Tag Archive | "time management"

A Workaholic’s Guide to Not Getting Burned Out

If you are a workaholic, committed to work too much or just spend your time between work and office while doing nothing else during the week, then, chances are that you may start to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and even depressed, reports Small Business Trends. Below you can find some hints for motivating yourself and avoid feeling burned out.

  • Sleep Well: A good night sleep is a key element for waking up fresh the following day. On average people need 8 hours of sleep. Therefore, if you sleep less than 8 hours the night before, it is very likely that you will feel less energetic and as a result, it will be more difficult for you to concentrate on your work.
  • Learn to Say No: You cannot keep up with every task and project. You have to set your boundaries and learn to say no to meaningless tasks for your career. Every promise you made adds another work on your plate and divides your energy. When you divide your energy between many tasks, you start to lose your efficiency and hence, you under deliver.
  • Exercise: Regular exercising reduces stress and decreases tension. Also, it boosts your mood and makes you happier. Thus, it prevents depression. Exercising after work or during lunch hour will help you clear your mind, relax and recharge your brain. Therefore, you can become more productive and your performance increases.
  • Have a Hobby: Having a hobby outside of work makes you happier as well as lets you use different skillsets. It also helps you meet new people who share a common interest with you. Therefore, you can at least talk about something other than work and take a break.
  • Ask for Help: When you are stressed or feel burned out, ask for help. You don’t need to get embarrassed for asking help from your coworkers. Probably, you will reach a solution or finish off your task much faster with two or more people compared to you working alone. Don’t forget that nobody can do everything alone and that is why generally people work in teams.
  • Use Your Vacation Days: Some people like to save up their vacation days and rarely use them. However, the goal of a vacation day is to give you some time during the year to relax, have fun and spend more time with your family and friends. Therefore, don’t be one of those people and use your vacation days. Preferably, change your location and go to another city or even another country to do your vacation. I am sure you will feel much happier and energetic when you get back to work.

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15 Ways to Get Organized

One of the things that I have personally discovered about the most successful agents is their ability to handle a variety of daily challenges, tasks, problems, issues and responsibilities, all at the same time, and still come back for more tomorrow.

This would not be possible if they lacked personal organizational skills!

I don’t wish to confuse anyone, but please keep in mind that I am not talking about time management here but personal management. What you can do in a framework of passing time is just manage all the “stuff” — decisions, problems, resources, customers, employment, successes, failures, risks, paperwork and reporting — as well as all the activities and matching issues in your personal life.

I will take this opportunity to list my Top 15 suggestions to help you improve your personal organization:

  1. Start with a written list of what you want to accomplish for a given time period.
  2. Go back through and prioritize the tasks on the list you made.
  3. Stay focused on your plan by completing each task according to its priority.
  4. Eliminate all clutter in your normal daily routines — if you have not referenced it in the last 10 days to obtain your objectives, why keep it around?
  5. Do not pursue anything on the list that you are not truly passionate about completing.
  6. Get up earlier and go to bed earlier.
  7. Organize your personal workspace — be it your desk or your vehicle — so you can be more productive.
  8. You must learn to say “No” much more often.
  9. If you catch yourself procrastinating on any task on your list, ask yourself why.
  10. Consider enlisting a mentor (or two, or three) to help you prioritize and complete tasks.
  11. When you say “Yes,” mean it.
  12. Respect and value your quality free time away from the job or assignment. Play when it is time to play and work when it is time to work, but do not mix the two.
  13. Have fun and enjoy life as well as this crazy profession you have chosen.
  14. Learn to make the client a friend. Prioritize relationships over transactions.
  15. Use all the available technology at your fingertips today as a tool, not as a crutch.

I realize No. 15 might be challenging for some. It has become much too easy to rely on technology as a sales tool to contact and reach out to new clients, maintain current and past clients, handle your sales and service issues and handle many routine daily functions. But at what cost?

In my personal opinion, business relationships, especially in our industry, are all about the basic concept of dealing one-on-one and face-to-face with people! Our clients want and need, as well as expect, that personal contact.

How often do you shoot over an email or text message instead of dialing that cell or office number and speaking to a client or friend personally?

Please understand that I am not against technology. I do believe it lets us get more done daily and is definitely faster, and I am amazed at the endless capabilities the future holds. But nothing can replace the “warm-and-fuzzies” that are created with a great smile, a firm handshake and a true sincerity to be helpful to the client — in person.

Neither the hottest new iPhone, the fastest computer nor the award-winning website can convince a client that you really do care about their success. Go ahead and label me “old school” or, better yet, “technologically challenged,” but humor me and try the following for the next 30 days and then monitor yourself:

  • Personally call one prospective client every day instead of shooting them an email.
  • Personally call one previous customer every day — not to sell them anything, but just to say “Hi” and ask how the world is treating them.
  • Personally call a relative or a close friend, just to tell them that you were thinking about them and extend warm wishes.
  • Finally, do not always assume that every client you are dealing with is as technologically advanced as you are.

Better personal organization will directly relate to improved effectiveness and increased productivity. Improved effectiveness as well as increased productivity directly relates to a more positive attitude. Positive attitude directly relates to a higher and more rewarding quality of life!

And after all, isn’t that the No. 1 priority on your written list of daily tasks to be accomplished?

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4 Ways to Balance Running Your Business With Building Your Culture

As a long-time entrepreneur, I’ve always set my autopilot mode on growing the business. Startups especially are filled with the stresses that go along with a new business — and understandably so, as determination and tenacity usually mean the difference between succeeding and failing.

But as the number of staff grows from 10 to 100, the way we operate as entrepreneurs starts to change. While driving the business forward will always be a priority, we begin to see the importance of company culture. People want to work for a successful business, but they’ll ultimately stay because of the workplace environment. Shifting gears from business owner to culture nurturer might not come naturally and can be challenging.

Nurturing your culture takes a bit more effort than just having a beer truck roll into the parking lot on Friday afternoon, reports Entrepreneur. This effort demands a constant drumbeat and continuity. At CoreDial, we shaped our business culture around entrepreneurship, innovation, accountability and candidness, and to achieve those goals, I had to learn that there is no easy approach to fostering a company culture. It takes time. But if done right, it can be incredibly rewarding.

For those growing a business, here are four key lessons I learned about how to achieve a balance between running a business and building a company culture.

1Learn to play games at work.

Accepting that the office is a place for more than just hard work was difficult. The best example comes from when we moved to a bigger office, which included a game room. As a team, we wanted to create an environment where employees enjoyed coming to work and were challenged to bring their A game every day, but could still appreciate fun perks without feeling a sense of entitlement.

I myself wanted to some informal space where employees could recharge their engines, catch up with fellow employees, relax and just get to know one other better. The goal was to create a friendly environment, but I had to ask myself, “Will team members take advantage of the situation, or will this ultimately help workplace productivity?” And I honestly wasn’t sure of the answer.

For example, I saw employees playing when there was lots of work to be done. And I admit that I found it hard at first to strike a balance, but our “games” goal turned out to be a great success. Letting the team know it was okay to blow off steam or take a breath created more team bonding and camaraderie, which went a long way to creating a friendlier and more creative environment.

And that in turn ultimately increased overall productivity for our business. I first had to see the bigger picture of how to make a larger team happy outside of their daily tasks.

2. Learn to host meetings that matter.

No one likes meetings, and making meetings productive can be a challenge. As entrepreneurs, we want our employees to communicate, collaborate and share their thoughts and ideas openly. However we also want to keep meetings focused, and ensure we are efficient and effective with our time.

At CoreDial, I’ve found that adopting the Agile process, with stand-upScrum meetings, works very well for the software and engineering teams. The Scrum meeting style forces attendees to stand up, share what they did yesterday and what they’ll do today and discuss any issues or challenges they face in their work. Standing up is important. I found that it helps teams get to the point and get moving.

For other departments, meeting efficiency comes down to basic time and meeting management. Get there on time, have an agenda, include the right key stakeholders, and get to the point. We promote a culture of candidness, which encourages people to speak freely. The key is to remind people that as long as they are professional and respectful, anyone should be able to say anything without fear of speaking out of turn.

We quash politics whenever we see or hear signs of it. Having a politics-free environment is empowering for every team member, but to achieve this goal does take the leadership team reminding staffers of the fact that they can and should speak up.

3. Learn to listen from the bottom up.

When the business is only 10 people, it is easy to know and stay in touch with everyone. As the business grows, however, it gets harder and harder to be in front of everyone, everyday. The challenge is to stay connected with employees across the business, and to listen to their needs. To accomplish this has entailed looking at how we hire new people and what kind of support we can put in place.

While, in the past, we focused on bringing top talent into the business — people who could do their jobs well — we now look for people that can also nurture young talent and shape a positive environment for them. Mentoring is a really important tool for business culture. It goes beyond just training each employee.

Mentoring can be a tool for listening and developing the business in a way that meets the needs of existing staff, as well as those of millennials, who are new to the working environment and have a variety of different experiences and expectations. It is important to have trusted advisors and mentors, but you also need a mechanism for listening from the bottom up.

A positive corporate culture isn’t just about keeping great workers, it’s also about developing them and providing them with opportunities for continued professional growth.

4. Learn to practice your culture everyday.

A business takes small steps that grow in importance as it adds employees. Most companies start out with an entrepreneurial spirit at its core, and that is critical to building an awesome company, with a compelling product or service.

But if your business experiences rapid growth, sometimes that entrepreneurial spirit can fizzle out. It takes an ongoing commitment from all levels of leadership and a bit of hard work to make sure that entrepreneurship becomes part of how all employees operate. It can get lost when only one-off events occur. The key is consistency.

I’ve learned that success in building a business culture means regularly meeting with employees at all levels, making the effort to organize activities, communicating openly and recognizing contributions on a monthly basis. We have a committee dedicated to this goal, and we are all challenged to contribute.

The payoff is new ideas, happier employees and better products and services for our customers. And that’s worth the effort even if it isn’t easy.

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7 Steps for Successfully Running Your Day as an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs usually keep a densely packed schedule to try to fit as much work as possible into their waking hours, reports Entrepreneur. There’s always something else to be done and more you’d like to achieve, so how do you keep your day running efficiently without being overrun by the demands on your time?

There are some tricks I’ve learned over my entrepreneurial journey that have served me well in running my day successfully. If you commit to practicing these steps daily, you’ll get better at keeping them over time.

Here are seven steps I’ve learned for effectively running your day as an entrepreneur.

1. Start your day the night before.

The night before is really when your new day begins. I’ve found over the years that by approaching bedtime with a routine I can effectively start the next morning with all systems go.

Begin by ensuring you know what’s on the calendar for the following day. Go over appointments, calls and any other important deadlines in the day so you have an awareness of what’s on the agenda. Next, get anything you need in the morning set aside and ready at night. For example, if you bring lunch, have it made and ready to grab, set your gym bag, etc.

Finally, set yourself up for good sleep. Turn off all electronics that could beep, buzz or light up during the night and disrupt your sleep.

2. Move first thing.

Getting out of bed and making your body move is a great way to get the blood flowing and the brain synapses connecting again. If you aren’t in the habit of moving first thing when you get up, this may feel a little strange at first, but trust me, it works.

Even if you aren’t a morning person, grab your gym bag and hit the gym or put on your shoes and walk your dog for 30 minutes. Fresh air and movement start your body and your brain off right for the day and you’ll have more energy and a clearer head when you’re done.

3. Tame your brain.

Meditation or a mindfulness practice is an essential workout for your head. It only takes 10 to 20 minutes in the morning to practice and can really help you manage your day, and your life, effectively.

Meditation has been proven in study after study to help you deal better with stress and improve the adaptability of your mind. Work your head out every morning with some kind of mind-strengthening exercise. Try the Headspace app for a free introduction to what mindfulness and meditation can do for you.

4. Get help with staying organized.

If you aren’t an organized or punctual person, then get the help you need to become one. This can be with an organization app such asTrelloWorkFlowy or Evernote, or by hiring someone part time to assist you with task, time and calendar management. If you want to have efficient days then you need to be organized.

5. Remember to eat.

Your body and brain need fuel. Don’t forget that food is an important part of the day’s routine. This sounds simple but so many times entrepreneurs run themselves into the ground, skipping meals and forgetting to eat, only to grab the quickest (and often unhealthiest) thing they can. Don’t fall victim to this trap.

Snack frequently and remember to eat the right kind of healthy, fuel-providing food you need to stay energized all day. If you struggle, there are snack-delivery options such as Nature Box or home-delivery healthy-meal-prep options such as Blue Apron where literally everything you need for dinner is delivered to your door.

6. Batch your time.

Time batching is an efficient way to get the critical uninterrupted productivity time you need. Ensure that there’s at least one hour, preferably two, of batched time for you to problem-solve, think, brainstorm and otherwise handle the work you need to do without being disturbed. It’s a highly efficient way to get a lot done in small bursts.

7. Disconnect from work.

Last, but not least, when you leave work in the evening, disconnect from work. This may not be as crucial if you’re still young and single, but it becomes a crucial practice when you have a partner or a family. Your time outside of work greatly contributes to your time at work, so give your significant other and family the focus and attention they need and leave the work at the office.

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These 5 Mistakes Make Meetings a Huge Time Waste

Meetings can be some of the most rewarding, collaborative parts of your workday, reports Entrepreneur. They can also be some of the biggest wastes of time. As an entrepreneur, you’ll be deciding when to have meetings (and you’ll be directing them), so it’s on you to make sure each meeting is as smooth and productive as possible. Considering that one bad meeting could waste dozens of hours in cumulative time, you might be tempted to throw meetings out altogether, but don’t forget that meetings can be valuable opportunities to learn, brainstorm, solve problems, and reconnect as a group.

The key is to avoid these five major meeting mistakes, which prevent a meeting from achieving its potential as a collaborative unifier:

1. Neglecting the agenda.

The agenda is the most important part of the meeting, as it states the purpose of the meeting and dictates a general direction for its course. The meeting may head in some new directions based on the contributions of its participants, but the agenda provides an underlined goal for the entire event.

For example, if your meeting is to decide on a new logo for your brand, the agenda would exist to make sure the meeting stays more or less on topic and fixed on completing that goal. It also helps other members of the group arrive prepared and ready to participate. Going into a mystery meeting means fewer people will arrive with meaningful insights or contributions.

2. Inviting the wrong people.

Some bosses have a habit of inviting everyone they can think of to a meeting. This is enabled by technology; on most email clients, you can easily scroll down your list of contacts and invite new contacts with just a click. Before you know it, you have 15 people attending a meeting that could have done fine with just eight. It may not seem like a big deal to you, since it doesn’t take much time, but each person you add multiplies the total amount of time your meeting occupies. If you invite someone who doesn’t need to be present, you’ll add zero value to the meeting but increase its cost to the company. Instead, only invite parties who can positively add to the conversation.

3. Tolerating tangents.

As I mentioned before, it’s okay to veer slightly off course if it’s in the interest of achieving your meeting goal, but going on tangents is a bad idea. For example, when discussing the new company logo, one participant might mention a possible new marketing strategy, which can launch into a separate conversation that only a fraction of the attendees can participate in. This wastes time for the other participants, delays the achievement of the original meeting goal, and derails the original conversation. Whenever this happens, acknowledge it, earmark the topic as one that requires future exploration, and return to the agenda at hand. It’s your job as the meeting organizer to keep things on track.

4. Allowing lopsided participation.

Participation in meetings, assuming every participant is meant to be there, should be relatively equal. If a participant doesn’t bring anything to the meeting, his/her participation is a waste. Anything he/she learned from the experience could have been sent in a more digestible form. If a participant takes over the meeting by talking constantly, similarly his/her contributions could have been reduced to a more digestible form.

Conversation and balanced exchanges are at the heart of a productive meeting. To maintain this balance, serve as a moderator; choose the right people to include from the get-go, then make adjustments during the meeting to ensure everyone participates equally, such as calling people out when they contribute too much or not enough.

5. Failing to summarize action items post-meeting.

A successful meeting concludes with some meaningful new discovery, new action items or a final decision made. These findings should be effectively and concisely summarized at the end of the meeting, and sent to everyone who didn’t participate but is affected by the decision.

Summarizing action items is important. If you can, create a detailed, name-based list that recaps exactly who is responsible for what as a result of the meeting. This keeps everyone on track and prevents any miscommunication that could have occurred.

Avoid these five big mistakes and your meeting will be in good shape. As you have more meetings, pay careful attention to who participates, what conditions lead to more participation, and generally how much value you get out of each meeting compared to the cumulative time you’ve invested in them. Stay as concise and limited as possible, improve your selection and organization process with each iteration, and before long, you’ll have a perfect meeting rhythm to use in your business moving forward.

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10 Tips to Start a Small Business from Nothing

Hiscox, the small business insurer, recently released a new digital docu-series, Courageous Leaders, in partnership with Vox Media.

The series features video interviews with successful entrepreneurs who provide insight into how they found the courage to succeed in business.

The series features entrepreneurs like Foursquare’s Co-founder/CEO Dennis Crowley, Thrillist Co-founder/CEO Ben Lerer and Interior Designer/TV personality Ross Cassidy.

A common denominator of many of these entrepreneurs was that they started their small business, quite literally, from nothing but a dream. Hunter Hoffmann, head of communications for Hiscox, recently spoke with Small Business Trends to outline tips on how to start a small business with limited resources, reports Small Business Trends.

Dont Quit Your Day Job … Yet

One way to start a small business and get it off the ground while minimizing financial risks is to keep your day job until your business is large and steady enough.

While there’s certainly a romance to the story of the daring entrepreneur who goes it alone, there’s also much to be said for continuing to receive a paycheck, especially if you are married and have children. This means you will be burning the candle at both ends, but it can be done with good time management.

For example, if you work at the office from 9 to 5, you will need to block out time each day. Maybe 8-10 p.m. every night is the best time for you. Or, if you are a morning person, getting up at dawn and working for a few years is the way to go. It is all about managing time and keeping your stress level low.

Spend Less

Find ways to cut costs wherever you can. Many small business founders mix their fledgling business effort into their daily life, so they often seek to cut corners in terms of both household and business expenses. But a lot of entrepreneurs save a lot of money using new online DIY solutions, such as Wix.com, as well as by using sites such as Crowdsource and Elance to find supplementary talent you can virtually hire at competitive rates.

One way to help you determine where you should find outsourced support is by following this maxim: Focus on doing what you know how to do and let others handle the other stuff.

Also, don’t forget to attend the right networking events, ones somehow related to your business. You should attend as many of these events as you possibly can. You will meet people who may turn out to be instrumental to your success, all while enjoying the free food and drink offered at these occasions.

Find Angels

Praying and a belief in a higher power certainly won’t hurt your efforts to debut your business. However, here we refer not to winged seraphs, but rather investors looking for projects to fund. Utilize your connections to help get funding from angel investors, affluent individuals who seek to provide capital specifically for business start-ups. Many times you will find investors who were once in your shoes and can also offer advice in addition to funding.

As with so much else in life, to realize success here is like playing a numbers game: The more people you talk to the better your chances of finding someone who can help or introduce you to someone who can help.

In preparing for meetings with these potential investors, it’s important to know your business inside and out. One good method of doing this is to have a friend poke holes in your business plan. This will help you to better weather the storm, meaning you’ll be able to better handle difficult questions under pressure, an ability true leaders need to have.

Look to the Masses

Crowdfunding has grown increasingly popular. It’s also a great solution for entrepreneurs who need to fund their dream.

The rule of thumb here tends to be: the quirkier ideas perform the best. (Remember, one successful Kickstarter project had to do with the perfect egg salad sandwich recipe.)

If your business involves a novel product or an online service, you should definitely look into this.

The main caveat to keep in mind regarding crowdfunding when you start a small business is: always remember, there’s the potential for you to commit faux pas that make you obligated to return the money.

Go to the Bank When You Don’t Need To

Going to the bank when you are penniless puts you in a vulnerable position; it’s better to get the paperwork done early so you can commence building important relationships well in advance of when you’ll need to leverage them.

Also, don’t climb out on a financial limb until you have to. Monthly payments will always be due and they won’t change based on how much revenue your business earns, or fails to earn, for that month.

Make Your Business Your Baby

You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for making sure everything about your business is taken care of. No one else can do it. Just as new parents quickly realize that their newborn baby is in charge of the household, so too should new business owners realize the same about their business.

You wouldn’t trust someone else to care and feed your baby — consider your business in the same light. If there’s a problem, don’t complain because no one else cares. Just focus on figuring out how to fix the problem.

Schedule Some Off Time to Avoid Burning Out 

When you start a small business, it usually proves to be an all-encompassing endeavor. You won’t punch out at 5 p.m. as do those holding corporate positions. Instead, you will find yourself working all hours in the day and night. You certainly won’t have a wealth of spare time anymore.

That is why it is so important that you schedule some off time — to avoid burning yourself out. Whether it’s an afternoon at the beach or a whole weekend away, you need to have breaks in your work cycle. Time away will let you recharge and often gives you a renewed perspective on the big picture that you won’t get while stuck in the weeds and grinding away.

Dot Your Is and Cross Your Ts

Watching your concept come to life is one of the most exciting things about starting a new business. But you need to take care of some basics, too.

For example, make sure you’re withholding the correct taxes for your business and your employees, and always sign on for the necessary insurance. Small businesses should look into both professional liability and general liability insurance and, if you have employees, workers comp is required everywhere but Texas.

Make Your Startup Official 

When you start a small business, you must make sure you protect yourself by making your business a registered legal entity.

Creating a separation between yourself and your business helps limit your liability in case anything goes wrong. You may want to seek out your accountant’s or lawyer’s advice regarding what type of entity would be best for your situation.

Follow the Money 

Every business starts out with what is considered to be a great concept, either of a product or a service that, the small business owner believes, people will die to purchase.

But the market quickly tells you what works and what doesn’t, and you need to be able to pivot quickly to follow the money, not wait at a place where you think it is going to show up. Remember, many of the world’s biggest companies evolved in quite radical ways — with some no longer even slightly resembling what they originally debuted as. Twitter, for example, started out as a podcasting service.

The lesson here is: Focus on what works and don’t be too proud to shelve ideas that fall flat.

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