Motivation Secrets of Productive People

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Motivation Secrets of Productive People

Make no mistake about it. Motivation will increase your productivity.

“Motivation and productivity are twin concepts in organizational development,” wrote Kristina Dems for Bright Hub.

“First, motivation works as the means toward attaining productivity as an end. Another point: Motivation is the best road to follow to reach productivity as a favorable effect. Lastly, motivation is the stimulus to trigger productivity as a response.”

Think about how this effects you and effects your life. When you’re not feeling motivated, you’re not going to accomplish much. That’s because you don’t have the drive to get things done.

And, to put it lightly, that sucks.

Now you’re behind on your planned goals or a task, which means you’re going to get behind another and another. Eventually, everything starts to pile-up. With no end in sight, you become even less motivated.

That’s why the most productive people employ the following motivation secrets to guarantee that they’re always ahead of the game.

1. When plans are made, they anticipate obstacles.

Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University, in New York City, conducted a study in 2009 that compared two groups of women who wanted to be more active. The groups were both provided information on how to live a healthy lifestyle.

However, the second group was also taught how to foresee obstacles by using if-then statements. For example, if they wanted to jog, but the weather is poor, then what will you do? The women would say, “if it’s snowing, then I’ll go to the gym and use the treadmill.”

Suffice it to say, the second group fared far better.

Gollwitzer concluded that those who plan for obstacles are more likely to follow through on projects. This is because they don’t have any excuses for completing the task at hand.

2. They “don’t break the chain.”

Years ago software developer Brad Isaac asked Jerry Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comedian. Seinfeld told him that the only way to become a better comic was to create better jokes. And the only way to create better jokes was to write daily.

But, that was just scratching the surface. Ultimately, the legendary comic unveiled his unique calendar system that kept him motivated every day.

Jerry told Isaac to get a huge wall calendar “that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall.” Then, go get a red magic maker.

He told Isaac that for each day he writes to to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” Seinfeld said again for emphasis.

Isaac says that this “works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes.” And, those daily actions build habits.

3. Live life from their calendars.

According to The Busy Person’s Guide to the Done List, by Janet Choi and Walter Chen of iDoneThis:

  • 41 percent of to-do list items are never completed.
  • 50 percent of to-do list items are completed within a day, many within the first hour of being written down.

Why is this the case when so many people swear by to-do-lists?

For starters, tasks on your to-do-lists are distinguished between those that only take a couple of minutes and those will last hours. Additionally, they emphasize the urgent instead of the important. And, they can add unnecessary stress.

Because of these reasons, highly productive people don’t use to-dos. They live from their calendars instead.

“Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks,” says Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm. “It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile as far as organization goes.”

“If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. If it’s on the calendar, it gets done no matter what. Use this not just for appointments, but workouts, calls, email blocks, etc.”

4. They don’t multitask.

Despite the myths, multitasking doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, it slows you down. This is because your brain is switching tasks and focus, which means it takes you longer to complete tasks.

In order to stay productive, you need to focus on thing at a time. Due’s Miranda Marquit uses the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused on one specific task at a time. This also boosts productivity since you’re dedicating your mental energy on one specific item.

As a perk, since you’re giving this one task 110 percent, chances are that there will be fewer mistakes. This means you won’t have to back and fix your errors, you can just move onto to something else.

5. Not controlled by technology.

“I was a Division I college athlete, and I grew up with five brothers and two sisters. I’ve always been a competitor. [But] I’ve learned that productivity should not be a competitive sport. You’re never going to win,” Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte, tells Fast Company.

“I am responsible for almost 80,000 people. I prioritize people over tasks. One Note allows me to put different tasks [involving] each of my executive-team members in a tab. That way when I talk to them, I can be more effective, because the five things I want to talk to them about [are right there].”

“If I looked at email and Twitter and texts [during the day], I don’t think I would ever give my full attention to anything. You cannot be insightful if you’re deluged with information.”

Engelbert adds, “We’re all drowning in data. We all need moments of recovery. For me, that includes not going right to my phone when I wake up in the morning. I got on a plane about six months ago, and I forgot my phone. For two days, I didn’t have my phone, and nobody died.”

Her final words of advice? “Technology should help you do your job, not control your job.”

6. They use a notebook.

Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg all carry a notebook around. The reason? They rely on pen and paper to keep track of and remember all of their thoughts and ideas.

“I can’t tell you where I’d be if I hadn’t had a pen on hand to write down my ideas as soon as they came to me,” Branson wrote in a blog post.

“You think you’ll remember, but you won’t, and you’ll forfeit all the thoughts that flood you after you’ve freed your mind from remembering the initial spark,” adds Drew Hanson.

For Sandberg, she uses a notebook as a kind of daily planner. She jots down her to-do lists. Once she’s accomplished those items, she rips the pages out of her notebook. It’s a simple way to stay motivated for staying on track.

7. They work backwards from the future.

Steve Jobs once asked, “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

“If too many days passed by with the answer being ‘no,’ he’d adjust his lifestyle until he hit a consistent yes,” explains HubSpot’s Scott Tousley. “This forced Steve to define long-term goals and stay motivated.”

This may sound drab, but the most productive people “think about the end of their lives,” which helps them define their legacy.

With this in mind, they then “work backwards to achieve those goals.”

“This touches on the psychological theories and models of motivation. If we’re driven by a purpose, we’re more likely to work extra hard,” says Tousley.

But, how does starting with your purpose keep you productive and motivated?

Starting with a purpose or “personal mission statement,” leads to the creation of long-term goals. Long-term goals lead to smaller goals, which create to-do-lists.

So, if you want to productive like Steve Job, define your purpose first and everything else will fall into place.

8. They’re friends with time.

Really productive people, or RPPs as Marie Forleo calls them, are friends with time. In other words, “they don’t look at time as the enemy.”

If you do, you’ll end-up always struggling with productivity and motivation. And, this makes sense. Whenever you could something the “enemy” it’s only going to end-up being a source of pain.

Instead, make time your ally. You can start by ditching time-stealing habits like multitasking and procrastination. You can achieve by practicing:

  • Mindfulness. This will help you focus on one task at a time.
  • Acceptance. Concentrating only on what you can control.
  • Authenticity. This encourages self-management since it helps you decide what to do and when to do it.

9. They create theme days.

Want to know how Jack Dorsey juggles all of his obligations at Twitter and Square? He creates theme days. Here’s what Jack said about this in 2011:

“The way I found that works for me is I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company…Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company, the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week.”

How has that schedule help Jack work eight hours at both companies?

The first reason the schedule works is that it establishes a rhythm. You know what to expect every day because you’ve created a routine to keep you focused.

Secondly, it challenges you to complete tasks on certain deadlines. If you record a podcast every Tuesday like John Lee Dumas, then you know that you have the podcast prepared by that day.

Finally, it batches similar tasks together. This keeps you productive since it streamlines activity and eliminates distractions.

10. Bring optimism and fun back into the picture.

This may sound hokey, but research shows that the key to motivation is bringing optimism and fun.

Ron Siegel, a psychology professor at Harvard University, explains:

“Our modern brains are still wired up for the ancient evolutionary purpose of surviving in a dangerous environment. Over a million years or so, we developed specialized neural structures that selectively tuned in to danger signals. The prospect of getting attacked necessarily outranked all other neurological priorities.”

And, unfortunately, we still go into that survival mode. Instead of thinking about the pleasurable and rewarding experience of conquering a task, we focus on anxiety and fear.

For example, you just started a new business. You’re probably dwelling more on the fear of failure instead of the excitement of improving your community.

The best way to overcome this? Create basic two-columned pros and cons list so you can notice that the joys outweigh any fears or anxieties. When you actually see the positive, you’ll get yourself out of the rut you’re headed into.

As Rick Steves has written, “Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something is not to your liking, change your liking.”

How to Optimize Your Videoconferencing Setup

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How to Optimize Your Videoconferencing Setup

To say that Covid-19 has changed things would be an understatement. Perhaps the biggest change we have had to make concerns our jobs. Even if you were fortunate enough to keep yours, there is a good chance you quite literally moved from the boardroom to the bedroom. While there might have been some bumps along the way— maybe involving that pesky mute button or maybe a lack of pants — by now, you probably consider yourself a videoconferencing pro. 

With the possibility that remote working will be here to stay, however, it could be time to think about things you could be doing to get more out of your setup. These six tips will help you become a videoconferencing master:

Use Better (or More) Lighting

Everybody wants to see your bright, shining face. It is essential that the room you’re in has enough light. It also needs to be in the right place. Moving a lamp closer to you or putting one behind the device or even just facing a window can make a big difference. 

Better yet, think about utilizing multiple lights in your workspace. Try placing a lamp on each side of your desk. For the best illumination, you may also want to consider buying a lighting kit.  

Improve Your Camera

The camera in your computer or other device is…fine. If your meetings are typically just brief check-ins with team members, it might be all you need. 

However, if you have to give presentations or demonstrate visuals that your team will need to see clearly, your best bet is to buy a webcam. While there are many to choose from, pick one with HDMI capabilities for high-quality video. Also, be sure that it is compatible with Zoom or whatever videoconferencing app you use. 

One more tip: Keep the camera at eye level. This is a great way to simulate real, face-to-face interaction.

Upgrade Your Mic

Like the camera in your device, the built-in mic will also probably get the job done. However, if people are constantly complaining that they can’t hear you well, it could be time for an upgrade. 

With the rise of telecommuting (not to mention all of those podcasters), there are now tons of mics available, and prices vary widely. Wearing a lavalier mic, a very affordable option, can vastly enhance your audio.

Consider Headphones

Speaking of sound, if you frequently have to ask people to repeat themselves, the problem could be you and not them. Headphones will immediately enable you to get better sound quality. Plus, if you have a noisy household — maybe you have a kid or two at home who’s learning online — they will let you tune out of the cacophony at home.

Those big, over-the-ears, Princess Leia headphones are one option. If you think they’re too obtrusive, earbuds are the much subtler choice. 

Boost Your Signal

None of the stuff mentioned above will mean much if you often have trouble connecting with your team. If your internet connection is slow or inconsistent, don’t wait to troubleshoot it. 

Try simply moving your device closer to your router. If, however, the router is old or unreliable, a new one may be in order. If getting a new router doesn’t help, try a wired connection. And if even that doesn’t help, ask your internet company to come take a look. 

Think About What’s Behind You

You may have the latest bells and whistles, excellent image quality, and audio so clear you could hear a pin drop. But what about all of the clutter on your desk or that stack of laundry behind you? 

If you have a mess in your home, you’re certainly not the only one. While you could clean it up before the meeting, just pushing it out of the frame might be your best option. Or, if you can, move your webcam to change the viewing angle. 

Whether your stint as a remote worker is winding down or just getting started, don’t wait to master virtual conferences. Even if you go back to the office, rest assured: You have many, many more videoconferences ahead of you. 

Busy vs Productive: 9 Ways To Be Productive, Not Busy

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Busy vs Productive: 9 Ways To Be Productive, Not Busy

I recently caught up with an old friend. The first thing he asked was, “How are things goin’?” I replied, “Busy.” That “busy” response was automatic, and I’d even say it’s probably the most common response anyone would receive from entrepreneurs and professionals. For me, the statement also happens to be true, and my team members have also been hard at work Calendar. We wouldn’t want it any other way.

Have you ever asked yourself if you’re merely acting “busy?” If you’re looking busy just to be a pretender — is that a bad thing? I would respond, “yes,” just being busy (as a pretender) is a “bad” thing. If you’re juggling multiple tasks, like responding to emails and being active on social media — business productivity is not made up of these types of careless actions. Admit to yourself that you’re staying busy under the guise of being productive, and these actions will not help you move closer to your goals. In short, you’re just wasting your time.

To make sure that you’re not falling into the “busy for nothing” trap — here are nine ways you can help yourself be productive. As a result, you’ll be more effective at work and will have the time to focus on what matters most in your life.

1. Identify what is important and necessary.

Busy people are known for jumping quickly on every assignment. They have no hesitation in accepting requests for their time — and people love them for that. The thing is when you’re continually putting out fires you end-up focusing on things that are urgent, but not essential.

If your choice is to be involved in the crucial but not critical — have a clear understanding of what you are doing. These actions will have you failing to meet deadlines and you won’t reach your goals. Productive people can identify what is important and necessary. They make the most important things a priority over the things that can either wait or that don’t have a deadline.

2. Optimize your organization.

Are you so busy that you don’t have time to sit down for five minutes and do nothing? Even people who are running multiple businesses aren’t that busy. The truth is that you’re just not organized. There’s a vast difference in the mental processing of the person who is ahead of deadlines and someone who is perpetually late.

Instead of running around frantically — productive people have a solid organization strategy. The key is finding the methods, techniques, and tools that work best for you. Some of my personal favorites are:

  • Creating a simple to-do-list with no more than three “most important tasks” (MITs).
  • Using to-do list apps, such as Wunderlist or Todoist, to organize and share my lists.
  • Automating recurring tasks. Automate using Buffer or Hootsuite for social media updates, canned email responses, or chatbots for customers service. Calendar can make smart scheduling suggestions and there are also tools that can send out recurring invoices.
  • If you create content for your business, then you need an editorial calendar and template. The editorial calendar and template will keep your company’s marketing goals on track.
  • Rely on proven time management methods like the Pomodoro Technique. It helps break down larger projects into smaller chunks and will remind you to take breaks.
  • In the kitchen, a chef has a system called mise en place.” This chef system is a process they use to arrange all of their ingredients and tools before cooking. This prep-work helps account for their time, prevents looking for misplaced items, and helps them concentrate. I like laying out my clothes the night before work and having all tools (computer, cords, materials) in the bag ready to leave.

3. Create a system to minimize distractions.

You’re in your office preparing for a meeting. You hear an email notification go off on your phone. Instead of ignoring it — you stop what you’re doing and read the email. Now you’ve lost your train-of-thought and can’t get-back-on-track for a couple of seconds. These seconds and microseconds add up over time to a lot of distraction.

Distraction is a common occurrence with busy people. They allow themselves to get distracted.

Those who are productive, however, have created a system and put it in place to reduce distractions. For example, they work on their most important tasks in the morning. During this time they close their door and turn-off smartphone notifications. When completed, they have a specific amount of time dedicated to mundane tasks like email.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Another difference between productive people and those who are not — is that busy people get lost in minor details. Productive individuals focus on macro issues. As long as you get from A to B efficiently, it doesn’t matter the exact route you took. It just matters that you got there.

Skip striving for perfection and obsessing over every little detail. Focus on hitting key milestones that help you achieve your objectives.

5. Say “yes” strategically.

Busy folks rarely say “no.” They say “yes” to most requests — whether that’s taking on a new assignment or RSVPing to a party. “Yes-ing” everything will eventually pack a schedule with things that do little to improve a persons’ lives.

Productive people are more strategic with their time. They know that saying “yes” is a time commitment that prevents them from focusing on priorities. They will only say “yes” to requests if it helps them achieve their goals. If their value goals are not being pursued, they’ll politely say “no.”

6. Be willing to make sacrifices.

There’s a belief that as entrepreneurs or business owners you have to sacrifice things like spending time with family or doing the hobbies that we’re passionate about doing. There may be some truth to that if you want to be busy 24/7.

Productive people are willing to make sacrifices if that gives them more time to rest, spend with the people who matter most and pursue interests like a side-hustle. Establishing “business” and “out-of-office” hours helps to reserve needed quality time. Examples would be unplugging on the weekends and quitting committees or organizations that are not building you in some manner.

Some people may not get you and you may even frustrate others when you’re not available on a Saturday afternoon. But, you’ll feel less hurried, overwhelmed, and stressed. Most importantly, it ensures that you aren’t neglecting your own self-care and priorities.

7. Surround yourself with productive people.

A 2014 study found that friends can influence our choices. Depending on your friends, that could be either good or bad.

For example, productive people surround themselves with those who encourage, support and motivate them. These productive people are usually competent with their goals. On the other hand, busy people surround themselves with those who indulge them. It may be fun to veg out and watch movies all day, but that is rarely the best use of your time.

8. Weigh the pros and cons before jumping on a trend.

Whether it’s the latest social or business trend, busybodies are all over it and that’s not always the worst thing in the world. But, these trends may not have enough lasting value. As a result, busybodies spend time jumping from trend-to-trend.

Before jumping on any bandwagon, productive people will weigh the pros and cons of the trend. If it’s not providing value or improving lives, then the direction isn’t worth the time or financial investment.

For example, it seems like everyone wants to have their own podcast or YouTube channel. People are making a fortune with this type of content. However, if you take a step back, you’ll realize that it’s only a small fraction of people who are making money on these channels. Are these channels the type that would help you with your career or life goals?

9. Be honest about your progress.

At the end of the day ask yourself if you had an incredibly busy day without any rhyme or reason? Or did the work you did today bring you closer to your goals? This honest introspection should become a daily ritual. Asking yourself these questions about your productivity and will help you put your work in perspective. You’ll be able to differentiate between what’s a priority and what’s not.

Questioning yourself will give you an opportunity to think about what went well with your day and what didn’t — giving you the opportunity to make adjustments going forward.

4 Covid-19 Changes to Keep for the Long Haul

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4 Covid-19 Changes to Keep for the Long Haul

Covid-19 has forever changed our work, our social interactions, and even how we view ourselves. We’ve come to understand our own limits better, even as we’ve learned the importance of self-care. That doesn’t mean, however, we’ve enjoyed the experience. 

Let’s be honest: Plenty of those changes we’ll be happy to discard once it’s safe to do so. Which of them, however, should we consider keeping for the long haul?

While you’re likely sick of social distancing, there are a few changes beyond more frequent handwashing that you should keep long after the pandemic has ended:

1. Setting Your Own Schedule

Covid-19 turned our world upside down and turned our days into a grey fog of sameness. We learned, intentionally or not, how to clear the haze by controlling our schedule. 

We need our work time, our quiet time, and our family time. As Calendar suggests, we thrive on routine, and losing it can leave us feeling lost and disoriented. 

Make a point, if you don’t already, to separate your work and play spaces. Set clear work and “office” hours. When it’s time to put one down, take the other up with a vengeance. 

To be clear, you don’t need to have every minute of the day rigidly scheduled out. But if there’s one thing you should hold on to once the pandemic is over, it’s the importance of making time for all aspects of your life. 

2. Embracing Mental and Emotional Care

You’ve likely heard the phrase “collective trauma” more than once over the past year. You may have even experienced its symptoms: chiefly irritability, frustration, and depression.  

For many of us, this has required making a conscious effort to cope. It’s meant figuring out what keeps us sane in a world that has, too often, seemed like it’s gone mad. 

Maybe you need to schedule in gym time, some counseling sessions, or even a Covid-safe spa day. Or, to the point above, it might just entail making sure you have uninterrupted family time on your calendar.

Do what you need to take care of yourself. Make your mental and emotional health your top priority this year.

3. Taking Being Sick Seriously

Too often, we treat common colds as annoyances we have to push aside and power through. It’s understandable: colds aren’t, generally speaking, serious illnesses. Covid-19 reminded us that some infections, however, are. 

According to LinkedIn, workers took an average of just 2.5 sick days in 2018. Sick employees aren’t only less productive, but they risk infecting others and affecting their productivity. 

The bottom line is, overextending yourself when you’re sick doesn’t help anyone. Focusing on what’s important and taking the time to recover, on the other hand, helps everyone.

That might involve staying in when you want to go out with friends. It might mean rescheduling a meeting or moving an in-person appointment to a virtual one. Realize that your being ill affects others. So stay home and focus on recovery. 

4. Telecommuting

This change should catch no one by surprise. Over the past year, “telecommute” has become almost as familiar a word as “pandemic.” 

To be sure, not every job or industry is suited for at-home work. Not everyone will have the option to work remotely once Covid-19 has passed. 

For those who can telecommute, however, the arrangement can be a godsend. Remote workers are as productive as, if not more productive than, their in-office team members. Leaders can leverage the perk to expand their talent pool and to save on office costs. 

Make no mistake: offices, gyms, and schools will reopen once the pandemic is over. But at the same time, telecommuting is here to stay. 

Although it can be difficult to see silver linings in something like a pandemic, Covid-19 has its share. The challenge, of course, is seizing them at the same time you steer your life back to “normal.” Fortunately, you have the entire world as company. 

12 Productivity Hacks You Probably Aren’t Using

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Sometimes the conventional wisdom and obvious advice that you’ve heard a million times doesn’t cut it when need a major productivity boost. During these times you might need to think outside the box and use the following 12 productivity hacks to get you back-on-track.

Sometimes the conventional wisdom and obvious advice that you’ve heard a million times doesn’t cut it when need a major productivity boost. During these times you might need to think outside the box and use the following 12 productivity hacks to get you back-on-track.

1. Work when you’re most effective.

“Everyone has times of the day when they are more efficient. They also have times of the day when they tend to drag their feet,” writes Max Palmer in a previous Calendar article. “If you want to maximize your effectiveness throughout the day you need to identify your peak hours.”

After you’ve identified when you’re more effective, “it’s time to optimize your schedule,” adds Max. “The tasks that require the most concentration need to be taken care of when you’re at your best.”

For example, if you’re at your peak between nine am to noon, and you’re a freelance writer, then that’s when you should writing your most important, challenging, and undesirable assignments.

Once you’ve eaten that frog, you can tackle those smaller, more enjoyable, and less important writing gigs.

2. Unsubscribe and unfollow.

Our tastes change frequently throughout life. For instance, if you got into Crossfit several years ago you probably started following trainers on social media, signed-up for newsletters and purchased the proper gear and Paleo cookbooks.

Today, however, your body can’t handle Crossfit. Now all of those newsletters and feeds aren’t relevant to you. But, they’re still filling-up your inbox and feed.

Take a couple of minutes to unsubscribe and unfollow newsletters and feeds that are no longer providing you with value. This way you won’t be spending as much time maintaining your email and social accounts since it’s lean and mean.

I would do this at least once a month so that your inbox and social feeds don’t become too cluttered.

3. Work from a communal space.

Most of us can’t focus when there’s a conversation right next to us. You can forget about getting any deep work done when that jackhammer is going to town on the sidewalk in front of your office. As a result, we tend to lock ourselves in a completely silent office.

The fact, however, is that ambient noise can actually make you more productive.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found ambient noise of 70 decibels increased productivity more than relative quiet.

So if you work from home relocate to a co-working space. Instead of shutting your office door spend a couple of hours at your favorite coffee shop. The white noise, vibe, and java will keep you going.

4. Use a treadmill desk.

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of people raving about the benefits of standing desks. But, how about you take that to the next level with a treadmill desk?

Researchers at the University of Queensland found that standing up while you work and walking on a treadmill desk reduces stress and boosts productivity.

Lead researcher Nicholas Gilson, an associate professor with the university’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, said in a press release, “We found people who use activity-promoting desks were more able to focus on urgent tasks, avoid non-urgent tasks and manage stress better than people sitting at a desk all day.”

Dr. Gilson added, “The workers who used sit-stand or walking desks allocated attention most effectively and had lower levels of cortisol – known as the “stress hormone” – in their saliva.”

You can purchase a new treadmill desk, like the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5, on Amazon for just over $1,500. You could also purchase workstation to go with your existing treadmill or, if you’re creative, you can probably build your own for a couple of hundred bucks.

5. Create a mini-crisis.

I wouldn’t recommend doing this all-of-the-time, but there are moments when we work best under pressure. Let’s say that you’re heading out-of-town for a business trip or family vacation. I can guarantee that the week leading up to your departure you’re going to be hustling so that you don’t have to worry about work while you’re away.

You can recreate this sensation by blocking out less time than you think you’ll actually need to complete a task. Instead of blocking out three hours for writing, cut it down to two. Instead of an hour dedicated to emails, spend only 30-minutes. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll get accomplished when you have less time to spend on a specific task.

6. Sleepless.

This doesn’t mean that you should only get four hours of sleep per night. After all, quality sleep ensures that you’ll have enough energy to make it through the day.

This means that you don’t need to sleep for eight or more hours every night.

Clinical studies show that we only need 6 to 7 hours of sleep. Imagine what you can do with that extra hour or two of time instead of sleeping.

7. Optimize your workspace.

It’s no secret that maintaining a proper workspace boosts productivity, creativity, and energy. But, how many of us actually take the time to optimize our workspaces?

You can start today by making these quick workspace changes:

  • Invest in ergonomic furniture — particularly your office chair. It can be a bit pricey, but it’s worth it if you want to become more efficient while remaining comfortable.
  • Clean and organize your workspace. This means putting stacks of paper away, cleaning-up messy computer cables, and placing everything back where they belong so you can find them when needed.
  • Locate your workspace to a spot where you’re exposed to natural light. If there aren’t any sunny spots, purchase a full spectrum light.
  • Put some live plants in your workspace. They purify the air and come with psychological benefits that can boost productivity.
  • Face your workspace towards the door. Having your back to the door can make you feel insecure.

I’d also add that you set your workspace to the right temperature. Researchers at Cornell have found that offices, where temperatures were 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, made 44 percent more mistakes. Offices at optimal room temperature, which is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, made fewer errors.

8. Listen to the right kind of music.

As mentioned above, white noise can increase your productivity. This also includes music. In fact, according to research from Dr. Teresa Lesiuk, those who listened to music while working not only completed their tasks faster, they also had better ideas.

The caveat here is that you have to listen to the right type of music. This includes classical, ambient soundtracks, video game music, epic music, and the sounds of nature.

[email protected] is a handy app that can boost your productivity by finding the right music to help you focus more.

9. Take a cold shower.

This may seem a little out there. But as noted by researchers at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, “Cold bathing is a common custom in many parts of the world.” In fact, humans have experimented with water temperature variation for centuries. “In ancient times, Roman bathing was based around the practice of moving through a series of heated rooms culminating in a cold plunge at the end.”

Modern research has found that taking a cold shower can strengthen your immunity and circulation, help you recover after exercise, and make you more alert and energized.

This doesn’t mean you have to take a 5-minute shower in freezing water either. You can start off with a warm shower and follow that by a 30, 60, or 90-second blast of cold water to get your day started.

10. Hydrate.

If you want to be at peak productivity, then you need to be fully hydrated.

It’s been found that even just a one percent drop in hydration can result in a 12 percent reduction in productivity! A three or four percent drop in hydration can lead to between 25 percent to 50 percent reduction in productivity.

To stay fully hydrated, make sure that you’re drinking at least two liters of water daily. Make sure to update this in your academic calendar as well!

11. Know exactly how long your breaks should be.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but we need to take breaks throughout the day. But, as As Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, perfectly explains, “Without any downtime to refresh and recharge, we’re less efficient, make more mistakes, and get less engaged with what we’re doing.”

Studies have found that in the morning we can stay focused on a task for around 90 minutes before we start to lose focus. As such, we should then take a 20-minute break every 90 minutes. That makes sense it follows our natural body rhythms.

In the afternoon though, we should use the Pomodoro Technique where you work in 25-minute chunks and then take a five-minute break. When the fourth time comes around you take a 25-30 minute break. This works better in the afternoon since our biological rhythms have stabilized.

If that’s too much too figure out, break for 17 minutes every 52 minutes throughout the day. The idea is that we need frequent breaks throughout the day in order to stay focused and energized throughout the day.

12. Declutter your Calendar.

Do you wake-up in the morning, look at your calendar, and become instantly stressed? It’s probably because you’re calendar is too cluttered. And when you have too much planned in one day, it’s impossible to accomplish everything that needs to get done.

Take the time to clear the clutter from your calendar by:

  • Every night review your calendar and select only your top 3 priorities for tomorrow.
  • Review all of your recurring events and commitments. Some of these may no longer be valuable or fit into your schedule and may need to be removed.
  • Stop filling your calendar with tasks that only take a minute of your time.
  • Share your calendar with others so that everyone knows your availability.
  • Keep a separate calendar for work so that you’re calendar isn’t jam-packed with work and personal entries.
  • Stop saying “yes” to every request and invite.
  • Use a scheduling assistant, like Calendar, to eliminates those back-and-forth communications when scheduling appointments.

8 Tips for Cutting Down on Unnecessary Customer Emails

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8 Tips for Cutting Down on Unnecessary Customer Emails

The daily task of reading and responding to unnecessary customer emails can feel like an endless routine. You might think you’ve communicated every piece of information clearly and thoroughly. But some customers just don’t do their homework before sending an email with a question you thought you had already answered. 

Finding ways to cut down on unnecessary customer emails will decrease the amount of time you spend in your inbox and increase the amount of time you can grow your business. Here are some helpful tips for reducing unnecessary customer emails while keeping customers happy to continue working with you. 

Implement Online Scheduling

Your business may thrive on a personal touch that includes friendly small talk every time a customer calls to make an appointment. It’s more likely, however, that people want to quickly schedule, cancel, or confirm appointments as quickly as possible and move on. 

Offering an online scheduling option is a win-win for you and your customers, as it lets busy people communicate important information quickly and efficiently. Online scheduling also reduces scheduling errors, which are both frustrating for customers and costly in terms of staff time.

Better still, an online scheduling system gives customers the power to choose their preferred date and time for an appointment. This feature helps eliminate any potential back-and-forth emails and promotes a heightened sense of appointment “ownership.” Customers are far more likely to keep an appointment they set themselves.

Make Information Available Across Multiple Channels

Pay attention to the questions that seem to require an infinite number emails from you and your staff to answer. This is perhaps the simplest way to determine what information you should be providing to the public. The channels you select to convey that information may vary — your website, social media, and/or print — but the need to do so is plain.

Not that you’re trying to cut your customers off from all human contact. You’re simply seeking to serve them by heading off frequent questions. In doing so, you make your life easier as well.

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Of course, no business will be able to entirely dispense with email anytime soon. Given that reality, consider the following tips for sharpening your own email conduct. After all, one of the best ways to encourage the behavior you want to see in others is to model it yourself.

Send Fewer Emails

This may sound overly simplistic, but every time you send an email, you invite the recipient to click the “Reply” button. Letter writers like to say “You gotta write ’em to get ’em,” but the reverse is also true. If you want to receive fewer emails, stop sending so many yourself.

Communication theorist Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.” Keep his point in mind when deciding whether email is in fact the best medium for the information you need to convey. A quick phone call, Slack message, or in-person conversation might be more appropriate.

Think Twice Before Clicking ‘Reply’ or ‘Reply to All’

Have you ever been part of an endless email thread of office lunch orders? If yes, did you enjoy putting work on hold long enough to read Ben’s request for beef on rye?

There are two equal and opposite errors to avoid when considering the dreaded “Reply to All” button. The first is needlessly copying a message to tons of people who don’t need to see it. The second error is not replying to all when all parties actually need to be informed. Choosing the right mechanism probably takes less than two seconds of thought and demonstrates respect for other people’s time.

Improve Your Subject Lines

We all skim our email inboxes trying to sift for important messages. Writing clear, specific, concise subject lines will endear you to your email recipients as it enables them to prioritize reading and responding as they think best. Providing only pertinent information will serve to minimize confusion.

Best practices include limiting every email message to one topic. If your email includes multiple issues and questions, it’s likely that one or more of them will be missed in the response. Don’t drift; stick to providing details only on what you’ve highlighted in your subject line.

Get to the Point ASAP

When speaking, it’s common to include superfluous details that help illustrate your point or reference a related situation as an aside. If you compose emails the same way you talk, though, even the simplest requests can turn into a novella.

Your goal should be to minimize the amount of time required for a customer to interact with your message, not win an essay competition. Lengthy emails will fatigue your recipients and increase the likelihood of a confused response.

Keep your salutation friendly but brief. Get to the point. Use your first few words to tell your recipient why you’re reaching out, what you hope to accomplish, and the expected time frame for a response. By doing this, you’ll avoid miscommunication and head off further emails requesting clarification.

Remember when email promised to make our work lives so much easier? The daily grind of reading and responding to unnecessary messages has since ballooned into a major contributor to lost productivity. But by following these tips to cut down on unnecessary emails, you’ll soon be able to reclaim your inbox — and your sanity.

How to Get Just as Much Done this Month With Only 28 Days

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How to Get Just as Much Done this Month With Only 28 Days

February is the shortest month of the year. 28 short days mark the end of the winter season. This month is marked by Valentine’s Day, and the Super Bowl. Sorry, this year is not a leap year — so NO 29th day this year.

Even though it’s only missing a few days, February can feel painfully short. Trying to maintain productivity and reach your monthly goals will be much more challenging. However, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to regardless of time restraints if you leverage your online calendar. Getting just as much done in a shorter month only requires some time management:

Calendar Your Goals

Take your New Year’s resolution, monthly goals, or February aspirations and start adding them to your Calendar. Break them down into actionable steps, perhaps by a week or even by the day, to really visualize what you have to do in only 28 days. You’ll have a productivity map from start to finish that shows you just how much you need to accomplish.

Take a fitness goal, for example. If your goal is to run 100 miles each month, you’re going to have to add in some longer runs during the month of February. As you bundle up for some chilly morning jogs, you can take comfort knowing you’ve planned ahead and won’t need to participate in a marathon on February 28th to meet your quota.

Wake Up Early

Waking up even a few minutes earlier than usual will open up so much more time in your day. This won’t be easy if you’re a night owl, but the productivity boost you’ll see will be worth the sacrifice. You could opt for a late-night, but after a long day of work, your productivity is bound to take a hit once the sun goes down.

Use your Calendar to craft the ideal morning routine. Start by pushing your alarm back, as horrible as that may be to do the night before. Then, fill your morning schedule with activities that will get you going as soon as your feet hit the floor. Try 15 minutes of stretching and a timed shower, so you don’t doze off and end up wasting the morning hours you so carefully squared away.

Pack in Your Weekend

While the weekend is a great time to get some needed rest before returning to work on Monday, it’s also your best chance at fitting in with everything else you hope to do this month. Even a few hours on Saturday and Sunday will significantly escalate what you’re able to accomplish in a short month.

Open up your online calendar for February and look at their weekends. Are they barren of any activities? Look for ways to fill them. You might notice that your evenings are overflowing with plans that you can push back to the weekend, allow you to focus on things one at a time, or squeeze in an extra task to help reach your monthly goal.

Stay Focused

It takes an average of 23 minutes to regain focus after you’ve been distracted. That’s a lot of wasted time that quickly adds up if you find yourself distracted frequently. To truly make the most out of each and every day, you’ll have to figure out how to keep distractions to a minimum.

Start by eliminating obvious distractions from the surrounding area. Keeping your cell phone on silent and face down is a great start, as smartphones are perhaps the number one distraction in the world today. Take note of any music or images that distract you as well so they can be removed.

If you still find yourself flipping tabs to social media or losing concentration over the course of the day, try a time management technique to help hone your focus. For example, try this guide on the Pomodoro method. It’ll insert scheduled break times into your online calendar to give you hyperfocus in short bursts.

Learn to Say No

It’ll be challenging, but you may have to say no to a few situations to ensure you have the time you need to meet your goals. Instead of going out for drinks on Friday night, finish up some tasks for your startup or finish the house project you’re determined to get done by Spring.

Of course, you don’t have to say no to everything, but be aware of your limits. Achieving maximum productivity requires some self-mastery. Your friends will understand if you need to take a bow a few weekends in order to tend to your business, home, or career while on a time crunch.

Do as Much as You Can in Advance

Procrastination gets the best of everyone. Unfortunately, even a tiny mistake in time management can cost you big time. By planning things in advance, you can hedge yourself against procrastination, laziness, and fatigue slowing you down.

One example can be found in meal planning. Say you work from home and want to take a lunch break. If you don’t have anything prepared, you’ll spend valuable time preparing something or running to a less than healthy fast food restaurant. If you used your weekend to prepare meals for the week, you wouldn’t have to sacrifice as much time and would be able to focus on your work.

These time management tips and tricks will help you year-round, not just during the shortest month of the year. Keep that Calendar handy, and be proactive with how you use your time, and you’ll never fall short of what you hope to accomplish.

Self-Service Your Customers Will Actually Appreciate

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Self-Service Your Customers Will Actually Appreciate

Reliable customer service is at the center of your business’s client retention strategy. When your team is available for real-time support, customer satisfaction will follow. 

However, 24/7 customer support requires significant resources and isn’t always sustainable. The solution? A comprehensive self-service platform. 

Recent data shows that 67% of customers prefer to self-serve rather than talk to a customer service representative, so now is the time to implement this strategy. 

Self-service allows customers to book appointments and find answers on their own, which in turn saves your business time and money. A robust self-service framework paired with traditional customer service features can help businesses streamline client support, boost customer satisfaction, and allocate resources more effectively. 

The real challenge, though, is getting your customers to use these tools. This guide will cover the basics of self-service and offer some tried-and-true methods for bringing your customers on board. 

Prioritizing Efficiency: The Basics of Self-Service 

Before diving into the how-tos of customer self-service, it’s important to break down this popular approach. In a self-service framework, the client is able to find the answer to their question without contacting customer support. Self-service also applies when customers quickly make online appointments rather than calling or emailing your business directly. 

The benefits of self-service are twofold: clients find the answers they’re looking for without picking up the phone, and your business saves money on customer support personnel. This cuts down on wait times and boosts customer happiness, while allowing your business to focus on everyday operations. 

There are a few self-service options that businesses should keep in mind when building out their framework. 

Online Booking Systems 

In traditional customer support models, clients call or email a business to make an appointment. However, this method can lead to phone tag, long wait times, and simply too many calls for the business to manage. Online booking platforms are a highly effective way to streamline appointments and provide accessible scheduling to a diverse customer base. 

Knowledge Bases 

If your customer service lines are routinely flooded with the same types of questions, a knowledge base can be a useful tool to implement. This page on your website will include answers to your most frequently asked questions, as well as multimedia features like video tutorials and graphics. You can organize the questions by topic and use this page to point customers toward other self-service features, including your online appointments platform. 

Automation 

One of the most common ways that businesses automate customer service is through chatbots — an industry that’s projected to be worth $9.4 billion by 2024. AI-powered chat features can answer questions automatically and point customers to the tools they’re looking for. You can also set up the chatbot to funnel customers to service representatives when necessary. 

Self-service will look different for every business. Appointment-based businesses will benefit greatly from online booking systems, while businesses that sell products might focus more on bolstering their knowledge base. Pinpointing the services that will best serve your customers will set you up for success. 

Leading Your Customers to Self-Service: 5 Key Steps 

When it comes to creating useful self-service tools for your customer base, developing the platform is only half the battle. You also need to get your customers to use it. 

The reality is that many of your clients will tend to stick to what they’re used to. With a bit of persuasion, though, you can change that. Here are a few key ways to show your client base the value of self-service. 

1. Promote Your Self-Service Features 

Customers won’t use self-service tools if they don’t know they exist. So be sure to market your self-service features just as you’d market your product or service. 

Email marketing, onsite pop-ups, and social media posts can be effective ways to highlight the service. Remember that it can take time for customers to adapt to these changes, so plan to keep marketing your new platform long after its launch.

2. Incorporate Multimedia 

New online services can be intimidating. However, you can make these platforms as accessible as possible through multimedia promotion, incorporating videos and graphics when marketing your self-service tools. 

For example, you might create a pop-up video that guides customers through the online booking process. This technique brings the self-service feature to the client’s attention, while showing them exactly how to use it. 

3. Create Clear Navigation 

Ask yourself these questions: Are our self-service tools easy to find on our website? Is our platform easy to use? Can customers easily jump between services? 

Keeping your customer on the site and encouraging them to self-serve starts with clear website navigation. Be sure that your self-service tools are in your header and footer menus. It can also be helpful to route customers to these tools through onsite buttons. 

4. Make It Social 

With over 1 billion Facebook Messenger messages flowing between brands and consumers every month, it’s clear that social strategy and customer support are often one and the same. 

Consider how your business can use your social platforms to guide customers to self-serve. This can involve setting up automated message responses that include a link to a self-service tool. You can also link directly to your online appointments system through your social media pages. Your messaging should promote the idea that your new services are available 24/7 for your customers’ benefit, not yours.

5. Gather Feedback 

Self-service should truly serve your customers’ needs, so it’s important to collect feedback from them and assess whether these tools are effective. You also need to watch your data. 

Keep track of how much traffic these tools are generating, how long customers are staying on the self-service pages, and how your sales numbers change after implementing these platforms. This information will help you adjust your self-service tools to better support your clients. 

Self-service is a user-friendly and scalable solution for customer support. As more consumers flock online, your investment in a self-service platform is likely to reap fast dividends. Once you direct your customers to these tools, your business can renew its focus on providing a better product or service.

Finding Your Motivation After Startup Failure

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Finding Your Motivation After Startup Failure

The journey that entrepreneurs embark on is full of twists and turns. Sometimes you become a success overnight. Other times you have to pivot into something completely different. And, there are times when you stumble along the way and fail.

As someone who has experienced failure, I can honestly tell you that it sucks.

Not only can it lead to an empty bank account, it also makes you feel physically sick. And, even worse, it makes you never want to go through the experience again.

The thing is, failure is a big part of the journey — not just for startups and entrepreneurs –but failure is part of the journey of life. That’s why you need to find motivation after your startup has failed.

It may not be easy, but it’s possible if you follow this advice.

Remember, most startups fail.

There’s a stat that startup founders are constantly reminded; 90% of startups fail. While that’s not exactly true, some believe it’s around 79%, the fact of the matter is that failure should be expected.

In fact, the greatest of entrepreneurs have failed at some point. Prior to Microsoft Bill Gates launched the failed Traf-O-Data. Andrew Mason, the founder of Groupon, struck out with a company called The Point.

I could go on and on. The idea is that failure isn’t uncommon. It’s to be expected and is almost viewed like a rite of passage.

So, don’t beat yourself up too much over this. Take comfort in knowing that failure is just another step you have to take in order the achieve success. Pick yourself up and try again, just like Gates, Mason, and the thousands of entrepreneurs who did the same.

Take time to heal emotionally.

At the same time, I’m not going to deny that failure isn’t a heartbreaking experience. And, it’s not something that you’ll recover from overnight.

So whether if you failed on your product launch or filed for bankruptcy it’s going to take some time to get motivated again. And that’s alright. You’re going to need a little bit of time to heal.

When my first business failed my wife and I went on vacation to Disneyland. The short trip didn’t completely heal the heartbreak, but it was the start of the healing process. It still took months to recover, but I needed that time to reignite that spark.

Build a support group.

In our darkest times we turn to the advice and comfort of our support group. This could be your spouse, best friend, mentor, or fellow business owners. Essentially, it’s anyone who builds you up and doesn’t criticize you about the failure of your startup.

You’ll need the guidance and support of your support group to prepare you for your next business attempt. They’ll also be there to help you heal emotionally.

You can’t be neutral.

Being inactive isn’t good for you emotionally, mentally, and physically. While it may a challenge to pick yourself up, you have to get moving again.

Of course, this could be different for everyone. Personally, one of the first things I did after I experienced failure was to start working on my next project. It helped my focus on something other than my previous venture folding. Since that started making a little bit of cash, it helped rebuild my confidence.

This is exactly what Bill Gates and Paul Allen did following Traf-O-Data. They started working on their next business, which became a little company called Microsoft.

But, what if you’re just not ready to start a new business? You can still get active and stay active by starting to work out, reading inspirational books, or learning a new skill. All of these are effective ways in improving yourself physically and professionally so that you’re ready to conquer your next challenge.

Startup Failure doesn’t Mean You Can’t Experiment.

I absolutely love this advice from James Altucher;

“Sometimes people say Thomas Edison failed 999 times before he finally came up with the lightbulb on the 1000th try.

This is a total lie. It is normal in a lab to experiment with many many materials before coming up with the right one.

Oh! Your experiment didn’t work? OK, change something and let’s try a new experiment.”

Rehearse past successes.

You obviously experienced some sort to get your startup up and running. For example, you had an idea that was supported by your support group, investors, and customers. And, it took a lot of guts and hard work to make that idea a reality.

Even though things didn’t turn out the way you liked, you should still reflect on those past successes. Give yourself some props by speaking positive, affirming, and congratulatory words to yourself. For an extra boost, place visual reminders on a vision board to remind yourself that you’re not a failure.

Tap into your intrinsic motivation.

Harvard leadership expert and best-selling author Bill George argues that entrepreneurs should chase their intrinsic motivation instead of extrinsic motivations. This is usually done by aligning your strengths with your intrinsic motivations.

For example, Bill Gates was driven by making a difference in the world. Guy Kawasaki focused on meaning instead of making money. Steve Jobs was motivated by doing great work.

Other entrepreneurs have been motivated through personal growth and accomplishment. And, others such as Elon Musk, found motivation by helping others achieve their goals.

Before you can stage your comeback, think about what you’re passionate about. What do you enjoy doing? What do you find interesting?

Focusing on your intrinsic motivation will encourage you to pick yourself up so that you can move mountains.

Shift your focus.

Have you purchased something like a new wardrobe or car and then noticed everyone else wearing the same jacket or car? You have your Reticular Activating System(RAS) to thank.

Kris Hallbom and Tim Hallbom explain that the “RAS is the part of your brain that serves as a filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. The RAS, which is located in the core of your brain stem, takes instructions from your conscious mind, and passes them on to your subconscious mind.”

In other words, RAS regulates your attention.

As the Hallbom’s further explain, “Setting your intent plays a key role in encouraging your subconscious mind to bring forth a desired goal, as well the most optimal future.”

So, instead of focusing on past failure, think about your next endeavor. This will guide you in finding the necessary resources, actions, and ideas to make your next startup a success.

For me, when I founded my other company Due, my goal was to have one of the best invoicing platforms for small businesses. My intent, however, was to provide a platform that could help freelancers and small businesses grow. We’ve been able to do this by continuing to add new features and publish daily content that assists businesses in improving their business.

Sounds simple. But shifting my focus keeps me motivated each and every day to reach my future goals. As a such, the failure I experienced in the past is now just a distant memory.

How to Tell Challenging Customers the Truth

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How to Tell Challenging Customers the Truth

It goes against every professional instinct to disappoint the person signing the checks, but the truth is, the customer is not always right. 

If a client has you working around the clock, rearranging your online calendar around their needs, or scrambling to provide services you don’t usually offer, it’s time to have a conversation. Can you reasonably meet their expectations?

Perhaps not. Sometimes, you’ll need to push back on challenging customers without hurting your relationship or losing business. 

Threading that needle is not easy, much less enjoyable. Here are some tips to help you have constructive conversations that reinforce your boundaries and prevent client relationships from deteriorating:

1. Go Back to the Contract

A lot of client overreach is born not out of entitlement, but out of the fact that the client has simply forgotten the scope of work. This is why it’s so important to establish clear expectations at the beginning of a client relationship, and to put those expectations in writing. If you don’t, you will have a much more difficult time telling a pushy client why something can’t be done.

Moreover, pointing to a contract is a respectful way to turn down a request, and one few reasonable people will argue against. If the client still wants you to perform extra work, you can offer to renegotiate their contract — and find opportunities to upsell them in the process. 

2. Take Time to Listen

When a client makes a demand that sounds unreasonable, it’s easy to assume they’re disrespecting you and your time. But it’s possible that they’re facing extenuating circumstances you don’t know about: Perhaps they’re under immense pressure from their own boss, or perhaps they simply don’t understand how much time and effort their request would require. 

Before saying “no,” schedule a meeting to talk through their request. Ask clarifying questions, and practice active listening when they answer. Fully understanding their needs will help you brainstorm a solution that works for both of you. And if you do still need to turn them down, the respect and consideration you showed them will soften the blow. 

3. Pick Your Battles

Being flexible without becoming a pushover is a difficult balance to strike, but an important one to master. If a task is technically out of scope but wouldn’t significantly strain your resources, consider the pros and cons of taking it on. If your contract allows you five business days to complete your deliverables, but the client’s CEO wants it on their desk in four days, it’s likely in your best interest to make an exception. 

In these situations, it’s helpful to make sure your client is fully aware that you’re pushing the bounds of the contract. Tell them, “While we usually prefer five business days to complete this task, we’re happy to expedite the process in this particular circumstance.” This reminds them what the norm is while highlighting the fact that you’re going above and beyond for them.

4. Be Specific

This should go without saying, but just saying “no” without an explanation won’t do much for your customer retention. The more clarity you offer your client, the more likely you are to end the disagreement amicably.

When explaining why a request can’t be met, point to specific aspects of the client’s request that are misaligned with what’s in their contract. This gives the client more clarity into what you can and cannot do. Plus, it emphasizes the fact that your denial is due to business needs, not your personal feelings. 

5. Remove Emotion from the Equation

When dealing with pushy clients, it’s easy to feel frustrated, angry, or insulted. But it’s important to remember that the matter probably isn’t personal for your client; it doesn’t have to be personal for you, either.  

When speaking with the difficult client, take a mental step back. Think of yourselves not as two individuals having a disagreement, but as two business representatives trying to work out the most mutually beneficial business deal. Speak in a calm tone, explain the situation with professional precision, and avoid getting into arguments.

There’s little you can do if your client behaves rudely. But if you make an effort to avoid retaliating in kind, you can prevent the conflict from getting worse. 

6. Consider Matching Their Request 

In some situations, you may be able to get some concessions from the client that make their request a little fairer. Just be sure you don’t insult them in the process.

“If the client asks for something outrageous,” Shortpress’s Sam McKeith suggests, “it can sometimes pay off to deflect with something equally as impossible.” 

Say a client asks for a massive discount. You could say that discount is available if they lock into a two-year contract or if they refer you to their own clients. This way, you can turn an extreme request into an opportunity for new business. 

7. Keep the End Goal in Mind 

Clients can often have you running around in circles as you try to meet their every whim. What they forget is that their own actions are delaying completion of their project. 

It’s your responsibility to keep the end goal in focus. Avoid letting them sidetrack you with irrelevant requests. Remind your client what you’re there for, and emphasize that it’s in their best interest to focus your joint energies on that end goal. 

8. If All Else Fails, End the Partnership

“Firing” a client can and should be a last resort. After all, they’re the one who initially hired you. But a client relationship that isn’t mutually beneficial isn’t worth maintaining. 

Remember that your company is in the business of making money, not providing charity to your clients. If an overbearing client is costing more in terms of manpower and morale than what they pay you, it may be time to end the relationship. 

Keep opportunity costs in mind. Your team could better use its time serving the clients that value their relationship with you. Your efforts could improve retention, generate more upsells, and create a healthier business in the long run. 

In most cases, though, consulting your contract, listening to your client, and communicating openly is enough to ease client challenges. Either way, professionalism and honesty go a long way toward encouraging clients to better respect your time. 

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