productivity

How You Can Lead More Attentive Meetings

By | Time Management | No Comments
Have you ever sat in a meeting and played around on your phone the whole time? If you answered no then you’re probably lying. The reason why you were on your phone is probably because whomever was leading the meeting wasn’t able to keep your attention. So how can we lead more attentive meetings? While there’s no single solution there are definitely strategies that you can take to capture the attention of those in attendance.

Here’s how you can lead more attentive meetings at work, life, or anywhere.

Define a Purpose

When calling a meeting you need to define a clear and definite purpose. Typically when we call a meeting we feel we’re being proactive and productive. The problem is some individuals call meetings for that reason only. If you don’t have a clear defined purpose for the meeting it’s probably not even worth gathering. One strategy is to write it down on paper first. Once you’ve gathered your thoughts try to create a few action items from your topics. If there’s isn’t much to execute on and or you don’t think it was worth writing down then you should rethink the meeting altogether. The biggest issue with keeping attention is that you don’t have many chances. If your team associates your meetings a lack of purpose then you’ll lose their attention before they’ve arrived.

Respect Everyone’s Time

One of the best ways to lose focus and worst of all respect from your team is to be constantly late for meetings. When you call a meeting you need to be absolutely sure you are there at least 10 minutes early. Yes of course things come up and we are late from time to time. But the old “I’m sorry I’m late something came up” or “my last meeting ran over a few minutes late” can only be used so many times. If your meetings are constantly running late then that shows your team a bit about your time management skills. Another reason why you want to be early is because you should be the one kicking off the meeting. If you stumble into a meeting room with the team already chatting about various topics you’ll have a hard time gathering the focus back onto you.

Phones Where You Can See Them

No matter what someone says about their phone it will always serve as an immediate distraction if buzzed. If their phone is in their pocket and they receive a call or text it’s almost guaranteed that person will at least look at their phone. Even if they don’t answer it still serves as a distraction to not only them but the rest of the group as well. I suggest having every member in attendance silence their cell phone and put it in the middle of the table turned face down. This way you can ensure that everyone’s attention will remain on you and they won’t get distracted by calls, texts, or even worse social media notifications.

Define Rules

One of the golden rules of focus and productivity is organization. If you’re concise and organized most things will fall into place. As you send out meeting agenda’s or hold meetings with new teams or groups make sure your rules are clear and written down. A disciplined group is a focused one. As long as your rules are respectable and concise I’m sure your team will have no problem following them.

Final Thoughts

Leading meetings is tough. When half the group isn’t paying attention it’s really tough not to mention a bit demoralizing. That said you should follow the tips above so you can lead more attentive meetings and a more disciplined team!  
Originally published here.

8 Steps to Planning Digital Content in Less Time

By | Scheduling | No Comments

I’m a planner. I love writing things down and preparing myself for the work week in advance. Still, as a content producer myself, planning website content isn’t always an easy task.

When you do finally force yourself to sit down and start planning content for your website, blog, email list, etc. it can be a very time-consuming process. If the major brain dump method doesn’t work for you either, check out these 8 steps to planning digital content in less time.

Step 1: Use Current Copy as a Foundation

The best place to start is to look at your existing content for your business. Even if it sucks, you have someplace to start. Look at analytics to see which content resonated well with your audience and what didn’t.

For example, if you’ve been getting some great feedback on social media for a particular article, see if you can expand on the subject and plan to produce some follow-up content in the future. Keep a running list of topics whenever you gain inspiration or think of ideas that could be useful. It only takes a few minutes to do this each week and it’s the best way to jumpstart the content creation process.

Step 2: Make Sure You Understand Your Audience

Don’t waste time planning digital content before you get to know your target audience. Interact with them on social media, ask your email list questions, save helpful feedback, and ask your audience to a short market research survey every few months. 

This will help make the content planning and creation process much simpler because you’ll know who your audience is and what they want. Sometimes, I practically drive myself crazy trying to brainstorm content ideas. Ever since I started asking my audience what they wanted to see and listening to their recommendations, the digital content planning process has been pretty painless and quick.

If your audience is telling you multiple things, segment your website visitors into the primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences and determine how you’ll address their needs in future content types.

Step 3: Use a Calendar to Map Everything Out

If you’re planning digital content without a calendar, you’re doing it all wrong. Using a calendar tool can help you stay organized and begin to work ahead.

I like to set up days dedicated to brainstorming, outlining, creating/scheduling, polishing, and promoting. Yes, the content production process is pretty tedious, but having a solid plan laid out in writing can make all the difference.

Coming up with headlines and outlines at this stage is very important. It’s interesting to note that doing this in advance will literally cut a lot of time out of the content creation process and keep you focused so you can finish and release your content more efficiently.

By storing everything on a digital calendar, you can set reminders to hold yourself accountable for meeting specific deadlines and allowing yourself enough time to prepare what you need to complete the content.

Step 4: Work With Others

Ask others to help you research, edit and review when you’re planning digital content. This will save you a ton of time. For example, if you’re writing for search engines or trying to rank some of your web pages, you may want to have someone do SEO research. 

If you’re producing social media copy you may want to have a consult with a social media marketing expert to help you come up with a clear strategy so you don’t waste time making rookie mistakes.

This can be ongoing or just a one-time thing depending on your needs.

Step 5. Storytelling vs ‘Storyselling’

You don’t have to use your website to merely tell your own story. The stories that matter are those of the people who have used your products and services and found them beneficial.

Nobody is interested in knowing how wonderful a business you have. Give your audience results and evidence. The language you use should speak to them. Offer your products as the solution to their products.

One of the easiest ways I work storytelling into my digital content planning process is to simply be authentic. When I experience things or have conversations that I believe could be pivoted into inspiring content for my audience, I add the idea to my content calendar with a date and a brief outline. In less than 2 minutes, I have quality content planned that I can produce quickly.

Step 6. Write For Search Engines and Humans

SEO is important. However, crowding your content with too many keywords can only render it unreadable. Include the keywords as naturally as possible to avoid coming out as a robot. If anything, you don’t have to stick to your specific keywords. Use variations that will still give the same meaning.

As you’re planning your content for the web, it helps to determine a focus keyword ahead of time so you know what to base your content around. I like using the Google Adword Keyword Planner tool because it’s free and easy to use when you’re researching keywords and narrowing them down.

Step 7. Have an Action-Oriented Copy

All of your content should have a goal behind it. It’s likely that you want to help turn readers into leads and paying customers. To do this, you need to make sure you plan out content that has a clear call to action.

This will prompt your audience to do something. This is something I failed to do in the beginning stages when planning content for my business and I regretted it. It’s important to focus on providing value, but you also want to let people know what you want them to do. Is it to call you, email you, or make an online purchase? Show them the step they need to take next. Provide links or email address so that they can find it easy to reply and take action.

Step 8. Make It Visually Appealing

Content and visuals go hand-in-hand. When you’re planning digital content, be sure to include ideas for illustrations, charts, and images to support the text. Alternatively, use testimonials, bulleted lists or larger pull quotes. Divide sections with subheadings and use short paragraphs.

Again, planning all this out on a calendar will help you stay organized and on track. Remember, you don’t have to actually follow through will all of your ideas for content, images, SEO, etc. All you have to do is jot them down and organize them. 

The whole process can be done in under 20 minutes weekly or once a month as a huge content overhaul.

Do you plan out your content at all for your business? If so which one of these steps to you find most valuable?

 

Originally posted here.

5 Surefire Tactics for Boosting Employee Productivity

By | Time Management | No Comments
As a leader, it can be easy to let the morale of an office slip away. However, to get it back, it’s not as hard as you think. And if one thing’s for certain it’s that happy employees translate to a more productive work environment, and thus, a thriving business. The core of every business is its employees. That’s why, as a leader, it’s more important than ever to go the extra mile when it comes to boosting employee productivity. Of course, you can’t expect every employee to be at peak productivity every hour of the day, but there are things you can do to help them get there. From implementing incentive programs to organizing social outings, take the time to develop ways to motivate employees — you’ll thank yourself later.

To learn more, here are five surefire tactics for boosting employee productivity around the office.

1. Give regular feedback.

Feedback is critical to the success of a company — and that doesn’t just mean feedback to employees, but from them too. Developing a comfortable work environment that fosters open communication, honesty and two-way feedback will help make your entire company more effective and productive. Regularly giving feedback provides guidance, an opportunity to learn and makes people feel valued. When employees know they can also give feedback to their managers, this helps to develop a more cohesive team. In an earlier Gallup survey, 67 percent of employees whose managers focused on their strengths were fully engaged in their work, while only 31 percent of employees whose managers focused on their weaknesses said this. Of course, while not all feedback is good, be sure to balance the negatives with positives.

2. Organize social outings.

Work hard, play hard. And that applies to the office too. One of the best ways to boost employee morale and productivity is by spending some time outside of the office. Get to know your employees as individuals and not just employees. Organizing social outings is a great team-building tactic. This will also get your employees away from their desk and give them some time to recharge. Recreational sports, retreats and happy hours are only a few ideas to get your employees mingling and getting to know each other. According to an article published in Inc., “Work performance depends on recreational activities — or at least, can be boosted with it.”

3. Implement incentive programs.

Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest motivators for most employees is money. That’s why offering incentives with awards in the form of money typically boost employee performance by 22 percent, according to a large-scale study by the Incentive Research Foundation. Not only that, but these monetary incentives, on average, boost team performance by a whopping 44 percent. Of course, it depends on how you create and implement an incentive program. The study also found that longer-term programs outperformed shorter-term programs.

4. Offer flexible work options.

Flexible work options are not only a great way to boost employee productivity, but also job commitment and happiness. A recent study analyzed and compared employee well-being at a Fortune 500 company over a nine-month period where half of the employees were given flexible work options, while the other half kept their regular 9-to-5 office hours. In the end, employees with flex schedules were happier at work and less prone to burnout than their 9-to-5 counterparts. They also found employees with flexibility to be sick less often, achieve more and work longer hours.

5. Celebrate the small wins.

Everyone likes to be recognized for something positive they’ve done, whether it’s big or small. However, despite size, every success should be celebrated. In an article published on Harvard Business Review, researchers examined what motivates people and the answer was simple: progress. When employees know they are progressing at work in some way, even if it is just the slightest bit, they will in turn be happier, more motivated and continue to keep up the great performance. That’s why celebrating the small wins is an effective tactic to help employees feel like they are progressing. Which in turn will boost performance and productivity.
Originally published here.

Productive Things to do During Downtime

By | Time Management | No Comments
Even the busiest workers have a noticeable amount of downtime. Yet, there are ways to still accomplish productive things in that downtime. Whether it’s been scheduled or it’s your body’s way of saying “slow down, take a break” downtime during your workday can often be used as an opportunity to tie up loose ends and be productive with low-effort tasks. Here are 5 productive things you can do that make you feel good whenever you find that there’s downtime in your schedule.

Exercise

Exercise has a ton of benefits which is probably why successful people make time to stay active. While I used to find it easy for me to get lost on YouTube to start binging Netflix during my downtime, I started breaking up my day to exercise during the early afternoon slump instead. Exercise will help you stay healthy and keep your mind sharp and motivated to crank out some more great projects during the remainder of the workday. It doesn’t require a huge time commitment either. Even if you only have a few minutes, you can go for a walk around the corner or do a few exercises before starting back up again.

Read

It’s no secret that successful people read. The average millionaire is said to reads two or more books per month. Take the time to read blogs, news sites, fiction, and non-fiction during downtime so you can soak in more knowledge. If you’re often on the go, you may want to try audiobooks or listen to podcasts for fun or to learn about things like personal development, personal finance, or entrepreneurship.

Network

Networking can be valuable when done correctly. It shouldn’t always be your main focus but it’s important to squeeze in time to attend networking events and reach out to other either online or in person. Downtime is the perfect time to do some networking, maintain current relationships or follow up with people you’ve reached out to previously.

Open and Respond to Emails

Checking emails throughout the day can be tempting, but it’s an easy way to waste time and energy. I check and respond to my most important emails when in the morning and toward the end of the workday. I save the rest for small moments of downtime when I just need to do something easy and catch up. Managing emails can definitely become overwhelming if you don’t take time to stay caught up throughout the day. However, this doesn’t mean you have to waste time by checking in every 10 minutes. Focus on what’s important throughout the day, then save the rest for downtime.

Reorganize Your Calendar

Unexpected downtime like a meeting cancellation can be a great time to look at your calendar to make sure you’re on track and even plan for the next day. Planning your days in advance is one of the best ways to stay organized, motivated, and get a lot done. Successful people don’t waste time wondering what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it. They already have a plan scheduled out and ready to execute. If you are experiencing way too much downtime throughout the day, you may want to reorganize your calendar and make sure you’re working efficiently and making the best use of your time.
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.

3 Common Time Wasters for Your Business

By | Time Management | No Comments

I often coach business owners through the best ways to use their time. It’s too often that they come to me having an idea of what they should be doing, only to find out most of their tasks are time wasters. I understand why people are confused. They think that certain things like spending your time on social media lead to money in the bank. They also think their email will catch fire if they aren’t logged into it all the time. I get it because I get caught up in it too sometimes. However, there comes a time when we need to get rid of the time wasters in our businesses. This starts by determining one main thing: What actually leads to money in the bank? Everything else comes second. That being said, here are the most common time wasters in your business.

Social Media

This may sound strange coming from someone who uses social media marketing, but it’s a time suck. More specifically, social media channels are time wasters when you don’t know how they fit into a marketing plan. For example, spending your time on Facebook looking at memes is a waste of time. Posting on Instagram with no call to action is a waste of time. Posting random stuff that doesn’t drive traffic or build your email list? Also, a waste of time. On the other hand, if you know how to use social media as a part of your marketing funnel, then it’s worth spending some time on it. You may even want to consider outsourcing this important task to a marketing professional. Just because it can lead to money doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your time.

Meetings

Most meetings are time wasters. There, I said it. Let’s be honest, how many times have you sat in a meeting that could have been an email? Or how many times did a meeting run longer than it had to? How many times did a prospect waste your time with meetings that went nowhere? Probably several times. This is why I say to avoid meetings if you can. At the very least, avoid having meetings in-person since you have far less control over your time.

Email

Similar to meetings, emails are time wasters too. This is especially true if you have a busy inbox. Unfortunately, most people treat their inbox like a to-do list. When something pops up, they handle it. The problem is this takes time away from important tasks that can move your business forward. For example, you need to create a new service offering but your time is being spent on email correspondence. One way to fix this is to hire a virtual assistant who can handle email communication for you. They may not be able to handle everything, but they can at least sort through the unimportant stuff so you don’t have to.

Final Thoughts

The ironic thing about these common time wasters is people think they need them to make money. This is only half true. There’s a difference between efficiently using these things and wasting your time. Once you figure out the fine line, then it becomes easier to stick to the important stuff.


Originally published here.

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