You may not think invoicing is the most enticing topic out there, but let’s be real, in order to stay successful as a small business owner or freelancer you’ll need to keep the cash flow flowing. By improving your approach to your business’s finances and fiscal procedures you are paving the way for business success. Central to this idea is making sure you have strategic invoicing methods in place that ensure you get paid faster. Read on for a few of our simple, yet essential, invoicing tips for business success.Continue reading →
What success traits do Sheryl Sandberg and Arianna Huffington have in common? These leaders know their priorities and don’t sacrifice proper sleep for productivity. Here are the six simple sleep habits and facts of successful leaders which you can easily implement in your daily life. As a bonus, positive sleep hygiene has benefits for your mental health as well!Continue reading →
Allow me to set the scene. You’re sitting at your desk, staring at an ever-growing number of items on your list of assignments, knowing you should be working diligently to check them off, but you just can’t seem to get in the right headspace to carry out your tasks. We’ve all been there. There are a slew of tips out there to help you get back on the right mental track to crush your workload, but I’ve put together seven of the best immediate solutions that will make for the most productive hour of work you’ve ever had.Continue reading →
The 17th century real estate entrepreneur, William Penn, said it best. “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
Every leader and entrepreneur understands the precious nature of time – and this is especially true for leaders who also spend time raising a family, caregiving for others, studying and/or fulfilling social obligations – over and above the demands of their career or business venture. Let’s face it, managing your time can often be a struggle, and even the most effective leaders can fall prey to distraction, disorganisation and procrastination.
One of the key principles to success is being productive and effective with your time; making it something we use best. The truth is, if you allow time to manage you – if you have a lot of unproductive minutes in your day – you will be unable to achieve a great deal.
I’ve been in business for over seventeen years and, for the past decade, have spent a large portion of my year travelling the world with family … while running my business. These years of experience have taught me many things, including how to manage my time more efficiently. This, in turn, has helped me become more productive and successful, and more able to follow my personal goals and dreams.
There are seven time-smart principles that I adhere to, and that I believe smart leaders and business owners should live by each day.
Introduce forced deadlines
According to Parkinson’s Law, work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Use this rule to your advantage and introduce forced deadlines into your day. This can be something such as picking up the kids, a phone call or meeting you need to attend, or attending a dinner. The point is to make it something that you simply must do, to give you the impetus to complete a task (or range of tasks) by this time.
(Editor’s note: The Make Your Mark Daily Planner is structured to include your top three priorities for the day, and rewards for completing each item!)
Utilise non-productive time
There are going to be many moments in your day when your arms and legs are busy, but your mind is free. If you’re smart, you can actually use this time to get a whole bunch of stuff done. It may that you listen to an audio book or podcast while driving the car or commute on the train; you may read important news articles or research while sitting at the kids’ soccer practice; or you use the time you walk the dog to call people you need to catch up with – perhaps your clients or family.
Focus on what you do best
It’s only natural – when you’re doing the things you’re skilled at and/or that you like, you’ll find you can complete tasks incredibly quickly and efficiently. When you’re doing things outside of your area of expertise, you’ll find that it will take you a longer time to do. Therefore, consider hiring a professional or delegating someone in your team to do the things that don’t come easily to you – chances are they can probably do it in one tenth of the time you can. This may cost you money, but if you think of what your time is worth as a team leader or business owner, you’ll be much better off.
Hire a virtual assistant
This is something I’m particularly passionate about, because I know the huge difference it has made to my business. Here’s one of my core principles: if you’re in your business, doing it alone, without any help, then you’re just doing it way too tough. These days, you can hire someone to work for you from anywhere in the world, and it can cost as little as $6 per hour. Build a system around all those niggly, repetitive tasks that take your precious time away from your core business, and pass it on to a virtual assistant to take care of.
Pay for expert advice
If you are a business owner, or aiming for a new role in your company, it is impossible to overstate the importance of a mentor or a coach; someone to help you along the way. Whatever it is that you want to achieve in your life, there’s someone out there who has probably done it or has done something similar. So, rather than wasting time on the process of trial and error, find someone that can help you along the way and be prepared to pay them for their time. In the end, their advice will save you precious time of your own.
Write your to-do list the night before
I have found this simple trick to be incredibly effective. Get into the habit of writing a to-do list before you go to bed. Build it into your routine: put your PJ’s on, brush your teeth, and write your to-do list for the next day. This will ensure that you start each day with definition and direction – no more time wasted in the morning.
Do an hour’s work before you check your email
The first thing most of us do when we turn on the computer in the morning is start scrolling through our inbox. However, by doing this, we instantly create another 20-30 things that we need to do or respond to and, immediately, we have lost track of what’s important. If you can, resist the urge to check your email first thing in the morning. Instead, look at your to-do list, choose the most important task and do at least an hour’s work on that. If nothing else, you will get a good chunk of that task completed before you’ve even started your day.
No matter how busy your business makes you, there is a way to insert some method into the madness, and actually get things done. By following the strategies above, you will find that you will develop a more strategic approach toward your to-do list, and you will be much more efficient and productive with your time.
Dale Beaumont is an Award-Winning Technology Entrepreneur, International Speaker and Author of 16 best-selling books. Dale started his first business at 19 and has been building companies ever since. One of those companies is now a multi-million dollar enterprise. In 2009, Dale launched Business Blueprint, an education company designed to help fellow entrepreneurs build the business of their dreams. Seven years later Dale has personally trained over 15,000 people and produced over 750 business training videos.
Have you ever noticed how some people just seem to get so much more done within a single day? You might not be able to quite place what it is about them, though. Do they simply have more energy? More systems in place to stay organised? More drive, more ambition? Perhaps they have more connections, with more than one virtual assistant taking care of the mundane, day-to-day tasks that get the better of us.
Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is this: we all have 24 hours in a day. Regardless of how many resources a person has, how far along they are on their journey, or how many people they have working for them, this simple truth levels the playing field for all. You have just as many hours as the six-figure CEO…which means you have the same amount of time with which you can make big things happen.
So how is it that some people are able to accomplish monumental goals while the majority struggle to get through even the smallest (perhaps even insignificant) things on their to-do list? Simply put, the answer is all about mindset. I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about the power of your mindset when it comes to personal development.
Your attitude determines your altitude and what you focus on is what you’ll attract.
Mindset also comes into play when it comes to productivity.
Smart leaders know how to develop and maintain a productive mindset. They use their time intentionally and wisely and they organise their hours in such a way that allows them to achieve more. How do they do it? Today we’re revealing the 7 secrets of highly productive leaders that help them get ahead of the crowd and maximise their hours. Adopt these habits as your own, and you might just surprise yourself with how productive you become both in your professional and personal life.
1) They Say No
The harder it is for you to say no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. That’s because you’ll continuously be taking on projects that don’t excite you and energise you. Far from it, these projects you’ve said yes to will only drain you of your energy since you never wanted to take them on in the first place.
Productive leaders know better than to put unappealing tasks on their plate. They recognise that their time is limited and therefore valuable. They rather spend their hours on projects that move them forward. In other words, if it isn’t an enthusiastic “Yes!” then it’s a very firm “No.”
2) They Don’t Have To-Do Lists
Research has shown that 41% of items on to-do lists are never completed. Some people go so far as to call to-do lists the graveyard for non-urgent tasks. Productive leaders know there’s no benefit to carrying around an ever-growing list of things to do. If anything, seeing such a mountain of tasks only leads to analysis paralysis.
So productive leaders do something different: they schedule everything onto a calendar. Then they live and work off of that calendar, which ultimately helps them to stay better organised. Some even schedule their days into 15-minute blocks to make the most of each task.
3) They Assign Themes to Days of the Week
This goes along with the previous tip. It’s not enough to just schedule everything onto a calendar. While a dream with a deadline becomes a goal, you still have to stay organised in order to make that goal a reality.
Productive leaders have an effective strategy in making sure this happens. Instead of getting lost in an endless sea of mundane to-do’s, they streamline their process by giving every day of the week a theme. Mondays may be for meetings. Wednesdays might be for networking. Fridays could be set aside for finances. Grouping similar tasks together in this manner helps to maintain a unilateral focus that makes them more productive.
4) They Know Their Priorities
With themed days in place, productive leaders take it one step further. They have something called an MIT: Most Important Task. Every day, they work on this task without interruption because it’s their number one priority in achieving their goals. This is what allows them to make impressive progress every day.
On that same note, they also make sure to get the most challenging task or the task they’re least looking forward to out of the way first. This gives them a sense of accomplishment at the start of each new day but also clears up the rest of their hours to focus on the projects that most excite them.
5) They Manage Their Time Well
It’s no surprise that productive leaders are some of the best time managers out there. You have to be able to organise your time in order to achieve a great deal. Of course, the incredibly productive among us have mastered one thing that is the foundation for all their time management and organisation: The Pareto Principle.
According to this principle, 80% of outcomes come from only 20% of activities. In other words, there are things you can do to reach your goals that will reap bigger rewards than smaller, more insignificant tasks. Productive leaders know the activities that will drive the biggest results when it comes to their goals. They focus on those activities and ignore the rest.
6) They Have a Morning Ritual
Productive leaders understand that the morning is the most important part of the day. Why? Because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. That’s why they create a morning routine that helps them to get in the right frame of mind mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, recommends ‘becoming’ more so that you can do less…to achieve more! Becoming more is simple. It’s all about investing in yourself and nurturing yourself. This may mean quiet time to read first thing in the morning, exercising, enjoying a healthy breakfast, or whatever else makes you feel at peace.
7) They Take Care of Themselves
This goes along with the habit above, except that it extends beyond just a daily morning routine. Productive leaders know that if they want to be at their very best, they need to take care of their mind and bodies. They think of their bodies like cars, and in the same way that we refill a car’s fuel tank when it’s running on empty, they restore themselves as well when they know it’s needed.
In short: don’t skip meals, don’t miss sleep, and don’t overwork yourself just to get more done. When you take care of yourself, you actually end up giving yourself more energy—which allows you to be fully present in the workplace and more able to complete goal after goal toward reaching your dream.
Remember: every morning you wake up, a new day brimming with possibilities and opportunities awaits you. You have the same number of hours to work with as does anyone else. It’s all about the mindset you maintain and the way you use those hours that makes a difference. Do you already have productivity strategies in place? If not, which of the ones above will you begin implementing today?
Rosalind Cardinal is The Leadership Alchemist and Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations. Ros’ expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employee engagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.
Visit www.shapingchange.com.au/resources to pick up your complimentary copy of Ros’ report “Thriving in Change” and to sign up for her free audio series “Thriving in the Midst of Change”. Ros’ book “The Resilient Employee: The essential guide to coping with change and thriving in today’s organisation” is available from Amazon and on her website: http://rosalindcardinal.com
Ros also runs the Shaping Change Inner Circle, an exclusive membership network for driven leaders around the world who are passionate about making a difference, building successful businesses and leveraging the talents and skills of their people.
You may have heard a lot about IFTTT (short for If This, Then That) when it comes to advice about increasing your productivity. You may also have taken one look at it and dismissed it as too complicated or troublesome to set up.
Or perhaps you don’t even know what it is. IFTTT is a program that allows you to set up rules across a variety of apps, that will automatically make things happen if a certain condition is met. For example, if you use multiple social media apps for your business, you can set up a rule that automatically tweets anything you post on Instagram, or automatically shares your Facebook posts on Twitter. Or you could automatically save all Facebook pictures you’re tagged in to Dropbox or Google Drive. (Note the repeated word here: automatically!)
Outside social media, you could get a weather report emailed to you first thing in the morning, or a headline summary emailed at the end of the day. The possibilities are endless, and I’d highly recommend browsing through the ready-made functions, or recipes, as they’re officially called, that you can implement with a click of a button.
Basically, IFTTT will automate all those boring, time-consuming tasks that are part of your day-to-day life.
But what if your needs are more specific than the recipes available, or you just want to create your own? Below, we provide an explanation of how to use IFTTT. It’s so simple, you’ll be sure to pick it up in no time!
How recipes work
All recipes are made up of two parts. First is the thing to look out for – the trigger for the action. IF my phone’s battery is low. IF I add a new note to an Evernote notebook. IF a new item is listed on eBay that matches a search term.
The second part is what happens if the condition is met. IF my phone’s battery is low, THEN should I get an email or text, or a notification on my smartwatch? IF I add a new note to my “Ideas” Evernote notebook, THEN should it also be copied to my OneNote notebook? IF a new item is listed on eBay that matches a search term, THEN should the link be added to my to-do list?
There are some incredibly creative recipes out there. People have created recipes to download all Instagram pictures with a certain hashtag to their Dropbox, tweet at a friend at a certain time each day, or add your location to a personal journal every time you check in somewhere with Foursquare.
IFTTT also have a kind of automation called “DO”. Instead of waiting for an “IF” trigger, it lets you set up a series of actions (“THEN”) to perform when you use one of their three apps to press a button, write a note, or take a picture. You can only set up the actions from your phone, though.
Creating the trigger
If you want to create your own recipes, the first thing you’ll need to do is set up a trigger. The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a trigger channel, and a specific trigger within that channel. This is what will set off the series of actions. In most cases you’ll need to link to your account for the channel, before you can use it.
Triggers are limited by what each company chooses to provide – for example, Facebook triggers are limited to activity around your own posts due to privacy. You can’t choose a trigger that happens when a friend posts something.
It’s also worth noting that many of the channels are American-based, though there’s still a decent selection for those in other countries. But if you’re an Aussie hoping to be notified when an item goes on special at Woolies, you’re out of luck. Americans are in luck with Best Buy!
It all comes down to which companies decide to integrate with IFTTT, so if you have any apps or stores you love that aren’t on there, start campaigning now!
Once you’ve chosen a trigger, it will ask you to fill in any relevant fields. For example, if I want Facebook to do something any time I post from a certain location, I would need to specify that location. It’s incredibly simple, and when you’re done you just need to click Create Trigger!
Specifying the action
Creating the action is just as simple, and runs on exactly the same principal. What do you want to happen when the trigger is, well, triggered? Pick your channel, pick your action, fill in the details and away you go.
A little tip I love for anything that adds a message or a note: If you click into the textbox, you’ll see a little blue beaker icon appear in the top right. Clicking on this allows you to add what IFTTT calls Ingredients; that is, information specific to that particular trigger such as a file name, or the date something was created.
And that’s it. That’s how simple it is to start automating your life. (Also, if you want to learn about other ways you can automate your life, there’s also the Get Your Life Back e-book available at our store!)
While it’s fun (and quite empowering!) to make your own recipes, there are many great ones that others have already shared. Here are some of my favourites – but I’d love to hear about yours in the comments as well!
I get a lot of my bills through email, and this recipe saves a list of them to a spreadsheet so I won’t forget about them!
Want to track how much time you spend at work, or at the gym, or at the shopping centre? (Maybe not the the last one!) This recipe updates my Google calendar every time I enter and exit a specified area. This is for Android users, and this is for iPhone users.
These days, we all have a few different social media accounts to keep up with. This recipe lets me be lazy by posting any tweets with a specified hashtag to Facebook.
Something big happening somewhere, like a concert, or convention, or (hopefully not) a riot? Get an email digest of all Tweets from that location so you don’t have to trawl through a ton of Tweets yourself!
This one’s just plain fun. It sets my phone’s wallpaper to NASA’s image of the day.
What do you use IFTTT for? Share with us below!