To perform at a high level at anything, you need to train, practice and build endurance. This is as true in sports as it is in business.
Here are some ways to take your performance (in almost anything) to the next level.
- Practice short bursts (or sprints): To improve performance and efficiency, it helps to engage in important or challenging tasks or work in short bursts. By doing this, you don’t burn out and you can create frequent breaks to either catch your breath, move to a different task or duty, and most importantly, zoom out and evaluate the results or impact of your last short burst so that you can adjust as needed. This type of behavior helps with learning new skills (training) as well as exceeding productivity goals.
- Be consistent: In his book, The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz instructs readers to “always do your best” and then goes on to explain that our “best” is different every day and that we need to be aware of that. By being consistent in how you approach your work and routines, you increase your chances of making big breakthroughs or enjoying long stretches of productivity. When you’re consistent in the way you approach your work, you’ll settle into productive grooves more frequently.
- Ask for help: Don’t be a hero. Many people, including me, have a hard time delegating. You don’t want to burden others or you don’t want others to think you’re overwhelmed, lazy, or can’t handle something. Get over it. You’ll reach your goals faster with help from others.
- Pay contractors: This is the oldest hack in the book, but hiring contractors to help you build momentum and get things done can get you to your finish lines more quickly. For example, you may want to write a blog post once per week to keep your company’s brand in the marketplace. Find someone else that specializes in the task at hand and see if there’s value in buying vs. building. You should lean into your strengths and offload your weakness or least favorite tasks where you can. For some, this means getting a part-time bookkeeper or accountant, a copywriter or editor, or someone to administer your website. If any of those things are holding up your forward progress, stop trying to crush everything by yourself and pay someone else to crush it for you!
Maintain a healthy mindset: Attitude counts for a lot.
Find opportunities to engage in mindfulness practices. Whether it’s meditation, deep breath, exercise, or unplugging, one of the best ways to invest in your mental health is through mindfulness. Incorporating mindfulness into each day is a wonderful habit and produces outsized returns on the time investment you put in.
It’s easy as an entrepreneur to feel the painful sting of scarcity. It can weigh heavy on heart and mind. Any phrase that begins with “I’m not ______ enough” needs to be cut from your vocabulary. Instead, you are enough and the people you surround yourself want you in their lives. In your personal and business relationships, give unconditionally. Do the right things at the right time and don’t worry about giving first. Reciprocity is very powerful so your generosity won’t be taken advantage of in over the course of the relationship. Don’t be too cautious or protective of your turf, product or service. The world is not out there to steal it.
Reframing the “haters” (psst..having haters means you may be doing something effectively)
Hate is a byproduct of scarcity and fear that is projected onto others. Critical feedback can make us better and comes from people who care about your success. But haters will hate, and that can kill momentum and detract from successful outcomes. There’s also the passive “haters” – people that could help or be cheerleaders for you but instead do nothing. Don’t let this feed the idea that what you’re doing is not working or not valuable. Instead, view this group of people as people you haven’t inspired to action yet.
Understand that the people in the public square or in your social / professionals circles may not understand what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, or a doctor, or an athlete, or stay at home parent, etc. Seeing your efforts to push through resistance and build momentum will make them a little jealous and self-loathing. You can’t take it personally because it kills confidence and momentum.
Hacking, not slacking
There’s usually an “app for that”. Remember this every time you’re doing tasks that are unpleasant to you or tedious and take a long time. I make it a point to stay mindful of the things I do that take a lot of time or effort but don’t deliver much value. For example, scheduling appointments with prospects, clients, and networking meetings was consuming more time than was practical. There are free or modestly priced apps out there for doing things like scheduling appointments (Acuity Scheduling), creating and managing proposals (Proposify), accounting (Quickbooks Self-employed), invoicing (Square), and marketing automation (Hootsuite). These are the programs I currently use to help me run my business. These productivity tools require low investment and require little technical know-how.
Setting up apps and hacks to make your day more productive takes work to set up, adjust and maintain but they have the power to save you a ton of time, look bigger and more established and free up the time needed to focus on your core business. That’s a win, win, win.
Eli Howayeck (MBA, Kellogg School of Management), Founder and CEO of Crafted Career Concepts, is passionate about helping motivated people achieve their career, educational, or personal goals and helping businesses, large and small, overcome a variety of challenges facing their business.