The 12 of us who attended the MBF meeting on 6th January 2015 shared ideas on good habits that we use to help us be more efficient in our business life. Forming the right habits enables us to prioritise important work, tackle difficult issues and motivate ourselves to achieve more – and can make the difference between having challenging goals and actually reaching and exceeding these goals.
Among the ideas discussed were:
WRITE GOALS WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM
Have a board where your goals are written down and you can see them as you start work each day. This reminds you to focus on the most important things and not to be distracted by minor things. You could also write up major tasks to help you concentrate on the major jobs to be done.
Similar to the above idea is to have a planner which again is very visible and shows you key dates and milestones. You can use it to block out the time needed to prepare and do work ahead of deadlines.
Use a timer where you can set an alarm to ring after a certain time. You can then use the time either for a task that needs concentration, e.g. set the timer for an hour and turn off phones, email, Skype, etc. until the alarm rings, or to limit the time you spend on tasks that can be distracting, e.g. set the timer for 30 minutes when you use LinkedIn or Twitter or are just answering emails
“EAT THAT FROG”
If you have a difficult job to do such as making a call to break some bad news, do it as soon as possible rather than delaying it and letting worry affect your work in the meantime.
PICK UP MOMENTUM
When the list of tasks to do is daunting, tackle some simple ones first to tick them off the list and build the feeling that you are making progress
CHECK THE CASH
Cash is key to your business surviving so you need to set aside time to make sure it is coming in and chase clients who are not paying. This assumes you have already made time to invoice your customers which is another key item
SEPARATE YOUR SPACE
Separate the home and work environments. Obviously this is easiest if you work away from home, but even at home you can set up a work space and clear home items and distractions as much as possible. This has (at least) two benefits – firstly, to help you concentrate on work when you need to, with less outside distractions; and secondly to enable you to leave work behind at the end of the working day
You do not need to available for people to contact 24/7; in fact it is impossible. So don’t feel guilty about switching off phones and emails for a while to do some important work without interruptions. It will enable you to do the work that your clients/bosses expect.
At the beginning of the day set out your tasks, prioritise the really important ones and deal with them. Be realistic about how much you can achieve otherwise you risk always having items left undone which can make you feel permanently dissatisfied.
TICK OFF THE THINGS YOU HAVE ACHIEVED
Don’t just focus on what is left to do, but congratulate and reward yourself for what you have done.
The habits above will not suit everyone but they should provide everyone with some useful tips that they can use to improve their work and their success.
Thanks to Stephen Covey whose book (“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”) inspired the title of the discussion and this post.