15 Barriers to Personal Productivity

When it comes to personal productivity, most of us have room for improvement.  But before we can effectively create better time management habits and ultimately make things better, we must recognize and acknowledge the why.  What are you doing or not doing today that prevents you from being productive?

It’s time to work smarter and eliminate the barriers that hold you back.

Common Roadblocks You Can Overcome

1.  Tasks have no home.  You haven’t set a specific time aside in which to do the tasks that need to be done.  Lists provide a reminder of what you need to do – but they won’t get done until you actually schedule them on your calendar.

2.  You set aside the wrong time.  Are you working against your energy?  Some of us are morning people, others night people.  Align your tasks with your energy levels.

3.  You miscalculate how long tasks take.  We often think tasks take less time than they actually do. It’s a common issue. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day and add some buffer time for the unexpected.

4.  You’re the wrong person for the job. Do you operate under the premise that you need to do it all?  Do you think asking for help is a sign of weakness?  Or maybe just looking for a way to save some money? Your time is valuable, so put it to work on the things that really matter!  Learn to delegate or outsource low-value tasks or projects that fall outside your scope of expertise.

5.  The task is overly complex.  It’s human nature to avoid tasks that are too complex or cumbersome.  They often take a lot more time. Finding big blocks of time in your day to work on them makes it easy to understand why we put them on the back burner! The best solution is to chunk complex tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces – then attack them over a period of time. One-hour blocks over seven days often work better than a seven-hour block on one day!

6.  You can’t remember what you have to do.  If you don’t have a method to capture ‘to do’ items in one place, easily and effectively, chances are you will miss important tasks because you simply won’t remember.  Kill the post-it notes that get lost or forgotten.  Your phone is full of applications for to-do lists.  Choose one and your to-do list will always be close at hand!.

7.  Your space is unorganized.  If the physical environment in which you work is disorganized and cluttered, it will steal a huge amount of time and energy from your day.  If you spend a lot of time ‘looking for stuff’ to get started or finish a project, then it’s time to organize your workspace.  Can’t do it alone, hire a professional organizer to help you!

8.  You have unclear goals and priorities.  Without clear goals, you have no basis for making decisions on how you spend your time or prioritizing the many choices you face on a daily basis.

9.  You have an unrealistic workload.  Sometimes life does overload you and usually (or hopefully) these are temporary.  Recognize it and delegate or eliminate the non-essentials during these times.

10. You are in transition.  Life changes sometimes make it difficult to determine how to invest your time.  The best way to overcome this is to re-identify your goals and create a roadmap for the change.

11. Your work environment is full of interruptions.  Being easily accessible or readily available has its drawbacks.  Recognize this and plan for it.  Create a block of time each day that is interruption free and under your control – even if you must leave your office to get it.

12. You need to be a Helper.  Assisting others personally or professionally can make your life rich and rewarding.  But only when it’s kept in balance.  Too much can make you resentful and overwhelmed.  Sometimes we get so caught up in our own need to be appreciated and feel valuable that we don’t let other people help us.  You empower people when you allow them to contribute, so let others help you too!

13. You love creating.  You keep starting projects but have a hard time finishing all or any of them.  But half-finished projects don’t deliver results and the sense of accomplishment that comes with getting things done.  This actually zaps energy and hurts productivity. Get some results-oriented people involved with your projects — employees, colleagues or a business coach can help.  Spend some time with people who love getting things done. 

14. You have a need for perfection.  Not all tasks are created equal.  Do you feel compelled to do everything at the same level of excellence?  If you set the same high standards for every task, you will not finish anything.  Adjust your standards based on the specific tasks.  Some are worth your extra effort, some are not.  Remember, sometimes good is good enough!

15. You have a fear of losing creativity.  Some people fear that imposing structure or routines in their lives will squelch their creativity.  As a result, their lives are chaotic and often stressful.  You need to learn to trust that you can put structure in your schedule and still be creative.  You don’t have to plan every minute and hour, but you can map out a general rhythm to your day.

The first step to making some changes comes from recognizing the need to do so.  Don’t try to fix them all at one time.  Focus on one then move to the next.

More Ways to Improve Your Business.

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Where Does Your Time Go?

Where Does Your Time Go?

The Secret To Get More Done

It’s no surprise that a lot of new year goals and resolutions include get more done or be more productive.  But  the key to changing behaviors, such as time management, begins with recognizing the problem or need.  If it’s one of your goals, you’ve taken the first step.

Fact, there are only 24 hours in a day.  You can’t add more hours.  But you can get more done when we improve efficiency and eliminate the time wasters.

Below are seven  common reasons why people lose precious time each day along with some suggestions to correct them. The good news is that little improvements in any of these areas help you get more done at work and at home.

Disorganization.  Whether in business or at home, getting organized is a key to getting more done.  If you spend a lot of time ‘looking for stuff’ to start or finish a project  or work in an environment full of clutter and distractions, tasks becomes a chore and take longer to complete.

Solution:  Make getting organized a priority.  Create a filing system (onsite or in the cloud) that works so papers and other important documents are off your desk and stored in a place that is easy to find.  Take advantage of scan technologies to keep important information – without the paper!  Instead of post-it notes, use a calendar and centralized to-do list (paper or electronic) to remind you of important business and personal meetings, tasks and activities.

Unclear Goals/Lack of Focus.  Without clear goals, everything looks like a priority and it’s difficult to focus on the right stuff!

Solution:  Set specific personal and business goals.  Then identify what you need to do in order to achieve them.  Chunk down the activities where needed and schedule time to work on them.  Whether you call it an action plan or not, use this list of goals, activities and completion dates as the litmus test when faced with requests for your time.  Is the task or request moving you closer to your goals or simply a distraction that holds you back?  Say NO to things that don’t move you forward.

Too Many Text and Phone Interruptions.  In the cell phone era, it’s become easy for people to connect with you at any time.  Most people silence phones when in meetings – it’s the professional thing to do! But what about when you are working on projects or other important tasks? These little interruptions rob you of precious time.

Solution:  Silence the cell phone or put it away so it’s not a distraction.  Set expectations and boundaries, define your working hours (even if you work from home) and communicate them to clients, family and friends.

Poor Planning.  If you want to accomplish more, you need to plan better.

Solution:  As I mentioned above, a central to-do list and calendar helps keep you organized and focused. But you need to block off time and put tasks on the calendar to actually work on them.  Most people assume they can accomplish things quicker than they can.  Be reasonable, allow for some unplanned stuff and build in a little buffer time.  Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t finish something. You’ll improve your planning and scheduling as you learn. Just start doing it.

Procrastination.  This is a big time waster and often results when you are unclear on what you need to do  or you are faced with doing something out of your comfort zone.   You know, the tasks you don’t like doing, so you keep putting them off – even though they are important.

Solution:  In his book, Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy provides 21 ways to stop procrastinating and get more done.  One of the takeaways that I use often is to attack the ‘biggest’ frog first!  Early morning is when I’m at my best, so I try to work on critical tasks at that time.  It also gets the task off my plate early,  so it’s not hanging over me all day long.  I find this works and other suggestions in the book may work for you.  The key – don’t let procrastination stop you from accomplishing what you need to do.

No Routines.  While routines may be boring, they bring a sense of clarity that helps us accomplish more.  Think about some of the routines you employ in your personal life – from getting up in the morning to homework and bedtime routines for children.  These help you operate efficiently without a lot of thought. Employing routines, personally and professionally, contributes to efficiency and helps you achieve more.

Solution:  What routines can you build into your day?  Here are a few to consider:  handling email, returning phone calls, working on projects or business development tasks, attending meetings or conference calls and going to the gym/exercising.

Lack of Training.  When we do something new, it always takes longer.  But as we learn and gain proficiency, the time spent doing goes down.  Think about the first time you used email, text messaging or Quick Books?  They took more time initially, but as you learned and used them, it became easy and efficient.  Training is a way to shortcut the learning and improves efficiency sooner so you get more done.

Solution:   If you lack skills in critical areas, from technology and financials to marketing and time management, get help or invest in training.  It will save precious time now and money in the long-term.

Disjointed Processes.  Systems are one of the best leverage tools out there for busy entrepreneurs.   Streamlining and standardizing procedures to make daily operations easier, efficient and more effective are a key to getting more done – and getting it right each and every time.  They eliminate waste and save you time and money!

Solution:  Make documenting procedures a priority.  Start with the most critical – those that impact your time or income/profit.  Take it one at a time, but get started.  Each system you build saves time and improves profit. It’s a win-win.

Surfing the Web and Social Media.   The introduction of smartphones has literally put everything at our fingertips. It’s a great tool if used with discipline. Be cognizant of the time you spend online.  We often think it will ‘just take a minute’ – and end up online for 10-15 minutes.

Solution:  Take control of your web and social media time and you will have more time to spend on other things.  Set specific times for these activities – preferably non-business hours.  If you tend to get ‘side-tracked’ a timer can be helpful.  Set it for 15 minutes and it will act as a friendly reminder to get done and move on!

If you are not sure where your time is going, then consider doing a personal time study.  It’s easy.  For one-two weeks, literally, write down everything you do each day – from the trivial phone call to project work and appointments.  Note the amount of time you spend on each.  At the end of the study, identify which tasks moved you toward your goals.  So where are the time wasters (tasks and people) in your days? This can be eye-opening and should give you a good starting point to make the changes.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

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Entrepreneurial Success Insights

7 One-Minute Insights for Success

As a Ken Blanchard fan, I find his One-Minute series of books are packed with common sense ideas and practical advice for business owners or professionals.  One of my favorites, The One-Minute Entrepreneur, is loaded with success concepts and a lot of one-minute insights.

I thought I would share some pearls of wisdom from this book – along with my take on them. Hopefully, these will provide some light-bulb moments as you plan your own entrepreneurial success.

#1 – A good life is built on strong, solid values such as integrity, love, honesty and purposeful work. I would suggest that the same is true of your business.  When you love what you do and do it with purpose, integrity, and honesty, you build a reputation that attracts quality people – from customers to employees and more.  Be the business others want to be associated with.

#2 – Becoming a successful entrepreneur and having a spouse are not mutually exclusive. Balancing work and family (spouse and children) takes planning and a commitment to both. Things that are important to your business get scheduled so they get done.  Apply the same principle to your family.  Build your business to work FOR you.

#3 – You’ll never achieve more than you think you can. So why not dream big? Don’t let little, safe goals hold you back from achieving more in life and in business.  Take a look at the goals you’ve set for the coming year.  Do they WOW you?  If not, think bigger or better.

#4 – To create a successful business, you must first master the basics. Here are four things that are obvious – but worth mentioning:

  • Sales must exceed expenses. While you need to invest in growth, build overhead expenses as you build customers.
  • Collect your bills. Be reasonable, but don’t be your customers’ banker.
  • Take care of your customers. They are the lifeblood of your business – and they pay the bills.  You work for them!
  • Take care of your people. Nurture them as they are the ones who make it happen. In the eyes of others, they are your company!

#5 – The best management includes day-to-day coaching. It catches your people doing things right and re-directs their efforts when they are off base.  A serving leader helps others win.  Teach,  delegate, inspire, engage and congratulate them.  It’s a recipe for building a winning team – one that serves your customers and helps you achieve your goals.

#6 – Success occurs when opportunity and preparation meet. Coming up with new ideas is rarely a problem for entrepreneurs. Implementing them is another issue. It requires preparation.  What is the goal?  What do you need to do to accomplish it? How do you get it done consistently within the company? Get others engaged and remember, ideas without actions are simply dreams. Results come from doing.

#7 – Take care of your numbers and your numbers will take care of you. While financials may not be your favorite thing, winning in business requires that you understand them. So here are two things to keep in mind.  First,  sales growth is important, but cash flow and profit are the keys to staying in business.  Make sure you put the focus on all three.  Second, little issues become big problems when they are ignored.  It’s not enough to know you have a problem, you need to take the right corrective action to fix it.  If you are not sure how to fix a problem, ask for help.      

Create your own one-minute insights

Form a new habit this year by writing down your own one-minute insights.  Whether you use a notebook or electronic device, capture pearls of wisdom you gain from reading, listening or learning.  Over time, you will have a log of quotes, tips and other information to inspire and remind you to focus on what’s really important to you in business and in life.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

Skills to Take You From Technician to Entrepreneur

5 Business Skills To Take You From Technician to Entrepreneur

Many small business owners are very good at what they do – from HVAC and automotive repairs to graphic design,  IT or accounting services.  They honed these skills while working for others – and at some point decided “I can do this on my own, make more money and have more time”.   And yes, they can.  But it takes more than technical know-how to build and sustain a successful business.

As a business owner, you need to wear a lot of hats. If you truly want to build a better business – one that works for you, here are some business skills you need to develop.

Time Mastery.

It’s no surprise that the biggest complaint of business owners is a lack of time. While organizing can certainly help, the best way to get back time comes from improvements in planning.

Planning and goal setting helps you prioritize and stay on track – a key to time management. Without it, everything looks important and little gets accomplished.  Planning starts with a clear vision for your business.  Next, incorporate your goals – what do you want to accomplish?  Then, identify what you need to do to reach those goals.  Whether you call them strategies, tactics or tasks, these are the actions you must take to accomplish your goals.  Finally, schedule time to work on the ‘strategic’ parts of your business.

Keep in mind that planning is a cycle and ongoing process.  Monitor your results and make adjustments as needed.   Make planning and goal-setting a priority.  Be the visionary and strategist your company needs.

People Mastery.

You can’t do it all yourself.  Whether you hire employees, sub-contract work or outsource projects and routine tasks, your small business needs others to grow and prosper. Most owners recognize the importance of getting quality people to support them and their business.  But too often, they ignore the need to develop and manage them – especially when outsourcing or subcontracting work.  Clear expectations, shared goals, ongoing feedback and open communication lead to high performance ‘teams’ – and a willingness to delegate to others!  Be the manager and leader your company needs.

Financial Mastery.

You don’t need to be a numbers guru to be successful.  Whether you love them or hate them, the numbers are your friend – and a great tool for making sound business decisions and prioritizing where you put your resources.   While your accountant and bookkeeper can help with planning and day-to-day record keeping, YOU own your financial performance.

Take the time to learn and understand the key financial drivers that impact profitability, cash flow, and your personal income.  While key drivers may vary by business, some common ones include sales, margins, profit, accounts receivables/payables, labor, inventory management and operating efficiency.  Look at your financial reports monthly.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  A good accountant will gladly explain — it’s how we learn.   If something doesn’t look or feel right – it probably isn’t.  Don’t ignore the red flags – ask questions or ask for help. Work with your accountant and be the chief financial officer your company needs.

Revenue Mastery.

When you worked for someone else, keeping sales flowing was often someone else’s job.  But as the owner, getting customers and repeat business is now up to you. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or get others to do it for you, generating sales is the lifeblood of your business.  Have methods in place to consistently generate new sales (not just leads) and get current customers to spend more and purchase again and again.   There are a lot of ways to grow and sustain revenue.  You don’t need hundreds – but you do need three things:

First, a few proven methods to generate new leads.  Second, a reliable sales system to convert those leads to paying customers.  Finally, a dependable method to stay connected with current customers to generate repeat business.  The key to success in marketing and sales is consistency.  Avoid the stopping and starting or when time allows approach.  Be the chief marketing and sales officer your company needs

Systems Mastery. 

A business is a combination of people and systems that evolve over time as the business grows.  When you are doing all the work, the quality and service are probably to your standards – even if they are inefficient.  But as you bring in others to save time and money, those same standards may decline – unless you have written systems and procedures in place to guide them.

Systems aren’t complicated, but they are the key to efficiency, effectiveness, and repeatability in all areas of your business.  They make hiring, training, and outsourcing easier.  They make your business more efficient – which translates into more profit.  And most of all, they ensure you consistently deliver what you promise to customers, employees, suppliers and others who depend on YOU.

Owning your own business can be rewarding. With a commitment to learning and developing new skills, your business can provide you with the income, lifestyle, and freedom you want.  As Ben Franklin said, “An investment in learning pays the best dividends”.

Experience the Power of Business Coaching

Why do so many successful business owners choose this path to build a better business — one that actually works FOR them? Because it works — they get results!  To learn more or experience the power of business coaching for yourself, schedule a complimentary coaching session.  Click here to learn more.


3 Pitfalls You Should Avoid

How Do You Respond to Opportunities?

When someone offers you a new idea for improving your business (or your life), how do you react? Do you look for the flaws and try to justify why it’s a bad idea? Do you dismiss it as something you can’t do because it may require too much work, time or money? Or do you find ways to apply it – in full or in part?

Today more than ever, building sales and profit in business requires more creativity. Customers won’t simply show up on your doorstep or hand over their hard-earned money to you. Fortunately, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to find ideas to grow or improve your business.

You simply need to pay attention to what others are doing and saying — with a different attitude. Instead of dismissing their ideas or suggestions, look for the strengths and potential. Then ask yourself ‘How can I apply it in my business or life? What changes can I make to improve it’?

3 Reasons Why People Dismiss Ideas

Why do so many people quickly dismiss ideas that might benefit them? Here are three pitfalls you should avoid.

Lack of Time. We’re bombarded with information, overwhelmed with work and don’t want to contemplate taking on something new. But with an open mind, you may just uncover something that is far better than what you are currently working on. To key is to capture the idea before it is lost, then consider it later when you are less overwhelmed.

Ideas often arrive unexpectedly and are lost quickly. So the next time something peaks your curiosity, write it down in a notebook, computer or your smartphone. Don’t evaluate it, simply capture the idea for future consideration. Periodically or as part of your quarterly planning, pull out your list of ideas and pick one to research, develop and implement.

When you have an easy way to capture ideas, your mind becomes a magnet for them – and you ultimately have control over which you choose to pursue and which you choose to dismiss.

Lack of Trust. Sometimes, we dismiss ideas because we don’t trust or like the source. Recognize that ideas can come from good or bad people. Even questionable business practices often have, at their core, a perfectly good marketing or customer insight. Break it down and reinvent some of the elements to fit your values and business practices.

Lack of Understanding. Sometimes, we dismiss ideas simply because we don’t understand them. If the results seem too good to be true, don’t simply dismiss it out of hand. Take the time to ask more questions and truly understand. Your decision to act or dismiss is now based on some level of knowledge.

Life is full of opportunities to be happier and more successful. Sometimes these opportunities smack us in the face, they are obvious. But often, they arrive as fleeting remarks or suggestions by friends, colleagues, customers or even a chance encounter with a stranger.

If you open your mind and eliminate the tendency to rationalize why ideas won’t work – you may just uncover a world of untapped potential. Listen to your team, your customers, and your “little voice,” – and seize the day. Then you and your business can, and will, become so much more!

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.


7 Signs You Need a Business Coach

Ever wonder why a business owner would invest in a business coach?  While the answer will vary depending on the owner you ask, it often comes down to three things:  time, money and freedom.  In other words, they want a business that works for them – that provides the income and lifestyle they want – but hit some roadblocks or obstacles along the way.

#1 Challenge for Small Businesses

Many of you are probably thinking, “I need more customers, revenue, time or maybe more profit” – and that is likely true.  We always tend to want more.  Now ask yourself this.  What can or should you do to turn this around?  Again, you could probably come up with a lot of ideas. And there-in lies the problem.

The biggest challenge most small companies face today isn’t coming up with good ideas – it’s implementing them.  Business coaching is the most effective way to bridge the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it.

7 Reasons You Should Work With a Business Coach      
  1. You are working too many hours and feel “I never have time for myself and my family”. Taking time off or being out of touch is stressful — things don’t work well when you aren’t there. You are ready to work a whole lot less – without sacrificing sales and service.
  2. You’re ready to make a whole lot more profit. Profit is your reward for excellence in entrepreneurship. If you’re not making enough money to justify the effort, risk and investment you’re making in the business, then it’s time to turn that around.
  3. You are ready to build a team of people – from employees and contractors to alliances – who can help you grow the business whether you’re there or not. In other words, you need people supporting your business that are committed to your customers and company’s success.
  4. You need to fall in love with your business again; you feel burned out, bored or maybe sick of your business. Time to get the passion back – to get re-focused and re-energized.
  5. You have ideas and know things need to improve, but are not sure where to start or how to get things done. You need to bring in some expertise and support to help with implementation – to turn ideas into results.
  6. You need someone who can see the forest for the trees, an outsider who isn’t blinded by your industry and too many years in your business. The obvious is not always obvious to you, the business owner.
  7. You need someone to hold you accountable. Knowing someone is in your corner, and on top of you to do what you commit to doing, brings a higher level of motivation and passion that translates into results. Imagine having an accountability partner to encourage and support your goals, teach you new things, push you to new levels and congratulate you on a job well done.

Building a successful, profitable business won’t happen overnight.  A business coach can help you go from where you are to where you want to be – a whole lot faster than you can on your own. With templates, proven systems and a track record of success with small businesses, he/she can save you valuable time and help you avoid common mistakes others make that lead to frustration.

And with the business improvements and increased profit, it’s an investment that pays for itself over and over again!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email