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The Best Decision You Can Make for Your Business — That Has Nothing to do With Money

The Best Decision You Can Make for Your Business — That Has Nothing to do With Money
    Sunset by F.M. on flickr

    Imagine two people starting identical companies with the exact same resources, network, and time at their disposal (gender randomly assigned for brevity’s sake):

    • Person #1 wakes up every day with anxiety, stressed about his mounting to-do list. He immediately buries himself in reactive work — striving to please everyone else but himself by responding to emails, taking meetings and delivering what others ask of him. He gets whipped around by his moods — one minute he’s happy and excited, the next he’s tired, anxious, unmotivated and depressed. His productivity on any given day is completely unpredictable — sometimes he wakes up excited to work, and on other days you couldn’t pry him off the couch with a forklift.
    • Person #2 starts her days with purpose. No matter what her mood is upon waking up, she laces up her running shoes and gets her blood pumping with a 20-minute run. She uses that time outside to reflect and plan her day, and the resulting endorphins and morning shower give her energy to launch into her best work. She works diligently on her most important projects first, while she’s feeling sharp and creative. She takes a break in the afternoon by heading to yoga class, which centers and grounds her. By the time she attacks her inbox in the afternoon she already feels accomplished — the emails no longer assault her plans, they support them. Person #2 ends the day feeling calm, happy, confident and empowered.

    Both of these people are me.

    I quit my job at Google two months ago to pursue my passion as an author, speaker and coach, and during my first month of solopreneurship I was Person #1.

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    I wasn’t running my business, my business was running me. And as 100% of the company, the opportunity costs of operating at half-mast were extremely high.

    I knew I had hit a low when I ordered Panda Express and a King-Size Snickers bar on my way home from the airport after a speaking engagement in June. I felt lethargic, unhappy and mad at myself. Where was my discipline and self-respect when I was wanting it most? So I resolved to make a change.

    Within three weeks, I became Person #2 — and it didn’t cost a cent. It didn’t have anything to do with sales, marketing, productivity or inbox management. It had to do with me.

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    I resolved to put my health first.

    I started a three-week cleanse where I completely eliminated caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy and red meat from my diet. I committed to going for a 20-minute run first thing in the morning, which is just short enough to be manageable — it’s hard to make the excuse that you don’t have time to run 10 minutes out the front door and 10 minutes back. Finally, I bought an unlimited yoga pass and committed to going a minimum of two times a week; it was so rejuvenating that I ended up going closer to 4-5 times per week.

    During the first three days, I had complete monkey-mind — craving coffee, sugar and TV like the addict I was — unable to focus because I was thinking about them every five minutes. But on the fourth day and every day thereafter, I started noticing something incredible.

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    I felt clear-headed. Creative. Confident. Energized. Productive. HAPPY.

    I was getting more done in one week than I had completed in one month. I was no longer experiencing crazy mood swings or unproductive days. I started sleeping like a rock. I was in a great mood, glowing and energetic at conferences and razor sharp during my coaching and speaking engagements. I was on a roll and I stayed there.

    I used to scoff at the countless magazines that preach healthy eating and exercise — get over yourself! Until I experienced, firsthand, the insanely powerful impact it had on my business’s bottom line (not to mention my actual bottom, which now fits nicely back into my best jeans).

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    How to grow your business, a big goal, or improve your life by putting your body first:

    • Start with four-day wins. This is a concept I learned from Martha Beck, who wrote the book The Four Day Win. That book forever changed how I think about diet and exercise — Beck emphasises tackling one thing at a time, for four days at a time. That’s it! Start with something ridiculously easy and build up confidence and momentum over time.
    • Organize your days around healthy eating and exercise. No matter how much you resist this, thinking “But I don’t have time!” try it. If you try this for one week and don’t see business results, then ignore me. But at least give your body the chance to speak for itself.
    • Track your progress and engage friends. I started this health challenge on my own, but quickly realized it would be more fun with friends, so I created a template that we could all track our progress on (feel free to use it too!). At the end of each week, I emailed the group four questions: How do you feel this week? What are you proud of? What challenges did you face? And what do you want to focus on next week?
    • Optimize for your best energy windows. This is generally common knowledge, but as long as you’re putting your body first, make sure you put your best work first too. Start your days with your most creative, important tasks, and everything will seem easy after that. My favorite book on this subject is Eat that Frog, by Brian Tracy.

    You don’t have to do a crazy cleanse like I did (though I highly recommend Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean Program if you are interested); see what experiments you can run in your own life that work for YOU.

    Now that I’m in maintenance mode I’m adding some coffee back in (can’t skip those deliciously foamy lattes forever!) and one cheat day per week, borrowing from Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet. I’ve lost almost 15 pounds without even trying — a very welcome side effect of eating in a way that facilitates my best work.

    Other books that you might find helpful and motivating:

    Just as a business has start-up costs, so does making major health and lifestyle changes. The first few days might feel agonizingly difficult, but the rewards on the other side are absolutely worth it.

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    The Best Decision You Can Make for Your Business — That Has Nothing to do With Money

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    Last Updated on July 27, 2020

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    Here’s How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

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    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

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    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

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    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

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    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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