Good people are hard to come by. In a competitive industry, once you find top talent, you must do what you can to retain them. Otherwise, they will leave and potentially end up with your competitor. 

Retaining top talent not only helps you consistently deliver results and maintain the quality of output but it also lowers the cost of employee turnover which is estimated at 2.5 times the cost of an employee’s salary. 

So how do you manage top talent and keep them in your company? Is it just a matter of paying them a higher salary? 

You might be surprised to learn that money is not the primary motivating factor that keeps top talent from transferring jobs. 

Here are 5 ways to manage – and retain – the top talent in your company.

1. Present Top Talent With Frequent Challenges

Perception is what separates top talent from those in the lower rung. When presented with challenges, those at the top-end view them as opportunities to prove their abilities. 

In contrast, the ones who lag behind do so because they perceive challenges as threats. They believe they are put in tough situations to expose their weaknesses and shortcomings. 

Top talent lives for the challenges because it gives their work meaning and purpose. For example, if the company chooses them to manage a project, they perceive it as a sign of trust and confidence. 

However, you have to be judicious when presenting top talent with challenges. If the task falls too far off from their competencies, they might fail and blame you for having expectations they could not meet. 

The purpose of challenging top talent is to help them grow. You see potential but the skills are still raw. Instead, take them on a journey and be their guide. 

Present top talent with challenges that will help them achieve the next level of personal and professional growth.

To be faced with challenges creates pressure. But just like applying heat and pressure turns graphite to diamonds, challenges turn potential into future leaders of your organization.

2. Approach Them As Individuals

A person is recognized as a top talent because he stands out from the others. 

He could be working with a team but the performance data and keen observation have confirmed that his individual contribution was primarily successful for the success of the company.

If you took him out of the team, succeeding performances would fall below the standard he set and would be underwhelming. 

For this reason, you must treat him as a unique individual. 

To clarify, top talent is a team player. His motivation to perform at the highest level is the success of the team. 

A good example is an athlete who always wins all the individual awards and records the most impressive statistics but his team keeps losing. The individual accolades mean nothing unless the team wins.

However, top talent wants you to recognize his efforts and contributions. That without him, the team goes from “special” to “average”. 

The best way to go about this is to take a proactive approach. Don’t wait for the evaluations to come in or for top talent to come to you and ask for special considerations such as approval for his vacation leave. 

Reach out and take the initiative to show you care and appreciate his efforts. 

For example, if you know he has filed for vacation leave or paternity leave, approve it right away. Then,  give him the good news – personally.

“I just want to be the person to tell you that your vacation leave was approved. You deserve it! In fact, if you want to extend your vacation by a bit, let me know. I’ll see if I can work something out with HR. It’s the least I can do to show you how much I appreciate your talent.”

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3. Be Sincere When You Show Appreciation

One of the biggest mistakes made by supervisors and managers is taking an arms-length approach to handling their people. They associate indifference with strength and authority – that people have to do more to earn their praise. 

Thus, when someone makes an incredible accomplishment, they withhold appreciation and rationalize the achievement as just “part of the job.”

“That’s what the company pays you for.”

But here’s the thing: Top talent does care about being acknowledged. 

Not everyone can do what they do and that’s what makes top talent stand out. They’re special and without them, your company would not be where it is today. Chances are, they won’t show how they feel. The best managers are intuitive – they can sense it. 

So you must show appreciation and acknowledge the work the most talented people in your company have done. 

But do so sincerely. And it’s not as hard as you think.

You don’t have to pull out the red carpet every time someone in your organization hits a target or achieves a milestone. 

A simple pat on the back and a verbal acknowledgment will suffice. Don’t follow the formulaic “Good job!” but have a sincere conversation.

“The work you put in to close the deal with XYZ Company was amazing and timely. On behalf of the company, I thank you for that. I want to assure you that your talent and contributions to the company do not go unnoticed. Keep up what you’re doing and you will have a bright future with us. If there’s anything you need or want to be addressed, you can come and see me.”

4. Introduce a Career Path/Succession Planning Program

Career pathing and succession planning are key elements in developing talent in your organization. Many companies overlook the importance of both programs and believe that you can have one without the other. 

Also, some managers think the terms are interchangeable. No, they are not.

Career pathing is a mechanism that enables talent to chart their path within the organization. You can say that career pathing is viewed from the perspective of the employee. 

Basically, he undergoes an assessment test designed to measure his skills, abilities, interests, and aspirations so he can find out the best role within the organization that can help him fulfill his potential.

Succession planning is a process that helps HR identify and nurture talent to fill out key positions in the organization.

HR develops criteria for identifying, evaluating, testing, and selecting the best people in the organization for specific positions. The experiences and accomplishments of these individuals are also included in the process. 

Once the people – the top talent – are identified, they can be scheduled for training to improve specific skill sets and to develop key attributes. 

Both career pathing and succession planning provide an integral component in managing talent in your company – direction. Without the availability of these programs, your employees – even the most talented ones – will begin to feel they are in a dead-end career. 

5. Encourage Greater Involvement

Encouraging your top talent to be more involved in the organization is another effective way of treating them as individuals.

By asking for their advice on matters that are not related to their specific duties and responsibilities, you are letting them know their skills and abilities are not limited or confined – and that you recognize this. 

Imagine if you were assigned to Finance then the boss comes over to you and asks for your opinion on how to expand the business in another location or region of the world. 

Initially, you might think this is a head-scratching moment but then you’ll realize the boss has noticed your other abilities and talents. This is an opportunity for you to prove your boss is correct – that he approached the right person.

Wouldn’t this make you feel more assured that you are working for the right organization?

Getting your top talent to be more involved with the business accomplishes 2 things. 

First, it will motivate them to work harder because they feel valued. Second, you get to see how they perform in a different setting – where the risks, as well as the stakes, are higher. 

Conclusion

It will be heartbreaking to find out how you could have retained one of your best people during the exit interview. 

Don’t be the last to know. As the business owner or the manager, you have to take a proactive approach. It’s never too late to implement processes and programs designed to keep your people happy and motivated to work for your company.

By doing so, they may not only work for your company but in the future, they may end up working with you in your company.

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As the quarantine period is being slowly lifted in several states as well as countries around the world, many people are preparing to go back to the workplace. However, things at the office will not be the same. 

Without a vaccine, the risk of contracting the coronavirus or Covid-19 remains high. Places, where congregation takes place such as malls, restaurants, and even offices, will be asked to observe social distancing and proper hygiene. 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has asked organizations to cancel events that bring in more than 50 people in one location. The rule of social distancing requires people to be at least six feet apart. 

So if your office is small, it’s possible that 50% of your team – or more – has to work from home. 

That adjustment in manpower can change the dynamic of your workplace. 

People that you are so used to seeing – perhaps having a morning cup of coffee with – will no longer be in the office on a regular basis. 

Although shared space collaboration will remain, the lack of physical presence will create a feeling of emptiness that may be difficult for some people to adjust to. A workplace environment that is dealing with emotional distress will not be conducive to productivity. 

The same can be said for your team members who have been assigned work from home duties. 

It may sound like a great idea to wake up every morning without having to worry about traffic, but the change in the work environment will take a period of adjustment.

For one thing, distractions abound inside the home. Second, not having familiar faces – and voices – in the workplace will give your home office a different vibe that will take some time to get used to.

But this is the new normal. 

To remain our overall health and safety as well as those of our loved ones, we have to observe social distancing which means working from home most of the time. 

Given the changes in the workplace environment, is it still possible to create and nurture a culture that is conducive for productivity?

How To Create A Productive Workplace Culture – At The Office And At Home

The answer is “Yes”.

As the saying goes, “time heals all wounds”.

It may take some time to get used to the new normal but in a few months, the “new normal” will just be normal.

The great thing about humanity is that we adapt. We are resilient. 

Not only will mankind eventually find a way to beat Covid-19 but we will ensure that the virus will not beat us.

Life – and work – will go on!

In the meantime, we’ll have to modify our business model to adhere to the guidelines in support of social distancing and other measures outlined by the government and health organizations.

Thus, if you decide to maintain an office, some of your employees will have to work from home to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Can you still be productive?

Yes! It’s a matter of finding creative solutions that can help maintain the dynamic within your organization.

Here are a few suggestions that you may want to consider when integrating a work from home or telecommuting program in your workforce. 

1. Mix It Up

Who’s going to be assigned work from home duties? 

Everyone!

Instead of designating specific people for office-based and home-based work, give everyone an opportunity to experience remote employment by coming up with a rotating schedule.

For example, if you have 20 employees, you can divide them into 2 teams with 10 members each.

  • Team A – Office-Based
  • Team B – Work From Home

After 2 weeks, switch up their assignments. Members of Team A will work from home while members of Team B will report to the office.

You should also change the composition of each team every month. 

For example:

  • Team A – Bill, Sally, George, Tom, and Raffy
  • Team B – Bob, Ted, Sarah, Tim, and Gina

The following month, switch around your team members:

  • Team A – Bill, Ted, George, Tim, and Gina
  • Team B – Bob, Sally, Sarah, Tom, and Raffy

By mixing up the composition of your teams, no one loses the vibe they had with the other employees. Everyone gets a chance to maintain the same high-touch connection they have with each other.

2. Update Your Mission Statement

Once you have your team assignments finalized, gather everyone together, and discuss your company’s updated mission vision.

Why should you update your mission statement?

For the reason that work – and life – as everyone knew it has changed. There are new challenges ahead and coming to work is no longer just about commerce or having a means of livelihood. 

Having a job is about helping the economy recover by generating employment, demand, and activity – all the while becoming mindful of health guidelines to remain safe and virus-free.

According to a study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, more people are motivated to work if there is a stronger sense of purpose. The study noted that the rise in numbers extends across generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. 

The mission statement should be revised to keep everyone together even if their office mates are working from home – and maintain their focus. 

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3. Schedule Get-Togethers

Some team members may be working from home but this doesn’t mean they are exempt from meetings – and the frequent water cooler get-togethers. 

At this time of the new normal, your mindset should be “Business as Usual”.

If you’ve been conducting pre-shift and post-shift meetings, continue the practice by getting your remote team onboard with the use of digital platforms such as Zoom, WebEx, or Skype. 

You can also schedule company water cooler breaks or “Coffee Time” and invite your remote team to join in. 

These informal “meetings” are a great way of helping the remote team to adjust to the work from home environment. The experiences they share can help the other team members prepare for their work from home assignments when it is their time. 

You should take note of these experiences and use them to fine-tune your work from home program and come up with a company manual on telecommuting.

4. Encourage Friendly Competition

The workplace is a venue for competition. If you want to get the promotion, you have to stay ahead of the competition by accomplishing more and contributing to the success of the company.

That does not change even if you shift to a telecommuting arrangement. 

You can spur productivity by encouraging friendly competition between the office-based and remote teams. 

For example, you can create a contest as to which team can accomplish more tasks. Establish benchmarks such as quality, accuracy, and timeliness. 

To the winner goes the spoils of victory – but they don’t have to be expensive. You can pay for food delivery for a week or give the winning team a day off from work.

Another benefit of having periodic competition is that it gives you a platform for measuring the effectiveness of the telecommuting program and the performance of your employees.  

Let’s say the telecommuting team has been struggling regardless of its composition, use the available data to find out why. 

  • Are there latency issues?
  • Are there distractions at home that have to be addressed?
  • Are there specific people who are just not cut out for telecommuting?
  • Are there individual behaviors that have to be addressed?

Like other new programs, you cannot expect to get the telecommuting arrangement right from the get-go. There is a learning curve to respect and growing pains to overcome.

5. Change Up the Scenery

With 50% of your team working from home, your office space will look – vacant. Meanwhile, those working remotely may find the surroundings more conducive to home life than getting work done. 

The solution? Change up the scenery at the office and at the home office. 

For example, add plants to fill out the open spaces in the office. A U.K. study has shown that plants can increase productivity in the workplace by 15%. 

Here are other tips you can use to make the workplace interesting:

  • Buy a couch and a few lounge chairs and create a lounging area where your employees can relax during breaktime. 
  • Introduce a standing desk area for employees who want to stretch out while working instead of staying cramped up in their seats. 
  • Buy succulents for your remote team. Succulents are plants that store a lot of water in their stems and leaves. They are highly resistant to drought which means succulents don’t require much water. This makes succulents very easy to grow and care for. 
  • Play music in the workplace. Music can help stimulate creativity. However, practice democracy in the main office. Make sure the music you play is acceptable to everyone. 

Conclusion

Over at Silicon Valley, tech companies such as Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, and Alphabet announced that their employees may continue to work from home until 2021. 

Other than safety concerns for their employees, adopting a telecommuting arrangement helps the companies save up on rental costs and expenses for travel and conferences. 

Todd McKinnon, CEO of Okta Inc., was pleasantly surprised that productivity has vastly improved with the integration of a work from home program.

Therefore, if you’re worried that productivity might drop if employees work from home – don’t be. 

Simply look at the adoption of a work from home or telecommuting arrangement as a collaborative effort. Everyone will take part in it and do a good job as if they were back in the “old normal”. 

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As the old saying goes, “a man’s home is his castle” but what if the castle is about to house a place for work? 

Working from home is a great opportunity to build a career that affords you work-life balance. However, if you’re not careful, the balance could be tipped in favor of work and disrupt home life. 

Here are 10 tips that will allow you to productively work from home without turning the roof under your head into your old brick-and-mortar office.                                            

1. Don’t Work From Your Bed

Just because you are working from home does not mean you can work anywhere. There are areas in your home that can and will inhibit productivity. One of them is the bedroom. This isn’t just an opinion; the reason is supported by research.

The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University believes that working from the bed will weaken the mental association between sleep and your bedroom. 

According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, working with computers before bedtime will reduce the amount of melatonin that you produce. Melatonin is a hormone that influences your Circadian or sleep/wake cycle. 

The bedroom is for sleep and relaxation. To ensure a good night’s sleep, keep computers and other devices off the bedroom’s premises.

2. Stay On A Consistent Schedule

One of the perks of working from home is that you get to set your work schedule. You don’t have to follow a 9-to-5 or a 6 – 8-hour work schedule because you have the benefit of having flexible hours. 

Plan your schedule one week ahead. If you have family obligations – your daughter’s piano recital, your son’s soccer game, picking up a relative from the airport – mark them on the calendar. Then, plan your work schedule around them. 

Another option is to find the hours of the day where you are most productive. Oftentimes, these are the hours after you have taken care of the day’s other activities such as taking the kids to school or attending to banking duties.

The most important thing is to stay on a consistent schedule whether it is 9-to-5, 6 am to 12 pm or 1 pm to 7 pm. 

By doing so, you are dedicating time to get actual work done. You will be more focused and committed to accomplishing the day’s tasks. 

3. A Home Is Still A Home – Dedicate A Space For Work

The bedroom is not the only area in the house that you shouldn’t work from. 

Here are a few more areas that you should not set up office:

  • Living Room – You might get tempted to lounge around your comfortable sofa or watch the latest Netflix movie.
  • Kitchen – The refrigerator, oven, microwave, and cupboards are just a step away. Not only will you lose productive hours but you will gain excess weight.
  • The Family or Recreation Room – Ping-pong table? Dartboard? Billiards table? Pinball machine? Video games? These are great activities to do with the family but 100% detrimental to work.

If you are committed to building a work from home business, then dedicate a space for work.

  • Buy high-quality furniture
  • Buy a computer that is set up only for work.
  • Give it the look and feel of an office – wall clock, filing cabinet, and whiteboard. More on the whiteboard later!

Keep the home office off-limits to everyone during work hours. 

4. Use A Task Management Software

To be more productive, embrace technology. Integrate a few digital tools into the workflow to help organize tasks and stay on top of deadlines. 

You can find many wonderful software programs on the Internet that are very effective and come with a free version. At Mountaintop, Asana is our preferred task management software. 

Asana is easy to use and has features that make it the ideal tool for collaborating with remote teams. Every time a project is posted or completed, an email notification is sent to designated team members.

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5. Install A Whiteboard In The Office

The whiteboard is an old school office fixture that is simple, basic, and yet, continues to significantly contribute to productivity in this day and age of apps and smart technology.

Research has proven that writing with pen on paper improves cognition and helps establish a stronger connection between you and the task compared to typing on a keypad. The same can be said when writing on a whiteboard. 

Before ending the workday, write your goals for the following day on the whiteboard. There will be no guesswork. When the alarm goes off and after you’ve had your first cup of coffee, you know exactly what you’re going to do. 

Upon entering the home office, the whiteboard will be the first thing you’ll see. It will seem that your built-in laser sight has been triggered and you can’t wait to zero in and complete your targeted goal.

6. Remove All Forms Of Distraction

Once you’ve set up your home office with the right furniture, a spacious workstation, and the latest computer, there is still one thing left to do.

Remove all forms of distraction which include your mobile phone, video game portable console, social media, and other websites that have no relevance to your work. 

Unless there is a scheduled audio-visual call, we suggest closing Skype. Oftentimes, your contacts will send you messages. Most of these messages could just be personal in nature.

The constant blinking that notifies you of these messages can be a source of distraction. 

As we suggested earlier, the home office should be a no-entry zone during work hours. Unless it is an emergency, ask your family and friends to refrain from knocking on the door. 

7. Update Your Tasks As Needed

Even if you’ve written down the day’s goals the night before, don’t hesitate to change or update your tasks as needed. 

Business is unpredictable. 

For example, a client may request that you prioritize a project because he has a very tight schedule. It is also possible that a client whose project you designated as “Priority Number One” will ask you to put off additional work until further notice. 

Remember that one of the biggest benefits of working from home is that you don’t have a boss because you are the boss. You call the shots and that means you have full control over your work schedule. 

Yes, write down your tasks/goals the night before but adapt a flexible work schedule.

8. Don’t Work In Your Pajamas

It may feel nice to get out of bed and go straight to your home office but what you wear can affect how you work.

For one, dressing in office clothes will set the tone for the day. Similar to why you should not work from your bed, dressing up creates the proper mental association – pajamas are for sleeping, office clothes are for working. 

You don’t have to put on a tie or a dress suit. Wear something informal but appropriate enough for a Skype audio-visual call with a client or your remote team.

9. Exercise During Breaktime

Sitting for long periods may lead to chronic pain or discomfort on your back, shoulders, and neck. Working on the computer for long stretches can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. 

You need to get the blood circulation moving from time-to-time. If you spend 90 minutes working on a task, take a 30-minute break after and use the time to do some light exercise and stretching. 

You don’t have to go to the gym or change into your workout clothes. Perform sets of 10 repetitions of squats, pushups, and situps. Get in a quick 10-minute yoga or Pilates session. 

10. Use An Alarm Clock Or A Timer

Sometimes we get so engrossed in what we’re doing that we lose track of time. An alarm clock will be your constant reminder that “time’s up!”

Productivity is all about quality work. It’s not about the number of hours spent but how you spend those hours. 

You should also remember a very important reason why you made the decision to work from home – so you can spend more time with your family. 

Once the day’s work hours have been completed, shut off the home office PC then change from your office clothes to your stay-at-home clothes. 

Conclusion

Over the next few years, expect more people to work from home. As an entrepreneur, you save up on rent, avoid the inconvenience of the daily commute, and become more productive. However, your home should still feel like home. 

Think back to the time when you worked 9-to-5 in a traditional office. When work became stressful, you couldn’t wait for the clock to strike five so you can head out the door and drive to the waiting and loving arms of your home. 

You wouldn’t want your home to be a place for stress. It will affect your relationships with family and defeat the purpose of working from home. 

Do you have other tips that will improve productivity for those who work from home? Please share them in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to have similar content for your website, please give us a call or an email. We’re more than just a website design and development company. Our digital marketing program can help bring your business to the next level.

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The idea of working from home is very appealing. Imagine not having to deal with the inconveniences of the commute – the traffic, looking for a parking space, errant drivers, just to name a few. 

You get to manage your work schedule and streamline your expenses. All of that plus the opportunity to become financially independent.

The transition from a 9-to-5 office environment to a work from home lifestyle is not as easy as you might think.

There are days that you wake up to an empty home and the silence can be deafening. Not having co-workers around or experiencing the hustle and bustle of a busy office will take some time to adjust.

Then, there are the unforeseen events that can disrupt the natural flow of work and life such as the coronavirus pandemic. 

10 Ways To Stay Productive And Remain Positive While Working From Home

Although the coronavirus or Covid-19 had been under the microscope of many leading scientists around the world, the outbreak happened faster than expected and spread far and wide.

It seemed that overnight, our lives were turned upside down. Across the world, people had to practice social distancing and were mandated  by their respective governments to self-quarantine. 

Even if you were working from home at the time the quarantine took effect, you, like many around the world, must have been thinking, “life will never be the same again.”

In addition to the usual challenges of managing projects while working at home and dealing with disruptors such as technical latency issues, now with the virus, we had something new – something we’ve never dealt with –  to worry about. 

Work and life may never be the same again but that doesn’t mean you should allow the situation to affect your productivity and positivity. 

It’s a global pandemic – yes – but not the end of the world!

Here are 10 ways you can stay productive and remain positive while working from home.

1. Remain Optimistic, Search for Opportunities

If you own a business that was affected by the lockdown, use the month-long quarantine period to search for opportunities. Perhaps the quarantine is a sign for you to adapt to an Internet-based business model. 

Think about it. The businesses that continued to operate during the lockdown were the ones with an online presence. 

These businesses either had a telecommuting program in place or set up a global remote team composed of virtual assistants and freelancers.  

Despite the situation, remain optimistic. Visionaries are those who find opportunities during times of chaos. 

2. Focus on the Solution – Not the Problem

Did you experience a power outage while in the middle of an important Skype call with a client?

Send an email to the client from your smartphone. Explain what just happened and inform him that you will be heading out to the nearest Internet shop to continue the Skype call.

The client may get back to you and suggest that the call be rescheduled tomorrow. At any rate, the client will appreciate your immediate attention to the problem.

When we’re in a difficult situation, we tend to spend more time focusing on the problem instead of finding solutions. Problems trigger powerful emotions such as despair, frustration, and anger, all of which drain us of much-needed energy.

That’s why the more you dwell on problems the worse they become because you are feeding them with your energy. 

To get out of a difficult situation, focus your energies toward finding solutions. The more time you spend formulating, testing, and evaluating courses of action, the sooner you can find resolution and move on to more productive endeavors.

3. Practice Effective Time Management

It’s easy to lose track of time when working from home. There are so many distractions – the couch, TV, social media, the kitchen, and your pet. Put them all aside by creating – and committing – to a work schedule.

Effective time management starts the night before. Summarize your tasks and arrange them according to the degree of importance. Pick out no more than 3 key tasks and prioritize them for the following day.

Dedicate 90 minutes of 100%, full and undivided attention to each task. Once the time period has been completed, take a 20-30 minute break to recharge. 

Managing your hours in a day will help you become productive. And when you’re able to accomplish many tasks, you develop a positive attitude. 

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4. Create a Productive and Positive Workspace

Your workplace does not have to be your “Happy Place” but it should be conducive to productivity and encourage a positive attitude. 

Here are 6 tips to help you create a productive and positive workplace:

  • Keep your workplace clean and organized.
  • Buy a comfortable chair. 
  • Use a spacious table.
  • Play soothing music.
  • Post positive and inspiring messages in select areas.
  • Make sure you have a nice view of the outdoors. 

Lastly, dress for work! Nothing too formal – a neat dress shirt and slacks will be fine. Wearing office clothes will put you in the right mood and frame of mind for work. 

5. Stay in Touch with Your Value Chain

Are you working with a remote team? Stay in touch with them from time to time. Don’t just talk about work. Find out how things are going at home and with the family. 

Touch base with your clients. How are they coping with the quarantine? Is everyone in their household in good health? 

The success of a home-based business isn’t just measured by dollars and cents. For the greater part, success is measured by the number of long-term relationships you were able to build. 

It’s great having a reputation for being productive and a consistent provider of high-quality products and services. But being remembered as someone who constantly exuded a positive attitude will help you maintain clients for the rest of your career.

6. Exercise Regularly

Exercise releases mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins that make you feel good. That’s why exercise is popularly recommended by doctors to people who are suffering from depression.

Regular exercise strengthens your body and its immune system. It keeps your energy levels up and gives you the confidence to overcome difficult situations. 

It will be great to work out in a gym but you can get good exercise at home:

  • Do bodyweight exercises such as pushups, squats, and sit-ups.
  • If you have stairs, walk up and down the steps for 10 minutes. 
  • Take a 10-minute walk outside your house. 
  • Lay down a mat and do Yoga or Pilates.

You can set up a small home gym with a jump rope, resistance bands, a yoga mat, a few dumbbells, and a stability ball. 

You don’t have to train like “The Rock” to get fit – just keep moving!

7. Eat Healthy and Well

Eating pizza “with the works” might make you feel good but as soon as the food settles, you’ll regret having that extra slice. 

Starchy carbohydrates will get your blood sugar levels hitting highs and lows throughout the day that will make you feel sluggish. As your body struggles to digest all that fat from the cheese and processed meat, you’ll feel tired. 

Instead of choosing processed food, opt for natural sources of macronutrients such as fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of meat. They have fewer calories, rich in vitamins and minerals, and easier to digest. 

You will have fewer mood swings and more energy throughout the day. Likewise, eating vitamin-rich foods will help strengthen your immune system. 

8. Get Enough Sleep

If you’ve been exercising regularly and following a healthy diet, the third component of a fit lifestyle is to get enough sleep – at least seven hours every night. 

Recall the last time you got poor quality sleep. 

  • How did you perform at work? 
  • Were you sluggish? 
  • Were you able to focus on your tasks? 
  • How many tasks were you able to finish?

The health benefits of a good night’s sleep have been well studied and documented. Getting less than the recommended hours of sleep will affect all aspects of your health – physical, mental, and emotional. 

Here are a few tips on how to get good quality sleep every night:

  • Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime
  • Shut off all computer devices including your smartphone two hours before bedtime
  • Don’t work on tasks one hour before bedtime
  • Don’t go to bed with a full stomach

As much as possible, avoid taking sleeping pills and other types of sleep medication. Try meditation or going through deep breathing exercises.

9. Avoid Contact with Toxic People

Toxic people will complain about anything and everything. They bring negative energy wherever they go. Being around toxic people will stress you out and drain you of positive energy.

Can you encounter toxic people while working from home? Yes! Unfortunately, they’re everywhere. No one’s perfect; some of your family members may have acquired the toxic gene. 

Another place where toxic people thrive is social media. How many of your “friends” on Facebook rant on a daily – or hourly – basis? 

To stay productive and positive, avoid contact with toxic people. Follow our earlier advice – practice effective time management. Let’s add a corollary to that one – keep your office locked during work hours.

Limit your time on social media. These networks can be a great source of information but they can be powerful productivity and positivity disruptors as well. 

10. Look for Inspiration

Sometimes a moment of inspiration can give you a better jolt than a double espresso. 

There will be days when you feel that you’re not up to the task. Distractions may have gotten the best of you or perhaps all the white noise has drowned out the remaining voice of reason. 

When you start questioning the purpose – the “why” of working from home – look for a source of inspiration that can get you back on the straight and narrow. 

You can find inspiration anywhere – a book, a song, a phrase, the great outdoors or from your family. Use that inspiration to reconnect with your purpose and serve as a reminder of what makes you get up every morning to seize the day.

Conclusion

The coronavirus added another layer in our quest to achieve work and life balance. 

  • “Are quarantines and lockdowns the ‘new normal’?”
  • “How will this affect my family and work and for how long?”
  • “Can we ever go back to normal – the ‘old normal’?”

Such negative thoughts become the white noise that keep us awake at night and affect our performance at work. Many go through periods of mental stress and emotional distress. 

Collectively, these are conditions that cultivate an environment of negativity,  pessimism, and unproductivity. 

You don’t want that.

Your family doesn’t want that.

Your customers and clients don’t want that.

You should only focus on the things you can manage – work, family, and your health. You remain accountable to them and thus, should find ways to stay productive at work and remain positive for your family and yourself.

Do you have any tips to share about staying productive and positive that were not covered by this article? Please share them in our comments section. 

And if you need assistance in getting your online business off and running, give us a call or drop us an email. We offer web design and digital marketing services that will help grow your business.

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The coronavirus that was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) necessitated countries to require its citizens to self-quarantine for a period of one month. Businesses – except those that delivered essential goods and services – were forced to close down. Economies were held at a standstill. The businesses that remained “open” were those with remote capabilities – the entrepreneur and the employees work from home. 

The period of self-quarantine that is still ongoing as of this writing – put the spotlight on the importance of having disaster recovery protocols in place for small businesses. 

It shone the spotlight on a business development strategy we have been advocating for years. One that has its origins back in the 1970s but only came to the consciousness of private business in the mid-2000s. 

Integrating a work from home program for your small business is your best hedge versus uncertainties in the business environment. 

The Benefits Of A Work From Home Program

To be clear, we are using the phrase “Work From Home” as a blanket term for remote workers – people who work outside the confines of a traditional 9-to-5 office.

A person who works from home can be categorized as a:

  • Telecommuter
  • Freelancer
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Work at Home Mom (WAHM)

There are subtle differences between each type of remote worker.

A telecommuter is an employee who was asked by his employer to perform his duties and responsibilities from home instead of the office. 

A Virtual Assistant is a person who is hired by an executive or a company to manage specific tasks and functions from the VA’s place of work. 

A freelancer is generally a skilled professional who has decided to take his talents online and offer his services to clients that need his technical expertise. 

A WAHM could be all 3 – a telecommuter, a VA or a freelancer. She took the option to work from home to have more time with the family. 

Whether your business hires one or the other, the benefits of incorporating a work from home program for your business are the same:

1. Lower Cost of Business

According to a 2-year study that was conducted by Stanford University, a telecommuting program successfully lowered the cost of business by an estimated US $1,900 per employee.

The savings were attributed to lower onboarding costs; a reduced need to buy new furniture, computers, office supplies, and expand Internet capabilities. 

2. Increase Productivity

The same 2-year study by Stanford also revealed that the productivity level of the test company increased by 13.5%.

When you outsource tasks to remote workers – telecommuters, freelancers or virtual assistants – you free up more time for yourself. You have more hours in the day to focus on the main enterprise of your business. 

3. Improve Quality of Deliverables

Hiring or contracting the services of a freelancer or a virtual assistant will improve the quality of work because these remote workers are professionals. They have the experience and have undergone training to become good at what they do. 

Similar to freelancers, many virtual assistants crossed-over from the brick-and-mortar world to the virtual world. 

For the reason that they are focused on giving your assigned tasks their full and undivided attention, you can be assured of the quality of deliverables. 

4. Reduce Business Risk

If you had a telecommuting program in place or if you had a remote team composed of freelancers or virtual assistants, your business would continue to operate during the period of self-quarantine. 

Who would have seen this coming? Even the WHO downplayed the severity of the coronavirus’s effects. 

A work from home program gives your business a disaster recovery mechanism that protects it from events that may cause long-term interruptions in business activity. 

In business, time is money. For every second that you are not operating, you are foregoing multiple opportunities to grow your business. 

If you have clients, your remote team can continue to service their accounts. If you own a brick-and-mortar business, a remote team can manage customers’ orders and coordinate with the appropriate agencies for deliveries to conform with the guidelines of the quarantine. 

The bottom line is with a remote team composed of work from home personnel, your business would continue to run and earn money during periods of unforeseen and unpredictable events such as the coronavirus pandemic.

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How To Set Up A Work From Home Program For Your Business

Now that we’ve convinced you of its benefits, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of setting up a work from home program for your business!

1. Identify the Objectives and Goals of the Work From Home Program

Imagine moving from a shared-space collaborative arrangement to one where tasks are distributed across remote locations within 24 hours. Transitioning from an office to a work from home setup will take some time getting used to.

Before starting Day #1, spend some time – the entire day, if needed – to identify and discuss the objectives and goals of the work from home program with the remote team. 

The purpose is to get everyone on the same page.

If you’re running a telecommuting set up for the first time, your employees may have a hard time focusing on their tasks. 

This is especially true with an event such as the coronavirus pandemic which disrupted many aspects of work and life. Employees may be distracted.

Start out by assigning them a limited number of tasks – 3 tasks to accomplish on Day #1. Don’t overwhelm them with too many things-to-do as the quality of work may get compromised.

Make sure tasks are correctly assigned and clearly explained to everyone. Encourage the team to ask questions, strictly observe communication protocols, and offer help when needed. 

2. Select the Right People For Your Remote Team

The process of setting up your remote team is similar to drafting talent for your basketball team. You want to put together a variety of talented individuals who can work together as a team.

Not every employee is cut out for telecommuting work in the same way that not all freelancers and virtual assistants are qualified to handle the job. 

For the work from home program to be successful, you have to select the right people for your remote team. Again, you have to be clear about the team’s goals and objectives. 

Let’s assume you are managing customer service for clients:

  • What customer service channels will be used – chat, inbound phone system, email or social media?
  • What are the demographics of the clients’ customers?
  • Do you need bilingual agents?
  • Will you have outbound support services?
  • Will the service be available 24/7?

Once you’ve firmed up the details, it will be easier to identify the types of talent that you want on your team:

  • Prepare the list of hard skills required for each job – qualifications, years of experience, and certifications, if needed. 
  • Prepare a list of your desired soft skills – self-motivated, excellent time-management skills, ability to manage stress, ability to work with others – these are the personality attributes that fit your intended team culture. 

The hiring process does not start and end with the resume. Have the candidates go through interviews and practical tests. Include a dry run whereby the candidates will be asked to work on a task while grouped in teams. 

3. Set Up the System for Remote Work

A system for remote work should identify the processes and tools that will be used to support its framework. 

  • How will the remote team communicate?
  • Where will the team upload its work?
  • How will you account for total work hours?
  • What are the workflows?
  • Do you want the team to collaborate on specific projects?
  • How will you conduct team meetings?
  • What are the security protocols for the system?

Creating the system for remote work may not be as simple as opening up accounts in Skype, Asana, and Dropbox for the team. There is always a better way of running things!

This is a great opportunity to collaborate with your team. Solicit ideas. If you are working with virtual assistants, you will find that many of them are highly experienced in setting up workflows. 

The same can be said about freelancers. In both cases, they acquire knowledge of setting up remote work systems from their experiences working with different clients. 

4. Stay Connected – With Your Remote Team

This is probably the key to running a successful work from home program for your business – stay connected with your remote team.

Yes, it’s great to work from home! You don’t have to worry about traffic and being late for work. You can savor your morning coffee and have more time with the spouse and kids. 

However, for those who have no experience working from home, the first morning could be tough. The shift from shared space collaboration to working alone at home can take anyone out of their comfort zone. 

Let your team know that you are there to support them. Here are some ideas you might want to implement for your remote team:

  • Schedule daily meetings such as a pre-shift or post-shift briefing.
  • Ask everyone to post photos of the individual team members on their workstation. This is a technique developed by HR experts who reverse-engineered the habit of posting pictures of family members at the office workplace. According to the HR experts, the technique has helped remote workers cope with the challenges of working in isolation. 
  • Schedule a 30-minute “water cooler” or “coffee time” break where everyone on the team shows up online with their cup of coffee and discusses everything under the sun that is NOT related to work. 
  • Encourage everyone to share information about their workspace. This way, the team will develop a greater understanding and sensitivity of the conditions that could affect the performance of other members. For example, a team member may be a parent of a newborn that is incessantly crying in the background. You might have a team member whose house is located at a major thoroughfare. That explains the constant blaring of car horns during online meetings. 

5. Track Its Progress 

You should not expect to get your work from home program right on its first day. Expect problems to come up – whether technical issues or human error. Take note of these problems and try to resolve them as soon as possible. 

It would be a good idea to anticipate these problems before you run the work from home program. With your remote team, brainstorm on the potential issues you might encounter then collectively develop solutions and alternative courses of action. 

Collect as much data as possible from the software programs and tools you are using. 

  • Is anyone on the team experiencing latency issues? 
  • Are there problems in the uploading of files?
  • Are there causes of delays in the transmission of data?
  • Is the team consistently meeting deadlines?
  • How is the quality of deliverables? Are there complaints or issues raised by clients/customers?
  • Which processes and tools are giving you problems? Are there better alternatives?
  • How are the individual members performing?

Set aside time to track and evaluate the progress of your work from home program. Once you’ve identified the flaws, come up with improvements and implement them in the system. 

Conclusion

The coronavirus experience serves as a wakeup call; a reminder that the business environment is unpredictable. What is essentially a health issue has wreaked havoc in economies across the world. 

We don’t know what other disruptor lurks in the horizon. However, we cannot waste precious time and energy worrying about something we cannot quantify. The best thing we can do is to be prepared.

It used to be the case that companies would set up offices in other regions – local or international – to function as their disaster recovery site. 

If an event occurs that disrupts business in the principal location, the disaster recovery site takes over the functions and responsibilities of the main office. 

As we have seen – and experienced – from the coronavirus episode, regional offices can be rendered useless if people cannot report for work. 

The best solution to protect your business from uncertainty could be right under your nose.

Home sweet home.

How was your business able to cope with the coronavirus? What measures did you implement to keep your business running? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

If you need help setting up your remote team, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. 

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There was a time when we were obsessed with getting as little sleep as possible.

We’d brag with “I only slept five hours last night” or “I only got four hours on Monday” like it was something to be proud of: a genuine achievement we could boast about to our peers. We’d wear it as proudly as any other badge of honor.

Luckily for our collective sanity, we are slowly starting to realize the importance of sleep. Not only that, but we’re also shifting our focus to living a balanced life, as opposed to killing ourselves on the job and sacrificing as much as we humanly can. Finally, we’re putting our wellbeing if not first, at least in the top three.

Let’s explore why sleep is so intricately tied to success, and how you can work on yours.

Sleep Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

Not that bouncing back from a heart attack wouldn’t be a great achievement – but clearly, forgoing the emergency room is simply common sense.

A major risk factor of heart disease and stroke is high blood pressure. Sleep helps our bodies keep it in check and regulate it better, lowering the risk of heart disease and its unpleasant complications.

Sleep Boosts Your Immune System

Getting enough sleep is a prerequisite to fighting off all kinds of illnesses, from the common cold to major inflammations and more serious diseases.

When our bodies are under constant strain, they will not be as good at preventing diseases and injuries as they otherwise would. Each night, we have to give them the time they need to repair and recover from what we have inflicted on them during the day.

Considering the fact that illness-related productivity drops have cost US businesses $530 billion a couple of years ago, the link between health, productivity, and success are clear to see.

Sleep and Mental Health are Profoundly Connected

Depression and anxiety are more prevalent today than ever before in the history of humankind. And while we have yet to understand either of these mental challenges fully, what we do know is that not getting enough sleep can intensify their symptoms and make coping all that more difficult.

When we are under constant stress (as we are), exposed to countless stimuli, and when our minds don’t have enough time to process everything that’s going on around them, we start to get more irritable, we lose our focus, and our moods tend to suffer.

Sleep Boosts Productivity

How much sleep you get is in direct proportion with how productive and focused you can be during the day.

Of course, it’s not the only factor that plays a key role, but it is among the more important ones.

Losing just a single night’s sleep will make your response rates 50% lower than someone who has a 0.1% blood alcohol level.

And thus begins a vicious circle. If you are less productive, you’ll want to make up for the unfinished tasks by staying at work longer. That will, in turn, mean you don’t get enough sleep again, and so on.

This will lead to all kinds of unpleasant consequences. Your mood will deteriorate, you will begin to worry more, your attention spans will shorten, and you won’t be able to rest even when you do get to bed.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Sleep?

Sleeping well is not just about sleeping for a certain number of hours. Sleep quality is also very important, as our brains truly get to rest only when we fall into deep sleep.

Here’s what you can do to help it get there:

  • Invest in a quality mattress that will help your body rest better.  
  • Maintain a sleep schedule. Regardless of what day of the week dit is, sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time.
  • Stop looking at a screen (including your phone) at least an hour before going to bed.
  • Read a book or meditate before going to bed, as opposed to engaging with technology.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and well-aired at all times, as temperatures and air quality have a large influence on how you sleep.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before going to bed if you can help it.
  • Listen to relaxing music or sleep stories if you need help falling asleep.

While it may take some time to get used to, practicing good sleep hygiene will slowly get you into the right rhythm, and you will fall asleep more easily.

Wrap Up

Instead of trying to do more and sleep less, focus on getting enough sleep so that you will be able to do more. A well-rested and relaxed mind will be much better at performing all kinds of tasks. It will be more creative, more productive, and a much more pleasant space to occupy.

Every leader has their own version of what the word “good” will mean for them.

As will every employee.

Being a good leader is about more than getting good results – it’s also about team happiness, efficiency, and productivity.

But when your team is faced with a tight deadline, your role as their leader changes, too.

Here is how you can adapt to the situation and still make the most of it.

Have a system in place

The best thing you can do in the first place is to set up a system that all your employees will be familiar with and able to adhere to.

This system needs to encompass everything, including the designated communication channels, attendance and days off, responsibilities, and task delegation – the whole shebang.

The reasoning behind the system is that you, as the team leader, need to be aware of everything that is going on at a glance, without having to make a single call or send out a single email.

This will enable you to predict breached deadlines and the potential for disaster, and allow you to act accordingly as well.

A good project management tool to help you achieve just that is a Gantt chart, which you can customize as much as you need to.

Know your team

Another prep step that leads up to the tight deadline scenario we are discussing, and the most important prerequisite for success in any team, is knowing your players well enough to be able to assemble your starting lineup flawlessly.

Pardon the sporting reference, but you get the picture.

There will be people in your team who are great at what they do and are also great communicators. There will be those who are great at what they do, but have no idea how to communicate. And of course, there will be those who are great team players, but lack the skillset to get the job done at the same level.

Your team needs all of these players, but all of these players need to keep working on what they lack – with your help, of course, and that applies to the best of them, too. And you need to know where each of them stands, and where to place them at a time of crisis.

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Set clear goals and agree on the necessary steps 

When a deadline is tight, the most basic thing will help out the most: a well-laid plan.

Call a team meeting and come to a decision together – you don’t need to come up with the plan yourself. In fact, the more heads involved, the better it will be.

Make sure everyone takes on what they can and what they know. This is where your knowledge from the previous two steps comes in. Don’t let the nice, kind person who always volunteers but never gets anything done on time take on too much. Don’t let the most talented person take on all the work.

You are the leader, so it’s up to you to make the final call. But the more input each individual provides, the better your team will perform.

Communicate

When things are stressful and the repercussions can be significant, it’s important to keep everyone in the loop.

Make it clear with your team that they need to tell you everything, even when they come off bad, or someone else does.

Fearing the consequences, employees tend to hide from their managers when they are struggling with something. And while you will never be able to eliminate this fully, try to enforce a rule that no punishments are handed out as long as the person in question raises the red flag in time.

You can hope to meet any deadline only once everyone is clear on their specific responsibilities and priorities. Your job is to achieve just that. Don’t hand all the info out to everyone: as you hold all the cards, you should know exactly who needs to know what.

Have a Plan B

Deadlines will be missed sometimes. It’s just that simple.

Before that happens, it’s important to have a backup plan in place.

First of all, it’s your job to let the higher-ups know that you won’t be able to do it in said amount of time. But instead of just coming in with the bad news, have a solution ready.

How much extra time will the task take? Can you add in some overtime to get it done sooner? What are the overall outcomes you will have achieved? 

Try to focus on the good, not just the fact that the deadline has been missed.

Depending on the situation, there might be some music to be faced. You will be the one facing it, more likely than not. Don’t take it out on your team, if you are certain they could not have done better. If what it would have taken to meet the deadline is for everyone to perform at a perfect level the entire time, the deadline was never realistic, so don’t forget that.

Wrap up

At the end of the day, when things might feel like they’re getting out of control, always remember to trust yourself like the captain at the helm of a ship. 

Don’t place upon yourself the burden of having to be perfect – good leadership rests on good organization, understanding, and communication. Strive to grow and learn from each experience, and with each new deadline, you’ll be better and better at all of these fields. And your team will definitely appreciate you for it! 

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In our previous article, “Why ‘I Don’t Have Time’ Is The Reason Your Business Is Not Succeeding”, we discussed why many people struggle in putting in productive hours in a day. 

The problem is not because they “can’t”. The problem is because they “won’t”. 

Everyone can be productive. But productivity won’t happen by itself. You have to make it happen.

This is the reason why time management is one of the most sought-after skills. If you have the ability to find more quality time, you will be productive. 

In time and with consistency, effective time management will help you become successful in your business, career, family life, and other endeavors. 

Here are 7 tips on how to find more quality time and be productive.

1. Plan Ahead

For sure, you have had one of those days where you found yourself staring at blank space for several minutes… perhaps an empty wall or a computer screen. 

It is perfectly okay to gather your thoughts. However, if the seconds add up, you may end up losing valuable minutes that could lead to wasted quality hours. 

Guesswork is one of the biggest time-wasters. The best way to avoid playing the daily guessing game is to plan ahead. 

How early should you start planning? 

Here are a few helpful tips to consider when planning ahead:

  • Monthly – Review your calendar. Do you have any meetings or special occasions lined up for the month? Even if these meetings are still tentative and subject to change, work some of your tasks around these dates. Send a follow-up email to the party you are scheduled to meet with and confirm the time and date. 
  • Weekly – Again, review your calendar. Which dates have been marked for meetings or special occasions? Have these activities been confirmed? It would be a good idea to have them confirmed before the start of the workweek. Once you get a confirmation from the parties involved, close them out by encircling the date. Then, work the rest of your workweek around these times and dates.
  • The Night Before – Before calling it a night, do a quick review of the day’s activities. What key duties and responsibilities were you able to accomplish? What tasks remain unresolved? Do you have upcoming deadlines? Identify the most important tasks and rank them according to priority.
  • The Next Day – Do a quick review of the tasks you have earmarked for the day. Make sure you have everything you need right in front of you. Have a good breakfast and a strong cup of coffee. Take a deep breath… then hit the ground running!

2. Prepare A To-Do List

Preparing a to-do list is a simple but effective way to gain more quality hours. It clears out your head and lays out the important tasks that you have to work on. Where and how you prepare the to-do list is your choice. 

There are many wonderful apps you can use to prepare your to-do list such as Evernote, Wunderlist, and Microsoft To-Do. Likewise, it may be a good idea to go old school with an Executive Planner or a simple whiteboard. 

Studies have shown that writing notes using a pen on paper can retain memory longer than tapping away on a keyboard. The research concluded that writing by pen increased the amount of feedback the brain receives from the writer’s motor actions. 

A whiteboard is an inexpensive but highly-effective tool for posting reminders and tasks. It allows you to write your thoughts out so you can articulate your ideas more clearly. Whenever you see your notes on the whiteboard, you feel more motivated to get tasks done. 

3. Learn How to Prioritize Tasks

How many tasks can you handle per day? The answer would depend on the number of hours you want to spend per day on your business. 

According to the Ultradian Rhythm theory, you can only maintain 100% focus for 90 to 120 minutes before you would have to take a 30-minute break. 

Let’s assume you want to dedicate 8 hours or 480 minutes per day on your business. If you spend 90 minutes per task and follow it up with a 30-minute break, then realistically, you should be able to handle 4 tasks per day.

The next question is: “Which tasks should you prioritize?”

There are 3 ways you can prioritize your tasks:

First, prioritize the tasks based on Return on Time Invested (ROTI). In other words, work on the tasks that result in the highest returns for your business. 

Which projects pay the most? Are there projects that once completed may open new doors of opportunity for your business? 

Second, attend to the most dreaded tasks right away. These are the ones that weigh on you like an 800-pound Silverback Gorilla and give you sleepless nights. 

Work on them right away – first thing in the morning, if possible – so you can breathe much easier and move on to the other tasks. 

Third, once you have firmed up your calendar for the week, you can choose to prioritize the easiest tasks. By attending to the easiest tasks, you might accomplish more than 4 per day. 

Once you’ve cleared out all of the easy tasks from your schedule, you will have more time to work on the key tasks that you have earmarked for the week. 

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4. Organize Everything You Need Before You Start

How much time did you waste looking for the mock-ups on the client’s project? Worse, how many precious minutes did you waste looking for a calculator, pen, paper, and a stapler? 

Lack of organizational skills will keep you from expertly managing your time because you waste valuable seconds searching for files and other things when you should already be working. 

Since you have prepared a to-do list the night before, take the level of preparation another notch higher by organizing everything in your workplace. 

Pull out all the files and tools you need to work on the tasks identified in your to-do list and organize them properly on your table. If the files are on your computer, move them to the desktop folder so you can see them right away when you open your PC. 

The tools you need – pen, paper, calculator, other office equipment, and the hard copy of important files – should be within reach. You can place these items near the edge of your desk or on top of the closest shelf.

5. Take a Step Back… If You Feel Like It

There is a saying, “Take one step back to take two steps forward.” It means that sometimes doing more can lead to accomplishing less. Therefore, call it a day, get some rest, and come back stronger, recharged, and more focused.

We are human beings, not machines. We get tired and fatigued both physically and mentally. 

If we are not fit to continue, then the more we push ourselves, the greater becomes the risk of compromising the outcome of the task we are trying to accomplish. 

The important thing to keep in mind is that we should focus on “quality” time. 

You can work for only 4 to 6 hours in a day, but if the time spent enabled you to accomplish key goals and objectives, then you put in quality hours on your business. 

If you feel tired and worn out, do not hesitate to pack it in, regroup, and resume work when you are ready. Take a short vacation if you have to. 

6. Say “No”… If You Have To

They say whenever opportunity knocks, you should answer it because it may never come back. 

However, if you do not feel confident in your ability to render top-quality work and service for the prospective client, saying “No” may be the best decision to make. 

At Mountaintop, we have a team of highly-experienced professional web designers. The web designers are the company’s assets and we assign specific projects to them. 

We will accommodate requests for website design and development only to a point where we are 100% confident in our ability to build the best website for the prospective client. 

If we end up pulling assets from one project to another because our resources are heavily stretched out, the decision to say “Yes” to a new project may end up compromising our other clients. 

We will do our best to negotiate the development schedule of the website with the client. If the client agrees to the new timetable, then we will accept the project. 

If not, then we will have to say “No”. 

In any business, your work is the best representative of your brand. As long as you consistently produce high-quality work, opportunities will always come around knocking. 

7. Shut Out Distractions

There is nothing wrong with spending time on Facebook or catching up on the latest release on Netflix. However, there is a time and place for everything. When it is time to work, there should be no distractions. 

The reality is, distractions lurk everywhere. Your mobile phone could be buzzing every few minutes with calls, messages or notifications. 

If you work from home, a family member could knock on your door and engage you in conversation. At the office, co-workers could be nudging you to spend a few minutes with them at the watercooler. 

To get things done, you have to make arrangements to shut out distractions. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use a different PC for work; it should not have access to Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, and other websites that are potential distractions. 
  • Keep your mobile phone locked away in a drawer or better still, in a different room. Make sure to leave a message that you will return the call or respond once you have available time.
  • Talk to your family and friends about your quest for productive time. If they care about you – and we’re sure they do – they will understand and will leave you alone during those hours. 

You can check your social media pages or your phone for text messages and missed calls during your 30-minute break. If you have kids, spend the 30-minute break time with them.

Conclusion

If you want to be an expert in time management, you must apply it to all facets of your life.

For example, if you have a family, take a few hours during the weekend to plan for their needs the following week. 

What meals will you prepare for their dinner? Do you prefer to eat out? If so, where? When will you schedule your visit to the supermarket or the laundromat? Is it time for your kids to visit the dentist?

If your kids have school activities, make it a point to mark the dates on your calendar. You would not want to miss your daughter’s musical number with her classmates or your son’s championship game. 

Of course, you should include another important person in the planning process: You. Set aside time in the week for yourself. 

There is no excuse for not finding time to exercise if you plan your workout days properly. It does not have to be in the gym. You can walk around the neighborhood, run at the park, or play ball with your kids. 

Similarly, you may simply want to find time for some peace and quiet – perhaps catch up on some personal reading.

The bottom line is if you want to find more quality time, make it happen! Don’t say, “I don’t have time.”

We hope you enjoyed this article as much as we did writing it. If you have a friend who needs help in becoming productive, please feel free to share this article with him.

Outsourcing services is another proven way of finding more time for yourself. If you want to learn how outsourcing some tasks can increase quality time, give us a call and let’s discuss what you need. 

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Entrepreneurs and professionals achieve success in their respective careers because they are proficient in time-management. 

In contrast, entrepreneurs and professionals who are languishing in their careers do so because they do not understand or appreciate the intrinsic value of time. 

For sure you have heard people respond with “I don’t have time” whenever they are asked why business is struggling or why their career trajectory has stalled. Some of them could be your friends or family members. 

“I don’t have time to network for clients.”

“I don’t have time to visit ABC Company for the sales pitch.”

“I don’t have time to post and update content on my social media pages.”

Breaking news: You do have time. We all have time. The difference is some people choose to manage their time better than others.

Put it this way, if you sleep for 8 hours every night, you have 16 hours in a day to do everything that needs to get done. 

How much time do you need to network for clients, schedule a sales presentation for ABC Company, and manage your social media pages? 

You will never hear a successful person say “I don’t have time” because they make time. Successful people understand the value of time; that once a second goes by, they will never be able to get it back.

Successful people make every second count.

5 Reasons Why People Say “I Don’t Have Time”

In business, opportunities exist every day. Winning these opportunities may come down to a difference of a few seconds. 

Think about it. 

That phone call you put off because you didn’t have time? Someone else could make that call and land the prospect as a new client.

Putting off time for ABC Company will open the door for your competitor to waltz in and clinch the deal that would set them for the year. 

Your failure to find time to update your social media pages will render you invisible on the Internet. 

Meanwhile, your competitors are expertly using social media as their virtual soapbox. They are driving more traffic to their websites and increasing the opportunities for sales conversions. 

As you see everyone else pass you by, the frustrations will mount. People are climbing up the ladder. You are stuck in the same place where you were last year. Or the year before. Or 5 years earlier. 

Given the long-term repercussions of such indecision, why do some people still insist that they don’t have time?

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1. They Are Afraid Of Failure

Here is an interesting statistic on job hunting:

On average, there are 250 applicants for every job that is posted. Of these 250 applicants, no more than 6 will be invited for the interview and only 1 will get the job.

Win or lose. Yes or no. Deal or no deal. 

Every decision you make will result in one of these 2 possible outcomes. Truthfully, there will always be more losers than winners. 

For some people, the thought of losing or failing is such a scary proposition that they just freeze or fall back. They would rather “not try” than face the prospect of failing. 

So instead of doing the right thing, their mind races to find a reason to validate their decision not to try. 

“I don’t have time.” 

What they don’t realize is that those who win are the ones who are willing to fail as many times as possible because they understand the nature of competition. 

Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group of Companies. Howard Schultz of Starbucks. J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” series. These are just 3 examples of people who overcame adversity to become successful in their respective careers. 

You are competing with others in the industry. And only 1 can win the top prize. There is nothing you can do about it because that is the nature of competition. You can’t win them all, but you should at least try and do your best.

2. They Are Fearful Of Stepping Out Of Their Comfort Zone

To do great things, you must be willing to push the boundaries of your capabilities. The saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” should be rewritten as “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – improve on it!”

If inventors didn’t test the boundaries of technological innovation, the Internet, the laptop, the smartphone, and all the apps you are enjoying would remain the work of science fiction. 

To succeed, you must develop skills that will give you an advantage over everyone else. 

If you run a business, take up a few courses in accounting and learn how to prepare financial statements that can help you manage your money. 

Do you want to enhance your viability in the job market? Learn a new language, study the requisite computer programs in your industry, or get certified in a usable skill. 

If learning these types of skills makes you feel uncomfortable, that is because of the phenomena known as “The Learning Curve”. In time and with consistency, your learning curve will slope and acquiring knowledge will be easier. 

Unfortunately, some people don’t want to explore their learning curve. Instead of taking up courses, learning new skills, or getting certified, they just stay within their comfort zone.

Why?

“I don’t have time.”

3. They Don’t Have Confidence In Their Abilities

You’ve heard the popular phrase “It will come down to who wants it the most” uttered in tightly-contested sporting events. 

The basketball player who wants the ball in his hands during the final seconds of a tied championship game. 

The battered, bleeding and beaten boxer patiently waiting for his opponent to throw a straight right so he can fire a perfectly timed counter left hook. 

The tennis player who sets up a sizzling forehand to the baseline after extending the rally by 25 shots. 

Whether it is a sales presentation for the most-sought after account in the industry or an interview for a high-paying position in the company, it will come down to your confidence in taking the biggest shot of your career. 

Clients and Human Resource Managers will test your confidence. They will try to tear you down to see how you get back up. Your ability to navigate safely through difficult situations will depend on your confidence level. 

Some people don’t want to be tested. The idea of being put in situations where there appears to be no way out – of now knowing how to respond or giving the wrong answer – frightens them. 

They decide not to take the challenge because their pride is not worth the time. They will rest their outcome on the other guy – the competition – hoping that he will make a mistake. 

Pride is not confidence. It is arrogance. Confidence is the backbone of success. Those who say “I don’t have time” value their egos more than achievement.

4. They Are Averse To Making Sacrifices

Do you know why “to lose weight” is the most broken New Year’s resolution? Because it is hard; you have to make sacrifices such as foregoing junk food for healthier options and setting aside 3 to 4 days a week for exercise. 

To lose weight, you have to embrace changes in lifestyle. For some, they are afraid that these changes could radically affect relationships. Families and friends may not understand and treat them differently.

“Losing weight is not worth losing friendships.”

So they don’t find the time to exercise, eat healthy food, and get in more hours of quality sleep. 

They stick to their old ways: playing video games at home or staying out late with friends drinking at pubs and eating fast-food.

What they fail to realize is that by not making the necessary sacrifices to lose weight, their health will be at risk. 

The same can be said of growing a business. You will have to make sacrifices for the greater good of your enterprise. 

Yet, some people would rather spend time on Netflix than prepare for the meeting. They would rather grab a few pints with the guys than complete the tests on the new software app for the client. 

They don’t have time for the things that will make their lives better in the long-term because they are focused on things that will give them pleasure in the short-term. 

What they don’t know is that these series of short-term decisions for pleasure may compromise their welfare in the foreseeable future. 

Time is a commodity whereby if you invest early and wisely, will yield attractive dividends in the future. 

5. They Are Lazy

Perhaps we should call them for what they are.

Lazy.

“I don’t have time” because:

  • “I would rather sleep.”
  • “I want to see how many ‘likes’ my most recent post on Facebook got.”
  • “The Broncos are playing on TV.”
  • “I already set my plans for the rest of the day.”
  • “The task is too hard – I’m not ready for it yet. Let me think it over.”

You probably have met people who talk big but don’t get anything done. For them, image is more important than substance. They like to present themselves as game-changers but in reality, they perform more like benchwarmers. 

If you want to accomplish something, you will find time for it. Talking about it will not get things done. You have to back up your words with action. Better still, talk less and do more. 

Conclusion

Can a person overcome the unproductive habit of saying or thinking “I don’t have time”? Yes, but it will depend on the person’s willingness to make changes in his mindset. 

  • Overcome your fears and just do what needs to get done. You can only worry about the things you can control such as your level of preparation for a high-level business presentation. Ultimately, the final decision will not rest on your hands but someone else’s. Therefore, you can only focus on doing your best. 
  • Forget about what other people think. It doesn’t matter what you do, people will have opinions because their perspectives are different. Prioritize the decisions that may have a positive impact on your business, career, and the people who matter to you the most. 
  • Change the way you frame your thoughts. Instead of “I don’t have time” think “When can I start?” Replace “I have to” with “I want to”. Don’t think about how hard it is to start. Think about how good it feels to finish.

As the saying goes, “If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward.”

Time waits for no one. It will keep ticking forward. If you cannot keep pace, you will be left behind. 

Unless you change your mindset and learn to appreciate the value of the commodity known as time, you will only have yourself to blame if your business does not succeed. 

If you don’t have time, make time.

Do you know anyone who likes to put things off? If so, please share this article to your community and tag your friends who tend to procrastinate. 

If you enjoyed our blog and would love to have amazing content for your website, let’s meet and talk strategy over coffee!

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Wake up and smell the coffee. 

One of the perks of working from home is that you don’t have to rush through your morning coffee. You can take the time to savor it and relax while you let the caffeine do its job and wake you up.

When you’re working from home, dealing with the early morning traffic is a thing of the past. 

You no longer have to fight for a parking space or patiently line up at the building elevator. 

Say goodbye to office politics and the 9- to- 5 grind. For many home-based workers, they are their own boss and they own their time. 

It’s easy to get lost with all of the comforts and convenience of working at home. In fact, if you do not get moving soon, you might find yourself crawling back to bed! 

10 Tips On How To Be More Productive When Working From Home

There are a few drawbacks when working from home. All of the comforts – the bed, the sofa, the T.V, the kitchen, and even your cat – can be serious distractions from work. 

Then, there is “The Great Unknown” – the unforeseen or unexpected occurrences that take place without warning such as:

  • Your next-door-neighbor mowing his lawn.
  • The incessant ringing of the telephone or the doorbell. 
  • Your neighbor’s dog barking at your cat.

The truth is, there is no perfect place to work. Your office is what you make of it. Just like your brick-and-mortar office, you have to make sure the conditions are set to guarantee a productive workday.

Here are 10 tips on how to be more productive when working at home:

1. Get the Workday Started the Night Before

Effective time management is a crucial component to achieving productivity on a daily basis. By planning your workday the night before, you eliminate the “guesswork” which wastes precious time. 

Plan out the following day’s tasks and activities before ending the night. It only takes a few minutes and this simple tip gives you the following benefits:

  • Reduces stress because you already know what you are going to do the next day.
  • Improves your focus; knowing the tasks that have to be addressed gives you the opportunity to manage your energy levels and prepare yourself mentally for what needs to get done.    

You can write down the tasks on a whiteboard on your home office wall. When you wake up in the morning, you will feel more inspired to hit the ground running because there is no more guesswork. 

You will know exactly what you need to do!

2. Set Realistic Targets

Goal-setting is a proven technique to improve productivity. It improves motivation; gives direction and clarity which help you drive your energies toward accomplishing specific tasks. 

However, it is important to remain realistic when setting goals. It is easy to get carried away by the idea of accomplishing many tasks. When you have too much on your plate, you will end up not finishing most of the items. 

Worse, what if most of the unfinished tasks were the essential ones – the tasks that contribute directly to your business’ bottom-line? 

Productivity expert Chris Bailey suggests picking out only 3 goals to accomplish per day. According to Bailey, the “Rule of 3” allows you to focus more energy on accomplishing these goals even when things are not doing so well. 

3. Use Focus Blocks

Another proven productivity technique is the use of focus blocks. This is a process where you group your work hours into clusters or “blocks”. Each block consists of 90 minutes of uninterrupted work followed by 30 minutes of rest. 

The science exists to back up the effectiveness of the focus block. 

A study by sleep research expert, Nathan Kleitman showed that we can maintain maximum mental alertness for only 90 minutes. Some people can extend their mental focus for up to 120 minutes. 

There are also studies that show getting in some sleep after work can improve memory, cognition, and overall performance.

The use of the focus block can also support the “Rule of 3”.

  • Identify the 3 goals that you want to accomplish.
  • Allocate 90 minutes per goal.
  • Set aside 30 minutes of rest after each goal. 

By integrating focus blocks with the Rule of 3, you may end up accomplishing 3 tasks in only 320 minutes or fewer than 6 hours of work per day.  

4. Start the Day with Your Most Dreaded Task

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Which task should I work on first?”

We will give you 2 ways to approach task-making. The first one is to start with your most dreaded task. 

This is the task that lets out all the air when you wake up in the morning. It makes you want to nurse that mug of coffee even longer. However, just like an infected tooth, if you do not see the dentist, it will only get worse. 

Get it done right away. The sooner you can accomplish this dreaded task, the better. You will be less stressed. Consequently, you will have a clearer frame of mind and have a more positive disposition to work on the other remaining tasks. 

5. Prioritize Tasks Based on ROI

The second approach is to prioritize tasks based on ROI or Return on Investment. Which tasks offer the highest return for your effort? 

For example, you can prioritize the tasks that generate the most income for your business. How much do you want to earn per month? Determine your preferred income level then list your tasks based on which ones can help you achieve your targeted financial goal.

Another way is to prioritize the tasks that can contribute the most to advancing your career. 

For example, you may have a client who does not pay you the most but has been with you the longest. Therefore, you should prioritize this client because the work is more consistent and sustainable compared to the others. 

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6. Organize Your Work Area

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

  • Naval Admiral William McRaven, Commander of U.S. Special Operations

That was a quote from the unforgettable commencement speech given by Admiral McRaven at the University of Texas. 

A clean and organized bedroom gives you a more relaxed environment to rest and therefore, better quality sleep.

The same can be said about your workplace. 

A cluttered workplace is a stressful workplace. You will waste precious minutes looking for things that you need right away. Having stuff cluttered all over your workstation creates distractions. 

Take some time to clean up your workplace before retiring for the evening. Organize your workstation. Put key documents in their proper filing category. Throw trash in the appropriate receptacle. 

By organizing your workplace the night before, you set the conditions for productivity the following day. 

7. Dress Up for Work

Sure it is a nice feeling to work in your pajamas and bunny slippers. However, working in your sleepwear may also entice you to go back to bed. 

If you put on sleepwear for bedtime, why not put on office wear for work time?

It may sound strange to wear a tie and slacks at home, but doing so triggers emotional cues that remind you, “Hey! It’s time to work!” 

Likewise, wearing office clothes while working at home professionalizes your approach toward a home-based career. You might be surprised that wearing office clothes will help you stay more focused and motivated at work. 

8. Go Someplace Else to Work

There are days that you won’t have the energy to be more productive when working from home. For some, the distinction between home and the office has become vague. 

The home has become associated with work and they find it increasingly difficult to relax and unwind under their own roof. 

If this happens to you, simply go someplace else to work. 

“Home-based” means you are not conducting work in a traditional work environment such as a commercial office space. Home-based workers are also called telecommuters and remote employees. 

You don’t have to work at home. As a telecommuter or remote employee, you can work wherever you want – the coffee shop, the public park, a hotel lobby, or at the beach fronting the ocean waters. 

Some home-based entrepreneurs pack up their bags and travel to another country to resume their work! This is one of the biggest attractions of the home-based lifestyle. 

Find a place that gives you motivation and inspiration as sources of energy. Sometimes all it takes is a change in environment to get your engines revving again.  

9. Detach Yourself From All Forms of Distraction

When you are working from home, distractions lurk in every corner. You can easily be tempted by the T.V or by the couch. While working, you might think you are hearing the Pastrami sandwich in the refrigerator calling out your name.

In your own computer, you have many downloaded distractions from social media to your favorite entertainment websites. Unmitigated, submitting to these forms of distractions can cost you precious productive hours. 

Before commencing on your work for the day, detach yourself from all forms of distraction:

  • Use a different computer for work. Make sure the settings will not grant you access to social media platforms and irrelevant websites. 
  • Keep your mobile phone locked away in another room. You can check your messages during your 30-minute break.
  • Put your landline on silent mode and leave a message on the recording machine. 
  • If you are living with other people, give them strict instructions not to disturb you during work hours. Ask them to attend to anyone who rings the doorbell. 
  • If you drink coffee while working, have your mug of java hot, ready, and on the table before starting a task. 

As for bathroom breaks, if you can hold it, have them during your 30-minute rest period. 

If you think this is unreasonable, WaterSaver, a company from Chicago restricted bathroom breaks to only 6 minutes per day. According to WaterSaver’s CEO, the company lost 120 productive hours due to extended bathroom breaks!

 10. Outsource Non-Essential Tasks

Does your to-do list include the following tasks?

  • Filter email
  • Set appointments
  • Set calendar
  • Finish payroll
  • Pay bills
  • Do follow-up calls

If so, you are working for your business, not on your business. 

These types of tasks are called non-essential tasks because they are administrative in nature and do not directly contribute to your business’ bottom-line. Non-essential tasks are best outsourced to third-party service providers that can handle the job.

For example, if you own a website, outsource web development and management to Mountaintop Web Design. 

We can monitor your website to make sure all the plug-ins and security features are updated and running well. 

At the same time, if you want to implement a digital marketing campaign for your business, we can do that for you as well. 

We have a team of experienced SEO professionals, content writers, and social media managers that can develop a campaign to give your online presence a massive boost on the Internet. 

If you want to learn more about outsourcing, read our article “How Outsourcing Tasks Can Save You Tons Of Money – And Build Your Business”.

Conclusion

Working from home is a wonderful, life-changing decision. You have taken more control over your career and have a great opportunity to attain financial independence. 

However, working from home only means a change in the environment. You still have to put in the time and the effort to achieve your goals in order to become successful. 

Just like your days living the 9-to-5 grind in the concrete jungle, you should find ways to stay productive even when working from home. 

The 10 tips we discussed will certainly help you achieve productivity. If you have other tips that you want to share with our readers, please feel free to discuss them in the comments section. 

And if you enjoyed this article, go ahead and share them with your friends and family!

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