Busy Doesn’t Mean Productive

saving time working from homeA friend of mine who has owned her online clothing business for seven years starts each conversation with how busy and stressed she feels every day. She has a small staff, works crazy hours, and if she could hire someone to take bathroom breaks for her, she would.

Sleep isn’t one of the tasks on her To-Do list. She says that she can get by on four hours a night. In her world, the early bird catches the worm and annoys everyone around her who isn’t working half as hard as she works.

One day I convinced my friend to let me come to work with her on Bring Your daughter to Work Day. She doesn’t have a daughter, she’s tired of being tired, and I’m good at acting immature so there was no argument.

When I met her at her home office, I felt as if I was on a CSI mission without any murders to solve, no dead bodies to find, and no annoying “bum bum” sound between scenes.

I was determined to experience, first-hand, how someone can spend a ridiculous amount of hours in her home office every day, yet not accomplish anything. After only a few hours the issues were as clear as the glasses on one of her employees who thought they made her look more stylish. The issues included where she was wasting time, which habits were annoying her staff, and that she needed to explain to her staff what stylish means.

Giving my friend suggestions about where she needed to improve was about as comfortable as telling someone that the child she thinks is adorable and gifted, is actually a spoiled brat. Fortunately my friend was open to my suggestions.

Delegate.

My friend has a hard time letting go of tasks to the point of micromanaging. When she does delegate, she insists on doing most of the tasks herself or redoing whatever it is she has asked someone to do, like when my neighbor cleans up after her housekeeper leaves. I explained to her that delegating works well if you clearly explain what you want someone to do and then follow up near the deadline date. When someone knows you’re going to follow up, they’re more likely to follow through on any task you’ve given them.

Focus on the big picture.

My friend likes to obsess over small, insignificant tasks like making sure the shipping supplies are stacked by height and organizing the coffee area that her staff rarely uses. She’s so busy worrying about the little things that she rarely finds time to post the next week’s schedule until the weekend before. Her employees don’t know what hours they’re supposed to work during the next week until late Saturday. She’s finally agreed to create the schedule one week in advance and loosen up about the shipping supplies.

Listen to the experts.

My friend bought her company from a longtime friend of hers who wanted to retire somewhere warm. (Apparently, people in their 70’s don’t like to shovel snow or slip on ice.) Although he lives four states away, the former owner is always available to give her advice, share shortcuts and even do video chats to train her staff. She refuses his help because she wants to prove to herself that she can run the business on her own, like a toddler who says, “I do it myself.” When she realizes her stubbornness is costing her time and money, she’ll accept help when it’s offered and listen to someone with experience.

Train everyone to cover all positions.

She hasn’t taken the time to teach all of her employees how to log in orders, how to price items or even how to handle customer service issues. That means that she has to be available night and day and can’t take days off. (Her husband refers to her business as “the other man.”) When she finally trains each employee to cover any position and handle customer complaints, she’ll be able to take some time off to recharge.

I wasn’t sure whether or not giving my friend suggestions would help or hurt our friendship until the next time I saw her. For the first time in years she looked rested, seemed less stressed and best of all, didn’t say once that she was too busy or too stressed. She did mention, though, that I could update my wardrobe.

I think my friend is more open than I am to suggestions.

Home Office (and more) Shortcuts to Make Your Life Easier

When you work from home, tips and tricks that can help you save time and money are invaluable. The Twisted Sifter blog post “50 Life Hacks to Simplify Your World” is filled with home office and home tips that are both cheap, and easy to follow.

Here are a few of the top tips:

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For more tips from Twisted Sifter, click here.

 

Discover the Seven Principles for Time Management

The path to success takes time, patience and a plan. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” In her new (must-read) book, What’s Next? The Seven Steps to Discover Your Big Idea and Create a Wildly Successful Business, Joy Chudacoff shares the proven strategies she’s used with clients for over two decades.whats-next-book-joy-chudacoff

As a Professional Certified Business and Life Coach, Joy has helped her clients discover what has been holding them back, how to identify their target market, and more importantly, how to grow their business.

The following is an excerpt from her book. There are more detailed descriptions of the principles in the book, but I’ve highlighted key points.

Principle #1: Create a Positive Relationship with Time.

My old relationship with time was one in which I saw time as the enemy, Time was always eluding me, ignoring my needs, and leaving me stranded at moments when I needed just a little more. My new relationship with time is one in which I honor and cherish it. I’ve learned that if you develop a better relationship with your time and honor its value, you will gain the most you can with the time you have.

Principle #2: Commit to Your Values.

Determine what your values are in both your personal and professional life. Your values are those areas in your life on which you place a high priority, and nothing else is allowed to push its way in front of those areas. Some examples could be family, self-care, business, friends, community, or spirituality. The key is to peel back the layers on what you value most about a particular area in your life.

Principle #3: Create Boundaries and Embrace the Word “No.”

I can remember a time in my life where I would always say yes to anything that anyone asked me, because I wanted to feel like I was supportive to everyone in my life, sometimes even strangers. But if you are to live a life embracing what you value most, creating boundaries is necessary. A different way to look at boundaries is to think about the different types of time. There are three kinds of time we all have in our day:

Focused: Focused time is when you concentrate on an area of high importance in your personal or professional life.

Flex: Flex time is when you are performing the work associated with your business. Anything that involves working with clients or personal tasks is considered flex time.

Open: Open time is free time to enjoy family, friends, and self-care activities.

Principle #4: Master High-Priority Versus Low-Priority Tasks.

There are only twenty-four hours in a day, yet most of us would need double that to accomplish everything on our plate. It’s essentials that you gain a clear understanding about what is high priority and what is low priority.

Principle #5: Set Aside Focused Time.

Focused time is another tool you can use to evaluate your success on the road to entrepreneurship, as it helps you make sure you are on track with your goals. It’s a time when you eliminate all distractions to work on your Big Ideas and goals.

Principle #6: Master Your Energy Levels.

As we mature, our energy levels change. It’s important to notice when you are most energetic or have an energy surge during the day. In my own life, no matter what happens during the day, even if I’ve barely scratched the surface of my high-priority items, I go to bed at 10pm each night.

Principle #7: Operate in Your Genius.

In my work with women, one of the essential exercises we do together is peeling back the layers of their lives — both personally and professionally — to explore and discover their “gift,” or what I sometimes refer to as their “genius.” You may be reading this right now and thinking, “I don’t know what my gift is” or “I don’t have a gift.” But you do have a gift. You have genius inside you.

Joy Chudacoff is a Professional Certified Business and Life Coach. Her company, Smart Women Smart Solutions®, has helped women from all walks of life. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

How to Be Effective and Efficient While Working Naked

When you’re “Working Naked” — working without the support of the corporate workplace — you face a few challenges. A few of them include staying focused and avoiding distractions. By taking the time to set up your home office to be efficient and change what’s not working, you can create a productive home office.

Start with the right equipment.

Figure out how much time you’re wasting using old equipment and outdated software. Computer prices fall regularly, so it may be worth your time to buy a new laptop or desktop. The money you’re saving by not buying new equipment may be costing you in lost time and productivity.

Turn four machines into one. [Read more…]

How to Jog Your Memory

source: ganesha.isis

Some people think I’m extra organized because I always enter notes in my iPhone. The truth is that I have the world’s worst memory. I can remember faces, not names, and directions, not addresses.

Over the years, I’ve taken a few steps to try to improve my memory or at least fake that I have a better memory than I do. By using the simple strategies below, I’m able to finish projects on time, avoid annoying friends and clients, and remember important dates.

Consider these four steps tips for improving your memory.

Add an attachment to your e-mail before you write your message.

Have you had to send a follow-up e-mail after you’re forgotten to include an attachment? I have. By adding the attachment before I write the message, I don’t have to send the follow-up message. The best part is that my friends and clients have stopped sending me e-mails — some of them in an annoying tone — asking about attachments I was supposed to include.

To read the rest of my guest post on Success Your Way, click here.

Are You Controlling Time or is Time Controlling You?

source: Sean MacEntee

I’ve always wondered how a time management seminar could last two days, so a few weeks ago I went to one. By the end of the first day, I knew I was right…the speaker could have shared all of his information in three hours, not eight. He showed us how we were wasting time — I could relate because I wasting time at the seminar — and he gave us exercises to help us realize how we could make better use of our time.

By the second day I felt sorry for the corporate employees who realized that when they went back to work, they’d have to play catch-up for the next few days.

Let me save you a few days by sharing a few time management tips I didn’t learn at the seminar, but instead through trial and error.

To read the rest of my guest post on Success Your Way, click here.

4 Ways to Develop a Home Office Routine

source: Courtney Dirks

It took me a few years of working from home to figure out that I needed to follow some type of schedule. My schedule is flexible, but for the most part I work out early, take a shower, get dressed and make the 5-second commute to my home office.

There are days though, when I head to my home office in my workout clothes, fully intending to exercise after I finish a blog post or two, and before I know it it’s noon.  Does that sound familiar?

Working from home means you have the freedom to work when you want, wherever you want. Yet it’s important to get into a routine so you can be productive each day. These four tips are a good place to start.

Set a starting and ending time each day

As much as possible, follow a schedule to keep your productivity high and your motivation strong. Otherwise you may not make it to your home office until after lunch. On the other hand, know in advance when you’re going to stop working so you don’t work all night and into the morning.

To read the rest of my guest post on Success Your Way, click here.

 

5 Organizing Myths Keeping You From Getting Organized

source: miss.killer!

For years, I’ve worked with clients who’ve tried everything to organize their home offices, but then have finally given up. Either they didn’t know where to start or were overwhelmed by the process. They also started to believe the negative comments their family and friends were telling them about getting organized.

If you’ve tried to organize your home office and have given up, or have started to believe what others have told you for years about getting organized, it’s time to change your thinking. When you stop believing old organizing myths, you can move forward and get your home office organized.

Myth #1 You have to be born organized to be organized

We learn both good and bad habits at an early age and you can change any bad habit, including disorganization. When I was in the corporate world, co-workers who had organized offices told me that their homes were a mess. They focused more on their workspace because that’s where they generated their income. By the time they came home from work every day, they were too exhausted to organize anything. The bottom line is that you can learn to be organized, and it’s easier if you’re motivated to make a few changes.

To read the rest of my guest post on Success Your Way, click here.

 

The Advantages of Hiring Help

A business owner I’ve known for over ten years has owned several businesses. He sold two of his businesses within two years of starting them.

His last (and current) business was almost a failure. Although he had a strong business idea and product, he grew his business too quickly. Each month he added a few employees and by the end of his first year in business, he wasn’t making enough money to cover his overhead.

At the beginning of the new year he cut his staff in half and reorganized his business. By making a few staffing changes, he has converted his company from pathetic to profitable.

As your business grows, and you have less time to spend on sales and marketing, filing, and accounting, you may need to add additional staff or hire freelancers. There are a few things to consider when hiring others full-time, part-time, or on a project-by-project basis. [Read more…]

Would More Hours in the Day Make You More Productive?

When my (now 29-year-old) nephew was four years old, I asked him if he wanted to go to the store with me. He told me that he didn’t have enough time because he was too busy.

I don’t remember much about my life at four years old, but what I do remember is that all I had was time. My nephew probably had learned that response from everyone around him.

What would you do with more time?

No matter what type of business you’re in, and whether you’re working from home full-time or part-time, time is a valuable commodity. Take the time to consider what would happen if you had more time.

  • Would you take the day off, spend more time with your family, or work on your personal development?  If so, let go of tasks that don’t need your attention so you can have more time to spend on yourself or with your family. [Read more…]