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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Strategies That Help Busy Entrepreneurs Stay Sane

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Strategies That Help Busy Entrepreneurs Stay Sane

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What daily/weekly ritual do you keep that keeps you sane as an entrepreneur?

1. Meditate Stress Away

Gabrielle Bernstein

    My daily ritual always involves at least fifteen minutes of meditation. When I meditate, I give my brain a break. As an entrepreneur my brain is on overdrive. The key to getting real, quality work done is to take a break and tune in. Meditation offers you time to release and recalibrate.

    Gabrielle Bernstein, Gabrielle Bernstein Inc.

     

     

    2. Feed Yourself with Inspiration

    ashley bodi

      You know when you read a quote and immediately it gives you that instant boost you needed in that moment? I keep my favorite quotes with me and look at them daily to remind myself that no matter what, it’s going to be okay and I can push through. Sometimes you need to be reminded of the simple things, even if it’s through a quote.

      Ashley Bodi, Business Beware

       

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      3. Lift Off the Frustration

      Andrew Bachman

        Lifting weights, especially heavy ones, has been something that I have come to rely on as an entrepreneur. The frustrating obstacles that we face every day while blazing new trails can add up. Personally I am driven by my own stress and anxiety, of which I have plenty. Sometimes the only thing that can relieve some of the pressure is a good ass whoopin’ at the gym!

        Andrew Bachman, Scambook.com

         

        4. Stretch to the Limit

        steph-auteri

          It seems like a cliche, but yoga has been my saving grace. It pumps me up for a day of productivity, while simultaneously reducing stress. It helps balance my mood at a time when the days get darker sooner. It stretches me out after hours at the computer. It helps me shut my brain off before going to sleep. I go to a yoga studio five days a week. Scheduling that time for myself keeps me sane.

          Steph Auteri, Word Nerd Pro

           

          5. Break the Rules!

          Matt Wilson

            During my work week, I’m super strict on my nutrition, workouts, sleep and business regimen. To combat this, I constantly break the rules on purpose and have a “cheat day.” Blow off an event, put back a few beers, or sleep in on Friday. Remind yourself that you are human, and the reason you are an entrepreneur is so you can have the freedom and flexibility to make these decisions for yourself.

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            Matt Wilson, Under30Media

            6. Focus on Loved Ones

            Tim Jahn

              Playing with my son every day and spending time with my family keeps me grounded and focused on why I’m doing what I’m doing. I always think of how my business and work affects my family, and ways to constantly improve upon that.

              Tim Jahn, matchist

               

               

              7. Join the Team!

              Jason Evanish

                I try to play at least one team sport every week. I find that while your head is in the game and you’re cheering for your teammates, all the stress and work waiting for you washes away. When I return from the game, I find that much of that stress turns out to be gone for good, and I’m refreshed and ready to take on the week’s challenges.

                Jason Evanish, Greenhorn Connect

                 

                8. Coach a Team!

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                Aaron Schwartz

                  I coach 3rd-5th grade AAU basketball. No matter what’s going on with Modify or in my personal life, I always forget everything stressful when I walk onto the court with the kids. They’re eager to learn and I can’t help but focus only on their growth. And if I’m really stressed, I can just tell them to do more sprints! (Just kidding.)

                  Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

                   

                  9. Touch Base Often

                  Kelly Azevedo

                    I begin each day with a 5-minute check-in call with my accountability partner. We share our daily goals and discuss ongoing challenges and projects. This daily check-in ensures that I make steady progress, and it’s great to know that someone who understands is just a phone call away for support and encouragement.

                    Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

                     

                    10. Mentor Another Entrepreneur

                    Vanessa Van Edwards

                      Sometimes running your own business can be exhausting and you can lose track of end goals and the passion that got you started in the first place. I find that mentoring other young entrepreneurs reminds you why you started your business. Also, the feel-good vibes you get from helping others are the best way to recharge.

                      Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

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                      11. Read Your Calendar

                      Dmitriy Katsel

                        Our calendars hold a lot of information about how we spend out time. If you sit down and scroll through your calendar to take a look at the meetings, phone calls, projects, and tasks that you have had over the past week, it will give you clarity about the things that you have accomplished and about what you can do differently.

                        Dmitriy Katsel, Spring Theory

                         

                         

                         

                        12. Surf…the Internet?

                        Srinivas Rao

                          I’ve found that the best ideas and most productivity occurs when you actually completely disconnect from the work you’re doing. For me this has been surfing…in the ocean! Anything that forces you to be completely present for even a few hours a week does wonders for your mind, body and, as a result, your business.

                          Srinivas Rao, BlogcastFM

                          More by this author

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                          Trending in Productivity

                          1 Why Your Habits Hinder You From Reaching Your Goals 2 We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why? 3 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 4 How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 5 14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

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                          Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                          Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                          In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                          For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                          For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                          Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                          Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                          Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                          How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                          1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                          Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                          For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                          2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                          Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                          Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                          Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                          3. Create a System

                          Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                          This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                          You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                          Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                          4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                          We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                          If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                          Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                          Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                          5. Use a Ratings Scale

                          Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                          Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                          It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                          6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                          This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                          You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                          You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                          7. Offer Feedback Forms

                          Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                          First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                          Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                          You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                          8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                          This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                          Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                          Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                          9. Use Self-Evaluations

                          Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                          Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                          10. Monitor Time Management

                          This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                          Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                            The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                            While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                            11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                            We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                            Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                            For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                            Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                            Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                            From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                            12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                            This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                            Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                            Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                            It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                            13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                            When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                            Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                            Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                            14. Use an External Evaluator

                            Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                            They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                            While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                            Final Thoughts

                            These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                            The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                            The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                            Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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