Nothing is more frustrating than sitting in endless meetings, feeling like conversations are going around in circles. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Here are our pro tips to keep your meetings on track, without adding more hours to your day.

1. Ensure your meeting notes are well organised

Keep your meeting notes simple, a few bullet points on each topic is more than sufficient. If you try to detail too many notes you risk creating confusion and clutter when you review them later. Keep notes in one section of your page and actions on another section. Check out our Meeting Notebooks.

2. Ask open-ended questions to promote collaboration

If you keep asking your team the same questions, you’ll get the same answers! Ask your colleagues questions to get them thinking in a different mindset. This could include:

  • ‘If we were our competition, how would we beat us?’
  • ‘If we only had $10 to execute this idea what would we spend it on?’
  • ‘If we had to execute this idea in 24 hours, how would we do it?’

3. Mix up the type of meeting

Avoid stale meetings by mixing up the location. Instead, try walking meetings, quick standing meetings, meetings in an unusual place (a nearby park, museum or cafe). Plenty of local libraries let you book meeting rooms too!

4. Delegate note-taking in meetings

Gift your colleagues a Meeting Notebook and delegate a different person to take and circulate notes each meeting. This helps people stay engaged, encourages collaboration and shares the responsibility.

You can even personalise your corporate gifts with monogramming to make your colleagues feel extra special!

5. Start each meeting with something a bit different

Break the ice of your meeting and increase energy with a two-minute introduction. This could be approaching a different colleague each meeting to tell a unique story about themselves or organising a fun quiz about your companies history. Did you know you can run polls in Google hangouts?

6. Filters are your friend in video meetings

In back to back Zoom calls? Add the Snap Camera widget to your browser and utilise their humorous filters to keep your colleagues grinning.

How do you keep your meetings fresh? Let us know in the comments below!


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.  

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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!

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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.

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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.

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