking or flight change fees — only the difference in fare and the airport taxes. You can now also earn and redeem Avios loyalty points whilst flying with kulula.com. Not only will earning more Avios graduate you to higher tiers where you can, for example, get cabin upgrades and access to business lounges, but you can also use the points to, say, take your family on a business and leisure holiday
Get rid of unnecessary paperwork that can weigh you down and store your boarding pass on your smartphone wallet app when you check in 24 hours ahead of departure.
Take a breather
Airport lounges provide a haven from the hubbub of departure lounges, but not all are equal by any means. The best ones have space for some work, fast WiFi, a good selection of food, a decent wine list, and facilities to shower and freshen up. The Slow Lounges at a number of South African airports have these facilities. There’s even one at the Radisson Blu Hotel opposite the Sandton Gautrain station, SLOW in the City that provides boardrooms, lounges, and can arrange for quiet areas to do media interviews. A new lounge called SLOW XS, has also opened at Lanseria International Airport and has, among its many attractions, wine tastings offered by local drinks specialists Winesense.
Add some colour
Many business travellers will go to great lengths to ensure they only travel with cabin luggage, but if you do have to check luggage into the hold, take a moment to familiarise yourself with bag-drop arrangements and any restrictions on the size of cabin luggage. Also, many travellers find it helpful to mark their luggage with a brightly-coloured tag of some sort that makes it readily recognisable on the conveyor.
Stash it all
So, you have your boarding pass on your smartphone and you’ve stashed keys, wallet and change in your carry-on baggage, to save you time passing through the metal-detectors at the security checkpoint. If you’re travelling internationally, you may have opted to wear slip-on shoes and to pack your belt in your carry-on luggage to avoid having to take them off and put them back on again at security. We’ve all stood behind fellow travellers who arrive at the checkpoint with coins and keys in every pocket, and electronic devices in the bottom of a suitcase. There’s not much you can do about that, but you can make your own passage through the metal-detectors easier.
Related: Kulula: Erik Venter and Gidon Novick
Remember to rest
Many business travellers tend to put in more working hours when away from the office and home. Rather than thinking that every mail in your inbox must be answered immediately, get some work-life balance by taking a walk or a run, or just a nap.
To make sure you are on time — every time — comfortable, refreshed, organised and stress-free when you seal your next deal, use kulula work to take care of your travel arrangements. Our team includes professionals dedicated to your account who will assess your business travel needs so that you have a healthy combination of work and play, on your road to success.
The following is exclusively available when your next business trip is booked via kulula work:
- Best fares of the day on kulula.com and British Airways (operated by Comair)
- Flexible flight changes (only the difference in fare and taxes will apply)
- No booking fees
- Competitive car hire rates with Europcar and Avis
- Great hotel rates with Protea Hotels and City Lodge Hotel Group
- Invoicing and reporting
- Account management
- Access to our qualified Corporate Reservations team. *
* Legal stuff applies
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