I love this quote from behavioral scientist, speaker & author Steve Maraboli: “If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck. And if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.” My dear friend and brilliant business colleague Tera McHugh, leader of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs, used this quote recently in a video sharing 3 Steps to Build a Powerful Peer Group.
The three tips she shares are simple, easy and potentially transformational. I heartily agree with her passionate belief that by surrounding ourselves by people who lift us up, challenge us, motivate us, support us and fill our lives with positivity we can only do better, get better and find success, no matter what our goals are.
A couple of years ago I found my energy very lacking. Physically I was fine, but emotionally I was exhausted and very down. It was affecting my family, my business and I was struggling to find the cause of it. Taking to heart the great quote from Jim Rohn, “Your are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with,” I realized that one of the women I was seeing almost daily was, indeed, affecting my life in a negative way. What Tera says in this video about taking the step to “Make Space” for better, more positive influences couldn’t be more true. And that was exactly what I did. I cut back on my time with this person, only seeing her once in a great while instead of everyday, and the effects were transformational.
I highly recommend taking a minute to watch her Motivational Minute video here – and share with me how the people who you surround yourself with have affected your life or business – for better or worse – as well as the lessons you learned along the way.
Perfection is overrated. “Real” is where it is at.
Case in point – here’s a video I shot on the fly when I wanted to share something I’d just been discussing on the phone with a business colleague. We were talking about how powerful video is as a tool to take “connecting” with your audience to a whole new level. Even when I shoot quick videos like this, without my fancy background and lighting set up, I’m able to share a message in a concise format, easy to hear and understand, perfect for the business person who is on the go, AND I’ve let you into my office, my life and given you a chance to get to feel close to me. So when it comes time to write that next blog post, share a message online and you want to boost the connection factor – shoot a video. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect – videos are easy to film, easy to share and it’s a great way to connect with your audience, share your message and let others get to know you better.
(Part 3 of a three-part series where we really dig down in order to find those magical solutions that will increase your productivity)
How’s it going? The key to success in anything we do – and any type of business – is maximizing our productivity. But this doesn’t mean that we need to max out our energy, our brains, our health and our stress levels. If we do this, it is inevitable that we hit a wall – and that’s never good. Or, as I like to say, my head might explode. … and I think you’ll agree with me that exploding heads are never good.
I hope that you’ve been able to implement the four productivity strategies shared in the first two parts of this series – Part One and Part Two. Ready for more? Here are our last two super effective, super powerful and easy-to-integrate strategies for “magically” boosting productivity. Woo-hoo!
Strategy 5: Delegate: The magically productive know when they need help and aren’t afraid to ask.
If your workload is piling up and deadlines are looming, identify your resources and find a way to diplomatically share the work you simply cannot do.
Do you have a VA or a personal assistant? Take a look and you may find that there are many more ways they can help you beyond what you’ve already set up. Here’s the hard part – and I say this from personal experience: You’ve got to learn to let go. I grew up on a farm in a Midwestern state living by the motto, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I’m still learning to let that go, because by living exclusively by that motto in my life… well, you know… the whole exploding thing I mentioned earlier.
If you’re a true solopreneur and your business tasks cannot be delegated out, look at the other responsibilities and tasks in your life that can be. Housecleaning, chores, shopping, errands, carpools – all of these involve some sort of delegating and most often can be done by others.
Strategy 6: Think “Less is More.” One prevailing myth of our culture for years has been that working harder for longer hours yields greater productivity. The truth is that productivity actually declines when you push past 8 hours, according to several studies. Tack on another couple of hours and productivity takes a serious nosedive, declining by half the normal rate, while on-the-job errors go up by almost one third.
Wisdom is in the numbers. If you’re an overtime junkie, know when to put on the brakes. Whenever possible, clock out at the 8th hour, and walk out that door before you hear your work beckoning again. If you work from a home office, you can still do this by turning off the computer and refocusing your mindset to non-work issues.
If happiness and job satisfaction are the goals of your business, rigorously implementing and sticking with these smart, productivity-boosting habits will not only help you achieve these goals, but you’ll also find yourself transforming into the highly productive wonder you’ve always wanted to be. No magic required.
Early in the year, I declared publicly that I was so sick of the “Big O.” Overwhelm, that it. (ha! Gotcha!) I love that the two strategies we discussed in the first installment of this series really help to overcome overwhelm – which is one of the biggest enemies of productivity.
Here, I’m sharing two more simple yet effective ways to clear the clutter from your life and find your focus for super-powered productivity.
Strategy 3: Tune Out Distractions: If you’re up to your eyeballs with distractions, then it’s time to say goodbye to all of those bright, shiny technical playthings and other disruptions, and double down for some serious work!
One company experimented with this idea by instituting technology-free Fridays, encouraging employees to turn off all non-essential tech equipment. The resulting improvement in productivity was so impressive that the firm made this event a permanent tradition.
Even if you are a solopreneur, you can follow their example in order to improved productivity. Simply consider building “technology free” or “distraction free” time into your schedule. This can range from moving to a zone in your office or home that is “tech-free” to going old school and (gasp!) turning everything OFF!
If technology is your weakness, consider at the very least unplugging from the internet and turning off your phone for distraction-free work time. Or if you must plug in, write down an internet-specific “to do” list to help you to stay on task or use a timer – most smart phones have them or – again, I love the old-school stuff – you can even use an egg timer from your kitchen. Set the time, be realistic about what you can accomplish in that time, and stick to your guns by staying focused and on-task until the timer runs out.
If chatty coworkers are your challenge, for those who work in groups or open office space, try temporarily relocating to a more remote office space, working from home for the day, or the professional’s equivalent of a sock on the door – putting some ipod headphones in your ears and pretending like you can’t hear people when they ask if you watched Dancing with the Stars last night.
Strategy 4: Single Task Projects & Multitask In Between: According to prevailing corporate group think, multi-tasking is clearly THE BEST way to get anything done. Right?
Cognitive studies have decimated that idea. In fact, one study done by researchers at Stanford University found that hard core “multitaskers” actually fared poorly on cognitive and memory tests that included elements of distraction.
What may be a surprise is that multitasking can often be an inefficient use of time because a divided attention span cuts into a person’s ability to learn and retain information and interferes with their decision-making capacity.
If you find multitasking to be a barrier to progress, consider a paradigm shift that accelerates task completion: first single task — then multitask in-between.
By following the “one thing at a time” rule instead of packing things in, you give yourself more time to focus on what you do best. And by switching to “multitask in between” you can still get other things done. Just know that your work flow will be broken down into more practical, saner intervals.
Consider planning your day around your more pressing tasks, then schedule your less demanding tasks for specific intervals of time. Technology can be a great boon here if used thoughtfully. One small business owner, for example, heavily relies on her Outlook and phone apps to manage details like reminders to make important phone calls. The trick is to make a full stop at what you are actively doing to complete tasks at scheduled times, then return to more pressing matters.
….How’s your productivity battery feeling now? Getting energized? Feeling like you’re getting “in the zone?” Yay – Mission Accomplished – and there’s still more! Add these two powerful (some say magical) strategies for boosting productivity into your daily routine – and check back here soon for the final installment of this series…
Have you ever thought about offering a high-quality free report to both current fans as well as potential clients? Free reports are an excellent way to build trust and instant credibility which in turn will help you stay at the forefront of your client’s minds. Also often called “whitepapers,” these valuable, multitasking tools are perfect for demonstrating your expertise as well as showcasing the remarkable products and services you have to offer.
What exactly IS a free report, and why do I need one?
A free report , or whitepaper, is like a free consultation or sample of what you have to offer. A “sneak peek” into you, your business, your passion and your value. It’s a fabulous way to impress the socks off potential clients by sharing something you know that’s important to them, by giving them the inside scoop on what you do, and by igniting interest in your product or services.
Free reports can also be a game changer when it comes to helping business decision makers make an informed choice. Do I go with Unknown Quantity Vendor A, who has offered me nothing; or do I go with Value-Added Vendor B, who has already freely offered me something meaningful that I can use right now? You get it! Free = Instant fandom!
If well written and offered with little to no-strings attached, a free report can help expand your social media network, improve your social media and website response rate and grow your list of subscribers to your blog, newsletter or RSS feeds. If piggybacked with a sales promo, a free report also can help you build momentum and interest, not just for new customers, but also when it comes to formerly passive clients who will now become quickly incentivized to book an appointment or make a purchase.
Expert Tips for Powerful Free Reports
1. Pick your topic: Make sure it sticks with the theme of your business or blog and will highlight your expertise and value as “the one” to look to for guidance in your niche
2. Write a title: This will often help guide you as your write – and help you to stay on track. People love lists, so Top 10 is always good. Or “7 Best Ways.” Or maybe it can be a “secret” or “proven tactic.” State the value of your whitepaper boldly and you are more likely to attract people to want to read it.
3. Draft an outline: Start with your list or steps that you plan to discuss. Then fill each one out. The perfect length is somewhere between 3 and 10 pages.
4. Use images: Don’t make the mistake of what we called in the newspaper industry “too much grey space.” The eyes need a break once in awhile from words, words, words. Be sure to use images that are pleasant and support your topics to break up space a create a little visual “Feng shui.”
5. Know when to say when: One of the biggest concerns I hear from my clients when I help them write new whitepapers for their business is, “I don’t want to give away the farm.” How much is too much? If your whitepaper gives the problem and solution in entirety – and can ultimately replace one of your products or services that you currently charge for, well then, it’s too much. Keep in mind that you want to bring to attention a problem your target audience has, how you can help them solve it, and a few valuable tips to get them started on the road to success. Give good value, by all means, but make sure that you leave the reader an open invitation or call to action to come to you again for more.
OK, It’s done. Now what?
After you’ve written your report, let people know that it’s available – marketing time. Tell your audiences about it in your newsletter, blog or social media pages. Get the word out via business colleagues, joint venture partners and online communities so they can help you promote it. This creates a wonderful win-win-win situation for all.
Bottom line: To ignite amazing business growth, it is paramount that you set yourself apart from the competition. If you want your business to sustain greater growth, year after year, capturing your audience’s attention through value-added incentives like free reports and whitepapers is a very powerful tool you can use anytime.