Monthly Archives: May 2017
There are only so many hours in the day, so making the most of your time is critical. There are two ways increase your output–either put in more hours or work smarter. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the latter.
Being more productive at work isn’t rocket science, but it does require being more deliberate about how you manage your time. This post will walk you through 15 simple but effective strategies for increasing your productivity at work.
1. Track and limit how much time you’re spending on tasks.
You may think you’re pretty good at gauging how much time you’re spending on various tasks. However, some research suggests only around 17 percent of people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. A tool like Rescue Time can help by letting you know exactly how much time you spend on daily tasks, including social media, email, word processing, and apps.
2. Take regular breaks.
It sounds counterintuitive, but taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. Some research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance; while working at a task without breaks leads to a steady decline in performance.
3. Set self-imposed deadlines.
While we usually think of a stress as a bad thing, a manageable level of self-imposed stress can actually be helpful in terms of giving us focus and helping us meet our goals. For open-ended tasks or projects, try giving yourself a deadline, and then stick to it. You may be surprised to discover just how focused and productive you can be when you’re watching the clock.
4. Follow the “two-minute rule.”
Entrepreneur Steve Olenski recommends implementing the “two-minute rule” to make the most of small windows of time that you have at work. The idea is this: If you see a task or action that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. According to Olenski, completing the task right away actually takes less time than having to get back to it later. Implementing this has made him one of the most influential content strategists online.
5. Just say no to meetings.
Meetings are one of the biggest time-sucks around, yet somehow we continue to unquestioningly book them, attend them and, inevitably, complain about them. According to Atlassian, the average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. Before booking your next meeting, ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals or tasks via email, phone, or Web-based meeting (which may be slightly more productive).
6. Hold standing meetings.
If you absolutely must have a meeting, there’s some evidence that standing meetings (they’re just what they sound like–everyone stands) can result in increased group arousal, decreased territoriality, and improved group performance. For those times when meetings are unavoidable, you may want to check out these 12 unusual ways to spur creativity during meetings.
7. Quit multitasking.
While we tend to think of the ability to multitask as an important skill for increasing efficiency, the opposite may in fact be true. Psychologists have found attempting to do several tasks at once can result in lost time and productivity. Instead, make a habit of committing to a single task before moving on to your next project.
8. Take advantage of your commute.
This goes for any unexpected “bonus” time you may find on your hands suggests author Miranda Marquit. Instead of Candy-Crushing or Facebooking, use that time to pound out some emails, create your daily to-do list, or do some brainstorming.
9. Give up on the illusion of perfection.
It’s common for entrepreneurs to get hung up on attempting to perfect a task–the reality is nothing is ever perfect. Rather than wasting time chasing after this illusion, bang out your task to the best of your ability and move on. It’s better to complete the task and move it off your plate; if need be, you can always come back and adjust or improve it later.
10. Take exercise breaks.
Using work time to exercise may actually help improve productivity, according to a studypublished in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. If possible, build in set times during the week for taking a walk or going to the gym. Getting your blood pumping could be just what’s needed to clear your head and get your focus back.
11. Be proactive, not reactive.
Allowing incoming phone calls and emails to dictate how you spend your day will mean you do a great job of putting out fires–but that may be all you get accomplished. My friend and business partner Peter Daisyme from free hosting company Hostt says, “Set aside time for responding to emails, but don’t let them determine what your day is going to look like. Have a plan of attack at the start of each day, and then do your best to stick to it.”
12. Turn off notifications.
No one can be expected to resist the allure of an email, voicemail, or text notification. During work hours, turn off your notifications, and instead build in time to check email and messages. This is all part of being proactive rather than reactive (see number 11).
13. Work in 90-minute intervals.
Researchers at Florida State University have found elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus. They also found that top performing subjects tend to work no more than 4.5 hours per day. Sounds good to me!
14. Give yourself something nice to look at.
It may sound unlikely, but some research shows outfitting an office with aesthetically pleasing elements–like plants–can increase productivity by up to 15 percent. Jazz up your office space with pictures, candles, flowers, or anything else that puts a smile on your face. For other ideas on increasing your happiness quotient at work, see my post 15 Proven Tips to Be Happy at Work.
15. Minimize interruptions (to the best of your ability).
Having a colleague pop her head into your office to chat may seem innocuous, but even brief interruptions appear to produce a change in work pattern and a corresponding drop in productivity. Minimizing interruptions may mean setting office hours, keeping your door closed, or working from home for time-sensitive projects.
If you feel the need to increase your productivity at work, resist the temptation put in longer hours or pack more into your already-full calendar. Instead, take a step back, and think about ways you can work smarter, not harder.
Being good at selling plays a crucial part in your company’s growth, but getting rejected and shut down isn’t always easy. But, what if you changed your approach? What if you left your sales scripts, hidden agendas and elevator pitches behind?
Entrepreneur Network partner Brian Tracy discusses the three most important aspects of a great salesperson, starting with the first and most important trait: focus. Can you focus on what you want and actively take steps to achieve your goals? Or, are you more passive, waiting for the right opportunity to arise before you strike?
Tracy explains why it’s best to be proactive, how that mindset can improve your sales and more.
I am an ex-salesperson. For anyone in outside sales, you know this is a career both revered and reviled by most people. I bet more than one of you suffered accusations of selling snake oil in your lifetime.
Outside salespeople are always sent to training. I went to Bryan Tracy. I saw a guy with the Miss Clairol black hair color…Tom Hopkins. I even went to something called, Professional Selling Skills. I’m not knocking these events; I learned a ton, and I highly recommend them to a sales person just starting out.
If you don’t have the budget or the attention span for these sales programs, however, just read Green Eggs and Ham. Do so, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s the only sales book you’ll ever need.
Why? I’ll give you five reasons:
#1: Sam introduces himself in a memorable way.
The prospect must know who you are. You need to be a person and even more importantly, a person they like. Who can deny that Sam introduces himself in a memorable way?
Personally, I can’t pull off wearing a red top hat or holding a sign while perched on my weird-looking dog’s keister (and neither can you), but I can hand them a business card and introduce myself right up front. Adapt Sam’s strategy to a more streamlined and personal introduction and you are already off to a great start.
#2: Sam doesn’t get put off by the fact the dog/bear/sheep creature doesn’t like him.
Seriously…what is that thing?
When you make a prospecting call, you are interrupting someone’s day. Your prospect had a ToDo list as long as his or her arm before you decided to drop by or call. In addition, he or she is usually not too excited you made it through the gatekeeper. Don’t let this stop you. There is always a reason to give up. The truly successful salespeople keep smiling and selling despite these reasons.
#3: Sam gets the Assumptive Close.
In my sales career, I learned that all of us snake oil types had different Closes. Closes are techniques you use to get your prospect to yes. If you want to be in sales, you must know your closes.
One of these tried and true techniques is the Assumptive Close. The assumptive close is where you just presume that the prospect is going to say yes, so you provide them the option of where or when they want the snake oil. “Sure I understand, Ms. Prospect. Can I come to your office to discuss the terms of our agreement on Tuesday or Wednesday?”
Sam gets the assumptive close. He tries it repeatedly for 41 pages:
Would you like them here or there?
“Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse?
“Would you? Could you? In a car?”
And so forth. Sam’s a fan of the assumptive close.
#4: Sam doesn’t take no for an answer.
Certain members of my family have been described as pleasantly persistent. If you don’t know what that means, just re-read the book. Sam is never deterred by the creature’s insistence that he doesn’t like green eggs and ham. He sticks to his strategy and over time wears out the thing’s resistance.
In real sales, this can be tricky. Do what Sam does, and you may find yourself on the wrong end of a harassment lawsuit.
But it is important always to keep the door open. If the prospect isn’t interested now, ask if there is a time when the company reviews their vendors so you can reconnect then. Another good foot in the door option is to invite him or her to an event or a sales booth at trade show for a personal demonstration. Whatever you do, make sure that the “No” you are getting today isn’t final so you can try again on another, better day.
#5: Sam gets the product in his prospect’s hands.
In almost any sales situation, the key to converting prospects is to get the product in their hands. You know what a great widget you have, but your prospect doesn’t. If you can get it in his or her hands and have the widget show them how wonderful it is, you are that much closer to getting the yes you want. Getting the product in the prospect’s hands is obviously harder to do in intangible sales where the widget is a concept, but there are ways. When I sold radio time we made a spec commercials so our prospects could hear what their professionally produced :60 Radio ad would sound like.
Sam offers the creature a free sample of his green eggs and ham, imploring him to “Try them! Try them!” And even though the sample he offers has been in a strange house with a known disease-causing vermin, traveled in a box with a fox, in a car, up a tree, on a train, through a tunnel, in the exhaust pipe of a boat and finally underwater…the creature eats them. Better yet, he likes them.
So there you have it. I just saved you and your sales manager a ton in training budget. It turns out that everything you ever needed to know about sales was explained to you as a child in a book that uses no more than 50 words.
Now get out there and sell some snake oil!
Check this out and read about the 7 must have sales skills for today’s market!