Running your own business is a challenge, right? Everyone has bad days, but when the days turn into weeks, even months, and you find yourself sat at your desk wondering “what the hell is the point” it’s probably time to take a mental breather for a minute… or thirty.
You went into business for a reason and if you’re here reading this, your vision of that goal has become more than a bit blurry. We all start the day with good intentions and almost (what feels like) 110% of the time, this wonderful thing called Life can just get in the way. All. The. Time.
Ironically, our habits (or lack thereof) are one of the big reasons as to why we’re not reaching our true potential, both personally and in business.
“But Sarah, there’s literally no more time in my day to fit anything else in!”
Wrong. If you believe you can’t take control of your time and your day then stop reading. This blog is not for you. What I’m going to discuss in this blog are some of the best practices, methods and habits that I’ve seen which are proven to help you with your productivity. If you’re willing to change a few small aspects of your day to help you stay focused on the bigger picture then I hope this post helps you view your day in a different light – with a big dose of motivation!
1) Identify what your real goals are
I’m just gunna to get straight into this with a direct question; why do you do what you do? What ultimate goal are you working towards? What’s the driving force that motivates you to get up every morning and continue running your business?
Ok, so that’s more than one direct question but I’m asking you to answer them all. Get a piece of paper out – the back of that old letter gathering dust on the side of your desk will do. Write the answers to those questions down and remind yourself why you’re in business. Now put that piece of paper or sticky note somewhere you’ll see it everyday.
In our newsletter this week we mentioned that goals come under two categories; personal goals and business goals. Ultimately though, when you narrow the chain of goals down, it’s always working towards a personal goal. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day menial tasks, that we often forget the big goal that we’re working towards.
2) Make those goals visual
Alison and myself have created our own vision boards, filled with pictures of things, places, states of mind and holidays – our own personal goals. They’re stuck up on the wall by our desks and we see them everyday, serving a reminder to us why we’re here doing what we’re doing. It sounds silly initially, but the psychological power that has on you is immense, which is why identifying (and visualising!) your personal goals is so important. Just this week I had to update my vision board; I had a picture of the EXACT sofa I wanted. Guess what? It’s now sat in my lounge.
Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.
– Mario Andretti
3) Ensure you’re energised
There are only 1,440 minutes in the day, no more than that. It’s so important that you’re as energised as possible so you can have maximum focus, productivity and attention throughout the day. Don’t skip meals, sleep, or breaks for the pursuit of more, more, more.
Food is fuel, sleep is a time for recovery, and breaks are opportunities to recharge in order to get even more done. Your body is a temple and it’s so inexplicably important that you look after it.
4) Make a plan, Stan
I’m sure there were plans once upon a time but time has passed, you’ve lost a lot of focus and life just… happened. It’s ok, we’re about to pick this baby back up again and nurse it into a fully-functioning plan of action.
Get a whiteboard or a big piece of paper and work it backwards. Alison and myself have found that making this as visual a possible helped. Start with the main goal/outcome you envision your business having. From here, work it backwards with the actions your business needs to take to get there, then dissect those steps. It sounds elementary but sometimes we just need to take it back to basics to help us see the big vision better.
Create that map of goals and put that whiteboard or piece of paper somewhere in your workspace that you’re going to see it. If you find yourself staring out the window often then put your goal map right up there next to the window. You need to make sure you’ll see this goal map every day as it’ll help keep you focussed on the bigger vision you have instead of the little things that happen in your day-to-day life than can distract you.
5) Become best friends with lists
This is a little habit that Alison uses. It takes up 5 minutes of your time in the morning and it’s guaranteed to give you a sense of achievement at the end of every day.
Start the day by making a to-do list. Pen and paper, a notepad file, Trello board, whichever works best for you. Detail out the list of things you already know you need to do today. Add in some tasks that are also relevant to your goal map.
Tick them off as you do them, but don’t feel disheartened when you don’t complete the list. At the end of the day, give the list a once over to see what you achieved today in-between the hustle and bustle of your working day and take pride in it. When you come in the next day, start your new list with whatever was left from yesterday’s list.
If you want to get into more detail with the list to help you dissect it a bit more, label each task a number between 1 to 3. If it’s absolutely urgent then label it 1 and if it’s able to wait a few days give it a 3. This will help you when you glance at the list to see what the “nearest crocodile to your canoe” is. If you’re a spreadsheet person and are making your lists in Excel or Google Sheets etc then you could also use a traffic light system instead of numbers – red being urgent of course.
Don’t like lists?
Then schedule everything you need to do into your calendar. Plan it right down to the minute.
Most importantly, learn to say no to noise. Delegate tasks that can be delegated and have the right priorities. This is a habit that should stay with you the rest of your life.
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
– Jim Rohn
6) Listen to the right people
I’m not just talking about family and friends here. To help you stay focussed on the bigger picture and vision for you, your business and your personal life you need to stay motivated. Some days are always going to be harder than others, and some days you’re going to need to hear something different to what your friends and family will say.
Make an effort to follow inspirational market leaders and entrepreneurs because more than likely, they have been through what you’re going through and you’ll find value in what they share and have to say. Brendan Burchard is someone I suggest you go and follow right now, I find his inspirational quotes and uplifting attitude very motivating.
Be mindful that you don’t overload on the information you consume. Only take in what will either help your next steps or what will inspire you to take action.
7) Review your day
And in turn, review your time spent. Look back over today and ask yourself if you dealt with the day-to-day noise more, or the important tasks that are going to move your business forward? If you responded to the noise, why? What processes can be put in place to stop you being so reactive to the here and now?
Reviewing how you spent your day will help keep you focussed on (and put into perspective) what the real, truly important tasks are.
There are so many life hacks, morning rituals and tips and tricks out there which I could’ve covered here but I wanted to keep the information I shared here as basic as possible; to prove to you that small, minor, everyday changes to habits can really provide you with a brilliant launch pad.
Having a business isn’t just about the every-day runnings of the wonderful beast you’ve created, it’s also about personal development. For your business to grow, you need to grow. I’d love to hear any comments you have on this, and also hearing what habits work for you to help keep you focussed on the bigger picture. Everyone is different, there is no one-rule to rule them all! Knowing your strengths and working with your weaknesses will truly help you stay at the top of your game.