Friday, June 24, 2011

How to get more done!

So much to do, so little time?  Feeling unorganized?  Missed a deadline or two?  Not getting enough of the things that matter done in a day?  Does this sound like you?
We work hard to create a life worth living.   A life that enables us to do the things we love, like work and volunteer, enjoy time with family and friends.  This full life does not always mean that time is on our side.  Sometimes the multitude of things we try to do in a day can often make us feel unorganized and overwhelmed and that can make us put off the things we know we need to do.  Often, the very flexibility we work so hard to instill in our schedule is actually the very thing adding to our level of stress.
With simple tools and a plan to allow for structure and flexibility to co-exist you can overcome procrastination and feel more organized to truly find the freedom to love your life and get more done in a day.
Discover the truth. To uncover the real roadblocks, start by being honest with yourself.  Explore the real reason why something is not getting done when it should.  It is not usually for the reason(s) you think like just being busy.  Procrastination shows up for many reasons.  Are you procrastinating because the project or task is too big and you really need to chunk it down first?  Or is it because you need help in the form of more information or support?  Is the project something within your skill set?  Do you understand what truly needs to be done?  Or is it a matter of not feeling inspired?  Whatever the reason, you must identify first in order to combat it.  It is often the "mental clutter" that gets in our way.
Set and manage your goals. Create a clear plan of obtainable goals.  Sometimes we overestimate what we can get done in a day.  I coach my clients to work from a daily to-do list.  I encourage them to create a list of only 5 or 6 things that they can commit to completing on that day.  Be specific about what you can accomplish.  Don't tell yourself that you are going to do "as much as I possibly can" today.  This is to vague of a plan and you will never feel like you got enough done.  Choose your goals based on a realistic plan that is manageable and takes into account your schedule, energy and commitment to getting it done.
Establish priorities. Of all the things on your to-do list; what is the most important thing item on the list that will have the greatest impact on your goals?  This is the item to tackle first.  Don't focus on the easy stuff first!  The easy stuff is not what usually has the most impact on your business or your goals.
From to-do list to calendar - Once you have created that daily to-do list (preferably the night before) now it is time to get out your calendar and block the appropriate amount of time needed to get the job(s) done.  Once the time is blocked, you must commit to it and only focus on the project within the time block.  Don't allow outside intrusions like phone calls, emails, tweets and updates to distract you and become disastrous interruptions.  Instead, schedule 30 minute breaks between your time blocks to check those emails and voice mails.  Knowing that you have that time to "plug back in" will allow you to have greater focus on your to-do's.
Manage your time. Most of my clients are small business owners and Independent Contractors and they will all tell you that one of the first things I encourage them to do is get clear on your time and set business hours.  In order to be truly productive we need structure.  The more structure you create in your professional life the more freedom and flexibility you will have in your personal life.  It's true!  Learning to separate time for work and play is crucial to living a healthy and balanced life that feels more harmonious than frustrating.  Establishing business hours (and communicating those hours to the public) will allow you to do more and be more effective when you are working.  It's important to schedule family time, fun time, vacation time and even daily down time too.  For most of us, it's true that if it is not on our calendar it does not happen.  So to make sure those things happen, schedule it!
Avoid distractions. Learn to say no sometimes!  It is that simple.  If someone inn your office, home or neighborhood engages in a conversation with you that is taking you away from the important things that need to get done, tell them you can't talk right now and you need to go back to work.  You don't have to say yes every time a friend invites you to coffee or lunch either.  Now, I am not saying you can't enjoy yourself and have fun too but lets be clear about where your focus should be at that moment.  Last minute invites should not take precedence over what you already have time blocked.  Make plans to catch up at another time that will not interfere with your business goals.  A good rule of thumb ... Business needs to be done during business hours; socializing is before and after those hours!
Manage your volunteer work, don't let it manage you! if you are like me, you probably belong to a few organizations and associations both professional and personal.  I enjoy the roles I have in these numerous organizations.  I enjoy volunteering my time and contributing to something that is bigger than myself.  I have met some wonderful people and learned a lot about myself and the world we live in because of it.  I have also added to my professional network and often experience the opportunity to create business opportunities too.  However, I would not feel fulfilled if the time I put into these organizations left me feeling mentally and physically exhausted and depleted.  So many of the ideas I have shared in this article will help you to do more and enjoy more through your volunteerism too.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Road Trip to Success

This is the time of year where many of us plan time away with our family.  Summer is a great time to plan a road trip.  Road trips can be fun and often lead to the discovery of new places allowing for new experiences and personal growth; but a poorly planned trip is no fun and can often be disastrous.   Your business is on a road trip too, the results or outcome of the trip, just as your personal vacation will greatly depend on the planning you do before you get behind the wheel.
What type of trip is your business on?  Have you taken the time to plan accordingly?  Do you have a clear path ahead of you?   Are you prepared should you hit a road block or an unexpected turn?  Are you stocked with the right tools and provisions to make your trip easier and more enjoyable?  Do you have an alternate route set up to help you to get to your final destination or goals?
A road trip to success needs to be paved with basic principles that will help you to remain focused and productive along the way.  Some of those principles are:
Vision – Your vision will allow you to focus on the road ahead.  Your vision needs to be clear and simple, yet should also be bold and compelling allowing you have new experiences and see new sights in your business plan or road trip.   Your vision must remain in front of you at all times so that you don’t take a wrong turn.  One way to keep your vision is to come up with one word that embodies it and focus on that word numerous times a day.
Purpose – Once you are clear on the vision of your business and its goals allow yourself to develop and understand your purpose.  Your purpose is the answer to “Why am I doing all this? What is it all for?”  Use your gifts, talents and strengths to bring purpose to everything you do.    Burn out doesn’t come from what you do it often comes from forgetting why you’re doing it.
Optimism – This is the fuel for your road trip to success!   Optimism is having hopefulness and confidence about the future.  It means you expect the best outcome from any situation.   Having optimism means you can respond more positively to events in your life and in your business.
Positivity - Being positive is without a doubt a major part of your success plan.  Replace negativity with optimism and positive thoughts.  This will lead to a deeper belief in your vision and your goals.  It will keep your passion alive.  Your optimism and positive outlook matter.  When your mindset is focused on problems and negative outcomes all you will ever see are obstacles and challenges.  Negativity can cost a business dearly.  Positive people see solutions and work towards them.
Focus – What you focus on is what you will get.  So ask yourself every day “What three things can I do today to bring me closer to my goals?”  Tune out distractions because they often lead to destruction.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gen-X, Gen-Y ... and how they impact your business

We are in a new era.  The world is changing faster than ever before and a driving force behind this change is a group of individuals known as Generation-Y.  Born in the mid-1980's and later, Generation Y professionals are in their 20s and are just entering the workforce. With numbers estimated as high as 70 million, Generation Y (also known as the Millennials) is the fastest growing segment of today’s workforce.  This group of individuals are also consumers and if you want to be relevant to them and gain them as a customer you need to be just as tech savvy and on the cutting edge as they are.
Today, everyone has a new attitude and a new way of doing things.  Technology and social media has blurred the lines between work and personal life.  Through proper leverage of this technology, we are able to get more done in less time wherever and whenever we can.
The younger generation has mastered technology and has made a new "normal" for the way we communicate, share, shop, sell and do business.  The younger generation, roughly between the ages of 20-40, known as Gen-Y & Gen-X respectively operate in a very different mode.  Texting, tweeting and updating a status over a Grande Carmel Macchiatto can all be done before 7am.  This group has no need for a watch, because their cell phones have always told them what time it is.
How does this impact your business?  Well for one thing, this younger generation has incredible buying power.  Market research has shown us that the average consumer is getting younger and savvier all the time.  If you want to gain the confidence & ultimately the business of this powerful segment of the population, you need to be attractive and more importantly relevant to them.  One way to formulate that strategy is to first understand how the target audience thinks and lives.  However, defining the younger generation can be challenging because they are moving at the speed of light.
For this generation, technology is a way of life.  They don't need to "wrap their heads around it", they grew up with it.  They communicate in 140 characters or less.  They keep in touch with family & friends through "shared: photos and status updates, you tube videos and tweets.  Social media, technology & even reality tv has made transparency the new norm.  These younger consumers expect genuine, real communication and they want to know that anyone they work for, deal with or do business with "gets it".
As a sales professional it's important to attract people from across the spectrum and most importantly from these younger generations to truly build your business so that it can sustain in this decade and beyond.
Now, I want to be sure that I also state the importance of face to face communication as well.  I am in no way implying that technology or the internet will replace the value you offer your customer as a trained and experienced professional.  You will still need to engage in person to person networking and most deals will be struck sitting across the table from each other.
However, social media and the technology you implement in your business on a daily business will allow you to attract more clients and retain a different group of consumers than ever before.  Social media for example allows you to start a conversation with a new prospect as well as continue to communicate with your existing clients all at the same time.
So isn't it time to position yourself to connect with more clients in less time?  If you are not embracing technology, implementing social media in your everyday marketing is your business growing?  Consumers are looking for us in new and different ways. Technology is a fundamental aspect of everyday life for the younger generations and beyond - for communication, education, entertainment and naturally business. How will you step up, reach out and connect?