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Stop setting goals and do this instead.

Posted by in Productivity, Time management

Have you set your resolutions yet for the next 12 months? If not, join the club! If the thought of setting out another long list of projects and deadlines leaves you feeling overwhelmed and demotivated then perhaps it’s time to face up to the fact that goal setting isn’t for you. I’ve certainly come to the conclusion that there are far better ways to get stuff done than creating endless to do lists, which after a spate of activity, usually sit gathering dust on my computer until the start of another year. So if you’d rather walk over burning hot coals than create another action plan then here are the 7 key reasons why you shouldn’t be setting goals for your business – and what you should do instead. You’ve still got a load of tasks from the previous year that you haven’t completed yet. You’ve got a long list of projects and goals from last year that you’ve only half completed but you’re bored with them now and want to try something new. Solution: Review your projects from the previous 12 months and put them into 3 lists – ones you want to keep, ones you want to postpone for now, and ones you want to ditch altogether. You don’t plan your day. Your whole day is spent managing other people’s demands or getting caught up in time-wasting activities so you end the day feeling exhausted but no further forward than you were at the start. Solution: Begin each day with 3 tasks that you want to complete that day and order them by prioritiy. Set aside 20 minutes for each task using the timer on your Smartphone. You get caught up in other people’s emergencies and don’t know how to say no. You spend so much time pleasing everyone else that your own projects and requirements get put on the back burner and never get done. Solution: Write down a clear goal that you want to achieve in the next 6-12 months and then review every request against that goal to see if it aligns with it. Say yes if it does and no if it doesn’t – easier said than done sometimes but you need to be strict with your time. You are constantly distracted by emails and social media. You can’t focus on one thing and are constantly checking your emails or Twitter and Facebook updates and find that an hour has passed and you’ve not done anything. Solution: Be strict with your time. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes every time you check and read your emails or social media updates. Use apps such as Freedom to restrict your access to the internet when...

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Are You Choosing Not to Get Things Done?

Posted by in Productivity, Time management

“Your life is the results of choices you make. If you don’t like your life, it is time to start making better choices” – Unknown. Let’s face it, it’s your choice what you focus on every day. If you’re not making the right choices then you’re not getting the right things done. We often complain that we don’t have the time to do this or that thing, but if we’re honest, that’s not really the reason why we don’t get things done. The real reason is that we spend time on doing other stuff because it’s easy, comfortable, and something that we know we can achieve. How many tasks do you have on your action list that you look at with a hidden groan? Perhaps it’s a difficult phone call you’ve got to make or a new project that you need to start. You know you should be doing it but there’s always something that distracts you. That little voice in your head that suddenly tells you that you need to just check your updates on Twitter, or catch up with Game of Thrones. But we’re kidding ourselves, right? Because all we’re doing is distracting ourselves from focusing on what’s really important – the more difficult tasks that need to be dealt with. And these distractions aren’t going to drive your business forward. So what holds you back from getting things done is down to what you choose to focus on every day. And if you keep choosing to focus on the wrong things then this is going to have a massive negative impact on your business. It’s a bit like when you’re on a diet – you know you should be eating that bowl of salad but your mind is telling you that all you want is a big fat chocolate doughnut!! Mmm… doughnuts… Well it’s the same with managing your time. You’ve got an important project that you need to work on but you’re struggling to draw yourself away from commenting on your friend’s cute baby pictures on Facebook. In fact, the right thing to do can sound downright dull and boring, and who wants that? Well chewing on some lettuce may not be as satisfying as biting into a mouthful of cream and chocolate (mmm….) but it’s all about what you are working towards and what it means to you. If you want to lose weight so you can look good for your two week holiday in Bali – that doesn’t sound dull and boring does it? And it’s the same with your action list. If you want to work on those projects that will help you to earn more money and get more clients –...

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8 Things Smart Business Owners Do Every Day

Posted by in Small business, Time management

As an entrepreneur, what you do every day can define how successful you are in achieving your business goals. Think about it.  You can either start the day cursing the alarm clock as you fall out of bed bleary eyed, stumbling towards the kettle to make your first fix of coffee.  Or you can have a routine that leaves you feeling calm, motivated and ready for whatever the day has to throw at you! Now I’m not a morning person by any means but I’ve found that having a routine when I first get up is essential if I want to start the day the right way.  If I miss this routine for any reason then it certainly has an impact on how I feel and act during the day – sometimes grumpy, unfocused or demotivated (or all three!). And because how you start your day can have a positive or negative impact on your mood and how you work, then it can also affect the success of your business. So here are 8 things smart business owners do every day to ensure they stay motivated and focused. Have a morning routine.  As I mentioned, I may not be an early bird but I do understand the importance of starting your day off in the right way.  Because if you don’t then this can affect your attitude and thinking for the rest of the day.  Having a morning routine – whether that’s going for a run, meditating, or writing in your journal – will help to ensure that you start off the day in the right frame of mind. Focus on what’s important.  Trying to juggle a growing to do list is a surefire way to feeling overwhelmed and demotivated. Yes we’ve all got a 101 things we could be doing but if you want to be successful in achieving them then you’ve got to focus on what’s important to you and your business.  So review your action list regularly to see if it’s still relevant.  Then pick no more than 3 things to do each day that will move your business forward. Know where you’re going.  You wouldn’t set off on a journey without knowing the destination so why would you do that in your business?  By knowing what you’re aiming for, you can create a clear plan of action on how to get there.  By doing that, you will know exactly what you should be focusing on each day to move you towards where you want to be. Delegate.  If you’re spending hours trying to sort out your expenses or designing a PowerPoint presentation, then that’s time you’re not focusing on earning money for your business.  Smart...

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6 Ways to stay focused on your projects when you feel like giving up

Posted by in Time management

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt since setting up my own business is that ultimately it’s all down to me.  As a business owner, you may have a network of people who can help you along the way but ultimately it’s your decision and responsibility how you run your business and whether you take on a project and complete it. Now this can be a blessing as well as a curse.  It’s great that you’re in control of your own work rather than at the mercy of some ‘pain in the ass’ boss.  However, it can also be a burden because you carry the final responsibility of both success and failure for anything you do. For example, I’m currently working on a new part of my business that is exciting but scary and I’m continually facing doubts, challenges and questions.  Have there been times when I’ve felt like giving up? Absolutely! I’m sure you’ve been through the same thing too, especially if you’ve worked on a project that has pushed you outside your comfort zone.  It’s easy to start off all motivated and excited but that momentum can soon start to fade once those doubting gremlins begin to appear. (See my previous blog “10 Ways to finish what you start“) So how can you stay focused when the doubts and challenges take over? Well here’s a method that I use to help make me feel “unstoppable”. I go into what I call “icebreaker” mode.  I see myself as an icebreaker ship ploughing my way through icebergs and obstacles as I work my way to my destination.   Nothing can stop me, nothing can sink me – I’m going to get there hell or high water! And you can use a similar method to keep you going when things get tough – just tap into your version of “unstoppable” – whether that’s a bulldozer or a caped crusader! And as well as seeing yourself as unstoppable, I’ve found that there are 6 key actions that you need to take when starting on a project if you want it to succeed, and I’ve outlined these actions below. 6 Ways to stay focused on your projects when you feel like giving up. Set your mission.  Don’t start a project unless you have a clear idea of why you’re doing it.  Ask yourself 3 questions:  Why are you doing it? Who are you doing it for? How are you going to complete it?  Then set this as your mission statement. This helps you to “own” the project (see below) and gives you a framework to get started. Take ownership.  Is this a project that you really want to do?  Very often we take...

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Why reading blogs is killing your productivity

Posted by in Time management

I was reading a great blog the other week which detailed what CEOs do each day to help them stay productive. Sounds great, right? Well no, because it left me feeling depressed. The first tip was getting up at 6am. (Are there any successful people that don’t get up at the crack of dawn?) As soon as I see that, my heart sinks because I’m a night owl not an early morning kinda girl. I know there’s people who will brag that they’ve done 2 hours’ work before most people have had breakfast, but that’s not me and never will be. I’m more the kind of person who’s still working at 10 o’clock at night, with a cup of tea (or occasionally a glass of wine!) by my side. Who cares as long as you get the work done, right? So instead of being motivated by reading this blog, I just spent the rest of the day kicking myself because I didn’t jump out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning, go running for half an hour, come back for a quick cold shower and then power through my to do list all before most people have had their first cup of coffee! As I mentioned in my previous blog 7 Productivity Myths that can Stop you Getting Things Done, we can get so hamstrung by other people’s opinions and advice that it stops us in our tracks. From my experience of working with small business owners and speaking to them about how they can best manage their time whilst running a business, I know that this is something that many people struggle with and are desperately looking for advice on. And yet so much advice will tell you that the author’s way is the right way and that this is what you need if you want to be successful, more productive, etc. And there’s some truth to all this advice but fundamentally it will only work if you buy into it; if you can realistically follow the advice and take action. Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself – Cicero Everyone is different. Remember we are all different, we all have different priorities in our lives. Some of us may be partners, parents or carers, or have other commitments or interests outside our day to day business. There are people who get up early and get straight work, whereas others have to feed the kids and get them ready for school, or are like me and do better work later in the day. You may get inspired when working out in the gym, whereas I find it better to take a walk in the park to...

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Is this the real reason why you’re not getting things done?

Posted by in Time management

“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse” – Florence Nightingale What’s the biggest time management challenge for business owners? Juggling several roles and projects at once? Struggling to balance work and personal life? Having so many tasks that you don’t know what to focus on next? One of the major projects that has been sitting on my to do list for the last 18 months has  been to create a paid product and I’m happy to say that I’m finally getting round to doing it.  But I know full well how easy it is to blame lack of time for not doing stuff on your task list. But I also know that although lack of time can be a factor, it can also be a very good excuse! As David Allen points out in his book, Getting Things Done:  When you start to make things happen, you really begin to believe that you can make things happen. And that makes things happen. The main object of my business is to help business owners have more time to do the things that they enjoy and which are important for their  business.  And even though I’m good at giving advice on how to stay productive and focused on goals, I don’t always practice what I preach. Which means there are times when I’m very good at making excuses for not getting things done! You may have heard the old saying that we all have the same number of hours in a day, it’s what we do with those hours that matter.  But that very often doesn’t help us when we’re struggling to get going with something and feeling overwhelmed by all the things we have to do.  In fact, it can leave us feeling even more demotivated and demoralised than before. After a long day helping clients with their email marketing campaigns or dealing with their back office tasks, it’s very easy to pour myself a glass of wine, sit down on the sofa and turn on the TV.  Now there’s nothing wrong with doing any of these things but if I’ve promised my subscribers to send them an email update once a week then spending a couple of hours watching TV isn’t going to get it done.  And it’s the regular emails to my subscribers that will help to grow my business not spending an hour watching Mad Men while downing a glass of Rioja! So it’s very easy to make excuses about time without really thinking about how you spend it. See my previous blog: 10 Ways to Finish What You Start. Write down all of your excuses Now some people advise...

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