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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 15 Techniques for Actually Getting Work Done While On the Go

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 15 Techniques for Actually Getting Work Done While On the Go


    Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in 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:

    How do you stay focused when working on the go — in airports, co-working spaces, Starbucks?

    1. Time Your Work Sessions

    Andy Drish

      Set a timer for thirty minutes and commit to not doing anything else during that time. No phone, no email, no Facebook. Setting a timer frees your mind to focus on the single task at hand without distractions.

      Andy Drish, Referral Squirrel

       

      2. Try the Pomodoro Technique

      Juha Liikala

        The Pomodoro technique is a very effective work-pause-work method invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late ’80s. Each work sprint of 25 minutes is followed by a 5-minute break. First, choose a relatively simple task to accomplish, focus on the task for 25 minutes and then take 5-minute break to grab another cup of coffee. Then, start again. Works like a charm, especially if you’re on the move!

        Juha Liikala, webVehicle Oy

        3. Take Breaks to Network

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          I live by a structured schedule, but it’s hard to concentrate when there’s a lot of opportunity around when I’m working. Scheduling work blocks and breaks is a great way to “reward” myself with time to network, get distracted and enjoy some freedom while still accomplishing my tasks.

          Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

          4. Reliable WiFi with MiFi

            The danger for me when working on-the-go is the lack of reliable Internet connection. When the connection is spotty, I may get distracted with my phone, a newspaper article and more. Having a MiFi device has been an amazing solution; you’re guaranteed to get a fast and fail-free connection so you can work anywhere, anytime.

            Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

            5. Prep Your Offline Workload

              We tend to have a lot of reliance on Internet access, but sometimes when WiFi is spotty or just unavailable, make sure you have plenty of work you can do offline. You can still upload it online later, if needed. Just thinking about Internet problems can be distracting, so by eliminating the need for Internet access, you can focus more energy on getting your work done.

              Danny Wong, Blank Label Group, Inc.

              6. Set Three Clear Goals

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                When I work away from my desk, I usually list out three things I have to get done. I can network or do anything else I want as soon as I finish that work. I make a point of not doing anything else until I finish that work. I’ve never had a problem telling someone that I simply must get something emailed off before I chat — fellow entrepreneurs in particular often understand!
                Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

                7. Artificial Deadlines Really Work!

                  I use a product called Grid-It! by Cocoon to keep my “mobile office” organized. The Grid-It! is a board with a zipped storage compartment on one side and a mesh of elastic bands on the other. The compartment holds paperwork and discs, while the bands hold everything else (cables, gadgets, hard drives, etc). Simple concept, but it’s made my carry-on bag far more manageable.
                  Colin Wright, Exile Lifestyle

                  8. Remember The Milk

                    When traveling, you generally only have a few minutes here and there to really accomplish anything. The way I get around that is to have my to-do list, which is housed at RememberTheMilk.com, stare at me in the face with Priority 1 projects. I then shut the email off so no new distractions come my way. That combination allows me to get things done and then enjoy the world around me.
                    Greg Rollett, The ProductPros

                    9. Wunderlist Stops the Wandering

                      The best tool I have used to help me stay focused on the go is Wunderlist. I can sync my laptop, iPad and iPhone up at all times. If I’m using my phone, I can see the same list of priorities for each client that needs to get done as when I’m on my computer. I think that when you can’t visualize everything that needs to get done, you become easily distracted.
                      Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr

                      10. People Don’t Bother Busy People!

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                      John Hall

                        Staying focused outside of the office is all about the environment, so I put on headphones and listen to some light music. Not only does it block out ambient noise, but people are less likely to distract you if they think you can’t hear them anyway.
                        John Hall, Digital Talent Agents

                         

                        11. Bring Those Headphones

                        Heather Huhman

                          When working outside of an office or your house, it can be easy to get distracted by the immense amount of noise at coffee shops or in the airport. Investing in a nice pair of headphones is a great way to stay focused on the task at hand and tune out the things going on around you.
                          Heather Huhman, Come Recommended

                           

                          12. Divide Tasks by Location

                            When I’m traveling, I divide tasks by location: sitting in the airport, riding in the car, waiting in line, during ascent and descent, and cruising altitude. This requires a bit more planning, but I find that it makes keeping up with email, phone calls and projects relatively easy. The ease and efficiency of never having to wonder what to do now helps me to invest the time wisely.
                            Elizabeth SaundersReal Life E®

                            13. Which Tasks Are Location Independent?

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                            Lucas Sommer

                              If I have to do work in an airport, lobby or Starbucks, I do my best to schedule what I will be working on in advance. Processing data and doing routine tasks is far easier than being creative in these environments. Set yourself up with tasks that you can accomplish given the time, resources and environment.
                              Lucas Sommer, Audimated

                               

                              14. Do a Little Dance!

                              Derek Shanahan

                                Okay, not really dancing; listening to music is kind of a must for me when I’m working in public, while traveling, or otherwise surrounded by people. Let We Are Hunted or The Hype Machine’s Popular list drown out the world, especially in the presence of abundant distractions.
                                Derek Shanahan, Foodtree

                                 

                                15. Keep Co-Working to Truly Work

                                Caitlin McCabe

                                  Working on the go regularly will help train you to focus while outside your own office. A few years ago, I never would have been able to get four emails done as I walk from gate to gate at the airport, but it’s something you can really get good at.
                                  Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding

                                  (Photo credit: Man Travelling with Read Bag at Airport via Shutterstock)

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                                    Last Updated on August 7, 2018

                                    14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

                                    14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

                                    Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.

                                    Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.

                                    Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).

                                    It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.

                                    As we delve into the list of effective leadership traits, you will learn the behaviors and attitudes of a good leader.

                                    The 14 most important leadership traits

                                    Please read through the list of leadership qualities carefully. Take note of which of the traits you excel at – and which ones you need to work at.

                                    Traits for better self-development

                                    1. Vision and mission

                                    Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.

                                    This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:

                                      How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.

                                      2. Self-motivated

                                      It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.

                                      Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.

                                      One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.

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                                      3. Optimism and positivity

                                      Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.

                                      Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.

                                      Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Find out more about the habits of positive people here.

                                      4. Emotional stability

                                      In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.

                                      If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Here’re some effective ways to control your emotions.

                                      5. Self-confidence

                                      Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.

                                      It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.

                                      Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be.

                                      If you look for more ways to boost your self-confidence, this confidence coach has got you some nice advice:

                                      How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

                                      6. Decisiveness

                                      Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.

                                      Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.

                                      Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material.

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                                      I know it’s really quite difficult to make the right decisions sometimes, but don’t worry, here’s a guide for you:

                                      How To Make Good Decisions All The Time

                                      7. Passion and enthusiasm

                                      Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.

                                      Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.

                                      Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:

                                        One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.

                                        Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.

                                        8. Accountability and responsibility

                                        Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.

                                        When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.

                                        To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.

                                        Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.

                                        9. Focus

                                        Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.

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                                        One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.

                                        If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.

                                        10. Ever-learning

                                        Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.

                                        Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here:

                                        If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

                                        Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.

                                        It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.

                                        Traits for effective communication

                                        11. Empathy

                                        The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).

                                        Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.

                                        One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.

                                        12. Persuasive and influential

                                        Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.

                                        Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.

                                        There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:

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                                        How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

                                        If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.

                                        Traits for ensuring an engaging team

                                        13. Team building

                                        If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.

                                        If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:

                                        Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.

                                        The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.

                                        14. Fostering creativity

                                        Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.

                                        Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.

                                        Leadership is a journey of continuous learning

                                        Leadership is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before.

                                        Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those.

                                        It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.

                                        Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

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