An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Escaping Your Job After You Start a Business

What’s stopping you from just walking out of your job to start a business today? It’s likely to be one of two things: common sense or Integrity. Both are very valuable commodities.

Common Sense and Integrity

Common sense says that you will most likely have commitments, obligations, and responsibilities that show up monthly, weekly, and even daily. It would not be smart to risk any of those commitments with any brash, cavalier action. It could cost you dearly both in the immediate future and long term.

Also, you would put both yourself and your new business under immense pressure if you were under the gun right off the starting blocks. It’s significantly better to have the support of your family, your bank, and countless other individuals and institutions when you are starting a new venture.

Integrity takes a long time to earn, including the integrity you have earned at your current place of work, both with your employers and with your work colleagues. These could well be some very useful and influential contacts a little further down the road.

It’s unwise and unhelpful to put your integrity in jeopardy when it’s absolutely unnecessary. So, instead of just pulling the plug, it’s important to plan your escape from your current employment with both common sense and integrity in mind.

Preparing for Your Business

It makes good sense to do plenty of research on your new business and get all your questions answered before you make any decisions on anything.

Consider these ideas:
  1. Get an insider’s opinion. If you could get an insiders’ view of that business, it would serve you well. Standing on the outside looking in is a lot different from being on the inside looking out. It could save you a lot of time and money.
    • Find someone who has already walked the path you intend to tread and ask them, “If you were doing this all over again, what would you do differently?” Their answer will probably be the most valuable conversation you could possibly have for your new business.
  2. How will you generate a profit? It’s important to figure out, to the best of your ability, the easiest and most effective way of generating a profit from your new business.
  3. How will you scale up? Determine what you need to have in place to scale it to handle ever-larger volumes of customers. Customers are the key because they are the people who will provide your profits.
  4. How much time do you need to really start a business? Determine how much time you have available to get your business off the ground. Naturally, the more effort and energy you put in the quicker everything will go.
  5. How long will it take for your business to generate some meaningful profit? Make a reasonable estimate based on the information collected.
  6. How much profit do you need your business to make before you leave your current employment? Make sure to factor in business expenses and be realistic. This is all for your benefit, so lying to yourself at this stage isn’t going to hurt anyone but you.

Once you’ve determined these aspects, it should be possible to calculate with some reasonable level of certainty what needs to be done in order for you to create a timeline for escaping from your current employment.

A Wise Way to Start a Business

So, now you can quit your job, right? Hold on! You’re almost there!

Many smart people get their business into the marketplace by working part-time from home while they keep their regular job intact. Even if it takes 9 months or a year, or even a couple of years, to get it working efficiently and effectively, it’s got to be worth it, right?

Remember to factor in some wiggle room for the unexpected, some downtime, and even some holidays. Talk to people who have already made this kind of transition to get a clearer idea of what is reasonable and doable for someone in your situation.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Remember, your new business should have no requirement for you to work 40, 50, or 60 hours a week. Your intent is to move on up in terms of profit and income potential and move down in terms of time needed to create it.

Seriously consider working smarter, not harder. If hard work was any guarantee of success, most people would already be wealthy. It’s not just about working hard. Your success will come from having a plan, an effective strategy, and the discipline and enthusiasm to follow through on it.

Final Thoughts

Once you’re confident that you have a profitable business plan, and you’re working part-time on your business and showing some profits, that’s the time for you to work out a sensible plan to quit your job.

Yes, it all takes patience. But remember: “All things in their season.” Soon, you’ll be looking back at the job you once had and looking forward to greater profits in your own business.

Creating Your Dream Home Office Perfect for Meetings and Work

Guest post by Virginia Cooper of learnaliving.co

When you work from home, you might spend a great deal of time in your office. In fact, the average business owner works around 49.4 hours per week, while some work over 50 hours per week. Therefore, it’s vital to create a workspace you love and that works for client or customer meetings.

Make It a Safe Space

Especially with the pandemic raging on, you and your clients or customers need a safe space for meetings. After each interaction, make sure you wipe down any surfaces either of you touched with a disinfectant wipe.

Before meetings, there are a few things you can do to make your space safer:

  • Ventilate the room. Open a window, when possible. A properly ventilated room helps remove germs from the room.
  • Add ultraviolet lights. Consider adding ultraviolet lighting into your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. UV light helps eliminate pathogens in the air.

Implement Contact-Free Services

You can keep you, your family, and clients or customers safe through contactless interactions. Instead of meeting to exchange cash, use a service such as PayPal or Venmo for payment. These platforms allow you to receive payments and transfer them to your bank account online. Use video chatting software instead of in-person meetings. Steady Radiance Design can help you set up video chatting through your website or through an online service.

Create a Functional Space

Ideally, you want to use an extra room in your home as your office. If possible, make it a space that’s close to an entryway. By doing so, clients or customers won’t have to walk through much of your house. This can help ensure privacy and reduce the spread of germs throughout your home.

As you set up your home office, make it client-friendly:

  • Have seating options. Have a chair or two dedicated for visitors to sit rather than pulling chairs from other parts of your home for each meeting.
  • Organize your office. An organized office makes you look professional as a business owner. Use filing cabinets and shelves to organize and display items neatly This is an essential step for video calls as well, specifically in the area that will be in view of your camera.
  • Consider setting up a printing area. Having an area dedicated to printing means that you’ll have easy access to any documents you end up printing out.

Consider Reupholstering Furniture

If you have a damaged couch or chair you want in your office, have it reupholstered. You can find companies online. Be sure to read reviews on Angi as you compare your options. Keep in mind that a large couch could cost you $1,200 to $3,500, but besides size, your chosen fabric’s type and design impact the price as well.

Decorating and Staging

Don’t forget to create a space that works for you. Don’t hesitate to decorate your home office to maintain the overall feel of your home. Additionally, stage the space to make it suitable for client or customer meetings. Have adequate lighting to ensure your client or customer can read documents easily. On the other hand, if you’re holding meetings over the computer, use soft lighting and place it in front of you.

Setting the Ambiance and Creating a Safe Meeting Space Are Essential

By properly staging and decorating your home office, you can make it a place where everyone is safe and comfortable, and the space is functional.

Image via Unsplash

Prevent Burnout on Your Team – A Guide For Managers

More than half of employees in the United States say they’re burned out, and two-thirds say the pandemic is making their symptoms worse. That’s according to a recent survey by the job search site Indeed.

Burnout is a big concern for any manager. It lowers performance and morale and interferes with job satisfaction. The World Health Organization has deemed it an occupational hazard, and many experts believe it costs the economy as much as $190 billion a year.

In this current environment, how can you keep your team energized and engaged? Learn how to prevent burnout by recognizing and responding to signs in yourself and in the employees you manage.

Prevent Burnout on Your Team

You’ve probably read headlines about the Great Resignation, as millions of employees voluntarily quit their jobs. Exit surveys reveal that burnout is the main reason. If you’re proactive, you can help your team to enjoy more balance.

Try these tips:
  1. Be alert. While many employees have their own definitions of burnout, the official classification depends on three symptoms. Those are exhaustion, cynicism, and decreased performance. Recovery is easier if you can spot signs early.
  2. Monitor workloads. Set realistic expectations and watch workflows to see if anyone is having trouble keeping up. Use staff meetings and one-on-one sessions to adjust assignments as needed.
  3. Encourage healthy boundaries. Remote and hybrid work can make it more difficult to keep business matters from spilling into your personal life. Encourage employees to take precautions, like creating a designated workspace and avoiding excess overtime.
  4. Reward innovation. Feeling appreciated counts too. Give employees credit for effort and creativity even when some experiments are less successful than others.
  5. Provide flexibility. Arranging work differently could help employees to manage their responsibilities more effectively. Explore four-day workweeks, hybrid work, and job sharing.
  6. Ask for feedback. Use surveys and other tools to learn more about what your team members really want. Their priorities may be different than you think.
  7. Build community. Focus on inclusivity and team spirit. Establish ground rules for civil communication and respectful conflict resolution. A congenial environment reduces stress and strengthens connections.
  8. Hire carefully. Employees are less vulnerable to burnout if they feel like their company shares their values. Make cultural fit part of your hiring criteria. Talk with a professional recruiter if you need more guidance on understanding and implementing the process.

Prevent Burnout in Yourself

As a manager, your example has a big impact on your team. Investing in yourself makes you a more constructive role model.

Keep these ideas in mind:
  1. Set personal goals. Heavy workloads feel lighter if you’re passionate about your work. Reflect on the purpose behind your activities. Spend more time on the aspects of your job that you enjoy. Give yourself targets to strive for.
  2. Practice self-care. Look after your health and wellbeing. Eat healthily, and exercise regularly. If worrying about your job keeps you up at night, try sticking to a consistent bedtime even on weekends.
  3. Think positive. Project confidence and stay calm under pressure. Let your team know that you recognize their strengths and praise them for their contributions. Use appropriate humor to lighten up tense moments.
  4. Seek support. Cultivate relationships inside and outside of your workplace. Join professional associations and find a mentor. Spend time with family and friends. Ask for help when you need it.
  5. Consider counseling. What if you’re still stressed, but unable to quit your job? Talking with a therapist can help you develop coping skills and identify factors you can control.

Final Thoughts

Burnout may be an epidemic, but there are practical steps you can take to help your team and yourself. Recognize when you’re at risk of becoming overwhelmed and take action promptly to begin the recovery process.

7 Ways for Work From Home Parents to Manage Stress

Have you ever felt like you’re being pulled in all directions? Your child (or children) wants one thing, your partner expects another, your work/business needs a good portion of your attention, and maybe we shouldn’t even get started thinking about other responsibilities like taking care of the house or pets. Raising your family is great for your heart, and working from home can be very rewarding, but sometimes the demands of a work from home parent are so strong the stress can feel overwhelming.

If you feel tired and frustrated of the balancing act at the end of the day, take a deep breath and know that there is help!

Consider these ways to manage stress in a chaotic environment:

  1. Focus on what you can control. It’s natural for humans to feel stressed when events don’t go our way. One of the most important lessons in life is to learn to divert our focus towards what we can control.
    • For example, there will be moments when your children don’t act how you expect. Remember that you can’t control how they act, but you can control the example you set for them and the way you react to their behavior.
  2. Prioritize quality time. Think about how you spend your time each day. It’s important not to feel guilty about the time you spend away from your family while working. Instead, make sure the time you do spend with them is quality time.
    • Read to your children before bedtime.
    • Play games, sports, or toys with your children.
    • Teach them new skills, like how to prepare their favorite dish.
  3. Breathe. When you feel stressed, take a deep breath in. Breathing increases the oxygen that goes to your brain and creates a state of calmness. Intentionally taking deep breaths diverts your attention to your body and away from the situation causing you stress.
  4. Optimize your family’s time. Is there a way you and your family can plan to have more quality time together? Even if it might feel like the tasks never end, small changes can make big improvements. If everyone commits to coming together to do family activities at a specified time, you can create a mental separation between your work time and your family time.
  5. Ask for support. If you feel overwhelmed, turn to your partner, family, or a friend and ask for help. The help might be as simple as listening or taking care of the children for one afternoon. You can also hire various professional services that can be a life-saver to work from home parents.
  6. Think about the priorities in your life. If quality time with your children is most important to you, think about whether or not you actually treat it as a priority. If building your business is most important at this stage of your life, think about how you treat your work and if it’s really being prioritized.
  7. Learn to identify things that are not actually urgent. Sometimes we create urgency in our minds. What things can be set aside for a later date? Don’t confuse this with procrastination. The best way to “set aside” other things without just procrastinating is to add things to your calendar to do in the future. That way you have the peace of mind that those tasks will be completed, without having to get it all done right now.
  8. Exercise. Although it may feel difficult to integrate exercise into your busy schedule, physical activity can rejuvenate your body and mind. Even just being outdoors helps clear your thoughts. If you don’t know how to integrate exercise into your schedule, start by turning exercise into a family activity.
    • Schedule daily walks with your family.
    • Plan a daily lunch break and take your children to the park.
    • Take your family to a Zumba or dance class.
    • Pick up an active family activity like cycling or hiking.
  9. Identify your triggers. Being a work from home parent, you probably have different triggers than those who work out of the home. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think about what triggers different emotions. What annoys you? What makes you feel anxious? When do you notice yourself getting angry? Identifying your triggers is the first step to managing the way you react to these moments. Once you do that, you can start to utilize many different methods to avoid those triggers or move past them entirely.
  10. Set boundaries. What are some recurring situations in life that unnecessarily stress you out? Think about things you need in order to be happy. Maybe you feel stressed because you receive work calls when you spend dinner with your family. Alternatively, maybe you notice you are not receiving enough time alone.
    • Set boundaries with the people around you by communicating what you need.
    • Use technology to your advantage here by using things like the automated “do not disturb” mode on your phone to keep calls from coming in at inopportune times.
    • Separate your work and personal phone numbers by utilizing Google Voice for your business phone number.

The demands of work from home parents are strong. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and as if you’re not doing enough – especially when you want to give everyone around you your world.

Taking the steps to manage your stress will help not just you, but also the ones around you. By being open with the people around you about how you feel and what you need, you will ultimately be able to give more.

 

Image from Pexels

4 Ways to Improve Your Leadership Skills

When most of us hear the word leadership, we usually think of political officials, CEOs, military commanders, or even athletes. While it’s true that you need good leadership skills to excel at these occupations, leadership is a valuable skill that everyone from any vocation or background can use for their benefit and the benefit of others.

Effective leadership doesn’t come naturally for most of us. Luckily, there are several methods that you can use to build and refine your leadership skills.

Discover the leader in you! Try these techniques to boost your leadership skills:

  1. Strive for excellence. Part of being a successful leader is your ability to set the bar for others. You can be a good role model by constantly seeking ways to improve yourself and aspire to excellence.
    • A hallmark of leadership is excellence. Work on honing your existing skills and developing new ones.
  1. Focus on your vision and set goals. Consider what you want to accomplish in different areas of your life. Set goals that will help you to achieve your vision.
    • Set goals where you are able to periodically measure your performance and progress.
    • Break up larger goals into smaller ones so that you can celebrate your successes and maintain your motivation.
    • Learn to identify and use all of your resources in the pursuit of your goals. When making plans to reach your goal, always work with the resources you have in your current circumstances, rather than developing plans based on resources and circumstances that you wish were a reality.
    • Be willing to refine your plans and ultimate goals based on your progress as well as your dreams.
  1. Develop your people skills. Leaders are known for their ability to inspire others to work towards a common goal. To be successful at inspiring others to work with you, it’s important to develop your people skills and emotional intelligence.
    • Learn how to listen. Doing so helps to establish a connection and build camaraderie and trust, so others are more likely to follow your lead and help you.
    • Help others to be their best. Part of being a good leader is motivating others towards positive change.
    • Seek input from others when discussing goals and plans to reach your objectives. Give others a stake in the results by seeking their opinion. They’ll be more motivated to help you.
  1. Be passionate and maintain a positive attitude. Most of us take cues from others in social situations, so you can teach others to have a positive attitude and to be passionate in their efforts by doing so yourself.
    • Maintaining an upbeat attitude and giving your best effort help to energize the entire team so everyone is able to accomplish more, regardless of the circumstances.

Taking the time to develop your leadership skills can radically increase the amount of success that you experience in all areas of your life. These tips can help you to hone your leadership skills so that you can achieve your goals and enjoy a more satisfying life.

How to Get Over Your Live Video Jitters

It’s a rare person who loves public speaking or appearing on video. If that’s you, you can stop reading right now. But if you’re among the (much larger) crowd who suffers sweaty palms, racing heart, and uncontrolled butterflies, and you’re letting these get in the way of your video marketing dreams, then read on.

Here’s the thing: We all get nervous. Even those who love public speaking and appear so natural on live video are often shaking on the inside. They’ve just found a way to deal with their fear and make it work for them.

Practice Makes Perfect

The first time you do anything, you’re likely to be nervous, especially if it’s a public performance. The only way to lessen the fear is to do it. And do it again. And again. And again.

That means not only should you practice your topic, webinar, or speech ahead of time, but you should also take to the stage – whether virtual or real – as often as you possibly can. Don’t pass up any opportunity to appear on live video, on podcasts, in a webinar, or on the stage.

And if you need a place to practice in a judgment-free zone, consider joining a group such as Toastmasters, where you can work to reduce your nervousness in front of a live audience.

No Pressure

Sometimes, the worst judgment comes from our own heads. Don’t let that voice lie to you. There really is no need to pressure yourself to perform or to be perfect, and there’s certainly no need to berate yourself for any small mistakes you make.

Instead, acknowledge that no one is perfect, that you’re doing your best, and that you’re improving with each and every live video or event – because you almost certainly are! Be nice to yourself, and recognize that there really is no need for perfection.

Just Be Yourself

Here’s the biggest hurdle we can face: trying to be someone we are not. We see professional news anchors, actors, and others who appear poised and polished on every video clip, and we think that’s how we have to appear.

That’s simply not true. Your audience wants to get to know you better, not the person you think you should be. So be your fun-loving, mistake-making, self-forgiving self. It will resonate so much better with your audience that everything else will be easier as a result.

Write a Book the Easy Way – By Blogging It

Whether you’ve always wanted to write a book or it’s a new idea (and you should write a book, by the way), there’s an ever-present problem for would-be-authors. It’s not a lack of writing talent. It’s definitely not a lack of knowledge. And for sure it’s not a lack of desire. If you asked most people why they have not finished their book, the answer is simple: time.

Entrepreneurs are busy people. You have clients to serve, a business to run, a family to care for. Not only that, but you’re spending time creating new training courses, marketing on social media, managing your team…the list is nearly endless (by the way – here’s how you can get it all done without losing your mind!) So, when would you have time to write an entire book?

You’ve Probably Already Written It

It’s true. If you have a blog and you’ve been maintaining it for more than a few months, then you very likely have already written all the content your book needs. All that remains is to organize and give it a light edit.

If you don’t have a blog (why not?), or your blog is young, blogging your book is even easier, since you can plan your content around your book topic, then you can write a book one blog post at a time.

Here’s how it works. Think of your blog categories as sections, and each blog post as a chapter. You can loosely organize your book by sorting all your blog posts by category, then listing them in logical order. Your book may only contain a single category, or it might contain several. The choice is yours.

Remove self-serving, time-sensitive, curated, or other content that doesn’t fit into a book. Remove the calls to action. It won’t make sense to promote your paid programs—or worse, affiliate offers—within a book.

What you’re left with is a rough draft of a book. All that remains is a few passes with your editor engaged:

  1. For flow: Books should follow a logical path from one chapter to the next, so you’ll likely have to add or edit the beginnings and endings of your posts.
  2. For spelling, grammar, and punctuation: Don’t skip this part. In fact, get someone else to do it. It’s too difficult to spot our own mistakes and book readers are less forgiving than blog readers.
  3. For content: Enlist the help of a few friends or colleagues who you trust to share their honest opinion with you. Ask them to read through and note any content that is confusing or that could be explained in greater detail.

That’s it! Revise and you’re ready to publish.

People Will Actually Read It

Think no one will read a book that’s repurposed from your blog? Think again. Bloggers have used this method to write books for years and some of them are spectacularly successful. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net fame wrote and published his wildly popular blogging guide based entirely on the content he’d already published on his blog. He found that even though the content was freely available, people bought the book because they wanted the convenience of having it organized for them in one document.

Even fiction writers have discovered the power of blogging a book. Andy Weir, the author of “The Martian,” first published his book one chapter at a time on a blog.

Don’t continue to let excuses hold you back from publishing your book. Use the content you’ve already written, or strategically plan your blog to turn it into a book, but either way, write a book and get publishing!

Online Apps That Hurt Your Productivity

Apps are fun and cool, which is why they’re so popular. And while many apps are useful and time time-savers, many others do a lot to lower your productivity.

If you feel like you don’t have enough time in the day already, it doesn’t make sense to spend time on things that have minimal value.

Turn the silly things off. Focus on your work and when you take a short, timed break, you can play for a few minutes.

Here are a few such online apps that probably hurt more than they help:

  1. Twitter. You don’t need to know what your favorite celebrity is up to. Surely, it’s more important to focus on your own life! Is it critical that you be informed (while you’re working) that your friend from high school just left the movies to go shopping for a new pair of shoes? Come on, now. Really?
  2. Any kind of messaging app. Messenger apps just make it easy for people to interrupt what you’re doing. You jump at the chance to take a little break and, before you know it, 30+ minutes have passed. Don’t log into these things unless you’re done working for the day. Even at night, it would be better to just get on the phone and talk like a real person.
  3. Email notifications. Email can be a great tool but it can also be a huge waste of time. Check your email in the morning and at night. The last thing 99% of the population needs is an email notification every 5 minutes because then you just know that you have to check it. It will drive you nuts until you finally cave and see what’s going on.
    • Many highly efficient and successful people make it a point to check their email no more than twice a day. Most only check it once a day. Some only check it a couple of times a week. They have better things to do, and you could, too, with such a system.
  1. Blogs. Good blogs are highly interesting and informative. Give yourself a time limit or limit yourself to a set number of blogs. Life is all about prioritizing, so set some priorities.
  2. Facebook. It can be a great way to keep in touch, but it’s much like Twitter: 99% of the stuff you’re exposed to is fluff. Viewing pictures of someone’s trip to Africa is interesting. Reading that your friend is sitting on the deck drinking margaritas is of questionable value. You have a life to live, do you really have time for this stuff?
    • Again, set some limits and strive to stay within them. Also, consider limiting the number of ‘friends’ that you have.
  1. Social bookmarking sites. Websites like Digg, Delicious, Reddit, and other bookmarking sites are great tools for finding blogs, articles, and sites related to your interests. Just be careful how much time you’re spending on them. It’s easy to be fed 1,000 interesting sites every day. It’s also easy to burn a lot of time on them. Be careful.

Online apps can be wonderful if they’re used wisely. Don’t spend a lot of time on what are essentially frivolous things. Life is short! Focus on what you want to get done each day and avoid letting such apps steal away your time that you could be using to increase your productivity and make your dreams come true.

Want more? Here are more strategies to increase your productivity.

Fear-Based Decisions Are Bad for Business (and Life)

At one point, every business owner will find themselves in a troubling situation. Revenue is down. New clients are scarce. Profits are falling, and a peek at the financials is enough to bring on intense fear and even a full-fledged anxiety attack.

Unless you have a million-dollar nest egg or trust fund waiting in the wings, chances are you’ve experienced that sinking feeling of a business that’s trending downward, too. But how you handle it can mean the difference between continued success and business-killing burnout.

Here’s where a lot of business owners get it wrong. They start to worry about money, and that worry leads to poor decisions that ultimately have a negative impact not just on finances, but—maybe more importantly—on morale, too. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Here are two things you should avoid in this situation and what to do instead.

You Take On The Wrong Client

When business is down, it can be tough to keep your ideal client avatar in mind. Instead, you jump at the chance to work with anyone who comes along. The trouble with this scenario is you can find yourself with a roster full of clients who:

  • Aren’t willing or able to do the work required
  • Spend all their time telling you why your ideas and advice won’t work
  • Drain your energy and make you dread your office

Instead, keep doing what you know how to do – marketing, advertising, networking. Whatever you do to bring in new clients, keep doing that. Don’t stretch yourself so thin by taking on too many clients to try to make up for the loss you’re currently feeling. The abundance will return, you just need to keep going! If you have trouble believing that, check out The Abundance Journal for Wildly Creative Entrepreneurs. It can help get your mind back on track and bring in the prosperity that’s waiting for you!

You Stop Creating

And who can blame you? With profits down, you have to pull back. You can’t afford to spend time and money creating new programs, so you recycle the ones you’ve already produced. Your fearful self is saying, “Just re-release this same product again. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have to have new sales copy written or record new videos.” While this might help bring in a bit of cash short-term, it won’t do anything for your reputation or your self-esteem.

Instead, repurpose with positive intent. For example, you can turn your ebook into a group coaching course. Just be sure you do it the right way with new sales copy and whatever new items you need to make it into a successful coaching course.

 

A fear-based mindset can cause you to make rash decisions and rush into things. Do your best to take your time and think about your situation calmly and rationally so you can pull yourself out of your current position and get back on track to building a successful business!

The Two Most Effective Ways to Increase Your Productivity

For some people – perhaps even for you – increasing productivity is akin to finding the Holy Grail. Why has upping productivity taken on such mythical proportions?

Simply put, increasing productivity means increasing earning potential. If you own a business where you provide any type of service, taking steps to increase your ability to deliver the service in less time will allow you to take on more clients and earn more money.

Likewise, if you sell a product, finding a way to make or deliver that product faster will enable you to serve more customers, once again, making more money.

When you find ways to do the same thing in less time, you’re being more efficient. Efficiency and productivity go hand in hand.

Undoubtedly, the more efficient you can make the process of completing any task, the more productive you’ll be.

Use these strategies to increase your efficiency so you can be more productive:

  1. Create a prioritized schedule for your work. Whether using a post-it note, a Microsoft Word file, or an online task management tool (such as Toodledo or Remember the Milk), almost everyone has some type of system for creating and editing the classic “to-do” list. These lists are sometimes a hodgepodge of ideas and tasks that need to be completed in the future and not-so-distant future.

    There is nothing wrong with maintaining a to-do list, as it can make the difference between getting stuff done and going crazy trying to keep everything organized in your head. Still, the typical to-do list leaves much to be desired. Unlike a conventional to-do list, having a prioritized schedule takes things a step further, allowing you to increase efficiency and productivity. This is because prioritizing all of the tasks that you have in front of you while keeping track of a longer-term picture of your schedule for weeks to come, will allow you to really figure out what is the most important thing that needs to be done right now.

    If you are creating a prioritized schedule and realize that you have a best friend’s wedding in two months, you’ll be able to bump getting a dress or tux way down the list, while still making sure to place it somewhere on your schedule. A prioritized schedule essentially puts things into perspective, allowing you to figure out what truly needs to get done this very moment and focus on that.

  1. Seek out and accept specialized help. Whether you run your own business or are a stay-at-home parent, it will save you lots of time and energy at the start if you’re open to collaborating with others.

    Bill Gates may be quite capable of developing all of the new programs needed to advance Microsoft as a company while working with prospective clients in addition to handling customer service and PR. However, Mr. Gates and most other successful individuals would never be caught doing this. No matter how much you can do by yourself, your resources are finitely limited by one single factor that trumps all others… time. So, rather than spend 8 hours a day answering phone calls, working on new products, shopping for groceries, and cutting your own hair, it may be a more productive use of your time to zero in on the one or two things that give you the most results for the amount of energy that you put into them. For example, if developing a new product will eventually double the size of your business by being able to cater to an additional market or consumer demographic, then this is time well spent.

Paying someone else to answer phones, freeing up your time to be devoted towards projects that will give you more returns for your time invested is the sure sign of a future Fortune 500 executive at work. (Check out this article from our parent company on how to find and Combining this strategy with using a prioritized schedule will enable you to focus on what’s most important for you and get it done. Your productivity will soar!

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