Learning to be very self-disciplined and have a productive behavior is not always an easy thing to do. The small business owner or entrepreneur wears many hats and has many responsibilities that can overwhelm them. The stress of so many things coming at them can make the process of deciding what to do for a productive day is not easy. In fact, they can get to a point where they feel like they are drowning or that they are not productive.
To overcome these challenges you need to think in a building block mentality and put certain foundational principles in place for your business and the way that you approach it as well as apply core productive strategies. These “business mindsets” will allow you to become more productive and decrease the levels of stress that you have. Since they are in a building block context, they will be able to be leveraged in multiple ways. There are probably a million different answers on how to be productive, but here are the five mindsets that I think you really should apply to your business.
1) Visualize your end goals in a strategic context – When running a business it’s important that you stay strategic in everything you do. It is very easy for people to get quickly stuck into a tactical execution mentality, but as the leader of your organization you need to consistently step outside of that and look at things in a way that will help you gain clarity in a strategy context. Whether you are focusing on a larger goal or a small menial task it is important that the work you are doing quickly gets you to some endpoint on a strategic level. The reason you put so much focus on strategic over tactical is that the world is consistently changing and the only way to combat that is to see it from the 50,000 foot level and understand what strategy it takes to keep you ahead. If you are busy executing on only tactical tasks your head is too far in the weeds and you’ll miss the forest for the trees. You cannot stop the speed at which the world changes; you can only do your best to stay relevant in it through the appropriate productive activities.
2) Discard what you don’t use regularly – Everything we experience in the world is defined by a methodology. When you boil nature down to its core processes you will be able to start to understand the model that keeps that one specific system alive. As you work up the chain into more complex organisms the same thing holds true. Even a business can be written out into a method or process document. As the world evolves, though, what usually happens is people fail to update those standard operating procedure documents. Nature does this through extinction or evolution. When a new model needs to be applied those organisms that do not evolve at some point will become extinct. When we look at our corporate culture the same thing holds true. Those companies that refuse to evolve will ultimately die out at some point.
As a leader it’s important that you take the time to discard what isn’t being used regularly. Or even if it is used regularly the question you really need to ask is if under the new model are those tasks are really relevant? The truth of the matter is if you throw everything out in your business and start over with the same business goal that you had, those things that are important to that model will become very obvious. Those business functions that are truly needed will rise back up to the top. So, there’s no reason that you need to be worried about potentially changing the business process because if it is important it will come back into the model. Those things that are no longer important and were more busy work or related to some old process from years ago will be able to be removed without much harm at all.
To develop a productive life and business you must be open to change and revamping things. It probably is one of the biggest fears of Corporate America – not willing to make the changes in their organization for fear that they will go out of business. So they continue to use old legacy processes that ultimately will lead to their failure.
3) Better done than perfect – It is very easy to get stuck in the mindset of making sure everything is perfect before you decide to release it into the world. There’s nothing wrong with perfection, but if you look at nature you can see that it doesn’t really worry about it in the larger sense of it continuing to create. Evolution is the perfect example of this statement “better done than perfect” because whatever change is made is enhanced on the next round of the evolutionary cycle. If nature got something wrong it will quickly fix it. The same holds true for your business – it is more important to be agile and flexible instead of wasting cycle time on making sure everything is perfect.
In the past the world didn’t change is fast as it is now. The reason for this was because they were not as many connections as there are now. With the invention of the Internet and other recent social interaction technologies the connections between everyone on the globe has grown exponentially. Due to this, the world is changing so fast that it is no longer as important to stay at the front of the wave of change. It is more important to specialize and focus on what specific spot you wish to put your energy into. Apply your efforts into that area, to the best of your ability, and don’t worry about it being perfect. The information that you get back will help you refine and to continue to make your product or service for your target market more perfect for them.
4) Notice the 80/20 rule in which area does 20% of your work give 80% of the results – Here is another example of why you can’t cover all aspects of the world market and you need to learn to specialize. With the world growing and changing as fast as it does you can just get lost in the mix of everything. This is why taking the time to really define your customer and consistently give them a product that evolves with them will help you stay successful. The only way to do this is to understand all the work you have and find the one area that gives you the most result. It is in this area that you need to put most of your effort. It is important that this area is small but gives a large return. See this mindset as a leverage point for you developing a more productive work environment. By only applying 20% of your efforts you are gaining 80% in results. This slingshot mentality is something that you want to happen everywhere, but unfortunately it will only be in very specific areas that it can be applied. Make sure you take the time to really evaluate which is the right area for this trick to be taken advantage of.
5) Learn to ignore – this can be one of the hardest mindsets to apply since we all live in a very busy world. It is critical to frame this in a way that lets you understand that ignoring doesn’t mean you will always literally ignore things. What this really is trying to get you to do is to learn how to stay present and focused. It is through mastering this skill of learning to ignore things that you can amp up your productivity level in more ways than you thought possible. In each moment there is something that supposed to happen. It is your choice as to what it is that you put your energy into. Are you going to take time to check your email, look at Facebook, read the news, or do whatever? Or are you going to take the time to take a step in the direction that you know that leads you the farthest? You need to decide on and stick with the productive habits. It is very easy for people to get confused and see some tasks as more important than others at that very moment in time. But by using some of the other tricks above, you should be able to understand what is more critical and in alignment to your true strategic business need. When you do that you will find that it is much easier to ignore those things that are not relevant to your business in this moment.
When you apply these mindsets to your business you really can build a foundation that will allow you to get to where you wanted to go. By consistently having a strategic direction that only uses processes and components that are relevant, used regularly, iterative in their nature, and provide 80% value to your organization, you will be able to ignore all the noise and grow your business into the success that you want to be, as well as, make your customer happy.