Do you feel like you are chasing your tail too often? A bit of running in circles is normal for any business owner, but if you feel positively swamped most of the time, something's gotta give.
Here are four ways to achieve maximum productivity and satisfaction in your work and personal life.
Leave gaps in your schedule.
Your routines may add up to organization but do your routines add up to exciting opportunities? Nope. Boring. Mundane. Same old. A certain amount of structure/“time blocking” is helpful, but if too much of your time is “blocked”, you are blocking opportunities. Ensure there are one or two 2 hour gaps in your calendar each week to fill with a last minute opportunity or idea. How will you ever be able to be spontaneous if you never have gaps in your schedule?
Those who know me well will confirm that I do what I say I’ll do while remaining flexible. I remain flexible by ditching or rearranging tasks occasionally - only tasks which don’t involve obligations to my friends or clients. Do you hate getting stood up or ditched at the last minute? Me too. I do my best to avoid doing that to others, and I believe the key is "buffer time". It simply isn’t true that you need to block your entire day in order to run a successful business and household. As I’ve learned to weed out unnecessary distractions in the form of media, email and meetings, my MUST DOs are completed within 5 hours per day, 4 days per week. How did I remove most of the time sucking distractions from my life? I haven’t had cable for over 6 years. I watch less than an hour of Netflix each week. My son and I both love listening to podcasts and reading. I don’t watch news online. I don’t read newspapers. When it comes to social media, I check Facebook twice daily. LinkedIn and Twitter about every other day. This obviously isn't enough to grow or even maintain a large group of social media followers, which is why I have help with this. We'll get to that in a moment.
Do you watch the news every day? Do you read the newspaper often?
If you answered "yes", my question to you is this:
If you analyzed the media you allowed into your brain yesterday, could you honestly tell me it was positive and will help you reach your goals?
Use your limited time wisely. If anything potentially life changing happens, you’ll find out about it on Facebook.
Never check email first thing in the morning.
Email is a huge time sucker if it is not structured!!! Remember, email is not instant-messaging. It’s mail. Since I first began experimenting with and implementing delegation, less and less of my time is sucked by non-urgent email and phone requests. My assistants deal with them. Why would I pay someone to do something I can do myself, you ask? Because I can make more money. I can’t make more time.
It can be difficult to allow someone other than yourself to deal with your hard-earned, precious clients, but you have to get over it. If you haven’t done this already, it’s time to find the right person to do the things you don’t need to be doing and TRUST them to do their job. Here’s how I figure out which of the people who want to work for me have the required skills and personality: the Kolbe A Index. Here’s how it works:
"...the Kolbe A Index measures your instinctive way of doing things and the Result is called your M.O. (method of operation). It is the only validated assessment that measures a person's conative strengths. It gives you greater understanding of your own human nature and allows you to begin the process of maximizing your potential both personally and professionally. Research on the Kolbe A indicates no significant differences in outcome by age, race, gender or physical handicap."
The delegation mindset begins with realizing there are people on earth who want to do the stuff you aren’t good at, don’t want to become good at and dislike doing. Your ideal “assistant” could be a family member, friend, local business or someone you hire on LinkedIn or a freelance site like upwork.com. It’s not just about hiring someone at $10 per hour to do stuff you don’t want to do because your time is worth $25 per hour. More importantly, it’s about freeing up time to do the things you love to do and excel at. Things that make the world a better place. Things that fulfill you.
Why delegate? Because time is worth more than money. Time is priceless.
Give back to your community.
You want your community to support your business, yes? Of course you do! Well, guess what?
You gotta give to get.
I'm not talking about giving the wealthy families in your community suck up gifts so they'll become clients. I'm talking about helping those in your community and our world who truly need it!
Trust me, if you focus half your time on helping others, the other half of your time will be more productive and satisfying.
Caution: if you don't go about this whole giving back thing properly, you'll feel like you're chasing your tail more than ever. Here's what I've learned:
A) Support max 2 causes at a time, and aim to support them for many years.
Supporting a charity is a lot like building your unique brand: people need to know specifically what you do and you need to have a specific vision in mind so that every time someone asks you to donate to another charity, you can say, "The 2 charities I support are ______ and ______. I would love to help your charity, too, but I find my time and money are more effective when I focus on two charities at a time."
B) Once each quarter, put your all into promoting and supporting a big fundraising event.
Using MailChimp or your preferred contact management system, ask every friend, family member, client and prospect to join you in supporting the cause by not only inviting them to donate but by inviting them to JOIN YOUR TEAM. I like to do this by creating an energetic (usually silly) video explaining the cause and inviting people to join me at the fun event. I put that video in the email. If I'm asking them to join a team, the team always has a costume theme, like this one...
***Do this max 4x EACH YEAR. If you truly put your all into a fundraising campaign, you'll see why you shouldn't bother trying to participate in more than four each year. Plus, your friends, family, clients and prospects don't want you bugging them more often than that!
C) Take TONS of photos at each charity event.
This is NOT so that you can use them to pump your own tires. These photos will be the keys to multiplying awareness of the cause you are supporting year after year. Social Media rules the world nowadays, and it's all about photos. For example, in 2016 I signed up for a 100km road bike ride for Branch Out Neurological Foundation. I asked a hundred people to join my team but because I'm not a road biker, neither are any of my friends. So they were all like, "I didn't know you were into road biking!" and I was like, "I'm not but you should totally do this with me!" and they were like, "You're nuts!". Needless to say, I was a one woman team for last year's #branchybiketour. However, I got tons of great photos throughout the bike ride and everyone saw how much fun it was. This year, there are 8 of us on our bike team and we are on track to raise $10,000 for Branch Out! All because I bought a pair of padded bike shorts, pedaled 100km by myself while posing for a bunch of great photos. That's $10,000 that otherwise wouldn't have been put towards paying tuition for neuroscientists studying Parkinson's, MS, Lyme disease and hundreds of other neurological disorders! (Feel free to help us reach or exceed this goal by clicking here!)
Moral of the story: Intentional investments of your time and money will pay you returns in the form of