Often when member businesses ask me for the latest technique to improve their business, they’re expecting a new software package or techno-gizmo that’ll shave time off their busy day. But in reality, the things business people need to do to improve are insanely simple.
It’s not that you don’t know to do these things, it’s just that you get too wrapped up big issues and forget how to deal with them.
Where I come from it’s often said if you have to eat a frog a day, do it first thing in the morning and get it over with. That way it’s not hanging over you for hours. You’re more productive and focused in the early hours, so hone in on the two most important tasks in your day, and get them done first.
Here are some ridiculously easy things you can do to make your business and home life easier.
• Go through your filing system and toss everything you don’t need. Eliminating will make it easier to locate the important papers.
• Limit your work-starting routine to 15 minutes. While you may enjoy it, you don’t need to spend more than 15 minutes getting coffee, settling in, reading e-mails, checking messages or looking at newspapers.
• Write two to-do lists. The first should contain everything you need to get done soon. It should be a comprehensive list of short-, medium-, and long-term projects and work, and you should constantly adjust it. The second to-do list should be what you can reasonably expect to get done today – and today only.
• Take a few moments to assess the day’s emotional challenges. Almost as important as your to-do list is a be-prepared-for list. Inventory the tough phone calls, boring meetings, challenging customers, frustrating red tape, infuriating rush-hour drives, droning detail work and other challenges you may face.
• Visualize your day. Try starting each day by closing your eyes for 10 or 20 seconds and visualizing how you want it to go.
• Schedule some reading time. There’s not a job out there that doesn’t require at least some reading about your company, the industry, the marketplace, the economy, the price of tomatoes, etc.
• Keep essentials nearby. Stock up on low-fat granola bars; bottled water; bags of slow-dissolving mints or candy to help prevent needless snacking. And don’t forget the supplements, including a multivitamin, B-complex, C and E vitamins and echinacea. I wish I’d had some of this last week. Then there are tissues and family photos. All these things help you feel better.
• Embrace the No. 1 truth about stress: only you create it. Take some deep breaths. Make a list of everything that needs to get done. It will help you to organize your day.
• And finally, to wind down every night before you go to bed, take five minutes to look over the day ahead. This brief look into the future will help you feel more prepared in the morning. Just don’t think about that frog you might have to eat first thing in the morning. Think of a big fluffy biscuit instead.
Dana Dittmar is the executive director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce.