16 tips for getting 90 percent of your work done before lunch

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“You can get 90 percent or more of your work done in the morning. How? I’m going to give you 16 amazing productivity tips, but first let me set the stage:

  • First, I’m defining work as stuff that you do (important stuff). Ideally, meetings can be shoved out of the picture.
  • Second, this approach is built on the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle states that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percen of your efforts. Getting your work done in the morning means that you can take a leaner approach to the important tasks —a smart approach.

1_Schedule your day the night before
Every day, you should list all your tasks and when you’re going to do them the following day. You will not be productive unless you plan out everything you’re going to do the next morning (but don’t schedule too much: keep your to-do schedule light to actually accomplish real work).

2_Clean your office the night before
Clutter in your office creates distractions. A sticky note on your desk that says ‘Call Bob ASAP!’ can throw off your whole day. Showing up to work in a spic-and-span environment helps you to think clearer and work harder.

3_Wake up at an ungodly hour
To really get stuff done, you’ve got to get up in time to make it happen. I recommend anytime from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. If your morning routine takes a little longer, bump your wake-up time back a little more. Obviously, you’ll need to adjust your bedtime accordingly.

4_Exercise
Scientific evidence shows that morning exercise can make us think better, work better and become more productive. Harvard’s John Ratey is the author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. He writes that exercise is essential for reaching ‘high-performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs’.

5_Stick to your schedule
Don’t let yourself veer off the course that you’ve mapped out. You have a limited amount of time. Don’t ruin the schedule. Take your schedule, allow it guide you, and you’ll be able to accomplish more.

6_Give yourself 20 minutes to reach flow
Flow is when you’re in the zone. This happens when you are completely absorbed in your activity, singlemindedly accomplishing things at a high level and rapid pace. It takes some time to reach flow, so if you don’t feel productive or engaged in your work, just give it some time.

7_Make 60-second decisions
Decision making is a time-draining vortex. When you’re faced with a decision in the course of your work, give yourself a one-minute limit. Your decision will be just as good, but it will take less time.

8_Wear headphones
Headphones can shut out distractions and keep you focused. Harvard Business Review advises workers to put on their headphones to be more productive.

9_Do the toughest tasks first
Mark Twain wrote: ‘If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day’. Brian Tracy turned this statement into an entire principal (and even wrote a book on it: Eat that frog!). If you get your biggest and ugliest task done first, the rest of the day will be massively productive.

10_Do your writing early on
Writing is one of the most mentally demanding tasks. However, writing also has the power of focusing your brain and improving your productivity. Do you writing early in the day, and you’ll improve both the quality of your writing and the rest of your day.

11_Don’t commute
If you typically have a lengthy work commute, do everything you can to avoid it. It’s not just wasted time that you want to guard against. It’s the mental havoc. A commute is one of the most stressful parts of the day. Starting your workday with that level of stress can completely ruin your productivity.

12. Don’t hold meetings (even over the phone)
If you’ve been in business for very long, you know that most meetings are a waste of time. Avoid meetings if at all possible.

13_Don’t check your email first thing
The electronic communication pipeline can be as destructive as meetings. Sure, you need to deal with email. It’s important, but don’t let it swallow your day by starting out with it.

14_Stick to a routine
If you do something repeatedly, you’ll be able to do it better and faster each time. Once you find a routine, stick with it. Your routine is the ramp to your productivity.

15_Make yourself comfortable
Do whatever you need to do to position yourself for success. If that means showering, shaving, eating breakfast, journaling, meditating, feeding the dog or opening the blinds, then do it. When you accomplish these preparatory tasks, you are creating an environment that will make you more productive.

16. Reward yourself at a certain time
Set the clock (a countdown timer if you have to). At a certain point, you’re going to stop. So, stop. Break out the kazoos, throw some confetti, and do your happy dance. It’s time to reward yourself.

Getting 90 percent of your work done in the morning just means that you might get more than 100 percent of your work done every day.”

Neil Patel co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics

forget about setting goals: focus on systems

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“We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives: getting into the better shape, building a successful business, raising a wonderful family, writing a best-selling book, winning a championship, and so on. And for most of us, the path to those things starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. At least, this is how I approached my life until recently. I would set goals for classes I took, for weights that I wanted to lift in the gym, and for clients I wanted in my business.

What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things. It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems. Let me explain.

What’s the difference between goals and systems?

  • If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.

As an example, I just added up the total word count for the articles I’ve written this year: in the last 12 months I’ve written over 115,000 words (the typical book is about 50,000 to 60,000 words, so I have written enough to fill two books this year).

All of this is such a surprise because I never set a goal for my writing. I didn’t measure my progress in relation to some benchmark. I never set a word count goal for any particular article. I never said: “I want to write two books this year”.

What I did focus on was writing one article every monday and thursday. And after sticking to that schedule for 11 months, the result was 115,000 words. I focused on my system and the process of doing the work. In the end, I enjoyed the same (or perhaps better) results.

None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good forplanning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.”

James Clear (jamesclear.com)

8 psychological principles to make a memorable presentation

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“Most presenters are neglectful of how individuals learn. A few years ago, a research team led by Stephen Kosslyn and comprised of experts from Stanford, the University of Amsterdam, and Harvard made it a mission to unpack how presenters could improve in the art of public speaking. What they discovered were 3 steps that go into receiving and digesting information from a presentation:

1) Information needs to be acquired

2) Information needs to be processed

3) Information needs to be connected to knowledge

If there is any disconnect from steps 1-3, a presentation will not be effective. Their study went one step further by unraveling 8 key principles that help people remember. Here they are:

1) Information needs to be acquired

Principle 1_Distinguishability
Every presenter needs to make it extremely easy for an audience member to distinguish colors, typography, size, format, etc.

Principle 2_Perceptual organization
The content and design of your deck must have order and a sense of purpose. There must be a logical flow or the message will not be received well.

Principle 3_Salience
Important and critical concepts must be clearly defined visually by using simple design techniques like white space or the rule of thirds.

2) Information needs to be processed

Principle 4_Limited capacity
A presenter’s message must be simple and easy to understand and retain. One must imagine they are talking to a child when presenting.

Principle 5_Informative change
Any change must have purpose and meaning. Don’t use animations and transitions just for the purpose of novelty.

3) Information needs to be connected to knowledge

Principle 6_Appropriate knowledge
Jargon and difficult concepts must always be avoided. Great presentations are about brevity and levity.

Principle 7_Compatibility
Every presentation must add value to the audience’s life.

Principle 8_Relevance
The human brain has limited capacity. Therefore, every message should maintain a level of depth to keep things relevant while being simplified logically and visually for the audience to help with retention.

These are 8 principles that can take your next presentation to the next level if you incorporate them when preparing for your next talk. The main lesson here: don’t neglect how the human brain functions and learns. Trust me. Your audience will appreciate your careful planning.”

Scott Schwertly author of ‘How to Be a Presentation God’ and CEO of Ethos3

los 6 retos de las empresas españolas

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“Hay un potencial enorme de crecimiento si las empresas son capaces de asumir y afrontar con éxito los seis retos básicos de la globalización y la internacionalización:

1_Tecnología e I+D. La innovación es el motor del desarrollo de toda empresa. El frenético desarrollo de todos los mercados exige innovar constantemente. Es fundamental que en la empresa exista una inquietud y una cultura proactiva hacia la innovación.

2_Productividad total. La mejora constante de la productividad en todos los estamentos de la empresa es vital. Todos los que integramos la empresa tenemos que mejorar la calidad de nuestro trabajo constantemente. Se consigue enfocando la empresa a resultados e implantando un sencillo plan de dirección por objetivos.

3_Internacionalización. Nuestro mercado es el mundo. Las oportunidades existen, sólo hay que buscarlas.

4_Profesionalización. La complejidad creciente del mundo de los negocios obliga a que las empresas estén dirigidas por profesionales de la gestión, por directivos que tengan la formación necesaria y la experiencia para dirigir empresas en entornos cambiantes y muy competitivos. Ello exige una formación constante.

5_Capital intelectual. La entrada en el siglo XXI supuso la consolidación plena de la era de la información y del sector terciario como principal motor de la economía en los países desarrollados. Con una economía basada en los servicios, los intangibles cobran mayor importancia: el conocimiento, las habilidades, los valores y las actitudes de las personas en detrimento de la maquinaria, las instalaciones o los stocks. Pero tenemos estructuras demasiado jerárquicas, no dejamos que las personas piensen, el culto al presupuesto es el corsé que no deja desarrollar la creatividad, no se tolera el error y se coarta la iniciativa de las personas.

6_La voluntad de cambio. Por último, el reto fundamental estriba en la voluntad de cambio del empresario. La incapacidad para inventar el futuro se debe a que no se optimizan los recursos y los sistemas de gestión de la empresa, por la vulnerabilidad frente a las nuevas normas del mercado, por no cambiar políticas profundamente arraigadas, por la falta de espíritu emprendedor y por el fracaso en la redefinición de las nuevas estrategias.”

Jaume Llopis professor del IESE, Universidad de Navarra

3 ways to earn more money from client work

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“Mainly, the thing working against us is fear. We’re afraid that if we charge too much, it’ll backfire and we’ll lose clients. We’re afraid that we’re not as good as we think we are. Or worse, that others will see right through us and realize we’re frauds.

The other obstacle is that we only want to focus on the work. Raising rates and negotiating pricing? That’s for sleazy salespeople. But counter intuitively, pricing has everything to do with the work. You pour your time and energy into work that you can be proud of — work that can make a difference. So it is in service to your talents and the work that you maximize the value you receive.

Never forget: Clients are looking for someone to help them solve a business problem and they’re more than happy to pay top dollar when you help them solve that problem. Not to mention that charging a fair price teaches them to value you and your work.

Ok, so how do we get there?

1_Master the art of up-selling

Up-selling lets you make more money by providing clients with additional services. It creates a win-win situation, but only if you’re willing to take the initiative and ask. Up-sell only natural extensions to your service, not unnecessary add-on products. A lot of people try to up-sell unrelated services, which make their proposals longer and clients hesitant. Smart up-sells —like a logo redesign to complement a homepage redesign— point out needs clients hadn’t even anticipated themselves.

Don’t present your clients with too many options. Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University, conducted a study at Draeger’s Supermarket on two consecutive Saturdays. On the first Saturday, she set up a tasting booth offering 24 choices of jam. Only 3 percent of the shoppers who tasted jam made a purchase. On the following Saturday, Iyengar set up a booth with only six choices. This time, 30 percent of the shoppers who tried the jam made a purchase.

The same goes for up-selling. We recently conducted research of over 25,000 estimates and proposals. That research revealed that up-selling with just one or two options converted the best. Additional options decreased conversion rates.

Finally, resist the temptation to up-sell in your initial conversations with clients. Up-selling at the point of decision – when you present your services and price within a proposal – is ideal. Up-selling in your proposal doesn’t pressure clients like up-selling right away does, and it gives them complete control to accept or reject your recommendations.

2_Make your competitors’ prices irrelevant

When you go shoe shopping, you have a general idea of what you expect to pay. Unless you’re shopping somewhere like Gucci, seeing “$795” on a price tag would probably make you run for the exits.

Your potential clients do this too. Dan Ariely calls it “arbitrary coherence”. Making past purchases (or seriously considering purchases) influences how similar decisions will be made going forward. Understanding how this works is the first step to avoid getting lumped together with bargain-basement competitors in your potential clients’ minds.

“Similar” is the key word here. Arbitrary coherence only kicks in when the decisions are close enough in the prospect’s mind to trigger the previous price point. Starbucks customers don’t use Dunkin’ Donuts prices as anchors to consider how much coffee should cost at Starbucks. Why not? Both sell coffee, but each business creates a completely different experience. Dunkin’ Donuts is a blue collar, hurry to work place. Starbucks is a nice environment to lounge and relax.

Crafting a unique experience for your clients can make your competitors’ prices irrelevant. When you start out, you may be tempted to emulate the language of more established players, but check their price point. Do everything you can to create a distinct experience from people charging less than you.

One of my favorite examples is the proposal process. Take a close look at what lower priced competitors do when someone asks for an estimate. What does that experience look like?

Maybe, you see that it’s something like this:

  1. Client submits web form asking for a price estimate
  2. There’s a brief email exchange nailing down project requirements
  3. A quick price estimate is given through email

Compare that to higher-end competitors:

  1. Client submits web form asking for a price estimate
  2. A brief client questionnaire is sent back and minimum budget expectations are set
  3. Email exchange and/or phone call to nail down business objectives and project requirements
  4. A professional looking proposal is sent for approval

For high paying clients, the proposal process of higher-end companies is more inline with what they expect.

Look at everything from messaging on websites and emails, to the way they position their services.  You’ll avoid preconceived notions of what your price should be and make clients more receptive to paying what you’re worth.

3_Use persuasive words to command higher rates

One tiny word can make the difference between winning and losing a client. In a Carnegie Mellon University study, Professors Scott Rick and George Loewenstein tested phrases to describe a fee associated with shipping a DVD box set by overnight delivery. Here are the two variations they tested:

  • “A $5 fee”
  • “A small $5 fee”

Just by adding “small,” the second phrase improved the response rate by 20 percent. Pay attention to how you word your estimates and proposals. Using words like “small,” “minor,” and “low” might not seem like a big deal to you, but they matter enough to clients to justify higher rates.

If your proposal offers “Design Services” and a simple price quote, you aren’t separating yourself from your competitors. You blend into the pack, which increases the likelihood of clients relying on price anchors set by lower-priced competitors and rejecting your bid.

Reframing your services as solutions to clients’ problems helps them focus on the value you can deliver instead of the price. “Increasing Customers Through a Redesign” is more persuasive than “Design Services”, and is more likely to justify higher rates.

“Rebranding for Company” doesn’t demand top dollar like “Rebranding to Enter Billion Dollar Market” does. Or if their goal is to double online leads and they want a new design to help accomplish that; instead of “Website Design for Company” you’ll be a better match if you say, “Doubling Online Leads with a Website Design”.

You’ll also want to make sure you use the most persuasive words you can. What are the most persuasive words a client can read? Their own words.

Use the client’s own language when describing what you’ll do for them. This can be a very powerful technique if you’re using words that have a lot of energy behind them.

You can do that by asking the following two questions:

  1. “What’s the biggest concern you have with this project?”
  2. “What’s most important to you about the person/company that you hire?”

Listen to their answers and pick up on the words that they use. For example, a client may answer: “We’re looking for a reliable company. We had a terrible experience with another company. They kept missing deadlines and our project kept being delayed”.

From that answer, you’ll get a better idea of what they’re looking for, and you’ll have several persuasive words you can use in your estimate or proposal (reliable, deadlines, and delayed).”

Ruben Gamez founder of Bidsketch (a web app that helps freelancers create professional looking proposals in minutes)

simplify (more is more, but less is better)

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“People tend to view simplicity and complexity as opposites. But this isn’t strictly true. The enemy of simplicity isn’t complexity, but disorder. And the enemy of complexity is also disorder. While complexity seeks order through addition, simplicity seeks it through subtraction.

A goal of design is to drive out disorder by maximizing both simplicity and complexity. In most designed products, what we respond to best is a rich, layered experience (complexity) combined with ease of use, ease of understanding, or ease of purchase (simplicity).

Most people have a built-in bias towards addition instead of subtraction. For some reason, the concept of “more” comes naturally to us. Yet the innovator knows that the value of any design doesn’t lie in how much is piled on, but how much is discarded. More is more, but less is better.

Here are seven ways to simplify your work:

1_Test elements by removing them one by one. A design should have no unnecessary parts or gratuitous elements. See if subtracting an element will hurt the overall design. If it doesn’t, remove it.

2_Discard needless features. More is not always better. Build your design around one or two main features and keep the others secondary.

3_Kill vampire elements. Make sure none of the elements is contradicting a more important one, or drawing attention from the main idea.

4_Place elements in a logical sequence. Try numbering the elements to give them a sense of order. Put them into a line, a series, or a timebased sequence.

5_Group items into buckets. If the purpose of the design calls for a large number of elements, group them by use, meaning, size, or other organizing principle.

6_Hide complexity behind a simple interface. Help people navigate complexity by giving them intuitive controls. For example, the electrical grid is complicated, but a light switch makes it easy to use.

7_Align elements behind a single purpose. When all the elements support a simple purpose, the whole design will appear simple.

Works of genius are rarely complicated on the surface. You can describe their greatness in a single sentence, and even embellish them slightly without destroying their simplicity. Such is the power of subtraction. As you learn to simplify, you’ll discover that the best design tool is a long eraser with a pencil at one end.”

Rule #24 from ‘The 46 Rules of Genius’ by Marty Neumeier director of transformation at Liquid Agency

define your goals the night before

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“If the first thing you do in the morning is check your email, you’re setting yourself up for a day filled with reactive work. This can easily lock you into a cycle of dealing with pseudo-emergencies well into your evenings, leaving you drained and with little to no control over your larger priorities.

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek offers some simple advice on how to focus on your goals: define your one or two most important to-dos before dinner, the day before.

Dan Pink, the NYT bestselling author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, gives similar advice: by spending some time the night before to write your goals down for the following day, you’ll return to the driver’s seat.

By Hamza Khan for 99u.com

10 preguntas para mejorar tu pensamiento estrategico

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“Aquí tienes las 10 preguntas que te permitirán pensar de forma más estratégica:

1_¿Qué estás intentando conseguir?
Esta es la pregunta más importante, porque determina la dirección en la que vas. ¿Cuál es tu POR QUÉ? ¿Cuál es tu visión?
Una vez tengas la respuesta a esta pregunta, puedes empezar a pensar en las siguientes.

2_¿Qué valores o ideas representas con tu marca?

3_¿Cómo describirías a tus mejores clientes?

4_¿Con quién quieres hacer negocios en el futuro?

5_¿Qué tipo de clientes son los más rentables (te traen más beneficio con una menor inversión)?

6_¿Qué acciones te traen el mayor número de clientes y por qué?

7_¿Cuál es el mayor gasto que tienes en tu negocio?

8_¿Cuáles son las mejores oportunidades de crecimiento o éxito que consideras ahora mismo?

9_¿Cuáles son las mayores amenazas a ese crecimiento?

10_¿Qué es lo que tienes que aprender para conseguir más clientes y más ventas?

Se nos da bien apagar los fuegos en el día a día, y hacerlo nos da una sensación de ‘haber marcado la diferencia’, pero debemos pensar en el futuro de nuestros negocios en el LARGO PLAZO  y no en el corto plazo.”

Isabel Anthony Torres se ese uno

15 formas de cargar las pilas de tu negocio en vacaciones

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1_Descansa

2_Planifica tiempo para pensar

3_Revisa la base de datos de contactos de tu negocio

4_Haz una copia de seguridad de tu ordenador

5_Deshazte de los papeles viejos que ya no necesitas

6_Cancela tu suscripción a los emails y newsletters que recibes pero NUNCA lees

7_Invita a 3 clientes importantes a comer para entender mejor por qué te han comprado a ti y cómo puedes ayudarles de nuevo en el futuro

8_Haz una lista de los éxitos cosechados en tu proyecto o negocio durante el último año

9_Escribe una carta o email de agradecimiento a alguien que te haya apoyado este año en tu negocio

10_Actualiza tu perfil en LinkedIN

11_Suscríbete a 3 nuevos blogs que te ayuden a hacer crecer tu negocio

12_Haz una lista de 10 razones por la que empezaste tu negocio y por las cuales sigues entusiasmado de trabajar por cuenta propia

13_Haz una lista de 3 cosas que quieres mejorar en tu negocio y escribe 3 cosas concretas que puedes hacer durante el verano para empezar a dar pasos

14_Lee la biografía de algún empresario de éxito

15_¡Imprime esta lista para que te sirva de checklist y no se te olvide pasar de la idea a la acción!

Isabel Anthony Torres se ese uno

6 CEO productivity tips to steal for yourself

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“Everyone knows that leading a company is one of the toughest gigs around. Whether running a small business or a multi-national corporation, CEOs have to manage time, resources, and multiple demands while finding the time and head space to make decisions and plot strategies that will determine the course of their business.

Check out this list of CEO-proven tips that you can apply to any facet of your life:

1. Take breaks every 90 minutes. Human bodies have an energy cycle that operates at 90-minute intervals throughout the day. When we’ve been working on something for an hour and a half or longer, it’s natural that our alertness levels will go down and our attention will wander or we’ll feel drowsy (or start checking Twitter or Facebook).

2. Make yourself uninterruptable sometimes. There’s nothing more frustrating than finally getting into the zone working on a big project, and then being interrupted by a co-worker or boss who drops by your desk. Worse, research showsit can take up to 25 minutes to get back on track after an interruption.

3. Manage your energy, not just your time. You know it’s important to budget your time wisely, but it can actually be more effective to also manage your energy. So try to optimize your workday by doing your most concentration-intensive tasks during your peak hours, those golden hours when your energy levels are at their highest, and avoid meetings during these hours.

4. Don’t be a slave to email. Instead of feeling that you have to respond to emails the minute they hit your inbox, you can save time and stay focused by setting a schedule for checking and responding to email (for example, once in the morning and once at the end of the day).

5. Keep your emails short and sweet. CEOs don’t have time for reading novel-length emails — or writing them, either. Andrew Torba, co-founder of Kuhcoon, even goes so far as to sometimes write one word emails and suggests treating your emails as if they have the same 140-character limit of Twitter.

6. Delegate, delegate, delegate. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by feeling that you have to do everything yourself. Delegating, however, is one of the best ways to manage your time. Passing projects off to other members of the team lightens your load and lets you focus on the projects that you do best. Delegation is the most important fuel for productivity.

Tackling your to-do list may sometimes seem impossible, but if you try making these small changes from the masters, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish during your workday.”

by Nina Tamburello for The Muse

11 ways to avoid burnout

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“At 99U we’ve long explored the best strategies for coping with, treating, and preventing burnout. Here are 11 of our favorites to help you create your own escape plan:

1_Figure out which kind of burnout you have. The Association for Psychological Science found that burnout comes in three different types, and each one needs a different solution:

A. Overload: The frenetic employee who works toward success until exhaustion, is most closely related to emotional venting. These individuals might try to cope with their stress by complaining about the organizational hierarchy at work, feeling as though it imposes limits on their goals and ambitions. That coping strategy, unsurprisingly, seems to lead to a stress overload and a tendency to throw in the towel.

B. Lack of Development: Most closely associated with an avoidance coping strategy. These under-challenged workers tend to manage stress by distancing themselves from work, a strategy that leads to depersonalization and cynicism — a harbinger for burning out and packing up shop.

C. Neglect: Seems to stem from a coping strategy based on giving up in the face of stress. Even though these individuals want to achieve a certain goal, they lack the motivation to plow through barriers to get to it.

2_Cut down and start saying “no”. Every “yes” you say adds another thing on your plate and takes more energy away from you, and your creativity.

3_Give up on getting motivated. With real burnout mode, you’re too exhausted to stay positive. So don’t.

4_Treat the disease, not the symptoms. For real recovery and prevention to happen, you need to find the real, deeper issue behind why you’re burnt out.

5_Make downtime a daily ritual. To help relieve pressure, schedule daily blocks of downtime to refuel your brain and well-being. It can be anything from meditation to a nap, a walk, or simply turning off the wifi for a while.

6_Stop being a perfectionist; start satisficing. Trying to maximize every task and squeeze every drop of productivity out of your creative work is a recipe for exhaustion and procrastination. Set yourself boundaries for acceptable work and stick to them.

7_Track your progress every day. Keeping track allows you to see exactly how much is on your plate, not only day-to-day, but consistently over time.

8_Change location often. Entrepreneurs or freelancers can be especially prone to burnout. Joel Runyon plays “workstation popcorn”, in which he groups tasks by location and then switches, in order to keep work manageable, provide himself frequent breaks, and spend his time efficiently.

9_Don’t overload what downtime you do get. Vacations themselves can cause, or worsen burnout, with high-stress situations, expectations, and sleep interruption. Use it to help in recovery from burnout instead.

10_Write yourself fan mail. Seth Godin uses self-fan mail as a way to keep motivated instead of burning out on a project that seems far from completion.

11_Break projects into bite-sized pieces. Taking a task on in one entire lump can be exhausting and provide little room for rest in between. Breaking up your projects into set chunks with their own deadlines provides a much healthier, and easier, way of completing a large project.”

Sasha Vanhoven assistant editor and community manager of 99U

9 strategies for becoming the best CEO you can be

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“Learning to be a better CEO is key for entrepreneurs who don’t set off to be managers and have fallen into the role by virtue of their own creation. Below are the top nine lessons from Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO at PeoplePerHour.

1_Learn to ask what’s important. Learn to have three major priorities at any one time. Sure, you will always have a backlog of little things. But don’t become a victim of your to-do list. Develop daily amnesia — ask yourself what is most important every day.

2_Focus on stakeholder value. It’s easy to get too absorbed in your deep passion for what you do and lose sight of what you are there to do as CEO: drive stakeholder value. Create value for your customers, value for your team and value for your shareholders.

3_Tell stories. The best way to get your message across is through storytelling. Don’t use buzzwords, geek talk and heavy corporate language. Keep it human, light and humorous. You need to charm you team, your customers, your shareholders. People relate to stories, not buzzwords.

4_Have a deep sense of purpose. Ask yourself: if your business disappeared tomorrow, would it really matter? To whom? And why? Make a difference to the world.

5_Be the gatekeeper. Don’t confuse delegation with gatekeeping. You need to be the ultimate gatekeeper in your company — you are the one defining and setting the standard. People will push you to compromise your standards for the sake of moving faster or for more freedom. Don’t be tricked and stay true to yourself.

6_Set high goals. Don’t start small. Your team members will often tell you to to “start small.” If you start small you stay small! Start big and set big bold goals. If you set the goalpost low, you will be good at best. Stretch staff beyond their limits. They may complain that you expect too much, but in the end they will thank you for it. There is no greater reward then helping your employees achieve what they thought was unachievable.

7_Self-reflect and step up. Don’t confuse confidence with self-reflection. Great CEOs are very self-reflective and demanding of themselves. Don’t doubt yourself in front of your team. Doubt yourself when you go home and look in the mirror. Figure out what your team needs from you. If you’re not stepping up every day, you will remain stagnant.

8_Serve others. Your job as a CEO is to serve others more than they serve you. Stop thinking about what you need from people and ask them what they need from you. Figure out what your customers need, what your team needs, and what your shareholders need. Then help them make it happen.

9_Develop a thick skin. Being CEO of a business – especially if you are the founder – is an emotional roller coaster. You will have some very low moments. Don’t let the emotional pressure break you. People will read you better than you think, and if they smell vulnerability and weakness, you wield less power.”

Vía StartupCollective

 

11 obsesiones que tienen en común las empresas más exitosas del mundo

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¿Sabes que tienen en común Google, Ferrari, Apple, Marriot, Novartis, ING Direct y Cisco?
Que además de estar consideradas entre las mejores empresas del mundo para trabajar, comparten 11 obsesiones que las hacen ser una marca de referencia para sus competidores y una Love Mark para sus clientes actuales y potenciales.

1_Obsesión por la diferenciación:
Pese a que vivimos en un mundo saturado de competencia, las grandes empresas consiguen mantenerse y sobresalir porque basan su estrategia en la diferenciación. Es decir, todas las grandes empresas buscan diferenciarse del resto de sus competidores, ser únicos, novedosos, inimitables, pioneros, etc. Y esto lo plasman en absolutamente todo lo que hacen: desde el diseño de sus productos, hasta su imagen y su comunicación.

2_Obsesión por el cliente:
Todas las empresas de éxito están obsesionadas con satisfacer a sus clientes. Por eso, dedican gran parte de sus esfuerzos y su inversión en segmentar a sus clientes, analizarlos,buscar sus insight, encontrar sus necesidades insatisfechas, encontrar la manera de satisfacer sus necesidades insatisfechas, realizar estudios de mercado, encuestas de satisfacción, etc. Además, refuerzan las áreas que se dedican a la atención del cliente, el servicio de post-venta, etc. para asegurarse que el cliente jamás se queda desatendido.

3_Obsesión por la planificación:
Las grandes empresas no creen en la suerte. Por eso no dejan que nada quede a merced del azar y planifican todos los pasos que van a dar, tanto en el corto como en el mediano y largo plazo. No dan un paso al frente, sin haber realizado previamente suplan de negocios, su plan de marketing, su plan de comunicación, su plan de branding, su plan de Social Media Marketing, etc.

4_Obsesión por la calidad:
Todas las grandes empresas tienen unos estándares de calidad muy altos. Tanto así que para la mayoría de las grandes empresas la calidad de sus servicios forma parte de su estrategia de diferenciación. Por eso, los estándares de calidad se implementan en absolutamente todas las áreas de la empresa.

5_Obsesión por los procesos:
Todas las grandes empresas, además de planificar estratégicamente cada detalle, estudian al máximo todos los procesos implicados en su empresa para asegurarse que no hay cuellos de botella o errores que puedan dañar sus productos, su imagen y su reputación. Desde el proceso de ventas hasta el proceso de devoluciones, de demanda de pedidos o de fabricación de productos. Por eso establecen protocolos que detallan todos los procesos paso a paso para asegurarse que toda la empresa está alineada a cumplir los objetivos establecidos.

6_Obsesión por los empleados:
Otro elemento que tienen en común las grandes empresas es su obsesión por tener trabajadores satisfechos y motivados. Las grandes empresas saben que los empleados forman parte de su valor diferencial por lo que no solo contratan a los mejores sino que además tienen políticas de recursos humanos que potencian su productividad, su motivación y su satisfacción: Desde inmejorables lugares de trabajo, hasta ventajas sociales y bonificaciones. Para estas empresas toda inversión es poca cuando se habla de cuidar al personal de la empresa.

7_Obsesión por la imagen:
Todos sabemos que una imagen vale más que 1.000 palabras. Y las grandes empresas también lo saben. Por eso cuidan al máximo todos los detalles que pueden afectar directa o indirectamente a su imagen como marca. Desde el logotipo y el diseño de los productos hasta la página web, los envases o los e-mails automáticos de respuesta. Cualquier elemento que afecte directa o indirectamente a la imagen de la empresa está cuidado al detalle.

8_Obsesión por el aprendizaje:
Todas las grandes empresas están dispuestas a aprender. Por eso les encanta conocer la opinión de los consumidores ya que les ofrece la posibilidad de mejorar y aprender de sus errores. Además, siguiendo esa obsesión por el aprendizaje, todas las grandes empresas potencian en conocimiento de sus empleados, los capacitan, los especializan, etc.

9_Obsesión por la innovación:
Las grandes empresas suelen reinventarse. Eso es debido a la obsesión por la innovación, ya conocen a la perfección la velocidad y la voracidad del mercado, la duración de los ciclos de vida de sus productos y servicios y la necesidad de ser punteros e innovadores para cautivar al mercado y diferenciarse del resto de sus competidores.

10_Obsesión por el compromiso:
Las grandes empresas, son empresas comprometidas con sus clientes y con sus empleados, pero también están comprometidas con su entorno y con su comunidad. Por eso dedican parte de sus esfuerzos a la responsabilidad social empresarial, al eco-marketing y a los trabajos y colaboraciones con la comunidad y su entorno más cercano.

11_Obsesión por el control:
Las grandes empresas controlan o intentan controlar absolutamente todo lo que tenga que ver con su empresa: desde la productividad o el éxito en cifras de sus productos y campañas hasta la calidad de sus proveedores, los cambios en el mercado, la efectividad de sus partners o el impacto que causan en el entorno.

¿Y tu empresa? ¿Tiene alguna de estas sanísimas obsesiones?”

Idearium 3.0 (idearium30.com)

end every day with a beginning

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“Here’s a two-minute strategy for lessening procrastination and creative block by ending with the beginning in mind:

1_Before you close out your work for the day, capture any open questions that you are currently working on. If you were to continue working right now, what would be the very next thing you would do?

2_Write those questions and the next thing you would do on a post-it, or a sheet of paper, and leave it where you’ll see it the next day.

3_Determine right then what you’ll do first when you next sit down at your workstation. Establish a starting point for your work. This will give you immediate traction

Following this approach will help you save time and — more importantly — avoid stressful headaches. Start tonight by spending a few minutes writing down your starting point for tomorrow.”

Todd Henry founder of Accidental Creative, speaker and consultant

why you should time-delay your new ideas

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“Our brains often function like a river, sometimes running dry and other times overflowing with ideas.This is the best way to stay focused and on-track when ideas start to overflow:

Once an idea comes to you, write it down somewhere and try to forget about it. The idea might seem brilliant at the moment (or at least better than your current task), but it might not seem so good some time later. Give your ideas time to settle, then come back to them and try to assess them again with a fresh look (probably at the beginning of an iteration when you need to plan the next few weeks).

And one more thing that I think could be helpful. Always assume that your new idea is a bad one. Don’t rush to implement it, take your time.”

Tanner Christensen digital producer who makes things to help creatives do more of what they love

21 time management tips to hack productivity

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“Managing my time isn’t about squeezing as many tasks into my day as possible. It’s about simplifying how I work, doing things faster, and relieving stress.

1_Complete most important tasks first (this is the golden rule of time management; each day, identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete, and do those first)

2_Learn to say “no”

3_Sleep at least 7-8 hours

4_Devote your entire focus to the task at hand

5_Get an early start

6_Don’t allow unimportant details to drag you down

7_Turn key tasks into habits.

8_Be conscientious of amount of TV/Internet/gaming time.

9_Delineate a time limit in which to complete task.

10_Leave a buffer-time between tasks

11_Don’t think of the totality of your to-do list

12_Exercise and eat healthily

13_Do less (do less things that create more value, rather than more things that are mostly empty)

14_Utilize weekends, just a little bit

15_Create organizing systems

16_Do something during waiting time

17_Lock yourself in

18_Commit to your plan to do something

19_Batch related tasks together

20_Find time for stillness

21_Eliminate the non-essential

22_One last tip (the best one!): enjoyment should always be the goal; work can be play

We get so caught up in busyness that we forget to enjoy what we’re doing. Even when we focus on working smarter, we’re still often too focused on getting things done. This should never be the point. Always ask yourself: What can I do to spend more time enjoying what I’m doing? The goal should be to arrange your commitments in a way that you’re happy living out the details of your daily life, even while you’re working.”

Jordan Bates english teacher in South Korea who loves reading novels and spending time in the woods

5 things you should do every day before breakfast

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“You can’t add more hours to your day, but you can make the most out of those hours by being more productive. Here are five things you can make part of your early morning routine that will help add focus, energy and speed to the rest of your workday:

1_Wake up early
Giving yourself an extra hour in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. You can accomplish your morning goals, stay relaxed and leave for work in the right state of mind. This may be the hardest goal to turn into a habit, but remember, it’s self-reinforcing. Do this for a week, and you’ll find that you’ve increased your productivity enough that you’ll have time to go to bed at a reasonable hour to make waking up early less painful.

2_Exercise
30 minutes of moderate exercise equates to about two hours’ worth of extra productivity over an eight-hour work day. Get this done in the morning, and the boosted productivity you’ll gain will affect every hour you spend at the office. As an added bonus, your exercise time never gets overrun by emergencies and extra-long meetings.

3_Review your goals
Take 10 minutes first thing in the morning to review your most important goals for the day. That simple check-in with yourself will keep those goals in the front of your mind as the day tries to distract you from getting them done. Make a list of the two or three things that, if that’s all you accomplished, would let you go to bed at night feeling as if you’d made real progress.

4_Make a to-don’t list
Everybody has a short list of habits they want to quit. Whatever your to-don’ts are, write them down and then review them along with your other goals every morning to help you keep your eyes on that particular prize.

5_Meditate
You don’t have to sit with your legs crossed and chant ‘Om’ to meditate. Simply take 5 or 10 minutes to breathe, relax and focus on the things you find most important. Depending on your goals and your to-don’ts, this can be a formal relaxation practice, positive visualization exercises, prayer or just thinking intently about what doing your best that day will mean to your life, career, business and family.

Once you’ve accomplished all five of these tasks, eat breakfast before heading out for your day.”

Jason Brick writer and public speaker, freelance

the simple trick to achieving your goals

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“If you’re anything like the typical human, then you have dreams and goals in your life. In fact, there are probably many things — large and small — that you would like to accomplish. But there is one common mistake we often make when it comes to setting goals. The problem is this: we set a deadline, but not a schedule.

Instead of giving yourself a deadline to accomplish a particular goal and then feeling like a failure if you don’t achieve it, you should choose a goal that is important to you and then set a schedule to work towards it consistently. So set a shedule, not a deadline. That might not sound like a big shift, but it is.

Productive and successful people practice the things that are important to them on a consistent basis. The best weightlifters are in the gym at the same time every week. The best writers are sitting down at the keyboard every day. And this same principle applies to the best leaders, parents, managers, musicians, and doctors.”

James Clear writer

 

10 tips for an awesome coffee meeting

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“The coffee meeting is the Swiss Army knife of networking. It’s a low-risk way to meet new people, swap advice, and lay the foundation for a more substantial relationship. You only have to remember one guiding principle: never, ever waste the other person’s time. Here’s how to be the best coffee meeting participant around.

1_Be clear when asking for the meeting
When you email your potential coffee meeting participant, don’t simply ask to “pick their brain” or “see if there’s any potential” in you getting to know each other. Those phrases usually show that you only have a vague idea of what you’d like to talk about. Instead, introduce yourself, show that you have specific knowledge of the person’s work, offer why you’d like to talk, and (most importantly) propose potential times.

2_Do your homework
When you meet someone, it’s normal to ask a series of biographical questions such as ‘What do you do? Where are you from?’ That’s fine for your friend’s birthday party. It has no place at the coffee meeting.
It’s likely the busy person you ask for coffee has some degree of notoriety and has articles, talks, and LinkedIn profile pages online that can offer more information about them. Coffee meetings are usually 30 minutes or less, so don’t waste your time talking about subjects you could easily Google. Additionally, a busy person has given their ‘elevator pitch’ many times to press, colleagues, and others. Stand out from the crowd by moving past this base level of interaction.

3_Never, ever, ever be late
Any meeting is about respecting the time of the other person. Leave early. Make time for traffic. Know where you are going. Being late for a meeting you asked for is the ultimate selfish act in business.

4_Offer to pay
Ask the other person what they’d like before placing your order. Then, pay for both. It was your idea to meet and grab coffee, it’s only fair that you cover the (admittedly minor) costs. If you’re a student, chances are they wont let you actually pay, but offer any way. If the person objects and wants to pay for their coffee, let them. Don’t spend more than five seconds on this interaction.

5_You don’t have to drink coffee
Meetings over beer are for open-ended discussion. Meetings over coffee are for getting things done.
But even if you meet at a coffee shop, you don’t have to get coffee. More important is that whatever drink should take the same amount of time to consume as a cup of coffee. As for snacks, it’s hard to have a short conversation with your mouth full of croissants.

6_Have one clear, specific ask
Let’s say you and I are deciding on where to go out to dinner. I say, ‘I don’t know, I’m up for anything, I guess’. Frustrating, right? But if I say ‘I’m really in the mood for the Mexican place down the street. If you don’t like that, let’s get Thai from downtown’. Now that you can work with.
The same goes for asking. There was a reason you wanted to get coffee with the busy person, so don’t be shy in telling them point-blank how they can help. They should have a general idea as to why you’d like to meet from your email, so don’t be afraid of being direct. By accepting the meeting, they have already agreed to provide assistance, so make it as easy as possible for them.

7_Take notes and follow up
When you sit down at the table, take out a pen and a notebook. If, at any point in the conversation you say something like ‘I’ll send you that video’.Or they mention the person they’d like to introduce you to, write it down. I like to create two columns on the paper with the headings ‘My Homework’ and ‘Their Homework’. On the top of the page I write the person’s name, company, and the date.
The moment you arrive back at your computer, make a note to follow up in a day or two. Doing it immediately can be a tad aggressive, but don’t let yourself forget. In the follow up, make good on anything you promised to send, as well as providing a gentle nudge on anything they offered.

8_Offer to add value
Throughout the conversation, keep your ears open for anything you can help out with. Many simply ask at the end of the conversation if there’s anything they can do. But the best way is to have this mindset ready during the actual conversation with anyone you speak with, coffee meeting or no. In Maximize Your Potential, master connector Sunny Bates shares the right way to approach:
“You want to do it in an authentic way. I always appreciate when people ask in a way that’s somehow embedded in the conversation rather than as an add-on at the very end. Like, ‘Oh you gave me this, and so I have to ask you.’ It’s always good to try and steer the exchange away from debt and obligation and more into the spirit of generosity.”

9_Offer to end on time
It’s likely you agreed to meet for 15 or 30 minutes. As those times approach, even if you are in the middle of a fruitful conversation, stop and ask the person if they have to go. If they agree to keep chatting, great. If your reminder kept them on schedule, even better. Be someone who respects the time of others.

10_Communicate any outcomes
After you send the follow up email (see #7) set a calendar alert 2-3 weeks in the future to follow up one final time. In this second follow up you should tell the person the results of anything the suggested.”

Sean Blanda managing editor and producer of 99U

5 scientifically proven ways to work smarter, not harder

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“It’s easy to fall into a pattern of ‘always working’ rather than working smart. Here are five ways to avoid that trap:

1_Take more breaks. On average our brains are only able to remain focused for 90 minutes; then we need at least 15 minutes rest. (The phenomenon is based on ultradian rhythms.) By taking period breaks roughly every 90 minutes you allow your mind and body to renew–and be ready to fire off another 90-minute period of high activity.

2_Take naps. Research shows naps lead to improvement in cognitive function, creative thinking, and memory performance. In particular, napping benefits the learning process by helping us take in and retain information better.

3_Spend time in nature. Unlike natural environments, urban environments are filled with stimulation that captures attention dramatically and additionally requires directed attention (e.g., to avoid being hit by a car), making them less restorative.

4_Move and work in blocks. The idea is that you set up at various cafés, workspaces, or pubs to get chunks of work done throughout the day. Create a plan for what you will accomplish at each location so you can immediately jump into those tasks. The important part to note is having a clear finishing point based on your task list rather than the time you will move to a new location. And when you move, cycling or walking is a good way to go.

5_Check your email first thing. This one is fairly counterintuitive; basically everyone says not to check email right away, but I do and find it extremely useful. Dealing with important issues first thing helps me make quick decisions about whether my day needs to be adjusted to fit in with what everyone else is doing or whether I can proceed with the tasks I already had planned.”

Jeff Haden for Inc.

my daily prioritization check-in

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“I have to remind myself that I’m acting against the great cultural tide of urgency. Prioritizing means not getting sucked into that tide. So I prioritize twice a day, as a ritual. The process for figuring out what is important is really just a simple series of questions:

  1. Do I really have to do this now?
  2. If so, is it “The Most Important Thing?”
  3. If not, where does it fit relative to the other tasks?
  4. Is someone waiting on me for this?
  5. If so, when do they need it?
  6. Does working/not working on this now have long-term consequences that I’m missing?

Part of reducing present shock is refusing to react. The best practice I’ve come up with is to not react to demands as they come in. Instead, I recognize them, and add them to a running list. Only when I have a proper break do I put them on the to-do list. The moment we enter “reaction” mode, we’ve surrendered our day to the whims of others.

The first check-in occurs in the middle of the day, before or after lunch. Am I working on what I said I was going to work on? Am I making progress? Am I working on the most important thing? I re-order appropriately. I’ve saved myself lots of frustration by course-correcting in the middle of the work day.

Check-in #2 is right before bed, when I plan for the next day. That way when I start at my desk in the morning, I don’t fall back into my inbox and back into response mode. And, if I do find I’m constantly reacting to the flood, I show myself some compassion. Drifting isn’t always a bad thing.””

Scott McDowell strategy consultant and a coach to new managers & first-time leaders

5 ways to do nothing and become more productive

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“Here’s a checklist I use for when to do nothing:

1) Do nothing when you’re angry
2) Do nothing when you’re paranoid
3) Do nothing when you’re anxious
4) Do nothing when you’re tired
5) Do nothing when you want to be liked”

James Altucher successful entrepreneur, investor and the writer of 11 books

6 ways to fight distractions

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“According to studies, workers are interrupted by distractions roughly every three minutes (shockingly, it can then take up to 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand).

1) Focus on you. In fact, 89 percent of workers are most productive when working alone. Don’t be afraid to shut your office door for a little peace and quiet. This allows you to center yourself and focus more fully on work.

2) Stop multitasking. Every time you stop a task to quickly check Twitter or answer a text, you’re breaking up your concentration. Put your devices on silent and give your full attention to your work for more productive results.

3) Kick your email addiction. Schedule specific times during your day to check your email and only check it then. Otherwise, turn off the notifications on your email and focus on your tasks. Your phone still works, so don’t worry about missing out on something important.

4) Follow the 80/20 rule. Only 20 percent of what you do everyday produces 80 percent of your results. Cut the fat from your workday in order to get the most out of your efforts.

5) Make tough choices. Shut out distractions by being tough and realistic with yourself about your tendencies. This might mean putting locks on your Internet usage and blocking certain sites during working hours.

6) Skip social media and pick up the phone. Instead of wading through a never-ending deluge of emails, picking up the phone can be a much faster and more personal way of getting the information you need. Not only will you be building connections with your coworkers, you’ll be cutting down on your distraction-filled inbox.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Open Me and Ciplex

mejor desayunos de trabajo que comidas de trabajo

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“Las comidas de trabajo de tres horas se tienen que acabar. Es mejor realizar desayunos, pues la gente está más despierta y son más cortos y baratos. Además, hemos de ser puntuales. Las reuniones de trabajo deben tener hora de incio y hora de finalización.”

José Andrés Rodríguez para el suplementeo ES de La Vanguardia

5 ways to do nothing and become more productive

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“Sometimes the best thing to do is: nothing.
Here’s a checklist I use for when to do nothing:

_Do nothing when you’re angry.
_Do nothing when you’re paranoid.
_Do nothing when you’re anxious.
_Do nothing when you’re tired.
_Do nothing when you want to be liked.

That’s my checklist. If I feel any of these conditions occurring — like a sniffle in the night that turns into a flu by morning — then I stop. What do I do when I stop? I do nothing. I read a book. I write. I watercolor. I take a walk. I sit and do absolutely nothing.
Think about when you’ve been happiest with your life (and if that’s not a reasonable goal then what is?). Is it during those moments when your thoughts have been frenetic and all over the place? Or has it been those moments when your thoughts have been calm – the depths of a peaceful ocean instead of a stormy surface.
It’s when we are in touch with the magic of our silence that we find our inner creators and can change the universe.”

James Altucher entrepreneur, investor and writer

how to delegate

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“To make sure that your investment in an intern, contractor, or employee pays off, follow these strategies:

1) Block out specific tasks and timelines before you hire
Prior to bringing someone on, clarify exactly what you want him or her to do. “Help with administrative tasks” isn’t specific enough. Think of specific job responsibilities and outcomes such as “write monthly newsletter,” “follow up with clients,” or “organize events.” Then estimate about how much time you think these activities will take. (Make sure to plan for more time than they would take you, since you’re the pro.)
Once you’ve define the specific activities, you should start to get a sense of how many hours a week you need someone to work for you or if you only need help around certain times, such as the holidays or a big conference. This clarity on what exactly you expect others to do for you will help you look for the right skill set and hourly commitment (and give you something to measure against after you hire).

2) For the first few weeks: you’re the teacher
If you’ve found someone who is smart and eager to learn, you can expect that in time she will have the capacity to act on her own. But at the beginning, you need to slow down and explain the action steps required for each assignment. This means not making assumptions about what she knows or doesn’t know, providing both good and bad examples, and offering to review work when it’s still in the initial stages.
This keeps the person you manage from heading down a divergent path or producing work that you need to redo. Your new hire can be the most entrepreneurial self-starter in the world, but if you don’t take the time to teach her the ropes, you put her in a position to fail. Remember: delegate, but don’t abdicate.

3) Establish a communication rhythm
Constant interruptions with questions throughout your day have a huge negative impact on productivity. Conversely, never knowing the status of projects can leave you on edge. From the beginning, set expectations for when you both should communicate with each other. It’s likely the work will determine the frequency of status updates. For example, weekly one-on-ones work with some individuals, while others will need check-ins daily or multiple times a day. Clarify how frequently you want communication and the mode that will work best, such as e-mail, instant message, phone, or in-person meetings. This puts your mind at ease and helps set expectations for your new hire.

4) Track the tasks
It’s very easy for to-do items to get lost or forgotten in the swirl of activities. One of the best ways to ensure that what you delegate gets done is to set up a tracking system. This could look like a shared document, task list, or project management program. The tool isn’t as important as the purpose of both you and the person you hired having a clear understanding of what needs to get done and if it has been accomplished.

5) Give feedback, early and often
Not telling someone that something she’s doing or not doing is driving you crazy until you’re ready to fire her is not helpful to you or to her. Give feedback early and often about what’s going right and about areas where you would like to see improvement. Set up monthly lunches or quarterly meetings where you can each focus on the big picture of what is working and what isn’t. When you give ideas for growth, keep your focus on specific enhancements that can be made to the work instead of giving blanket judgments of the work, and even more confidence-busting, criticisms of the person’s character.”

Elisabeth Grace Saunders founder of Real Life & Time Coaching & Training

20 business lessons you don’t want to learn the hard way

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“Here are 20 reminders that just might save you a headache:

  1. You can’t do everything on your own. Building a team is essential because there are only so many hours one person can devote to a business. Exactly when you reach that limit depends on your other obligations. If you’re a young single person, you might be able to do everything for a year or two. But if you have a family, your dedication will eventually hurt those relationships. Build a team that can carry on when you’re not around.
  2. You may think your product is perfect, but your clients won’t. Listen to user feedback: Your opinion may not be the best one. The key takeaway here is “release your product early and release it often.” You won’t know if you have a great product until it’s in the field and users are beating it up. It’s like some of the contestants on American Idol. They think they’re talented, and their friends and family think so, too, but when they get on a bigger stage, their flaws become obvious.
  3. Do one thing really well. Entrepreneurs try to be everything to everyone, but it’s hard to be the store that sells bait and baby toys and vintage Beatles albums. Specialize, and you can charge for what you do provide. That said, if there is a skill or service that would make your core product better, provide it.
  4. Get paid before you hand over a project to a client. This is especially important if you provide a service. Once you turn over that contract or website or design project, you won’t have much bargaining power. When I was a graphic designer, I watermarked all my projects and hosted websites on a private domain until the bill was paid.
  5. Undercharging is not sustainable. You think, “I don’t need to charge $150 an hour, I can charge $70 and make way more than I was making as an employee!” But you might find out a short time later that your “great” rate is unsustainable. By the time you pay taxes, employees, business licenses, insurance, etc., that $150/hour is looking more realistic. Compete on quality, expertise and your niche focus (see #3) instead of price. When competing on price alone, the clients who are price-shopping will always leave for the person or company that undercuts you.
  6. Patience and flexibility help you survive the lean times. ShortStack started out as a side project at my web and graphic design studio. We weren’t a software development studio, but when a client asked us for a software product, we didn’t say no. We were patient, scaled slowly — partly out of necessity — and it allowed me to build with company without debt.
  7. Build for your actual market. All of my software-building experience so far has been in answer to a demand. It is purely opportunistic. If you’re an app developer and you think “Wow, I think xx industry could use xx,” you might be disappointed. Put another way: I would never start a restaurant without having worked in one…for a long time!
  8. Never enter a partnership without a buy/sell agreement. No matter how well you think you know someone, you just don’t know when he or she will want to retire or do something else. Even if it’s on amicable terms, know how you can get rid of one another when it’s time for one of you to move on.
  9. Be grateful. Appreciate loyal customers who show you there is a demand for what you do. There is no dollar amount you can put on brand advocates. Good will translates to loyal customers.
  10. Look after those who look after you. We offer referral commissions at ShortStack, but it’s very much under the radar. We want people to recommend the product because they like it, not because they’ll say anything for a dollar. If we notice someone said nice things about us publicly, we might send them a t-shirt as a thank you. If they do it again and again, we might say, “Hey, you should become a referrer and earn a percentage of the business you send our way.”
  11. It’s not a sale until it’s paid for. This sounds obvious, but I’ve known small business owners who get very excited about orders and/or meetings with prospective clients. But until the money for those products or services is in the bank, it doesn’t count.
  12. You’ll make more money being “wrong” than proving you are right. Rather than fight with an unhappy customer and say, “You’re using it incorrectly,” or “You don’t know enough CSS to use our product,” we just refund their money. In the long run, these people consume so much of the support team’s time and energy that it’s more cost effective this way. They’re not our ideal client, and that’s OK.
  13. People don’t leave companies — they leave management. This lesson goes for both employees and customers. A manager will lose staff if the employees think they’re not being listened to or valued. Customers will stop using your products or services if they are dissatisfied with them. The quality and reliability of your products and services is a reflection of management.
  14. The way you present your business should be a reflection of your audience. If you have serious clients, be serious. If you have hip, fun-loving clients, have a sense of humor. You have to find your niche and build your content to suit them. For example, Constant Contact and MailChimp do essentially the same thing, but their marketing content reflects very different client bases.
  15. Agree on scope in advance. Have a clear contract before work begins. Once a project goes beyond the documented plan, charge for it. If you agreed to build a website with 10 pages, but soon the site is 20 pages, the client should pay you for them. If your contract makes that clear at the outset, it is easier to control scope creep.
  16. If your company sells a variety of products, make sure you know how to use/operate every single one of them. It might sound like a tall order — depending on how many products your company sells — but learning to use what your company sells will help you look at things with fresh eyes.
  17. When you think you’ve tested your product enough, test it some more. Never release a product until it has been tested and tested and tested by people who don’t work for you.
  18. Understand how social media networks work. When Twitter was first available for businesses, I’d see people use it like an ad in a newspaper. If you go on a channel and use it the wrong way, it could do more long-term harm than good.
  19. Save up. You can operate at a loss for a number of years but you can only run out of cash once. Have a rainy day fund that has at least two or three months’ operating costs in it. And have a line of credit available, even if you don’t plan to use it. Having a CPA look at your books once a quarter is also a must.
  20. Always let the CFO pay for drinks. Cheers!”

Jim Belosic co-founder and CEO of Pancake Laboratories

rituals not only reinforce behavior, they make us enjoy it more

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“In a new post by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, she illustrates how rituals go even deeper than previously thought. We all know they can help to make changes stick (think of “hazing” rituals, like Google’s silly hats on new members that makes previously-outsiders feel like part of the team), but they also make us enjoy the ritual, and subsequent subject of, even more.

In one study, participants tasted chocolate, either ritualistically (i.e., with the instruction to break the bar in half without unwrapping it, unwrap half the bar and eat it, and then unwrap the other half and eat it), or as they normally would.  Those who performed the ritual reported finding the chocolate more flavorful and enjoying it more.  They also took more time to savor it, and were willing to pay nearly twice as much for more of it.

This may be old news to marketing companies though. Think about how you might drink one specific brand of beer very differently than others:

Then there’s Guinness – the best-selling drink in Ireland and a global powerhouse available in 100 countries, with nearly two billion Guinness pints consumed annually.  And it all starts with the proper Guinness pour – at an angle, allowing it to settle for two minutes when only three-quarters of the way full, then gently topping off. Guinness fans will fervently swear that a proper pour elevates the stout to heavenly heights and will riot when the pour is botched.

But now that you know as well, adapting this to your own workplace’s culture, product, or even if you’re trying to make a new habit for yourself stick.”

Sasha VanHoven for 99u.com

5 habits of creative masters

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“Masters of creativity are masters of creativity because they know ‘how’ to think and not necessarily ‘what’ to think. For example:
_Switch perspectives; the more often and the more diverse, the better.
_Question everything; don’t accept [just] anything.
_Chunk up (generalize the problem at hand by making it more abstract) and also chunk down (go deeper and deeper to the root of the issue by making it more specific).
_Change the sentences and the words of the problem statement by rephrasing it; use whatever words you’d like to.
_There’s no right and wrong; separate the parts from the whole.”

Andreas von der Heydt country manager of Amazon Buy Vip in Germany

aprendre a gestionar incompetents

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“Existeixen regles per dirigir bé a les persones. No són moltes, ni són complicades. Però sí que són difícils d’aplicar, perquè interpel·len les nostres prioritats hi ha la nostra manera de ser com a directius.

Com a aperitiu, li dono quatre estratègies bàsiques, que sintetitzen la sencera ciència de la direcció de persones:

1. Dedicar temps a les persones
2. Conèixer-en profunditat
3. Aprendre a diagnosticar
4. Utilitzar 4 eines bàsiques: ensenyar a treballar, premiar, castigar i agrair

I el més important, qüestionar contínuament si això s’està fent correctament.”

article de Gabriel Ginebra a revistamirall.com

why creativity thrives in the dark

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“Imaginative minds have long appreciated the power of dim lighting. New research confirms that when the lights switch off, something in the brain switches on. Psychologists Anna Steidel and Lioba Werth recently conducted a series of clever experiments designed to measure how creativity responded to various lighting schemes.

“Apparently, darkness triggers a chain of interrelated processes, including a cognitive processing style, which is beneficial to creativity”, the researchers concluded in the September issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

A well-designed workspace must adapt to what you’re working on. Steidel suggests a flexible lighting situation for all the tasks one might perform during the day: dim areas for creative brainstorming sessions and bright ones for administrative chores. After all, great ideas might arrive in the darkness, but a lot of other work is needed to help them see the light of day.”

Eric Jaffe writes about cities, history, and behavioral science

the best time of day to drink coffee

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“If we are drinking caffeine at a time when your cortisol concentration in the blood is at its peak, you probably should not be drinking it. This is because cortisol production is strongly related to your level of alertness and it just so happens that cortisol peaks for your 24-hour rhythm between 8 am and 9 am on average (Debono et al., 2009). Therefore, you are drinking caffeine at a time when you are already approaching your maximal level of alertness naturally.
Although your cortisol levels peak between 8 am and 9 am, there are a few other times where–on average–blood levels peak again, like between noon and 1 pm, and between 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm. In the morning then, your coffee will probably be the most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 am and 11:30 am, when your cortisol levels are dropping before the next spike.”

Steven Miller Ph.D

high tech’s secret weapon: the whiteboard

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“The whiteboard has three chief virtues: it’s fast, it’s easy to use and it’s big.

And unlike a computer or smartphone, the whiteboard is always on, always fully charged, and it doesn’t require that people download, install, and launch software to begin using it. Whiteboards also allow for presenting a wide-range of information-writing, sketches, graphs—while requiring no learning curve.

If you can handle a pen, you can use a whiteboard.”

Farhad Manjoo journalist and author

the 6 most important business lessons from all of history

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“A few years ago, I decided to explore the outer limits of information overload; I decided to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. It was a strange and fascinating 18-month experience. Yes, painful at times, especially for those around me. Yes, I’ve forgotten most of what I read. But still, I loved my 33,000-page experiment in extreme learning.

Here I present some of my favorite business lessons from all of history:

1) Engage in strategic chutzpah
2) Take ideas from far outside your field
3) Keep presentations short
4) Embrace rejection
5) Being first Is overrated
6) Adapt or die”

A. J. Jacobs author, lecturer and editor at Esquire magazine

why you should talk less and do more

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“A prototype is worth a thousand words.

Start Small
Make your first prototype quickly out of whatever materials are at hand. Whether it’s a sketch, cardboard model, video, or improv of a service scenario, making your idea less abstract will help you improve it.

Fail Fast
You’ve probably heard this before. When you’re trying new things, failure is inevitable. Accepting that failure is part of the process is key. As IDEO founder David Kelley famously said, “fail faster to succeed sooner.” It also helps to tell people that what you’re doing is an experiment. That way, it doesn’t seem so precious that they can’t give you honest feedback.

Ask for Help
Don’t assume you have to do everything yourself. Just explaining your idea to potential collaborators will help clarify it and asking for assistance invites others to build on your idea.”

Tim Brown CEO at IDEO

3 things that empower your team

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“It’s not about motivational posters, productivity seminars or catchy slogans. It’s more about a culture that encourages open communication, provides plenty of context and requires accountability.”

Dan Sanker president & CEO at CaseStack inc.

stand up every 20 minutes

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“Sitting is slowly killing us.
I recently discovered that standing up every 20 minutes exponentially increases my productivity.
Studies have shown that standing up every so often:
_Decreases your chance of diabetes
_Decreases your chance of heart disease
_Increases blood flow”

Tony Diepenbrock IV entrepreneur

relaxed attention

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“Our brains can make cognitive leaps when we are not completely obsessed with a challenge, which is why good ideas sometimes come to us while we are in the shower or taking a walk. So if you find yourself stuck on a problem, take 20 minutes or so off the grid; let your mind disengage temporarily. Try taking a walk, away from traffic or intrusions. Poets, writers, scientists, and thinking people of all sorts throughout history have found inspiration while walking.”

Excerpts from the book Creative Confidence, by Tom Kelley (author of The Art of Innovation) and IDEO founder David Kelley

unlimited vacation days: treat employees like adults

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“If you’re looking to improve your company culture and impact employee retention, it’s time to consider dropping your standard vacation day policy and taking a more flexible route. The unlimited vacation day honor system is sparking a wave of positive interest across companies and industries.”

Ilya Pozin CEO of Ciplex and Open Me, columnist for Inc, Forbes & LinkedIn

mild ambient noise can increase creativity

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“Finding the right space to do creative work can be difficult. Inside the office, there are constant interruptions, last-minute meetings, and an often unbearable amount of noise. On the other hand, locking yourself away in quiet isolation can sometimes be just as counterproductive (not to mention boring).

Perhaps this is why so many creatives often retreat to public spaces like coffee shops. They’ve become a virtual second office to so many. Specifically, settings like coffee shops contain the right level of ambient noise that just happens to trigger our minds to think more creatively. The December edition of the Journal of Consumer Research argues that the ideal work environment for creative projects should contain a little bit of background noise.”

David Burkus assistant professor of management at the College of Business at Oral Roberts University

letting go of perfectionism

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“An overemphasis on perfection can lead on enormous stress. And ironically, perfectionism can also inhibit your ability to reach your full potential. If oy refuse to put youself in a situation where you might give an imperfect performance, you’ll prevent yourself from receiving the proper feedback input and direction necessary for additional growth.”

Elisabeth Grace Saunders

are you making this mistake at the end of your meetings?

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“Have you been in meetings where lots of decisions are made but nothing gets done and nobody is held accountable? Unless you finish the meeting with commitments about “who will do what by when,” you’ve just built 90% of a bridge.

a) Ask and you shall receive
To make a clear request you must utter it in the first person, using direct language and addressing it to a specific person. You must specify observable conditions of satisfaction, including time. It helps if you explain your purpose for asking, and, if and when you arrive at an oral contract, always ask the other sign it.

b) Time to commit
A well-formed request demands a clear response.
There are only three possible answers:
1. Yes, I commit.
2. No, I decline.
3. I can’t commit yet because: a. I need clarification; b. I need to check; I promise to respond by X; c. I want to propose an alternative; d. I can make it only if I get Y by Z.”

Fred K. professor of Leadership and Coaching, author of Conscious Business