By Dan Coughlin
Your success will largely be determined by your ability to put as much of your energy as you can toward improving your desired outcomes in your personal and professional lives.
If you agree with that statement, then it’s essential to sacrifice doing things that waste your energy. In this article I’m going to explain 10 of these sacrifices.
SACRIFICE #1: Sacrifice taking things personally and being defensive, paranoid, self-centered, and egotistical.
“My boss texts me 15 times every day. What did I do wrong to deserve this?”
“My boss never communicates with me. Three weeks have gone by and I haven’t heard a word from her. What did I do wrong to deserve this?”
We waste a ton of time taking things personally. We make it all about ourselves when someone does or does not talk to us or call us or point out positives with no negatives or negatives with no positives. We make it all about us.
Here’s the reality. It’s not about you and it’s not about me. The other person is the way he or she is. If the person talks a lot or compliments a lot or complains a lot or is always early or always late, it’s not about you and it’s not about me. It’s just the way that person is. If we can just get over ourselves and not make everything that other people do about us, then we can save a ton of energy by not taking everything so personally. If we just accept other people for who they are, then we can put our energy toward being more effective and productive.
Not taking things personally means we have to accept that the world doesn’t revolve around us. That’s hard to do. It’s hard not to be defensive and paranoid because this means that other people are not constantly thinking about us. That’s hard on the ego to accept, but by accepting it we get to save the huge amount of time and energy that we waste worrying about what other people think about us. Just accept that they really aren’t thinking about us. They’re thinking about themselves. Just like we’re doing.
SACRIFICE #2: Sacrifice negatively judging other people and mentally or verbally criticizing them.
I’m not talking about giving an employee a performance review or having a monthly meeting with an employee to provide him or her with your feedback. That can be extremely helpful to the individual and in helping the organization to achieve its goals.
I’m talking about the huge amount of energy we waste negatively judging people and mentally and verbally criticizing them. Keep a track this week of how much time you spend negatively judging other people or criticizing them in your mind or in a conversation with other people. Sometimes I find it to be a devastating amount of time that I waste doing this. I can have a full-blown 20 minute conversation in my head about all the “faults” another person has. What a waste of my energy.
Is it my job or my role in life to judge other people?
Has anything effective or productive been accomplished by my reviewing all the things this other person does “wrong” in my opinion?
Every time I stop to answer those two questions, I arrive at the same answers: no and no.
If we just accept ourselves as we are and accept other people as they are, we can lasso that wasted energy and apply it toward what we’re trying to improve or achieve that day.
SACRIFICE #3: Sacrifice trying to control other people by telling them what to do or what to say.
A long time ago it hit me that we can’t make another person do what he or she chooses not to do. It’s called human freedom. A lot of wars have been fought and a lot of lives have been lost in the pursuit of preserving human freedom, yet we still waste a ton of energy trying to tell people what to do, how to act, and what to say. It happens in business all the time. A person tells another person exactly what to do and what to say at an upcoming event. Here’s the deal. Each person will do and say exactly what he or she chooses to do or say. Trying to make a person do certain things or say certain things is going to come across as micromanaging and is not going to be effective.
Instead of trying to control people, I encourage you to talk with that person about what you each think is important in an employee or customer interaction and why you both feel that way. Ask the other person questions like, “How do you think you would feel if another person talked to you the way you just talked to that customer?” Rather than telling people what to do or what to say, try to get them to think differently. That’s a much more effective use of our energy than trying to control what people do or say.
SACRIFICE #4: Sacrifice being impatient.
Working with a real sense of urgency toward improving a desired outcome can be a really, really good thing. That’s how great achievements occur.
Wasting energy by being consumed with impatience over day-to-day occurrences can be very, very dangerous. Eating up your energy by being frustrated while standing in line at the grocery store because the line isn’t moving fast enough for you or the email response from your co-worker isn’t arriving soon enough to suit your tastes can actually keep you from being more successful. The energy you burned up by being impatient could be saved and applied when you really need it later in the day.
Relax, breathe in, breathe out, slow down, conserve your energy, and then when you need it apply it as well as you can. A world-class sprinter only goes all out for a very few short bursts of energy each day. The rest of the time he or she is building up energy and storing it for when it’s needed. Don’t waste your energy by being impatient with the little things in life.
SACRIFICE #5: Sacrifice overreacting and swearing, sarcasm, and cynicism.
Drama in the workplace or at home is fun. It breaks up the monotony of the same old same old. It also wastes a ton of valuable energy.
Your teenage daughter says something with a tone and an attitude that you didn’t exactly appreciate after a long day at work, and so you overreact. You scream, you say a few swear words, you decide to get really sarcastic in your remarks, and you drop some really cynical remark on your daughter about teenagers these days.
Whoa Nellie. You’ve just expanded a ton of energy that you aren’t going to get back anytime soon. You feel good about it and you definitely got your feelings across to your daughter, but was it a good use of your energy or a wasted use of your energy? (The reason I can spell that one out in such detail is because I have two teenagers in my house, and oh the energy I’ve wasted over the years in overreacting. My son, Ben, has a title for me: Mr. Over Reactor. And the part that really makes me mad, which wastes more of my energy, is that I know he’s right.)
Overreacting at work goes the same way. We take something that was clearly wrong and obviously irritable and we turn it into WWIII with bodies lying all over the place. Why? Why do we overreact so dramatically that the overreaction actually wastes more energy than the original event?
Stay calm. Save your energy for a productive use, and then apply it in a way that really helps.
SACRIFICE #6: Sacrifice negative eating.
I’ll keep this one short. Make a list of the kinds of food and drinks that you feel actually drain your energy throughout the day. I’ll just throw three ideas out there: sugar, grease, and dough. When I load up on those, I’m dragging at the midpoint of the day. If I do it for a week, I’m really, really tired. Try fruits, vegetables, and water for three straight days. Wow, what a difference it makes in terms of energy to get stuff done.
SACRIFICE #7: Sacrifice negative images.
I have to admit I don’t know local news or current events as well as I should. A big part of that is because I don’t watch the local or national news stations at all. I gave up on that years ago when I found that almost every news show began with some horrific killing done in the most inhumane and disgusting way imaginable.
I buy into the idea of “GIGO” and “BIBO.” Good things in, good things out. Bad things in, bad things out. The breaking point for me was about 15 years ago when somehow the local “news” station decided that telling a story about a deranged person doing something remarkably disgusting and despicable was newsworthy. Even though I was going to include the story in this article, I concluded that I didn’t want to put that vile of a thought in your mind. I decided for myself years ago that the “news” stations were really “ratings” stations and that they were highlighting what I didn’t want to focus on.
Choose what you want to put into your mind. I just encourage you to choose it carefully. I happen to believe that there is something to be said for the idea that people act out on what they think about all day long. Earl Nightingale had this great quote, “You become what you think about.” If we’re not careful, the images we focus on can lead to actions that waste a ton of our energy.
SACRIFICE #8: Sacrifice negative thoughts about the past.
What happened five years ago or longer that you are still ticked off about? Even if it happened a week ago, if you’re still carrying anger or frustration toward another person or yourself, then let it go. If you have to do something to rectify the situation, then do what you think needs to be done. But just hanging on to the negative emotion because you feel you should or because you have for a long time is not going to help you get more useful energy in your life. It’s actually eating up energy in your life that you need to be as effective as you can be.
SACRIFICE #9: Sacrifice negative thoughts about the future.
Instead of thinking about all the things that can go wrong in the future, focus on exactly the way you want things to turn out in every part of your life. Both approaches take up the same amount of energy, but I would argue that the latter is a much more useful way to deploy your energy than the former. Remember: you become what you think about. You become to a large degree what you focus on.
SACRIFICE #10: Sacrifice negative thoughts about money and unnecessary spending.
For 10 years I was a high school math teacher. Since 1998 I’ve worked full-time with business executives as a management consultant. Here’s the funny thing. Regardless of how much money people make, they still spend a lot of time worrying about and focusing on money. Whether they have a lot or a little, they use up a lot of their energy thinking about money.
Here’s a crazy thought: stop worrying about money.
I realize you might be thinking, “If I stop worrying about money, what am I going to do all day?” Here’s the thing. Worrying about money and obsessing over it isn’t going to make you more money. Instead put your energy toward creating value that can lead to you making more money. Here’s one more thought. Don’t spend money unnecessarily. Don’t run out and buy something the second you think of it. Focus on saving money. Money is a form of energy. When you have it and you really decide to invest in something, then invest in it. Just like with my earlier comments, focus on preserving your energy (money) so that you can then put it toward what you’re trying to improve or achieve in your personal life and in your work.
Be patient. Stay calm. Accept yourself as you are and accept other people as they are. Make your best contribution by preserving your energy and then pouring it out deliberately toward the impact you want to make in your personal and professional lives. This is a subtle thing, but I think it can make a huge impact.
Reprinting this Article
If you would like to republish this article in your organization’s publication or on-line publications, just send me an email at dan@thecoughlincompany with “Sacrifice Wasting Energy” in the subject line, and I will email it to you as a word document attachment.
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As a business keynote speaker, executive coach, and management consultant, Dan Coughlin teaches The Any Person Mindset, which is a practical management approach for improving individual, group, and organizational performance in a sustainable way. It is based on his belief that any person can make a significant difference in an organization, but no one is born with the traits necessary to make a significant difference. These are learned thinking traits. Visit his free Business Leadership Idea Centeratwww.thecoughlincompany.com.
Special note: Check out Dan’s new The Any Person Mindset Webinar Series. Session One is called “Moving from The Star Performers Mindset to The Any Person Mindset.” This webinar is a no-frills, very straightforward approach to explaining Dan’s core belief about business management, which is that the key to a great organization is developing each employee to deliver the value he or she is capable of delivering.
When you don’t feel in control of your time, everything in your business might seem as if it’s running together into one big blur. Examining the key compartments of your day is an easy way to regain control.
It is important that you don’t attempt to tackle all arenas of your business and your life on the same morning. Not only will you not finish, but the process itself will be be horrendous. If you are enthusiastic about the prospect of streamlining your activities, then you’ve got to think about paring down a little at a time. There is no other way. You’re already working too many hours and have a lot of responsibilities competing for your attention.
Here are some suggestions on how you can pare down a little at a time without having to break your stride:
- Anytime you’re waiting for someone in the business, at home, or in your car, use the extra couple minutes to get organized. If your children are at the age where you’re driving them around town, after only a few days you ought to have your car whipped into shape.
- When you’ve finished a big company project and you’re not in the mind-set to tackle some other major, intellectual pursuit at the moment, pare down your holdings as a form of transition. For example, if you recently finished a big report for a client, can you now delete previous iterations on your hard disk? Can you get rid of rough drafts and notes that are no longer applicable (notes you’ll never use again)? Can you update any logs and reporting forms? Are there any memos or communications to send as a result of the completed report?
There are always a variety of mini-tasks you can accomplish following the successful completion of some major project. Much of these minor tasks are of a paring down nature. If you develop the mind-set of taking care of these mini-tasks after the major task, then you’ll establish a clean slate before starting the next large project.
I know of entrepreneurs who, because of these mental clearings, perpetually feel in control of their time – much more than their peers who handle the same level of responsibilities.
If your plans turn awry because it’s raining, the bridge is out, or the plane has been delayed for an hour and ten minutes, pare down. Despite the availability of having all manner of electronic gadgetry at one’s seat, I know high-powered executives who will have none of it. Their seats in airplanes, they tell me, are some of the few sanctuaries they have. It’s where they get to open their briefcases and go through it from A to Z, merging and purging, updating lists, getting rid of what is no longer necessary, and getting that little office in the air back into condition.
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Jeff Davidson, “The Work-Life Balance Expert®,” is the world’s leading personal brand in terms of speaking, writing, or reflecting upon work-life balance issues. He is the author of “Dial it Down, Live it Up,” “Simpler Living,” “Breathing Space,” “The 60 Second Self-Starter,” “The 60 Second Organizer,” “The 10 Minute Guide to Managing Your Time,” and “The 10 Minute Guide to Managing Stress,” as well as 24 iPhone apps in the “Work-Life Guide” series. His books have been published in 19 languages, and in aggregate 141 times. Jeff is an Advisory Board member for The Organized Executive, a monthly publication of the Columbia Books, Washington DC. He holds the registered trademark as “The Work-Life Balance Expert.” Jeff can be reached at www.BreathingSpace.com.
Throughout history, the invention of time-saving devices usually ends up creating more work for us. When the time required to complete one task is shortened by a new invention, another task springs up to fill the void. Nature – and small business owners’ schedules – abhor a vacuum.
However, this isn’t a hopeless situation. The key is to organize and concentrate your tasks so they can be completed efficiently. Fortunately, we have technology-based tools that can really help us out. Let me illustrate with some examples.
Social media can control you, or you can control social media. I suggest the second approach. If your business is making good use of social media, set aside a block of time to get it all done at once. If you go back and forth all day, just pecking away at it each time, your social media program will prove to be a huge time waster.
Apps bundle your tasks
Free TweetDeck lets you compose and schedule tweets as well as take other actions within Twitter. Hootsuite, also free, lets you easily compose and schedule posts to most of your social media accounts. Further, for a reasonable fee, TweetAdder can automate Twitter “thank you” messages and retweets, and make a variety of other tasks easier as well.
These apps allow you to concentrate your social media work into one solid block of your day. Many of them also allow you to take care of social media tasks in places where you might otherwise be unproductive. (Like waiting in line to get the new iPhone?) Now, there is one more thing you need to do to make sure you’re investing your time wisely: Be sure your efforts are truly focused.
Let me make two true statements: First: Business tasks deserve your complete attention. Second: You deserve some breaks throughout the workday. The tricky part is to work out the balance between these two truths and a system that allows you to fulfill each.
A real tomato
Consider a Pomodoro timer. The Pomodoro technique is basically 25 minutes of uninterrupted concentration on a task followed by a five-minute break. Every fourth Pomodoro period is followed by a 15-minute break. The name, by the way, is the Italian word for tomato, from the old, tomato-shaped kitchen timers.
The Pomodoro period is uninterrupted. If you get interrupted, you need to start over with the timer. The idea is to get your work flow maximized through unbroken focus. There are free and inexpensive web based timers as well as smartphone apps.
Let’s compare investing our money with investing our time. If you collect your loose change each day and then put it all into a savings account, you wouldn’t toss random slugs in with the quarters, would you? It’s the same with our time. Keep it pure and focused on important tasks. And when it’s time for a break, enjoy it.
Image: “Il pomodoro” by Original uploader was Erato at it.wikinews – Transferred from it.wikinews; transferred to Commons by User:Fale using CommonsHelper. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons .
It’s especially true for the small business owner. Pile family responsibilities on top of work duties and it makes for a seemingly impossible situation. However, if you start hacking away at this problem from two angles, you can dramatically improve your productivity and take control of your life.
First, let’s lighten the load by delegating. You can delegate both professional and personal responsibilities. If you need to hire someone to run errands or clean around the house, do it. Not only does it give you more time, more importantly it frees you of the mental burden. It’s like getting rid of those weights some of us walkers occasionally use to increase the intensity of our workouts.
This principle applies to business as well. There are probably tasks that you’re still doing that should be handed off to someone else. Please, jettison the work that you aren’t so good at and concentrate on the things you do well.
Now that we’ve got you out from under some burdens, let’s get organized and look at the psychology of poor productivity.
Get started. The first step is always the most difficult and we come up with 1,001 ways to avoid taking it. Wean yourself from social media. Don’t check your email every 15 minutes. I don’t know what it is for you, but there’s a list of little things you allow to stand between yourself and the important stuff.
Make a to-do list every day. You may want to do this the evening before. Get the important jobs completed first. Success feeds on itself. Starting the day out with a win will propel you into the next item on your list. Make this a habit. Humans only have so much “will power” at any given time. You shouldn’t be expending it on the tasks you need to complete to keep your business moving forward.
Create manageable tasks. Break up big projects into smaller tasks. Dawdling 10 minutes on social media looks too inviting when we’re staring at a huge job that needs to get done. This process will also help you understand what needs to be accomplished to meet the goals of your small business.
Work intensely, then take a break. Studies and personal testimonies indicate that the most productive people spend a short(er) intense time working on one thing and follow it with a 10-20 minute break. I’ve seen arguments for this short period of focused work lasting about 30, 50 or 90 minutes. Pick a number that works for you, but follow it up with a real period of mental rest.
Don’t multitask. Honestly people, multi-taskers are less productive. They’re like a driver stuck in the mud who continues to jam the accelerator pedal to the floor. The tires spin and mud flies, but the vehicle isn’t moving forward. Don’t mistake activity for accomplishment.
Make these your habits. Here’s where you put your will power for a few weeks: making these points your work day habits. It shouldn’t require a big effort. When you see positive results, the taste of victory will fuel your desire to stay the course.
How about your personal approach to work and life? Have any tips that have helped you boost your productivity?
Many of us have been in uneasy situations where we suspect someone is playing “mind games” with us. But in truth, any wounds we suffer from mind games are probably self-inflicted and the “to-do” lists we keep are one of the biggest offenders. See if any of this sounds familiar:
You write your list with the best intentions, then reality hits. You start to ignore your list and eventually find yourself overcome with the pangs of guilt. That’s when you chuck the list and start winging it again, right?
You aren’t alone. Been there. Done that.
The million-dollar industry
There’s a cadre of brilliant business writers who have funded summer homes in The Hamptons and private jets through the sales of their time management and personal productivity books. I won’t do that here—as much as I’d like to—but I would like to give you a perspective and a few tips that should help you conquer your “to-do” list blues.
For the perspective, I want you to understand the forces that are at play that tend to make us fail with our “to-do” lists. Usually our lists have a couple of “big ticket items” that would make a significant difference in our businesses. Also on the lists are those smaller things that need to get done, but aren’t earth shaking.
There’s a natural tension between these items and they can cause us to freeze in place. We don’t want to “sweat the small stuff” when the big items are hanging over us, but we don’t have the time—or perhaps the resources—to effectively deal with the larger items on the to-do list.
If you’re torn between the value of the big items on your list and the value of getting something smaller accomplished right now, do the small item right now!
The trick to this is to refuse to fret at all about the items on your list that you are not getting to. Again: Don’t worry about what you can’t do or aren’t doing. It drains your mental energy. On the other hand, accomplishing something—however small it might be—gives you energy.
Here’s a corollary: Only put items on your to-do list that you know you can accomplish. If you have some great plans for which you currently lack the resources, keep them written down somewhere and refer to them occasionally, but don’t keep them under your nose 24/7, you’re just torturing yourself. You don’t need to play that mind game.
Tension. Anxiety. Pressure. Strain. No matter what word you choose to describe it, stress is a killer, literally and figuratively. We experience it in all aspects of our lives, both professionally and personally. It’s is completely unavoidable, no matter what your station in life may be. So often we spend time thinking of how perfect and stress-free our lives would be if we could only….be debt-free, find a soul-mate, be cancer-free, have the perfect house, get a better job, whatever. So not true. Stress will always be a part of life, so much so that we have a built-in, evolutionary and physiological reaction to it: fight or flight. As all of us try to balance business and family, we forget to find time not only for ourselves, but also for relishing simple pleasures. We could all benefit from a little “Carpe Diem” now and then. But in order to seize a bit of that day, you have to be able to manage your stress each day. For the New Year, I’m gifting all of us with tips on reducing and relieving stress, compliments of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.
Here are the facts: If you’re less stressed, you’ll be able to sleep better, will have a more positive outlook on life, and will be much more able to enjoy your daily interactions. To reduce stress, you have to work on minimizing the stressful situations in your life and to relax your mind and body. You don’t have to invest a lot of time or thought into stress relievers. Before you let your stress get out of control, try one of these tips from Mayo Clinic:
1. Get active. Virtually any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Even if you’re not an athlete or you’re out of shape, exercise is still a good stress reliever. Physical activity pumps up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being. Exercise also refocuses your mind on your body’s movements, improving your mood and helping the day’s irritations fade away. Do anything that gets you active.
2. Laugh more. A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but it can help you feel better, even if you have to “fake-it ‘til you make-it.” When you laugh, it not only lightens your mental load but also causes positive physical changes in your body. Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response. So read some jokes, tell some jokes, watch a comedy or hang out with funny friends.
3. Connect with others. When you’re stressed and irritable, your instinct may be to wrap yourself in a cocoon. Instead, reach out to family and friends and make social connections. Social contact is a good stress reliever because it offers distraction, provides support, and helps you tolerate life’s up and downs.
4. Assert yourself. If you’re like a lot of us, you might want to do it all, but you can’t. At least not without paying a price. Learning to say no or being willing to delegate can help you manage your to-do list and your stress. Saying yes may seem like an easy way to keep the peace, prevent conflicts and get the job done right. But it may actually cause you internal conflict because your needs and those of your family come second, which can lead to stress, anger, resentment and even the desire to exact revenge. Not at all calm and peaceful.
5. Get enough sleep. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep suffers. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. And the quality and amount of sleep you get affects your mood, energy level, concentration and overall functioning. Make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music, put clocks away, and stick to a consistent schedule.
6. Get musical or be creative. Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it provides a mental distraction, reduces muscle tension and decreases stress hormones. If music isn’t your thing, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy, anything that requires you to focus on what you’re doing rather than what you think you should be doing.
7. Seek counseling. Sometimes it’s necessary to call in the reinforcements, which when it comes to stress, is found in the form of therapy or counseling. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
Regardless of how you choose to tackle this pesky part of your life, take the time and effort to find out what works best for your particular situation. Your life may depend on it.
The holidays are such a wonderful time of year. Most everyone is in a festive, friendly mood. Yet despite all the fun and gaiety, it is also an extremely stressful time, particularly for women business owners.
It’s a proven fact, the majority of all domestic responsibilities fall on women throughout the year. We are the social planners, organizers, decorators, chefs, car service providers, community volunteers, care-givers and overall general managers of our homes and families. And all of this comes on top of our normal 60-hour work week.
Then the holidays come along, and everything kicks into warp speed. There are critical business concerns that must be wrapped up before the end of the year, while at the same time our personal life is demanding more of our attention. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like a hamster on a wheel — no matter how fast I run, I can’t seem to get ahead.
So I decided to reach out to successful women business to get some tips from them on how they manage the craziness during the holidays without going insane.
Sara Sutton Fell, owner of FlexJobs, says set a schedule for yourself. “As a business owner, wife and mother, it can be difficult to stick to a set schedule during the year, especially if your business is run from your home like mine is, because work and life are constantly colliding. But during the holidays, set aside business time and personal time, and try to stick with it,” she recommends.
Fell suggests using auto-response email messages and voicemail. Leave a cheerful holiday message explaining to your clients that you are away from the office for the holiday but will respond to them as soon as you’re back.
I loved the response Betsy Muller, owner of the Indigo Connection: Coaching Solutions for Prosperity, Health and Joyful Balance sent me. She says, “I am a former worn-out woman, business owner, wife, mom and self-care, “energy makeover” expert. The best advice I can give any woman is to let something go. Usually a good place to start is to stop trying to be perfect and just be.”
Unfortunately, I fall into the “everything needs to be perfect” category which does put extra pressure on me. Based on Betsy’s advice, I’m going to try to be a little more laid back. After all, who is really going to miss one more strand of garland I forgot to add to the tree.
Many of the women who responded to me, talked about the importance of getting exercise and taking care of yourself during the holidays. Whether it is a quick trip to the gym, yoga class or taking the dog for a brisk walk, you will feel better and re-energized.
And don’t forget about the importance of sharing time with people. “My body and my mood were clear indicators that I needed to take a break. Tight shoulders and a stressed mood tell me it’s time to relax and enjoy. So when there is a choice between computer time or a person, choose the person. I will stop what I am working on to talk to a friend or colleague no matter what. People are more important than things,” says Sharon Jacubecy, a certified Alexander technique Teacher, Poise Performance Coach and Choreographer.
Finally, Molly Gordon, owner of Shaboom, suggests taking the week between Christmas and New Years off. “Let clients and vendors know you won’t be in the office during that time. Use it to reflect on your business, plan for the coming year and recover from the holidays.”
However, you manage this holiday season, I hope it is a great one for you and your family. And here’s to a successful and prosper 2014 for all small businesses.
We could all use more of it these days, and who wouldn’t occasionally make a deal with the devil for a few more hours in the day? Time. It’s the small business owner’s most important commodity, yet it remains the most elusive. Especially when everyone needs do more with less, it’s vitally important to use the time you have wisely and efficiently.
Most of us know that having a schedule, and sticking to it works. But no matter how often we repeat that mantra, we can’t control the unexpected. As small business owners and entrepreneurs, we’ve taken the act of multi-tasking to a level rivaled only by a mom of quadruplets. But did you also know that something as simple as standing while on the telephone will help you get to the point of the call faster? Take a moment out of your busy schedule to peruse the following compilation of tips to improve productivity by using your time wisely.
1. Evaluate how you’re spending your time. Keep a diary of everything you do for three days to figure out exactly how you’re spending your time. Be honest, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly those “few minutes” add up to a large chunk of your day.
2. Prioritize. Prioritizing will make sure you spend your time and energy on those things that are most important to you and your business. By starting your day with the most important task, you will increase your productivity and get your day off to a good start.
3. Just Say No. Consider your goals and schedule before agreeing to take on additional work. It’s impossible to do everything. Remember, when you say yes to one thing you effectively say no to something else.
4. Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. A healthy body = a healthy mind. Improve your focus, concentration and energy level by taking care of yourself from the inside out.
5. Write tomorrow’s “to-do” list TODAY. By writing out a list for tomorrow before you leave the office at night, you will have an immediate head-start on your next day and be ready for your new priorities.
6. Create a schedule- and stick to it. For example, if a meeting is scheduled for an hour, do everything possible to keep it to an hour. If necessary, download apps on your smartphone or tablet to keep you on schedule. Sometimes a simple “reminder” tone, alarm, etc., can help you move along.
7. Manage your email. Do NOT let it manage you! Get out of the habit of automatically opening an email when it comes in, therefore avoiding distractions. Set aside a specific time (or times) to open and answer emails.
8. Keep Social Media activity under control. For most of us, social media is a part of our daily personal lives, and has also become essential to our businesses. To save time, you have to control the urge to peruse the latest posts, especially those unrelated to your business. If it’s necessary to your business success to spend large pieces of time on social media, create separate accounts for business and personal use. ONLY view those essential to your business during business hours.
What tips do you have to help other small business owners manage their time?
“Entrepreneurs complain they are barraged with timewasters. Find more time in each week by identifying and pledging to do two key activities each day to move forward your big quarterly objective.
Inch by inch, reclaiming hour after hour, you can become a Time Master.”
*Click on the infographic to view at full resolution.*
Patty DeDominic is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Catalyst at Maui Mastermind LLC, a community of successful entrepreneurs who help business owners take their businesses to the next level. The founder of PDQ CAREERS, the past President of Emeritus of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and the founder of the International Women’s Festivals, she brings over 30 years of business and non-profit expertise to the Maui Mastermind team.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Too much to do and too little time? I certainly do. The only way I keep my sanity is by practicing good time management skills. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” With limited resources, small business owners must spend their time wisely.
Throughout my career, I’ve been a huge fan of the “to-do” list. It helps me prioritize my day so I can stay on track and accomplish more. Now there’s an app for that. It’s called “Remember the Milk“, and PC World says the app reinvents the “to-do” list. The company’s founders created Remember The Milk so that you would no longer have to write your to-do lists on sticky notes, whiteboards, random scraps of paper, or the back of your hand. Over four million people currently use the app to stay organized.
If you’re guilty of juggling multiple calendars, then you may find “Daily Agenda” helpful. The app merges all your calendars into one location. Then at a glance it gives you the time of day for each event, a meeting timer which counts down the minutes until your next meeting and an upcoming list of meetings with an overview.
So safeguard your precious time by utilizing time management apps. As I always say, time is money.