Every business professional I know faces the challenge of getting more things done on time, and getting the right things done. They all dream of working less, and accomplishing more. Yet I see that most are their own worst enemies. They seem to all fall victim to a common set of mistaken priorities and well-meaning distractions that keep them from exceeding their own objectives.For example, I talk to inventors who think that creating and perfecting the product is the key to a new business. In my experience, I have found that the product is usually the easy part, and the hard part is turning the invention into a business. Or I find people who want to run a business, but don’t claim any technology skills.
Both categories need to follow these principles for success:
- -Organize and plan every business effort. Document a business plan early, rather than trying to keep it all in your head. Most people think a business plan is only for investors, but it’s really for you to make sure you are communicating, and have included all the necessary elements of cost, timeframe, business model, and opportunity assessment.
- -Work to your strengths, and get help for weaknesses. Stop trying to fix all your weaknesses, and team with others who have the skills you are missing. Don’t try to do everything in business yourself. Recognize when it’s time to call in an expert to get the job done, learn from them, and listen to your own advice.
- -Do what you love and love what you do. Figure out what’s really important to you as an in life, as well as business. For most, it’s following a passion to make a difference in the world. Identify your top priorities, and choose one of these to focus on. Then you will get things done, and it won’t even seem like work.
- -Use networking to build valuable relationships. Build a network of business contacts to allow you to harness the power of others’ strengths. Superficial relationships don’t help. Giving is the best and quickest way to strengthen a relationship. Find people of all levels that have been there and done that, meaning people you can learn from.
- -Just say ‘no’ to all major distractions. You need to set boundaries and say “no”; to stop multitasking, and to find ways to group similar tasks. Don’t forget to delegate to other team members, and remember the 80/20 Pareto principle. This rule states that, in most environments, 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the actions.
- -Don’t let procrastination slow you down. Procrastination is a killer when it comes to being effective. One of the best ways to stop procrastinating is to break big business projects down into small chunks, using small milestones to move forward. Break time into pieces. When there’s an end in sight, it’s a lot easier to get down to business.
- -Make technology your friend rather than an enemy. Use technology thoughtfully to automate things that take a lot of time, thus gaining leverage. Reuse things rather than re-inventing them. Yet you need to be careful to separate yourself from technology on a regular schedule to not allow a machine’s interruptions to set your day’s agenda.
- -Keep focus on urgency versus emergency. Remove or de-prioritize all the relentless urgency-killers, including the crisis of the moment, and people who are skeptics or by their actions create destructive urgency. Show some progress each and every day, and constantly purge low value-added activities. Model urgency in your own personal style.
- -Focus on completion rather than time worked. Too many business people focus on how many hours they work, or following a set process, rather than how many tasks they complete. The most productive professionals look for ways to achieve desired results in the quickest possible time frame, thus getting more done.
- -Learn to read people and organizational hierarchies. Everyone around you has strengths and weaknesses, and you need to capitalize on these. Working effectively with other people is the only way to get more done than any one person can accomplish. The same is true of working with other organizations and companies.
If you follow these principles, you will soon see that you are gaining more control of your business and your life. You will find yourself honing in on the things that actually move the business and your career forward and make you happy, while learning the skills you need to resist the rest. In most cases, the challenge is how to get out of your own way!