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Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

Single Best Tip to Eliminate Small Business Overwhelm; Delegate

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Don, a client of mine, was feeling overwhelmed last week; he felt as though he just couldn’t keep up with all that was coming at him. Industry information, client requests, and staff e-mails and notes were keeping him from spending the time he wanted out prospecting and building new business. He would get things cleaned up for awhile, but then as he spent more time out of the office, it would all start building up again. Don felt defeated.

Rather than asking Don to dedicate 30 minutes a day to clean it up until he was caught back up again, I wanted him to deal with the barrage of information and requests coming at him once and for all. This time, we were going to cast a critical eye at each item and decide to Do it, Dump it, or Delegate it.

In order for a task to warrant Don’s time, it needed to earn its place. Was he the only one who could accomplish the task? Was it worth his billable rate? Don generated about $180 per hour. Sure, a simple to-do might only take ten minutes, but that equates to approximately $30 of time. He had staff members capable of formatting documents, scheduling appointments, and he paid them less than $30 per hour. End result? Delegate it.

As a business matures, activities that were once appropriate may become out grown. These can include long-standing activities, relationships within the office or outside, and office processes. Letting go can be bittersweet, but if you and/or your business no longer benefit, it’s time to Dump it. If it’s time to let go of a relationship, take care and treat it with respect and professionalism (the opposite of what “Dump it” implies!).

Once you’ve gotten rid of tasks by Delegating or Dumping them, your list will include only those items that have earned their place and deserve your unique brilliance. Your next step? Do it. That’s it. Take one item, act on it, move forward.

At the end of the week, Don felt accomplishment and valued by focusing his talents on their best use. .Isn’t that feeling worth a try? It really is simple:

Do it, Dump it, Delegate it.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

SMART Business Goals

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I love shoveling snow. Honest.

Although the snow is still coming down like crazy, I’ve already been out once to shovel the front walk with two of my office colleagues (yes, my lab really does have a sweater on – she’s a bit of a cold weather wimp). If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to take a couple more breaks during the day to shovel some more. Like I said, I LOVE shoveling snow- it’s so rewarding to me; I know exactly what I need to do; I easily see my progress; and it’s something I can do in a relatively short time.

I realized that the reasons I love shoveling are the same reasons why setting SMART business goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) makes so much sense. Honestly, I’m not one for cute acronyms and have never posted them in my office as reminders. But I have to admit, that SMART business goals line up well with shoveling as well as moving my business forward.

  • Specific – My shoveling needs are easy to define: I need to shovel the walkway from my front steps to my driveway.
  • Measurable – The front walk has a beginning and end.
  • Attainable – The front walk takes me about 15 minutes. Easy.
  • Realistic – I’ve shoveled this walk over 100 times. I know I can do it again. It’s only when it gets to be over a foot at a time that it gets challenging; on those days, I am sure to break it into smaller components.
  • Timely – If I want the UPS man to make it to my front door, I need to get this done. The precipitation today may turn to a messy mix; the sooner I get the snow off the walkway the easier it will be to clear it later if it turns to heavy, wet snow or worse. Besides, I don’t want my Labrador to get cold feet, do I?

The SMART business goals acronym is widely known and easy to remember. For me, though, I just look at my projects like my front walkway.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Routine Business; Create a Schedule

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After the wonderful chaos that the holidays bring, it felt good to get back to my normal Monday routine this morning. As I drove to boot camp, I realized that my breakfast included veggies for the first time in a week and a half. Later, it dawned on me that I had consumed over 30 ounces of water by 10 AM when I struggled to get enough water all of last week. What made this morning so different than last Monday, or even yesterday? Simple, my habits; on Monday mornings, I have veggies in my omelet, work out, and drink my first water bottle by 10 AM. That’s just what I do.

Apply this to your work day and the same magic, as in eating veggies by 7 AM, can happen. Create a schedule that considers your natural rhythms; when is it easiest for you to think about the big picture? What’s the best time of day or week to get into a big project? I have a daily schedule posted near my desk that breaks my days down into two-hour increments (remember, you should take a break every 90-120 minutes). On Mondays, I write from 1 to 3. I’m full of ideas from the weekend, refreshed from a healthy lunch and morning exercise, which is what I need for writing. From 3 to 5, I work on client programs. It’s a habit now, just like eating my veggies Monday morning and drinking my first 30 ounces of water by 10 AM.

If you’re looking to be more productive in less time, and who isn’t, apply some routine to your business. I’ve got to go now, it’s time to start working on client programs right after I take a walk outside.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Getting More Done Over The Holidays with Ease

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I don’t even want to count the number of times I’ve heard that over the past week. My first reaction was “Are you kidding me?! It’s only the 13th of December!” My reaction morphed from disbelief to frustration to acceptance and finally to down-right giddy with glee.

As I heard “call me after the holidays” over and over, I began thinking of all that time that spanned in front of me without appointments and I wondered what I would do. I began seeing a clear desk (yes, even a coach’s desk gets cluttered!), writing topics started to fill my head, and imaginary completed projects got checked off my list. Before I got too ambitious, I decided to start a list of things I would commit to doing during the free time and those I would consider. My “commit” list is short and includes those items that will give me more energy as a result (my desk cleared, extra family time, continued work on outlining my 2012 goals and actions). The second list includes tasks I will get to eventually, but having extra time to reflect on them moves them up the timeline considerably. This includes more research-based writing topics and the creation of new programs and products for my clients.

What can you work on over the next two weeks that will give you more energy?

With my lists complete and my head clear of what lays before me, my reaction to “call me after the holidays” has moved again – from giddy to ease. And more “Ease” is my wish list for you.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

2012 Business Planning and Business Objectives

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If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to make some plans and set business objectives for 2012. I can hear a collective groan from you all, but it doesn’t have to be hard and strenuous. Actually, my wish is that it be incredibly easy!

That’s a good place to start: ease. What would make your business feel unbelievably easy in 2012? When I think of ease, the ideas of “logical” and “flow” come to mind. When you choose business objectives and a course of action that is one logical step after another, the business flows easily. Revenue grows, expenses go down, and your personal energy increases overall. I am not suggesting that “logical” means playing it safe or setting your aspirations low; “logical” means following the path that makes the most sense for YOU, just as a river follows the path with the least obstacles. It’s taking those avenues in your business that come most naturally to you, even if they would never be the “standard” course of action for a franchised business.

Let me give you a personal example. Chatting with a producer of a reality show once, he said he wanted me to try out for the spokesperson position. If I had stopped and thought about what to do, I would probably have said no. The words that flowed from me instead were from my gut; “I don’t want to be the spokesperson, but I’d love to be their coach.” What followed was a wonderful experience for me, coaching a group while being filmed. It was fun, it felt natural, full of learning for me, and it opened other new opportunities for me. It was a logical next step for me.

As you flush out your 2012 goals, make sure you’ve considered those opportunities that just make sense to you, even if they don’t follow any textbook.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.