Small Business Articles from Make-it-Fly®
Smarter Not Harder – Ten Tips to Help You
By Victoria Munro
probably won’t yield the results you want! We
all have a limited amount of time and energy, and by
working smart rather than hard we will achieve more
and have time and energy to spare.
Your Goals and Keep a Laser Focus
Keeping clearly defined goals
before you helps you focus on what’s important.
Prioritize: Decide daily which activities are most crucial
to achieving your goals. Spend a few minutes each morning
determining your number-one goal for the day, and then
write a realistic daily to-do list. This will help clarify
Regular Appointments with Yourself
If you’re going to maintain balance, keep on track
and move your business forward, you need to set regular
appointments with yourself. In your calendar, block
out uninterrupted times to think, review and
plan. Unless you’re in a crisis, don’t allow
day-to-day tasks to take over this time.
3. Know Yourself:
Build on Your Strengths, Work Around Your Weaknesses
and Avoid Your “Stressors”
Spend most of your time working
in the areas of your strengths - what you’re
good at and feel fulfilled working on. Develop these
strengths further. Often, doing what you do best is
a “high-payoff activity" in your business.
Whenever practical, seek to delegate tasks in your areas
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
What time of day do you work at peak performance? Schedule
your “high-payoff” activities during these
times. Know and honor your own limits. Understand what
causes you undue stress and avoid this whenever possible.
4. Take Regular
Mini Vacations and Give Rewards
We work more efficiently when we take
short breaks or “mini vacations”
for a few minutes every hour or forty-five minutes.
This refreshes us, clears our minds, and increases vitality
and the ability to concentrate.
Value yourself enough to plan rewards or treats for
yourself at the completion of difficult tasks. This
could be something as simple as a latte at the corner
coffee shop, a walk in the park or a shopping trip.
When you find yourself procrastinating, seek
to understand why. Asking questions like: “Is
this project really in line with my goals? If I do it,
what’s in it for me? What will happen if I fail
to do it?” The answers can be very revealing.
Acknowledge that continuing to avoid tackling the project
may cause you more stress than making a decision and
doing it, or deciding not to do it and accepting the
6. Make Your
Work Space Work for You
Since you spend a significant amount of your time in
your workspace, make it as pleasant as possible, and
create an atmosphere that is
conducive to productive work. Surround yourself
with things you enjoy. Eliminate or at least minimize
Organize your desk so that piles of
papers do not surround you. Make sure that your phone
is located in the best possible place. Invest in a comfortable
headset. Keep your daily planning tool close at hand.
What to Delegate or Outsource
When your business is small, outsourcing can be a lifesaver.
Concentrate your energy on your “high-payoff”
activities. It can be more cost effective for you to
work in the areas of your greatest strengths and consider
hiring an answering service, a bookkeeping service,
a virtual assistant.
Constant interruptions will
kill any hope of effective time management. If
interruptions are a normal part of your working day,
become proactive and plan ahead to avoid them. Be ready
to differentiate the important from the urgent.
Designate “phone-free” periods during the
day, when you allow calls to go into voicemail. Close
your email editor or turn your sound off so that you’re
not tempted to check when you know an email has arrived.
When you stop a project you’re working on to
respond to an interruption, take a few seconds first
to make a note of where you are and what you plan to
do next. This will help you bounce back more quickly
after returning from the interruption.
9. Become Phone and Email
Schedule specific times each
day for checking voice mail and making phone
calls. When leaving a phone message, be clear about
who you are, the purpose of your call and the best times
to reach you. When you make a call, stick with your
purpose for the call and avoid unnecessary chatter.
Turn on spell check in your email editor and keep email
messages succinct and to the point.
10. Learn When and How to
We all want to please people and want them to think
well of us, but be careful not to say “yes”
to requests too quickly. Commit
to never giving an immediate response,
but request some time to think about it. Weigh the cost
and rewards. Ask yourself, “Will scheduling this
cause undue stress?” “Does this align with
Take one or two of the tips above, perhaps areas you’d
like to strengthen, and try them out.
© 2005-2007 Victoria Munro.
for printable version.
About the Author: Victoria Munro is
co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly®
LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for
small-business owners through creatively designed programs
and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different
businesses. To receive FREE business success articles
with tips to help you with your business, sign up for
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