Whether you’re a staff of one or managing a team of contractors and/or employees, being a great leader is essential to the success of your business. Contrary to the popular idiom, great leaders can, in fact, be made. According to research from Leadership Quarterly, 74% of what it takes to be a great leader is learned behaviors. To develop your leadership skills, drop these five habits.
Think about the best managers and leaders you’ve worked with. When someone points out a problem to them, chances are they step-up, apologize, take the blame, and fix it. They do not point fingers or blame someone on their team for not doing their job. Blaming others isn’t just disrespectful to your team, it isn’t respectful to the person raising the concern either. What it conveys to them is that you’re not in charge.
Focusing on Short-Term
Every decision you make has short-term and long-term impacts on your business. While the short-term results matter, to have a truly successful business that stands the test of time, you need to be more focused on the long-term. Define your long-term goals as part of your mission statement and keep them in mind with every decision you make.
It can be tempting to give orders and demand your team comes to you with every decision that needs to be made. The problem is that this makes your team feel undervalued. They won’t work has hard and their job satisfaction will be low. In addition, this method of managing takes a lot of your time. Instead, empower your team to make decisions and trust them to do what’s right.
Not Investing in Yourself
This can be as time consuming and expensive as taking classes or as a simple as swapping music during your commute for a relevant podcast or audiobook. What matters is that you’re continually increasing your knowledge and professional development and using your time effectively.
Having a Hero Complex
You’re in charge and your business is your baby, but that doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers. If you’ve hired you team or contractors correctly, you’ve surrounded yourself with people who are experts at what they do. Rely on them and delegate tasks that they’re better equipped to handle. Remember, growing your business is a team effort.
While these five things may seem obvious, many leaders have had these habits for so long they no longer realize they’re doing them. By taking a moment to look at yourself as a leader and let go of these habits, you’ll help yourself, your business, and your team achieve great success.
Success is the ultimate result of repeated behaviors over time. By developing success habits now, you set yourself up for success. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs credit the following habits with their success.
Just as athletes visualize making the perfect shot or winning a race, you need to visualize your goals. Set time aside daily to close your eyes and play a movie in your head of what your life will be like when you reach your goal.
Change the Story in Your Head
We all have beliefs about ourselves – about what we’re good at and not good at. Those beliefs, those stories, may be holding you back. Pay attention to what you’re telling yourself and change self-limiting thoughts to more positive ones.
Write it Down
Setting goals and visualizing success are great, but writing them down is also necessary. Spend a few minutes each day write down your goals. Use present tense, as if they’ve already happened. This actually changes the wiring in your brain and creates a single point of focus.
You know the old saying “the early bird gets the worm”? It’s true. Being late to meetings starts the conversation off on the wrong foot and it may never recover. Tardiness sends the impression that you don’t value their time and that’s not the message you want to send. Make a point of arriving 15 minutes early for everything – even if it’s not work related – to develop this habit.
Get Comfortable With “No”
A wise salesman I once knew told me that the way he won salesman of the year (i.e. he got more yeses than anyone else in the office) was by hearing more noes than everyone else. The truth is you’re never going to sell to everyone, so get comfortable with the noes and use them to generate more yeses.
Get Rid of Distractions
I’ve talked about how Facebook is hurting your productivity. What other distractions are stealing your time for places you should be focusing? Spend a few days logging your activities and remove the distractions that are revealed in your work patterns.
Create a Bubble
While we all need human interaction and social connection, it can also be a distraction. Choose to connect with people who can help you further your goals and believe in you. You may feel like a bit of an outcast at first, but the singular focus will propel you towards your goals much faster.
Invest in Yourself
Whether this is reading a book, taking a class, or making time to eat right and exercise, investing in yourself is essential. As an entrepreneur, you are you biggest asset. If you don’t invest in yourself, no one else will either.
As a small business owner, you’re highly tuned into the “time is money” concept. Entrepreneurs consider time their most valuable asset, even more than any equipment or office space. It makes sense given the many roles you play. Making some small changes can help you manage your time effectively, meaning you’ll have more of your most valuable asset.
Review Current MethodsThe first step is get a snapshot of where you are right now. List out how your important tasks and the time required for each. Use categories such as “meetings” or “sales calls” to organize them. Then meticulously record the time it actually takes you to complete these tasks. Often, there are valuable insights from this data.
Compare Actual Time vs. Expected TimeIf there are discrepancies and you’re spending more of your time on less important tasks, there’s likely one or two reasons why. Either you made a mistake when determining the expected time or your failing to manage your time. If you think you made a mistake, go back and redo the list. If it’s not that, look at how you manage your time and implement changes.
Adjust Time Management MethodsGo through each task with great detail. Which tasks are time wasters? Once you’ve figured that out, you have three options: delegate, hire, or drop. If you already have employees, there may be someone with a suitable set of skills to take on the task. If not, it might be time to hire someone, even as a contractor, to help you. If the task doesn’t seem important enough for either of those options, maybe you can simply drop it from your to-do list.
Implement Time Management TechniquesOnce you’ve done the previous three steps, you’ll have a comprehensive list of tasks you must still do. To maximize your time and productivity, try these two things. First, use to-do lists to help you stay organized and set priorities. This will help you stay focused on the high value activities. Second, look at how you’re using meetings? If you have many or the ones you have don’t seem to have any actionable outcome, reduce the number of meeting and have a specific agenda and goal for each one.
Working through these steps will take more of what you already feel you don’t have – time. But in the long run, they’ll help you have more time and energy for the important things in your business and your life.
Freelancers and solopreneurs paid hourly are responsible not only for delivering great products and services, they’re also on the hook for tracking their own time. There’s no manager double checking and no payroll department calculating their paychecks. Finding an easy, efficient way to track time is critical to being productive and billing correctly. Thankfully, there are apps that make this process much easier.
Productivity Challenge Timer
If you love breaks and thrive on the Pomodoro system of time management, the Productivity Challenge Timer is for you! It breaks your work sessions into smaller chunks of time and reminds you to take a 5-minute break every 20-minutes. It also cues you when the break is over and tracks total time on each project.
Currently only for Mac users, Hours offers a simple, visual timeline that clearly shows any dead spots in your schedule and allows you to create reminders and set rules about rounding partial time. It’s also easy to switch between projects and view total time spent for each one.
This one’s just for Android users at the moment. Timesheet does more than track your time on different projects. You can also break the time into daily, weekly, and monthly totals for each project or client. Even better, you can assign rates to each client or project so you can quickly and easily see how much money you’ve made.
If you’ve got contractors working for you, you may need to get an accurate picture of their time, too. With the right apps, tracking their time and paying them appropriately – even if they’re off site, is easy.
If you’re already using Quickbooks for your accounting system, their add-ons like TSheets and BillQuick integrate seamlessly. Employees and contractors can login from anywhere to enter their time and submit timesheets. And if you’re not sure their hours are accurate, you can use the GPS feature to locate them in a snap.
Get handle on your time management, and that of your contractors’, with some simple apps. You’ll be glad you did! And don’t forget, for more great tips like these, sign up for the newsletter!
How often do you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? If you’re like most busy professionals, probably more often than you’d like to admit. Lucky for you, there are some things you can do to get more done in less time and have more time to spend with those you love.
Track Your Time
For one week, write down everything you do. This includes scrolling through your social media feeds and bathroom breaks. It may seem a bit tedious, but by the end of the week you’ll have a good idea of where your time is being spent and changes you can make to maximize your productivity.
Get More Sleep
So often busy people stay up later and wake up earlier trying to “fit it all in.” The problem with this solution is that a tired brain is less efficient and that hurts your productivity. Instead, commit to getting a good night sleep. If you need 8 hours, get 8 hours. Your productivity will thank you.
This may seem like just another fad, but it’s not. Keeping a bullet journal is fast, but also helps you set goals and track your habits all at the same time. Similar to tracking your time, it shows you places you can improve and it also keeps you on track moving towards your goals.
Meditation isn’t just for people seeking enlightenment. It helps calm your mind and focus your attention – exactly what’s need to maximize productivity. You can spend less than 5-minutes a day meditating and reap amazing benefits. If you’ve never tried it before, here’s a place to start your meditation habit.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Your time is a valuable resource and it’s up to you to protect it. When you’re asked to do something, ask yourself if it’s the best use of your time. If it’s not, say no. This may be hard at first, especially if you’re saying no to your boss or an authority figure, but if you do it professionally and explain you’re managing your time, it will usually be respected.
How you manage your time and run your day is a choice. It may not feel that way at times, but it is always a choice. Instead of starting off each day looking at your schedule trying to figure out how you’re going to fit it all in, take a few moments to prioritize and focus on those items that are most important.
Take Time for You
Extra time is great, but if you’re not using it to care for yourself, it’s not helping you have a more peaceful life. Commit to taking at least 30-minutes for yourself every day. Read a book. Have a cup of coffee and do a crossword puzzle. Anything you like! For 30-minutes. Your frame of mind and your productivity will thank you!
With these seven tips, you can maximize your productivity this year and get more done than you ever imagined. Want more great tips like this? Sign up for the newsletter!
Maybe you already know this, but it turns out, many of those “time saving” innovations, like email and smart phones, are actually creating a culture where everything feels like a priority all the time. In today’s society, it can be easy lose control over your time, feel completely stressed out and miserable as a result, and feel powerless to do anything about it. Here’s the good news – YOU can take back control of your time. Here’s how.
Remember Your Time is Valuable
You’d never squander your hard-earned cash on something that wasn’t important. Treat your time the same way. If it’s not aligned with your goals, joys, etc. don’t spend your time on it. And while we’re on the topic of money and time, consider spending money to save time. If you’re spending far too much time on chores or errands, pay someone to do them for you.
Seize the Day
Literally. Get up and out of bed earlier. Even night owls can benefit from an extra half hour or hour in the morning. The earlier you get up and moving, the more you’ll get done before work starts and the less stressed you’ll feel.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
This goes back to your time being valuable. If someone wants your help or asks you to do something, it is okay to say no. Taking on something for someone else gives them control over your time. If you have time and you want to do it, fine, but if not, just say no. And don’t feel guilty.
Breaks make you more productive. For some people, the Pomodoro technique works well. Basically, you work on a task for 25 minutes and take a 3 - 5 minute break. You continue this cycle until either the task is done or you’ve done as much as you can stand.
It’s so easy to get distracted by smartphone pings or email and social media dings. Give yourself a break from all that noise and truly spend time in the moment with the ones you love, doing something you love. It helps your relationships and your state of mind.
Being Busy is Not the Same as Being Productive
Look at everything that feels like it must be done right now. How many of them are actually priorities? Often those errands, tasks, and events can wait. Slow down and focus on what really matters and clear the clutter of busy work.
By taking control of your time, you’ll discover you’re able to accomplish everything want, spend time with people you love, doing things you want to do, and have less stress. Start today!
One of the hardest parts about running a small business or leading a project is allocating yourself (and your team) appropriately for everything. Emergencies crop up and how you handle them in conjunction with the everyday tasks can determine your long-term success. But when everything feels like a priority it can be tough to respond appropriately. If that sounds familiar, this post is for you!
Typically, people prioritize based on the urgency of the task(s). In many situations this works well, however, there are limits to it. When there are too many priorities and a huge scope, prioritizing that way no longer works. Instead, look at your to-do list through a different lens. Think in terms of profitability, current available resources, and the value of the task or project. With those new determining factors, set your priorities.
Unless you’re a solopreneur without any outside help, managing resources can become overwhelming. Using a visual tool such as Microsoft Project can help assign resource appropriately and ensure a balanced workload.
Your team is your biggest asset. When allocating resources, choose people who are as excited about your vision as you are. And take the time to communicate with them about their role and how it contributes to the whole.
In addition to delegating tasks, delegate some of your management responsibilities. Find contractors or hire team leaders who can get on board with your vision, motivate themselves (and others) to reach the shared goal. That frees up your time to focus on the bigger picture.
Not everything you have to do is the same value. Consider the Pareto Principle that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. Figure out the 80% of your work that isn’t generating results and cut them – even if it means saying no to new clients or initiatives.
If you’re feeling pulled in too many directions, these few changes can help ease your stress and set you up for success. For more great tips like these, sign up for my newsletter.
Many of us feel like our days are back to back workflow with no “white space” on the calendar for breaks. On the surface, this can feel like we’re getting a lot done, but in truth, scheduling days like this is actually counter-productive. Breaks allow our brains the chance to refocus and refresh, which boosts productivity. So the question is, how much or how often should you take a break?
Timed Work Breaks
The science shows it’s not about how many breaks you take. Rather, it’s about how long you should do focused work before you need to take a break. In general, our brains are wired to apply focused attention to something for 75 to 90 minutes. At that point, a 15-minute break actually helps our brains retain the information better. It’s far more effective for productivity than sugar, caffeine, or tapping your own energy reserves – healthier too.
If you don’t have one highly focused task that takes an hour and a half, that’s okay. The most productive 10% of workers break their day into “sprints” of 52 minutes of work with 17 minutes of rest in between. People who break their days up this way get more done without working longer hours and are more efficient than their counterparts.
Another option, if your tasks are even shorter, or you simply get ansty, is to work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break.
Effectively Using Breaks
It’s almost a default for people to use their breaks to eat, drink coffee, or vent to peers about their work day. Unfortunately, these methods don’t actually renew your energy. Instead, you need to mentally disengage. Morning break activities can include meditation, goal setting activities, talking with a friend, etc.
Afternoon breaks are work best for other activities that also boost your energy for the remainder of the day. Exercise not only keeps you healthy and manages weight, it also boosts your afternoon energy level. A 20-minute walk or bike ride can be the ideal use for an afternoon break.
Another afternoon break option is a nap. While many European cultures have an afternoon siesta as cultural norm, in America, you need to carve out this time for yourself. Use an alarm clock to make sure you don’t over extend your nap time. If you don’t work from home, it’s still possible to take an afternoon nap in the car. You may need to spend some weekend time setting it up for maximum restfulness.
Instead of seeing breaks as a waste of time or slacking off, switch your thought process. Breaks increase your productivity, help you work more efficiently, and are an important part of maximizing your time and brain power.
Want more great tips on making the most of your day? Sign up for my newsletter.