It’s Not Worth My Time….or is It?

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Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.Benjamin Franklin, ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack,’ June 1746

How do you view your time?

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The three fundamentals of work-life balance

This post is courtesy of Lynn Nagora, a Virtual Assistant whose services I use and heartily recommend.  For more information about Lynn, her company and her services, please visit: High Caliber VA.

Many an author has penned an article about work-life balance. Yet, this oft-mysterious foundation remains an elusive goal for most of us. Nonetheless, if you are able to achieve that proper mix between career/business and your spiritual/social/personal side, you will achieve better success in your work and so much more satisfaction in your life. [Read more…]

The “C” Word That can Make or Break Your Business & Your Life

Pirate map. A way to treasure

Treasures & Focus!!

An interesting new book addresses the power of commitment. Commitment is the strategy utilized to match your aims. Consequently, it may be raised or lowered accordingly. In her book, Commit to Win, author Heidi Reeder, PhD (©2014, Hudson Street Press) draws upon decades of research to create an equation for commitment made up of four variables. Dr. Reeder expresses commitment as follows:

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Ways to Be Ruthlessly Efficient, Stop Juggling, and Add To Your Bottom Line

Cartoon Character Octopus Isolated on White Background. Vector.

Cartoon Character Octopus Isolated on White Background. Vector.

Despite what courses and books proclaim, I believe that “time management” is a misnomer. No one manages time. Time marches on quite nicely regardless of how you choose to interact with it. Nevertheless, what you must do as a small entrepreneur is to effectively use your time.

Too many individuals eagerly pursue a path of entrepreneurship, only to find themselves working 25 hours a day. Not only does the “life” side of the work-life balance equation suffer under these conditions, but the business or work element does as well. There is always some formula of diminishing returns, differing slightly between each individual person, but nonetheless present, which postulates that after a certain amount of time spent grinding away, a person becomes less and less effective at a task.

Mixing together research studies, personal experience, and anecdotal evidence from clients, colleagues and friends, the sweet spot for a workweek seems to clock in at around 50 hours. Moreover, however the seven-day week was derived — whether from Judeo-Christian roots, Babylonian religious beliefs, standardized under the Roman Empire, etc. — it also seems commonsensical that the average human labors best with at least one day off out of the seven. Those who wind up working more than seven days in a row (e.g. retail employees during the end of the year holiday season) will show signs of the stress of doing so.

Obviously, we can adjust this based upon age and exigency. An 18-year-old will likely be able to toil longer than a 78-year-old. And during times of emergency or critical need, most of us can muster the will and ability to get the job done.

But, the solopreneur is by definition one person. To climb the ladder into business viability, and thereafter up to greater levels of success, the founder, chief cook and bottle washer of the entrepreneurial venture needs to be ruthlessly efficient with his or her time. Focusing upon this principle is one of the key mutable laws of our mastermind group. Let’s look at seven examples. As we have content elsewhere that goes into greater detail, we will examine each only briefly.

1. One drag upon efficiency is building a business that relies solely upon trading time for dollars. The savvy entrepreneur looks to ways in which time can be leveraged, and earnings are not solely based upon the number of hours spent engaged in a task.

2. Another surprising limitation on efficiency is multitasking. Social scientists have conducted numerous studies, most of which show that multitasking is a terribly inefficient way to do about anything. We all know the grim consequences that result from those who try to drive a car and text at the same time.

The term multitasking itself is a misnomer. Rather than performing a duo of tasks simultaneously, what actually occurs is that our brains shift rapidly back and forth between the two. Essentially, we are breaking our concentration and shifting our attention repeatedly. Not all multitasking is bad; like all of our mutable laws, there are exceptions. Feel free to experiment whether multitasking can be efficient for you in certain routine tasks. But be wary if it becomes your standard operating procedure.

3. Another powerful tool to use in your quest for efficiency is the magic of “no”. Whether in your business or in your daily life, it’s important to learn to say no. Until we do so, we will continue to be stressed and overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time. When this happens, usually the loudest voices get serviced first, which may not always be those matters of priority. Interestingly, most children go through a phase where their favorite word is no. That’s because no is a power word. It gives you a definite sense of self.

4. Another, perhaps less familiar way to use time efficiently, is to apply Parkinson’s Law. Cyril Parkinson was an English economist who first published his “law” as a humorous essay in the mid-1950s. In its simplest form, it is expressed as:

work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

Essentially, in the world of the small entrepreneur, we often allot way too much time to complete a task. We will then expand the task to fill the time we have provided for it. We all tend to work much more efficiently when we are slightly under the gun, under a deadline to complete something.

5. Another scenario that often arises is the belief that something must be perfect or absolutely complete before it can be implemented. While striving for perfection is a necessary goal in certain situations — we all hope our surgeon or lawyer follows this maxim — in many other cases you can launch something and fix the bugs later. How often do we purchase a software program, or install an app on our smart device, only to see patches and fixes being routed our way over the coming weeks and months?

6. Managing information is absolutely key to the efficient entrepreneur. One can easily drown in a sea of e-mails and endless web-surfing. Moreover, information illiteracy is welcomed in the world of the small entrepreneur. You probably don’t need to subscribe to 100 free newsletters to glean the correct amount of information to run your business. Figure those you can eliminate, and practice a little bit of ignorance. It will save time, and usually not harm you in the slightest with respect to your business endeavor. Of course, special note to the professionals, such as lawyers, accountants and doctors, as these folks tend to require more sources of research than the average small entrepreneur might.

7. Finally, don’t be afraid to create the workday that suits you. With the exception of retail, most small entrepreneurs can work whatever timeframe that feels best. Many who become entrepreneurs after working at a corporate gig for a number of years, fall into the pattern of the 9-to-5 schedule. What if you worked better from midnight to 5 AM? What if you preferred working in the morning, taking a break through the early afternoon hours, and then returning into the early evening to finish your tasks? Some of us are morning people, some of us night owls. Don’t hesitate to find what works best for you.

The foregoing examples merely scratch the surface. Our second mutable law encourages the entrepreneur to always look at systems and ways to do something more efficiently.

Busyness versus productivity

Many of us, entrepreneur and hired hand alike, add up the excessive hours we work and display them as a quasi-badge of honor. True, employers often demand more than the eight hour day from their employees. Moreover, if you own your own business, you know that there is always something more you can do, more time you can spend.

Yet, do hours worked equate to accomplishment?

Whiteboard equation

 

I dug a little bit into recent statistics on productivity, both in the United States, and in various European countries. I found the numbers thought-provoking (okay, I am a bit of a geek). Various tables tell us the number of hours worked by the average worker, and the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, a commonly used productivity metric. When combining these statistics, a fascinating tale is told. [Read more…]

What are the 10 mutable laws for entrepreneurial success? – Parts 3 & 4

[This is the third in our series on this topic.]

Mutable law #3: There is one secret to virtually every successful business.

You’ve seen the titles on books in your local bookstore or on library shelves. Perhaps you couldn’t sleep one night, and the half-hour infomercial proclaimed this loudly. Or, you even received a solicitous e-mail, flyer or similar communication from an information-seller. [Read more…]

What are the 10 mutable laws for entrepreneurial success? – Part 2

[This is the second in our series on this topic.]

Mutable law #2: To compete in today’s marketplace as a small entrepreneur, you must be ruthlessly efficient.

Despite what courses and books proclaim, I believe that “time management” is a misnomer. No one manages time. Time marches on quite nicely regardless of how you choose to interact with it. Nevertheless, what you must do as a small entrepreneur is to effectively use your time. [Read more…]

Seven ways to become a crabby broke-ass — part two

[For part one of this article, see the blog post for Monday, December 8.]

Our third suggestion is to be sure to treat all your clients or customers as consumers, and nothing more. They are simply a source of money. Your sole goal is to reach into their wallets (figuratively or digitally please!); not to truly provide value or a service. Your objective is to get those rubes to part with their dollars. That’s what you believe capitalism at its core speaks to you. Dollar signs are where it’s at. If you fix this belief firmly in your mind, it may help you trundle along the path towards the welfare line. [Read more…]

How well do you play? Putting the FU in fun!

“Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight.” Thomas Carlyle.

The Academy of Leisure Scientists, a group of academics who study time use, has determined that we get the most satisfaction from leisure activities that are difficult and challenging. It’s best for us to put our time into activities requiring high levels of physical and intellectual energy. [Read more…]

Playtime?

The luxury of being able to do things at your own pace should be treasured and not ignored. Provided you are creative—and everyone is creative or can develop creativity in some area of life—you can discover (perhaps rediscover) yourself and your outlets for self-expression. [Read more…]