Time Management

Increase & Conserve Your Mental Energy in 5 Ways

What exactly is mental energy? A good definition can be found at PubMed.gov and can be described as “ . . . the ability or willingness to engage in cognitive work.” Why is this important what can you do to manage your mental energy?

Importance of Mental Energy

Using your mental energy wisely can help you to make better decisions, both at work and at home. From a technical perspective, especially for someone who is considered a “knowledge worker,” the quality and quantity or your work will increase. Better decisions equate to more success.

5 Ways to Increase & Conserve Your Mental Energy

  1. Get enough sleep, especially good quality sleep.
  2. Exercise consistently. It does not have to be an hour each day, but get your body moving. And of course eat healthier.
  3. Focus on one thing at a time. Better yet, minimize the number of tasks that you handle each day to focus on what’s most important.
  4. Minimize tasks that drain your energy levels, both physically and mentally. Delegate these items and on the personal side, get someone else to do them.
  5. Take a deep breath and say a prayer when dealing with difficult people. You can try to avoid them, but more will eventually show up.

It looks like my mental health clients are rubbing off on me, and please feel free to offer additional suggestions.

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Run Your Business Smoothly During the Holidays

Is that a contradiction, especially if you are a retailer? Aside from retailers and the hecticness from all the holiday shopping, the holidays can go somewhat smoothly for your business. Here are a few ideas for non-retailers and those businesses that are not absolutely crazy during the Holidays:

Schedule time off: Some businesses close during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Others take that time off and encourage employees to do the same. It is usually quiet during those times anyway. It can be a good way to recharge and connect with family.

Out of office messages/holiday hours: Make sure you have automated messages on your voicemail or email to let customers and vendors know that you are not in the office and/or if you will be checking messages periodically. If there is someone else that can return calls and/or emails, then include that person in your out of office message. Lastly, don’t forget to update your hours on Google and on your website.

Use the time to catch-up: If your business is a little slower, then take this as an opportunity to catch-up on some important, non-urgent items.

Schedule days and times to do your shopping: Schedule your shopping times so you do not feel as though you are constantly in shopping mode. This will help you to be more planned with the time you spend away from your business.

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5 Black Friday Mistakes I Made in the Past

Today is Black Friday and there are sales on virtually everything. It can be both a fun and stressful experience, and there are some mistakes I made in the past:

  1. Allowing myself to be convinced to wake up at 5:30 AM or was it 4:30 AM?. Waking up early does not bring out my “best” self.
  2. Not having a plan of which items to purchase or at least having a budget. This relates to shopping the old-fashioned way and online.
  3. Almost getting into a physical confrontation with someone 3 times my size because he thought that I cut in line. I like challenges.
  4. Not enjoying the experience, especially if it wasn’t your idea. Don’t fight over parking spots, run or walk quickly, complain, cut in line, be rude, or put on a frown.
  5. Remember these mistakes for next year!

 

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15 Minutes to Success

I was going to call this article the 15 minute rule, but then I realized there was a book by the same title, which I have not read. Can 15 minutes make a difference to your success? Here’s my view of how it can:

It Gets You Started

Almost everything takes longer than 15 minutes to accomplish, which is the plain truth. However, if you say that you will spend just 15 minutes on a task, it helps you to get started rather than always putting off the important. Can you imagine all of the tasks that would help out your finances if you eventually started working on them? This is why there are such similarities between money and health. Commit small amounts of time and you will see drastic results over a long period of time. Ignore both and you will see dismal results over a long period of time.

You Can Get Something Done

Although 15 minutes is a short amount of time, you are usually pleasantly surprised by how much you can accomplish in such a short period of time. This is especially true if you commit 15 minutes over and over again. Before you know it, you are working your way towards accomplishment.

It Beats the Procrastination Drag

No one feels good when they procrastinate. Once a task gets started it will give you an emotional boost to continue and the procrastination bug will disappear.

Give a shot and see what you can accomplish in 15 minutes. You may end up writing a blog article!

 

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Productive People Focus on This One Time Management Technique

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of books on time management. Technically, you cannot really “manage” time, but you can control how you spend your time. Here is a technique that seems to trump most of the time management tips, but you must first be able to identify how and when to use it.

Focus on Important, but not Urgent Items

If you focus on this one technique, then your productivity will increase substantially. The problem is that it is easy to let important, but not urgent items slip away. Usually these important items have this in common:

  1. They take more time to complete than many of your other tasks
  2. They require more time, energy, and focus
  3. If you do not do them today, tomorrow, or even next week, then your current situation will probably not be impacted

Examples include:

  1. Projects that are not due in the near future
  2. Actions that have a cumulative effect, for example, marketing tasks for your business or personal actions such as exercising and eating better
  3. Developing and maintaining relationships with people

Take a look at all of the tasks that you are constantly putting off and this is where you should begin to implement changes. A common enemy that fights against the important are low value, urgent activities. Think of important, not urgent items as drinking a protein shake vs. drinking a can of soda.

 

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Business Time or Family Time?

A common struggle is balancing spending time on your business to make more money and a focus on your family. Should you sacrifice your family time to make more money?

There will be times in your life when you need to spend more time on your business due to reasons such as seasonality of the business, growing the business, starting up a new business, and fixing problems. This is normal and probably will not create long-term problems unless taken to the extreme. Extreme examples include: working 7 days a week/12 hours a day, working away from home for long stretches of time, and always coming home with no energy left over for your family. The threshold will be different for every family depending upon dynamics and the length of time away, but a general rule is the more time away from your family, the easier it will be to invite problems into your home.

A good approach is a balanced approach. By taking this approach you set limits and boundaries on time spent on your business. While you can still grow your business, you may end up with slower growth due to less time being spent on it. However, if you work smarter, then you may actually do better by spending your time even more productively and only pursuing opportunities that provide the highest return per time spent. Maybe you can have your cake and eat it to!

Figure out what you are trying to accomplish with your business growth and make sure this is in line with what matters most to you.

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Are You Striving Too Hard or Too Little?

There is nothing wrong with striving to have financial success but be careful of taking it too far. The opposite can also be true, whereas you don’t strive enough, which can create another set of problems. Here are some signs of each:

Signs You are Striving too Hard

  1. You work an excessive amount of hours to get ahead at the peril of your own health and relationships
  2. No matter what you accomplish it never seems to be enough
  3. Most of your conversations involve making more money. However, this doesn’t apply to financial professionals.
  4. Your drive is not enjoyable anymore

Signs You are Striving too Little

  1. You are always behind financially due to a lack of effort
  2. When business is down, aside from a worldwide pandemic, you do nothing to turn it around
  3. Your efforts are not producing any real financial success
  4. You take little to no corrective actions to get ahead

The Right Balance

The right balance may be as simple as striving for success, while putting financial success in its proper place. It’s different for everyone and if you are honest with yourself you will know when you are striving in an unhealthy way or not striving enough.

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3 Things MBA’s Don’t Learn in School

Obtaining an MBA is quite an accomplishment and is something to be proud of. However, there are 3 eye-opening things they don’t teach MBA’s in school, especially when running a small business.

You’re probably so smart that you’re not

Intelligence and knowledge are extremely useful in life, but it can also be a liability. What I am referring to is that not everyone around you will have an MBA and you must be able to relate to your employees, vendors, and customers. Don’t be so proud that you look for perfection or have expectations that are not practical. If you do, then you will end up constantly firing employees and vendors instead of trying to seek the best from them. Worse yet, you may end up viewing everyone as numbers.

The cash in your business greatly depends upon your personal spending needs

When you work for a large, multi-national company, you can’t just decide to withdraw huge sums of money at will, and even if you did, it may not hurt the cash flow of the business. However, when you run a small business and take too much cash for your personal expenses, then you can easily choke the business, even a very profitable one.

Fancy projections and metric may not matter all that much

MBA’s like to crunch numbers, create graphs, and make presentations. Although financial ratios and projections matter greatly, the truth is that they can change in the blink of an eye in a small business and change drastically. If you can’t run the business properly to support your projections, then the projections are useless.

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Before You Open Up A New Location

It’s not a crazy idea, but now may be the time to open another location. Before you do, here are a few things you should consider:

Do you still have capacity at your existing location?

It’s much, much easier and less expensive to utilize your existing location to increase your sales and profits then to look for a new location. If you still have plenty of capacity in your current location then the time is not right. If you the opposite is true or you are trending to be at full capacity soon, then the time may be right to look for a new location

Relocate or additional location?

A relocation is essentially just a move, however, if you are keeping your existing location then the task becomes more complex. An additional location is almost like running two separate businesses at the same time.

If an additional location then consider management and staffing

Who will manage your new location? If you answered that you will, then expect to burn yourself out in a short period of time. Strongly consider either hiring a manager for the new location or for your existing location, while you manage the new location.

What is your cash flow like?

If your cash flow is already tight, then figure out what the reason is before you magnify the problem. A larger location or additional location will only add to cash flow problems if you haven’t addressed this issue already.

 

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What Changes Will You Make?

Hopefully we don’t see a pandemic like COVID-19 in a long time or never see one again. Aside from practicing safety, there are many business changes that you are probably thinking of making and here are a few examples:

Work from Home More, but not too Much

Now that many of us have been forced to work from home more, you may want to continue the trend. Although, working at the office does have benefits, including less distractions from family members, a better work set-up than working in your bedroom, kitchen, or basement, being around co-workers, and the sense that you are now in work mode.

Work Better Hours

Maybe you were used to putting in 12 hour days and realize that there is more to life then working. After taking a breather, now may be the time to cut back those hours, but be careful that the hours do not creep back up over time.

Expand Your Business

There may be opportunities to expand your business in a low-risk way if your business is currently in a strong position. It can be possible to find a good location with reasonable rents, good employees to fill positions, and marketing may be more effective if your competition decides to sit tight.

Evaluate Your Current Business Model

Instead of bricks and mortar, you can transform your business to be either virtual, online, or delivery based. Many industries have changed and I believe that some of the virtual trends, including telemedicine, will continue to increase.

 

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