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12 ways to be more productive and grow your business

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Having fun at a horse clinic with Kola, outside Adelaide, South Australia.

The aim of life is to play, not to work. Who really wants to work all their life?

Here are my 12 productivity tips to grown your business AND have more time off. Now my business is growing, I’m happier, healthier and more relaxed, and I have more free time. I hope they help you too.

STEP 1: Find out where you are wasting most of your time. Install rescue time and monitor your internet use. Find the top 3 websites you are spending too much time on. My biggest nemesis is facebook. Love it. Hate it.

STEP 2: Block these websites. I use the StayFocusd Chrome Extension. My main issue is facebook, so I have now set it up that I only have 3 minutes per day on this website before the site gets shuts down. Of course it’s a habit, so I still type in ‘F’ into the address bar and hit return. Now instead of opening facebook, I get a page that says ‘Shouldn’t you be working?’ Makes me smile every time. Then I go back to work.

STEP 3: Another excellent time waster is all those social media alerts you get on your smartphone. Someone sent you a message. Someone replied to a post. Someone favourited your tweet. Get rid of these as well. Delete the main app culprits (in my case the twitter and facebook apps) from your phone. Then something beautiful happens. Total silence. No beeps. No alerts. The world is calm.

STEP 4: While you are now disconnected from social media, you can actually be more productive on it than ever before! Create a free account with Hootsuite. Line up 4 weeks of status updates and sync you facebook, twitter, linked in, google+ etc account for free. This is pure genius. I have saved myself at least 45 minutes daily from these first steps. Total time saved per week: 5 hours 15 minutes.

STEP 5: Now it’s time to 80:20 your work life. Write down all the tasks and projects you are currently working on. I normally have a long list of stuff that’s in motion. Rearrange them in the order of which WILL make you the most money, or which HAVE THE POTENTIAL to make you the most money. Be truthful here. It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself. Concentrate on the top 2 things on your list. Delete anything that is not in your top 3. This will free up A LOT of time that you were spending on things you enjoyed etc, but which were not making strong business sense. Total time saved per week: 3.5 days.

STEP 6: Outsource everything you can. Hire a project manager, a developer, an artist, a team lead, a programmer, a VA, whatever you need in your business. I’ve saved HOURS daily by doing this and my business has grown faster because of it. I get emails in nearly daily from people thanking me for giving them the push to do this also, and stories of how big a difference it’s made to their business.

STEP 7: Don’t tell me your problems. Instead find a quiet room with no one in it where you will not be interrupted. Think of it as an oasis – somewhere to relax completely. You should not be able to hear anybody else in other rooms. Sit in a comfortable chair. Relax. Breathe deeply. Now you are going to complete a power analysis. This will be the most productive part of your day. Close your eyes for 20 minutes. Think about all of your business problems. Take your time there is no rush. Keep focusing on all your problems. You will find the answers you have been looking for.

STEP 8: It’s difficult to work and think properly when you are hungry. Find a breakfast you like that’s healthy. No coco pops or sugary American cereals. I like to start work straight away in the morning, and work solidly until lunchtime. Work expands to fit the time available. If you give yourself a tight deadline you will become more productive as you have no other option. I also like to use a reward system. If I work really hard until lunchtime, the reward is that I can take the afternoon off. Result! Think of how you can motivate and reward yourself for your efforts.

STEP 9: Be kind to yourself. You will work better when you are awake and you feel good in your skin. You will not work well when you are hungover, after 3 hours sleep and high on quadruple expressos. This is a marathon, no matter what way you look at it. YOU are the most important asset in your business right now. So take care of yourself.

STEP 10: Be healthy. Exercise every day. If you can, join a group. Find your local bootcamp, basketball team, football club, tennis club, go surfing with friends, or whatever you enjoy doing. Jogging or exercising on your own is fine, but I always find myself emotionally happier when I’ve spent time having fun playing sports with real life humans. Connect with your biological peers :)

STEP 11: I always work better when I feel happy. Here are two really fast effective ways to feel happy. Firstly you can make yourself smile by paying someone an unexpected compliment. This is SO POWERFUL! From something simple like ‘I really like your shoes’, ‘you are a great cook!’ ‘you’re looking really healthy!’ to ‘you did a really nice job with that’. For the strongest effect this must be done in person, so you can see the reaction on their face. I guarantee their smile will light up the room. This is guaranteed to make you smile too! Remember, the more unexpected the compliment, the more powerful. Secondly, help someone who doesn’t expect any help. Surprise them with a kind gesture. This gives you incredible feel good vibes. Again really powerful.

STEP 12: Plan out weekly and monthly rewards. Each week take a few hours off and treat yourself to something special. Maybe it’s a hike up a mountain, a catchup with friends, a pampering session at the local spa. Find a treat you would love. Use it to motivate you and you celebrate your progress that week. For your monthly rewards, take a full weekend off. From 4pm on Friday until 9am Monday morning. Turn off all your devices. Including your phone! Plan something special with your friends and family, travel somewhere or do something crazy. Celebrate your progress and achievements.

Are you the espresso addict or the person who just can’t delegate to save your life? Have you got any other tips you use in your life to become more productive? Let me know in the comments below.

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Elaine Heney is an online entrepreneur, triple #1 best selling author and international keynote speaker. Elaine is an Amazon FBA ecommerce advisor, investor, Hollywood movie producer, online business consultant and CEO of Chocolate Lab Cashflow. Elaine has also published over 300 mobile apps across Amazon, Apple & Google, and enjoyed over 20 million app downloads and over 50 #1 apps worldwide.

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • M.H July 29, 2013, 11:34 am

    Elaine, this is such a simple but yet epic post on being productive. Facebook is a real time waster and the StayFocused extension and nuked it for 24 hours! :-)

    Its funny, 5 min after I tried to log in to Facebook but got the message “Should you not be working”? :-)

  • Tasnim ahmed July 29, 2013, 3:29 pm

    Excellent post

  • CJ July 29, 2013, 4:31 pm

    Awesome post, as usual. I was wondering why you suddenly were posting less on FB! 😉 Good for you!

  • Lat July 30, 2013, 12:54 am

    Great post, Elaine! Makes tons of sense!!!

  • Perjan August 2, 2013, 8:20 pm

    Elaine, i have a question regarding outsourcing everything.
    I think of this myself, but then i worry about the quality of the work and meeting with deadlines.

    How do you handle that, besides finding and trying a lot of HR?


  • Elaine August 3, 2013, 8:20 am

    Hi Perjan, if the quality of the work is poor before I hire them, I don’t hire them. If it’s poor after I hire them, I fire them. :) If they miss deadlines, same thing.

  • Perjan August 3, 2013, 10:15 pm

    Elaine, i agree with you but after that the project duration will be extended, and finding other devs in time can be frustrating.

  • Kitty August 8, 2013, 4:55 am

    Love the Basics. You can be right or you can be rich I have been living by your steps without knowing numbers. If there are other super powers amiss please contact me for unconscious consequences. lol What determines control?

  • Elaine Heney August 14, 2013, 8:43 pm

    Get the basics right, and everything else follows :)

  • Thomas September 3, 2013, 2:41 pm

    I like step 7 :))

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