Managing Your Time: What is Your Day Worth? Part 2 of 3

If money drives you, think about placing a dollar amount on your day equal to the effort and efficiency you put forth. This is one of my clients’ favorite strategies for enhancing productivity and assessing their performance at day’s end.

For example, imagine a day where you put forth your 100% personal best. What dollar amount might you tag to a day like that? $1000, $5000, $10,000? Let’s say $5000.  A $5000 day  assumes that every task on your list gets done, done well and delivered. The next step is to assign, according to the time needed per task, complexity and priority, a dollar amount where the maximum total for the day = $5000. For example:

  • refining a clear description of your business model = $500
  • making 5 cold calls to prospects = $1000
  • clearing your desk and planning your schedule for the next day = $1000
  • sending out the three proposals you’ve been putting off = $2500

Therefore, accomplishing all these tasks would earn you your max for the day ($5000). Consider attaching greater dollar amounts to the most undesirable, but essential tasks on your list.

At day’s end ask yourself : What did I pay myself today? What did I earn? $500, $2000? $4500? Where did I jip myself and how can make more tomorrow?  You can also use a self-rating scale from 1 (total slacking) to 10 (personal best) and resolve the next day to beat the previous day’s rating. If you easily made your quota, perhaps your allotments per task are too generous, or you can fit more into your day and pay yourself more.

Let me know how this works for you! Need help being productive in not so ordinary ways? Contact me at [email protected]   

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Steer Clear of the Subtle Saboteurs

First thing in the morning, start out visualizing your most productive and satisfying day. What kind of day, from start to finish, would give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment?  If you can see it, then you know what to aim for. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve got your to-do list. But, in visualizing your perfect day, how will you tackle the more insidious distractions that could divert you?  Distractions aren’t all about noise and interruptions. If you haven’t addressed the obvious, then now is the time: shut the damn door, turn off the bleeping phone and tell people to leave you alone. If you’ve covered those bases, let’s address some of the sneakier distractions:

Unpreparedness reinforces your wanderlust:  If you set up a schedule the night before, which I highly recommend, all the pieces are in place. Your schedule should have THE TASKS and all the little sub-tasks listed below it for getting each TASK done. Then you can have a blast checking off each little sub-task as you complete it. Otherwise, if you just list the tasks, it’s like facing an inferno.

Dehydrated and de-nourished. Before you sit down to work, start off with a breakfast high in protein, good fats and plenty of water, especially if you suffer from anxiety and attention problems. Your brain is fat, protein keeps you sharp and water helps everything.

Unjustly rewarding yourself with gaming, FB time and other things you don’t deserve till you get the real work done. Newsflash: You have to earn your goodies− a good lesson to start teaching your kids now before electronics and endless fun screws up their brain circuitry for good.

Let me help you steer clear of the subtle saboteurs stealing from your success. Contact me at [email protected]

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An Intrapreneur Asks: How Can I Be Heard?

Are you an employee of a start-up itching to play more of a leadership role in your company as an intrapreneur? If you are a founder, you can bet that there are a some employees deep in the trenches with an entrepreneurial mindset; they want to develop, manage and lead smaller, revenue-producing projects within the company. Do you make it easy for them to share their ideas? I received this query from a frustrated employee that said it all:

Dear Rebecca,

How can I share my ideas for making my company better? I work in the customer service end of things, and I have ideas for speeding up orders and retaining customers. When I have suggested ideas to my bosses in the past, they seemed to agree with me, but nothing ever came of it. How can I get heard?   

A Frustrated Intrapreneur 

Dear Frustrated,

Here are 5 steps that will make it easier for your idea to be heard by the right people:

1) Check with your boss or HR to see if your company has a process or a proposal format for getting ideas to the decision maker. Just throwing out half-baked ideas is a good way for others not to take you seriously, or for your ideas to go nowhere.

2) Does your idea fit with the company’s mission and values? Is there a need for your idea? Have you any data or documented customer feedback regarding the problem you want to solve?

3) Can you explain your idea in a couple different ways (Power Point, graphics, a flow chart, etc) that are concise, simple and easily understood? Perhaps you haven’t been heard before because you speak in generalities, digress or talk beyond the average boss’s attention span of 15 seconds (or less)? If so, see my earlier blog for “Getting to the Point.”

4) What are the costs associated with the development and execution of your idea? How would your idea positively affect the bottom line? Or, if your idea had been implemented earlier, how would it have saved time and money, retained customers, decreased stress, etc?

5) How would your idea affect others in the company? Can you get the buy-in from those who would implement it?

If you address all these points and present them with a good dose of passion, don’t be surprised if you get an invitation to the boardroom!

If you are an intrapreneur wanting more tips for “getting heard,”
contact me at [email protected]

 

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Get Motivated: Let “A” Help You Get to “B”

Don’t think for a minute that motivation is available 24/7 to high achievers. Many successful entrepreneurs need to jump-start their day with morning rituals, strong coffee, prayer, lots more prayer etc. Others go to outrageous extents. For example, I met a couple who hired a former Navy Seal to burst into their house, yell and call them names until they finished their big projects… (I took his number, just in case!)

What make these jump-start activities effective is what they do for our brains. These activities release extra calming (serotonin) or energizing (dopamine, endorphins, BDNF,etc) brain chemicals. The release of these chemicals brings us to action. We love the Seals, but they can be rather loud and expensive. Instead, consider a simple, practical and self-driven method that creates just enough spark to get you started − called “A then B.”

1) Select a physical activity (Activity A) that will spark enough motivational juice needed for your must-do activity (Activity B). Activity A should be a desirable activity that puts you in a good mood and pushes you physically a bit beyond your comfort zone. Activity A should take no longer than 30 minutes.

2) Identify the task (Activity B) you need to complete or get started on. Today, for example, I have a boatload of writing that I love to do, but it means a few sets of two hour stints in a chair. It being a sunny and warmer Sunday, it’s the sitting for hours part that I’m not psyched about.

To get my brain’s chemistry working for me, I have elected a winter bike ride (Activity A). It is a physical and mental challenge greater than the mental challenge (Activity B) that awaits. So, today I suited up for a cold and windy 30 minute ride. I pumped up my tires (already uncomfortable) and chose the nastiest bunch of hills I could find (really uncomfortable). As I pushed up those hills, I could feel my brain’s juices ramping up, as I surpassed my comfort zone to the top. I said to myself with a big grin, “If I can do this, then I have the fortitude to sit for the rest of the afternoon and pull off some mighty good writing. It will be awesome!”  My KITA (I’ll let you figure out what that stands for) bike ride, gave my brain enough of a boost to hunker down and meet my writing quota for the day.

You don’t need to go to those extremes. Just be sure to add some self-mentoring talk to Activity A as you take a fast walk around the block, or do 25 good pushups and 20 jumping jacks, or bicep curls with cans of tomatoes− something that gets your heart pumping and your mind in gear to execute Activity B.

Let me know how the “A then B” strategy works for you!

Need some help in getting things done well and on time? We can do this! Read more about my Core Four Coaching for COREageous Entrepreneurs. Write to me at [email protected]

 

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What “Disorganization” Sounds Like

Let me share some thoughts inspired by a recent Shark Tank episode…

A contestant demonstrated a very unique product that piqued the Shark’s interest. When asked about his background, he listed numerous talents, brainy feats and escapades that led to the development of his new product.  Instead of his colorful past being a plus in the Shark’s eyes however, his history raised a red flag. One Shark called him “too disorganized” so she was “out.” (For those of you new to Shark Tank, “out” means not interested in the deal.) The contestant appeared perplexed and somewhat taken aback by her comment. What might have saved him? A statement or two, immediately following his list of exploits, conveying a passionate and enduring commitment to the success of the current product might have kept him in the running.

Perhaps “disorganized” was not the best word choice. To most people “disorganized” means a cluttered desk or misplacing your keys. The Shark may have chosen that word to represent a few less obvious concerns related to disorganization that can doom a startup. Founders, it’s important to know the less obvious ways that you can appear “disorganized” in the eyes of investors:

  1. As much as creativity is an asset to an entrepreneur, having many simultaneous and disparate activities going on are liabilities. It suggests you have difficulty focusing in on one thing that requires deliberate, consistent and sustaining dedication like a startup. Problem: An Investor will see herself doing all the work or exerting too much effort directing and monitoring you than it’s worth.
  2. Indirect and lengthy answers to simple questions suggest a disorganized mind. Or, perhaps you introduce ideas into the conversation that are unrelated to the main point. Problem: An investor may sense the need to constantly corral your attention to the topic or task at hand. Exhaustive repetition, interruption and re-direction is too great of an energy expenditure for a busy Shark.
  3. Do you engage in too much levity when there should be seriousness? Problem: You may be a nice guy or gal and fun to be around, but when it comes to spending other people’s money and getting things done, joking around is a waste of time.
  4. Is your presentation delivered in a logical sequence? Problem: Potential backers do not want to work harder than you to figure out your plan from start to finish.

The bottom line: Examine your sales pitch and presentation. Make the changes necessary to avoid being perceived as “disorganized.”

Do you need an expert set of eyes and ears to identify the red flags that could discourage customers and investors from wanting to work with you? Contact me for Core Four Coaching [email protected]   

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Two Steps to a Smooth Re-entry

To echo my previous blog, let me remind you that the most powerful transformations begin with small, consistent steps.

The most common refrain I’m getting from readers this week is: “I just returned from time off from my project, and I’m having a tough time getting back in the groove.” This is where your brain is saying, “I am struggling to shift gears” or “I can’t get a foothold back into my routine.”  Hopefully, you had some hunks of restorative downtime – you caught up on sleep, you let your mind wander so that your subconscious had a chance to work on solutions and new ideas. Bravo! Now, make your re-entry into the world of work smoother:

  • If you don’t have a simple morning ritual, a jump-start to your day, find one. See my earlier blogs on this topic. If you had a morning ritual, maybe it’s not as potent as it needs to be. It’s okay and advisable to tweak a ritual – maybe add little more push to last year’s routine, or replace one step with another to keep it fresh. For example, I’ve begun alternating a slide workout on M,W,F with a holding position on T and TH. I’m adding no extra time, just a little spice. One of my students is starting off his morning ritual this year with a strong cup of coffee instead of waiting till after. Keep your routine simple, novel and effective or watch it fade.
  • Do 1-2 tasks that require some deep productive work starting today, short bursts of 30-60 minutes, to refresh your concentration. Reward yourself in a small, but appreciable way for re-igniting your brain’s super powers.

Take just those two steps and call me in the morning!

This is your year to make things happen! Let my CoreFour Coaching be the push you need. Email me at [email protected]. Happy 2018!       

 

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Jeremy’s Quest for Focus

In my recent blogs, I’ve talked about distraction, discipline and procrastination as my clients’ most common complaints. You’ve asked for examples from extreme to mild, so here you go! Let’s start with an extreme case, as in extremely interesting and challenging.  Jeremy is 26 years old with ADHD. He is very hyper and alas, a brilliant wantrepreneur. He’s tried ADHD medications to no avail; the side effects and mental dampening were intolerable.  Jeremy’s brain is like an idea magnet (sounds familiar?). He has trouble focusing because ideas keep pouring into his head all day and night. Jeremy lives with his very wealthy parents and dabbles in freelance programming.  He spends several hours a day researching (defined by him as “whipping through a hundred sites a minute”) and incessantly checking social media. At this point Jeremy sees his lack of mental control as his biggest enemy. It frustrates and saddens him, but he’s motivated. He sees many of his friends with lesser intellect start and succeed in startups. Jeremy sees no path to success unless he can harness his focus and concentration.

With a student like Jeremy there are two ways to start: #1 decrease the anxiety by a variety of alternative means (biofeedback, meditation, etc.), or #2 engage him in an exercise that will yield some appreciable, short term results proving that self control is possible. I chose #2 as a first step. We began by identifying his top 5 favorite ideas out of current list of 30 favorites. We agreed to give each idea no less than 5 minutes of discussion. (Forcing focus on only one idea in the session would be maddening for Jeremy and possibly cause major damage to my office!) We talked through one idea at a time though, using cues to avoid digression. This exercise was like drug withdrawal for him. Digging deep into the nuts and bolts of one project at a time was painful. Logistics narrowed down the list to 3 possible projects. With pen in hand (archaic perhaps, but better for retention) Jeremy divided a paper in thirds, a column for each of the three remaining projects. He took notes in bullets and organized the steps in sequence. After a grueling 90 minutes, there was a structure on paper, something tangible, satisfying and exciting to see. He became quiet and felt quite pleased with himself. This was the almost instant gratification Jeremy needed to further his practice in honing his focus. In future blogs, I’ll share Jeremy’s progress and how, step-by step, he became successful.

Would you like to sharpen your focus and concentration and get your projects off the ground? Write to me at [email protected].  Read about my CoreFour Coaching at www.MindfulCommunication.com.

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Four Points for Follow Through

Whenever I feel like stalling on a project, telling myself that I have plenty of time to finish it, or that today is not a good day for that sort of thing, I consider four points:

  1. the value I place on the project (respect, money, time-sensitivity, etc)
  2. the outcome I need to produce; what does “good enough or “near-perfect ” look like?
  3. how lousy I’ll feel if an emergency pops up that stalls this project even more, and
  4. the satisfaction I’ll experience when it’s completed.

As you approach the New Year, take a look at what project or projects you have in queue and consider these four points. Take your highest value project and parse out the steps needed to complete it, or to make greater headway on it, over the next 2-3 weeks. Schedule a reasonable amount of time every day to put in some effort toward this valuable project. It may be 15 minutes, it may be 2 or more hours a day, but consistent attention to it will bring you closer to the finish line.

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