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How To Optimise Your Productivity After Quitting Your Job

You’ve done it. You’re your own boss. All the time in the world. Now the problem is – you’re used to 10 hours of your day being allocated elsewhere – there’s almost too much time now. So much time… and so many ways to waste it.

Jordan Stephanou

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The idea of having control of our own time is bliss. In many ways, nothing could be better than the idea of “freedom”, of having “full control” of one’s life. The reality is that it can be incredible, however it can also be life’s biggest trap. If there is no strategy to optimize this available time, it will turn into one major procrastination session.

If your time is not carefully managed, your entrepreneurial journey could become months of regret and self-loathing because of wasted opportunity. On the flip side, Peter Thiel has been paraphrased in saying that one of the beauties of an entrepreneurial life, is that if someone were to put a gun to your head and demand that you achieve 10 years worth of goals in 6 months, it would be possible. If time is used extremely effectively, anything is possible. That, in my view, is something to get excited about, and is reason enough to want to put tangible methods in place.

Note that many of these methods were inspired by Tim Ferriss and the many world class performers he has interviewed on his podcast. I have since experimented with recommendations and have found that the below have worked best for me.

1. Organise meetings

This may sound counterintuitive, because meetings are commonly considered (at least in the corporate world) to be the ultimate waste of time. The reason for that perception is that there is usually so much work to be done, and corporate meetings classically aren’t necessary for all the attendees, and do not result in a definitive next step.

Related: 10 Things You Must Do Before Quitting Your Job To Start Your Company

My argument for organising meetings is to conjure momentum when none exists early on in the process. If you are sitting with a blank calendar and a blank agenda, by arranging meetings with potential clients, partners, employees or investors, this will create a sense of scarcity; a simulated “due date” that will force you to do the appropriate work to be ready for said meeting, and could put you on an exciting unforeseen path post-meeting.

These meetings also get people on the same page as you; to buy into your vision and to get them excited by what excites you in your entrepreneurial journey – you never know what doors can open from connecting with the right people at the right time.

I read a quote recently that said “great opportunities never have ‘Great Opportunity’ in the subject line”.

2. Say No

You may receive a deluge of exciting propositions and projects out of nowhere that others less committed than you would like you to work on. These can be extremely tempting, but as Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks says, “The single most important distinction in life is to distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted”.

Derek Sivers makes this distinction by removing any middle ground – if he doesn’t feel that the opportunity is a “HELL YEAH!”, it’s simply a “no”. Another tool you could use is to rate opportunities out of 10 – but you’re not allowed to use the number 7. When in doubt, you have to either rate the opportunity as a 6 or an 8. If it’s a 6, it’s a definite “no”.

Saying no can be infinitely more difficult than saying yes. That’s why, it can be argued that nurturing the ability to decline mediocre opportunities is one the most important skills on the path to success.

organising-day3. Don’t let others set your agenda for you

You will wake up to several emails, whatsapp messages and a missed call. You are then faced with a difficult decision – to reactively respond to all before pursuing your agenda for the day; or proactively completing your agenda first and then addressing the needs of others.

The risk of the reactive approach, is that there is a high probability of getting derailed entirely by requests from other people. A seemingly short request could end up cascading into several hours of back and forth. It is quite possible that by the time this has reached completion, you have no energy left to allocate to the most important tasks for the day. You will leave feeling unfulfilled, as if the day was wasted – a routine you desperately need to avoid.

You should set your own agenda, and when the key tasks are completed, you attend to the emails and requests of others.

Related: How To Start A Side Hustle Without Quitting Your Day Job

4. Set your most important 3 tasks each day

On any given day, you may have 32 important things you want to achieve. Where does one even begin to prioritise these? Typically, we may start with the easiest of the 32 to get that “small win” feeling. The downside is that the easiest may not be the most important or urgent, and could leave you feeling in a similar position to where you started. That’s why I set the most important 3 each day.

They may take 5 minutes each or 5 hours each, but if you can consistently overcome the most important 3 tasks on a daily basis, you will not only make tangible progress in your work, but develop an unrivalled (and somewhat addictive) sense of productivity.

In addition, I recommend setting these 3 tasks at the end of each working day, so that you can get straight into them the next morning. I find that setting the next day’s objectives is a nice way to wind down the day, and reduce chances of morning procrastination the next day because your agenda will already be pre-constructed, leaving no room for excuses.

5. Find the environment that speaks to your working soul

Some people thrive in 8am-5pm busy office environments, while others can only work from night time when it feels like the world around them is asleep. Some people love absolute silence while others need the madness of boisterous conversation and loud music. There is no perfect way to work.

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

I have found that the ambience of coffee shops is conducive to a productive environment – being surrounded by people of different backgrounds and occupations leads to a complementary sense of both community and urgency, and removes any sense of loneliness. Furthermore, don’t underestimate the power of the right music to aid productivity.

Certain melodic lyric-less music could help create a rhythm conducive to productivity (Tim Ferriss highly recommends Gramatik as an aid to his book writing). Some people prefer music they are extremely familiar with, and even play the same song or album on repeat for hours; the familiarity could create a sense of comfort, and you won’t get distracted by the lyrics.

There is no perfect formula for productivity. There is no script, as much as others may try enforce theirs onto you. That’s why this journey is so exciting – you can use any of the methods above and do what works for you. Be productive by using your mind, not your time.

Jordan is currently the founder and CEO of hospitality tech startup, tastePal, which has the goal of saving people time and increasing productivity, by getting rid of office canteen queues. Jordan previously worked fulltime at Investec in the Private Banking division, and was chosen to attend the One Young World 2016 conference in Ottawa, in which young leaders from 196 countries aggregated together to discuss solutions to international social justice issues. Blog: pineapplesareinmyhead.blogspot.com

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Constance Prince Maurice – For Unspoiled Luxury Between Lake And Lagoon

Romantic hideaway, stunning architectural design, luxurious setting; choose from one of the 64 Junior suites, 12 Family suites, 12 Villas or the lavish Princely Villa at Constance Prince Maurice. Unplug and recharge in a 5* luxury hideaway surrounded by an abundance of nature. Blissfully peaceful, its elegance is matched only by our discreet, intuitive service. Experience our passion for wine in the most extensive wine cellar in the Indian Ocean. A place to open your heart and let the everyday slip away.

Constance Hotels & Resorts

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Constance Prince Maurice

Constance Prince Maurice enjoys an idyllic location on the north-east coast of Mauritius. It is 15 minutes from the airport by helicopter and 35 km from the capital Port Louis. Constance Prince Maurice is situated on 60 hectares of private land which is completely unspoilt, sheltered from the prevailing winds and ensuring maximum privacy for its guests. Its tropical gardens consist of rare and luxuriant vegetation and the calm turquoise lagoon blends perfectly with the fresh green hinterland and the secluded beaches of brilliant white sand. A natural fish reserve situated in the western part of the hotel adds to the uniqueness and natural beauty of the location.

Designed by architectural mastermind Jean Marc Eynaud and designer David Edwards, Constance Prince Maurice is where style, space and architectural designs create the perfect hotel lifestyle. Peaceful by day, the hotel is amidst lush tropical greenery. Our infinity pool and natural reserves add to the décor by instilling a sense of tranquillity.

Picturesque at night, the structure of the hotel is enhanced by warm lights positioned to harmonise with the environment. Lounge in an intimate and secluded setting, pamper yourself at the U Spa by Constance and Sisley and feast on exceptional cuisine created by our chefs from around the world.

Related: Immerse Yourself In Purposeful Reading This Holiday Season

Families can choose our beach villas and complimentary Constance kids clubs while golf pros can retreat to our two 18-hole championship golf courses.

Inspired by Feng Shui principles to create the perfect sense of harmony, all beds stand high above floor level to help the circulation of Qi. In the first hall of the Archipel restaurant, internal concrete columns are at the centre of the hall so as to increase the concentration of energy in the centre.

Highlights of your stay

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  • Taste one of our 25,000 wine bottles in the Indian Ocean’s largest wine cellar.
  • Enjoy a fine dinner in a floating bar and restaurant… a Mauritius exclusive.
  • Gaze at the underwater waterfall illusion from a helicopter.
  • Experience kite surfing with friends and family

The Constance Hotels and Resorts Group owns and manages a number of luxurious island destinations in the Indian Ocean, made up of 5-star Resorts: Constance Belle Mare Plage (Mauritius), Constance Ephelia (Seychelles), Constance Moofushi (Maldives), Constance Tsarabanjina (Madagascar) and 5-star deluxe Hotels: Constance Prince Maurice (Mauritius), Constance Lemuria (Seychelles) and Constance Halaveli (Maldives).

Distinctive elements for these hotels and resorts include magnificent locations with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world; distinctive architecture and design; warm hospitality; completely personalised guest experiences; gastronomic excellence matched by internationally recognised sommeliers; Constance Kids Clubs at all hotels and resorts; complete wellness and rejuvenation with U Spa by Constance; and some of the most beautiful natural diving locations in the world (PADI and CMAS are available at all hotels). Constance Belle Mare Plage, Constance Prince Maurice and Constance

Related: Turn Your Holiday Into A Luxury Affair

Lemuria Seychelles on Praslin all have 18-hole championship golf courses.

Contact us now for your island destination holiday in some of the most idyllic spots in the world.

Central Reservations: Tel: +230 402 3636

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Work Life Balance

10 Tips On Fatherhood And Entrepreneurship

Rowan Leibbrandt, Owner of premium drinks company, Truman & Orange (which has brought us Bannermans Scotch Whisky and Mazzatti Italian Beers to name the two most relevant to most dads), told us how he balances being a Superdad with giving his growing business all he’s got!

Rowan Leibbrandt

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The weird nature of this type of thing – starting a business, starting a family – is that by definition you’re always a novice: Everyone does it for the first time, everyone needs to work it out for himself. Ironically, if you’re good at both, it will be really, really hard.  Typically, things you’re good at are easy, but this seems to work the other way around: Being a successful entrepreneur and the kind of dad your kids crane their necks to find in the crowd when they’re playing sport, requires enormous, consistent, thoughtful effort.

From a certain perspective, things are clearly more challenging for today’s aspiring entrepreneur. The modern world has a complexity that dads of previous eras didn’t have to grapple with. Noah, in launching his nautical cruise business, never had to catch the red eye to Jerusalem. Marco Polo never battled with cell phone reception while on his way to meet customers. To be sure they had other challenges, but they were somewhat linear. Today, the future Steve Jobs has to wrestle with something far more mercurial and slippery: Time.

Sprinkle in the contemporary demand for a man to balance the needs of fatherhood with his career, and you have the built-in tension which, simply put, some rise to and other don’t.

Related: How To Start A Business With No Money

I’m not quite sure how I’m fairing

There are some days where we land some achievement at work and I get home and one of my sons wants to sit on my lap and tell me about his day. On those days I try to remember to fist pump and tell myself what super-human man I am. Other days I leave for an early flight before anyone else is awake and forget I was meant to take one of the boys to swimming lessons that afternoon. In any event, here are the lessons I’m learning. (I suggest starting from the top and mastering each level before moving onto the next until you gradually become the Dad-entrepreneur Jedi that I know lurks inside you.)

OK, here goes:

  1. Never ever have kids at the same time as starting a new business (oops!)
  2. If you break rule one, try very, very hard to learn your lesson and not do it again (dammit!)
  3. If you’re still reading you’re not doing very well, are you? I suggest you take a really deep breath, suck it up and get on with it. (Seriously, this is actually the most important rule – the rest are details, really.)
  4. Don’t bother reading Elon Musk’s book because you heard he had 5 kids and built a tech empire and thought, “Mmm he sounds like a guy who might have some answers”. His answer involved a small army of au pairs. Your wife probably won’t let you hire one (remember Tiger Woods?) and let’s face it most of us start up a business with a little less than Ellon-Paypal-Musk.
  5. Try not to travel on Fridays, so you can be home on Saturday mornings. Seriously, this should be obvious, but it took me a while to figure out. And get up early on Saturday to buy coffee and croissants for breakfast. That works well.
  6. Never ever send your wife pictures from a business trip unless where you’re standing is absolutely horrific. She will always assume your business travel is incredibly glamorous and way more fun than staying at home with your amazing kids. War zones, cities after some sort of natural disaster or some sort of heavy industrial setting work well. Never under any circumstances send a pic where there is any trace of blue sky, sunshine or (god forbid) a beach.
  7. Never phone your wife while anyone is laughing in the background. And don’t call her if you can hear female voices either: this will not end well. If there is a hairdryer in the hotel room I sometimes turn it on before I call to drown out any potentially fun-sounding noises that might escape from my un-airconditioned, 1-star, economy hotel in Lagos.
  8. OK, back to kids. (Rule 6, strictly speaking, comes from my “How to avoid pissing your wife off while building a business” list, but I usually include it in all my lists because the costs of getting it wrong permeates the rest of your life so powerfully.) Explain to your kids what it is you do. You’d be amazed how much they understand and how fulfilling it is to have them relate to what you’re trying so hard to do. We have a drinks company and my son, from about 4-years old, has been happily telling everyone he’d rather be a whisky salesman than a doctor. How cool is that? If anyone wants to nominate me for Best Dad 2018, please go ahead.
  9. I’ve left some of the biggies for later as they’re the hardest. Also, if you’ve mastered things so far, you are fast approaching ninja level and Jedi is in sight. This will sound simple, you’ve heard it before and (like the force) you absolutely know it without needing to be told: don’t spend your weekends on your phone, be present. It doesn’t really matter what you do: if my son wants to poke slugs in our garden, then I need to find him just the right stick and not be distracted by my phone.
  10. Buy them stuff when you’ve been away for a while. Not expensive stuff, but random, unique things from far-away places that create excitement when you return, remind them you’re thinking about them all the time, and give you an opportunity to talk about where you’ve been. (By the way I’m referring to gifts for the kids. Gifts for your wife operate on an entirely different set of principles, refer to rules 1-4 of my other list if you want some guidance as to what to buy her. Please don’t confuse the two. Please, just don’t.)

Related: 20 South African Side-Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

And finally, learn how to deal with feeling guilty. This is hard and there will be times when you fail to be the best dad and entrepreneur you can be. In fact, this will happen often. But remember the guilt is there because you’re trying so hard at both not because you aren’t. Use it to remind yourself what is important and help you think harder about how to do the best at both these amazing jobs you’re fortunate enough to have.


Win This Father’s Day

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Win with Truman & Orange!

To enter, email the answer to the following question with the header: “Entrepreneur Magazine competition”.

Name the whisky and the beer distributed by Truman & Orange. 

Email your answer, together with your name and cell number to bannermans@trumanandorange.co.za to stand a chance to win a bottle of Bannerman’s Finest Scotch Whisky and a bottle of each of the Mazzatti Birra Superiore range (Don’t forget to put “Entrepreneur Magazine competition” in the subject line).

Find out more on the Truman & Orange range here.

Ts and Cs are as follows:

  • Prizes are not transferable or redeemable for cash and the judge’s decision is final
  • Winners will be notified by email
  • No persons under the age of 18 may enter the competition.

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Work Life Balance

Avoid Burnout With These Small Changes To The Way You Work

Follow these five tips to work smarter, not harder.

Lisa Promise

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Workplace burnout is real. I know, because I’ve been there, and I know most others have as well at some point or another. Thrive Global’s Arianna Huffington is no different. She’s on a mission to fix what she deems a “culture of burnout,” after her own collapse from exhaustion in 2007.

Huffington rightly says: “When we take care of ourselves, we are more effective, we are more creative and we are more successful in a broad definition of the word.”

Medical News Bulletin recently published “Can Positive Psychology Traits Prevent Burnout?,” referencing a study where participants completed a survey about the balance of the effort versus reward from a job. This particular research was focused on the manufacturing industry in China, given the “monotonous and repetitive nature of their work,” but this can be said for many professions and sectors. It was found that hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism can help to manage work stress, and people with these qualities are less likely to become burnt out.

Related: (Video) Avoid Burn Out

There have been many studies published over the years that working less results in higher productivity (hint: the optimal number is less than 40 hours per week). Perhaps even more important is that it’s nearly impossible to stay focused for long stretches at a time. Some research suggests that you should be breaking as frequently as every hour.

Work smarter not harder

In line with that, I believe in working smarter, not harder. While there are 24 hours in a day, they weren’t all made for work. I’m in the camp that working eight hours nonstop is actually more unproductive than it is beneficial. Your brain has peak operating times, and what works for one may not work for another.

Some people are at their best in the mornings, while others are most efficient late at night. I firmly believe that dictating what hours you should work and when is not the best method to yield quality work.

I often get asked how I can get things done. I work from home, and some have the perspective that I have no one to hold me accountable throughout the day. Inquiring minds wonder everything from what my daily schedule looks like, to how I motivate myself to finish up a project or prospect for my next client.

Related: Even If You Work Hard And Love What You Do, You’re Still At Risk Of Burning Out

tim-ferrissLet me start by saying that I strongly value flexibility. It’s the reason why working for myself is the best fit for me. But I hold myself accountable, and there’s a certain amount of self-discipline involved in doing that. Everything I do is because I’ve set goals for myself.

I have a duty to uphold to my clients and my partners, and a commitment to myself about the success of my business. I also pride myself in the underrated aspect of efficiency. It’s not how long you do something for, but how well you do it.

Several books I’ve read over the years on this topic have stuck with me. Getting Things Done, by David Allen, addresses the two-minute rule. If you can do something in two minutes or less, do it now. Don’t make a note and come back to it later. The time you spend thinking about it, planning it and recording it is more than the time it actually takes to complete the task.

Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week covers the topic of efficiency as well. He’s a prime example of taking the phrase “Work smarter, not harder” to a whole new level. To be successful, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work more, only that you need to work more efficiently.

Based on experience, I’ve adopted these top five tips to do just that:

Free up your mind

There is no need to remember everything. You read that right. Why are you keeping everything in your mind, which only serves to bog you down and make you feel overwhelmed? Find a record-keeping system that works for you.

Related: Admin Hacks For Entrepreneurs

Some people prefer old-fashioned paper notes. I prefer electronic. With a Mac laptop and an iPhone, I use Notes and Reminders apps to store everything I need to do or think about. I schedule reminder times to make sure I’ve checked something off my list. No matter what device I’m on, I know it’s available to me.

Schedule

Plus, I schedule everything on my calendar – my morning activities to start my day, hours allocated for every client and even things like time to take a walk. But again, I’m flexible. I move things around as needed, but I know I have set time to focus on a task at hand.

Plan and bucket

Some projects seem daunting from the start, but they need to be done whether you want to or not. Oftentimes the hardest part of a project is starting it.

Create a plan and break it down into manageable chunks. If you can complete a portion each day, not only will your mind stay sharp, but that focus will also help to make the task more bearable. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Follow the 80/20 rule

I’m a longtime follower of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle: 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the work.

Why are you spending time on things that take 80 percent of your resources but deliver 20 percent of the value?

Stop doing meaningless tasks, or outsource them if they must be done. Prioritisation is one of the most important keys to efficiency.

Take breaks

It might seem counter intuitive that you can get more done by working less, but the human mind was not created to work non-stop. As research suggests, breaks are beneficial. Go for a walk, have lunch away from your desk, read a book, catch up with a friend or colleague – I promise you’ll feel refreshed and ready to reengage.

Related: Is Working Too Hard Destroying Your Business?

The 40-hour workweek is so synonymous with the American culture that it’s unlikely to change in the corporate world anytime soon. Most of us know that 40 hours isn’t really 40 hours anyway, it’s “whatever it takes.” That being said, with influencers like Huffington working to educate companies on the detriments of overwork, there’s hope.

There’s nothing wrong with working hard – it’s to be admired and valued. But don’t work long hours only for the sake of it. The companies that are getting it right realise that face time isn’t everything.

The results you deliver, the reputation you hold and the relationships you build should always outweigh the hours of your workweek. As an entrepreneur, you can take advantage of this and you can evangelise this approach to others. Work smarter, not harder, and you’ll be better for it.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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