How Productive Are You At Work?

How Productive Are You At Work?

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We’re notoriously bad at estimating time. We underestimate how long something will take to do and overestimate how much time we have to do it… a deadly mistake.

The livelihood of your business depends on you being able to estimate how much time you and your team spend on work tasks.

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Most humans can’t estimate their time accurately. This is why enjoyable events seem short and the boring ones seem to last forever.

~ TOGGL.COM

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THE FACTS

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A McKinsey&Company study of 1,500 executes (General Managers or above) across the globe have found that only 9% of respondents were ‘very satisfied’ with the way they spent their time.

Close to a third were ‘actively dissatisfied’.

More shockingly, nearly 50% admitted that they weren’t concentrating enough on the strategic direction of the business.

After speaking to hundreds of business owners, I’d say that nearly 8 out of 10 business owners are not paying enough attention to the strategic direction of their business or planning their success each year.

When was the last time you thought about the type of projects you want to spend your time on or how many hours a week you would like to work?

You can’t effectively calculate how many hours you want to work, if you don’t even know how long it takes you and/or your team to complete a task or project.
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“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.”

~ PETER DRUCKER

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Businesses have feast and famine cycles because business owners don’t know how long things take them to do.

They get stuck in the cycle of drumming up business and then having so much work that they can’t keep up… Then they’re left with no time to do marketing, sales and follow-ups calls, until they hit the next bust cycle.

This happens because they:
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  • don’t know how long it takes to get a new client
  • don’t know how long client projects really take to be completed
  • don’t factor in how long ‘marketing activities take to kick in’ and they wait until clients have dried up
  • don’t schedule weekly time in their diaries to do the important money-making activities in their business.

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Business owners who start tracking their work hours are normally shocked by how little time they spend on high impact activities that make money or move the business forward.
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EXAMPLE:

Let’s say you want to sign up 1 new client per week.
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1. Is that a realistic goal for your business and the industry you work in?

In some industries it can take 8-12 months to sign up a new client which means you’ll need to work this into your strategic planning for the year. On the other hand, you could have a business where 100 customers a week is the norm.
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2. Do you know which 2-3 activities will bring in a new client/customer each week for your business?

This is not about trends or what works for other people, it’s about what works for you.

Is it: Paid online advertising like Facebook Ads, phone calls, your Instagram account, building relationships with the right suppliers, your online or brick and mortar shop, speaking at events, print advertising or even radio/ TV advertising?
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3. How much time do you need to devote to these activities every week to be successful?

Well that will depend on how long it takes you from start to finish to sign up new clients – is it 5 hours, 3 days, a week or perhaps 8 months? Your approach would be very different for each.

These are the things you need to know if you want to stop the boom and bust cycles in your business. So where do you spend your time at work – is it on firefighting, admin, managing staff, operations, procrastination or business development?

Let’s find out.

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Track Your Time At Work 

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THE EXERCISE
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Tracking your time for a week but ideally one month will help you understand:

  • how you use your time at work
  • when you’re most productive
  • how ‘dead’ time zones occur and how to fix it.

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You might think you’re working as productively as you can, but many factors influence the time we take to do something e.g. energy levels, illness, stress, the environment, willpower and of course interruptions.
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Do you know how long it takes you to:

  • make follow-up calls with potential customers who previously requested information or quotes
  • contact existing clients for referrals
  • prepare and send out a quote or proposal
  • create a marketing email to clients
  • prepare for and have a client meeting?

Make it your mission to find out this week.

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THIS EXERCISE WILL PRODUCE SURPRISING RESULTS:
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#1 Start today and have a look at currently scheduled activities in your diary for the day + week.

#2 Edit each calendar entry for the week by adding how long you think the activity will take you to complete e.g. Meeting with Edward (150 min or 2hrs 30min) – include preparation time, travel time + actual meeting time.

#3 Decide how will you track your time e.g. pen + paper, excel spreadsheet or time tracking app. Don’t spend hours researching all the time management apps available, it defeats the purpose!

Keep it simple by downloading our time tracking template (in Excel) or sign up for the free version of Toggl or TrackingTime.

I personally use Toggl and it took me less than 5 minutes to sign up and get started. It tracks activities in real time or if you forgot to start the timer, you can later add the time manually. Both desktop and smart phone versions are available.

#4 Track your time daily for at least one week to get a grip on your time patterns. Work in 30 minute increments.

Don’t get hung up on tracking exact minutes when you do it manually – rough estimates are fine. You might be off by minutes but certainly not hours, which is still better than not tracking your time at all.

#5 At the end of a day compare what you’ve planned to do and the time you’ve allocated for the activity VS what actually happened.

Now we can start making informed decisions and tweak your behavior daily for better results.

 

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EXAMPLE TIME TRACKER IN EXCEL

 

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 PICK UP THE TRENDS

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Once you tracked your days for about a week it’s easy to spot trends in how you spend your days.
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CLARIFYING QUESTIONS

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By looking at your results over the last week:

  • On a scale of 1-10 how happy are you with the way you spent your time?
    (1 = lowest, 10 = highest)
  • Where was time wasted? 
    (note the times + the specific activities)
  • When were you super focused and got a lot done in a short period of time?
    (note the times + the specific activities)
  • How much did you stray from your planned activities?
    (hardly at all, only a few times, all the time)
  • What were the main causes for this to have happened?
    (distractions, firefighting, admin, staff, operations, procrastination)
  • Which activities didn’t get done at all?
    (reasons for this)
  • What will you start doing next week?
    (changes to improve)
  • What will you stop doing next week? 
    (changes to improve)

Answering the above questions will help you become aware of your energy cycles and the tasks you love to do and avoid to do.

This will help you to plan your days around your most productive hours where you do your best work in the shortest period of time and help you start noticing the tasks you dislike doing or procrastinate on doing.

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WHAT TO DO NEXT
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  • Create blocks of 1-4 hours of uninterrupted work-time every day around your most productive hours.  Use this time to focus on high level business activities that bring in money, tasks that require problem solving or creative output and important meetings.
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  • Leave low level activities that require less intensive focus like admin or website updates for low-energy times.
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  • Identify major distractions (staff walking in with questions), unplanned crisis (IT failure) and time-wasters (checking social media) and create processes or systems to help you better manage your time.

Once you start recognising and replacing bad habits, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes to your working week, your levels of happiness and to your bottom line.
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QUESTION:
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What was your biggest realization when you started tracking your time? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills
Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 Easy Steps To Plan Your Business Goals

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Most small business owners complain about:

  • working longer hours than they ever imagined
  • not being able to consistently reach their goals, and
  • constantly worrying where the next money and clients will come from.

This slowly kills the passion they have for their business and leave them doubting their ability to succeed in creating a lifestyle business. A main reason for this is…
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… the GAP between PLANNING our business goals and strategy, and what we DO on a daily basis.

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Recent studies in corporate companies have shown that up to two-thirds of decisions made in annual strategy sessions are never implemented! In my experience, the stats would be very similar for small businesses.

You see it’s easy to sit in a planning session (even only with yourself) and decide on the annual business goals to pursue but it’s 10X harder to execute on those business goals when you’re in the thick of things and:

  • taking customer calls
  • preparing quotes
  • answering emails
  • doing marketing
  • managing a team and many other things on a daily basis.
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We get distracted by every squeaky wheel in our business, instead of sticking to our plan.

So our biggest struggle is to link our yearly business goals and plans to what we do day-by-day and hour-by-hour in our business. Here are 3 easy steps to turn your business goals into successful completions.

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“Vision leads to proper planning and proper planning leads to successful completion.”

~ FARSHAD ASL (The ‘No Excuses’ Mindset Book)

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3 Easy Steps To Plan Your Business Goals

There is a difference between being effective and being efficient. When it comes to executing our plan we want to make sure that we’re as effective as possible.

This means being laser-focused on working on the right things in our business that will move us forward and make the biggest impact.

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THINK QUARTERLY

It’s crucial to know what success looks like for you. Effective business owners know what they want to achieve and then set business goals that will help them achieve their vision while taking the daily action to get there.

Let’s say you want to lose weight and you’re not clear on what you want to achieve… you could lose one kilogram and be successful because you lost weight or you could lose 10 kg and fail if you wanted to lose 20 kg.

It’s the same for your business goals e.g. let’s say you want to make an extra $50K this year, there are many ways to reach that goal.

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WHAT TO DO NEXT

1. Identify the 1-2 high-impact activities that bring in the most money in your business and that will get you to $50K the quickest

2. Commit to doubling or tripling the amount of time you spend on these 1-2 activities every week

3. Schedule non-negotiable blocks of time in your diary to work on these activities every day.
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EXAMPLE: PRODUCT LAUNCH
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One of Your Annual Business Goals:
Generate an extra $50K from an existing product/ service this year to a new client base.
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Quarterly Business Goals:
You identified one of your high-impact activities as a very profitable and time-efficient online program or physical product or service, and you decide to launch it in 3 months’ time. You estimate you can make an additional $20K from this activity this quarter.
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Example Main Activities: (not a comprehensive list)

// Research the new market to determine viability
// Adjust your marketing material to suit the market
// Create a marketing plan
// Market the product
// Launch the product

Estimate the amount of time needed to complete each activity and the people needed to complete the activities. Work it into the planning and set milestones to track progress along the way.

Use a software like Trello, Asana or any other project management and workflow software to lay out your project and assign activities to team members.
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Example Tasks: (not a comprehensive list)

// Create a survey for the new market, send out the survey + analyse the results
// Update website e.g. create a new landing page + shopping cart item
// Plan out social media posts, etc. etc.

Allocate time every day to work on the most important activities to move the project forward and work towards the set milestones. Schedule weekly progress check-ins with yourself + your team.
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There are many moving parts (activities + sub tasks) that need to be completed to achieve this quarterly goal.

That’s why it’s crucial to stay focused every day and to say No to any other distractions that come your way.

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PLAN WEEKLY
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Once you’re clear on your business goals and identified the 1-2 high-impact activities that will help you reach that goals, it’s time commit to doing these activities ‘no matter what’.

We’re all busy and life throws us curve balls all the time but unless we see these activities as non-negotiable, I can guarantee you that something else will come up to throw you off course, within a week if not days.

And that’s a hallmark of successful and effective people – their ability to be clear about their goals and their unwavering commitment to making it happen ‘no matter what’.

Let’s go back to our weight loss example:
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Would you be more motivated to lose weight in situation A or B?

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A. It would be nice to lose a few kilograms before I going to that wedding next month, or

B. The doctor just told you that unless you lose weight immediately you only have 6 months to live…

Of course your motivation will be higher in situation B, because your life literally depends on it.

And you’ll make time to exercise and eat healthy every day instead of making excuses like, “I didn’t have time today, I’ll do it tomorrow.
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Unfortunately we don’t always experience this drastic urgency in our business…

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That’s why it’s sometimes harder for business owners to move from making-a-living into a full lifestyle business.

Because as humans, unless we face a crisis, it can be a real challenge for us to only focus on the important activities while saying No to any other distractions that won’t help us to achieve our goals.

The only way you can ensure it will happen is by planning your weeks and scheduling it in your diary.
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WHAT TO DO NEXT

1. Be clear about what needs to get done this week to reach your quarterly business goals e.g. research the new market to determine viability
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2. Open your diary and schedule blocks of 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time every day of the next week to work on these activities e.g.

// create survey questions for the new market (1hr) – Me
// create the actual survey in Typeform or SurveyMonkey (30min) – John
// send out the survey (1hr) – John
>>> who will it be sent to?
>>> do you need to create a list of contacts?
>>> will you use ads to promote the survey?
>>> how + when will it be send?
// analyse the results (2hrs) – Me
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3. Estimate the time each activity will take you to complete. This is a great exercise, as we tend to underestimate how long things take us to do (see example in #2)
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4. Note the people needed to help you complete the tasks and remember to give them access to the project plans and calendars (see example in #2)
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5. Outline your success factors – how will you know if you’ve been successful by the end of the week? e.g.

// Week 1: survey has been created, tested and it’s ready to be send out
// Week 2: 50 people completed the survey successfully
// Week 3: all results have been analysed and a decision to either market the product to a new market or not, is made.
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ACT DAILY

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To act daily on what’s already been decided and planned for, is really the hardest part of everything.

It’s because it’s so easy to be distracted by a hundred little things every day. Studies have shown that on average, we’re interrupted every 3 minutes in the office! 

Between notifications pinging, emails coming in, a team member asking for help, phone calls and social media it’s no wonder that we’re busy all day without much to show for it by the end of a day.

My clients who started planning their weeks, reported feeling much more in control and more organised, but nearly all of them struggled for the first couple of weeks to stick to their blocks of uninterrupted time because of all the distractions.
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“Planning is easy. Execution is hard.”

~ ALICIA MENKVELD

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It takes courage and perseverance to stick to your plan every day.

Most of my clients reviewed and tweaked their plans several times before they found a routine that worked for them. Some started their day with a block of uninterrupted time, while others did a block between 11am-2pm or even later afternoon.

Your success in reaching your business goals depends on your ability to constantly review what worked and what hasn’t, and to be able to change direction quickly and daily if needed.
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WHAT TO DO NEXTblog-image-key-ideas1

At the end of each day take 5 min to review your day and ask yourself and/or your team:

1. How well did I stick to my plan today?

2. Which distractions kept me from working during my uninterrupted block(s) of time?

3. How can I minimise these distractions tomorrow?

4. How long did the actual tasks take vs. my estimations in the planning?

5. Did everyone involved in the activities performed up to standard? If not, what I can do to improve this?

6. Compared to the success factors for this activity, was I successful today?

Reviewing and tweaking as you move towards your business goals, is like a heat-seeking missile adjusting course while trying to lock in on its target.

The missile doesn’t stop trying until it found its target… and neither should you. Continue to review and tweak until you find a way that works well for you and your team.
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QUESTION:

Which part of sticking to your daily plan do you find most challenging? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 Ways To Be More Confident

What would you try or change in your life right now if you felt more confident?
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If you believed more in yourself and in your business, would you:
  • increase your prices or be more selective about the clients you work with?
  • speak at a networking event, make a video or publish an article?
  • expand your team or invest in a mentor?
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You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face…. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

~ ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

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Alicia Menkveld recording videosIt took me about a year to pluck up the courage to record my first video from the first time I had the idea to make videos to engage with my audience.

It took me at least another six months before I actually posted one of those videos on Facebook. I wasn’t confident that they were good enough.

For some people it’s the easiest thing in the world to record and post videos. I break out in cold sweat and look like a deer caught in the headlights.
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And that’s the thing with confidence… it all depends on the activity we do and how often we’ve done that activity in the past.

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It’s different for every person – what’s easy for you, could be completely nerve-wracking for me. I find speaking in front of a live crowd easy, but I had to flex my confidence muscle when I recorded videos on green screen in a studio for the first time.

The videos were for the Business Confidence Academy, a 7-week program for business owners ready to streamline their business so it supports the lifestyle they want to live.
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When was the last time you did something for the first time?

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Confidence, like any other skill can be learned with practice, and it’s crucial to your success in both life and business.

The more you do something you think you cannot do, the more you build an unshakable belief in yourself and your abilities. And it gets easier over time to step out of your comfort zone and be more confident.
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3 Ways To Be More Confident
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ASK BETTER QUESTIONS 

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When we face our fears it’s easy to get lost in a vague paralysing fear that we can’t define, instead of being clear about what exactly could go wrong.

By asking: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” you effectively do an informal risk assessment which forces your mind to come up with realistic scenarios of what could happen when you pursue the opportunity.

By getting a clear picture, we realise that our minds mostly let us chase ghosts that don’t exist, and we discover what’s really holding us back from taking the next step. Now we can plan for success and manage the risks.
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Case In Point: My Videos

I didn’t want to make videos because my monkey mind told me that:

  • I didn’t have anything interesting to say
  • No one will watch my videos
  • I don’t like how I look in videos
  • People will think my videos suck.

By asking: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I realised that the worst thing that could happen was that no one watched the video or liked it. There’s no risk in that!
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So why wasn’t I making the videos?

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By asking: “What’s so bad about that? I realised that my ego was afraid of being rejected and not liked, and it was afraid that people would laugh at my ‘bad’ video.

The role of the ego is to keep us safe, but that means that new situations with unknown outcomes are perceived as being dangerous. Sometimes situations are dangerous, but 9 times out of 10, there is nothing to fear but a slightly bruised ego.

In my case, none of my fears came true as many people watched and liked my videos, and even made nice comments! And the more videos I made, the more confident I became…

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BE CURIOUS AND LEARN

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Have you ever caught yourself starting something with great enthusiasm but when you hit road blocks, you start to doubt yourself?

It’s easy to get stuck in the Why-cycle:Why is this happening? Why is it so hard? Why always me?“. From there, it’s a short downward spiral to quitting the project and moving on to the next shiny object with renewed enthusiasm.

When you ask why-me-questions it’s an indicator that you find yourself in victim territory where confidence dies a quick death.
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KEY IDEAS:blog-image-key-ideas1

Instead of asking “Why“, rather ask:

  • What’s really going on? What’s the real problem?”
  • “Is there an opportunity for me to learn something from this situation?  
  • “What is the one thing I can do differently to change the situation and get the results I want?”

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This technique replaces our negative thoughts with solution-focused thinking and helps us realise that we are in control and that we can choose what to do next.

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MY VIDEO EXAMPLE:

With the questions above, I’ve identified that there were no detrimental risks involved in making a video and posting it to Facebook, except maybe a bruised ego.

The opportunity was to learn more about my insecurities and to learn a new skill (making videos). I was able to change my results because I chose to face my fears, record the videos and post them.

Asking what-questions put you back in the driver’s seat and boost your confidence because you know you have the ability to figure things out. It’s powerful to know that you can change the outcome of your situation to whatever you desire.

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 PRACTICE UNTIL YOU BECOME IT 

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Fake it till you make it” is one of the biggest confidence myths ever!

After studying highly successful people for several years, Malcolm Gladwell in the book Outliers  says that it roughly takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field. Mastery and confidence always go hand-in-hand.

There was a direct statistical relationship between the hours of practice and achievement of the people he studied. Especially when it comes to achieving big dreams like becoming a master pianist, a famous performer, TV presenter, a professional speaker or a successful business owner.

The study found that not even natural talent really played a role. There are no shortcuts or ‘naturals’ in life or business – only people who focus, put in the work, take risks and then ‘get lucky’.
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Maybe she was born with it… no it was NOT Maybelline! It was hard work, focus and not quitting!

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And that’s what I’ve done with videos in the studio.

I wrote scripts and rewrote them several times until I captured the essence of the message I wanted to get across. Then I practiced the scripts. Over and over and over for a few days.

I’ve learned so much from my experience in the studio. I realised that I’ll need to increase my practice time even more before the next video recordings to improve my delivery efficiency and presentation style, and to save money on fewer studio hire hours!

It’s also encouraging to know that even high profile speakers and TV personalities use scripts, and that they too practice a lot. So hopefully after 10,000 hours of practice, I’ll also sound as polished as Oprah in my videos.

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KEY IDEAS:blog-image-key-ideas1
  • Practice until what you want to master, comes as natural as breathing to you
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  • Use your imagination to practice scenarios before an actual event – e.g. an important meeting with a big client which you feel nervous about.
    • Plan the structure of the meeting and what needs to be said
    • See how well the meeting goes; see yourself smiling, feeling confident and listening to their needs
    • See how your solution can help them, and
    • See the signed contract on the table.
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  • Practice your pitch in front of the mirror, with a business partner or a colleague to iron out any kinks and make your vision a reality!
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To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act!

~ ALFRED A. MONTAPERT

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QUESTION:

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What do YOU do to feel more confident when you face a new situation? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

6 Bad Habits That Kill Your Time Management

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As people, we have good intentions but temptations, short attention spans and bad habits get in the way of our time management and overall business and life success.

// Have you ever been a diet but ended up eating a tub of cookies + cream ice-cream (my vice) on the first night?

// Have you ever signed up at the gym and then found a good (normally work-related) ‘reason’ not to go?

I have… and it’s the same in business…
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We have good intentions BUT bad habits keep us from being productive, more organised and getting things done.

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And we can only improve our bad habits once we’ve identified our blind spots.

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“Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”  

~ AMY RUBIN FLETT

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6 Bad Habits That Kills Your Time Management

The first step to discover which of your bad habits are killing your time management, is to track your time at work for a few days but ideally for 1-2 weeks to pick up trends and repeat offenders in your habits.
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Use a simple time management tracking system to track your days in 30 minute increments e.g. 

1. pen + paper

2. an excel spreadsheet (download ours on this page) or

3. a time tracking app like Toggl or TrackingTime.

I personally use Toggl; it took me less than 5 minutes to sign up and get started.

It tracks time management activities in real time or if you forgot to start the timer, you can later add the time manually. Both desktop + smart phone versions are available.

For instructions and the full exercise to track your time at work, see the blog post I wrote here.

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Once you start tracking your time, you’ll quickly discover where you leak time, energy + money… every day.

And like most business owners you might be shocked by how little time you spend on high impact activities that move the business forward.

Here’s an example analysis of a business owner’s day with an explanation of the six most common habits that kill your time management and productivity.
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BAD HABIT #1 – OVER-SCHEDULING WITH NO BUFFER TIME

In nearly every incident described above, a failure to allow sufficient time to get things done will severely hamper your business’ success, your health, your integrity and client relationships.

No other habit ruins your day and time management quicker than not planning enough time between appointments.

It’s like dominoes falling with a knock-on effect on your day that can’t stop e.g. doctors’ practices running late, and once the first domino fell it’s a run-away train you can’t stop.

Life will happen – from traffic jams, accidents and sick kids to a coffee spill on your shirt. Be prepared and plan your days better to stay in control and keep your stress levels as low.
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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT
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If this happens often, start scheduling buffer time before and after each meeting + activity.

Allowing 30+ minutes before and after appointments will help a great deal with unforeseen circumstances like meetings running over, traffic jams and presentations or computers not working.

Scheduling extra time will significantly lower your stress levels, make you a happier person and help your time management immensely. You’ll move from an overflowing calendar to one with breathing space.

Luckily it’s also easy not to waste any time while waiting for someone else as most applications are cloud-based, so you can:

  • check your email
  • login to accounting or project management software and update tasks
  • listen to a webinar or podcast
  • post to social media
  • do planning or
  • simply sit and enjoy a coffee.

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BAD HABIT #2 – CHECKING EMAIL FIRST

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It sounds so obvious but checking emails first thing in the morning or when you get to the office, is very bad for your time management.

In this example, the business owner didn’t factor email checking into the initial plan but gave in to the temptation, and they were already running late.

If they didn’t check their email, the staff meeting would’ve started on time and possibly ended on time too.

It also sets a bad example for your team when you seem to care more about your emails than keeping an appointment with them.

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Remember, what you see in your inbox dictates what you do next NOT what you planned to do.

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Non-urgent emails are a dangerous distraction and it’s also one of the most difficult temptations to resist once you’re in your inbox.

Low-level emails steal time from high level money-making activities like supporting your team, keeping organised and on time, reducing office stress and solving customer problems you get paid to do.
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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT

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  • Decide on 2-3 dedicated times to check your email during the day and do not check it in between e.g. 8am, 12pm and 5pm
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  • Add a notification to all your outgoing email to inform the sender by when they can expect to hear back from you
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  • Include instructions on what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency
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  • Learn to delegate email checking to staff or a virtual assistant who can scan your email and only let you deal with the important issues
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  • Set up standard email templates so your staff or a virtual assistant can easily answer various email inquiries correctly and up to standard
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  • Ruthlessly unsubscribe from and delete non-urgent email.

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BAD HABIT #3 – UNPRODUCTIVE MEETINGS

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In the above example, all the meetings overrun that day which definitely indicates a bad habit, and nothing kills time management and productivity like long and unproductive meetings.

The example meetings could have overrun for a number of reasons:

  • They started late and therefore ended late
  • They didn’t follow an agenda
  • There wasn’t a time limit set at the beginning of the meeting
  • A lack of preparation – things that could have been sorted via email or other means was left for the meeting.
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Once you start tracking all the time around a meeting it’s easy to see how expensive meetings are in terms of cost per hour and how little time in a day it leaves for productive work that matters.

This includes: meeting preparation time, the actual time spent in a meeting, travelling time to and back from a meeting and emails around the set up.

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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABITblog-image-key-ideas1
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Try the following tips to have more meaningful meetings:

  • Determine the importance of all meetings
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  • Determine the duration of the meeting ahead of time
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  • Decline ad hoc, last-minute meetings without an agenda and reschedule to a time that suits you better
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  • Allocate days of the week to have all your meetings
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  • Try ‘walk + talk’ or standing meetings – it keep things short and fresh air is good for creativity and your health.

It’s said that the Queen’s weekly audience with her Prime Ministers throughout the years have always been between 20-30 minutes – if a country’s issues can be discussed in such a short time, I guess the rest of us have no excuse!

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BAD HABIT #4 – NOT GETTING THE RIGHT HELP

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Spending time on any issue outside of your zone of genius when you’re already running late, is silly and a waste of precious time.

You know yourself better than anyone, so when ‘it’s not your thing’ stop thinking that ‘poking around’ will help to fix the issue.

Immediately ask yourself:

// Do I absolutely need to do this right now?

// Is there another way of solving this?

// Who do I know that can help me?

In this example, preparing for the client meeting without the presentation would have been far more beneficial to the business than wasting 20 minutes, getting stressed out and not doing preparation.

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Practicing your sales pitch always trumps a having presentation to win and keep business.

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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT
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  • Check presentations on different technology at least 4 hours to one day ahead of meetings
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  • Get an expert or (tech-savvy) team member to create and load presentations, is a must and a huge time saver
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  • If you have to choose between preparation + presentation, ditch the presentation and practice your pitch + listening skills
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  • Always delegate specialised issues to experts!

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BAD HABIT #5 – SKIPPING MEALS

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In this example, no time was lost but running a successful business requires you to be healthy and energetic, which you won’t be if you continue to skip breaks and meals.

Sugar levels and energy levels drop dramatically and it’s normally your clients, your team and family who suffer the most from mood swings and added pressure when you’re off sick.

Looking after yourself is key – factor it into your time management for the day.

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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT
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  • Don’t skip meals and breaks – they make you more effective and productive
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  • Always keep snacks in your office or car for unforeseen circumstances e.g. raw nuts, protein bars, protein shakes, fruit etc.
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  • Stay hydrated with water (not coffee!) to keep your brain in peak functioning condition
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  • Take regular breaks – 5-10 minutes for every 50 minutes of work e.g. stand up, stretch, stand outside, walk around the block.

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BAD HABIT #6 – NOT CREATING PROCESSES

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Things change and we need to stay on top of changes to keep our clients happy and our businesses profitable.

We need a process to help us stay on top of things and in communication with our clients.

// How do you let clients know you’re running late?

// How do you ensure they get the message?

// How do you ensure you or clients don’t miss out on important developments when you’re not in the office or have time to check email?

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Create a process to keep communication flowing.

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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT
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  • Tell people how you preferred to be contacted (call, email, messenger, text) with a message regarding urgent issues that need immediate attention
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  • If they can’t get hold of you, tell them to what to do next e.g. call the office and leave a message with a staff member or an answering service if you don’t have staff. Document the process and leave copies with all relevant people.
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  • Use driving or travel time for client calls or call-backs to stay up-to-date and save time. It’s also a great time to catch up with suppliers, family and friends.
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Clearly the poor business owner in the example had a terrible day filled with stress, frustration, anxiety and disappointment. By the end of the last call they are completely drained after a long day of stress and no food.

They were rushing all day and didn’t give anyone their best, including themselves. Now the last domino will fall with partner and/ or family demands waiting for them at home.

If this sounds like some of your days, it’s time for a change.

Better planning and the discipline to execute the plan will help you break these bad business habits once and for all.

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QUESTION:

Which of these six bad habits is the main culprit in killing your time management and productivity? Leave your comment below.

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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

Business Performance Review

business-performance-review

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On a scale of 1-10*,  how happy are you with consistently reaching your business goals?

*1 = lowest, 10 = highest

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onefivesevennine

 

 

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More importantly, do you know what to change to improve your results by 1-2 points in the next 90 days?

You can choose at any time to do things differently and start hitting your goals for the quarter. You’ll achieve this through doing a business review which will give you clarity, help you with planning and then it’s about taking daily prioritised action.
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A Business Review is super important because it:

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  • Gives You Control + Peace of Mind
    A large percentage of business owners don’t have a clear picture of how well their business performs at any given time. What you don’t know about your business is a blind spot that keeps you from reaching your goals.
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    A business review look at the facts and will show you the level of efficiency the business is performing at and if you need to make any adjustments to reach your goals.
  • Helps You to Work ON Your Business
    We all get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business and that’s why you need a chance to lift your head, reconnect with your vision and see the bigger picture. It’s like zooming out on a Google Earth map.
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    Zooming out will give you a helicopter view of where you’re at, if you’re moving in the right direction + how far you have to go. Small tweaks on a consistent basis in all business areas are the key to success.

 

business-strategy-flow-diagram

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The aim of a business review is to perform a health check and take your business’ pulse as it is, right now.

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alicia-menkveld-point-1a

BUSINESS AUDIT + VISION REVIEW

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The first section of the review is about assessing your current situation, looking at your vision and deciding how you’ll get there.

Questions To Consider:

  • What’s your 3-year business vision?
  • What is your definition of success?
  • What are your 3-5 main main goals for this year?
  • What worked well for you over the last 6 months?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • What resources do you need to succeed? (staff, training, systems, equipment, cash flow)
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alicia-menkveld-point-2a

MARKETS + PRODUCTS REVIEW

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In this part of the review you’ll look at who you serve, what you offer and how profitable your products/ services are. Then you’ll look at how to improve your results over the next quarter.

Your marketing plan will outline your target markets, positioning, customer demographics, message, offering, marketing strategy + tactics.

Over the years, I’ve found very few business owners who have any marketing plan whatsoever and it’s key to your success.

Without a plan, you’re bound to fall prey to the bright shiny object syndrome, waste money on strategies that won’t work for your business and make other marketing mistakes.

  • How effectively are you matching your products/ services to your customer’s needs?
  • How effective is your marketing? (leads coming in + conversion rates)
  • List your best performing products/ services – what percentage of revenue are they responsible for?
  • Can low performing products/ services be improved or phased out?
  • Products/ services costs – direct costs, overheads, brainstorm ideas to lower costs, negotiate better deals with suppliers
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alicia-menkveld-point-3a

MONEY/ FINANCIAL REVIEW

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If you’re using accounting software like Xero, MYOB, Cashbook Complete or Quickbooks all your financial reports are in one place and it’s easy to print out or view them online. Or contact your bookkeeper for up-to-date information.

Business Numbers To Review:

  • Budget
  • Targets vs Actual Revenue generated
  • Costs/ Expenses – keep costs under constant review
  • Profit
  • Cash Flow
  • Borrowing – credit available, loans
  • Growth/ Investments
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alicia-menkveld-point-4a

BUSINESS OPERATIONS REVIEW

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Operating your business in a short-term reactive way costs you time and money in the longer run and isn’t sustainable when growing the business. A clear strategy will guide you in your overall decision making process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Technology

  • In which areas of your business do you use computerised systems to be more efficient?
    (cloud applications for storage, remote back-ups, to work from anywhere + increase productivity)

 

Processes/ Systems

  • How do you manage repetitive tasks in the business?
  • Is your marketing + sales process documented?

If not, start the documentation process through outsourcing or record the process on your phone and send the audio file to be transcribed.

Continue to add instructions to the document every time you do the task, even if it’s one sentence at a time.

 

People

  • Do you have the right team (management, staff, suppliers, outside consultants) in place to achieve your goals?
  • Do you personally have the skills you need to succeed e.g. leadership, sales, IT, HR?
  • Are you clear on which tasks to delegate and outsource?

 

Productivity

  • Which tasks are most time consuming?
  • Which tasks generate the highest income?
  • What are the lowest income generating (but necessary) tasks in your business?
  • How productive are you (working only on high level activities) vs busy (working on tasks you’re not good at or where you can hire someone at $20 p/h to do the task)?
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Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day;

while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.

~ JIM ROHN

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QUESTION:
Which area of your business will you focus on most in the next quarter? Leave your comment below.
#smallbusinesssuccessskills

 

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

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P: 0425 177 897
E: alicia[at]aliciamenkveld.com

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