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15 Affordable Resources for Learning New Business Skills

15 Affordable Resources for Learning New Business Skills

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’s your favorite resource for learning new business skills cheaply?

1. Coursera

Andrew Schrage
    Coursera offers a wide variety of business-related Web courses for free. You can take and complete courses as you wish and communicate with other students.

    Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

     

     

    2. Accelio

    Liam Martin
      Accelio has a number of step-by-step guides written by industry experts (versus some professor). The lessons cover anything and everything — not just business. The unique thing about Accelio is that courses are task-specific, and you only learn what you need to learn.

      Liam Martin, Staff.com

       

       

      3. Experts

      Aaron Schwartz

        Although reading a book or taking an online course is great for learning, as a CEO, my time for self development is limited. To improve different skills, I ask close friends who work for tutorials. Spending two hours taking a friend to dinner and chatting with an expert allows me to focus my questions on the issues that are relevant to my business.

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        Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

         

        4. People Who Are Smarter Than You

        Andy Karuza

          They say wise men learn from other men’s mistakes and fools learn from their own mistakes. Put yourself around people who are smarter than you, and learn from them. In fact, you can learn something from everybody, even people who you would least expect. Also, take the time to read every night from industry experts and thought leaders; it’s free knowledge without the lunch!

          Andy Karuza, brandbuddee

           

          5. AppSumo

          Danny Boice
            AppSumo offers great deals on learning resources and tools. It’s like LivingSocial, except that it solely caters to founders and geeks.

            Danny Boice, Speek

             

             

            6. Lynda.com

            Joe Apfelbaum

              As a busy professional, it’s hard to find time to learn new business skills. I find that every time I learn something new, our business improves. I read a lot of books, but when I don’t have time to read books, I listen to audio interviews and courses. I like Lynda.com for software skills and Mixergy for business skills.

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              Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union

               

              7. Audiobooks

              Mark Krassner

                I spent a lot of time following prominent bloggers and reading as much business news as possible. I was becoming the jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Therefore, I decided to read more books that took a deep delve into topics that were important for my business. I struggled with finding time to read and started listening to audiobooks while working out. The results have been powerful.

                Mark Krassner, Knee Walker Central 

                 

                8. Udemy

                Lauren Perkins
                  Udemy is an online education platform that’s ideal for busy entrepreneurs wanting to learn new skills on the go without being fully immersed in a classroom. Topics can range from business foundations to SEO training. The depth and intensity of the courses vary, so it’s perfect if you want to learn the basics of a new skill.

                  Lauren Perkins, Perks Consulting

                   

                  9. Online Communities

                  Phil Laboon

                    I am constantly gaining new insights from reading industry blogs. I’m a big fan of Moz and use them a lot as a resources for insights key to our industry. There are so many low-quality sites trying to pump out false data about our industry, and Moz always seems to do a good job blocking that stuff from their site. I enjoy learning from the different points of view in discussions and forums.

                    Phil Laboon, Eyeflow Internet Marketing

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                    10. Quora

                    Ronnie Castro

                      For getting up the learning curve quickly, nothing beats talking to an expert directly. Quora is a nice alternative where you can find candid thoughts from leaders concerning specific business decisions.

                      Ronnie Castro, Porch

                       

                       

                      11. Mixergy

                      Mike Cuesta
                        Mixergy is where I go to get brutally honest advice and lessons from real entrepreneurs. Andrew Warner who runs Mixergy is an overwhelmingly energetic and transparent interviewer. There are hundreds of interviews from real entrepreneurs who have overcome all sorts of obstacles. Even more impressive is the breadth and depth of companies interviewed — from bootstrappers to VC-backed tech giants.

                        Mike Cuesta, CareCloud

                         

                        12. Peers

                        Natalie McNeil

                          Chances are that you know someone who is strong in one area of business that you would like to learn who could learn something new from you, too. I’ve acquired many new business skills simply by swapping information and training with other successful entrepreneurs. It’s a win-win situation.

                          Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

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                          13. Skillshare

                          Derek Flanzraich
                            Skillshare continues to be the best way to learn something specific at an affordable price from the best teachers.

                            Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

                             

                             

                            14. YFS Magazine

                            Anthony Saladino
                              YFS Magazine provides free, actionable business advice from some of the brightest entrepreneurs worldwide. Regardless of your niche, you will find useful information throughout the website that is sure to help you learn techniques to improve your business.

                              Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

                               

                               

                              15. Mozinars

                              Fabian Kaempfer

                                My favorite resource for learning new business skills are webinars from Moz. They’re free webinars with experts in marketing and SEO. The content of each “Mozinar” is very specific, valuable and actionable, rather than general and vague. You can leave a webinar with lots of great insights and tactical approaches you can apply to your own company or situation.

                                Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize

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                                Published on January 16, 2019

                                How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                                You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                                You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                                That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                                Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                                1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                                Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                                We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                                To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                                At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                                The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                                2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                                Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                                The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                                In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                                It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                                It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                                So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                                • Are you a great strategist?
                                • Are you an effective planner?
                                • Is Project Management your strength?
                                • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                                • Are you the ideas person?
                                • Is Implementation your strength?

                                Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                                3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                                One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                                Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                                Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                                Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                                4. Take Time for Planning

                                “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                                One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                                You can take the time to think about:

                                • What’s the purpose of the project?
                                • How Important is it?
                                • When does it need to be delivered by?
                                • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                                • What are the KPIs?
                                • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                                • Who is working on this project?
                                • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                                • What tolerances can I add in?
                                • What are the review stages?
                                • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                                Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                                5. Focus on Priorities

                                Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                                Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                                One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                                1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                                2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                                3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                                4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                                James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                                  The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                                  If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                                  If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                                  6. Take Time Out

                                  To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                                  If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                                  Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                                  In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                                  Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                                  7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                                  Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                                  I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                                  Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                                  If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                                  8. Stop Multitasking

                                  Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                                  So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                                  When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                                  If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                                  9. Work in Blocks of Time

                                  To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                                  I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                                  Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                                  Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                                  Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                                  Then take another 10-minute break.

                                  Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                                  By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                                  10. Get Rid of Distractions

                                  Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                                  “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                                  Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                                  If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                                  11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                                  You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                                  Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                                  Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                                  12. Take a Time Audit

                                  Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                                  Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                                  You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                                  Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                                  Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                                  At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                                  If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                                  13. Protect Your Confidence

                                  It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                                  When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                                  Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                                  When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                                  Final Words

                                  A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                                  The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                                  If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                                  Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

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