As a business owner, you need to put in a lot of hours of work every day to help grow you business into a success. Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in “Outliers” that it takes 10,000 hours of focused dedicated practice in an area to become an expert in an area. For your business to achieve your dreams, you are going to need to be an expert in your domain and the sooner you can get there the better. So how can you reach 10,000 hours of dedicated time in your business most quickly? I have found these 9 productivity tricks on this edition of the Business Cheat Sheets to be essential:
Exercise daily – Getting in a good workout at the end of each day is an excellent way to drain stress and worries that build up throughout the work day. I personally prefer very vigorous workouts like Crossfit and rock climbing and running. When you are doing a hard physical workout it is impossible to keep thinking about your problems. This allows you to start fresh the next day.
Eat healthy – It goes without saying that your nutrition and diet are huge determinants in how strong your mood and focus are each day. I begin each day with a blender drink containing a mix of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and salmon oil.
Don’t Let Email Control You – Email is a powerful tool, but if you let it control your agenda you will lose a lot of productivity. Email is best used in moderation. I suggest having designated times each day when you check your email like 8am and 5pm. That way you can get back to everyone the same day, but your email does not turn into your task master.
Plan Your Breaks – Just like you plan your workweek, you need to plan your weekends and vacations. I try to plan fun, non-work related activities for at least one day per week as this gets my mind off work and allows me to start the next week fresh and newly motivated. For me, this means going hiking, camping, rock climbing, or short travels to nearby cities.
Get 8+ Hours of Sleep – Sleep is the time when your body and brain repair and replenish themselves. Not getting enough sleep each night does not mean you are working hard – it simply means that your body will not fully refuel and re-energize itself. Your productivity will go down. Sleep is essential.
Naps – Naps are a secret superpower for gaining more productivity out of each day. A 30 minute nap will make you just as efficient and sharp as you are in the morning in the afternoon. The human body is built to take naps and most countries in the world have siestas or naps – Americans are the odd man out here. Take naps!
Get organized – Use tools like email labels, desktop folders, etc to help you get and stay organized. Disorganization will cause lost time and frustration while you hunt around for things you need to do your job.
Use Task Lists – Each morning or evening, reorganize your task list so that you know what your top priority tasks are that must get done that day.
Avoid Multi-tasking – For most people and most jobs, multi-tasking will lower your productivity levels over the long run. Focus on one task at a time and knock it out before moving on to the next item.
I am an expert at delayed gratification. I have spent most of my life working for the future and putting most of my time and effort into bettering myself mentally, financially, and physically. I think that that actually has led to a much better quality of life overall, but in some ways I was limiting myself by not doing as much fun activities. I have started to change that now by increasing my work intensity to an even higher level than before when I am working, but using my weekends and vacation time for interesting life activities like hang gliding, rock climbing, camping, etc. I think that this is a bit of a better balance… I am trying to live my life in the best possible way as I only get one chance to run through it.
Josh and I went rock climbing over Memorial Day weekend to Bishop and Alabama Hills. We stayed in Tuttle Creek Campground. Evan Goodman and Tolga came too along with two older ladies one who had kids and also Evan’s friend Kristen. We climbed Shark’s fin (three 5.7s) and movie wall (5.7, 5.9, 5.10a). Next time we go I would like to plan better what routes we do so we can get more rock climbing in.
An excellent website is the core marketing foundation for your business. In 2012, ecommerce sales topped $1.3 trillion according to eMarketer and well over 80% of the US population is online on a daily basis. For your customers to find you, you need a great website to showcase your business.
Building a website is highly intimidating for non-technical people so I put together a brief review of options available to you and the steps necessary to get a website built.
The first question to ask is what kind of a website you need and what your budget is.
If you are seeking a website that is fairly standard and you have a small budget, then a website creation tool like BigCommerce for eCommerce sites will work great. If you just want to put content up and you don’t need any transaction processing, WordPress is an excellent platform. Both of these platforms are do it yourself and very easy to get a website live on a thin budget.
If you have a larger budget, generally it is wisest to seek out a company to assist you in design and development to build a great custom site that matches your needs. How can you find a good contractor? There are several resources available for building your website depending on your budget:
Elance.com – freelancers generally overseas who work cheap. Be very careful to give a detailed list of requirements and review applicants portfolios and reviews and ratings thoroughly.
Craigslist.org- find a contractor in your area who will meet with you in person to plan out your website build. Only hire people with appropriate technical skills and great looking portfolios.
Hire a design and development agency with a great reputation in your area. Use tools like Yelp.com to see a companies reviews from other customers. Look carefully at their portfolio and meet with them in person at their office. A great example would be CoalitionTechnologies.com.
Next, you need to interview the people doing your website development. Here are questions you should ask:
Provide me a complete list of your portfolio items that your firm developed without any outside contractors? Please list templates or themes that were used for these portfolio items (AVOID firms that use templates and themes!)
Send me references of other customers who have worked with you and been satisfied with the results. Have you had any dissatisfied customers? If so why were they dissatisfied?
Is your work done by full time employees or contractors (AVOID contractors)
How long did it take from signing the contract to the go live date for the last 5 websites you launched?
What support do I get from your company after my website goes live?
Who on your team will I be working with?
What features and functionality will my new website need based on the description of my desired site I provided you?
Once you have a selected a company to work with, you need to finalize a scope of work. This is the most important phase and should clearly outline deliverables, timelines, and payments. People who do not provide a clear scope of work will most likely end up not able to deliver the final product you are looking for. Your contract to build your new website will need the following items in writing:
Who the primary users of your website are
What logos, color palette, fonts or other materials will be required to be included in the site
List of particular features your website needs, list everything no matter how small or obvious it might seem
Sitemap (list of all the pages you anticipate having when you launch the site)
You are probably very excited to get your new website launched, but doing your due diligence upfront will save you a lot of time and pain later on in maintenance and costs. Make sure you have a thorough scope of work for your website development and have a clear picture of how everything will come together.
After Bay to Breakers got boring for me around 1:30pm, I separated from the main group and ran three miles to Planet Granite so I could do some rock climbing. After arriving I climbed for three and a half hours and met a lot of interesting people; two partners who founded a ycombinator startup together, a german couple new to the area and a weird bald guy. The rock climbing at Planet Granite was epic – best gym I have yet visited.
After rock climbing I ran 6 miles home stopping along the way for a delicious sushi dinner at Okoze Sushi.
I also made the mistake of walking home through a very dangerous district called the tenderloin. I had a strung out black guy with friends around try to start a fight with me but I moved quickly past. A block later a druggie chick tried to sell me her dog for $40. Thanks Google Maps!!!
Our dog monster is sick because she ate chocolate and that can cause kidney failure in dogs. Frida is in the hospital now. She should be okay because we pumped her stomach within an hour but she still has elevated levels of bad stiff in her blood. She is in the hospital for three days to try to clean out her kidneys. Hoping she will be okay.
I went on a really fun bike ride today with my friends Kenny, Brian, Nick and their friends. We started in downtown, went to the beach then made our way across the Golden Gate Bridge. The ride took almost six hours but was a great time. We had perfect clear sunny weather and enjoyed ourselves.