If you’re like me, you love to learn. I am always looking for ways to be more of the best version of me and ways to improve the operation of my business.
The risk that you run with that kind of passion is that you’re consumed with learning, but weak on implementing and it’s implementing that allows you to monetize your investment and create a strong ROI.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you strive to improve yourself and your business:
1. Set aside time to integrate what you learned immediately.
When you attend a conference or a class, schedule some ‘down time’ the next day so you can review your notes and plan what you’ll do with your new knowledge.
2. Avoid taking too many classes in close proximity to each other.
It’s likely to take you weeks or months to fully integrate your new strategies into your routine. Strive to allow sufficient time to assimilate your new knowledge and turn it into improved strategies and actions before piling on more knowledge.
3. Practice and share your new ‘stuff’ immediately.
Many times people feel tentative when they start implementing something new. That tentativeness is played out by not sharing what you’ve learned with your community.
The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll be to ever implement. So give yourself permission to be a newbie. Try new things. Offer a small group of clients special ‘early adopter’ pricing for your new approach.
4. Make connections.
If you’re attending a live event (virtual or face-to-face), strive to connect with other people who serve your market but offer something to it that you don’t. These are great prospects for building referral relationships or strategic alliances. They will speak the same language as you (having just completed the same learning you did) and hopefully, will be equally motivated to monetize their investment.
5. Get support.
Making changes in your routine is often a challenge especially when you’re trying something new. As you make investment decisions, lean towards programs that offer some ‘post-learning’ coaching or Q&A support. As you implement, you’ll probably come up with questions that you didn’t have as you were learning the material. Follow up support can be invaluable and help you implement more efficiently.
Ongoing training and development is a necessary investment in your future success. You must tackle it wisely however in order to maximize your return. These tips will help you do just that!
Life moves so much faster now than it did a decade ago. They promised us all of these productivity improvements but rather than simplify our lives, we’ve accelerated the speed at which we burn out if weren’t not careful.
Almost every single person I talk to says they’re busy, maybe even swamped. We’re inundated by email, phone calls, meetings, projects, family, social media, broadcast media, responsibilities, fun, etc.
So given that none of this is likely going away in the short term, where are we most at risk of being sucked into the time vortex and losing our capacity for true productivity with purpose?
Here are the top 10 traps that keep us from using the time we have in the most conscious way.
1. Doing busy work
There is a difference between being busy and being productive. When you’re merely busy, time goes by and you feel you’ve used it well, but in reality, you haven’t. You’ve deluded yourself into thinking you’ve accomplished something meaningful, when you’ve really just stood still. Think about a hamster running in a circular cage. True, he’s burned up some calories but he didn’t really get anywhere. How much cage running do you do that you pass off as getting somewhere?
2. Procrastinating on important tasks
Fear can be gripping. It’s likely the source of your preoccupation with busy work. When you don’t tackle those scary items, you let opportunities pass you by. You effectively give up before you even start, assuring yourself of certain defeat. The gold medal could be yours, but you never even start the race.
Given all of the distractions listed earlier, this is an easy one to give in to. Unfortunately, it’s a major drain on your productivity. When you multitask (and I’m guilty of this myself), you lose focus. And with lost focus, productivity suffers. You shift gears constantly and never get “into the groove”.
There is something to be said for assembly line work. As boring as it can be, the repetition of the same task over and over makes those assembly lines crank out a ton of product at low margins. When you multitask, your brain has to start from scratch every time you shift gears, wasting energy and brain cells and costing fluidity and productivity.
4. Flying by the seat of your pants
Some people hate to plan. Are you one of them? If so, you may pride yourself on being flexible and spontaneous. Both of these are virtues, but can also cause lost opportunities. Without a plan, you’ll forget things that are important. You’ll stay focused on what’s presented to you and not what is truly important.
5. Focusing on urgent, rather than important tasks
People who fly by the seat of their pants often are trapped in a either an urgent, emergency world or a drifter, come what may world. If this is you, you are responsive but probably not making the progress you’d hoped for, if you even remember what that progress would have looked like. Focusing on the urgent generally keeps you working on someone else’s projects not your own.
6. Living in your Comfort Zone
Miracles and major achievements occur outside your Comfort Zone. It feels nice and safe inside your CZ, but you’ll also fall victim to doing busy work and not confronting what it takes to step up and become heroic about your accomplishments. So your accomplishments don’t actually happen or take much longer than necessary.
7. Working outside your ‘gift’ zone
You have gifts (we all do) and those special skills are uniquely yours. Unfortunately, when you work on everything that crosses your desk, you exhaust yourself. You stifle your creativity because creativity arises when you’re free and unburdened, not when you’re engrossed in a task that’s a struggle for you.
8. Not allocating your time properly
You don’t know how long it takes to complete your tasks (likely because you are multitasking and working on 5 things at a time). Additionally, your calendar likely gets filled up with meetings and before you know it, you’re out of time and didn’t get to the things on your to do list. Does that sound familiar…more work than day available?
9. Not monitoring your use of time
When you don’t allocate, it’s hard to monitor. And what doesn’t get monitored, can’t get measured nor managed properly. If you saw how much of your time you were flushing down the toilet, you’d probably be shocked.
10. Forgetting the big picture
Most people get up and get to work. They work on what’s in front of them or happens to them during the course of the day. When you forget the Big Picture of why you’re here and what you’re supposed to be working on, your day gets filled in by many of the above items. It leaves you feeling somewhat frustrated, wondering ‘what’s the point’? You wake up one day singing ‘What’s it all about Alfie?’ (if you’re in my generation), talking about the Good Old Days, but feeling like you’ve missed out somehow…even though you’ve been busy the whole time.
Don’t fall victim to these traps. It’s not too late! Change your habits before you miss the big boat.
I’ve been working with several private clients on building their businesses more effectively.
One of the things they applaud is how must more productive their activities have become. They cite things like having a plan, being held accountable for implementing that plan and improving the quality of their marketing message as critical components of their success.
These aren’t rocket science concepts, yet in the day-to-day chaos that sometimes consumes them, plans and good intentions fly out the window.
What is it that has some business owners increase their businesses while other struggle?
I’ve uncovered 7 critical components.
1. Establish short-term and long-term goals
I wrote about the value of goal setting a few weeks ago (Read the article). Goals for both time frames are critical. Goals give you something to work toward and also make the path to get on more clear.
How prepared are you to do the work required to get to your end goal? Do you have what you need or do you need to learn something, hire a consultant, reorganize work duties? Maybe you have to shift your thinking, expand your sense of possibility. Adopt a more empowering belief system that says “I can do that!”
3. Identify stumbling blocks
There are reasons you haven’t yet reached your goal. The assessment phase may have brought to light tools and resources you need but don’t have. If you keep saying, “If only I had “x then I could market my company better”, it’s time to get off the dime and take care of that. It’s costing you money!
4. Lay out your roadmap
Once you know where you’re going and what you need to get there, you can start laying out the steps it will take and the milestones you’ll have to reach along the way. Knowing the intermediate steps will make the realization of your goal more feasible, certain even.
5. Be proactive
All the best laid plans will produce naught if you don’t get off your duff and do something different. You can’t expect to continue with your old, comfortable habits and expect that magically they’ll turn into more clients and more profits.
When people hear about how painfully shy I was as a child, they always ask ‘What did you do to get over that?’ First came the realization that I could not accomplish what was in my heart and mind being a wallflower. Then came decisions to put myself in front of people, speaking to groups (which petrified me at the time) and to continue doing that until it became a now favorite activity.
6. Track your progress
This is an important step that most people don’t bother with. They may make to-do lists and cross things off, but it’s hard to track your productivity over time by just reviewing crossed off lists. You can’t see trends of things you’re doing well and things you’re consistently avoiding. Plus tracking your activity makes you WAY more conscious of and accountable for what you’re getting done.
7. Get supportand master your psychology
No matter how driven you are, having someone or some ones in your corner, watching your back, giving you honest feedback, encouraging you when you’re down, brainstorming with you and opening your eyes to new possibilities while pushing you to think bigger, will go a long way to you reaching new horizons, more clients, happier clients and more money in the bank.
Implement these 7 factors and watch your business grow!