Tag Archive | "good habits"

How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done

As co-founder of Hotwire.com and CEO of Zillow for the last seven years, 39-year-old Spencer Rascoff fits most people’s definition of success, reports Inc. As a father of three young children, Spencer is a busy guy at home and at work.

What’s the one thing that Spencer refuses to do on the weekend? Work–at least, in the traditional sense. Rascoff says:

“I never go into the office on weekends, but I do check email at night. My weekends are an important time to unplug from the day-to-day and get a chance to think more deeply about my company and my industry. Weekends are a great chance to reflect and be more introspective about bigger issues.”

new study from Stanford shows that Rascoff is on to something.

The study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more. That’s right, people who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.

Successful people know the importance of shifting gears on the weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating activities. Like Spencer, they use their weekends to create a better week ahead.

This is easier said than done, so here’s some help. The following list contains 10 things that successful people do to find balance on the weekend and to come into work at 110 percent on Monday morning.

1. They Disconnect

Disconnecting is the most important weekend strategy on this list, because if you can’t find a way to remove yourself electronically from your work Friday evening through Monday morning, then you’ve never really left work.

Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging. If taking the entire weekend off from handling work emails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times on Saturday and Sunday for checking emails and responding to voice mails. For example, check your messages on Saturday afternoon while your kids are getting a haircut and on Sunday evenings after dinner. Scheduling short blocks of time will alleviate stress without sacrificing availability.

2. They Minimize Chores

Chores have a funny habit of completely taking over your weekends. When this happens, you lose the opportunity to relax and reflect. What’s worse is that a lot of chores feel like work, and if you spend all weekend doing them, you just put in a seven-day workweek. To keep this from happening, you need to schedule your chores like you would anything else during the week, and if you don’t complete them during the allotted time, move on and finish them the following weekend.

3. They Reflect

Weekly reflection is a powerful tool for improvement. Use the weekend to contemplate the larger forces that are shaping your industry, your organization, and your job. Without the distractions of Monday to Friday busywork, you should be able to see things in a whole new light. Use this insight to alter your approach to the coming week, improving the efficiency and efficacy of your work.

4. They Exercise

No time to exercise during the week? You have 48 hours every weekend to make it happen. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a soothing neurotransmitter that reduces stress. Exercise is also a great way to come up with new ideas. Innovators and other successful people know that being outdoors often sparks creativity.

I know that a lot of my best ideas come to me while I’m surfing. While you’re out on the ocean, the combination of invigorating activity and beautiful scenery creates the perfect environment for an influx of creativity. Whether you’re running, cycling, or gardening, exercise leads to endorphin-fueled introspection. The key is to find a physical activity that does this for you and then to make it an important part of your weekend routine.

5. They Pursue a Passion

You might be surprised what happens when you pursue something you’re passionate about on weekends. Indulging your passions is a great way to escape stress and to open your mind to new ways of thinking. Things like playing music, reading, writing, painting, or even playing catch with your kids can help stimulate different modes of thought that can reap huge dividends over the coming week.

6. They Spend Quality Time With Family

Spending quality time with your family on the weekend is essential if you want to recharge and relax. Family time on the weekend is so important to Spencer Rascoff that he flies home for the weekend, no matter how far away he is, even if he has to be in the same city the following week. Weekdays are so hectic that the entire week can fly by with little quality family time. Don’t let this bleed into your weekends. Take your kids to the park, take your spouse to his or her favorite restaurant, and go visit your parents. You’ll be glad you did.

7. They Schedule Micro-Adventures

Buy tickets to a concert or play, or get reservations for that cool new hotel that just opened downtown. Instead of running on a treadmill, plan a hike. Try something you haven’t done before, or perhaps something you haven’t done in a long time. Studies show that anticipating something good to come is a significant part of what makes the activity pleasurable. Knowing that you have something interesting planned for Saturday will not only be fun come Saturday, it will significantly improve your mood throughout the week.

8. They Wake Up at the Same Time

It’s tempting to sleep in on the weekend to catch up on your sleep. Though it feels good temporarily, having an inconsistent wake-up time disturbs your circadian rhythm. Your body cycles through an elaborate series of sleep phases in order for you to wake up rested and refreshed. One of these phases involves preparing your mind to be awake and alert, which is why people often wake up just before their alarm clock goes off (the brain is trained and ready). When you sleep past your regular wake-up time on the weekend, you end up feeling groggy and tired. This isn’t just disruptive to your day off, it also makes you less productive on Monday, because your brain isn’t ready to wake up at your regular time. If you need to catch up on sleep, just go to bed earlier.

9. They Designate Mornings as Me Time

It can be difficult to get time to yourself on the weekends, especially if you have family. Finding a way to engage in an activity you’re passionate about first thing in the morning can pay massive dividends in happiness and cleanliness of mind. It’s also a great way to perfect your circadian rhythm by forcing yourself to wake up at the same time you do on weekdays. Your mind achieves peak performance two-to-four hours after you wake up, so get up early to do something physical, and then sit down and engage in something mental while your mind is at its peak.

10. They Prepare for the Upcoming Week

The weekend is a great time to spend a few moments planning your upcoming week. As little as 30 minutes of planning can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress. The week feels a lot more manageable when you go into it with a plan, because all you have to focus on is execution.

Bringing it All Together

What do you do to make your weekends great? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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You Are Three Weeks Away From Improvements

I want to share a technique you can use to change and improve anything in your life. If you are unhappy with your sales, your attitude, your skills, your work habits, your weight or anything else you can think of, you can change it in just three short weeks. Successful people in every walk of life have learned to use this technique to achieve positive changes in themselves and their careers.

Don’t we dry off after a shower the same way, shave in the same routine, comb our hair the same way, brush our teeth the same way, get dressed the same way, eat the same meal for breakfast and drive to work the same route each time – simply because that’s what we always do it? And aren’t our lives just a summary of all the habits we’ve picked up through the years?

Some habits aren’t good for us though, like eating a pound of bacon for breakfast, or adding a little coffee to our cup of sugar, or just waiting around for something to happen in sales. All of us do things we know we shouldn’t do, and all of us wish we did some things better. Because that’s true, let’s look at how we develop habits, and then talk about how to use the same techniques to develop more productive habits that will be to our benefit.

Developing Habits
The dictionary says a habit is a pattern of action that has become so automatic that it’s difficult to break. I hope you noticed the dictionary said a habit is difficult to break. It didn’t say it was impossible to break.

Everything we do repeatedly will normally become a habit. Greeting people again and again with, “Can I help you?” pre-qualifying them before we build value, not really listening, trying to close based on price, not getting names and numbers before people leave so we can follow up – these are just some of the things sales people do that can become habits that cost sales every month.

In sales, prospecting is a good habit; waiting for an “up” is a bad habit. Giving a great presentation to every prospect is a good habit; pre-qualifying prospects first is a bad habit. My first five years as an eight-car guy, almost every habit I had developed was a ‘cost me sales’ habit.

Psychologists tell us that it takes about 21–28 days of repetitive action to create a habit. Get up at 5:45 in the morning for about 3 weeks straight, and you can just about throw the alarm clock out the window. You’ll have created a habit and your mind and your body will make the adjustments to keep it going – as long as you cooperate and get out of bed once you wake up at 5:45.

Problem: Good habits are challenged daily. Why? Because in sales, (and life) bad habits are usually easier than good habits (and bad foods taste better) so we tend to fall back to our old bad habits, especially when we’re under stress.

Example: It’s the last day of the month and you need two units to hit your next bonus level. You’ve been doing things right, staying off price, following the basics, but now under pressure, you fall back to rushing, pre-qualifying, skipping steps and trying to close on price, and in real life you cost yourself even more sales.

Breaking A Habit
The easiest way to break a habit is to replace it with a new one. You see ex-smokers chewing gum instead of smoking, and dieters switching to bottled water instead of 90-ounce sodas. Want to develop better sales habits? Start by making a list of the things you’re doing now that you know you could be doing better. Then set a clear goal.

Tired of hearing, “Just looking?” Then switch to, “Welcome to ABC Motors, I’m __ and you’re __?” Three weeks later, that will become your regular greeting. Not asking enough closing questions? 80% of the sales in our business are closed after the 5th try, so carry at least five pennies in your right pocket and move one at a time to your left pocket each time you ask a closing question. Move more pennies to make more sales. Do this for 30 days and you’ll develop the habit of closing five times or more with every prospect.

Tracking is critical to changing your habits. Most salespeople don’t know how many times they ask for the sale or how many prospects they really talk to. They don’t know how many calls and Internet leads they get, or demos and write ups they do. In fact, most salespeople can’t even tell you how many units they currently sell or how much money they currently earn – they can guess, because they don’t take the one minute each day it takes to track everything they do and keep up with their rolling 90-day averages.

So the first critical habit to develop is tracking. It makes you aware of everything you’re actually doing in sales. Track every opportunity, every activity and every result so you know what selling skills and habits you need to develop or improve.

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How to Tap the Power of ‘Thank You’

There may be only one day a year devoted to giving thanks. But expressing thanks regularly — year round — and doing it well is one of the most profitable business strategies you can have.

Study after study reveals that when you say “Thank you” to your customers, they both spend more money and tell their friends about the exceptional service and products you deliver, increasing your profits. Volumes chronicle how employee productivity zooms when appreciation is expressed, raising your margins. Vendors go the extra mile to extend credit and deliver “just in time” when they hear gratitude regularly, not just in November, and keep your cash flowing.

Giving thanks works in business. But you’re already doing more with less and the last thing you want is another item on your to-do list. So what are the most effective and efficient ways for you to express gratitude to these important players in your business’ success?

Here are some tips you can use to develop the profitable habit of saying “Thank you” to your customers, employees, and vendors not just in November, but year-round:

  • Be specific in your thanks. It’s one thing to say, “I appreciate what you did today. Thanks a lot.” That’s a soap-bubble comment. Pretty while it lasts, but gone in seconds. It’s general and vague. When you thank them for something specific, that’s Velcro. That’s a thanks they remember because it sticks. You hook your gratitude to something the employee did. For instance, an employee just handled a difficult phone call with a customer really well. Thank them for that specific activity.
  • Appreciate the process. Target your appreciation on what the employee or vendor did. Let’s go back to the worker who took the phone call. Avoid telling the employee, “Thanks for helping me keep that customer.” That’s just an outcome that benefits you. Say, “I like how you hung in there when that customer was being difficult. You were really patient and respectful.” The same type of strategy goes for vendors. Give thanks for doing something that was an extra-mile effort for them, recognizing the above-and-beyond work.
  • It’s about them, not you. Showing that you know something about them, and that you’re able to place yourself in their shoes, is incredibly valuable. Connect your gift-giving with life beyond the business walls. If a vendor became a grandpa, give him a copy of “Goodnight, Moon” to read to the little one. If an employee’s mother died of breast cancer this year, make an end-of -the-year donation to Race for the Cure in her name. Such intimacy breaks the relationship ice in a transformational, not just transactional, direction which is the game-changing pathway to greater profits.
  • Go old school with your thanks. In this pixelated world of emails and texts, Facebook and Twitter, the simple and quick act of writing a handwritten expression of gratitude can go a long way. There’s something special today about a handwritten note. I keep a stack of cards and envelopes with me to write thank you notes on a flight when returning from a workshop or coaching session. It takes about three minutes per card. You create return business when you take pen in hand and write, “Thank you,” to your customers. Just say, “I know you could do business with others, but you chose us. Thank you! We treasure our relationship.”

Implement these tips, and your business will likely say “Thank you” back to you as you increase your profits year-round.

This article was written by Joey Faucette and published in Entrepreneur magazine.

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