Category Archives: Knowledge Base

What Makes Companies Like Apple and Google so Productive?

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments

According to Bain & Company, companies like Apple, Netflix, Google, and Dell are 40% more productive than the average company. Think about that: 40% is not a small margin, and the tech giants use many of the same tools that enterprises in other industries do. So, why are the top tech companies so much more productive? Here is what makes companies like Apple and Google so productive.

It’s easy to assume that big-name companies are more productive because they attract the best candidates. But Bain & Company found that 16% of these companies’ staff are star players — just 1% above the norm of 15%.

So what do the top performers have in common? To maximize productivity high, they emphasize:

1. Employee Happiness

The attitude that employees have about their work can significantly increase their output. Research shows that no matter the role, happiness boosts workers’ productivity by 12%. The happier employees are, the less time they spend stressing or worrying.

But happiness isn’t built with any single job attribute or perk. It’s created through a combination of:

  • Flexibility

Flexible employers give employees the option to work when and where they prefer. Flexibility makes workers feel appreciated, encourages work-life balance, and opens the door to non-traditional applicants.

Just look at Dell’s “Connected Workplace” initiative. By improving technology and boosting collaboration, the tech company skyrocketed employee satisfaction. Dell reported the program innovated how it does businesses and benefited the individuals, leadership, and company as a whole.

  • Trust

Organizational drag can waste a lot of employee time. But while processes like spending limits, audits, and employee time tracking can seem significant, they should be minimized whenever possible.

Netflix is an excellent example of a corporation giving its employees the trust and freedom to act in the company’s best interest. Believe it or not, Netflix has no expense policy. Its only guide is to “Act in the best interest of Netflix.”

People do not join a company to rip it off. Employees rely on their employers to put food on their table, so they typically think twice before taking advantage.

  • Pay

Not all companies can pay top dollar for talent. But there’s no doubt the tech giants know it’s essential for productivity.

In 2018, Amazon raised its minimum hourly wage to $15, while the federal minimum wage was only $7.25. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others are known as some of the top-paying companies in their space.

Paying higher wages does attract better candidates, but it’s not the only reason to do so. Employees who are paid more tend to be more motivated. And when those employees leave, their replacements are waiting at the door, drastically reducing recruitment costs.

2. Employee Investment

An engaged employee is 44% more productive than a satisfied employee. Engaged employees feel a sense of buy-in because they feel invested in the company.

Here, too, Dell gets high marks. On its careers page, Dell emphasizes training to help employees gain experience and learn through mentorship, coaching, feedback, and rewards. The reason likely traces back to that “Connected Workplace” study, which found sales teams led by an inspiring leader were 6% more productive than teams with an average leader.

Inspiration is not innate. Take a genuine interest in employees’ lives. Be not just a coach, but a listener and empathetic leader. Give your team members a reason to want to come to work every day.

3. Teamwork

Individual talent is vital during the hiring process, of course. What company doesn’t want the cream of the crop?

But once the hiring process is over and onboarding begins, companies must stress the importance of teamwork. When successes are shared, everyone in the organization works to lift each other. Getting ahead becomes something the team does together. In that sort of environment, productivity is about the organization’s advancement, not just “getting ahead at work.”

A great example of a team-oriented company is Apple. When Apple was developing iOS 10, it put 600 engineers on the project. Also, it did not reward any one person’s success. No one on the team could receive an exceptional appraisal unless everyone on the team did.

Microsoft, on the other hand, stacked 10,000 engineers on teams to develop its Vista operating system. Microsoft ranked the teams and rewarded 20% of every team with an excellent review and compensated individuals on their performance. Apple’s team-based approach resulted in a fully developed, debugged, and deployed software in less than two years. Microsoft’s software took nearly five years to develop, debug, and eventually retract.

Just because these tech companies have big names and even bigger budgets does not mean smaller firms can’t follow their examples. Boosting productivity is a matter of investing in people, keeping them happy, and helping them work well with others. Superstar workers are essential, but superstar teams make the difference.

How to Realistically Go on a Tech Detox Without Destroying Your Schedule

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments

11 hours. That’s how much time the average adult is interacting with media per day. More specifically, another study found that 42 percent of the time Americans are awake, their eyes are fixated on the television, smartphone, computer, tablet, or another device. That comes out to 7,956 days over a typical lifespan. We can’t just turn it all off in this world we live in, but here is how to realistically go on a tech detox without destroying your whole schedule.

We don’t rely on tech to merely to keep us entertained. It’s become essential. After all, tech has drastically improved communication, networking, and work efficiency.

It can assist in employee engagement and discover new opportunities for growth. And, with an unlimited supply, tech is the most powerful tool to learn and gain valuable insights.

Why you need a tech detox.

At the same time, too much of good thing can be bad. And, tech is no exception because of the following reasons.

So, what’s the compromise here? I mean tech has become an integral part of our lives. But, it also has its faults. So, the easiest solution may be going on a digital detox.

Don’t get too hung up on the term here. A digital detox is simply a period of time when you unplug and disconnect from your electronic gadgets. And, by doing so, you can counter those negative effects — and rebalance.

Here’s the problem though. Doing a digital detox can also destroy your schedule. Can you just imagine the chaos it would cause if your family, business partners, employees, or customers couldn’t contact you for several days? Additionally, you probably need technology to get your work done and accomplish your goals.

1. Put it on your calendar.

Like anything else that you really want to do, whether it’s getting work done or starting a new hobby — you have to make time for any additions. And, the same is true when disconnecting. You’ll have to make time for the disconnect.

Making time for this effort will be a challenge. So, start small. Let’s say that you’re using a productivity hack like the Pomodoro Technique. During the times you’re not working go on a min-detox. Even ten-minutes would suffice since the world isn’t going to burn down in such a small amount of time. Even better, that time can be spent going for a walk, resting your eyes, or meditating.

I’d also suggest that you designate tech-free times — such as when eating meals or the first hour after getting home from work.

From here, gradually work your way up. Are you going on a weekend getaway? Great. That’s a perfect time to go off the grid for a day or two. You’ll know this time in advance, you can give everyone a head’s up, and you prepare for the shutdown. You could even create an out-of-office message notifying people when you’ll be returning. But you’ll have to get ahead on your work, or this won’t work for you.

2. Block apps at certain times.

Completely turning off your devices, particularly your phone can give some a serious anxiety attack. I’m not being facetious either. The main culprits for this are FOMO and that a lot of people view their phones as an extension to themselves.

Researchers believe that “defined and protected” periods of smartphone separation “may allow consumers to perform better, not just by reducing interruptions but also by increasing available cognitive capacity.” Adding these expected periods in your calendar is a start. But, so would blocking distracting apps at certain times.

There a number of apps that allow your set time limits or screen time on your Android or iOS device. For example, you could shut down your social media apps when focusing on deep work. Other apps let you set a schedule. In this case, you could block work-related apps or sites during family game night or when embarking in your evening routine.

3. Designate tech-free zones.

Examples of a tech-free zone would be an unused office that you or employees could use to mediate or nap-in or lunchroom. At home, a tech-free zone might be your dining room or bedroom.

Besides banning electronics from these areas, which makes it easier to unplug, it shouldn’t interfere with your schedule. The reason? You probably have scheduled times to be in these zones. For instance, if you’re lying in bed until it’s time for sleep or waiting to eat a meal until you’re on a break — you can accomplish another activity in this timeframe.

4. Incorporate boredom into your day.

Sometimes we get glued to our gadgets because we’re bored. For example, you’re waiting in a line to pay for your groceries or for a meeting to start. Instead of just sitting there, you scroll through your phone or tablet.

Like exercising, start building your boredom muscle. Keep your phone in your pocket and let your mind wander. As a result, this will make you more creative, self-aware, goal-oriented, and productive.

5. Get less social.

It’s unlikely that you can permanently quit social media. But, there are ways to reduce the time spent on these channels.

For starters, remove the apps from your phone so that you aren’t getting bombarded with notifications. If this isn’t an option, then at least remove the apps from your home screen so that you aren’t tempted to look at them.

Secondly, you may want to do a little spring cleaning and delete the accounts you aren’t using. Even glancing and using brain power passing over apps or accounts you don’t use, uses up seconds of brainpower. Snapchat may have been cool a couple of years ago when all your friends signed-up. But, now it’s an unused app because they got tired of it. I need this app because of my family, but you may not need it.

Thirdly, automate or delegate recurring tasks related to social media. You could use a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to schedule social posts. Or, you could assign this responsibility to someone else.

Finally, block out specific times to log on. Ideally, this would be before work, after lunch, and after work. It’s a simple way to fight back against FOMO, while also limiting your usage.

6. Keep your inbox in check.

The average person spends five hours a day on email. What’s more, 13% said that they check their inbox while still in bed. And, 25% of Millennials and Gen X admitted that they check their work emails multiple times a day while on vacation.

To keep your inbox in check so that it’s more manageable, block out specific times to go through it. A perfect time would ben when updating your social accounts. You could set up filters, labels, and unsubscribe from newsletters that you never open.

You should also find ways to reduce the number of messages being sent. One way would be to use “EOM” at the end of your subject line. Standing for “end-of-message,” this lets the recipient know that there’s no need to respond.

You could also use a tool like Calendar. Sure. It’s not an email-specific app. But, it’s a scheduling tool that eliminates those back-and-forth communication when planning a meeting.

7. Spend more time in places where electronic devices aren’t permitted.

Yes. There are still some places where digital devices aren’t embraced with welcome arms. For instance, a yoga class or a place of worship. Even locations like coffee shops and libraries can at least limit your usage. Let’s say that you’re productive at a local coffee shop. You may need to be on your laptop. But, taking a phone call or not silencing your notifications will definitely earn you some dirty looks.

8. Schedule a call or one-on-one.

The other day I had a colleague text me a question. As I went to respond, I realized it would be more efficient and less consuming if I just called him. And, that’s exactly what I did. Instead of exchanging texts all day, it took me all of five minutes to answer the question.

9. Be respectful of others’ time.

As I’ve mentioned, technology can be distracting. But, that’s just not when you’re trying to work. It’s also during meetings or talking to others. Think about it. There’s someone speaking and your attention is elsewhere. That’s rude and can bring things to halt since you’re missing key information and have to constantly ask the other party to repeat themselves.

10. Go old school.

Finally, stop relying on technology so much. I know it’s awesome. But, as opposed to jotting down notes on your phone’s notepad, use a pen, paper, or a whiteboard. The reason? It will prevent you from getting sucked into an app.

Another option would be to use an alarm clock and not your phone to wake-up. The same can be said of using your old wristwatch instead of a smartwatch. And, think about printing out your calendar or using a paper calendar so that you can see what your schedule is like without being reliant on tech.

The Psychological Benefits of Working Less

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments
How to Squeeze More Time Out of Your Busy Schedule

Recently I caught up with a close friend because he recently bought a new home. While it was a painless experience, he did tell me an entertaining story about his younger brother. His little brother graduated from university last spring, and he’s now a part of the daily grind. You know how it is — working at least 40-hours per week. Anyway, his brother was supposed to help with the move. But, the brother overslept and was late for assisting with the move. His excuse? He was exhausted from working all week.

While we did have a chuckle at his brother’s expense, I also wanted to empathize with him. I mean, when you think about it, spending the majority of your time at work is exhausting.

I know. You have to work to pay your bills. But work is also good for you. If you know that your work is meaningful and serves a purpose, it can be a boost to your mental well-being. At the same time, though, working too much does the opposite. There are even some dire psychological effects if you’re working more than you should.

A quick history of the 40-hour workweek.

Alright, before I go any further, I want to answer an important question. Who came up with the 40-hour workweek?

It may come to a surprise to some of you, but the 40-hour-work week is a more recent development.

Thousands of years ago, our ancestors were hunter-gathers. Although that lifestyle seems harsh, it’s believed that people only spent four-hours a day hunting. Then, they figured out how to farm. Compared to hunting and gathering, it was a more complicated and more time-consuming way of life. After that, we entered the Industrial Revolution.

During this time “human beings were imprisoned in factories and mills for almost all of their waking hours, treated as nothing more than objects of labor, working in appalling conditions for appalling wages, and usually dying at a young age,” explains Catesby Holmes in a piece for The Conversation.

It was so bad that companies forced people to work between 12-15 hours per day for six days a week. In 1817, Robert Owen, a British textile-manufacturer came-up with the slogan “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest” to help his employees find balance.

Fast forward to Henry Ford in the early 20th Century, who discovered that employees were more productive if they only worked 5-days a week. And, that’s where you’re at today. Although, recent research, however, shows that an eight-hour workweek is ideal for mental health. Yes. You read that correctly. Not eight-hours a day. But, week.

So, yeah. As a whole, things have gotten better. But, we’re still chained to that antiquated 40-hour workweek that was established hundreds of years ago. And, that’s probably considering that working less then that is for the best.

We’re not meant to work eight-consecutive hours in a day.

“Humans have a well-defined internal clock that shapes our energy levels throughout the day: our circadian process, which is often referred to as a circadian rhythm because it tends to be very regular,” writes Christopher M. Barnes in HBR. And that plays a massive role in how we work.

“Although managers expect their employees to be at their best at all hours of the workday, it’s an unrealistic expectation,” explains Barnes. “Employees may want to be their best at all hours, but their natural circadian rhythms will not always align with this desire.” The human body has two productivity peaks in the course of the day. The first mid-morning and the second later on around 5 or 6 p.m.

Although everyone has their own specific rhythms, the point is, we’re just not meant to work for eight consecutive hours. Over the hours, various studies have found that when you’re circadian rhythms are disrupted, it “leads to weight gain, impulsivity, slower thinking, and other physiological and behavioral changes.” Barnes’ own research also found “that circadian mismatches increase the prevalence of unethical behavior, simply because victims lack the energy to resist temptations.”

The solution? Offer flexible hours.Flextime provides an opportunity for employees to match their work schedules to their own circadian rhythms,” adds Barnes. If this isn’t an option, then take frequent breaks throughout the day. For example, work for around 90-minutes and then take a breather for approximately 20-minutes to grab a snack, walk outside, or take a cat nap.

Less work, more sleep, a better life.

Entrepreneurs and workaholics may take this for granted. But, working endlessly can “make people tired and resentful, and therefore less productive,” writes Holmes. “There is also evidence that too much work impairs our health, leading to poor sleep and an increased risk of conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”

As for the psychological benefits, this “means less stress and anxiety.” IT can also strengthen relationships since we can” spend time with our loved ones, and have more energy to give them.” ICYMI, relationships make us healthier and happier.

Holmes also says that working less allows us “to live authentically through following our own innate interests so that we spend more time in the positive state that psychologists call “flow” (when we are intensely absorbed in enjoyable activities). We have more time and energy to nurture our creativity, which also leads to a more meaningful and purposeful life.”

Still not convinced? Holmes has found that when we aren’t always working, we can “experience the joys of doing nothing in particular.”

“People who experience this often report that they feel more grateful for life, more connected to nature, that they have more authentic relationships and become more creative and spiritual,” adds Holmes.

The solution? Set boundaries and work smarter. Don’t bring work home with you. When you’re off-the-clock, enjoy your downtime. What’s more, come up with ways to work smarter and not harder, such as:

  • Trimming back your to-do-lists.
  • Tracking your time.
  • Focusing on one task at a time.
  • Hiring people who are smarter than you.
  • Automating and delegating repetitive tasks.
  • Working on your most challenging tasks when you have the most energy.
  • Batching similar tasks together.

Working less can solve all of our problems.

That may sound too good to be true. But, that’s the argument presented by Rutger Bregman on TED.com.

Some of the points have already been discussed. For instance, working less can reduce stress and improve life satisfaction. But, there also some compelling reasons why we should ditch the 40-hour workweek.

The solution? Switch to a 4-day work week or a 6-hour workday. It’s at least a start. And, it can be an easy adjustment if you shrink your deadlines. That’s a proven technique to combat Parkinson’s Law, which states, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

For example, if you have three hours to complete a task, and you can get it done in two, you’ll still end-up using that entire block of time. But, if you only gave yourself an hour and a half, you’ll be more motivated and focused on completing that task within the shortened timeframe.

The evidence is clear. If you want to be happier, healthier, and more productive, then it’s time to spend less time at work. As an added perk, it will also make the world a slightly better place. Of course, before diving in headfirst, ease into this. Maybe cut back from 40-hours per week to 35 until you’ve found your ideal schedule.

And, if you’re leading a team, take steps like flexible scheduling and letting employees work remotely. Most importantly, put more of an emphasis on the results and not the hours your team has worked.

Productively Managing an Executive’s Calendar

By | Knowledge Base, Time Management | No Comments

Whether you’re an intern, assistant, or helping out a friend or family, you may be asked to help manage someone else’s calendar. That responsibility should never be taken lightly. They need their day to run as smoothly as possible to protect their business, reputation, and well-being. Here’s how to productively manage an executive’s calendar.

But, what if you’re new to calendar management? Well, here’s how you can effectively achieve that. And, as a perk, you can take this experience and apply it to your own life. Who knows? It may even help transform you into an effective leader yourself someday.

And, if you’re an executive who still manages their own calendar, then these tips will also apply to you.

Get to know your executive.

Imagine that it’s finally time for you to host your friends and family for a holiday feast or reunion. In all of your excitement, you probably didn’t take into consideration the dietary needs and preferences of your guests. Maybe someone is a vegan, while another suffers from celiac disease.

Did you also think about the distance that everyone has to travel to? If someone had to drive two hours to get to your house, having dinner at 8 p.m. may be too late for them if they weren’t staying over.

The point is, it takes a lot of planning to throw together a successful event. And, the same is true when it comes to an executive calendar.

You may be tempted to start filling their calendar however you like. But, remember, it’s your executive’s valuable time. That means you need to respect how they wish to spend it.

Spend some time shadowing them so that you know what their daily routine is like. Ask your boss when they prefer to have meetings or eat lunch. How do they prioritize their lists? When are they at peak productivity? How does your exec make time for their own well-being?

You could also review their past calendar to see how they spent their time.

Besides their individual inclinations, the rules of time management are undoubtedly different for employees and executives. But, you won’t know that if you don’t get actually to know your executive.

Think strategically.

There’s a misconception that when managing an executive calendar that you’re merely taking orders. They ask you to add a lunch date or schedule a team meeting, and that’s it. The thing is, to effectively manage an executive calendar, it’s the opposite.

You need to think broader and more strategically. Before filling up your boss’s calendar, you need to consider the bigger picture. Do the task event have a purpose. Does it align with their goals? What is the time commitment attached to the time request?

What’s more, you also have to realize that just because a slot is open doesn’t mean it’s available. For example, let’s say that there’s a blank block from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Because there isn’t anything scheduled, you book a conference call. But you didn’t notice that your boss has a meeting at 3 p.m. that’s on the other side of town. They wanted to leave that block open so that they could prepare and travel for that meeting.

Before adding something to their calendar, make sure that it’s not interfering with anything else on their calendar. You should also take into account travel time, jet lag, breaks, and work-life balance. For instance, avoid scheduling an urgent meeting on the day after they arrive home from an international trip or when it interrupts with their downtime.

Use a shared calendar.

There’s really no excuse for not having a shared calendar. A shared calendar should be readily accessible and come packed with benefits like keeping everyone in the loop. Besides, if your organization uses Office 365 or G Suite, then you already have a shared calendar at your fingertips.

Whenever someone asks what the executive’s availability is, send their calendar via email. Better yet, embed their calendar somewhere like the company’s website. It just avoids those lengthy back-and-forth communications when scheduling.

It’s essential to keep in mind, though, that you don’t want to share too much information. There’s no need for anyone else to know what your executive’s life is like outside of work. You should also customize the calendar by using the executive’s preferred view. You can also use color-coding or different fonts so that they can quickly identify calendar entries.

And, integrate the calendar with tools like Calendar. It works with Google, Outlook, and Apple calendars. But, it also used machine learning to make smart suggestions on how to schedule your executive’s time.

Run a better medical practice appointment schedule.

You don’t have to be involved with a medical practice to run your schedule like one. After all, medical practices must maximize their schedules to keep patients satisfied and keep the office running smoothly.

So, how can this be achieved? Well, here are some tips that accomplish this goal:

  • Always start on time. If meeting beings at 1 p.m., then that’s precisely when it should start. To prevent a late start, suggest that everyone arrives ten minutes early. Even better, the meeting invite could have a start time of 12:50.
  • Plan appropriately. A doctor’s office typically sees a bump during specific times of the year, as flu season. Knowing this, they make sure that they have enough help and resources to handle the increase in patients. For you, review past calendars to see when your executive is most in-demand so that you don’t fill their calendar with less essential objectives.
  • Forge a timeline. Medical practices know in-advance how many patients they can see per day. For you, be real on how much you and your executive can accomplish realistically every day — including how many meetings can be scheduled.
  • Group similar patients. It’s more useful for medical professionals to see patients with similar conditions or histories at the same time. Mainly because it keeps your boss in the right mindset. Also, it prevents them from continually putting away and getting right the same equipment. We call this batching. It’s pretty much the same concept where you group similar activities together.
  • Schedules should reflect the patient mix. “If you have 70% Fee for Service (FFS) patients and only 30% are insurance-based, then your schedule should reflect that,” explain the team over at liveClinic. “Block out only 30% of your daily schedule for capitated patients and leave the rest for open Fee-For-Service patients.” How does this apply to you? It’s similar to the Pareto Principle, where 80% of your executive’s outcome is produced by 20% input.
  • Create organized triage. Medical professionals also have to handle emergencies. In other words, they will only see a patient at the last minute, depending on the “the symptom, appointment urgency, and appointment length.” On your end, learn how to prioritize so that your boss doesn’t fall into the urgency trap.
  • Be open all day. Of course, this isn’t possible. Even though leaders are always “on,” they need downtime to recharge and rest. To protect this time, without completely neglecting their responsibilities, use automated tools that could take care of customer service inquiries. You could also create an out-of-office message informing the other party when to expect a response or what steps to decide if it’s an absolute emergency.

Update their calendar in real-time.

An employee asks if they can schedule a one-on-one. You look at the calendar and see that the executive is free next Wednesday at 3 p.m. Both of you agree on that date and time. Unfortunately, you get sidetracked and don’t add this to their calendar. In the meantime, someone else requests this same date and time. It’s free, so you go ahead and book that event. That’s definitely disrespectful to the employee.

The sooner you had a calendar entry, the better. It’s a surefire way to prevent conflicts.

Also, if an event has to be canceled or rescheduled, make a note of that in the calendar and notify the other people it impacts.

Bonus tip: Even if something hasn’t been set in stone, maybe the other party has to double-check their availability, add it to the calendar anyway.

Foresee the future.

Obviously, you don’t possess this power. But, there are simple ways to make it appear as if you do.

Stay on top of traffic and weather reports. I would just set up Google Alerts so that this doesn’t slip your mind. The reason you want to do this is that both can impact travel.

But, there’s more to this then being weather or traffic reporter. You also need to be their timekeeper. Do they have a conference call in fifteen minutes? Either shoot them an instant message or set up a calendar reminder to give them a head’s up. If they’re in a meeting, provide them with a signal when they have five minutes to bring the meeting to an end.

You could even do small things like having lunch ideas prepared. And, know which calendar entries can be pushed back or rescheduled. Knowing and understanding the motivations of your exec can be tricky when everything is a priority. But, date-specific entries or essential and urgent tasks usually take place before anything else.

One final word of advice here. Allow for some flexibility in your exec’s calendar. That means not overbooking the boss’s schedule where every minute of their day has been scheduled. Instead, leave some blank spaces so that they can attend to an emergency or have some free time to spend with their employees.

Review. Then review again.

Be proactive by reviewing their calendar frequently. Ideally, you should double-check your exec’s calendar every evening (right when you check your own calendar — or at least first thing in the morning. That may sound like overkill. But, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. For instance, let’s say you notice that a meeting invitee had to cancel at the last minute. You need to let your executive know the information as quickly as possible so that they’re not still planning their day around this event.

I’d also suggest that you review their calendar for the next two weeks. It allows you to address any possible conflicts and make sure that everything is still on track.

And, most importantly, make sure that their calendar has been successfully synced across all of their devices.

Find a system that works for both of you.

Finally, find a system that works for both of you. Even though you might do everything digitally, the other person may not be as tech-savvy. As such, you may want to print out their calendars for them so that they can still access their schedules offline.

While this takes some trial and error? Certainly. But, once you get into a groove, it will make managing an executive calendar much easier.

10 Strategies for Turning Your Employees into Leaders

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments
Leader meeting with employees

Over the last several years, numerous reports have been published proclaiming that there is a leadership shortage. If true, this should be a concerning issue. More than ever, businesses are facing increased competition and disruption. No wonder so many studies, like this one from Deloitte and LinkedIn, have found that developing leadership is a top priority.

The thing is, successful companies don’t go out and recruit people to fill these gaps. The best businesses grow their own leaders. A business can turn its employees into leaders by using the following ten strategies.

1. Make a smart investment.

When interviewing candidates, imagine them being a part of your organization years down the road. Don’t just think of them for what you are hiring them for, think of them as a leader and view them as such. Do they have that potential?

Sure. You can’t predict the future. But, what’s the point in investing in an employee if you’ve trained them up for a competitor? Or, what if they have the talent — but aren’t a good fit for your company culture? You’re going to not only have to let them go, but you’ll also have to go through the hiring process all again.

When hiring potential employees, make sure that they possess the skills that you need both now and in the future. The new employee needs to gel with your company’s culture and be excited about your products and services. You should check their references to see if they are trustworthy and have integrity.

When you find the ideal candidate — do all that you can to retain them. Paying them a competitive salary and offering perks that they care about are prominent places to start.

2. Know who they are.

Another way to hold on to your top talent and potential leaders is to get to know them better. Discover their strengths and weaknesses. Find out what motivates and interests them inside and outside of work. Stay connected with them and ask how they’re doing.

Knowing your team on a deeper level creates a more positive work environment. It also shows that you genuinely care about your employees. You can also use this knowledge to begin shaping and inspiring them to become a leader. For example, if they lack communication skills — then you could show them the basics of nonverbal communication and recommend that they take a public-speaking class.

Not sure how to do this? Well, you could have informal chats with your team during breaks. Invite them to lunch or schedule a one-on-one walking meeting. Ask for their feedback through surveys. And, you could also have monthly team-building activities where you get to understand who they indeed are. You may even get to see their hidden talents in-action.

3. Help them drop bad habits.

“Habits play an important role in our health,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Understanding the biology of how we develop routines that may be harmful to us, and how to break those routines and embrace new ones, could help us change our lifestyles and adopt healthier behaviors.”

At work, you could steer them towards more healthy routines. For example, you could suggest that they implement a morning routine where they exercise and eat a healthy breakfast, instead of sleeping in and grabbing a doughnut. Another idea would be letting them know the importance of work-life balance by not sending them emails when they’re not working.

Additionally, you could show your employees how to change their routines to be more productive. For instance, as opposed to checking your phone every time you receive a notification, block out specific times for this action. Encourage them to work on their most important tasks when they have the most energy.

And, you could also help them break those bad habits that are holding them back from work. Examples would include never taking breaks, always being late, making excuses, and preferring only to work alone. You wouldn’t want to see these habits in an employee, let alone a leader who is supposed to be setting an example.

4. Teach and encourage them to network.

“Networking is not only fun but essential to individual growth and business development,” writes Andre Lavoie in a previous Entrepreneur article. “Start small by encouraging networking within the workplace during lunch hours or at after-work events.” When they feel more comfortable, have them go outside of your organization by attending industry events.

“Networking will teach them how to forge powerful connections, initiate conversations with strangers, and act with the confidence of a leader.” The power of networking can open the door to new business opportunities and gives your team the chance to exchange ideas. And, “networking can help turn good employees into great leaders by raising their reputation within the industry,” adds Lavoie.

5. Provide plenty of opportunities for them to learn.

The only way that your employees are going to develop both the hard and soft skills to become a leader is through proper training. You can’t go wrong with tried and true techniques like formal education and training. You could also pay for them to attend workshops and industry events. Another idea would be to suggest consuming content like books, blogs, podcasts, or videos that could help them improve upon their weaknesses.

Personally, I learn best by doing. So, delegate some of your responsibilities to them. You could also let them take over an upcoming meeting. You’ll want to be there to guide your employees as they navigate new skills — but allow them to fail a bit. After all, failure is often the best teacher.

6. Find time to mentor.

As a leader, being a mentor within your organization is a must. Besides being beneficial and rewarding on your end — it’s one of the best ways to boost the careers of your employees. Mainly mentoring provides opportunities for you to pass on your knowledge bass to potential leaders.

As a mentor — you’ll help mentees set and achieve short-and-long-term goals. You’ll also be there to help them work through any difficulties. And, because you’re their biggest fan, cheerleader, and advocate — you can motivate and reassure them when they stumble.

If you don’t believe that you have the availability or know-how to be a mentor — that’s not a problem. Refer this individual to someone who you think can guide them — don’t just toss them out.

7. Encourage decisiveness and accountability.

If you are continually micromanaging and criticizing your leader-in-training, they will fall.

“One important trait of being a leader is the ability to make decisions and to be accountable for your actions,” writes Lolly Daskal. “When you give your employees autonomy and authority, you’re telling them you trust them.” As a result, they’ll “step up and surprise you with how much they can do if they know you are counting on them.”

8. Help navigate organizational politics and culture.

“Although ‘politics’ is often viewed as a dirty word, it’s the way things get done in organizations,” writes Dan McCarthy for Balance Careers. “Your staff needs to know this and learn to navigate the office culture.”

How can you achieve this? McCarthy suggests job shadowing and role-playing as “ways to educate employees about the ins and outs of being politically savvy.”

I’d also add that you must get everyone on the same page regarding company policies and standards. And make sure to cultivate a positive work environment where respect and transparency are the norms.

9. Keep them well.

When your employees aren’t at 100%, either physically or mentally, their productivity and overall well-being suffer. So, if they’re sick, tired, and burned out in their current position — you can’t expect them to thrive in their work now nor the future leadership role. It takes a long time to rehire — consider keeping your employees well, both mentally and physically.

You can encourage your employees to prioritize their health by launching an employee wellness program. You could also promote preventive care, provide healthy snacks, and encourage them to be more physically active. Other options would be to show them how to manage their stress correctly and where to seek help when needed.

Most importantly, I would suggest that you be open about your own health struggles, especially when it comes to mental health since this will remove any stigmas. There has been a lot of research showing that people want their employers to discuss mental health, especially if you have Millennial and Gen Z employees.

10. Teach them practical time management skills.

If your employees are struggling with time management now — then how will they fare once in a leadership position? From my experience, not very well. You can help your team solve their time management problems by setting clear expectations and timelines.

Train your employees well in time management right in the beginning and recommend they conduct a time audits continually. Suggest that they protect their maker time. I’d also share with them a variety of time management techniques that have worked for you. Examples would be prioritizing goals, eating the frog, the 80/20 rule, block scheduling, and saying “no.”

12 Mental Health Hacks for Entrepreneurs

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments
Entrepreneur working

There’s a mental health crisis among entrepreneurs. And, that shouldn’t be all that surprising. Being an entrepreneur is stressful, full of uncertainty, unhealthy comparisons, and social isolation. It’s gotten so bad that research conducted by Michael A. Freeman has found that start-up founders are:

  • Twice as likely to suffer from depression.
  • Six times more likely to suffer from ADHD.
  • Three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse.
  • Ten times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder.
  • Twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization.
  • Twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts.

These are concerning stats for all businesses. It’s time that we begin to remove the stigma around mental health so that we can address the struggles that entrepreneurs are facing. But, until we reach that point, here are twelve ways that founders can begin improving their mental health.

1. Boost your resilience or walk away.

The level of stress and the weight of uncertainty and anxiety are nearly unbearable to many entrepreneurs and founders. It’s always the company’s responsibility to hire talented individuals who fit within the company culture. It’s challenging to work with all levels in your company, but you’ll have to let an employee go if they don’t work out — this is a business fact. The fact is also a deep stressor. A CEO and founder has to stay on top of market shifts. You have to identify the trends in your space — and keep track of what the competitors are up to.

Not enough? There are also late nights, putting out fires, traveling, and constantly worrying about failure. Each entrepreneur has to walk a different path. Today, that path has to include taking care of mental health. An entrepreneur has to look inside and see that not everyone is cut out for being a founder. Not everyone can live through the pressure or face what the stress and tension begin to make out of you.

You’ve got to know that it’s okay to walk away if you need to walk away. Allow yourself that thought, and you’ll handle the “now” better. Watch for ways to boost your resilience and reduce pressure.

2. Remember your “why.”

Whenever you feel overwhelmed or don’t want to get out of bed, stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath, and remember your “why.” Obviously, this is different for everyone. But, usually, it’s by answering a simple question, “Why did you get out of bed this morning?” You can also ask, “Why does your company exist,” and “Why should anyone care?” when you’re really in a bad place.

When you remember you “why,” it injects passion back into your life. It also pushes you to be your best and put things in perspective. And, it helps you keep your eyes on the prize whenever there’s a setback.

3. Limit social media use.

Don’t think that I’m hating on social media. It’s actually a great way to network, engage with your audience, and market ourselves and companies. But, it can also be distracting and can negatively affect your mental health. You likely can’t go completely off the grid, but there is a compromise here. And, that’s to limit the amount of time you spend on social media.

Personally, I check all of my notifications right before work, after I’ve eaten lunch, and before I leave the office for the day. If you’re crunched for time, you can check social during your commute on when you’re sitting in a waiting room. The idea is to block out specific times throughout the day so that you’re not continually getting sucked into social media.

You could also use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to manage your accounts and schedule content in advance. Or, if you want to take a step back, you can delegate your social media responsibilities to someone you trust.

If self-discipline is a concern, I suggest deleting the apps from your phone. Not only will this prevent notifications from interrupting you, but you’ll also be able to check your accounts by logging in. That extra step may ease the temptation.

4. Focus on what you have.

Early on in my career, I fell into this trap. I would see other entrepreneurs, friends, or family posting social media updates from their travels all over the world. They would talk about the new house or car they just purchased. And, they would boast about how their business was crushing it.

Sometimes they were putting on a facade or trying too hard to impress others. But, as someone who was struggling to get their business up and running at the time — it stung. Even worse? It made me feel pretty crummy about myself.

It’s taken time and self-discipline, but I no longer worry about what I don’t have. Instead, I focus on what I do have. The easiest way to focus on what you have is to be more grateful. Start by writing a list of the awesome things in your life or keep a gratitude journal and write down the people and pleasant surprises you’ve experienced.

While you can make a gratitude list daily, research has found that those who do this at least weekly are happier and more optimistic about the upcoming week.

5. Ramp up your self-care routine.

“Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health,” writes Raphailia Michael, MA. “Although it’s a simple concept, in theory, it’s something we very often overlook.” And, that needs to change. Self-care can improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and manage stress.

But, as a busy entrepreneur, how can you possibly have time for self-care? Well, start with the basics. Get enough sleep, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. Take breaks throughout the day and use that time to meditate, journal, or go for a walk outside.

During downtime, like after work and the weekends, spend time with loved ones. You can volunteer (nothing helps me more than volunteering) read, pick-up a new hobby, clean your house, play with your kids, go out with friends, or learn something new. Find ways to laugh daily.

6. Strike a pose.

Did you know that you could reduce anxiety, boost your confidence, and help you better deal with stress in just two minutes? That may sound too good to be true, and maybe it is — but perhaps it works somehow through body language.

Body language can increase testosterone, which makes you feel more confident. It can also lower the stress hormone cortisol. But, that’s only possible if you position yourself into “high power” poses, which are relaxed and open.

Some have said that striking a pose doesn’t really work — but stand in front of the mirror and laugh. Pose for a friend and tell them you are boosting your confidence, and you’ll both laugh. Strike a ridiculous pose — for sure, this will reduce anxiety.

7. Create a worrying time.

For some, this may seem counterintuitive. However, as Kim Pratt, LCSW, explains, “employing this cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) tool can help you develop control over the frequency and timing of your worry.” Also, when designating specific times to worry, your mind will be free to focus on the present.

If you want to give this exercise a try, here’s how you can get started:

  • Set aside 15-30 minutes per day. Ideally, this should be in the morning or afternoon and not before bed.
  • Jot down all of your worries during these sessions.
  • If you begin to worry at other times, let them go.
  • At the end of the week, look at what you have written so that you can spot patterns.
  • Repeat this until you feel that you have more control over your thoughts.

8. Compartmentalization.

“Compartmentalization is not about being in denial,” says Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.

Instead, “it’s about putting things where they belong and not letting them get in the way of the rest of your life.” In other words, your problems won’s disappear if you ignore them, “but obsessing on them won’t help either.”

For example, when my first business failed, I went to Disneyland. It was a good distraction from how I was feeling. And, when I returned, I was refreshed and ready to start my next venture.

Another useful tactic would be to speak in the third-person. Researchers from Michigan State University have found that speaking in third-person is helpful because it distances yourself from painful situations that happened in the past.

9. Put a stop to catastrophizing.

Catastrophizing is irrational thinking, also known as “cognitive distortion,” where you believe something is worse than it is. I don’t actually “believe” something is worse — I like to recreationally gripe about stuff. But I’ve noticed that my fun in spinning a horrible situational story can start others looking poorly at issues — and sometimes my viewpoint can become jaded, too.

You may have lost a client or had a weak financial quarter. You then tell yourself that because of these obstacles — both you and your business are failures. Stop it. We all experience bad days. But, instead of going down the rabbit hole, remind yourself that just because today sucked doesn’t mean that every day will be the same.

Other techniques you can try would be to recognize when thoughts are valid and irrational, repeating positive affirmations, and practicing self-care. I’ve also found it helpful to tell my mind to “stop.” When I’m particularly anxious, I may even put my hand up and make a stop sign.

10. Avoid wearing all-grey clothing to work.

Grey is associated with passivity and a lack of energy. It’s also usually worn by people who want to remain neutral or invisible. Sometimes that’s not a bad idea. But, because colors can influence everything from your mood to decision-making, it wouldn’t hurt to add some color to your wardrobe.

Take red, for instance. It’s the color of power, and it can make you appear more attractive to others. Blue is calming and exudes trustworthiness. Green is connected to positive emotional health. And, colors like orange and yellow are warm and can lift spirits.

11. Be productive, not busy.

As entrepreneurs, we idealize those founders who put in 60-80 hours per week. Having a strong work ethic is critical if you want to succeed. But, you can only work for so long before getting burned out. Besides, no matter how amazing you are — your brain still needs time away from work to rest and recharge.

One way to reduce the amount of time you spend working is to be more productive instead of just being busy. You can do this by:

  • Identifying what’s essential and necessary. These are your priorities, and everything else can wait.
  • Optimizing your organization by only listing three items on your to-do-list and using systems like “mise en place.”
  • Minimizing distractions.
  • Not sweating the small stuff.
  • Only saying yes to time requests that bring you closer to your goals or that you’re excited about.
  • Weighing the pros and cons before jumping on the latest trend.

12. Seek help.

“While many entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of seeking help through an employer, they do have many other options they can use should they suffer from depression,” notes John Boitnott. Exercising, eating eat, taking breaks, and practicing gratitude are all ways to help. But, they also need a reliable support system.

“Due to the nature of the entrepreneurial journey, there is additional job isolation, and long work hours are all too common,” adds Boitnott. “Surrounding yourself with like-minded people, who stay in your corner through your ups and downs — is extremely important.” Also, this can help make you realize that you’re not alone, “even if your depression wants you to believe you are.”

And please, if you’re struggling — please speak with a mental health professional or join a support group. If it’s an emergency, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) and The National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline (800- 950-NAMI).

“Most importantly, as an entrepreneur, don’t neglect your feelings and thoughts,” says Boitnott. “The sooner you search for a diagnosis — or at the very least, seek help — the better your chances of fighting and winning.”

Why Leaders Need to Embrace Transparency

By | Business Tips, Knowledge Base | No Comments

One of the most important goals you should have as a leader is to be able to unleash your employee’s full potential. And while there are many ways to accomplish this, workplace transparency is often the most effective. Workplace transparency makes everyone feel valued. Transparency encourages employees to step outside of their comfort zones and not fear being punished after sharing feedback. Freedom to share both ways also keeps them in the loop whenever you’ve made an important decision.

Many leaders still hesitate to embrace transparency. Possibly the hesitation is from a lack of understanding of how to create transparency or cultivate it. Let me try to convince you of the benefits.

Why Leaders Need to Embrace Transparency in the Workplace

Improves workplace engagement.

Transparency in the workplace is one of the most effective ways to motivate and engage your team. Using current research, we see that transparency is the number one factor contributing to employee happiness. When your peeps are satisfied, they’re more productive and loyal.

What’s more, transparency reduces stress and creates a healthier work environment. Mainly the work situation changes because transparency creates a sense of fairness. It also encourages collaboration and cultivates a safe space where everyone can express their opinions. Employees and other people don’t have to be concerned about being penalized for making a mistake. Instead, they’re encouraged to learn from the experience.

Better alignment.

“Employee alignment, for transparency’s sake, means taking a look at the big picture and seeking to understand everyone’s role within it,” Andre Lavoie wrote previously for Entrepreneur. “This is easily done when employers practice transparency in the workplace.”

“Transparent leadership results in employees who understand the company vision and how their efforts help achieve company-wide goals,” adds Lavoie. As a result, both you and your team will become more proactive, improve your decision-making, and only fill your calendar with items that push you closer to your goals.

Problems are solved faster.

Employees and leaders learn more about one another and can grow to work toward solving problems faster when their leaders are transparent. While creating an open environment, we can see less of the ‘perilous’ leader. “Three factors contribute to one behaving as a perilous leader,” says Karol Wasylyshyn, Psy.D. in Psychology Today.

Using transparency as the vehicle, the managers and bosses begin to embrace total brain leadership (TBL), and better emotional intelligence (EI) can start to emerge. When there is less fear, there is more honesty, and people are freer to express opinions. Empathy increases and narcissism fades in a more competent transparency environment.

For example, if you need to improve your bottom line, then solicit feedback from your team on how to improve your cash flow before jumping the shark and making cuts, like issuing pink slips.

It creates a flat hierarchy.

As Angela Ruth points out in a piece for Calendar, “more and more organizations are opting to go with structures that are flatter and are more democratic.” For starters, it’s been found that organizations with flat structures outperform those with traditional hierarchies.

Furthermore, hierarchies are becoming outdated, move too slowly, stifle creativity, and prevents everyone from getting on the same page. However, through transparency, organizations can become more flexible and encourage more fluidity within positions.

Builds trust and respect.

Employees will trust and respect you more when you’re open and honest. For instance, you could discuss the challenges and mistakes you made early on in your career and how that helped you grow. While you don’t need to be too personal, you could also share your struggles with mental health as a way to improve your employee’s well-being.

Being transparent isn’t a sign of weakness. It actually shows that you’re a human being who had flaws, as well as strengths. That takes a lot of courage to admit. And, it can make you more relatable to others, which in turn, creates stronger bonds.

How You Can Create More Transparency Within Your Organization

There’s no denying that transparency should be on your radar. But, how can you promote it within your organization? Well, here some of the best ways to achieve this specific goal.

Hire wisely.

Yes, you can embrace transparency as soon as you begin hiring and recruiting employees. For example, make sure that you post detailed and accurate job descriptions. Look for potential hires who are honest. And keep the lines of communication open during the interview process.

Not only will you find the right people for the job, but you’ll also find those who will fit in with your culture. And, it also sets a precedent for openness right from the start.

Build connections through swift and focused frequency.

“Building trust isn’t just about intent, but also frequency and detail,” Marcus Buckingham, author of “Nine Lies About Work,” told Fast Company. “Employees need to know that you have their back and that only happens through regular check-ins or light touch, individualized communications.”

“If you meet with employees once a week for 10-15 minutes and simply ask, ‘what are you working on and how can I help?’, it goes a long way toward building trust,” adds Buckingham. In addition to one-on-ones, find other ways to communicate and engage your team frequently.

At Calendar, we use Slack to touch base, share information, and keep everyone updated. However, you can also break down silos through town meetings and implementing an open-door policy. And, don’t forget to provide easy access to crucial information like sharing cloud-based documents or creating web-based Wikis.

“People want to know where they stand with you as a manager, and every employee knows that’s a moveable feast,” says Buckingham. “When you take time to hear from each team member on their near-term priorities, while also letting them know ‘we don’t need to solve everything this week,’ you move the relationship forward, and see stronger engagement and performance as a result.”

Share results.

“Don’t just share plans, let employees see what worked and what didn’t,” notes Kasey Fleisher Hickey over at Wavelength. “Leaders who speak openly about the state of the company gain trust.”

“While it can be difficult to reveal you had a bad quarter financially, keeping employees in the know every step of the way maintains confidence in your leadership and company,” continues Fleisher Hickey. “It can be particularly important during periods of high growth or financial struggle.”

Ask questions and show interest.

Put your ego aside for a moment and admit that you don’t have all of the answers. Instead, talk to your team members who do have the right answers. Not only will you learn something, but it also shows your humanity. And, most importantly, it lets your team know that you actually care about what they’re bringing to the table.

Treat everyone the same.

It’s only natural that you would click with certain people. But, when it comes to the workplace, you can’t pick favorites. It’s a surefire way to breed an unhealthy and toxic environment. Treat everyone with the same amount of respect. And never make exceptions when someone breaks company policies.

Involve others in the decision-making process.

Solicit feedback from your team through brainstorming sessions, online polls, or even the good ole’ suggestion box. It makes them feel like crucial players within your organization. And, because everyone made the decision together, you don’t have to explain yourself.

Don’t avoid difficult discussions.

A long time ago, I worked at a job that promised me a promotion. Every month I kept asking, and there was always an excuse. Finally, right around Thanksgiving, I was laid off because they were making cuts. I was furious. They strung me along for several months instead of just being honest with me.

Of course, no one likes having these types of conversations. But, at least you’ll be admired for addressing it head-on and not avoiding it. And, who knows? Maybe you and your team can find a way to resolve the problem together without having to resort to something as drastic as layoffs.

Always know “why.”

Discovering your “why” gives meaning and purpose behind your work. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you plowing ahead when times get tough. And, it keeps you passionate and motivated.

When it comes to leading a team, explain why each member is essential to your organization. Acknowledge why their contributions matter to you. Encourage honesty through understanding. Let your employees know the purpose behind their work, so they buy into the dream of your business. When you take a moment to be transparent, your team, office, and employees will be more driven and focused during the day-in-and-out efforts.

How to Take Time Off Without Inconveniencing Your Team

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments
How to Take Time Off Without Inconveniencing Your Team

Everyone needs a break from work sometimes. Time away improves team morale, de-stresses the mind, and boosts productivity

If you aren’t planning appropriately or considering your team, though, your relaxing getaway may turn sour when returning to the workplace. No one wants to work with a team member who unapologetically prioritizes his or her time over everyone else’s.

Here’s how to take the time off you need without making life hard for those around you:

1. Work ahead.

The most important step to making sure your colleagues aren’t adversely affected by your time away is simple: get ahead of your work. Don’t just complete your pre-vacation projects; get a jump on those you know will be happening while you’re out. 

There is no way to avoid some future work pileup, but you can prepare for it. Write down all your outstanding deliverables and deadlines before you leave so you don’t feel swamped when you return. Delegate smaller tasks that others can handle in your absence. For unknowns that may come up, designate someone to make decisions in your absence. 

2. Avoid overlap.

When other members of your team are out of the office, it might be best to postpone your vacation. Treat busy periods the same way: You don’t want to be the person who takes off when everyone else is swamped with work.

Respect your team’s time so they can respect yours. It’s hard to expect a co-worker to adjust his or her schedule for your vacation when you won’t do the same. A great workplace environment is built by team members who have each other’s backs.

When in doubt, consult your company’s online calendar. Encourage co-workers to place major projects and upcoming vacations on it for all to see. 

3. Keep in touch.

Unless you will be going somewhere on your vacation with no Wi-Fi or cell service, stay in touch. You never know when there might be an emergency at work. Because of this, make sure you are never “off the grid” for too long.

You don’t need to be glued to your phone — it is time off, after all — but being part of a team means being accessible. If you use collaboration software, such as Slack or Basecamp, to stay in touch with a remote team, make sure you also announce your break there. Email clients, even those that are not responsive, with the dates you’ll be out. Don’t leave anywhere unchecked.

Finally, before you leave, set up an email auto-responder. That way, people who email you expecting a fast reply aren’t caught off guard when you do not respond for a week. This is especially important if you’re in a customer-facing or sales role. 

4. Use time off wisely.

Vacation time is a tool to use when needed and not too often. Make sure you are utilizing your time away by resting, clearing your head of stresses that may have piled up, and satisfying any other needs you may have. 

You aren’t doing anyone any favors if you come back exhausted from working while away or overextending yourself. Remember, your other team members may need a break just as much as you do.

Even if you’re taking time off for a not-so-fun reason, such as a family member’s death, make time for mindfulness. A meta-study published in the Journal of American Medicine found meditation to be an effective tactic for easing anxiety and reducing stress.

Time off is a gift. Use it sparingly, prepare well, and make sure you get the relaxation you deserve. Your team members want you to take care of yourself, but they don’t want to be left behind in the process. Keep them in mind, and they’ll extend the same courtesy to you when it’s their time to take a break. 

4 Methods to Control Your Calendar Before It Controls You

By | Knowledge Base, Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments
appointment guide
Over the course of my career I’ve learned a lot about the importance of time management. How you as a business owner should control your calendar. Early on, I woke-up whenever I wanted and didn’t put an emphasis on my priorities. This pretty much resulted in aimlessly wandering through my days like a walker on “The Walking Dead.” But, that was just the beginning. I haphazardly accepted appointments, checked my emails every time I got a notification, and scheduled meetings at the last minute. And, to make matters worse, I was planning events when I should have been home with my family. I eventually realized that I was no longer focused or productive as I needed to be. Simply put, my calendar was taking control of my life — both in and out of the workplace. Thankfully, I was able to take back the reigns by utilizing the following four methods.

1. Take inventory and identify what’s not working.

First things first, get crystal clear on where your time is spent. If you’ve never done this before, simply keep a time journal. This is where you jot down everything you do and exactly how long each task takes you. This may sound tedious, but after about a week you’ll notice where you’re spending a bulk of your time. More importantly, you’ll identify the time wasters on your calendar. Once you do, you can make the proper adjustments to change things around. For example, if you noticed that you spend two or three hours a week scheduling meetings, then it’s time to look for a solution. In this case, you could use a tool like Calendar to eliminate this issue. You’ve now just freed up a couple of hours per week in your calendar to work on your priorities.

2. Create your routine.

Another perk of tracking your time is that it can help you create a daily routine. This is where you block time for specific activities. So, in a nutshell, your calendar consists of a bunch of blocks. My routine consists of a morning routine where I block out specific time for exercise, getting ready, writing, and responding to emails. I then block out from eight am to noon for undistracted work. My afternoons contain blocks for a nap, returning calls or emails, and hosting meetings. This method ensures that I stay focused on my priorities. It also ensures that I won’t let unplanned activities jump in and distract me from getting things done. I should add, that you should definitely block out time for rest. I block out time in the afternoon to take a nap and review my goals. It helps me recharge and refocus. If I didn’t block out this time, it would never happen.

3. Control Your Calendar by Stacking your Meetings.

If possible, try to schedule all your meetings on the same day or two each week. Ideally, you should schedule these meetings around 3pm, because research shows that this is the best times for meetings. The reason I use this method is fairly simply. It gives me a heads-up that I’m not going to complete as much work on these days. Instead, I’m going to be focused on conversations, exchanging ideas, and motivating my team. For me, this is a different type of work flow. I’m thinking differently when writing a blog post than when discussing an upcoming project with a colleague. By stacking my meetings, I can keep this more conversational flow going. At the same time, it’s guaranteeing that the meetings won’t interfere with my other work. One final note about meetings. Stop scheduling meetings back-to-back. This ensures that you won’t be running late for your next meeting. And, since meetings can run late, it may hold you up from leaving the office on-time and getting home. Give yourself a little buffer time so that you’re no longer running late. And, try not to schedule meetings late in the afternoon. Like don’t schedule right at 4:30pm unless you’re positive it’s just a quick 15-minute phone call.

4. Set boundaries, but also be flexible.

There’s a belief that once something has been scheduled into your calendar it’s set in stone. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s say you have a meeting with your team on a Monday afternoon. However, when you were planning out your day first thing in the AM you notice that your website crashed. The worst part is that it’s not a minor fix, it’s actually going to eat-up your entire morning or longer. This means that your entire schedule has to shift. The work you had planned in the morning now has to move into the afternoon. Now you have to reschedule that team meeting for another date or time. In short, the unexpected happens and you need to be flexible. Just make sure  when this happens, you give notice to the other party. At the same time, you have to set boundaries. If you’ve blocked out two hours of unexpected work, then don’t schedule a meeting or phone call during that time. Again, a tool like Calendar can help you accomplish these goals because it allows you to select when your calendar is open and when it is not. You then share this availability with others so that they can pick an open slot when they’re free.
Originally published here.

How to Make Sure Your Personal Life Doesn’t Negatively Affect Your Business

By | Business Tips, Knowledge Base | No Comments
Let’s be real. Sometimes, your personal life can wreak havoc on your business. As much as we try to keep personal and business separate, we’re human. The problem is when the issues in our personal lives affect our productivity. In recent weeks, I’ve engaged in multiple conversations with business owners who have all been dealing with things in their personal lives. No one makes it public, of course. However, when they are in circles with other business owners they trust, all the personal life dramas are shared. I’ve also had my fair share of drama in my personal life in recent months. As such, I’ve learned several strategies for not allowing it to affect my business. Here are some of the strategies I find work best.

Always prioritize savings.

As a business owner, the amount of money you make can be directly correlated to your output. Sometimes, things in our personal lives do require more of our attention and it causes us to take a temporary step back. That’s why it’s always good to have savings in the bank. For example, a couple of years ago I had to take a step back from my business to help my family with some things. Because I had savings, I was able to do it without any issue.

Give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions.

Making sure your personal life doesn’t affect your business doesn’t mean ignoring things. This can actually escalate conflict and make everything worse.  It simply means managing them. For example, if you’re going through an emotional period in your personal life, give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions. Christine Hassler, a life coach for millennials, suggests giving yourself a few minutes each day to really feel your emotions. This way, you’re not ignoring them, but you’re also not letting them affect your business.

Be careful who you surround yourself with.

Sometimes, issues in your personal life can be traced back to those you surround yourself with. While you may be careful who you surround yourself with your business, perhaps this is a lesson you’re still learning in your personal life. I know I definitely am. If you notice that drama always seems to surround one or two people, then it’s time to cut them out. The last thing you need as a business owner is to always be involved in some mess because of the company you keep. Keeping your personal life out of your business becomes impossible when the people in your life consistently drag you down. Toxic people can easily overrun your life with their energy, which is why they need to go if you plan on running a successful business. Bottom line is if you don’t want your personal life ruining your business, then you need to take the preventative measure of making sure unnecessary drama won’t be caused.
Originally published here.
Register Now & Get a 30 Day Trial Register Now