“Don’t confuse activity with achievement” – John Wooden
Have you ever said the following to yourself?
“What happened to my day? I was busy but got nothing done.”
This is the trap John Wooden was referring to. Just because we are busy doing things, it does not mean we are actually accomplishing anything. We’ve all been there. Busy all day, putting out fires, responding to requests and when the day ends, nothing we actually wanted to get done was accomplished.
Unfortunately, many times those other distractions end up costing you money, time and added stress you simply don’t need. In order to achieve more, you need to have strategies to help you get focused on what you really need to get done and avoid overwhelm.
Here are 11 hacks to help you achieve more and stress less. Of course, adapt this to your own environment and situation.
#1 - Prime selling time: Know when your prime selling time is. During this time, focus on revenue generating activity and nothing else. (Yes, this means no Facebook or YouTube cat videos)
For example, if your agency is B2B focused, then your prime selling time is most likely Monday through Friday and between 9am to 4pm.
#2 - Work backwards from money: Focus on activities that are closest in terms of money in the door for your agency. The following is an example of a priority list, and activities that stem from them.
#3 - Make an appointment with yourself: Block out time with yourself when you are working on important activities. For example, if you are planning to make 20 telemarketing calls a day to generate business, it’s imperative you make an appointment with yourself on your calendar and block out that time. For example, If that time is from 10am to 11am, make yourself unavailable to anything else. This means:
This of it this way, would you check Facebook, answer a phone call or deal with any other distractions in the middle of a client appointment? Of course not. The same rule applies here.
#4 - Know when you are most creative and productive: Everyone has a peak time during the day when they are most alert and productive. Creative types like writers, utilize this time to focus on writing because they are most creative and productive. The same holds true for everyone else. Plan your most challenging activities during your peak time.
For example, I am most productive mid morning. After I’ve had my first…second cup of coffee, I know I can get a lot done mid morning that requires a great deal of mental energy. When is your peak time?
#5 - Get your groove on: Keep things loose and fun for yourself. If you work better with music in the background, then turn it on. Just keep it from distracting yourself and others in your office.
For me, I always stand up and pace when I am selling, or presenting on the phone. I talk with my hands and sometimes toss a ball at a wall. This keeps me energized and allows me to communicate more effectively. What helps you get your groove on and be more effective?
#6 - Do Lunch…with the right people: Lunchtime is a valuable time that can often be wasted. First of all, don’t skip lunch, or just do busy work through lunch. Plan on having lunch at least 3 days a week with individuals that can influence your business in a positive way. This can be with networking contacts, prospects, clients, coaches, and anyone that can help you get lift in your business.
Save one to two days for other important people, like your staff, family, friends, and most of all, yourself.
#7 - Designated email time: We all know email is a critical tool for business. However, it has also become a major distraction. We get bogged down with unimportant emails and believe we need to reply at that moment. Designate frequency and time limits for emails, this includes checking your phone.
For example, check email 3 times a day at 8:30, 11:30, and 4:30 and allow yourself no more than 10 minutes each time to respond.
#8 - Outsource: The need to keep costs down often times costs us more in the long run. We often think of the pennies we can save by doing things ourselves, instead of the opportunity cost of what we should be doing/making with that time. This includes the hard costs like money you can be making, plus soft costs like stress.
Think of outsourcing your non core activities, such as, accounting, payroll, IT maintenance, etc.. One way to think about this is to figure out your hourly wage and compare it to the cost of outside help.
Divide your annual income or income goal (if your income isn't where you'd like it to be) by 2000 hours (assuming you work 8 hours and take 2 weeks off). For example:
$100,000/2000 = $50 an hour.
So, if doing your own books takes 4 hours a month, it would cost you at least $200. But if you can hire a bookkeeper to do the same thing at $100 a month, isn't it worth it? Our resources page has some helpful links that may assist you in this area.
#9 - Plan down time : During the course of each day, plan some down time for yourself. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Take a walk around the block. Take a power nap. Put on your headphones and listen to some great music. Plan the time to relax and recharge for the rest of your day.
#10 - Plan your day: Take time to plan at the end of each day or at the beginning of each day (before or after prime selling time). Write down your goals for that day and the activities necessary to achieve them. Remember, like Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the End in Mind.” Plan your day’s goals, then your activities that support them.
#11 Turn it off: Turn it off when you get home. Once you get in your car and close your door, leave it all at the office. Trust me, it will be waiting for you when you come back in the morning. The rest of your day is for you and your loved ones. You will come back more focused and recharged when you step away from it at the end of each day.
By no means is this a complete list. However, by getting started on this list and adding your own “hacks” along the way, you will find yourself to be more productive, and experience less overwhelm. If you have other tips that have worked for you, please share it in the blog comments. We'd love to hear from you.