Are you ready to have a great year in 2014? Me, too.
Get psyched for it with these 14 tips and tactics you can implement now to get more out of yourself, your team and your business. I confess I don’t practice them all—yet—but many are part of my New Year’s resolutions.
1. Exercise every weekday. By making exercise part of your workday routine, you eliminate indecision over when and how to fit it in. Just do it (early morning works best for most entrepreneurs’ busy schedules), and you won’t have to think about it—plus you’ll reap the benefits of increased energy, mental clarity and calmness all day long.
2. Get more sleep. Chances are that however much shut-eye you’re getting, it’s not enough. Make a vow to get to bed earlier—even half an hour can make a big difference in your energy levels and ability to focus. Since many of us take our smartphones to bed these days, use an app like SleepBot or Sleep Cycle to help you get deeper, more restful sleep.
3. Clear the clutter. Purge old files, get rid of office equipment you no longer use, and organize what’s left. (If you’re one of those people, like me, who works better with piles of paper around, that’s fine—just make sure your piles are organized.) Giving your workspace a good cleaning will energize you for the year.
4. Go digital. Scan paper documents, and get rid of bulky file cabinets. You don’t even need a scanner anymore; apps like Shoeboxed, CardMunch or DocScanner let you take pictures of files with your smartphone and store them as PDFs so you can easily access and share them.
5. Streamline meetings. Meetings take up tons of time for many small-business owners and their employees. Try holding short walking meetings or meetings where you're all standing up to keep everyone focused. Ban device use during meetings and you’ll get more done because everyone’s actually paying attention instead of texting under the table.
6. Take time to plan. With daily and weekly meetings cut down to size, dedicate some of the time you've saved to strategic thinking. Find a regular time when you can schedule 60 to 90 minutes a week to thinking big. Keep this time sacred. (If you’re prone to distraction, do this outside the office .)
7. Get in the cloud. Using cloud solutions to store data and documents and manage projects helps keep your team on track. Google Drive is free and integrates with tools you probably already use; step it up a notch with popular project management tools such as Basecamp and Zoho.
8. Dump distractions. When you really need to focus and get work done without checking your email or Twitter feed every 10 minutes, harness technology to give your willpower a boost. RescueTime is a great all-around tool that measures where you spend time online, shows you your biggest time-wasters and even shuts off digital distractions for a time period you specify.
9. Cut back on email. Do you really need to send that email, or would poking your head out the door, walking down the hall or picking up the phone work just as well? Unnecessary emails leech hours out of our days.
10. Keep it short. When you do need to send email, keep it brief. Aim for five sentences max—more than that, and most people won’t read it. If you need to include more detail, put it in an attachment.
11. Take breaks. Frequent short breaks during the day improve your energy level. If your business is one where you can end up sitting for hours, put an app like StretchClock or Big Stretch on your computer to remind you to get up and stretch or move around every hour or so.
12. Delegate. Consider the cost of your time and how much of it is wasted on administrative tasks. If you don’t have employees, consider hiring a virtual assistant or using a tool like TaskRabbit to find people who can handle the small stuff. You’ll free up your time to pursue bigger fish.
13. Find strength in numbers. Speaking of bigger fish, make bigger projects doable this year by partnering with other small-business owners whose skills complement your own. Form strategic alliances to target larger, more profitable clients.
14. Take charge. It’s tempting to say yes to every piece of business that comes your way, but you end up being directed by your clients instead of directing your own life. Learn to say no to projects that are unprofitable or don’t take you in the direction you want to go. Assess every opportunity by asking if it helps you reach your goals—not someone else’s.
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